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July 26, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 12 Comments on The Slow Road

Cybertank is one of those big, and rather ugly games which failed it’s location test.

It’s a large two screen cabinet running a traditional sprite scaler game where one player drives (and shoots with automatically targeted cannons) while a second player can control an aimed machine gun. In that sense it’s a bit like Namco’s classic ‘Lucky and Wild’

Unless it’s an emulation issue, it seems to have an awful framerate (the game internally appears to update sprites at around 15fps) and it apparently failed location test for being ‘too hard’ and therefore not much fun. I have a feeling the framerate is largely responsible for that, it’s very hard to play a fast paced action game updating at even 30fps, 15fps is far too low.

The emulation is no easier either, it’s been sat in MAME as non-working for ages, references are few and far between (only really a blurry review photo) and the board, like many of these sprite scaler hardwares has heaps of proms & roms containing tables for unknown purposes and bits and pieces like that.

Anyway, Kale recently fixed the controls (turned out to be a very silly bug) which has elevated the priority of me looking into this. A quick pass last night has helped clear some things up.

I’ve found the correct palette bases for the road layer, identified a palette select bit in the road line table, together these allow for ‘bands’ to be drawn in the road, giving the impression of movement rather than just a static gradient. It also allows for colour variations, as used on the title screen.

In addition I’ve moved the tilemaps over to the tilemap system (it appears to use 3 layers using identical hardware for each layer) and added scrolling to those, so the background now scrolls left and right, as well as up and down on hills.

That also meant I had to add priority to the road, so I made a guess that some of the other bits in the road line table were priority, allowing the horizon to slide behind the road on hills etc. Anyway, that leaves us here:


Cyber Tank

Cyber Tank

Cyber Tank

Now, it’s definitely an improvement, but there’s still much to do.

Currently I don’t think the palette select bits are hooked up correctly on the tilemaps, this is kinda obvious from the backgrounds. Each tilemap seems to have a region of 0x40 possible palettes, but we only have enough bits to select 0x8 of those at the moment. The way certain palettes are doubled up makes me wonder if some of the tile number bits also end up acting as palette select, but so far I’ve had no luck on that.

*edit* As of this afternoon I think I’ve fixed the palette selection, it was pretty much as expected, tile number bits being doubled up as palette select. Below you can see screenshots with better colours, of note the HUD elements and backgrounds.*edit*


Cyber Tank

Cyber Tank

The second major issue is the sprites. Right now their placement is quite badly off (I suspect they can have an origin / zoom point specified) the end of list handling is wrong (hence trails on the cannons etc.) as well as various other issues. This is probably where a lot of the unknown ROMs come into play too, many of them look like tables, so I’m guessing they’re used for zooming (to specify which pixels get drawn, skipped etc.) That would account for at least 4 of the unknown roms IMHO. There are another two which are the same as each other, I’ve even less idea what to make of those, or any of the PROMs.

Either way, I’m going to look at this a bit more, and hopefully some more progress can be made.

A video of the current state can be seen below.



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Looks like, at that kind of framerate it could be nausea inducing after a while, probably wouldn’t have helped

Excellent work!

great work looks like a cool game

VERY glad you cracked the roadway issue. The cabinet is still awaiting the board to come back. I thank you again for the reason that MAME saves it. If the board ever fails on me if I tried it, I can now use a MAME box inside. If I dared to plug it in before sending it to your team, the game data would have been lost forever.

So once again, thanks a million there!

Also as a point, I would think the shot sprites that hang in get zeroed out to get re-used. Also, the speed it is driving is too fast by maybe 30%.

The most it ever earned on location was 3 dollars a week.

yeah, they seem to mark the sprites as unused, but i’m handling the marker incorrectly, or using the wrong one.

I’ve improved the sprites since the video was made so trees no longer fly across the middle of the road etc. but the end-of-list or sprite disabled handling is still incorrect. There are a lot of bits in spriteram we don’t use right now so isolating exactly which one is meant to tell it to not draw the sprite is tricky, they don’t *fully* blank out the entries.

