David Haywood's Homepage
MAME work and other stuff

Sybubblun in MAME

September 4, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. No Comments on Sybubblun in MAME

A few months ago I saw the Hardcore Gaming 101 article on Syvalion which indicated that there was a variation of one of my favourite arcade games (Bubble Bobble) hidden in the X68000 version of Syvalion.

For a while I tried to work out how to access this mode without success. I looked it again today, did a bit of reading, and it turns out the article is wrong and mode is not hidden in Syvalion at all, but is hidden in the X68000 version of Bubble Bobble, and you can run it in MAME if it takes your fancy.

First off, load the X68000 version of Bubble Bobble in MAME, it’s in the Softlist so you can do

‘mame x68000 bublbobl’

it will take a while to load, but eventually the title screen will appear


Sybubblun Sybubblun

Once the title screen appears you must quickly hold the ‘Opt 1’ key (PrintScreen / PrtScn is the default MAME mapping for it) and while holding it type ‘sybubblun’

If you’re successful a jingle will play.

You can then hit the space bar to get the menu screen, and move down to ‘configuration’


Sybubblun

if you successfully enabled the cheat code you should be able to change the top line in the configuration menu from ‘Bubble Bobble’ to ‘Sybubblun’

Sybubblun Sybubblun

and there you have it.

at this point you might want to redefine the keys in MAME because by default the 2nd fire button doesn’t seem to map to a key (hit SCRLOCK or whatever you have your UI mode key set to in order to enable MAME’s menu system, bring up the tab menu and then reconfigure P1 Button 1 and P1 Button 2 in the ‘Input (this Machine)’ Menu.


Sybubblun Sybubblun
Sybubblun Sybubblun
Sybubblun Sybubblun
Sybubblun Sybubblun
Sybubblun Sybubblun

It’s more of a puzzle game than a regular Bubble Bobble title, relying on advanced Bubble Bobble mechanics to solve each of the levels. (you must understand EXACTLY how the bubbles and jumping work)

If it is actually hidden in Syvalion too then let me know, otherwise I’m just going to assume it’s a mistake in the Hardcore Gaming 101 article.

Go to article.. »

Legendary Update

August 13, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 22 Comments on Legendary Update

Ever wondered how the HDDs on arcade games get updated to new versions? Probably not, but I’m going to show you one example anyway.

Sometimes floppy disks would be used (but this could be inconvenient, as most arcade systems didn’t have floppy drives by default) and in other cases CDs would be used (again not ideal if the game didn’t have a CD drive)

The alternative, and case I’m going to cover here is when a game was updated by using ROMs.

If you owned a Gauntlet Legends ‘1.2’ and wanted to update it to ‘1.6’ then it was necessary to update the game data on the hard drive because this is where the bulk of the game code is stored – the main bios ROM is just a boot loader. In order to facilitate the upgrade Midway provided a kit for this, it looked like this


Midway Kit

opened up, the box contains the following

Midway Kit

As you can see, there are 4 ROMs in the box. One of them (the one with the Red/Orange sticker) is a replacement BIOS / boot rom. The other 3 exist to upgrade the hard drive.

Show below is a Gauntlet Legends PCB set (not the best picture, just one I found, if anybody has a better one I’d like to replace it)


Gauntlet Legends

You can clearly see the bios rom with the Red/Orange sticker on the lower part of the middle PCB, and next to it is a single empty socket.

How does that work? Well, the socket there is used for upgrading the hard drive data, but as you saw from the kit pictures there are 3 upgrade ROMs but there is only one socket. It turns out the upgrade is a 3 step process, you must boot up the PCB with each of the roms in turn, let it do it’s work, then move on to the next one. This is because the update data is larger than could fit in a single ROM.

Thanks to rtw and Smitdogg those roms pictured are actually dumped, and just for fun I decided to hook them up in MAME.

If you load the 1.2 set in MAME you can see the following.


Gauntlet Legends Gauntlet Legends

Without any update the 1.2 set boots up and has 1.2 in the corner of the boot screen, and in the test mode shows ‘GUTS 1.4 Oct 22 1998 11:23:04’ which is the code revision on the hard drive, yes, a 1.2 Gauntlet Legends is actually version 1.4 but that’s Midway for you.

