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MAME work and other stuff

January (part 7)

January 26, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. 2 Comments on January (part 7)

Part 7 is another case of stuff that’s not quite working yet, but is still interesting progress to see.

JAKKS Pacific Scooby Doo is a well presented set of Scooby Doo themed minigames. Unfortunately they all have major emulation bugs, includingcorrupt vehicles and backgrounds in the driving ones, bad start / restart positions in the others, certain Scooby Snacks that you never actually pick up but will just award you points for as long as you stand on them, invisible longs in the river (so Shaggy does his best Jesus walking on water impression) etc. Of all the SunPlus games with emulation bugs these are some of the most obvious, hopefully they’ll aid in actually tracking down the issues tho. Seeing this stuff emulated for the first time feels like a bit of a throwback to the late 90s / early 2000s when there were still bugs in CPU cores for common arcade CPUs like the 68000 that manifested in various ways.

Strangely the Scooby Doo one boots to the ‘Game Key’ logo, like the Game Keys do. No actual Game Keys were released tho. It does make me wonder if this whole thing was intended as a Game Key for another system instead tho.


Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Doo

One where there were Game Keys released is Star Wars Revenge of the Sith. This actually looks like it should be a really good collection of Star Wars themed minigames, but there is one fatal emulation flaw right now; the directional controls don’t work, so you can only select the first game in both the base unit and with the Game Key, and in neither case can you move.


Revenge of Sith Revenge of Sith Revenge of Sith
Revenge of Sith Revenge of Sith Revenge of Sith
Revenge of Sith Game Key Revenge of Sith Game Key Revenge of Sith Game Key
Revenge of Sith Game Key Revenge of Sith Game Key Revenge of Sith Game Key

Sean also dumped a bunch of things for which no progress can be shown. Konami’s “Track & Field Challenge” as well as “My First Dance Dance Revolution” both of which I was expecting to be SunPlus hardware turned out to be based on a “Winbond 2005 BA5962” (G65816 derived) SoC which is completely unemulated. Preliminary attempts were made to emulate it, but the code crashes pretty early on so it might be that there are customizations in the core beyond the boot / interrupt vectors (or just missing DMA etc. putting values where they need to go)

JAKKS Classic Arcade Pinball was also dumped, but uses an earlier SoC to the other JAKKS games, so while it still uses the SunPlus UNSP core, the rest of the hardware is different, or at least has different mappings for video, DMA etc. and will need additional work, and with there being only a single dump using that hardware type at the moment it isn’t ideal for figuring things out.

A Megamax GPD001SDG from Polaroid was dumped, but that seems to be one of the NES VT based platforms, not something I’m working on at the moment.

Team Europe got in on the act, dumping various VTech Storio cartridges too, but that’s a more modern ARM based system.

Outside work done by Sean and me, there’s been a lot of progress in getting some Game & Watch titles running with high quality artwork too, I put previews of some of that on my YouTube channel.

Anyway, that’s some of the January highlights covered, even if a lot of it is ‘in progress’ It’s been a busy month, so much so that I still haven’t actually done an update showing off some of the December bits! I’m not complaining tho, it makes me really happy to see this flow of things that one day will be fully emulated and preserved, and every dump is providing more evidence for improving things.

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January (part 6)

January 26, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. 2 Comments on January (part 6)

Of all the XaviX based TV games I’ve covered this one has to be one of my favourites. It’s another game from Epoch, and it’s a trackball based title called ‘Super Dash Ball’

Like Gururin World, the designs found here feel very heavily influenced by Sega. With Gururin World there were the Sonic-like loops, here you’re rolling a blue (or red) ball at breakneck speeds along winding courses meaning it feels like a mix of Super Monkey Ball, Sonic’s Special Stages, and Fantasy Zone (especially the backgrounds) Both games rely on speed etc, and while not having to use a trackball does take some of the challenge away from this one it’s still an enjoyable game, especially against another player. There are so many nice little touches with this too, including the marble pointers used for the menus being able to collide with each other. There are some visual glitches with the edge of the screen during the ‘road’ rendering on corners, but best I can tell those happen on hardware too, and are a limit of what seems to be a common rowscroll / road engine; Dirt Rebel MX exhibits the same thing. The trackballs are mapped, and this one is fully playable in MAME, including the minigames.


Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball
Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball
Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball
Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball
Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball
Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball
Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball Super Dash Ball

All the recent dumps have also made one thing quite clear, there are 3 main revisions of the XaviX hardware, the ones with the die marked either SSD 97 or SSD 98, the ones with the die marked SSD 2000 (which adds more opcodes) and the ones with a die marked SSD 2002, which is presumably what SSD called Super XaviX, as it also adds a bunch of extra video modes (such interlaces screens and bitmap support) and possible even allows them to be of a higher horizontal resolution than the rest of the screen.

Emulation of that later hardware is preliminary, as there is currently a lot less evidence in terms of software available for improving the emulation, and a lot of what is available relies heavily on custom controls, or has other annoyances such as larger ROMs that presumably have some kind of fancy mapping as they don’t fit in the usual XaviX memory map.

