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MAME work and other stuff
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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There is a Neo CD demo that uses some unemulated modes for the CD interface (basically streaming CDDA audio in real time to the 68k and using it to display a waveform. Pretty neat, really.
I remember another, but I can’t think of it atm.

Don’t forget the CD version of Neo Turf Masters had an extra course not found on the original, called Scotland, and very difficult.

Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me, the NeoCD code is very rough compared to what SegaCD needs (where a lot of things are streamed) The original SegaCD implementation was a *heavily* modified, cleaned up version of some much older FBA NeoCD code I was forwarded from another source (which has almost nothing in common with the code there now) I guess the original code was trying to be more ambitious, and the final code was more along the lines of ‘this works, let’s stick with it’

Looks great, I can’t wait to try this in Mame. Thanks for your hard work and thanks to team FBA as well :-) :-) :-)

They won’t be in MAME, you’ll have to use MESS or one of my UME builds, plus it doesn’t really work properly yet (no sound in most games, broken rasters probably because my interrupt code is dodgy, no CDDA yet etc.)

I doubt it will be all cleaned up and made fully working in time for the next u release which is scheduled for tomorrow.

Why not in Mame? I only use MameUI clone builds and they don’t copy Mess or Ume extras and because I need this in Mame.

I think I need to change my name to Sad Face now :-( :-( :-(

Because the neogeo cd was a game console, not an arcade machine.

Mame and Mess are the same thing… they have the same code base, only Mess is for consoles and Mame is for arcade games.

Yeah, what HowardC said…

Unfortunately I can’t do much about what MAMEUI / the clone builds offer, so I guess if you’re unwilling to use regular MESS or UME then you’ll just have to keep using whatever you use for NeoCD now instead.

It is something I find frustrating (the divide) which is why I made UME in the first place, but I can only do so much. I hope one day MAME does just take it under the hood, offering a complete version with *everything* as well as a classic version more inline with the original vision (no gamblers, no home games etc.) but a lot of people will need to come around to the idea if that is ever happen.

Sorry I can’t please you with this on but it’s out of my hands, if I put this in MAME it would be yanked out in an instant.

You’re the second person to say almost the exact same thing today, it appears that Animal Bear has also concluded he won’t be using the NeoCD code demonstrated here because he wants to use MAMEUI and only MAMEUI, not MESS or UME


I wish there was a proper solution to this (IMHO there is, but nobody wants to hear it)

I am still using mameui but that is because I am lazy and have not bothered to switch out yet (other more interesting projects atm…) I seriously did not expect any sort of mess stuff in there. There are people who expect it? Mind blown…. The *only* way I would expect any of this to end up in MAME is if it somehow improved one of the drivers there. This has been repeatedly been made very clear.

Well done Haze. It’s a shame that your work probably will go underappreciated because of the relative lack of interest in the system, despite having an exclusive game or two. I played a real NeoCD once in the late 90’s but emulation (NeoRageX, remember that? :)) and close-to-perfect conversions on the Sega Saturn stole a lot of it’s thunder. And those loading times were simply unacceptable.

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