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MAME work and other stuff

Neo-Clone

May 15, 2014 Haze Categories: General News. 7 Comments on Neo-Clone

The ‘midas.c’ driver was created by Luca a while back, it runs 2 games ‘Live Quiz Show’ and ‘Hammer’


Live Quiz Show Hammer

One of the observations Luca made at the time is that the hardware was basically an enhanced clone of the NeoGeo, especially the video system which essentially worked in the same way but with some improvements (support for 256 colour tiles instead of 16 colour tiles being the main one)

There has been a ‘merge with NeoGeo driver’ note in the source for a while, and the game ‘Live Quiz Show’ had some noticeable graphic glitches on certain mini-games. I decided to find out if actually using the proper NeoGeo video code instead of the driver’s local implementation would help.

This required some refactoring of the NeoGeo video code in order to handle the different format graphics, and there were also a few other oddities I had to deal with such as the Y-Zoom table on the Midas hardware being uploaded by the main CPU rather than contained in a ROM.

Interestingly this uploaded Y-Zoom table ended up being the key to solving the graphic glitches, the table they upload is NOT the same as the regular NeoGeo ROM table, and treating the zoom as a simple linear zoom is what was causing the errors.

Anyway, with the NeoGeo sprites refactored to be a device, and the Midas sprites being a simple class inheriting the base NeoGeo sprite class with the various difference implemented there we end up with the following improvements. On the LEFT you can see the old glitched images, on the right are the images with the new code.


Live Quiz Show (glitched) Live Quiz Show

Live Quiz Show(glitched) Live Quiz Show
Comparison shots showing the bug fixed in Live Quiz Show

Less code, less duplication, less bugs, everybody wins.

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Other News (part 4)

May 12, 2014 Haze Categories: General News. 11 Comments on Other News (part 4)

Here is another one I didn’t add myself, but feel is worth highlighting.

I’ve mentioned in past updates that every single Crazy Cross I’ve ever seen sold has actually been the Japanese version with the sellers simply using the ‘Crazy Cross’ title because it was better known outside of Japan under that name due to the home releases. I was actually very much doubting an English language version existed for the arcades, because even if there had been an Asia or Korean release in English we’d never seen a trace of it.

Well, I always love to be proved wrong over cases like this, and the other day Arzeno Fabrice* (aka zozo) actually found and dumped the proper English version of the game, and more surprising is that it isn’t some obscure Asia / Korea release, but an actual European release.


Puzzle Dama Crazy Cross
Puzzle Dama Crazy Cross
Puzzle Dama Crazy Cross
Puzzle Dama Crazy Cross
Puzzle Dama Crazy Cross
Puzzle Dama Crazy Cross

Note, due to a bug in MAME at the moment you have to go through the EEPROM initialization sequence EVERY time you boot the game or it will fail the a bunch of ROM checks (that’s reset with F2 held down) This has bug has been around for a few versions now, so there’s no guarantee it will be fixed when this hits a public release. A couple of other games in the GX driver currently suffer from similar issues.


Crazy Cross

Again Brian Troha added the dump, I’m just highlighting the finding because I thought some people here would find it interesting.

* he’s been dumping a few things lately, including an interesting earlier set of Sega’s Borench which appears to have buggy initialization code, causing sound to fail if NVRAM is corrupt – something they addressed in the later game revision.

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Other News (part 3)

May 12, 2014 Haze Categories: General News. 1 Comment on Other News (part 3)

Bouncing Balls is one of those Korean titles that has always left me scratching my head. First of all it’s one of the few Comad games I can’t attribute to simply being a hack of something else (along with Pushman, which runs on the same hardware – the hardware being a copy of Capcom’s F1 Dream, but with different protection*)

* come to think of it, why is the original F1 Dream even marked as working, you can drive through the walls.

Second, they decided that the best theme for the game would be Warner Bros character designed, in this case Marvin the Martian and Duck Dodgers (Daffy Duck), unlicensed of course. The game is a simple puzzle game, and in the existing MAME set these characters are used for both the foreground sprites and in-game background images.

