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MAME work and other stuff

Not Letting Go

February 27, 2016 Haze Categories: General News. 30 Comments on Not Letting Go

When a game shares a name with a different but much better known game it can prove tricky to track down, and, in cases where nothing is known other than the title it’s difficult to know if you’re looking for an original game, a license, or a bootleg.

Philko’s Lock On is one such game, sharing it’s name with the still rather obscure, but better known (in part due to emulation) Tatsumi game from 1986.

Until yesterday we didn’t really know what to expect from this game, but completely out of the blue a user called ‘marcus’ dumped a PCB for it and submitted it for us to emulate.

There are a few Philko games in MAME already, a couple of shooters running on hardware that was cloned from Side Arms (Whizz / Dyger / Turtle Ship) and some simple puzzle style games on a sprite-less System 16 hardware clone (Atomic Point and Snapper)

Looking at the PCB / roms the hardware here didn’t quite fit either of those profiles, it was 68k based, so no the sidearms derived hardware, but it also had sprite roms, so it wasn’t identical hardware to the System 16 titles, also it had an OKI M6295 in sound section which none of those have either.

The sprite roms were clearly non-tile based, and looked clearly like Sega System 16 format sprites, so the first and most logical route to explore was that this was a more complete clone of Sega System 16 hardware than used by the other Philko titles. There were a couple of issues with this assumption, first of all, the tile roms were clearly 4 bits per pixel graphics whereas the original System 16 hardware and Philko clones were all 3bpp. (In English this had 16-colour per tile, not 8-colours per tile)

Either way, I quickly hooked it up in the System 16 driver, and it booted, even showing me some sprites, the assumption WAS correct, however it would need further work, Philko had made significant changes to the hardware while copying it. It was immediately obvious that the palette RAM was bigger, again, fitting with what had previously been observed, if you have 16 colours per tile then you need more colours in total. Oddly, even with that all set up, and the base of the sprite palettes adjusted accordingly the colours were still off. It turned out that palette format had also been changed here, from the xRGBRRRRGGGGBBBB format of the original hardware to a simpler xBBBBBGGGGGRRRRR (where each R/G/B letter represents a single colour bit) Adding support for that alt format fixed the colours.

Sound was also different, I used the emulation from Whizz as a base, because clearly, from observing the reads / writes that’s what Philko had done, but here there was also an extra port used to access the OKI M6295 sample playback chip. As none of the clocks were measured on the PCB, nor the divider pin for the OKIM6295 I’m not 100% sure the sound is perfect.

With all that hooked up, inputs sorted out, and dipswitches deciphered to a usable level the game was playable. It seems like it was heavily influenced by Capcom’s US Navy / Area 88.

Interestingly the game doesn’t show a copyright on the title screen, but there’s a Philko disclaimer on the startup, Philko tiles in the tile ROMs, and a 1991 date on the bottom of the high score table, one of the dipswitches flips between ‘Korea’ and ‘Europe regions. Philko was also one of the few Korean manufacturers to actually have their own marked custom chips too (albeit only one of them on this PCB, the others had generic markings)

Also of interest is that the game does attempt to program what appears to be a clone of the Sega memory mapper chip (used for dynamic memory maps on System 16 etc.) although I haven’t currently hooked it up as dynamic, might have to see if it really does program valid values tho.

Again Big thanks to marcusfor dumping his PCB here. The picture provided alongside the ROMs is shown below.


Lock on PCB


Lock On Lock On
Lock On Lock On
Lock On Lock On
Lock On Lock On
Lock On Lock On
Lock On Lock On

I’ve also uploaded a video below, you can see some minor clipping issues on the left side in attract, but I’m 99% sure those will happen on a PCB too, the image it’s scrolling around is part of one of the tile layers and simply isn’t wide enough to cover the area where you can see the blank space.



Another one that was all but forgotten this time last week saved from extinction.

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’96 Flag Rally

February 9, 2016 Haze Categories: General News. 15 Comments on ’96 Flag Rally

Nosunosu and ShouTime got this obscure Korean title dumped.

It’s so obscure I’m not 100% sure who actually made it, there’s no manufacturer information shown onscreen, in the ROM, or on the PCB.

There’s an entry in the Korean games database for it but that’s about it.

Seems to be unique (but simple) hardware, the whole thing was emulated from scratch using MAME / MAME cores in around 3-4 hours.

I’ve recorded a video below, and will probably put up some static screenshots later.

Refresh rate and PCB clocks for the 68k / M6295 haven’t been measured so are guessed at the moment, but it looks and sounds reasonable to me; it’s not even a bad game even if it borrows all its ideas from Rally-X



*edit* here are some snaps


'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally
'96 Flag Rally '96 Flag Rally

For those wondering, yes, most of the graphics in this game are stolen from elsewhere, there are 3 sets of background tiles for example
The first set is from ‘Sim City 2000’ ( you can easily see one of the buildings that was stolen near the center of the image at http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/talktome/assets/TTM_211-large.jpg )
the second set is from ‘The Settlers 2’ ( the catapult shown on http://img3.picload.org/image/argppro/testen.png is one of the buildings)
and the third set of tiles is from Caesar 2 ( you can see several of the buildings in http://www.agamesroom.com/library/images/screenshots/caesar2/caesar2ss3.gif )

SC2k was originally released in 1994, the other 2 were 1996 releases, which makes sense considering this was likely released around then too.

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A game of Cat and Mouse

February 8, 2016 Haze Categories: General News. 5 Comments on A game of Cat and Mouse

Vas Crabb made some improvements to Cat and Mouse a while back, but in the end we discovered that one of the graphic roms had been dumped as half size.

We knew Vernimark owned a PCB of this game, so I got in contact with f205v to ask him if he could double check the ROM and dump it as the correct type. This process took a couple of weeks, but eventually f205v got back to me to tell me that the job had been done.

f205v updated his site with the details .

Using these details, and a bit of deduction Vas was able to find how the game banks the sprite ROM; on the PCB there’s a wire leading around the PCB from one of the pins on the chip at L14 (the graphic rom) which I guess has something to do with it, see the image linked below. In emulation terms, it’s an otherwise unused bit of the sound latch. Also note, the position next to the socket is marked for a 2716, which is presumably why the rom ended up being dumped half size, the ROM on the PCB is actually a 2732.
http://www.citylan.it/wiki/images/a/ad/174_main_PCB_component_side_detail5.jpg

Vas also improved the colours in the game using the close-up of the resistor network
http://www.citylan.it/wiki/images/c/ca/174_main_PCB_component_side_resistors_detail.jpg
however it is possible one of the values is still slightly wrong because the 3rd resistor down on the left-most column looks like it might hav been repaired / replaced in the past, as Vas noted in the driver

“Blue uses 47R and 820R on the PCB we have a photo of, although the 47R resistor looks like it could be a bad repair (opposite orientation and burn marks on PCB)”

So if anybody else has a Cat and Mouse to double check that it would be good, the impact of it potentially being wrong is nothing serious, as the value we’re using works well, but it would be good to know the original value for sure. Also if anybody has a Cat and Mouse PCB that runs the ‘set 2’ from MAME then the last program rom on that set still needs redumping, it should also be a 2732, not a 2716, Vernimark was unable to help with that because his PCB is the ‘set 1’ PCB in MAME.

Anyway, here are some screenshots of it running with the improved colours and correct sprites; the old lady with broom sprite was completely missing in the previous graphic roms, as was one of the orientations for the dog.


Cat and Mouse Cat and Mouse Cat and Mouse
Cat and Mouse Cat and Mouse Cat and Mouse

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