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Choose Your Guitar!

April 18, 2020 Haze Categories: General News. 1 Comment on Choose Your Guitar!

The first version of the original Guitar Super Star I picked up had a guitar that looked like this. The shape of this guitar is almost identical to the Guitar Fever, although the more triangular button shapes gave away that it was a Senario unit.


Guitar Super Star

This version of the guitar actually seems relatively uncommon and should not be confused with “Guitar Star”, or the later “Guitar Super Star: You Take The Stage” (although to add to the confusion, the original “Guitar Super Star” still has ‘You Take The Stage’ on the box, but not as part of the game title)

The more common version of the original Guitar Super Star looks like this. A red, triangular shaped unit.


Guitar Super Star

When the unit I picked up was dumped, I was quite surprised, it booted to a title screen which actually showed the black and white controller, matching the physical form of the Guitar in question. Videos of the unit I’d seen YouTube showed the red controller. At first I thought this must a bit in one of the ports determining which title screen to show, but after checking extensively I could find no such bit, leaving the only logical conclusion being the ROM must differ between the two units.


Guitar Super Star

I picked up another unit, this time the red type, and Sean dumped the ROM from that. Maybe unsurprisingly at this point, it immediately booted to show the title screen with the red guitar, proving that this was indeed a difference in the software between the two units.


Guitar Super Star

It’s a minor thing as the songs are the same, but documenting revisions is important, and this case interesting because of how the software was adapted to match the physical case of the unit; I’d previously expected to find such with some other units (for example the Zone 100 being black) only for the internal presentation to be too lazy to reflect those changes. (In that case it was more surprising as the Wireless 60 does have black in-game presentation of the unit)

From a software point of view the two ROMs actually appear to have been built with a different version of the IDE / SDK as the header in them shows a different version.


Guitar Super Star


Guitar Super Star

As these were clearly built at different points in time, it might be worth digging a little deeper to find out if there are any other subtle changes between the code in the two units.

From the point of view of a gamer, this likely isn’t the most interesting update, but MAME exists to help document this type of thing, and for anybody studying the history of these things this provides an additional data point. It’s also satisfying on a personal level, because the title screen being different was bugging me immensely, so documenting that it used a different ROM has provided some closure.

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Some Results

April 16, 2020 Haze Categories: General News. Comments Off on Some Results

A handful of people donated towards picking up some Plug and Play units, I guess it wasn’t the best time to be asking (let’s face it, the world is more of a mess than usual at the moment) but it did allow some additional items to be picked up so I greatly appreciate all the contributions that were made. If anybody who donated does want to be specifically mentioned please let me know, otherwise data protection / privacy etc. means I can’t just list everybody.

One item that was picked up was the Dodgeball cartridge for the Toyquest TV Go Go / Go Go TV cartridge.

This admittedly is going to be a difficult one to emulate, the system is an interesting hybrid of ‘camera’ and ‘per game’ motion controller, some of which are just physical objects for the camera to pick up, others I believe containing actual motion sensors etc. The games present a controller / no controller option on startup.

Dodgeball is one of the less common cartridges, and also pushed me more in the direction of confirming something that I’d suspected for a while, the US and EU cartridges contain different code. The Dodgeball cartridge was sourced in the US and does NOT contain a language selection menu on startup. The existing dumps were all EU sourced and do.

Without the camera providing a background here the screenshots look a little bare, and you can’t make the selection to start a game, but this one will be an interesting test of technology later, MAME at some point is likely going to have to start accepting a video stream input from a PC camera if these are to become playable at all. I guess it could be simulated with a mouse making areas of the screen lighter / darker if the way the game talks to the camera is figured out at least.


TV Go Go Dodgeball TV Go Go Dodgeball
TV Go Go Dodgeball TV Go Go Dodgeball TV Go Go Dodgeball

As this might have slipped under the radar before, the previous dumps for the system were the ‘4 in 1’ (that is bundled with the system) as well as the ‘Tennis’ and ‘Whac a Mole’ cartridges. Those are the EU sourced versions. I’ll probably need to pick up the US versions of these for final verification that they differ. A US version of Baseball is also on the way.


TV Go Go TV Go Go TV Go Go

The JAKKS Pacific ‘Hannah Montana / High School Musical Two in One’ was an interesting unit to get hold of. I was expecting this box to contain both the Hannah Montana ‘G2 Deluxe’ and High School Musical ‘G2 Deluxe’ units, with ‘two in one’ simply meaning both units in a single box. I was however mistaken, and this is both games in a single unit, with a menu to select between them.

The unit used a custom marked Sandisk TSOP-32 NAND Flash ROM, of a type we’d previously seen in one of the Ultimotion units (and had no way to dump)

Thanks to some information from Team Europe on a different type of 32-pin Flash ROM (figured out by studying an entirely different system which used 32-pin flash ROMs in place of the usual ones via a sub-board adapter) Sean was able to work out a pinout for these too (which has since been documented in the MAME source)

Initial dumps allowed the Hannah Montana part to boot and pass the usual HotGen self-check.


Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2 Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2 Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2
Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2 Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2

However, selecting the High School Musical part caused the game to crash. Searching through the ROM I could not find any strings relating to High School Musical, this was suspicious. Adding further logging to the NAND access code in MAME revealed it was trying to access blocks beyond the dumped ROM, odd, considering it was passing the ROM check.

We did already have suspicions tho, the chip was marked -256B, which was thought might mean 256 Megabits (32 Megabytes) however, Sean was already having to dump the ROM at 64 Megabytes to get the data needed for just the Hannah Montana part. 256 Megabyte had been ruled out as a size because there were no standard Flash ROMs with the correct block size with a capacity of 256 Megabytes, even if it was theoretically possible. In the end Sean had to hack the database for his programmer software to force custom parameters when reading, and dumped the ROM at 256 Megabytes. The upper 128 Megabytes of that was empty, 0xff filled, but the fact that it was still giving data at that point does suggest that the ROM really is 256 Megabytes. I guess these were custom made for JAKKS too as _HSM is part of the part number printed onto the chip, in the same font as everything else. (unless HSM stands for High Speed Memory, but none of the others have this)

Anyway, with a complete dump the High School Musical part boots. Interestingly the program that gets loaded once you select High School Musical has its own test menu, which does checksum this later part of the ROM instead. I guess it was easier to combine the games this way, adding the boot menu to the Hannah Montana game while making minimal changes to the High School Musical code, having it basically load up as an entirely separate piece of software once selected. It *almost* caught us out.


Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2 Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2 Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2
Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2 Hannah Montana - High School Musical G2

Neither game is properly playable yet tho as these use the GPL16250 tech, although it does look initially like they’re going to provide some good test cases for fixing up some aspects of the emulation there. Hannah Montana does allow you to navigate the game menus and world a little bit (with some broken / missing graphics) while High School Musical crashes shortly after booting due to unemulated unSP CPU core instructions – this is good, it gives us a test case for implementing them.

Of course with this not being the two separate units, but a combined one, it became necessary to pick up the separate units too, so I did that and they’re flying around the postal system as I write this.

We also got a Sing Scene Pop. This is another JAKKS Pacific unit developed by HotGen, it also used the funky Sandisk NAND ROMs, but now it was possible to dump them. The dump passes test mode, and as this isn’t a 2-in-1 there’s no reason to suspect any trickery here, we can trust that result. Again the basic machine runs here, but there’s no sound, graphical issues, and no lyrics displayed, so it isn’t playable. Again I’m hoping it helps us figure out some more details of the GPL16250 level of SunPlus tech. The Ultimotion Disney Fairies unit was also dumped with this newfound knowledge of dumping these Sandisk ROMs, however that displays nothing as it’s by a different developer and uses the hardware in ways we understand less at the moment (and again uses some previously unseen unSp 2.0 opcodes)

All in all, several dumps that have the potential to be very useful for figuring things out.


Sing Scene Pop Sing Scene Pop Sing Scene Pop
Sing Scene Pop Sing Scene Pop Sing Scene Pop

Let’s have a look at one that is playable then.

Guitar Super Star: You Take The Stage is the 2nd ‘Guitar Super Star’ game from Senario and builds on the foundations set by the first game. This time around the songs are fully licensed, which alone is a big step up for a game in this genre. On top of that the controls feel a little more forgiving, making it not feel quite as awkward to play. It’s still got some questionable choices, such as only having a single direction strum bar, and it’s still, in reality, not a patch on the proper Guitar Hero games, but it’s an improved effort.

This is one of the SunPlus games to actually use 16MBytes of data, this time in a 32MByte ROM (with half the ROM blank) This is because the 10 backgrounds, even tho they’re fairly short loops, take up a significant amount of space. To facilitate the extra data, the upper half of the ROM space is banked, but figuring that out was easy enough. This will be marked as WORKING in the next MAME release. There’s also a video from MAME here


Guitar Super Star You Take The Stage Guitar Super Star You Take The Stage Guitar Super Star You Take The Stage Guitar Super Star You Take The Stage
Guitar Super Star You Take The Stage Guitar Super Star You Take The Stage Guitar Super Star You Take The Stage

Moving on to one that I didn’t personally pick up, but was instead funded and dumped by Team Europe, we have the Spider-Man Super TV Air Jet (JG6000SP) which was put out under the Lexibook Junior banner. This is an inflatable Ride-On Air Jet, with game controller, if you want to see what it looks like the manual can be found by Googling the part number (JG6000SP)

I’m including here this as Team Europe are a big part of this Plug and Play emulation initiative by not only creating initial interest in emulating this kind of unit, but also supporting the project financially, throwing in probably more of their own money than both fundraisers combined, and also dumping a lot of the less ridiculously difficult cases to ease the workload on Sean.


Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet

Anybody familiar with Lexibook will know that most of their licensed products are reskins of existing games, so it probably won’t be surprising to hear that this SunPlus based unit reskins 7 of the common SunPlus games. I’m going to do some side-by-side comparisons below. It’s also worth noting that Lexibook also released a version of this without the Spider-Man license, where presumably the unmodified versions of these games will also be found. Pictures of the non Spider-Man themed games, the rightmost of the 3 shots, are in this case taken from the “Lexibook JG7415 120-in-1” Video from MAME is here


Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Multigame
Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Multigame
Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Multigame
Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Multigame
Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Multigame
Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Multigame
Spider-Man Air Jet Spider-Man Air Jet Multigame

Clawgrip has been another huge supporter of the work being done on Plug & Play units, again picking up many such things in Spain and having them shipped across to Sean. One such unit he picked up with his own money was a Spanish VTech ‘TV Station’ which is some kind of educational / organizer type thing for use with a TV. Currently the inputs aren’t hooked up (I guess based on the presentation it has some kind of mouse, but haven’t checked this with him yet) It’s possible the hookup for inputs here is similar to some other VTech units, but again I haven’t yet checked that. As maybe you’re noticing by now, there’s plenty of room for somebody to come in and help document how the inputs work by studying the code / hook up the inputs on many of these units. I think this can be a positive as it gives people an avenue to start contributing in non-financial ways if they have an interest.


VTech TV Station VTech TV Station VTech TV Station
VTech TV Station VTech TV Station

Finally for now, I picked up a “Go! Go! Connie-chan! Asobou Mouse” which is a 1997 Bandai Plug & Play. When I saw it I was hoping that it would use the SH6578 style hardware, as Bandai’s other 1997 unit ‘Game Pad’ did, and that turned out to be the case. Due to the limited amount of SH6578 software we have every unit that provides further evidence is helpful as even with a document on the chip, not every possible edge case or change from standard NES behaviour is fully documented so having software to help validate the emulation is important. This one also needs a mouse hookup, and currently falls to test mode where it fails a RAM check, meaning I need to look into that. It was pointed out to me that there’s a long Japanese video covering this unit on YouTube too, so that should be a useful reference for improving the emulation.


Go! Go! Connie-chan! Asobou Mouse Go! Go! Connie-chan! Asobou Mouse

That’s all for now, but as you can see plenty more seeds being planted, several useful test cases for helping to further developer the emulation of things like the GPL16250 and SH6578 in addition to some bits that are already considered ‘working’

Again, if you wish to throw something into the money pool for picking up these Plug and Play units then the PayPal address to use is “hazemamewip@hotmail.com” everything helps.

