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MAME work and other stuff

Now that a certain idiot has stopped spamming me with ‘do this!’ requests at every opportunity I’m taking the time to write a piece on some of the remaining tasks that lie ahead of Mamedev just to show that there still are a number of interesting things we still need to discover and figure out properly!

It’s no surprise to see progress winding down, the last 3 u updates have shown a significant slowing of new discoveries, and the busy period before that was more like an anomaly than any sign things are shifting back up a gear. Even MESS has been relatively quiet in the past month or two, so like with my 2012 writeup I’m going to focus on elements of both projects here.

This is also a live article, I’ll be adding notes to it over time, and the content is in no particular order, I’d appreciate people not linking to this until it’s more complete than it is now.

AMT Games – Beauty Block & IQ Pipe (Arcade)
These run on cloned Sega System 16 hardware, without any sprites, basically Tetris style hardware. We’ve seen other Korean titles like Atomic Point and Snapper on similar cloned boards but these two AMT titles have another problem in the form of protection. I’m not actually sure what the protection involves, it could just be some convolute ROM/RAM mirrors with scrambled access, or something more complex, either way they don’t do much at the moment. Beauty Block currently cycles through some random undressed women, IQ Pipe does nothing at all.

Emulating them might just be a case of getting a good understanding of the 68000 code, it depends how nasty the protection actually is.


Beauty Block PCB
Beauty Block Title Beauty Block Title
(Beauty Block pictures from Mame Italia dumping team)

Konami – GX Type 1 – Racin’ Force & Golfing Greats 2 (Arcade)
These GX titles present a unique challenge. Due to the flexible nature of the GX System games could add their own video chips, and for these two Konami pulled out something incredibly unconventional. The games rely on a special video chip performing post-process graphic operations on the output of a regular ROZ to give individual areas of the floor height elevation effects, thus creating pseudo 3d graphics when otherwise it would only be possible to do basic hills / corner as seen in almost every other racing game. The nature of this chip isn’t understood properly, nor how the ROZ plane mixes with the rest of the Konami video output.

This will be a challenging driver to work on both in terms of understanding the feature properly and getting a desirable level of performance; it’s already slow without the effect implemented although there is almost certainly room for optimization in the existing code. 6 rather nice videos, which must be taken from real hardware were uploaded to YouTube last year. Note, the crowd and many out the roadside boundaries are completely FLAT in the basic tilemaps and have their pixels stretched vertically by this post-process effect, it actually looks a little ugly at times (especially entering tunnels) but was certainly unique, I’m not aware of any other hardware, arcade or home that had a chip dedicated to doing this.



(more videos)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYqLbSjwR0g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqta6n-dImE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O-Man0yQ3c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3X0Mjw32CLY

(YouTube videos of Racin’ Force running on original hardware, uploaded by 6224836)

VM Labs – Nuon (Home)

The Nuon was a gaming technology built into a number of DVD players, there was an experimental emulator released around 10 years ago called Nuance, but the author is unfortunately no longer with us.

As a piece of technology it’s quite insane, offering something like N64 level visuals, and a multi-core design somewhere between a Jaguar on steroids and a PS3. It makes for a very difficult emulation target, especially because the existing emulator rather than using 100% original ROM dumps makes use of it’s own HLE code and replacement bios system. I’m not even sure there are any 100% clean dumps of the system bios, nor am I sure what it would take to get started emulating it (you might need to emulate the entire DVD players just to get started) The multi-core nature of the thing (and an apparent need to run much of the code in near perfect step sync) make it a daunting task to say the least and with a number of games using the DVD technology patents could prove to be an issue too (although for something like Tempest 3000 that shouldn’t be a problem) Currently MESS has no driver at all for this system, although the lack of certainty over the correct firmware files might be playing a role in that, I’m not sure. One for the truly insane to tackle (not me..)



(Tempest 3000 and Merlin Racing running on an actual Nuon enabled Samsung DVD player)

Jaleco – Megasystem 32 Extended – F1 Super Battle (Arcade)

Jaleco’s Megasystem 32 hardware is annoying enough without any expansions, and it’s fair to say it still isn’t fully emulated because many games still have noticeable glitches. F1 Super Battle is however twice as annoying due to a number of factors.

First of all there is extra, unknown hardware on the board, this gives it an extra graphic layer used for the road, as well as some kind of maths co-processor used to calculate scaling data. This co-processor interacts with the game in quite complex ways, and has associated interrupts etc. so understanding how it hooks up, and simulating it is a non-trivial task, especially with only the one game using it. This is all the more annoying because we don’t actually know what the extra hardware is, if it’s a known DSP with internal ROM, or if maybe there is a program uploaded somewhere for it (I don’t see one)

Secondly there is no useful information about the game anywhere, outside of MAME it may as well have not existed, no PCB pictures, no YouTube videos, you’d be lucky to find even a screenshot. Having reference material can be very helpful and for this game we have precisely none. *edit* There is at least a flyer, as mentioned in the comments, but all it gives are some low resolution screenshots that may also be doctored for the flyer.

