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UME 0.147u3

November 19, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 43 Comments on UME 0.147u3

UME (logo by JackC)

UME (Universal Machine Emulator) combines the features of MAME and MESS into a single multi-purpose emulator. The project represents a natural course of development for the emulators which already share large amounts of code and is part of an ongoing effort to unify development efforts and provide a single emulation platform for users and developers alike.

As an end user this means that the software provided here is not only capable of emulating arcade machines like the baseline versions of MAME, but in addition can emulate a large number of home computers and consoles from across the world using the very same code, developed by the very same team of developers.

0.147u3 Windows binaries (32-bit and 64-bit) (Self Extracting 7-zip)
0.147u3 Source (7-zip)

What’s New

You can read the various whatsnew files on mamedev.org
From MAME, From MESS

Points of Interest

This is the first *official* build to contain Planet Probe, featured in updates below, it also contains the preliminary work I’ve done on NeoCD (I have more changes pending to fix the sound, but until I get to the bottom of some issues they break more than they fix, so haven’t been submitted at this time)

Luca’s work on some Korean Hanafuda games, as well as the Italian title ‘Harem’ is also included.

After working on the Amiga code a bit for u2 I took a look at CD32 this time around and fixed some inputs there, meaning you can actually start various games, although most have graphical issues rendering them unplayable, Pinball Fantasies does however work much like the regular AGA version but without the hassle of the disks, Vital Light is somewhat playable, as are some of the games in the Big 6 Dizzy Collection, however the main attraction there, the AGA version of Fantastic Dizzy does not run correctly.

From a ‘direction’ standpoint Olivier Galibert’s rewrite of the m6502 cores to be cycle accurate is significant, moreso when you consider the possibility of waitstates / stalls on the horizon if core improvements are made because having a cycle exact core in the first place can be absolutely vital if you’re going to be stalling things at the correct time eg. in the middle of an opcode, or calculating how long you’re meant to stall for based on which part of an opcode you’re currently performing the read/write or fetch from. The Z80 will need similar treatment at some point in the future. From a MAME perspective you’re probably not going to see any benefit from this as 99.9% of arcade games really don’t care, but many home systems need a greater degree of accuracy and are really the driving force behind real project improvements these days, not the arcade games; that’s one reason I do these UME builds as they better demonstrate where improvements are coming from over a plain MAME build.

Olivier has also continued to improve the floppy emulation code, although we’re still lacking restored dsk support in the CPC drivers, which is a shame because I was wanting to give a test run to some speccy stuff which uses the same format, but still, improvements are good to see, it would appear that getting floppy emulation code to work reliably across many different platforms is one of the more annoying challenges in MESS as some systems really don’t behave to spec.

MSX lovers might want to check out some sprite fixes there, a hack which was causing too many sprites to be shown in some situations was removed, this was breaking some masking effects and the like.

This release also sees lots of small changes made across both projects, too many to really sum up here, so be sure to also check the actual whatsnew files and see if anything catches your eye.

Screenshots Related to this Update

Big 6 Dizzy Collection – Menu
the menu is rather horrible, nasty animated background, sluggish cursor movement etc. It has all the instructions to read, but gives a bad first impression!
Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Big 6 Dizzy Collection – Crystal Kingdom Dizzy
this will always be the weakest of the games (poor level design, and controlling your jumps in mid-air means it just isn’t a *real* Dizzy game) but it seems to work
Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Big 6 Dizzy Collection – Fantastic Dizzy
I love the SMS version of this, it’s basically a Dizzy Megamix incorporating ideas, puzzles and minigames from every Dizzy game before it, while introducing many new ones of it’s own. It’s one of the few Dizzy games where the 16-bit ports really felt good too, shame the CD32 version with it’s special AGA enhancements barely works here
Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Big 6 Dizzy Collection – Magicland Dizzy
bouncy colourful and well-drawn this one, the physics don’t feel quite right compared to the 8-bit versions, but it’s a very playable game, you kill these ghosts with a power-pill ;-)
Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Big 6 Dizzy Collection – Spellbound Dizzy
The biggest Dizzy game which was part of the original 8-bit series (so not counting Fantastic Dizzy) but I always had bad experiences with the Amiga version. I owned the original of it and was always granted infinite lives and it had game breaking bugs in various situations (usually with the Whale deciding to vanish from the game completely) Interestingly in WinUAE I don’t get the infinite lives problem with the floppy version (I haven’t tried this CD version) but in MESS this CD certainly exhibits the same problems I remember on the original system, so I’m not quite sure what the situation is.
Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Big 6 Dizzy Collection – Treasure Island Dizzy
An odd one, this was the first Dizzy game released on the 16-bits (the original game wasn’t ported) and in some sense it feel close to the 8-bit games, right down to the screen update being every 4 frames, but at the same time the Amiga / ST releases of this had a lot of extra rooms compared to the Speccy version, and some of the additional puzzles involved are just bizzare and various extra parts require you to jump into what look like enemies to get coins which doesn’t really work on a game where you have one life and no energy bar. I don’t like the graphics either.
Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Big 6 Dizzy Collection – Prince of the Yolkfolk
One of the smallest Dizzy games, but also one of the more polished, definitely an enjoyable entry level game, and the 16-bit versions like this one aren’t too bad; it feels, and looks a lot like Magicland Dizzy
Big 6 Dizzy Collection Big 6 Dizzy Collection

