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November 3, 2014 Haze Categories: General News. 39 Comments on Hikaru Arisa Michiyo Miho

It’s about time for an update here anyway, I’ve been delaying it for a while, but one piece of recent news has come to my attention that is worth a more immediate piece of coverage.

The last two years could easily be dubbed as ‘year of the prototype’ with a number of very rare and interesting discoveries being made.

Unlikely locations seem to be the key to finding a number of these, and it was announced yesterday on the neo-geo.com forums (registration required) that a group of members there had aquired a rare Sega prototype on System 18 hardware. Where was this located? Portugal of all places.

The members in question, and whom I offer my greatest thanks to are
Atro (aka Rui Baptista)
_rm_ (aka Ricardo Marques)
1up (aka Daniel “casebres”) who purchased the board in question

The board was found in a collection of other dead PCBs that had simply being left to rot in a warehouse / were intended for use as parts. After negotiating with the owner of the boards a number of them were purchased by ‘1up’. One of the boards in that purchase was a Sega System 18 board. The motherboard was dead and in a very poor rusted condition – completely non-functional, but by transferring the unknown ROM board to a working System 18 motherboard (owned by _rm_) a great surprise was unveiled. They recoded some videos of their findings here and here. A thread was also posted about it on the shmups forum, which is where it caught my eye.

Anyway, the ROM board was from the Sega / Santos prototype ‘Hammer Away’. A vertical shooter or ‘shmup’ that was set to be released around 1991 but ended up being cancelled for unknown reasons.

Things moved quickly from there, the ROMs were dumped and sent to ‘system11’ who forwarded them to the development team for us to look at. Interestingly it turned out the game used twice as many tile as any other System 18 game (requiring custom handling) and additionally required the YM chip to generate an interrupt to drive the sound – something that had been hooked up in some Sega drivers but not the System 18 one. With these issues fixed it booted.

Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away

Interestingly the only previous record of this game was of it being exhibited at the AM show in ’91. Unmamed has had some screenshots of this for a while, although interestingly they’re from a different revision to the one found. At no point does the dumped game show the additional text on the title screen under the logo, nor does the title screen ever have a black background. This data seems to be in the tile roms, but is unused, maybe the version found is a later build with it removed.

Hammer Away

The Santos connection is another potentially interesting one, it is possible, but not confirmed that this is the same Santos who developed the Playstation titles ‘AirGrave’ and ‘Stahlfeder’. It is also unknown if the ‘Santos’ has any connection with the country in which this board was found – it is a common name in Portugal, but that could just be coincidence. (According to hap it is most likely ‘MegaSoft’ who also went by ‘Santos’ and ‘Whiteboard’, see http://segaretro.org/Megasoft )

The ROM Test in service mode fails in MAME, but I think that’s just due to the game being a prototype, we see it for a lot of them. (edit: confirmed, the 4 program roms it checks fail the check on real hardware too, so not a MAME bug or a dump problem)

As for the game, it uses a ground / air based attack system (something that the likes of Xevious had made popular) and is played over 5 stages. I’ve only played through one loop, so I’m not sure if it loops forever or gives a credit sequence later. There are no real bosses to speak of, and it feels older in terms of game mechanics than the 1991 date would suggest, possibly why it ended up not being released – by that point the likes of Raiden had really changed what people expected from the genre. These days it’s a lot easier to judge things as a game, rather than looking at release years tho. Below are some more screenshots taken during gameplay.

Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away

Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away

Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away

Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away

Hammer Away Hammer Away Hammer Away

System 18 games are always interesting to study from an emulation point of view due to their use of the Genesis VDP – in some cases it was used almost like a protection device (and when bootleggers did bootleg System 18 games they usually stripped out / replaced any graphics it generated) Here it is used for a number of things, including the text layer, and some sprite effects.

Again I’d like to thank Atro, _rm_, and 1up for making this possible, if you don’t look and take chances on unknown things then you don’t find treasures like this, and their generosity means it will now always be a remembered game, rather than a forgotten one, it has literally been brought back from the dead.