I guess I’m a little surprised it didn’t take a bit more money, it looks a nice game from the attract sequences, but when you come to play it you often don’t really know what’s going on, what / where you should be avoiding, or without the second player, what you’re actually going to end up shooting which just makes it frustrating to play.

It is a great looking game, but people I think also got frustrated in running out of bullets super fast, plus the driver was player 1. To be a top gunner, you had to have 2 players.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the cabinet. I know, dusty and such. The marquee was lost before I ever got the cabinet. This is considered to be the only existing cabinet of the game.

http://www.nightmarepark.com/public/Pictures/Meadowbrook/Cybertank%20cabinet.jpg

I don’t think that cabinet did it any favors to be honest, it doesn’t play to the games strengths and just ends up looking very cramped with the actual display looking tiny compared to the controls despite being a 2 screen setup. The cabinet is almost hiding the game. In the magazine review I mentioned ( http://www.solvalou.com/subpage/arcade_reviews/238/92/cyber_tank_review.html ) even the cabinet next to it actually looks like you have more screen space and has more prominent visibility etc.

Was this just the upright cabinet? I guess Romstar were only involved in the US testing / distribution side of it, and maybe there were plans for bigger cabinets in Japan? I guess it must have flopped over there too tho because it never gets mentioned.

Would be nice to see it restored and on display at something like Cali Extreme one year tho, bound to get more people playing it there than it ever got during it’s service life.

I’m not sure whether or not it flopped in Japan, but there was an official OST released for the game there http://vgmdb.net/album/5134

It is surprising it didn’t do better in US testing, its certainly a game with a big visual impact. Still hard to judge how difficult it is until properly emulated, but being a Japanese game (and developed by Coreland) I’m sure a 1 credit clear is possible.

Its great to see this progress Haze, and fingers crossed you manage to get more progress with the game so it becomes properly playable.

As an interesting note – theres a Japanese review of the game here http://www.wshin.com/games/review/sa/cybertank.htm

He basically says the game is awesome and the 2nd player machinegun side is incredibly fun because of how destructive it feels (apparently it vibrates as you shoot it?) Hopefully some of that shooting destruction fun comes through in mame without the help of the cabinet ;)

I also wonder if this dump the mame team got differs at all from the Japanese version.

Very impressive work!! :)

Well it’s good to see Cyber Tank at MAME and I remember seeing that same cabinet at Bangor near Belfast in Northern Ireland early 90s until 1995.

Here’s the Cyber Tank manual if you want to be more accurate on the progress Haze unless you saw it already but here’s the website: http://www.arcade-museum.com/manuals-videogames/C/Cyber%20Tank.pdf

As far as I’m know like it said on the manual at page 20 “The DIP SW-3 is not used.” and the DIP SW-2 Setting/Position 3 at page 23 “OFF NOT USE”. But in MAME the DIP SW-2 Setting/Position 3 says “Unknown” & the DIP SW-3 on 1-8 says “Unknown”. I think the Unknown switches should say “Unused”.

What about the “1P LAMP” and “2P LAMP” support on MAME? Antonio Gonzalez jr. can you tell me what color are the 1P & 2P buttons, are they red? You might find a marquee or the parts at ebay.co.uk but it seems unlikely that they ever do appear, or do you know anyone/anywhere in the UK/Europe that might have the missing marquee plus the missing things for the Cyber Tank Machine? This website shall give you an example on what’s missing from your cabinet http://www.solvalou.com/subpage/arcade_reviews/60/92/cyber_tank_review.html it will show you the picture of that cabinet althought you probably saw it already.

Haze, keep up the good work on Cyber Tank to improve the sprite graphics until it’s fully emulated if you please?

Yeah, I’d already snagged the manual from the link on Klov, interesting note, the mock up shots in the manual show version 1.3, the version we have is 1.4.. Not that it means much, it was obviously version 1.3 at some point, but I guess it raises the possibility there is a 1.3 set out there slightly.

Lamps, yeah, I’ve seen some writes which look like they could be lamps, there’s also apparently some kind of vibrate effect needs at least identifying so something like MAMEhooker could pick it up.

Sprites are annoying me at this point, I’ve asked for some fresh eyes on them, but I will go back to them eventually if nobody else can figure out the remaining issues.

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