Boot with one of the upgrade ROMs in the empty socket and the bios recognizes it and gives you the following


Gauntlet Legends Gauntlet Legends

The first ROM takes a while because it does a disk check, but eventually you’ll get

Gauntlet Legends Gauntlet Legends

Follow the instructions (power off) and boot with the 2nd rom in place


Gauntlet Legends Gauntlet Legends

Same process, but without the disk check. Do it with the 3rd ROM and you get


Gauntlet Legends

A reboot later, with the update ROM removed (all the update data is loaded to the hard drive at this point) and the game actually starts performing the update.


Gauntlet Legends Gauntlet Legends
Gauntlet Legends

Reboot again and you have a version 1.6


Gauntlet Legends Gauntlet Legends

Version 1.6 actually has an internal code of GUTS 1.5 Jan 14 1999, but again, that’s Midway being Midway.

This was all fairly straightforward to hook up in MAME, and while it’s a little pointless (we already have 1.6 as the parent set) it’s nice to be able to go through the whole process in an emulated environment. There was one hitch, the CHD for 1.2 had been created with bad geometry, and upon attempting to write to it the updater software actually corrupted the HDD rather than updating it. By recompressing the 1.2 CHD with valid geometry for a Quantum Fireball 2.5Gb this problem was bypassed, although it makes me wonder just how many other CHDs in MAME have been created with bad geometry, even more worrying is that the badly guessed sizes are slightly shorter than the actual drive type used so we’re probably lucky there was no data at the end.

These update roms have actually been dumped for quite a while (thanks again rtw and Smitdogg) but until now nobody really showed an interest in them.

If you want to follow the procedure yourself I’ve hooked it up in MAME so that you can use
mame64 gauntleg12 -bios up16_1
mame64 gauntleg12 -bios up16_2
mame64 gauntleg12 -bios up16_3
to run with the different update roms, although it does expose a limitation of the -bios system, because we really need to allow for multiple different bootroms too, and -bios is a global. For this reason I’m actually contemplating putting the update roms in a software list instead, using a slot device, it seems more logical to me, afterall they are purely optional. (meaning things could change between the code that’s in the GIT right now and what gets released in 0.165)

Go to article.. »

Additive Kombat

August 10, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 6 Comments on Additive Kombat

If you’ve been following the GIT you might have noticed that MooglyGuy checked in a change to the Midway Zeus driver to improve the blending / transparency effects in Mortal Kombat 4.

Mortal Kombat 4 makes rather heavy using of the blending in places, applying it to a large number of particle effects, projectiles etc.

Pictures convey this far better words, so in short we’ve gone from this


Mortal Kombat 4

to this

Mortal Kombat 4

He advises me to make clear that the code is still a little hacky (the bit that controls the blending hasn’t been fully isolated) so it might not alwas be 100% correct, but as you can see, his work has made a dramatic improvement to the visuals in a driver that had been left untouched for far too long.

Note, this doesn’t improve Crusin’ Exotica, that runs on Zeus 2 which is significantly different.

Go to article.. »

Prototype Minions

August 8, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 7 Comments on Prototype Minions

What’s Yellow and Blue and absolutely everywhere right now? Minions of course..

I therefore find it rather fitting that the protagonist for this next game is likewise rather Minion like. Of course, being a 1994 prototype from Kaneko it isn’t actually a Minion, unless they invented Minion robots and sent them back in time, but it’s close enough to make me smile.

The game, aquired by rtw is one we’ve been sitting on for a little while actually, it runs on Berlin Wall hardware (in the kaneko16 driver originally by Luca, but where I’ve also done a fair amount of work, eg. B.Rap Boys etc. a few years back)

A few unemulated hardware features were used including brightness controls on the background layer, Berlin Wall actually uses this too to fade the colour on the title screen after inserting a coin (clone sets only) but the need for it wasn’t as apparent. One thing that actually caught me out and needed verification is that backgrounds actually fade OUT during gameplay, so most of the time you’re playing against a black screen, odd choice, but that is how the game is, possibly due to it being a prototype.


Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang
Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang
Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang
Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang
Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang

One thing that is definitely due to the game being a prototype is a crash you can trigger.