When I say it’s a simple puzzle game, I mean it’s a simple puzzle game, basic addition and subtraction, putting balls into the appropriate slots to reach a target value, without exceeding it. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was actually a game aimed at kids, but then the whole thing is turned upside down, because between rounds you get undressed / suggestive pictures of women. See these censored screenshots from MAME.


Bouncing Balls Bouncing Balls Bouncing Balls Bouncing Balls

Recently system11 dumped another version of the game, the new set still uses the WB characters for the foreground sprites, but replaces ALL the backgrounds with low quickly monochrome images of women, not just the bits between rounds. This is slightly more in Comad’s style, although it’s still the same rather pointless game! Interestingly this version also has patterned backgrounds rather than being blank.

It appears this set has less images overall because if you look in the test mode / tilemap viewer (the tilemaps are hardcoded as one big layout stored in ROM) then you can see only about 2/3rds of the tilemap has valid images in this new set with the rest being corrupt, as opposed to the older one where it was all used. ALL the roms are different on this set, so it isn’t just some cheap hack, Comad actually thought it was worth putting both of these to market.


Bouncing Balls Bouncing Balls Bouncing Balls Bouncing Balls

Had a version with no adult pictures at all shown up it might have actually made more sense, because I can’t see any adult actually wanting to spend any time with it unless they were completely innumerate; the images aren’t even worth seeing, and the game is Fun School level.

I didn’t actually spend any time adding this myself, Brian Troha took care of the addition because it simply slotted into the existing driver.

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Other News (part 2)

May 7, 2014 Haze Categories: General News. 9 Comments on Other News (part 2)

I’ve mentioned the Afega shooters here before, and how they run on hardware basically copied from NMK (unsurprising because Afega’s first shooter was just a reskin of USAAF Mustang. The (final?) Afega shooter doesn’t really get as much coverage, maybe because it doesn’t carry the Afega name, or was never ‘licensed’ by them.

That game is the one known in MAME as Spectrum 2000 (with a Yonatech copyright) or Fire Hawk (with an ESD copyright)

Until recently MAME supported horizontal versions of both games, the exact relationship between them isn’t fully understood, but they are basically the same game. Spectrum 2000 is a buggy piece of garbage, you can glitch it out very early in the game, eg the first big enemy you encounter has a glitched state after you first blow it up, and if you blow it up a 2nd time it appears normal.


Spectrum 2000 Spectrum 2000
Spectrum 2000 Spectrum 2000 Spectrum 2000

I didn’t think it was actually possible for such a bug to simply slip under the radar, but it did, I tested this on the actual PCB around when it was dumped and the very same thing happened there!

There’s another bug, in the attract mode they manage to draw the ‘B’ button in the wrong place when it’s pressed down. I don’t know if this happens on the hardware, but it wouldn’t surprise me.


Spectrum 2000 Spectrum 2000

Firehawk, as I said, is basically the same game, but with a lot more polish (power up texts etc.) It has a normal explosion sequence for the first big enemy, and doesn’t have the issue with the button display in attract mode. I think it’s fairly safe to say it’s a newer version of the game.


Firehawk Firehawk
Firehawk Firehawk

Now what’s interesting is that Shoutime recently dumped a VERTICAL version of Spectrum 2000, the fact one exists wasn’t a surprise, there are horizontal and vertical versions of all the Afega shooters (more on that later) but what is surprising is that he thought it was an older version due to the board / rom types used. If you look at the game however it does NOT have the bug with the first big enemy.



What it does however have (and I haven’t verified this on the PCB) is the ships on the player select screen sometimes drifting off the screen if you coin the game up during the attract demos (not always) this hasn’t been verified on real hardware but the weird part is these are SPRITES, and there’s no global offset register or anything we should ignore on that screen. It also still has the weird display issue with the attract instructions (also not verified on hw)


Spectrum 2k Vertical Spectrum 2k Vertical

The story doesn’t end there however, because system11 dumped a vertical version of Firehawk as well. Unfortunately he didn’t dump the graphic roms so for now you can’t see anything and I can’t tell you much about this set.


