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MAME work and other stuff
February 10, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. 9 Comments on Return of the Ms. Pac

Some of the better known JAKKS Pacific products were the ones based off popular arcade games, late home ports of classic 80s titles. These were some of the last times these games were ported, rather than simply emulated as is traditionally the case now.

That means the games have their own sets of quirks etc. due to either design choices to make the games more suitable for the target platform, or errors / lack of care in the porting.

With the now 20 donations from the previous donation drive, one of the things we picked up was the GameKeyReady Ms. Pacman 5-in-1 unit, and 2 GameKeys to go with it (one has arrived, the other has not yet)

Like all the JAKKS stuff so far this runs on SunPlus architecture. There are imperfections with the MAME emulation still, mostly noticeable with the sound, but otherwise all games in the collection play well.

Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman

With Ms. Pacman you can see how the game was squashed a little to fit on a horizontal screen.

Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman
Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman

Pole Position seems to be the weakest of the ports, the game difficulty is considerably less, and best I can tell you have no brake input. The system has 2 digital buttons, one is accelerate, the other is change gear (there’s also a 3rd on the front for the menu) there was however a special spinny joystick for the analog steering, which makes it a nice little addition anyway.

Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman
Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman

Galaga is Galaga, it feels like a solid port to me.

Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman
Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman

Xevious again seems to play well, the vertical area is cut off a little, and so maybe there are a few more shots coming from off-screen, but it doesn’t seem to impact playability, was a better choice than squashing the graphics or trying to implement a ‘smart’ scrolling, which never works well in a vertical scrolling game as it distorts bullet trajectory etc.

Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman
Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman

Mappy also feels like a solid port, stages and bonus levels intact, gameplay is challenging. There’s a slight vertical scroll to compensate for the playfield being larger than the screen, but it’s handled well.

Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman
Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman Ms. Pacman

You might say ‘why bother’ when it comes to emulating these, as you can just run the originals in MAME, but at least to me, part of the MAME journey is to document the paths each IP was taken on, and as these are official licensed ports, they’re part of that journey, and as they’re running on an entirely different architecture to the originals (the SunPlus ‘unsp’ core is certainly different to the ‘z80’ etc.) they’re interesting to study from that point of view too.

From an emulation point of view, MAME does need work, there’s an odd glitch where after saving the scores (because yes, all these on the GameKeyReady unit save scores to internal memory) a sound channel goes missing. Strangely Disney Friends suffers from a similar issue, but in that case ALL sound goes missing. Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of it.

Thanks again to everybody who has been putting money forward, it’s really helping to source these and cover the unit costs and shipping costs for getting them where they need to go.

I mentioned Game Keys, and I’ll cover those in a future update.


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The “why bother” argument has a different answer for me, we don’t have a nice list for future historians of just what chips were in what devices, MAME is the closest we have to a timeline of how widespread chips were, adding in sales figures of the devices and other metadata.

Take for example the game & watch series with the tiger LC games, previously we didn’t know sharp had completely cornered that market w/ their 4bit mcu.

I guess this is why Im more inclined to see things added to MAME that have no visual output, like car ECUs, people might not know that the same CPU in a Sega Megadrive is in a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier, running the fuel injection etc.

If you want more details on the latter, issue of PoC|GTFO 16, page 7 has a guy emulate his car using an MD emulator to debug it.

This is very interesting. Thank you Haze and everyone else involved.
Just curious, how many different games did you manage to order with the donations? It seems the amount getting dumped is rivaling arcade machines.

I don’t really want to announce things for sure until they’ve arrived, already fear one thing is lost in the post.

We got a fair few tho, the majority of the GameKeyReady units and GameKeys because we know Sean can dump them etc. Also some other JAKKS stuff he doesn’t have a process for yet, but we’ll investigate, and the odd Mattel item where likewise we’re going to have to scope things out.

Peter also ended up spending over $500 plus shipping on some more stuff from Japan (that he wouldn’t have been able to afford if he’d been sending his money on these) so in reality the donations have helped with those too.

There was quite a large market for video based electronics outside of what people have been looking at; it won’t rival the total number of arcade machines, or size of the software libraries for many of the more traditional home systems, but there’s a lot to be discovered here. I’ve uploaded a video of a game we picked up from Japan recently https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCZQsAlbpv0 I’ll do an update about that one later.

Wow, I had forgotten about the Tamagotchi … When I a little boy, I had one; in fact, every kid had one, and I lived in a rural coastal town in Australia.

What your video shows seems to be a TV based Tamagotchi game, but are any of the small handheld Tamagotchis emulated?

Thank you.

“As of 2009, there have been over 44 Tamagotchi versions released since their creation in 1996, several of which were only released in Japan.”

One of the original Tamagotchi devices is emulated I believe, although not the more modern ones that interact with this thing. (This game allows you to import your Tamagotchi from a regular device to use in the game)

nice work on the jakks stuff,but I have a doubt that if Mame emulation = Mess emulation or:when we can see the Arcade emulation for Mame ?

There is no such thing as Mess anymore, it’s all MAME.

What you see is what I’m working on. I already said this is what is interesting me at the moment.

While these are home games, they have some of the tightest arcade connections of anything to feature here recently.

I’m really not sure what you’re expecting in terms of ‘arcade’ progress. This stuff is far more suited to MAME than most of the arcade stuff that isn’t emulated. There has been lots of good arcade progress recently too, which I’ve covered, but I’ve said for a long time we’re going to see more and more of a shift towards non-arcade work with a stronger focus on rare / obscure stuff that nobody has really looked into the emulation of much before.

Anyway if you really want to read some arcade progress, then Hi Pai Paradise 2 was dumped and emulated. It runs on Aleck64 hardware, so emulation is kinda slow, but it is fully functional. Wasn’t done by me or anybody I’m working with tho.
but yeah, arcade stuff is still worked on.

for Arcade emulation I know most the old 2D stuff has been emulated in Mame quite a while,but many of them marked imperfect status,I hope some of them can be looked and fixed one day

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