General Old Game Hardware Thread

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Thad
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:26 pm

Only took 20 years, but somebody's worked out a way to run burned DVDs on a PS2 without relying on hardware mods or memory card/hard drive hacks.

It's early days yet and has only been tested with v3.10 of the DVD player firmware.

I haven't found any information on whether it'll work with PS1 games. The PS2 achieves backward compatibility with (most) PS1 games by having an actual PS1 processor in it; previous exploits like Free McBoot don't have access to that processor and can only play PS1 games through emulation on the PS2's main processor. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case here, too.

Course, the first thing I think is "Hey, I can play the translated versions of the Phantasy Star 1 and 2 remakes on real hardware now," but then I look at their pages on Romhacking and see that nope, they don't work on real hardware. At least, not through previous exploits, and I don't see why using a different launcher would fix the problem.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:59 pm

Still haven't fixed the rolling-picture issue on various cores of my MiSTer, but following my workarounds for SNES, Genesis/SegaCD, and TG16, I finally got one working for Game Boy.

I wrote: For whatever reason, if I enable Super Game Boy and load Mega Man 5, it fixes the rolling picture -- and once it's loaded, I can switch games; other games work fine after that (even if I turn off SGB mode). So I just enable SGB and save my settings, then make MM5 my boot2.rom and now I can play Game Boy.

Not sure why that game in particular; the same trick didn't work with Donkey Kong.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:01 am

Also: haven't experimented much with the Super Game Boy support; it gives two options (Border or On). I'm not entirely sure what On does besides showing the border; it doesn't appear to be running a Game Boy core on top of a SNES core. Space Invaders just hangs if you try to run the "Arcade" version.

(Space Invaders is the most fascinating Super Game Boy game, because it has a full-on SNES game on it. You can play the Game Boy version of the game with a border, like any other SGB game, but it also gives you the option of launching in "arcade mode", which actually reboots the game, bypasses the Super Game Boy ROM, and launches a full-on SNES version of Space Invaders -- in fact the same version that was sold as a SNES cartridge in Japan. It's a really cool gimmick and kind of a shame no other game ever did that -- but sure makes life easier trying to play Super Game Boy games 25 years later because that's a really hard trick to implement in an emulator or FPGA.)

...oh, I know what I should test to see if there's a difference between "Border" and "On". In DK94, Pauline's cry of "Help!" is a voice sample if you play it on an SGB but just an electronic noise on a Game Boy. Something to check tomorrow.

I think the border changes if you play for awhile too, to prevent burn-in? Or maybe there were idle animations? I don't remember exactly but I remember the cabin background used to go through a day-to-night cycle and the Metools in the Mega Man 5 border would pop up and down. Guess I can check and see if any of that happens.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sun Jul 05, 2020 3:14 pm

I was mistaken; it's not "Off/Border/On", it's "Off/Palette/On". Near as I can tell, the only difference between "Palette" and "On" is that "On" shows the border. Neither one of them plays Pauline's "Help!" sound effect -- not the sampled SGB version and not the screechy plain-GB version, either, and they've got pretty noticeably glitchy audio in general, so it's pretty clear the SGB support in the Game Boy core is unfinished. Guess I won't be putting my Super Game Boy 2 away just yet.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:05 am

Finally got around to firing up Minimig and goddamn the frontend is a labor of love. Not only does it come with a shitload of games, and not only does the launcher have a thumbnail for each one, but on top of that you can sort the games in multiple ways -- not just alphabetically; there's also a list of games sorted by genre, multiple best-of lists from different sources on the Internet (including a "hidden gems" list that tries to avoid the obvious like Lemmings, Cannon Fodder, etc.), and a list that only includes games with gamepad support.

Pity the damn thing displays at 50Hz. (And oh, it turns out my TV can display 50Hz. So whatever's causing the rolling picture I keep getting, it's not a 50Hz refresh rate, or at least not just a 50Hz refresh rate.) A bunch of the games run at 50Hz too, which is not entirely unexpected because presumably most of the people working on a lovingly-crafted Amiga reproduction are from Europe. But some games (like Lemmings) display in 60Hz, and I expect there's probably a way to get the menu and other games to display that way too. I don't like looking at a 50Hz refresh; it's weird and flickery and gives me a headache.