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List of Recent YouTube MAME progress Videos

April 12, 2020 Haze Categories: General News. 9 Comments on List of Recent YouTube MAME progress Videos

This is kinda redundant as you could just check my YouTube channel, but maybe for some people a list of links to videos is preferable, so here are a whole bunch of videos I’ve uploaded of work being done on Plug & Plays stuff in MAME since Christmas. Many things covered in the posts before this didn’t get a video, but I do like to have footage up when I find time to upload it while working on things.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EchUd0BQ8bA Double Dance Mania
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFmKqF2UsPg Excite Stadium DX
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1MHuff7Tp0 Excite Bowling
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-5UiJbibik SmartTV Adventures
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGU_q_eRMgc Win Lose or Draw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIysxe_Zems JAKKS 7-in-1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j8Wm2SgDJQ Thomas Sharp Cookie
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7B55CWLpoo Dance 2k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmdrtcvuvyI ABL Wikid Joystick
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTyC7vofajA ABL Mini Joystick
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjvvFQAXDl4 Technigame 4 in 1 Sports
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFJ4GK5F8rE OPlayer 100-in-1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGAFwUBZlOY Who Wants to be a Millionaire Character Options ver.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awf-VhWjwRo Pac-Man Connect and Play / Pac-Man 256
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgnM4-q7Fdc VG Caplet
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc_Oi2Ruikw JAKKS Mortal Kombat
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du-uWV3SIL8 ABL Decathlon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWRl4P2ErL8 Paintball Powered Up
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKwmjblAh7Y Designer’s World
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYbNbQBRQSc Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant & Monster Mayhem
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kGyxmUvWVA Star Wars Clone Wars
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrC0DuTvauA Dream Life Superstar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CbZDZES58E 110 Song Dance Mat
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6keA1ZYOdk Guitar Star
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeRtVtaMDb8 Care Bears
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjZ6WO668Xg Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrAuL5v1yr8 Guitar Superstar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKafNJJsFLQ Supreme 200
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1n57eJakwk My Sports Challenge QVC version
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae5jzNi1WjE Jenna Jameson Strip Poker
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSejWyprGSA MGT 20-in-1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs0PSM4flUU Sports Trivia Professional
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgo7-cV8IlM Guitar Fever
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOJl7nwBqDk Plarail
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7oiV1cx2ec Magiranger Dance & Battle
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd1NQHR3LYY JAKKS 2-in-1 Namco Gamekey
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg7aA43TuDA My Sports Challenge Plus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3tsVOGBEWg Champiyon Pinball
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TUydd7XbGo Disney Game It
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enwFXvNCQ64 PDC Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-dCaxD58pk Reactor MD (Sunplus part)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYKP5Qmebs8 Interactive Games 49-in-1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ccHTRkESqo Lexibook Seal 50-in-1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6X_7osmQmU TV Sports 10-in-1 Decathlon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLPlYi9GfX4 Deluxe TV Poker
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO1uS2NEcLQ Cosmo Girl
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3NKKfOEE-Y The Perfect Mate
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gc-d-uqYwA The Apprentice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC2gUGnUHBY Big Bonus Slots
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me4pH7ePShI Senario Millionaire
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBArgN0Fbes Wireless Tennis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-HOuvnXcRs My Wico Deluxe
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3GqNlKoYgM Wow Wireless Gaming
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxh7FdomXXk PDC100 (all games)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POENJT7PhAA Tomica Carnavi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tvehE6klTk Jara-Ja Land
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbNnqjLRXig Excite Sports 48-in=1 (golf game)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6L3DEUzFDo Interact 111-in-1 (Jingle Bells song)

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Under the Surface (part 15)

April 12, 2020 Haze Categories: General News. Comments Off on Under the Surface (part 15)

I’ve now set up a PayPal account linked to “hazemamewip@hotmail.com” so if anybody wants to contribute towards the purchase (and shipping to Sean / TeamEurope) of Plug and Play devices, then that address can be used. It will help enormously with sourcing additional units, plus any spares we might need for experiments (sometimes dumping is not straightforward as many of these don’t use regular ROMs, but ROM globs)

As these are donations, not payments for any specific guaranteed product or service, be sure to send them as gifts. Also don’t send email to that address, it won’t be checked. If you want to discuss sending a specific unit you already own instead, please tag on on Twitter.


MGT 20-in-1

At this point I’ve seen a large number of these Plug and Play multigames full of unlicensed material, and most of them are easy to group based on the games contained within them. One however stands out from the crowd and that is MGT’s 20-in-1 unit.

The closest thing I can connect this unit to is the Senario My Sports Challenge units, as it does contain a number a few of the things found in those, however the rest of the content, while ripping off easily identifiable source material, consists of things I haven’t seen before and several of the games are brazen enough to use the original game titles for the games they’re ripping off in the menus. Maybe these are all from the same developer, and Senario filtered down things in their units to ones that weren’t as obviously ripoffs? I don’t know.

We’ll start with Sonic Fighter. This one does play very similar to Deep Storm found in several of the Zone 60 generation units, however the graphics here are very different; in Deep Storm they were ripped from Psikyo’s Space Bomber. It’s an ‘into the screen’ shooter with a pre-rendered 3d background and that pre-rendered background, while only on a short loop is extremely well done, shifting the viewing angle with the camera to give a genuine sense of depth. All the ROM budget was likely used up on that background tho, as the game only has 1 endless stage, with maybe 4 enemy types, including a larger boss enemy that will appear every once in a while. It’s playable, in short blasts, although you’ll want to turn the sound off or down, the music is an obnoxious 1 second loop.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Best I can tell Golf and Bowling are the same games found on the Senario unit. Bowling doesn’t seem to have the ‘how to play’ instruction screen after the menu, there might be other differences, but I have not noticed any other differences.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Horseshoes seems like an earlier / more primitive version of the game found in the Senario unit, with weaker presentation. Here’s a left/right comparison of the MGT 20 in 1 and the same game in the Senario unit.


MGT 20 in 1 Senario My Sports

Disc Challenge / Frisbee Challenge are the same thing with a different name. Again left/right comparisons. I think these ‘Sports’ games being present on both units establishes some kind of connection between the units at least, but from here-on things get back to being more interesting.