In normal circumstances the game has no continue feature, however, if you’re playing on the ‘Normal’ or ‘Hard’ courses the game has bonus rounds (where for example you fight the spider, last screenshot above)

If you die on one of these rounds the game DOES offer you the chance to continue, if you take the continue the game will either immediately crash with an ‘ADDRESS ERROR’ flashing briefly onscreen after an explosion (for about 1 frame before restting) or give you a level with a corrupt enemy then crash after that. Again this happens on the PCB, due to the game being a prototype. With a bug like this the game would not have survived a location test as it simply steals your credit if you attempt to continue.


Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang

The game has a dipswitch controlling the region (World, Japan or Korea) for Japan the text is Japanese, for Korea the text is English but the Kaneko Cat logo is used on the title screen. These make no difference to the above crash issue tho, nor do any other dipswitches (there’s no way to disable said broken continue feature)


Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang

The game actually has a flyer, and (strangely for a prototype) an operators manual, suggesting this was quite late into production.


Pack'n Bang Bang

What’s interesting about the flyer is that it depicts a number of screens that do not appear to be used in the version of the game we have, the enemy select screens for example never appear. The background graphics for them are in the ROM, and can be viewed in the background viewer, but they’re not used, this actually suggests there might be a more ‘final’ version of the game than the one we have, assuming the shots aren’t mockups. Other differences include a dividing marker between the two halves of the playfield, again simply not present in the version we have and the backgrounds being active during gameplay when the set we have very specifically fades them out. If a more final version does exist we’ve never seen it (until this one showed up we’ve never even heard of this game, so it’s quite possibly already lost)


Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang
Pack'n Bang Bang Pack'n Bang Bang

There are other unused graphics in the background viewer (or at least I think they’re unused) including what looks like an alternative title screen.


Pack'n Bang Bang

The game? I haven’t really written much about the game here, it’s a simple Vs. competitive game (Vs. CPU or Vs. Player) Each player stands on a number of blocks, bombs drop down from the top of the screen, you’re restricted to your half of the screen and must catch the bombs and toss them over to the opponents side, after a short time (in which the opponent can try to pick them back up, assuming they’re not on the spikes at the bottom) they’ll explode, destroying blocks. If either player falls on the spikes they lose, this usually happens once you’ve blown up all their blocks.

In all honesty I can see why it wasn’t the most popular of games. Berlin Wall was released in 1991, and while it’s not as much fun as the home adaptation Kaneko did (Wani Wani World on the Mega Drive, one of my favourites on the platform) it’s still a challenging and decent ‘Space Panic’ clone. This game seems as much luck as anything else, rounds are over very quickly, and if you end up behind there doesn’t seem to be much chance for recovery; in a 2 player game you’re likely to get less than a minute of competitive gameplay for your money.

Overall, this is an interesting piece of Kaneko history, especially considering we really don’t have much in the way of prototype material from Kaneko, but I don’t think it was ever going to be a hit, not even if somebody were to reskin it and rereleased it today with actual Minions.

Again big thanks to rtw for this one, it wasn’t cheap.

Go to article.. »

MAME 0.164 – Some Highlights

July 29, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 11 Comments on MAME 0.164 – Some Highlights

MAME 0.164 was released this morning (being last Wednesday of July and all that) and it’s a solid looking release with a number of nice new additions and fixes.

The most significant improvement, in my opinion, comes in the form of the Taito Air System fixes from Kale and Olivier. These fixes bring Top Landing to a playable status, and considering how long the driver has been sat there in an almost working state (and in Raine before that in an even less working state) it’s really good to see it given some attention. These games might not have aged too well but they were a major component of Taito’s Arcade output at the time with titles in the series spanning multiple generations.


Top Landing Top Landing
Top Landing Top Landing

The other game in the same driver, Air Inferno was also improved although suffers from additional issues that mean it’s still marked as NOT WORKING, although you can at least now take off, fly around and complete the tutorial mission if you want to do so.


Air Inferno Air Inferno
Air Inferno Air Inferno

The most expensive addition in this release is support for the old Nintendo title ‘Monkey Magic’ which is a bat & ball game similar to Break Out etc. where the objective is to destroy the monkey face rather than a regular wall. It currently lacks sound because the discrete sound hardware isn’t yet emulated.