XaviX Bowling is one game using the 2002 chip. As you can see only half the background is shown, suggesting that it either gets scaled, or output at a higher resolution. The sprites also flicker heavily (and the screen jumps up and down, because the hardware does interlace by outputting a different field each frame – making that look good will be difficult to say the least) This uses a ‘camera’ with 32×32 cells to track the ball, a bit like the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars games, emulating it will probably be difficult. It also dies after a while with an SEEPROM error, because there is definitely something messed up with either the i2cmem code in MAME, or the way I’m hooking it up (many XaviX games suffer from issues with it, it’s the reason I’ve been unable to promote Dirt Rebel MX to working)


XaviX Bowling XaviX Bowling XaviX Bowling
XaviX Bowling XaviX Bowling XaviX Bowling

XaviX Baseball is another using the 2002 type chip, and again suffers from similar problems.


XaviX Baseball XaviX Baseball XaviX Baseball
XaviX Baseball XaviX Baseball XaviX Baseball

These XaviX sports games actually run on the XaviXport ‘console’ which is basically a fake console because all the game hardware (CPU, RAM, Video, Sound etc.) is in the carts, and the controls are the peripherals, the console just acts as a TV adapter. This means you have cases like the Bowling where the cartridge has the camera on it too. Other games has other things, Bass Fishing has an RF Reciever and expects the Rod to communicate with it (presumably the Rod has its own MCU etc.) Without attempting to simulate that it doesn’t get very far.

XaviX Bass Fishing XaviX Bass Fishing

XaviX Boxing is another with a camera, but either sits on a black screen, or if you init the EEPROM, fails to read properly and shows an error.

XaviX Bass Boxing

Jackie Chan J-Mat Fitness also has EEPROM issues. This game also has a larger ROM size of 16MB, so will likely cause me issues later.

Jackie Chan J-Mat Jackie Chan J-Mat

Decathlon in France actually released their own version of the XaviXport under the name ‘Domyos Interactive System’ The main difference is that this one is for the PAL region and had an entirely different set of games (the games explicitly check that, and jump to a dead loop if the region is incorrect, with some of the XaviXport ones doing the same if they detect PAL, meaning the cartridges can’t be used with the wrong system)

The Domyos games that are dumped all have issues with the EEPROM hookup (although seem happy to boot after initializing it) and also display corrupt graphics, because they use the 16MB Rom Size, and presumably need me to figure out the proper mapping in such a case (we think the dumps are correct at least.) Fitness Challenge and Fitness Exercises look like this, and crash after the last shot, again presumably because they’re getting bad data due to bad ROM mappings.


Domyos Fitness Challenge Domyos Fitness Challenge Domyos Fitness Challenge
Domyos Fitness Exercises Domyos Fitness Exercises Domyos Fitness Exercises

The Domyos games also had one further surprise for us. Remember I said the system was a ‘fake console’ where all the hardware was in the cartridges, well, the later games swap the CPU for something else entirely, probably what is known as ‘XaviX 2’ which is an ENTIRELY different architecture, not 6502 based at all from what I can tell so far. Needless to say, those ones do nothing in MAME, we haven’t even managed to identify what the CPU is derived from, it could be an original instruction set, and needless to say that would make things exceptionally tricky. Domyos Fitness Adventure and Domyos Bike Concept at least fall under that bracket.

There was another XaviX 2002 type game dumped, and that was a random Thomas the Tank Engine unit, which I honestly wasn’t expecting to be 2002 type at all. It’s a standalone TV game from Japan, although in emulation for some reason it seems to get stuck just before drawing the full title screen, everything is animating but not moving forward, don’t know why at the moment.


XaviX Thomas XaviX Thomas XaviX Thomas XaviX Thomas

So after a rather anticlimactic end to this part, yes, there will be a part 7 (did I mention that January has been busy?)

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January (part 5)

January 25, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. 7 Comments on January (part 5)

I’m taking a short reprieve from covering the SunPlus stuff to look at some of the other XaviX progress, like the rest these were dumped by Sean Riddle, usually after being source by Peter Wilhelmsen.

Epoch put out a decent library of games under the ‘Excite’ brand, Excite Ping Pong is one of the earlier efforts. Analog controls not yet emulated, but attract mode runs fine. Ping Pong seems to have been a popular type of game for these motion control platforms, this seems a lot more polished than most of the Chinese ones however.


Excite Ping Pong Excite Ping Pong Excite Ping Pong
Excite Ping Pong Excite Ping Pong
Excite Ping Pong Excite Ping Pong Excite Ping Pong

Doraemon Computer Megaphone (probably not the correct title) Doraemon Wakuwaku Kuuchihou is another Epoch title, this one uses Megaphones as Lightguns, it looks like you point and shout to trigger them. Again, controls not emulated but attract mode runs.


