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MAME work and other stuff

Popir… Opus

December 31, 2018 Haze Categories: General News. 1 Comment on Popir… Opus

The previous few updates have been about Japanese music games running on XaviX hardware. Those games were quite popular in Japan back in the day.

One lesser known piece of history is Radica’s attempt to bring such a game to the non Japanese markets. While Radica flooded the market with a terrible licensed Tetris game and other things using novelty controllers one of their less talked about products is actually one of the better ones. Opus is basically the same gameplay concept as Popira, but with a fixed library of songs (no cartridge support) and a few extra features, such as Smartbombs to clear the screen if you think you’re about to lose, and a ‘Red Ball’ mode, where you a ball will randomly be coloured red and you have to let it drop instead of hitting it.

This was also one of the trickier ones to dump. Many of the other XaviX games have had TSOP pads near the ROM glob, which could have wires attached to them allowing the readout of the ROM data as if it were a standard ROM with that pinout. Opus, and a number of others do not have that, the traces go straight from the ROM glob to the CPU glob with no simple indication of which line is which and no easy place to solder on wires. Luckily we have Sean, and he managed to trace out the lines from each glob and use his skillset to work out what each line was for and hook up wires directly to the traces allowing for the ROM to be dumped that way. There are a number of other XaviX games (and Jakks games) that will need similar treatment (although many use smaller PCBs and will require even more delicate work)


Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus

Compared to all the novelty controller junk that was put out this holds up remarkably well, even if the graphics are maybe a little ugly. There’s an unemulated ‘Static TV’ effect that’s used in some of the menus; it can be seen in the only original hardware video of this thing on YouTube. As for an emulation video, here you go.


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Thanks also to Peter Wilhelmsen for purchasing this item.

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DDR Family Mat, Taiko De Popira etc.

December 28, 2018 Haze Categories: General News. 3 Comments on DDR Family Mat, Taiko De Popira etc.

I mentioned that I’d do an update showing Dance Dance Revolution running with some of the compatible e-kara cartridges.

The first thing you’ll probably notice if you boot with one of the cartridges inserted is that the Konami copyright is rendered in a less pleasing colour. Not sure why this was done, maybe to make it stand out more on a TV, it seems to be an intentional change tho.


DDR Family Mat

Beyond that, it’s really just different lists of songs, the presentation doesn’t change.

Cartridge P-01


Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1

Cartridge P-03

Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1

Cartridge P-04

Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1 Cartridge P1

I say the presentation doesn’t change, but Cartridge P-04 is a bit strange, almost immediately upon starting the modes with the yellow background it flips the background to a blue colour, which means the characters don’t really blend in very well. This only seems to happen the first time, so could just be a bug that’s been introduced in the software. Will probably need to check it on the hardware, although it might even not happen if the game has already been played and there is data in backup ram.

The P4 cart also gives a 2002 copyright, and contains an SEEPROM, which doesn’t seem to be used by Family Mat, but can be used by Popira for saving how many of the songs you’ve completed.


Cartridge P4 Cartridge P4

Taiko De Popira is a variation of the Popira game featured in the previous update. Instead of 4 digital buttons it uses 2 analog drums. Otherwise it’s very similar in terms of gameplay. The analog controls make it more annoying to hook up in MAME however, with my current implementation seemingly hitting the drums with giant strength multiple times and causing some ugly sounds. The base ROM this time appears to present a story.


Taiko De Popira Taiko De Popira
Taiko De Popira Taiko De Popira
Taiko De Popira Taiko De Popira
Taiko De Popira Taiko De Popira

Like the others, this also allows you to plug in certain e-kara cartridges to expand the library, here is it running with DC0005 (TV Pop Volume 9)

Taiko De Popira Taiko De Popira
Taiko De Popira Taiko De Popira

Still needs work, especially the analog controls, and the SEEPROM saving, but you can get an idea from how it runs so far.


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Again thanks to Sean for taking care of the dumping and providing some hardware insight, and thanks to Shoutime for helping secure these things in Japan and getting them shipped out.

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Popira (XaviX)

December 26, 2018 Haze Categories: General News. 2 Comments on Popira (XaviX)

Another unit that was picked up in Japan by Shoutime, this time with me putting the money towards it, is Takara’s Popira TV Game. It was sent to Sean who managed to read out the ROM from the unit.

This is another XaviX title, and as such the sound emulation isn’t quite right yet (tempo is too slow, envelopes are missing) and won’t be marked as working until those issues are solved, but the basic game is playable in the XaviX emulation I’ve been working on in MAME over the past few months. The unit I picked up is the original single player Yellow version.


Takara Popira Takara Popira
Takara Popira Takara Popira
Takara Popira Takara Popira

Like the Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat below, this is also compatible with certain e-kara cartridges (not a huge number of them, but enough) expanding the song library if you use them. Unlike Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat, 2 of these are already dumped. If you use a cartridge you get a slightly different title screen.

Takara Popira

You can see below the song selection screen for one of the cartridges “gc0002 – BHT Volume 1 (Japan) (GC0002-BHT)” being used in both Popira and e-kara

Takara Popira Takara Popira

and some gameplay shots of that one running on the Popira

Takara Popira Takara Popira

Here is the same for another one of the cartridges “gc0006 – BHT Volume 3 (Japan) (GC0006-BHT)”

Takara Popira Takara Popira
Takara Popira Takara Popira

I also made some videos; you can see the music is too slow because the % bar reaches 100% long before any of the songs end.