Monkey Magic Monkey Magic
Monkey Magic Monkey Magic

Interestingly the ‘Credits’ text is very similar to the ‘Unknown Horse Gambling Game’ that was added a while ago, it also uses roughly the same type of CPU although the rest of the hardware differs. The font is however very simple, and some characters (such as the E) do differ, so it might be coincidental, although maybe Nintendo, or a branch of Nintendo is a worthwhile avenue to explore in identifying this title just in case.


Unknown Horse Gambling Game

The most likely to be overlooked addition in 0.164 is the clone of PuzzLove, which actually has some very significant changes compared to the set I covered here a while back when I added it. system11 picked this one up and it’s a Korean release of the games instead. The title screen is completely different, and in the maze sections before each mini-game you actually have to chase around little characters to access the puzzles rather than them being static locations on the map. I’ve put some side-by-side shots below.


PuzzLove Korea PuzzLove Export
PuzzLove Korea PuzzLove Export
PuzzLove Korea PuzzLove Export
PuzzLove Korea PuzzLove Export

There are a fair few Mahjong and Casino style games added in 0.164 too, including a previously unknown Merit collection known as ‘The Round Up’ a title that they decided was worth applying for a trademark over. It’s really nothing new, the same games that were in Pitboss but with slightly different titles, but it further documents a little piece of history that would have been lost or forgotten otherwise.


The Round Up The Round Up
The Round Up The Round Up

In the ‘already covered here’ field there is Semicom’s Gaia. I also took the time to improve a few other things in the driver while adding it, so visible areas and rowscroll effects in Cute Fighters and Baryon are noticeably improved.


Gaia - The Last Choice of Earth Gaia - The Last Choice of Earth

One that a lot of work went into, but which failed to cross the line into fully working status is Virtual Pool. Ted Green did a great job of tracking down and fixing some bugs with the MIPS dynamic recompiler which was causing collisions to fail on the game (and no doubt other subtle issues in other games) but the game still has a tendency to crash on the loading screens between levels so you can usually get a round in but nothing more unless you’re lucky. It runs on the same type of hardware as the Golden Tee Fore! games so quite why this one is so problematic is currently unknown.


Virtual Pool Virtual Pool
Virtual Pool Virtual Pool

Some older drivers saw attention too with Luca hooking up the speech in Harem


Harem Harem

0.164 is not without it’s regression fixes too, recently issues with the Amiga driver being unable to load ADF files were fixed (don’t expect miracles tho, the actual driver hasn’t improved, just a bug causing ADF files to not decode in current versions)

There’s been a lot of work on the electronic toys too, including preliminary emulation of some of the official Game & Watch titles where the MCUs were decapped, these aren’t yet considered working for various reasons however (some of the additions in this category just lack proper artwork and testing)

Further tweaks were made to the MSX softlists and mapper emulation following the recent heavy reworking of the drivers restoring things like Metal Gear 2 and HERO to a working state.

There were other small but still good to see fixes too, getting rid of ROM patches is always good and an unlikely chain of events lead to the one for Taito’s Super Cup Finals finally being removed. In the end it looks like the game expects default data in EEPROM as a security measure, there is a byte it expected to be set but the internal init sequence doesn’t actually set. Using a default eeprom file with it set allows the game to work without patches, this is likely to be correct as the game avoids changing that byte when you do factory restore operations too.

There were some other important clones added in 0.164, some of which I was surprised to find had been dumped for a long time.

First up is a clone of Blitz ’99, this was dumped by Siftware years ago. The existing parent is version 1.30, the newly located clone is an older version, 1.2. There are likely other versions of the game out there too which simply haven’t been dumped yet, although finding them is tricky because most people are using newer drives cloned from the same sources, or SSD conversions cloned from those and most of the original hard drives are likely dead. If you do happen to own any hard drive based games do make sure to check the revisions on them against what is supported!


Blitz '99 Blitz '99

The other Hard Drive based game we had a previously unsupported clone for is California Chase, this one was again dumped a while back by jmurjr, but for some reason never processed, it identifies as Version 1.0r8 and slots between the 2 existing sets.