Vital Light
The best arcade game ever invented.. except I don’t think it was ever released as an arcade game! Some graphical effects are missing, most notably the aim line, but it’s not too hard to play even without it, I wonder how many of these AGA / CD32 fixes would actually be quite simple to figure out / implement.

Vital Light ital Light

Vital Light ital Light

Vital Light ital Light

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Now Loading…….

November 17, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 10 Comments on Now Loading…….

One surprising omission from MESS / UME is working NeoGeo CD emulation, especially when you consider that one of the most popular original emulators was actually based off the MAME codebase!

In truth, until recently most NeoGeo CD emulators, including the aforementioned MAME based one have been rather big hacks, HLEing most of the bios code and loading the games almost instantly, although Final Burn Alpha came along and changed all that a while back now.

The FBA guys take a lot from MAME, so were quite happy for me to port their code, so over the course of yesterday I started porting it to MAME; the current porting is rather crude and ugly, but enough to get some games booting (although many will still hang and sound isn’t working yet)

As a system the NeoCD isn’t especially interesting, at the time it offered a low cost way of getting NeoGeo quality games in your home, the cost however was extreme loading times, and often reduced animation etc. These days it doesn’t even offer much in the way of exclusives now that the likes of Ironclad MVS has surfaced via Virtual Console etc. There are however a couple of things noteworthy.

First off, Crossed Swords 2, chances are this exists as an MVS prototype somewhere, it was clearly designed as such, but for the time being it hasn’t surfaced, or at least hasn’t been dumped, so for now Crossed Swords 2 remains exclusive to the NCD. Think of it as a medieval Punchout with Swords, much like the first game.

Crossed Swords 2 Crossed Swords 2

Crossed Swords 2 Crossed Swords 2

There was also the Samurai Spirits RPG, which was only released in Japan. This has however subsequently seen ports to other platforms, so isn’t a NeoCD exclusive, but is interesting in that it’s the only game on the NeoCD which was really developed as a NeoCD game rather than a port of one of the arcade titles.

Samurai Spirits RPG Samurai Spirits RPG

Samurai Spirits RPG Samurai Spirits RPG

Final Romance 2, part of the Video System Mahjong series didn’t officially appear on the MVS, although some people have since done fake conversions.

Final Romance 2 Final Romance 2

Interestingly that did see an arcade release, but as stated, not on the MVS, although it’s likely there is an MVS proto out there too, the actual arcade was a much fancier double screen setup, probably why it was chosen over the MVS, it has been emulated in MAME for a long time now.

Final Romance 2 Arcade

Neo-Geo CD Special is another exclusive, but is basically just a promo disc, nothing interesting on it at all

NeoGeo CD Special NeoGeo CD Special

ADK World is similar, but at least contains a very basic playable shooter themed with one of the World Heroes characters.

ADK World ADK World

Kof 96 NeoGeo CD Collection again isn’t really a game, but a collection of bios and background info on the KOF characters

KOF 96 Collection KOF 96 Collection

Rally Chase is interesting only in that it was rebranded from Thrash Rally for the home system, I don’t know if there is some history to this, or if ADK just decided Rally Chase was a better name, left is NeoCD, right is MVS

Rally Chase Thrash Rally

Art of Fighting 3 is interesting because it’s one of the games where you can most notice the degraded visuals compared to the original MVS, the NeoCD simply didn’t have enough RAM to fit the higher resolution character graphics in given the vast number of animation frames each character has, so it’s fixed to the lower resolution no matter how close your characters are. Again left is NeoCD, right is MVS.

Art of Fighting 3 Art of Fighting 3

ZinTrick probably deserves a mention too in that it also didn’t see an official MVS release, it was also the victim of a nasty fake prototype scam a couple of years back whereby somebody took the CD version, hacked it to run on a cart and sold it as a proto for some stupid amount of money; it was subsequently dumped and found to be fake, that set is supported in MAME. It has since been hacked further (various bugs due to the original shoddy hacking fixed and fake proto messages removed) and sold as bootleg carts. That one looks exactly the same however, so I’m not bothering with screenshots.