Fire Hawk vertical Fire Hawk vertical

What IS interesting about the Firehawk is that it’s meant to be a switchable orientation set; Afega actually boasted this feature on a number of their games, and it’s true that several of the games contain graphics for both orientations (the Horizontal Firehawk we have does not) I always assumed this was a program rom switch, but apparently on this version of Firehawk it’s a dipswitch, and it can’t be a dipswitch simply banking the program roms either because they only contain one copy of the code. In all honesty I’m not sure how it works at this point!

There’s another annoying problem with all the Afega games in MAME, the lives display (regardless of if it’s drawn with sprites, or as part of the text layer) has corrupt colours for some of the ships. I don’t know / understand why this happens. There’s also an issue with some enemies popping up in strange places (the bottom corner). We previously had this issue with bullets in some of the games, but that was fixed by adding memory mirrors (and there are no unmapped accesses now). Maybe some of these issues are just ‘features’ of the original game; I think one day somebody is going to have to verify a lot of the issues against the boards.

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Other News.. (part 1)

May 7, 2014 Haze Categories: General News. 1 Comment on Other News.. (part 1)

There hasn’t been a great deal to write about lately, but there are a few recent findings I feel are worth highlighting.

ShouTime has been busy as always, trying to find interesting undumped clones, and he recently acquired a different version of the Video System game Ta’o Taido

Tao Taido is a rather goofy VS fighter from the post-Street Fighter 2 period where everybody thought creating their own definitive fighter was the way forward.

As far as the game goes there are a number of unanswered questions about it. Take the following screenshots of the game as emulated in MAME.


Tao Taido Tao Taido
Tao Taido Tao Taido

The test mode shown there seems to indicate that the game was designed as a 4 player game, with 3 buttons per player. The HUD layout in the actual game shots, and the fact it has battles with 3 characters involved would also suggest that such a direction was considered during development. This however never came to be, and the game Video System released was a 2 player game, and the best known version makes use of 2 buttons only; to execute special moves you must hold down both buttons and a direction; these are all shown during the attract sequences. This wouldn’t be the first time Video System had such plans, there’s code for a 4 player version of Welltris hidden away in those roms too!

The clone set of the game in MAME makes even less sense, it’s a 6-button game, obviously influenced by what Capcom etc. were doing, but the test mode is the same as the one above, the extra punch / kick buttons actually map onto the inputs shown for Players 3 and 4. Furthermore the set does NOT show you how to do the special moves in the attract mode (it shows them, just not how to execute them) This set also allows you to enable debug information with some of the dipswitches which are unused in the other set. I wonder if this version is some kind of prototype.


Tao Taido 6 button version Tao Taido 6 button version

Those both help bring me to the new version that was just dumped. This version is closest to the main version in MAME, but instead of only supporting 2 buttons it has a 2/3 button dipswitch. In 3 button mode the special moves are activated by holding the 3rd button instead of holding both the other buttons. This version still has the 4-player test mode, so that hasn’t been cleaned up (and I’ve checked all the dipswitches, none of them enable a 3/4 player mode) also it doesn’t have the debug switches found in the 6-player version, so quite where it fits chronologically I’m not sure. Was the option for the 3rd button added later, or taken away?


Tao Taido 3 button version Tao Taido 3 button version

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UME 0.153ex2

May 1, 2014 Haze Categories: General News. 12 Comments on UME 0.153ex2

UME (logo by JackC)
UME is the complete/combined version of the MAME / MESS project.

It’s always a little disappointing to have to post 3 UME updates in a row with no actual WIP news between them, but that’s the situation right now, I’ve not really made any changes worth doing an update about it, and progress elsewhere has been slow too if I’m honest.