MGT 20 in 1 Senario My Sports

Ever wish your warehouse was flooded, but it was still essential that all your crates were in the correct place. Well there’s pirate themed Sokoban game in here, complete with lots of sploshy water sound effects. I guess I appreciate the theme being a little different here at least.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

This unit also has a version of Puzzle Bobble. Unlike the horrors of the game carrying an official Taito license in the VG Caplet, or the awful VT1682 implementations on the Wow unit this one actually plays reasonably well. It’s smooth, controls are responsive, you feel like you have can aim. There’s a horrible annoying music loop like most things on here, and presentation is bare bones, but there’s the core of something not altogether awful here. Menu calls it Puzzle Bubble, but I’m not convinced that wasn’t just a typo rather than any intention of hiding what the game is.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Next, Space Mission. Pick an obscure arcade shooter, Nichibutsu’s Armed Formation, steal the first stage graphics, and make an endless single level shooter using those. You have Space Mission. This even has a nice wavy linescroll effect on the background suggesting the programmers had some idea how the hardware worked. Again this isn’t a bad demo project if you wanted to pitch doing a game on this hardware, although it lacks enough content to really be called a game at this point.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Storm Fighter again feels like an impressive little tech demo. This one takes sprites from R-Type II, but then gives us some nice multi-layer parallax scrolling, and has an ‘enemy rush’ feel with lot of large enemies swooping past then attacking, none really take too many shots for the little content that’s here is impressive, lots going on, feels well programmed, makes use of the transparency effect on a lazer. Again like all these things, terrible audio loop, but I’ve said this for most of these entries, there’s the core of something decent here, even if it was never fully fleshed out into a proper game.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Puzz Loop is as the name would suggest, Puzz Loop. Actually this one rips the graphics from the CPS2 game Puzz Loop 2. Maybe most interesting is how this one was called Puzz Loop, rather than Zuma. The content of this collection in general (having graphics stolen from Armed F, and R-Type II, as well as calling this Puzz Loop) almost indicates the developers had a much wider knowledge of arcades, and the actual games than others creating SunPlus software, who often seemed to have no knowledge outside of a bunch of NeoGeo sprite rips and no clue about how the games should play.

Again this feels more like a demo than an actual game, but it also feels better programmed than any of the other clones found on comparable SunPlus based systems.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Invaders once again suggests that whoever programmed this unit knew their arcade stuff. This version of Space Invaders puts the one found in the VG Caplet to shame too. It might not have the original graphics, but the gameplay feels correct (except maybe the UFO spawn being too infrequent) Enemies move as you’d expect, controls are responsive, and it’s even using proper samples of the sound, with all effects present. Both Radica and PDP put out licensed Invaders games that were vastly inferior to this offering.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Mars Rescue is Lunar Rescue. This one doesn’t play quite as well, and of note lacks the acceleration when you shoot while going back up the screen but it’s a decent take on the game and even has the ‘red screen’ effect when you die.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Colony 7 is based on Taito’s Colony 7 with a graphical overhaul. I’ve always considered this to be an obscure Taito game in the first place, it’s like a not very good Joystick controlled version of Missile Command with some Defender-like presentation. I was surprised to see it on the Radica Taito unit, and I’m even more surprised to see it here. Were these games originally being developed for Taito and rejected? It’s definitely odd to see newly programmed versions of Invaders, Lunar Rescue and Colony 7 in this kind of thing.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

I’ve said quite a few of the things here have been decent early implementations of concepts. Jewel is not, it’s a stiff and awkward Columns clone. This one doesn’t even have a music loop, it plays in near silence with just a sound for block matching.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Connect Together is also very simple tile matching.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

While Crash implements the basic mechanics of a Bejewelled style puzzler, again with minimal sound design suggesting this was maybe some kind of proof of concept demo?


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Add ’em Up concludes the simple puzzle games


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

A trio of games follow with a weird Onion head mascot character, these are all reflex / coordination themed challenges rather than puzzle games. They’re a little more fleshed out, but still very simple games. Cache, which should almost certainly have been called Catch, sees you trying to catch the green objects that are falling, while avoiding the rocks. You have to be perfectly positioned to catch anything tho or they’ll just bounce off you.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Saw sees you using a circular saw to defend your position against a rush of aliens. This is easily the most violent thing on here, even if there’s no blood. There are no controls aside ‘saw left’ and ‘saw right’ Enemies move at different speeds, if one touches you from behind or when the saw isn’t active and it’s game over. This one is over in 2 seconds if you don’t take action after starting it.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

Moving down from 2 buttons to just a single button, Jump Rock has you jumping over rocks. Again this is over in 2 seconds if you don’t jump.


MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1 MGT 20 in 1

I’m not convinced each and every one of these was worth individual coverage, but this collection hit the right note with me in terms of showing how there can be surprises even with these Plug and Play units. It would have been easy to assume the Puzzle Bobble on here was the same as the common Squirrel Bobble game, but with a new skin for example, but as it’s an entirely different implementation to any of the others it’s much more interesting. Same for the Puzz Loop clone, it isn’t just the Ball Blaster one from the other Zone SunPlus units, nor is it the Joe Ma 2 game from the PDC. There might be many different versions of Puzz Loop across these systems but here we have one that I hadn’t previously seen. As mentioned, you also get the impression that some of the developers here actually knew a bit more about making games than with other units as quite a few of these had real potential even if in the end most of them feel more like quick tech demos than games. Obviously I don’t know the real story behind them, but I am glad this was found, dumped and emulated.

Double Dance Mania

Some news from today in this update! Senario’s Double Dance Mania – Techno Light Edition was just dumped, it was released as part of the Active Arcade line of products and turned out to be a VT based system. I was expecting SunPlus as the box shots looked quite colourful compared to other music games.


Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania

For a full-blown 2 player Dance Mat one of the most surprising aspects of this product is that it only contains 3 rather short songs, and not recognized ones either. Each song has 3 difficulty levels, and can be played either solo or with another player, but for pure ‘dance’ content that’s your lot.


Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania

There are also 6 games on the unit to make use of the dance mat, all of these offer 1 or 2 player options.

The first 5 of these seem to be original creations for this product, and as such actually fit quite well with the theme of this part.

Starting at the top, you have a game where you’re avoiding asteroids, not shooting them, just avoiding them. HipHopscotch is next, this one being close to being an actual music game, seems to rely on unemulated parts of the sound hardware a little more than the others tho, playing a sample each time you press a button. Snowstorm is a ‘vs’ breakout style game, reminds me a bit of Hotshot on the 8-bit microcomputers, but not as interesting. Duck & Dodge is inverse whack-a-mole, a bit different I guess. Hurdle Challenge is basically like the Olympic games from the other sports units, but somehow even worse, the Hurdles seem to have a mind of their own as the display slides about.