Of course the NeoCD also benefited from having high quality CD audio soundtracks, but it wasn’t much of a consolation when you factor in the loading times. Some games also had a bit of extra content in the menus, or slight tweaks but really nothing to write home about.

I’ll see if I can get to the bottom of some of the bugs, anyway, right now the screenshots make things look like they’re working better than they really are. Also only the Neo CDZ works, not the original Neo CD, but I believe FBA is the same for that issue.

Anyway speaking of loading, many games use the plain loading screen after booting the disk, mostly the earlier ones, this just plain text and a little animated TV

Plain Loading

However a large number replace this screen with something a bit more custom, often with an amusing animation.

Now Loading... Now Loading...

Now Loading... Now Loading...

Now Loading... Now Loading...

Now Loading... Now Loading...

Now Loading... Now Loading...

Now Loading... Now Loading...

These animations sometimes vary for different parts of the game being loaded, with several using full-screen loading screens after the initial load, although some actually use full-screen ones from the start. They don’t really help make the loading any less painful, but they make for an interesting tidbit of information you won’t be familiar with if you’ve only played the MVS versions.

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Italy Gets a Planet Probe (Part 2)

November 6, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 30 Comments on Italy Gets a Planet Probe (Part 2)

As promised, here is the 2nd part of the Planet Probe update.

I’m not going to repeat details mentioned in the first update, instead I’ll simply mention that the tile flipping has been fixed, and priorities adjusted slightly based on what seems logical. A few sprite-sprite priority issues remain where the crosshair goes behind certain targets, but I believe these are part of the original game; multi-pass sprite drawing is exceptionally uncommon.

I left the name entry screen to time-out after entering my initials so that people can hear the brief tune played there.

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The game doesn’t appear to have an ending, if you turn on the invulnerability dipswitch it loops the same few backgrounds etc. which means it plays a lot more like an ‘old skool’ shooter than anything else.

*edit* since this Planet Probe is incapable of predicting earthquakes, or what music is going to play when I don’t actually have any speakers plugged in or turned on I’ve recorded another video which plays an alternate melody on the high score table. It appears the game uses a different piece of music when you get the top high score compared to the others, this should be the right one this time! As a reminder, the one composed from memory by Bisboch 20+ years after playing the game is here

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*edit2* since recording these videos I’ve decided to swap the priorities around a bit, the glitches are just too obvious in the 2nd video the way things were IMHO.

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Italy Gets a Planet Probe (Part 1)

November 6, 2012 Haze Categories: General News. 9 Comments on Italy Gets a Planet Probe (Part 1)

Sometimes rare games show up when you least expect them to, not in expensive yahoo.jp auctions, just in the hands of good natured people who want to see them emulated.

Planet Probe falls into that category, a PCB was recently sourced by Alberto Grego, in Italy. Some had started to doubt the game really existed, and believed it to be a figment of somebody’s imagination, with the only reported sightings in and around Italy.

The board wasn’t in very good condition, booted, but was very glitchy, the roms were troublesome to read (Kold666 couldn’t get consistent reads, but thankfully f205v could) This game was very much at risk of being lost forever, but luckily all the roms still seem to be present, and the dumps correct.

Planet Probe Planet Probe

Planet Probe Planet Probe

Planet Probe

One amazing fact about this game is that one of the Italian players ‘Bisboch’ actually found the high-score entry music so memorable he was able to compose a rendition of it 20+ years after playing the game as detailed here, the even more amazing part is that his memory was very close to being correct even after all those years; I’ll post a video with the second part of the update so that you can compare.

You may have noticed the game lacks a manufacturer in the copyright message, ‘so who made it’ and ‘is it a bootleg?’ become valid questions. Personally I don’t believe it’s a bootleg, the styling of the high-score tables hints strongly that the game was created by Orca / Kyugo who we know had a troubled past. The hardware turned out to be the same as Vastar, a game released by Orca / Kyugo under the Sesame Japan moniker, because Orca had gone bankrupt and they no longer had the right to use the name (according to the comments in mame.lst anyway)

I believe this game falls into the same category, it lacks a manufacturer simply because they had no trading name at the time they wanted to release it and were trying to sell it to potential distributors etc. Ultimately, based on it’s scarceness it appears nobody took this opportunity, effectively relegating the game to failed location test / prototype states or an incredibly limited release at best.

As you can see, there are some video glitches still, this is because the vastar.c driver doesn’t implement some of the tile flipping (large planet on the last shot) and the game uses a priority mode unused by Vastar and I haven’t determined the exact order of the layers yet. Once I’ve addressed these issues I’ll post a video as Part 2 of the update.

Thanks to everybody involved, especially Alberto Grego, hopefully he’ll be able to repair his PCB to working state :-)

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