California Chase
California Chase California Chase

The Bubble Bobble series is one of Taito’s most iconic, so a new clone of Bubble Bobble II was a nice addition too, this actually became the new parent set as it’s a newer version than any of the existing ones, identifying itself as version 2.6 rather than 2.5 like all the others. It will be interesting if somebody could find out what it actually fixes, or rebalances, it is actually quite rare compared to other developers for Taito to offer a new revision of a game so there’s a fairly good chance it fixes an issue that was found by players / operators when the game was on location, the build date is a good 2 months after the older 2.5 release.


Bubble Bobble II Bubble Bobble II

One of the most curious changes is the title screen date with Taito opting to use Roman Numerals for the newer release.


Bubble Bobble 2 Bubble Bobble 2

Another noteworthy thing in 0.164 is ‘Aqua Stage’. It’s noteworthy mainly because it runs on a Sega H1 board, that’s the same board as Cool Riders. Until this showed up we actually thought Cool Riders was the only thing using that platform. Unfortunately it tells us that a fair few things we assumed when emulating Cool Riders were wrong, things like the video registers can actually move around. The game is a coin pusher / redemption type game, rather than a real game, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be running correctly in MAME right now, it never shows the title screen (without hacks) doesn’t attempt to read the inputs, and only outputs to one of the 2 monitors. Working out what’s wrong is going to take some digging so at the moment you just get an aquarium background (which you can change in service mode) I hope it’s not a case of where the ‘inputs’ are provided by another board running game logic code (like Ken Sei Mogura was for example) because the only thing we have / have dumped is the H1 board. Kale managed to hack it to display a title screen at least, which is what you see below, but this won’t appear if you run the emulation in MAME. System16 has a cab picture. The first part of this video is said to be Aqua Stage (although it’s hard to tell, there seem to be multiple aquatic games featured, somebody should have thrown a James Pond in there too ;-)


Aqua Stage
Aqua Stage
Aqua Stage
Aqua Stage
Aqua Stage

Go to article.. »

Dirty Hot Rod

July 22, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 6 Comments on Dirty Hot Rod

Sega’s System 24 is an interesting system for a number of reasons, one of them being the use of floppy disks for many of the games, not exactly the most reliable of storage methods, nor one with an especially high capacity.

Quite a lot of arcade games keep some kind of book keeping data for operators (and manufacturers) to see how games are performing on location. With most boards this data is either minimal because it has to be stored in an EEPROM (so sometimes just coin counts) or it gets stored in battery backed RAM.

System 24 is a bit different because it stores a decent amount of data on the actual floppy disk, which means when those disks get dumped they still contain said data. In order to attempt to make images easier to compare and make it easier for somebody to dump their own disk and have it match the image MAME expects we do default this data in the service mode before hashing the disk images, however it can be interesting to see the stats that are stored on a disk before that happens.

Recent Ordyne submitted a new dump of the 4 Player (Japanese / English) version of Hot Rod, it’s actually a Revision C disk, so newer than the already supported disk for this version (which itself is noteworthy because the fragile nature of disk based games means they’re ‘at risk’)


Hot Rod Hot Rod

What was interesting to see is that the dumped disk had been used for a fairly substantial amount of time, recording 10717 hours of uptime, which is over a year even if you consider the machine could have been turned on 24/7, which is unlikely.


Hot Rod Stats
Hot Rod Stats
Hot Rod Stats
Hot Rod Stats

1546 hours of actually playtime in that period suggests that most of the time the cabinet this was from was just sitting there untouched, indicating these stats probably aren’t from the game’s heyday, but still provide some insight into how the game was played.

The peak per-game playtime at 2-3 minutes sounds about right for an arcade, keeping the money flowing and the line moving, the continue count indicates that most players didn’t feel the need to coin feed the game.

There’s not a lot of point to this post, and I haven’t done any work on the System 24 driver (and it really needs it, I don’t think any one game runs perfectly and Gain Ground still has the annoying timing bug causing it to only run in freeplay, not reading the dipswitches at all) but I just thought it was interesting to share some pictures of the bookkeeping mode before the stats are wiped.

Go to article.. »

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close