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I also made a video of the DDR Family Mat for the previous update (again music is too slow right now)


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… at least with emulation I can cheat to unlock the Superhard mode in Popira ;-)


Takara Popira Takara Popira

Some other stuff was dumped too, I’ll get to that in a later update.

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Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat (XaviX)

December 25, 2018 Haze Categories: General News. Comments Off on Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat (XaviX)

While I probably should do an update about the recent SSV addition Pastel Island because there’s plenty to say about the way it uses special effects etc. and it follows up on the previous SSV posts well, for the now I’m making a post about something else.

One of the interesting things about XaviX is how it was used in all sorts of products. While researching the e-kara stuff it came to my attention that Konami put out a Dance Dance Revolution TV Game in Japan that could make use of a handful of the e-kara carts, so I became interested in seeing what it was.

The unit was known as “Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat” and was released in 2001. Peter worked with Shoutime to pick one up in Japan and have it shipped to Sean who dumped it for Christmas. Here are the first emulation shots (I still need to sort out the control hookup, but it doesn’t look complex) I haven’t checked how in sync / out of sync the music is, but since it’s XaviX based I imagine there’s plenty more work to do on that front; I’m hoping it tells me something new when I start digging into it.

This kind of thing, along with the previous work on the Famiclone based Dance Dance Revolution Disney Mix and Dance Dance Revolution Strawberry Shortcake developed by Majesco is the kind of thing that interests me, as it helps to show the lineage, and licensing deals made for poplar titles like this and how different parts of the world got very different products on very different hardware.


Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat
Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat
Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat
Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat
Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat
Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat Dance Dance Revolution Family Mat

We do also have some of the carts used by this so hopefully in a future update I can show the same cart being used in both a DDR Family Mat and e-Kara unit.

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Super Duck vs ‘chicken’

December 4, 2018 Haze Categories: General News. 9 Comments on Super Duck vs ‘chicken’

Magic Purple, a game by Unico featuring duck like characters punching their way to glory. This is one I’ve been curious about now for probably almost 15 years ago, since we missed out on one that was for sale back then. In the end a copy turned up in a PCB collection in Spain having gone unnoticed for all these years.

It’s your usual ‘Tumble Pop’ style affair on hardware that clearly evolved from clones of Tumble Pop, and plays very similar to Unico’s other offering from the same period ‘Fancy World’ although here you have scrolling stages. There’s not really much to be said about the game play, you punch enemies to stun them then punch them a few more times to kill them. Spikes kill you, and there’s a power-up system beyond the obvious pick-ups that I don’t really understand (it might really just be a slot-reel like lottery) Different enemies have slightly different behaviors, but there’s not a huge amount of variety or real depth.

The item names suggest that the item graphics were changed at some point in development, but the text not updated. The initials N.G.S appear in various places, including on the flag of the first boss, I’m guessing this might be the actual developer, with Unico being the publisher? Either way, Unico was one of those interesting Korean companies, so I’m glad this one was found.

Noteworthy things, it remaps RAM at 0, and the ROM at a higher address space, which is very unusual for 68k based hardware, given that everything else is basically the same as Fancy World I suspect this was done as a way to stop people from easily converting one PCB to the other.

Emulation didn’t take long to work out since it’s the same as Fancy World, a driver I did many years ago.

Thanks to Jose IBI, Arcade Vintage, Recreativas.org, and The Dumping Union for finding / dumping this one.

(while there are certainly thematic similarities with the characters here, for example the main character being a purple duck in both, I don’t really think this was meant as a sequel to Comand’s Super Duck, or as it was originally called ‘Hell Out’ even if the top high score entry is HL2)


Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple
Magic Purple Magic Purple

I also made a brief video

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SSV Improvements Part 2

November 26, 2018 Haze Categories: General News. 38 Comments on SSV Improvements Part 2

Another feature of SSV is the ability to disable certain bitplanes on sprites. The driver implemented this to switch between 6bpp (64 colour) and 8bpp (256 colour) sprites, pre-decoding the tiles in both of these formats. The actual hardware is much more flexible than that however as you can disable any 2 bitplanes, and it turns out Eagle Shot Golf was making use of a different, previously unsupported masking combination for the ‘Birdie’ and ‘Eagle’ text at the end of holes, which was causing Japanese characters to appear over the text. Presumably Sammy did this to save memory, and if they want to display the Japanese characters different bitplanes will be enabled (the set we have seems to be a US set, so there’s no Japanese text used to test that side of things)

Here’s what it looked like before.


Eagle Shot Golf Eagle Shot Golf

and here’s how it looks with the fix.


Eagle Shot Golf Eagle Shot Golf

This was a much easier fix than the previous ones, however there must be some kind of global enable / disable for the feature, as while it’s explicitly needed by Eagle Shot, a few other games dislike it. Like the others, this bug has existed in MAME since the game was added (0.75, from 12 Oct 2003 – 15 years ago)

Again, this is likely to be in the end of December release (0.205) as the deadline for the end of November release on Wednesday has already passed.

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