If anybody fancies reverse engineering the behavior from the code (bearing in mind that it uses the obscure V70 processor) then that might be our only hope of seeing this one running properly, because guesswork based on behavior just doesn’t seem like it’s going to cut it.


(No original hardware videos / pictures because we have none)

Atari – Playstation Hardware – Primal Rage 2 (Arcade)

With the recent progress shown on the Playstation emulation I’m cautiously optimistic about this one, although so far none of the changes made to the Playstation emulation have actually shown any sign of improving the emulation here, suggesting it could possibly be a problem with how some of the game specific devices are hooked up, or some crude form of protection. Apparently the game specifies invalid destinations for some transfer operations, and takes out key code in the process, although I haven’t verified that myself. There are plenty of videos of this game about, which according to the original developers was actually complete at the point it was shelved. I guess we’ll have to see if anything comes of the emulation of this one over the new few months.



(Primal Rage 2 on original hardware)

Atari – Space Lords (Arcade)
You would be forgiven for thinking this one had been forgotten altogether, but the reality is this Atari classic sits as one of the most protected games they produced, and thus emulation of it remains difficult. The protection involves various bits of data being passed to a device and decrypted, that might not sound significant compared to many other games which have been emulated, but the device is used frequently and isn’t really understood at all. Some studying of it was done by various members of Mamedev, but it remains undefeated.



(Atari Space Lords, original hardware)

Continued on next page..

42 Comments

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don’t want to upset LM, but what skills are required for Votrax SC-01 emulation?

NBA Jam Extreme has never worked, from The Impact / Zinc time to now. Though I see it’s in Phil Bennett todo list, so maybe in the future..

Just love these write ups. Can not say i totally understand everything you describe, but the dedication you ( devs) all show is amazing.

I have a spare Casio Loopy and I’m in the UK, I did sent one to the guru w/ carts, which is where the internal printer ROM and cart dumps are from. Hit me up and its yours.

send*

I’m hungover and typo’d my email address too.

I have a spare Casio Loopy, I’m in the UK too, looks like the previous comment makes no sense as it was deleted for containing the R-O-M word.

Hit me up and it’s yours.

what carts do you have, are you in a position to reprogram them? can you do a ‘double size rom + upper pin bankswitch’ mod if needed (bios might checksum the carts in an unknown way)

I think the best entry point would be to hack something like the speech bubble graphics and capture a couple of hundred pages (or a video, and split it up) that way we’re modding something we know gets displayed at least, even if it sounds horrible inefficient ;)

Two copies of Anime Land (XK-401) and one of Wanwan Aijou Monogatari (XK-501). These are the duplicates, the rest I had sent to the guru with a loopy console, which is where we got the current dumps from. He still has those dumped carts and a loopy as I didn’t need them back.

I do have a programmer but no adapters for any flash chips, I’m also not confident in my soldering skills in modding it.

If you are willing, you can have this junk and hack away at it, I only collect this crap for dumping.

Wanwan Aijou Monogatari does have speech bubbles so that may just work.

Well there was one specific game I had in mind, although I can’t remember which one it was now (will have to run through them again)

I have no electronics skills at all, so would be able to do even less with the hardware than you. I wonder why Guru didn’t reply about the loopy when I asked directly on the list a few months back then, I practically shelved all work I was planning on it at that point because it seemed nobody had one.

He was pretty annoyed at me for creating the undumped wiki, so he may have thrown it in the trash.

He still has a Pippin US export board I sent to him for dumping, he did dump the Japanese one I sent him, also sent him a banged up Bandai Playdia (turned out to have 2 8-bit CPUs, horrible console with its own VCD format)

All these were donated to him so I never needed them back, so there is no bad blood on my part as they were his to throw away if he wanted, although they could just be in storage and forgotten about, he does have a lot of stuff.

A bit off-topic but i found this set of Snow Bros bootleg roms, which have the copyrights still intact. Funny story, i had a ‘Sakowa Project Korea’ version for some time, and tried to add copyrights back myself, when i scored the second board (with copyrights & logo) as ‘broken’ on Ebay recently. (my attempts to add the logo back myself had failed miserably..) Download is at dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6773475/repairs/snowbros/wintbob-toaplan.zip

sure this isn’t just the old set from MAME?

we used to support a Winter Bobble with such a copyright, but it was also a bad dump (bitrot causing the game to crash on certain levels) so it was replaced with the newer dump we support now (which lacks said copyright, but is otherwise good)

It’s GAELCO, not Galeco. ;)

indeed, had Jaleco in mind when I wrote that

WHAT? The Hyper NeoGeo 64 expects the RAM tests to FAIL?? I… I have no comment. I’ll just leave it at that.

Not in a visible way (ie there are no message to tell you it fails on said test) but it becomes obvious if you’re following the code / accesses made.