Doraemon Computer Megaphone Doraemon Computer Megaphone Doraemon Computer Megaphone
Doraemon Computer Megaphone Doraemon Computer Megaphone Doraemon Computer Megaphone
Doraemon Computer Megaphone Doraemon Computer Megaphone Doraemon Computer Megaphone

Plenty of e-kara stuff was dumped too, various cartridges and base units, including a US ‘Pro Headset’ version which had 3 songs not featured on any of the other US or EU cartridges


e-kara Pro Headset e-kara Pro Headset
e-kara Pro Headset e-kara Pro Headset e-kara Pro Headset
e-kara Pro Headset e-kara Pro Headset e-kara Pro Headset

Gururin World (nothing to do with the NeoGeo game, it’s just the sound of turning gears) is one of the most interesting XaviX games I’ve encountered. It’s another Epoch title, but it uses a mini unicycle as a controller. I’ve got preliminary controls hooked up in my own build, but they don’t work in all minigames yet, so I haven’t submitted that part yet. Again the attract mode runs through the many game modes.


Gururin World Gururin World Gururin World
Gururin World Gururin World
Gururin World Gururin World
Gururin World Gururin World
Gururin World Gururin World
Gururin World Gururin World Gururin World

More to come in another update, including some games that have been promoted to working state (and plenty more preliminary progress)

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January (part 4)

January 25, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. No Comments on January (part 4)

Continuing with the JAKKS stuff on SunPlus hardware, we have Dora The Explorer. This one sits at the opposite end of the quality scale compared to the Disney Friends offering, and feels like the absolute minimum effort was put into it. While these games are targeted at a younger audience I can’t help but feel this one doesn’t even really offer anything worthwhile to that audience, a few basic minigames, minimal sense of reward, nothing to make each experience different. A good kid’s game can be enjoyable even for adults, but this falls short in every department. It does appear to be fully playable however.


JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora

The Dora unit uses ‘NK’ (Nick Toons) type Game Keys, there was a Dora one of those released too. It contains 3 games (I’m not sure if there is a version without the Football game) but again none of them are really worthwhile, minimum effort for what they are in each case. Star Adventure even seems to have some poorly designed sections where the intended game mechanics don’t apply properly.

JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora
JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora JAKKS Pacific Dora

Justice League is a better effort, not perfect, but there are some playable game ideas in here, including a take on Puzzle Bobble using Superman. No Game Keys were released for this.


Justice League Justice League Justice League
Justice League Justice League
Justice League Justice League
Justice League Justice League Justice League
Justice League Justice League Justice League

I’ll cover some more in part 5 later.

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January (part 3)

January 25, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. No Comments on January (part 3)

Another manufacturer that made heavy use of the SunPlus hardware was JAKKS Pacific, and Sean managed to dump a number of their TV Plug and Play units, some of which are playable to a point.

First up is Disney Friends, the games here do seem playable, although there is a bug which causes the sound to drop out entirely in certain situations, ideally that needs fixing before it is promoted to working. The base game is a 5-in-1 offering 5 minigames, each associated with a Disney character. These are all well presented and even play pretty well too.


Disney Friends Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends Disney Friends

A short-lived feature of the JAKKS systems in 2005 was the ‘Game-Key’ slot. This allowed an external, system specific, cartridge to override the internal ROM of the game to provide additional titles. There were 3 released for the Disney system, although one of them is simply the same as another but with one less game. Despite the name ‘Game-Key’ the unlockable games aren’t contained in the base unit at all, the keys are complete game cartridges with all the new game data on them. I doubt naming them ‘keys’ did the product any favours as the name implies it’s some kind of software lock for preexisting content, which it is not.

The emulation of these fares a little worse than the base unit; if you leave them in demo mode there is graphical corruption on Tennis. In Bowling there’s also an issue whereby the pins don’t get hit properly, while Riches of Agrabah seems to give you an invalid piece from time to time, which can end up invisible.


Disney Friends Gamekey
Disney Friends Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends Disney Friends
Disney Friends Disney Friends Disney Friends

Another one of the JAKKS Game-Key-Ready units was WWE, however like many of the units, no Game Keys were actually released for it. This one seems to be playable, although with rather weak sound emulation at the moment.


JAKKS WWE JAKKS WWE JAKKS WWE
JAKKS WWE JAKKS WWE JAKKS WWE
JAKKS WWE JAKKS WWE JAKKS WWE

Fantastic Four was developed by Digital Eclipse, better known for their work on commercial emulators back in the day. It seems playable but I haven’t tested it extensively. Again no Game Key was ever released for this unit.


Fantastic Four Fantastic Four Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four Fantastic Four

There were more, which I’ll cover in the next update.

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January (part 2)

January 25, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. No Comments on January (part 2)

Another thing that Sean managed to dump was the BIOS for the LeapFrog ClickStart ‘My First Computer’ which was a SunPlus based learning system, similar to the V.Smile etc. Currently the controls stop responding almost instantly, but it’s definitely something there is a high chance of seeing progress on over the course of the year.


ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart

Some cartridges for it were also dumped, here is a selection of screenshots.

ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart
ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart
ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart
ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart
ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart
ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart
ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart ClickStart

While still on the subject of these SunPlus based educational systems, MooglyGuy also made a whole bunch of improvements to the V.Smile system, actually bringing a large part of the library to playable status, that deserves and update of its own at some point tho.

I’ll cover some more SunPlus things in part 3.

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