0.153ex2 is built from SVN revision 30169

UME 0.153ex2 Windows binaries – 32-bit, 64-bit and all tools
UME 0.153ex2 sources

Here is the 0.153ex1 to 0.153ex2 SVN log

Also split mame/mess (non-ume) binaries of this revision can be found here

Points of Interest

The main addition of note here is support for Wyvern F-0, already extensively covered by Luca. It’s not really quite as rare of valuable as it’s hyped up to be, but it’s an interesting addition as it further shows the influence Namco’s Xevious had on the arcades, employing a similar air / ground bombing system (Taito had tried this previously with Fire Battle) As Luca mentions there are still a few issues with sprite colours, as you can see.


Wyvern F-0 Wyvern F-0 Wyvern F-0

For UME / MESS users I’ve added the parsing of some additional ini files based on how the drivers are defined in the source. Drivers are defined with either a GAME( macro, a CONS( macro, COMP( or SYST( depending on what type of system they are. This information was previously unused, but the emulator will now attempt to parse ‘arcade.ini’ for anything defined as GAME. and ‘console.ini’, ‘computer.ini’ or ‘othersys.ini’ for each of the others. While this relies on things being properly defined in the source it will allow UME users who might want specific .ini options to be applied only to drivers that originated in MAME to create an ‘arcade.ini’ with those specific options in. Even if you’re not using UME the option will benefit MESS users who can use the computer/console.ini files for the same purpose.

system11 dumped a couple of clones, the most interesting being a Korean version of Kaneko’s ‘The Berlin Wall’ This version carries an ‘Inter’ license like the Korean version of Gals Panic and appears to be a fully legitimate version of the game licensed by Kaneko for the Korean market.

The set is also interesting because it uses the same character graphics as the ‘berlwallt’ clone set, but preserves the normal stage order. Interestingly it suffers from the same ‘COPY BOARD’ issue when you die / continue on world 4 and above that resulted in the ‘berlwallt’ set being marked as a possible bootleg. I’ve asked for system11 to check if this actually occurs on real hardware, because the board the set comes from is definitely original so we need to establish if it’s an emulation glitch (meaning we’re missing some way the game detects a bootleg board, or some way of hiding those sprites) or an oversight by Kaneko with these versions of the game. Luca also fixed a few bugs in the driver.


Berlin Wall (Korea) Berlin Wall (Korea) Berlin Wall (Korea)

While on the subject of Berlin Wall, I find it a shame that ‘Wani Wani World’ never made it to the arcades, it’s a much more refined, much better looking, much more fun version of the game that was released on the Sega Mega Drive in Japan. (you can always give it a spin in UME, “UME megadrij waniwani”) I think the ‘RESET’ button on the MD emulation broke at some point tho, a shame because you need to reset the game 19 times to activate the cheat mode (and F3 resets too much of the system for that)

Kale has also been busy with improving the Model 2 emulation, although it’s still a long way from being correct or any kind of rival to ElSemi’s emulator.

Other than that a lot of the work done has been refactoring as usual, although a number of the small improvements are important, the Sega Master System timing tweaks that went in fixed a number of bugs I was seeing where screens were flicking that did not occur on real hardware (menu screens in Micro Machines for example – although there does seem to be a flickering line again on Fantastic Dizzy now) We’ve also seen work started on a long overdue cleanup of the MSX drivers.

A significant number of devices have had uninitialized variables cleaned up which should make things more reliable as uninitialized values can result in unpredictable buggy behaviour (like the Namco flipscreen issue we saw in 0.153)

A fair amount of work has also been done on more obscure systems in MESS, but you’d be better off checking the changelogs yourself for those if you want more details. A driver for the Xerox Alto 2 from Juergen is one such addition, but work was also done on the Goldstar FC-100, the Dick Smith Super-80, the NeXT systems and a number of others, each change inching them a bit closer to a working state. The MESS side of the code has been a hive of activity when it comes to these lesser known systems and it’s always good to see some devs of old getting a feel for things again with them!

Beyond that we’ve also seen attempts to repair the collateral damage caused by some of the other recent refactoring / device conversions / core rewrites such as the 0.153 regressions seen with the Cybiko.

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