I guess it’s possible some early dev boards had twice as much RAM I don’t know why else they’d be testing RAM there, but it really does screw up some data transfers if you put ram there (or even treat it as a mirror)

TBH the memory tests on something like MegaSystem 32 are worse, the actual RAM tests on those tell you almost nothing because I don’t think there is a single game that actually checks the correct regions, most of the tests overrun into other areas, rely on mirrors, or only test a fraction of the actual RAM.

Memory fail interesting hardware protection. Weak sauce but still effective. Think about it, if you have a cart people can copy easily. But maybe the 32k chips are slightly more expensive than the 64k chips (happens from time to time). So the ‘pirate’ would buy the 64k chips and just drop the 32k worth of code onto it… For software it is easy for you to just make it fail. But you have to know what size chips there were to make it act correctly. Then if they throw mirrors in there it could look like bigger than it is. To understand it you probably would need to know the spot prices on the chips at the time.

Dear Haze,there are still many unemulated Mame driver not list the article…

Correct, this isn’t meant to be a list of ALL things unemulated, it’s a list of ones I find interesting with a bit of background information where possible.

I would really love for there to be some effort put into Gamate emulation. Most of the 1990-1992 Bit Corporation titles leave much to be desired, but the later 1993-1995 games from the UMC era are often quite enjoyable and deserve to be both preserved & played.

Yeah, it would be nice, it shows an evolution, how the industry matured, and became competitive. It’s a shame there is no way to dump them yet. I’ve not even seen photographs of what is inside them (is it blob chips like many of the pirate genesis games?)

I’ve split this up into multiple pages, the embedded YouTube things don’t half lag Firefox when loading the page otherwise!

There are internal shots of the Gamate’s board revisions and one of the card here: http://fuji.drillspirits.net/gamate/hardware/

Looks a lot like hu-cards.

That page is great but is missing a shot of the LCD board under the main PCB, that can be found here: http://www.museo8bits.com/wiki/images/c/c0/Gamate_DSC01104.jpg

so yeah blob logic in the carts.. somebody will have to trace the lines to the CPU I guess..

I’m pretty sure my fellow digital coprolite collector ranger_lennier has a few gamate cards.

Even the Gamate Soft Cards appear to have been made by at least 2 different manufacturers:

http://i1071.photobucket.com/albums/u503/bitcorp/gw4.png

are you sure they’re standard? they’d only need to have swapped a few bits around and you could send the whole thing up in smoke ;-)

they do LOOK the same, I’ll give you that (the article incog linked even mentioned this) so it would be one avenue to explore. I don’t know if soft cards for any of the other systems have been dumped mind you. I wasn’t familiar with them for all these systems until you posted about them.

I have a few carts too, but they are stored pretty far away, at my parents place

Sega used Soft Cards too, on the SG-1000 and the Master System:

http://www.videogameden.com/articles/hu/hu_seg2.jpg

http://i39.tinypic.com/2lpawn.jpg

I’ve been told before that the Master Systems Soft Cards are dumped, the MESS driver however just has a single cart slot and is missing the Soft Card slot.

http://www.smspower.org/uploads/Manuals/SuperTennis-SMS-AU-sms1.png

to my knowledge, data is stored in the same way in the card and in the cart, so apart from being anal with the media definition, current emulation in MESS handles data in an accurate way

Hi Master Haze! I think that you have forgotten to include Konami M2 miss developments.
Unfortunately from several years.

Yeah M2 would be an interesting one, and I believe there are videos I can use too, I’ll probably add that to the pages in the next few days (I’m still deciding on if to include a few other things)

(basically I’ll be doing small updates to this throughout the month)

Raiden II not on the list? Bawwww :P

Reading through this and I kind of regret getting rid of this one piece of cheap tech: a green mobile phone-looking device that had Snake and a few other games on it, with real basic music. No idea what it was, probably a cheap Chinese thing, but one of the devices you listed reminded me of it.

Taito G-net driver music should marked the article…

I wish you the greatest of success, much more so with the NeoGeo games.

My greatest wish would be to see Cool Riders 100% finished!

About F1 Super Blast – did you mean “F1 Super Battle”? I got some stuff from TAFA:

http://flyers.arcade-museum.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=5607&image=1

That has the most clear screenshot of F1 Super Battle. (P.S. Am I the only guy finding the crash part “too soon?” It has Senna’s helmet and we know he died in a crash in Imola 1994)

Yes, I did mean Super Battle, I keep calling it Blast for some reason, maybe that’s just because my thoughts when looking at it usually end with ‘Blast, that makes no sense’

There are a number of ‘missing’ Jaleco games from that era too, Super Strong Warriors is mentioned often, but we’ve never seen a trace of it beyond screenshots / flyers.

The way things stand… what if F1SB was a mere prototype that failed location test[s]? [/conspiracy]

honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of things we’ve emulated were, ie they made enough for some location tests, but they didn’t do well enough to make any more, but weren’t recalled (because they were of no real value when offset against the recall costs)

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