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MAME work and other stuff

UME 0.147

September 17, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 42 Comments on UME 0.147

UME (logo by JackC)

UME (Universal Machine Emulator) combines the features of MAME and MESS into a single multi-purpose emulator. The project represents a natural course of development for the emulators which already share large amounts of code and is part of an ongoing effort to unify development efforts and provide a single emulation platform for users and developers alike.

This is based on the official MAME 0.147 source release found on mamedev.org with no modifications. The binaries on offer here were compiled with ‘make all TARGET=ume’

The package contains both the 32-bit and 64-bit binaries, I’ve not included the source because it’s identical to the mamedev.org distribution.

The 0.147 release can be downloaded here.

Note: as of 0.147 the sysinfo.dat is no longer distributed with MESS, it can be found in the ‘Extra Files’ section at ProjectMESS
furthermore the external artwork files, needed by some chess computers are also not included by default. They can be found at AntoPisa’s site.

Changes from MAME 0.147 can be read about here
Changes from MESS 0.147 can be read about here

General Release Commentary

First a word of warning, there is a core issue with redefining controls for some MESS systems, including the Genesis and AES. It seems that to redefine the directions you must either redefine the inputs globally, or make sure you redefine inputs to be the same on all the selectable controller types. I’m not sure when this crept in (quite possibly a while back) but you should be aware of it. The MAME/MESS 0.147 release has the same issue, it is not UME specific.

Moving swiftly onto the release, it’s been a long time coming, u5 was released on the 20th August, almost a full month ago, so as you’d expect there’s a substantial amount in here. The ‘new working’ section is the first one most people look at and there are some notable titles in there. Ville’s continued work on Konami 3D systems means GTI Club, Solar Assault and Thrill Drive now run to a level which can be considered playable (as long as you have a beefy recent system) Hang Pilot too, although with it’s dual voodoos etc. the emulation performance isn’t great, and I can’t imagine even a top end system running it especially well. There are a number of more conventional 2D titles now ‘working’ as well. Little Robin, Magicball Fighting, and F1 Super Lap all of which have featured in updates here are promoted to playable, as is Brick Zone, an Arkanoid clone which like most SunA games is actually surprisingly good for a Korean arcade game fusing an awful lot of ideas into one little game, think Block Block or Riddle of Pythagoras if you’ve played either of those. The lesser known title on the ‘new working’ list is Ganbare Jajamaru Hop Step & Jump, although the reality of it is that it’s just some very basic and not especially interesting rock paper scissors type game from Jaleco.

The MESS ‘new supported’ section looks rather anemic by comparison, but don’t be fooled, improvements to systems like the Virtual Boy bring them much closer to playable even if they haven’t been tagged as such yet, that’s one of the things with MESS, drivers can see huge improvements but often not be tagged as working due to erring on the side of caution due either a large number of known non-working cases, or a significant and mostly untested software library. PC emulation has also seen some incremental changes, improvements to the SoundBlaster emulation, but be warned other aspects of the PC emulation are broken as various bits of code (such as the floppy support) undergo significant (currently unfinished) reworking.

Another interesting new addition is the Ghosts and Goblins prototype. While unfortunately one ROM wasn’t dumped from the PCB (and I believe it was then sold!) likely causing the incorrect colours on the text layer, it remains an interesting snapshot of the in-development game, complete with early development glitches, enemy placement, overall balance and many other things (I didn’t notice any weapon drops for example)

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Magic 8-Ball Says….

September 16, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 14 Comments on Magic 8-Ball Says….

With 0.147 due out tomorrow* it should just about be possible to squeeze the progress shown here in before the cut-off

What is the progress? Semicom’s Magicball Fighting, the first in the series of 4 Korean arcade baseball games and the only one which hadn’t been dumped and emulated up until this point (Wonder League Star, Wonder League ’96 and MuHanSeungBu are all already supported)

As with the other games in the series this was really only intended for Korean markets and thus makes use of Korean text for most of the game displays.

The protection was the usual Semicom type, a bunch of code put in RAM by the MCU and used for the interrupt routine

You can read more about Semicom over at Hardcore Gaming 101

Here is a quick video in which I manage to rack up a magnificent total of 0 runs, proving I’m just as bad at baseball as I am at F1 ;-)



* yes, 0.147 should be out tomorrow, even if all the sweeping core changes going in at the last minute are against conventional wisdom and there hasn’t been any real public testing period for them. Fingers crossed we’re still as stable as the previous u release which was probably one of the most stable points we’ve had for a while.

