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MAME work and other stuff

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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January (part 1)

January 25, 2019 Haze Categories: General News. 6 Comments on January (part 1)

January has been a busy month, although so far there is relatively little in the way of ‘complete’ work to show for it. Sean Riddle has been working in overdrive to dump a lot of Plug and Play TV games, and many of them show promise under emulation, although due custom controls and different ways of hooking things up that are often employed not many have been elevated to ‘working’ state. I figured it was about time to at least put up some pictures of the progress tho.

First up, the entire Huntin’ series by Radica was dumped. The first game runs on XaviX hardware and is apparently a decent game. You can’t play it in MAME yet because the light gun isn’t hooked up.


Huntin'1 Huntin'1 Huntin'1
Huntin'1 Huntin'1 Huntin'1

The 2nd game in the Huntin’ series also runs on XaviX hardware, the presentation was improved here, but from reviews I’ve read the gameplay took a hit, offering a less satisfying simulation with some major oversights compared to the first game. Again the gun isn’t hooked up, and curiously it crashes when you bring up the pause menu, which could point to a useful edge case in the XaviX emulation if I could track down why it happens, as it stands, it’s annoying.


Huntin'2 Huntin'2 Huntin'2
Huntin'2 Huntin'2 Huntin'2

The 3rd game in the Huntin’ series saw a switch from XaviX hardware to hardware with a SoC manufactured by Elan. This is an odd choice because the Elan hardware seems like a total downgrade from XaviX, presumably it was a cost saving measure. There aren’t many games dumped on the Elan style hardware, so emulation is much more primitive with many visual effects missing. The good news, from an emulation point of view, is that Huntin’ 3 pushes this hardware much more than the other dumped games so should open the way to some improvements. The actual game seems to follow the exact same formula as Huntin’2, reusing many assets, often downgraded. Again no gun emulation yet.

Huntin'3 Huntin'3 Huntin'3
Huntin'3 Huntin'3 Huntin'3

2005 actually saw a number of games released by Radica on this Elan hardware, another Sean dumped is Baseball 3, developed by Farsight Studios. Again I think people consider this to be a downgrade from the original Baseball game (undumped) but this time it isn’t a simple remake of Baseball 2. Analog controls aren’t emulated, so you can’t pitch or bat.


Radica Baseball 3 Radica Baseball 3 Radica Baseball 3
Radica Baseball 3 Radica Baseball 3 Radica Baseball 3

Another release on Elan hardware is Real Swing Golf, this is almost the same game as Golden Tee Home Edition, also developed by Farsight Studios and dumped some months prior. In this case there is no Golden Tee license, and the controller is different, using a motion tracked club instead of a trackball. This also tells me that sprites have their own priority values, something I need to implement for the menu text to render correctly. Analog control not yet emulated.


Real Swing Golf Real Swing Golf Real Swing Golf

The other known games on this hardware; the aforementioned Golden Tee Home, as well as ConnecTV Football were improved slightly in terms of making use of the correct registers for various modes etc. but still need a fair bit of work.

Another case of Radica switching hardware for a sequel is Football 2. Football and Madden Football both ran on XaviX while Football 2 runs on a SunPlus based platform. There is an emulation problem where sprites don’t always appear in training mode, also input mappings are unclear; in the original Football games the ball was strictly an analog input, using system timers and event interrupts to calculate the time between a switch going on and off based on how hard you threw the ball, here the game responds to a digital input, it’s unclear if that is an intentional change or a debug feature, it is also unclear how Player 2 maps, assuming it ever shipped in a 2 Player unit (Radica had a tendency to leave 2 Player options in games even where they couldn’t be used) The actual game is very like the original Football but with added Powerups, unsurprising as all of them were developed by FarSight, although that makes the switch of hardware even more curious.


Football 2 Football 2 Football 2
Football 2 Football 2 Football 2

This next one is actually mostly playable, and only marked as NOT WORKING because the difficult select hasn’t been found (the machine has OFF and 2 difficulty settings as one 3 position slider, and the game select as another 3 position slider) The game in question is Mattel Classic Sports 3-in-1, an attempt from the mid 2000s to turn the old handheld electronic games into something you could play on a TV instead, long before anybody was emulating this kind of thing for real. This runs on SunPlus based hardware.


Mattel Classic Sports
Mattel Classic Sports Mattel Classic Sports Mattel Classic Sports
Mattel Classic Sports Mattel Classic Sports Mattel Classic Sports

Some more interesting stuff did happen in January with XaviX emulation and SunPlus emulation, which I’ll do a further update about in a bit.

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Popir… Opus

December 31, 2018 Haze Categories: General News. 1 Comment on Popir… Opus

The previous few updates have been about Japanese music games running on XaviX hardware. Those games were quite popular in Japan back in the day.

One lesser known piece of history is Radica’s attempt to bring such a game to the non Japanese markets. While Radica flooded the market with a terrible licensed Tetris game and other things using novelty controllers one of their less talked about products is actually one of the better ones. Opus is basically the same gameplay concept as Popira, but with a fixed library of songs (no cartridge support) and a few extra features, such as Smartbombs to clear the screen if you think you’re about to lose, and a ‘Red Ball’ mode, where you a ball will randomly be coloured red and you have to let it drop instead of hitting it.

This was also one of the trickier ones to dump. Many of the other XaviX games have had TSOP pads near the ROM glob, which could have wires attached to them allowing the readout of the ROM data as if it were a standard ROM with that pinout. Opus, and a number of others do not have that, the traces go straight from the ROM glob to the CPU glob with no simple indication of which line is which and no easy place to solder on wires. Luckily we have Sean, and he managed to trace out the lines from each glob and use his skillset to work out what each line was for and hook up wires directly to the traces allowing for the ROM to be dumped that way. There are a number of other XaviX games (and Jakks games) that will need similar treatment (although many use smaller PCBs and will require even more delicate work)


Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus
Radica Opus Radica Opus

Compared to all the novelty controller junk that was put out this holds up remarkably well, even if the graphics are maybe a little ugly. There’s an unemulated ‘Static TV’ effect that’s used in some of the menus; it can be seen in the only original hardware video of this thing on YouTube. As for an emulation video, here you go.


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Thanks also to Peter Wilhelmsen for purchasing this item.

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