This post I’ve made here just summarizes events, I suggest you register and read the original pages too.

(Note, if you get requests in your browser to install some driver / plug-in when browsing my site DO NOT DO IT. Apparently something has infected the host here, but it’s very selective about who it targets and a pain to track down. I’ve elevated the concern, but I can’t tell you if / when it’s fixed for sure because I’ve never seen it first hand. This I believe applies to ALL emulab.it sites because people have been reporting similar with Kale’s blog. Keep your adblockers in use, and browsers / Flash plugins etc. up to date)


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Similar to Bombs Away by Jaleco. :)

Thanks to everybody involved!

Absolutely amazing

Was the ROM released anywhere?

not up to me to post it, but I’m sure it will surface sometime before the release of the next MAME version if it hasn’t already.

very nice picture imagine the emulation from this game and i think a good emulation for a new mame


1st was Passing shot, next Galaxy force and now this game

what were some of the other “very rare and interesting discoveries being made” ?

for this year we’ve seen dumped

Power Drift Communication Version (needs multiple cabs, not yet emulated)
Center Court proto (early version of Passing Shot)
Ken Sei Mogura (SF2 Whac-a-mole)
Air Assault (possible one-of-a-kind world release of Fire Barrel)
Mega Phoenix (arcade version of the popular home game, possibly unreleased)
X2222 (prototype build contributed by one of the programmers, no sound roms tho, and a debug build of the game)
Yukiwo (rare early version of Master of Weapon)
Aaargh (very rare Arcadia game – Amiga hardware)

and others not quite so rare, things like Rolling Crush aren’t quite as exciting because it’s just an imitation of Puzz Loop, but at the same time there are a few things that suggest it might also have been a location test.

The ‘Music Ball’ set that was finally decrypted also falls into a similar category, it’s very, very rare, although I do wonder if another version exists without the title screen and copyrights missing (it wasn’t dumped from a bootleg board tho)

the previous year saw more rare Arcadia titles, early Taito prototypes (like Bubble Bobble 2)

outside of the arcade scene / MAME scene there have been a lot of interesting console game prototypes found and dumped recently too, Biil’s Tomato Game / Adventure for the Genesis is well worth checking out. We tend not to highlight that work as much because it gets highlighted more by others, but it’s just as good to see, and supported in the MESS part of our project. For less popular systems in MESS we’ve seen a steady supply of dumps from archaic computer systems etc. (business computers, mainframes) which probably isn’t going to get many people talking, but is important.

Reminds me of “Under Defeat”, very cool, thanks Haze.

System 18 MAME driver indeed needs a bit of attention, doesn’t it? Desert Breaker, another of those “not-really-released” titles from Sega shows some ugly issues when scaling and other effects are used, from stage 2 onwards. Unless it’s been solved recenlty, that is, but never saw that at MAME Testers, and I’d hardly believe it’s due to being a unfinished game.

System 18 can’t scale, so it’s possible anything using fake scaling effects really would look a bit ugly.

there do seem to be broken sprites at the end of stage 2 in Desert Breaker tho, that needs investigation, could be a bad sprite rom.

Hi folks!

I’m glad everyone’s happy with the new-found game.
It was from the very beginning, our intention to make the game available for everyone. We just didn’t want it to fall under wrong hands.
Recognition and gratitude feels more grateful than any possible money from a possible sale.
This was found by game collectors, that primarily are GAMERS. So, it was with the deepest pleasure that we share it with everyone else.

This proto is a lesson to everyone. Dig all those unexpected “junkyards”. You never know what you’ll find there!

Go go hammers! :p


Nice Read Haze makes you wonder how many more
rare gems are just rotting away somewhere yet to be
discovered or not :(

What happened to the Atari Prototype “Danger Express” (1992) ?

I think that was previously emulated, I´m not sure.


As I replied earlier, the owner of the board from which it was dumped asked for it to not be supported, saying it was a mistake that Phil was sent the roms and that they were not to be distributed further, as a result, it was removed.