Nothing great here, but nice to see original code, and playing against somebody else I guess could provide a little entertainment.


Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania
Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania
Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania
Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania
Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania

The 6th game is Radium Star, and is by far the best game on the unit. The problem is, it’s a bootleg. For some reason Nintendo’s Pinball ended up in many of these dance products as a bonus game and this one turns out to be no exception to that rule, except here it’s been given a new title and a reskin.


Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania Double Dance Mania

I’m starting to wonder if these manufacturers were supplied with this Pinball game (in both this form and with the original graphics) and somehow genuinely didn’t know it’s nothing more than a hack of an official Nintendo NES title. While the graphics have had an overhaul the music remains the same as the original here. I wonder if Nintendo ever did sue over this, as unlike many of the other near faceless manufacturers, Senario would have been easy to get in contact with.


NES Pinball NES Pinball NES Pinball

Zone 7-in-1 Sports

I’m going to switch back to the horrors of VT1682 based material for a while and look at the Zone 7-in-1 Sports unit. I think these predate the larger Zone compilations such as the Zone 40 and Zone 60 and might be the only VT1682 devices to carry the Zone branding. There’s a US version and a UK version which have slightly different titles, the US one is dumped, I have a UK one ripped apart ready for that to be processed one day. Many, if not all, the games in here are in the larger Interact compilations, but as I only briefly mentioned those in earlier parts I’ll give some more coverage of the actual games here (and likely revisit those ones again later to cover any unique things in them)

Amongst the games in this unit are Bowling and Baseball. Those appear to be identical to the VT1682 versions covered when looking at the Excite Sports 48-in-1 unit so I’m not going to cover them again.


Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US

We have a Golf game. It’s called Master Golf. It seems to steal / trace some assets from Neo Turf Masters. This isn’t the same as the other Golf game tho, I think this is an earlier incarnation before it was replaced with the one that straight up stole everything from Neo Turf Masters as this one didn’t make it to the SunPlus systems to my knowledge. Gameplay here is much simpler, there’s not even any aiming of note, it’s just a case of selecting the correct club and power level.


Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US

There’s a boxing game, I guess you’d actually call it kickboxing as feet are involved. Again it’s very basic compared to other games that would carry the Boxing title, although I do quite like the less realistic style these graphics have.


Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US

There’s Tennis, and Table Tennis, they play as you’d expect, they’re not quite the same as the ones in units we’ve already given detailed coverage of, but they’re still single button games.


Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US
Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US

Then there’s Extreme Power Soccer, this one is a little more interesting, offering several game modes, including a ‘keep the ball in the air’ technique practice mode. It’s still just pressing a button at the correct time, but it adds some variety. I’ll come back to this in a minute.


Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US Zone 7-in-1 US

That’s the Zone 7-in-1 anyway, if you want to see Baseball and Bowling see the part where I cover the Excite Sports. Now let’s very briefly look at a close relative of this.

MiWi 2 7-in-1

This MiWi 2 shipped with a 7-in-1 Sports cartridge and a 16-in 1 Arcade cartridge. I mentioned it briefly when talking about Drum Master, which was part of the 16-in-1 cartridge, but the 7-in-1 Sports cartridge fits here.


MiWi 2 7-in-1 MiWi 2 7-in-1 MiWi 2 7-in-3

The unit includes different Tennis and Table Tennis / Ping Pong games when compared to the Zone 7-in-1. The Tennis game is the one found in the Excite Sports unit, as is the Ping Pong game, but here the Ping Pong game renders the opponent sprite priority correctly. Again I don’t know if this is just an emulation glitch in the other unit caused by it doing things in a way that disagrees with our emulation (maybe different VT1682 revisions had different timings?) or if it’s a game glitch in the other set. Also this version calls the Boxing game TV Karate.


MiWi 2 7-in-1 MiWi 2 7-in-1 MiWi 2 7-in-1

I mentioned before that the MiWi 2 16-in-1 cartridge was clearly based on earlier code revisions of some of the games than other units, as there was less censorship in some games, and with the 7-in-1 Sports cartridge there are also signs that these are earlier games / code revisions. I mentioned the Extreme Power Soccer game. With the MiWi2 7-in-1 version the background banners are for YMK Software, with a ymktvgame URL (I haven’t tried it) and there’s a simple counter in the top right. There’s no lose condition, you can drop the ball and start again.


MiWi 2 7-in-1 MiWi 2 7-in-1

If we go back to the Zone 7-in-1 version you can see there’s a target number to reach, and also if you drop the ball you’ll be told to Try Harder, with the game booting you out. You can also see the text in the banners has been crudely replaced. These two things strongly suggest this is a later modified version of the game.


Zone 7-in-1 Zone 7-in-1

I think that covers everything I wanted to cover for this part; sports ended up cropping up again simply because there are so many of these units with sports in, but I feel the coverage of the MGT unit has at least broken that up a bit. Again we’ve got examples of how even for these simple games there are different code revisions out there with various tweaks applied and we can also see how some games were swapped out entirely for what must have been considered better implementations of the same sport.

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Under the Surface (part 14)

April 12, 2020 Haze Categories: General News. Comments Off on Under the Surface (part 14)

I’ve now set up a PayPal account linked to “hazemamewip@hotmail.com” so if anybody wants to contribute towards the purchase (and shipping to Sean / TeamEurope) of Plug and Play devices, then that address can be used. It will help enormously with sourcing additional units, plus any spares we might need for experiments (sometimes dumping is not straightforward as many of these don’t use regular ROMs, but ROM globs)

As these are donations, not payments for any specific guaranteed product or service, be sure to send them as gifts. Also don’t send email to that address, it won’t be checked. If you want to discuss sending a specific unit you already own instead, please tag on on Twitter.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1

The Excite Sports 48-in-1 covered in the previous part was distributed by TaiKee in Europe / the UK as “Interactive TV Games 48-in-1” with a box boasting exactly how many sports and arcade titles were contained within, and little screenshots of each of them on the box. I looked at the sports titles contained within it.

TaiKee also distributed “Interactive TV Games 49-in-1” in European territories. That’s right, a whole extra game.

Actually that’s not quite the case. The 49-in-1 is NOT based on VT1682 technology, instead it’s a SunPlus based device, and the selection of games is different. Sort of.