Some screenshots if you don’t want to / can’t watch the video


Magicball Fighting Magicball Fighting

Magicball Fighting Magicball Fighting

Magicball Fighting Magicball Fighting

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A Super Lap of Dishonour (or why I don’t play racing games…)

September 3, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 42 Comments on A Super Lap of Dishonour (or why I don’t play racing games…)

F1 Super Lap, the sequel to Sega’s F1 Exhaust Note was sat in the ‘Not Playable’ pile for a long time. Modeler didn’t emulate it, and when the rest of the System 32 games in MAME received protection bypasses it was overlooked too, with the assumption that it needed 2 linked boards to function at all. It came to light 9 months ago when this original hardware YouTube video was posted that the came could actually function with just a single board, either expecting some kind of status from the network hardware to indicate there was no linked board, or possibly putting the blame on the protection (F1 Exhaust Note was instead unprotected)

Sega used a variety of protection chips on the System 32 boards, with several using evil looking battery-backed FD1149 MCUs, F1 Super Lap was one of these. What Sega didn’t do was protect any of the games especially well, and despite having these MCUs it looks like in most cases they’re used for very simple memory copy / clear operations, which would be a good protection if used effectively but it doesn’t appear they ever were.

It’s hard to say exactly what the protection is on F1 Super Lap, there is a byte in RAM which locks you in service mode, maybe it’s that? There’s also a value which gets placed in RAM for what looks like a network wait but seems to lack any mechanism to clear it, so it could likewise be that. The game also makes some odd reads during the attract demo, causing the V60 to attempt to set a bad addressing mode which I’m guessing would crash the real CPU. To be honest, I’m not sure which of these things are protection related, and which are related to improper simulation of the network board. The game also has some priority glitches during the attract demo, but those could easily be general problems with the System 32 video implementation, it isn’t perfect as several other games demonstrate.

Anyway, as you can probably guess I’ve got things going a bit further, actually quite a lot further. In current versions of MAME the game is simply stuck in service mode, I’ve fixed this problem, and even found a way to allow the game to be started and played, you might even consider it working although my driving is far too bad to do any extensive testing of it.


F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

.. and just to back up my claims of being the worst player of racing games you’ve ever seen here’s a little video of it running in MAME



*edit* Uncle Tom dumped his World region set from which the original YouTube video was made, so the new parent set in the next release will have English text / speech


F1 Super Lap F1 Super Lap

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Little Robbin’ Hoodies, now with Happy Pills

September 2, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 3 Comments on Little Robbin’ Hoodies, now with Happy Pills

This is the 3rd part in the Little Robin progress ‘video diary’

I’ve improved the layer selection logic a bit which means that the letters you collect to spell the word ‘ROBIN’ are now correctly displayed at the top of the screen. One of these letters will drop down in a bubble each time you kill one or more enemies as part of a chain, collecting them all will give you a bonus stage after the current level.

I’ve also added the clipping logic, this is used between stages to clip out the sprites, and also fixes how items are displayed as they drop into the playfield from above.

I haven’t worked out how the scrolling / smiley faces which should be drawn between scenes work yet, so those are missing, but overall this progress gives another nice improvement to the graphics and I can confirm that the game is fully playable from start to end.

There is something of a glitch on the 2nd form of the final boss, which I’m assuming is an emulation bug. When you defeat the first form of the boss it ends up being made into part of the background graphic so the game can display the 2nd form, but instead of just the dead boss becoming part of the background your old sprite, and any mini enemies the boss created also end up being stuck to the background. This can be seen on one of the screenshots below, these are all taken from later levels to add a bit of variety.


Little Robin Little Robin

Little Robin Little Robin

Little Robin Little Robin

Little Robin Little Robin

Little Robin Little Robin

As this is a ‘video diary’ here is a video of the first 30 or so levels of the game with the current emulation code, lots of credit-feeding tho!



There’s still room for a lot of improvement in the code (a fair number of the current guesses are questionable) and of course the missing video features, refer to the previous update to see dox’s original hardware video.

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