From what I saw in the video of the gameplay, we’re not really missing much. It was a little disappointing. That aside, I hope he compensated the dumper for his efforts.

Ok, I understand.

Haze without your efforts, pcbs and prototypes only are junk,
thanks again.

please, can you tell me the video link ?

I’m not sure if the video is still available or not. The link I used was removed.


these videos are both linked in my writeup..

Hi, forgive me for posting a question about Cool Riders on this page. I would’ve gone to Cool Riders section of your website and post there, but posting comments isn’t possible so i came here. My question is: how to fix the sound in Cool Riders, it’s so slow and I also have a split screen, just like when you play a racing game with your friend, can I make the game run in full screen? Btw I am using MAME 0.155b version.

Thanks in advance.

The warning on startup tells you that the sound emulation is incomplete, so unless you actually understand how the hardware worked you can’t fix it.

It outputs 2 screens because the PCB outputs 2 screens, if you want to hide one you can bring up the ‘TAB’ menu, go to Video Options and select ‘Screen 0 Standard’ that won’t mute the audio output from the 2nd screen tho.

If things are too slow then your PC isn’t fast enough, it’s a demanding game to emulate, dual medium res monitors with a high fillrate blitter etc. it’s close to being 3D hardware.

Considering new mame releases take so much longer these days is there any chance of releasing a quick update build that adds the Hammer Away support? That would be massively appreciated.

Thank you Haze, well I guess I will have to live with the slow sound problem. Other than that, the game runs fine. Some people have this hillarious COOL IT COOL IT COOL IT COOL IT sound issue. Hopefully one day you guys will make this great game work like a charm. Greetings.

Hi Haze,

Dips for Hammer Away below;

static struct BurnDIPInfo HamawayDIPList[]=
// Default Values
{0x16, 0xff, 0xff, 0xff, NULL },
{0x17, 0xff, 0xff, 0xbf, NULL },

// Dip 1

// Dip 2
{0 , 0xfe, 0 , 4 , “Difficulty” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x03, 0x02, “Easy” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x03, 0x03, “Normal” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x03, 0x01, “Hard” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x03, 0x00, “Hardest” },

{0 , 0xfe, 0 , 4 , “Number of Players” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x0c, 0x08, “1” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x0c, 0x04, “2” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x0c, 0x0c, “3” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x0c, 0x00, “5” },

{0 , 0xfe, 0 , 2 , “Advertise Sound” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x40, 0x40, “Off” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x40, 0x00, “On” },

{0 , 0xfe, 0 , 2 , “Credit to Start” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x80, 0x80, “1” },
{0x17, 0x01, 0x80, 0x00, “2” },


Assuming they just match the test mode then Brian Troha already added them to MAME a few days ago :-)

Ah ok – didn’t notice that commit. :)

interestingly Wang Bi’s (the most important and oldest) Tao Te Ching interpretation was discovered in the same way (1970s)….unknown book from garbage island

Thank You so much Atro and everyone else that made this possible :)

It’s possible there will be some upcoming changes to the build system in the next week or two, possibly again requiring updated tools.

I’d like to wait until then before putting anything out.

Yeah, I was replying to bazar77 and Moo. I guess I don’t know what they were talking about. LOL

We were talking about the gameplay video of Danger Express that Mr. Bennett made.

Yo, dunno if anyone actually cares or not, but thanks to some help from a friend I’ve managed to do a bit of graphic ripping work on this one – all of ’em are in the Tumblr tag I’ve linked as my website if anyone wants to see. Seems like the “tiles” seen in the intro actually do have additional imagery for the areas normally covered in black!

Wow…. truly truly amazing. Those boys deserve a massive pat on the back. Literally because of them, and only them, this exists rather than not.

yep, just a shame some idiots have decided to start killing and converting other System 18 games and making a fortune off it, why people must try to ruin everything I don’t know. The generosity these guys have shown is in stark contrast to those who have jumped on it as a way to make money.

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