This unit is actually a relative of the Zone 40, which we’ll look at later. This is a different strand of game development for these Plug and Plays compared to the Zone 60 or newer Family Sports units and is a good example of how they followed different paths. As you’ll see this very much is a ‘sequel’ of sorts to the 48-in-1 VT1682 based unit, which as we’ll see when we look at the arcade titles later, actually seems to have some close lineage from some of the VT and NES based devices.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Interactive TV Games 49-in-1

That Golf game looks mighty familiar doesn’t it. Didn’t I just cover that in the previous part? It’s the one that rips all the assets from Neo Turf Masters, right?

Well yes, but remember those system details I gave out in that part. The VT1682 runs at 256×240 resolution, has 2 6502 based cores powering it (1 main, 1 audio) well the hardware here runs at 320×240, which is actually closer to the NeoGeo original. It also isn’t a 6502 based architecture at all, the SunPlus System on a Chip units use their own CPU architecture known as unSP. While on the surface this game looks like the one on the previous unit it’s actually a new port of the game using all the same stolen assets and gameplay design.

With the improved resolution things do look a bit nicer here, and if I’m quite honest I’ve played worse Golf games than this. Completely unlicensed copyright infringement on every level, and lacking in content, but the basis of something not entirely terrible is here. Still doesn’t have the speech or anything tho because it’s really just the VT1682 hardware game ported to a new platform.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Golf Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Golf Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Golf
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Golf Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Golf Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Golf

Bowling looks to have had the same treatment; this is using the same assets as the VT1682 version of the game, including stolen portraits, but there’s one important change made here. You can actually aim. That’s right, instead of just a bar moving left and right too quickly to even use, this version of the game allows you to use the directional arrows to select your position and the curl placed on the ball. This makes a world of difference and means this is almost a playable bowling game now. It’s still nothing compared to Wii Sports Bowling, and still doesn’t have any form of real motion control, but it’s more of a bowling game than a timing lottery.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Bowling Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Bowling Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Bowling

The Football game here (not Soccer, this is a PAL / UK unit) is not Place Kick Master as found in the 48-in-1 units, but instead a newer more polished looking game. It’s got the same ‘press button at the right time’ gameplay, but presentation is much better, and there are 3 game modes. This, while not remotely fun, is at least a respectable effort for what it is.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Football Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Football Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Football
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Football Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Football Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Football

You’re not getting away from Place Kick Master that easily tho. Tucked away in the Arcade menu is that very game, again updated a little for the SunPlus hardware, but really pointless to have on here when the better ‘Football’ game is already present. The menus haven’t even been redone properly for the new resolution, just borders added.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Place Kick Master Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Place Kick Master Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Place Kick Master
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Place Kick Master Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Place Kick Master Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Place Kick Master

Archery and Fencing which were ‘Sports’ games in the other unit are now moved to the Olympic menu (where, as you might have guessed, are newer ports of the simple Olympic style games) For Fencing you can clearly see the visible area was just extended to the right, so the neither the characters or status displays are centered.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Other Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Other Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Other
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Other Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Other Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Other

The state of the Fencing game makes more sense once you look at one of the other games in the Sports section however. Competitive Fencing is a bigger, bolder take on the same sport. This one almost feels out of place because if anything it’s a little too well made for such a unit. It’s still a simple game, but it’s well animated, attractively presented, has responsive controls and accomplishes what it aims to be.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Competitive Fencing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Competitive Fencing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Competitive Fencing
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Competitive Fencing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Competitive Fencing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Competitive Fencing

Boxing, is not the same game as in the Excite Sports unit. Actually none of the remaining ones are until I get to the Olympic ones. The presentation here is however quite ugly, like 3d models but stripped of most of their shading. One thing to make note of here, the character selection screen. There are positions for 4 boxers, only 2 are used. We’ll come back to this later.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Boxing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Boxing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Boxing
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Boxing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Boxing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Boxing

Ping Pong uses the same style of presentation as Boxing. We’re back to the ‘single button input’ gameplay that so many of these used here. It isn’t the same game as on the VT1682 based units, and the gameplay is smoother and more responsive, but you’re still just using a single button, pressing it at the correct time, which means any enjoyment from this one will be very short lived.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Ping Pong Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Ping Pong Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Ping Pong
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Ping Pong Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Ping Pong Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Ping Pong

The Tennis game is basically the same thing as the Ping Pong game, feels very similar to play, has a similar look to it.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Tennis Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Tennis Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Tennis
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Tennis Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Tennis Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Tennis

Beach Volleyball uses some pre-rendered graphics too, but they come off better. Gameplay is too simple tho, offering little challenge, which is a shame, this one had potential


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Beach Volley Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Beach Volley Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Beach Volley
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Beach Volley Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Beach Volley Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Beach Volley

Darts sees a return to high quality presentation with cutscenes between actions and good use of transparency effects as we saw in the Football game. It’s still about stopping bars in the correct place, but the presentation value makes this feel like one of the better throwaway Darts games I’ve seen.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Darts

3 Point Shooter is your Basketball Hoop throw game, presentation is alright, but there’s not much you can do with this concept.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Point Shooter Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Point Shooter Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Point Shooter
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Point Shooter Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Point Shooter Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Point Shooter

In swimming you swim. Different strokes, different lengths of race, but in the end this is closer to one of the ‘Olympic’ sports games, but with better presentation values, closer to the Beach Volleyball game.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Swimming Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Swimming Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 3 Swimming

Curling is another with good presentation values. It actually seems like there’s a decent amount to do here, so this might be one of the better games on the compilation given enough time to play it properly.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Curling Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Curling Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Curling
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Curling Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Curling Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Curling

Happy Badminton doesn’t work properly, it locks up after starting a game, this makes me unhappy. I’m not actually sure what causes this lockup, I haven’t looked into it yet, but it’s surprising considering everything else runs as you’d expect. It isn’t a bad dump either as it does it in another compilation we’ll look at shortly.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Badminton Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Badminton

Baseball is loud, fast paced and in your face, immediately a thousand times better than the game on the 48-in-1 unit.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Baseball Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Baseball Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Baseball
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Baseball Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Baseball Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Baseball

Fishing is another simple one, no bait selection, no underwater view, just cast the line, wait a bit, then mash buttons if you get a bite, but don’t mash too much. It’s well presented but lacks the depth found in some games on other units and in standalone Plug & Plays.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Fishing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Fishing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Fishing
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Fishing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Fishing Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Fishing

So that’s the Sports part of the TaiKee “Interactive TV Games 49-in-1” covered, with some games that were considered Sports in previous units, but are now located in different places. Let’s quickly look at the ‘Olympic’ titles. These are really just direct ports of the VT1682 games with the visible area extended to the right. The status bars aren’t even centred, as we saw was also the case with Fencing above. The exception to this is High Jump, which inexplicably does have the status display centred, suggesting a tiny amount more effort was put into porting that one over. It’s interesting to see these ported across, but as I said with the VT1682 versions they’re very poor games compared to the ones found in Decathlon.


Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic
Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic Interactive TV Games 49-in-1 Olympic

I’ll cover the Arcade parts of this collection in another part as for now I’d rather keep focus on sports related material.

AtGame Reactor MD (SunPlus part)

The AtGames ‘Reactor MD’ is a very special abomination. It combines a MegaDrive on a Chip (which is one of the worst implementations of the MD/Genesis hardware I’ve ever seen) with a SunPlus based multigame in a case that is the same as those used for the Zone 60 etc. (but somehow of a lower build quality) and of course the Wii-clone controllers to match that case.

The MD part of this, which the system should boot to actually uses ‘enhanced’ modes not supported on a standard Genesis, so that currently does not run properly in MAME. However, selecting the bonus games option from the menu there switches the system to use the SunPlus part, which has an entirely different CPU die glob and ROM on the PCB (it’s actually a secondary PCB) This SunPlus part DOES run in MAME, and is closely related to the Zone 40 / Interactive TV Games 49-in-1, offering a bunch of the sports games, and also “Sword of Warrior” which might actually be the best thing on here but we’ll cover that later.

One of the first things you can see is this includes the Golf game, and yes, it’s the very same game with all the assets ripped from Neo Turf Masters that you can see above. This is AtGames quality, presenting a product with full licenses from Sega then still including bootleg SNK / Nazca content on the device. I’d say it was dragging Sega’s name through the dirt, but the Megadrive part of that already manages to make proper Megadrive ROMs look like dodgy bootlegs with nothing running at the correct speed and sound so bad you’ll want to turn it off, it’s almost a shame that even when we do start to emulate the MD part it will never be quite as bad the hardware here as getting it that wrong is a feat. This is a bad product.


Reactor MD Reactor MD Reactor MD

That aside, there are some interesting changes with the games found on this device. Remember I said Boxing only had 2 opponents to select from in the first unit I covered, well here there are actually 4, and the Virtual part is dropped from the title.


Reactor MD Reactor MD Reactor MD

I have a theory that ‘Virtual’ was dropped from the title at request of Sega, as it’s not the only game Virtual is dropped from the title with. Virtual Tennis just becomes Tennis, and this is maybe more noteworthy because Sega own the rights to the ‘Virtua Tennis’ game and ‘Virtual Tennis’ is very close to that. If that was the case it makes the inclusion of bootleg SNK content even more difficult to understand tho.


Reactor MD Reactor MD Reactor MD

There were some other changes too. Ping Pong became Table Tennis, and Football got a different roster of team flags.


Reactor MD Reactor MD Reactor MD Reactor MD

Some other titles changed too. Badminton became less Happy, but still doesn’t work (which is why I can be sure it’s not just a bad dump of one of the sets) while Dart gained an S and became Darts. Meanwhile Fencing became less competitive for unknown reasons and 3 Point Shooter is now just Basketball, but otherwise remains the same game. While it’s easy to speculate why the ‘Virtual’ games lost their ‘Virtual’ some of these make less sense. Why erase ‘Happy’ from all places in Badminton for example?


Reactor MD Reactor MD Reactor MD Reactor MD

Beyond that, there’s not much interesting to say about the Reactor MD. I keep mentioning the Zone 40, so I suppose it would make sense to look at that.

Zone 40

The Zone 40, or at least the dumped version of the Zone 40 is a US / NTSC console, while the 2 units featured here have been PAL / UK. It still contains the Turf Masters Rip-off for a start, although in terms of sports games the count is lower here than on the other unit with a fair few missing. The ‘Olympic’ games are just bundled in with ‘Arcade’ Virtual Tennis is just Tennis here, but Fencing is still Competitive Fencing, so this sits somewhere in the middle in terms of name changes.


Zone 40 Zone 40 Zone 40

Maybe the only real thing that stands out as different in this unit is Football, which now carries the title of Soccer, probably due to this being a unit for the US market. There could be other differences in the games but I have not yet found them.


Zone 40 Zone 40

I was considering looking at some of the other VT1682 sports games here too, but due to covering the sports titles in this branch of the multigames one-by-one there’s already plenty here so I’ll do those another time.

This part I feel shows us a few things. First, that there are clear evolutions to some of these games, they were ported between different hardware types, and in some cases (for example Bowling) the gameplay was updated slightly too. Games were also redone entirely at various points, as we can see if we compare Fencing, and the port of it to this platform with the newer Competitive Fencing game. Once I start looking at the Arcade games in these collections in a bit more detail you’ll see the same there too.

The other takeaway from this part is also ‘revisions’. We’ve seen minor changes to what on the surface look like the same game across these units; one version of the Boxing game having twice as many characters, possible censorship of titles, regional differences too. All these things mean that even for these games, which are generally considered throwaway it’s worth comparing the versions found on different devices as there could easily be undumped versions out there too, and again we’ll see this with the arcade games, and some of the sports games on other units too.

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Under the Surface (part 13)

April 11, 2020 Haze Categories: General News. Comments Off on Under the Surface (part 13)

I’ve now set up a PayPal account linked to “hazemamewip@hotmail.com” so if anybody wants to contribute towards the purchase (and shipping to Sean / TeamEurope) of Plug and Play devices, then that address can be used. It will help enormously with sourcing additional units, plus any spares we might need for experiments (sometimes dumping is not straightforward as many of these don’t use regular ROMs, but ROM globs)

As these are donations, not payments for any specific guaranteed product or service, be sure to send them as gifts. Also don’t send email to that address, it won’t be checked. If you want to discuss sending a specific unit you already own instead, please tag on on Twitter.


Excite Bowling is a XaviX hardware game by Epoch. This one could prove to be useful for improving some aspects of the emulation, because unlike most Epoch XaviX titles which simply don’t have proper control hookups yet, this one takes a dislike to our XaviX timer emulation, and currently requires them to be disabled to boot. This might indicate that they’re being incorrectly enabled in some cases, although there are acknowledged issues with them anyway. It also has no controls, and also requires some bits in the input port to toggle not to hang too, it seems like the code for this one is surprisingly fragile compared to other Epoch games on XaviX hardware and fails easily if things aren’t correct. It’s another where there is unlockable content.


Excite Bowling Excite Bowling Excite Bowling
Excite Bowling Excite Bowling Excite Bowling
Excite Bowling Excite Bowling Excite Bowling
Excite Bowling Excite Bowling Excite Bowling

Excite Stadium DX is another XaviX hardware game by Epoch and sits in the same ‘no controls’ boat. This is the 2nd in the series (first is sourced but not dumped yet) With no controls you can allow the unit to run for 10 minutes until it appears to hang (which is when the system actually shuts down to save battery life, almost all XaviX games do this)


Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX
Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX
Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX
Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX Excite Stadium DX

Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness sees Epoch move to the enhanced Super Xavix hardware, and make full use of the interlace mode now available. This results in quite a flickery display however. The game also uses the Super Xavix bitmap modes for the upper part of the crowd, which due to incomplete emulation is not currently scaled correctly or scrolled (this bitmap layer can be higher resolution than the sprites etc.) Again no motion controls hooked up here yet, but the demo can be watched, and having Super XaviX games make use of the features but aren’t stalling for other reasons is going to be handy for improving emulation.


Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness
Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness
Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness
Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness Excite Sports Tennis x Fitness

Now let’s move away from some high quality Japanese games, and embark on one of the biggest nosedives of all time.

I briefly mentioned the “Excite Sports Wireless Interactive TV Game – 48-in-1” in the gambling part when pointing out it had a Poker game in it. This unit certainly should not be confused with the above XaviX title; this one appears to have been distributed by a company called ‘Excite’ in the US, hence the title. Amongst the selection of games included are a number marked as ‘Sports’

The video emulation isn’t quite right here, so some layers are offset, which is very noticeable in places; the fix doesn’t seem trivia as different scenes need different offsets, and the hardware documentation for this that does exist isn’t too helpful either as it suggests this is an unavoidable hardware flaw, and that you should adjust your offsets, but clearly when it happens is conditional on other things so you can’t globally adjust them.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Excite Sports 48 in 1

For anybody familiar with the NeoGeo game ‘Neo Turf Masters’ the most blatant case of copyright infringement will come from the Golf game in this unit.

Every asset in this game is ripped from Neo Turf Masters, although the iconic speech such as ‘On The Green’ is strangely absent, when it would have been little effort to add that too. The game has no perspective view, everything is done from an overhead display making the whole thing feel like some kind of severely stripped down handheld port of Neo Turf Masters (one character, one set of hole etc.) The VT1682 hardware on which this is based uses System on a Chip technology with a primary 6502 core for the main game, and a secondary, much higher clocked 6502 for audio. It outputs a resolution of 256×240 pixels. Why am I telling you this? well this isn’t the last time this game appears and the things noted here are important.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf Excite Sports 48 in 1 Golf

The Tennis game in it is a simple Tennis game, works on the basis of a single button press.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Tennis Excite Sports 48 in 1 Tennis Excite Sports 48 in 1 Tennis
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Tennis Excite Sports 48 in 1 Tennis Excite Sports 48 in 1 Tennis

The Baseball game again is a simple game, single button control, which feels like some kind of gambling game because the commentary will announce that you’re out the moment you’ve hit the ball, before showing any animations to show it being caught. NeoGeo fans will again recognize the graphics in the first scene on the intro although the rest of the art is completely unrelated, I’m not sure why this was used here. Either way this is terrible.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball

Table Tennis, you’ve guessed it, single button control etc. For some reason the version in Excite Sports renders your opponent on the table, not behind. I don’t know if this is a glitch in this specific unit or a glitch in the emulation because it renders correctly in another unit with the same game.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball Excite Sports 48 in 1 Baseball

Do you want to beat up Jeffrey or Stella, or maybe just turn the console off. Boxing gives you that choice of the first two, a swift right hook to the unit gives you the third option.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Boxing Excite Sports 48 in 1 Boxing Excite Sports 48 in 1 Boxing
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Boxing Excite Sports 48 in 1 Boxing Excite Sports 48 in 1 Boxing

Soccer 11, or Place Kick Master as the badly hacked up ‘The Ultimate 11’ logo tells you the game is called is a Penalty Kick simulator, except it again just feels like a gambling game, most of the time the keeper will save it, the game again just uses a single button and is completely unrewarding.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Soccer Excite Sports 48 in 1 Soccer Excite Sports 48 in 1 Soccer
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Soccer Excite Sports 48 in 1 Soccer Excite Sports 48 in 1 Soccer

Bowling, is single button bowling with a stolen Half Life portrait.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling

At this point the Excite Sports 48-in-1 sports games are becoming rather painful to play, so let’s wrap those up. There’s Billiard, a Pocket Gal clone with the worst ball physics ever. Archery, a ‘press the button at the right time’ game where the sound doesn’t work in MAME, and Fencing, which might be less terrible than some of the others, but could have probably gone in the ‘arcade’ section anyway.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling Excite Sports 48 in 1 Bowling

So that’s it, all the Sports games in this unit covered, we can come back and do the other Arcade games later, maybe..

Oh, there’s an Athletics section too. There’s also a Discus shooting game in Hunting, that looks very much like one of the Track and Field events, but I’m going to ignore that for now, we’ll come back to this compilation later.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics

These are all simple sports events, vastly inferior to those found in the Decathlon Plug and Play previously covered. Walk Race I couldn’t even figure out how to operate (possibly an emulation issue) I guess Discuss is amusing if you pretend you’re throwing custard pies.


Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics
Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics Excite Sports 48 in 1 Athletics

Anyway, I’ll call the end on this part for now. I should cover the non-sports games in this unit at some point, and there are still more sports units to look at, including some with these very same games, or slightly different versions of them. It’s difficult to know how to best cover these multi-game VT1682 units, as while the games are all ‘original’ software they’re extraordinarily bad. I feel they’re worth covering because they’re not just NES hacks, or things people might have seen in other emulators (as until recently none of the VT1682 stuff was dumped or emulated) but covering them in any detail is an endurance test.

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