Without ever having used a real Amiga, I don't have much of anything to compare it to, but Lemmings looks and feels right and doesn't have any obvious audio glitches. Turrican 2 has the 50Hz display and the odd control scheme where you press Up to jump, but it seems to play smoothly and the music sounds fucking great.

I fired up the Amiga port of the NES TMNT just for giggles and it's fucked up; the audio's all choppy. I'm kind of curious why; I'm more inclined to suspect a software configuration issue than a problem with the core, because again, the core is really mature. I never owned an Amiga, but I had some DOS machines and I remember all the fiddling we used to have to do to get games to run at full-speed. But if I'm going to troubleshoot Amiga games, I'd much rather look at ones I actually want to play; maybe figure out how to get the refresh rate to 60Hz on everything.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby JD » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:11 am

Depending on the OS version, you can hold one or both mousebuttons down on boot-up to enter a menu which lets you switch between PAL and NTSC.

Last I heard of the Minimig several years ago, it had compatibility issues with certain games. I don't know whether they got around to fixing that. A lot of Amiga games, particularly early ones, used various non-OS-friendly optimizations which would work fine at first because every Amiga used the same hardware, but it would eventually break on newer models. This means even emulators had trouble simulating the hardware (WinUAE is a masterpiece in this regard, even simulating undocumented hardware bugs), because essentially many games were written based on how it actually worked rather than it was supposed to work as per the spec. I'd be surprised if the Minimig actually worked correctly with every game.

Amiga games rarely needed any kind of setup to work correctly. You had a small number of standardized hardware models, so it worked a lot more like a console than the PC. Games usually booted directly from the floppy disk and didn't even load the user operating system, so there was nothing to configure. Games also usually ran at the correct speed because framerate was normally linked to screen refresh (50Hz or 60Hz) rather than CPU or something like most MS-DOS games.

However, the minimig itself may have a configuration, particularly for things like CPU speed or Kickstart (essentially the Amiga's BIOS), where for example a game might not run because it was designed for the Amiga 500 (7MHz, 512KB RAM, Kickstart 1.3) and you're simulating some more powerful (e.g. Kickstart 3.1). Back in the day a lot of people actually used a piece of software called Relokick which would temporarily load Kickstart 1.3 into RAM to make older games work. Also, not all games were necessarily designed to play correctly in both PAL and NTSC.

Up to jump was standard for Amiga games because the controller only had one fire button. It supported multiple buttons, but Commodore never released a standard game controller, so most of the playerbase had third-party one-button controllers (often Atari 2600 sticks because the Amiga used the same port, having been designed by former Atari engineers who were let go after the crash of '83 and decided a 16-bit games machine was the solution to player malaise). As a result, very few games were designed to require multi-button controllers, which limited the complexity of play. You could use control schemes like mouse-and-keyboard to have lots of buttons (e.g. Worms), but by the time Amiga game developers started to take advantage of this, Commodore had already gone bankrupt.

Turrican's music is an absolute masterpiece.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:56 pm

Thanks; all that's useful to know.

Minimig reproduces the Amiga 500, which is a reasonable target machine for most of these games. I'd have expected pretty close hardware reproduction for a project as old as this one; Minimig itself started development in '05 and the newer bits (about 5 years old) mostly involve reproducing the 68K, which has got to be one of the most thoroughly-documented processors there is. But I guess lingering imperfections speak to just how complex reimplementing an entire computer is, even one that's closing in on 35 years old and is well-understood and well-documented.

(And of course as far as machines I've got a lot more familiarity with than the Amiga 500, I was pointing out upthread that there are audio issues with the SNES and Genesis cores.)

ETA Also I found the "Force NTSC" setting; it's under Minimig's Settings menu. Doesn't work for the menu but seems to work when you launch a game.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:31 am

I kept looking at my MiSTer and thinking "You know, if I yank on one of the cables coming out of that thing, it might wind up on the floor," and decided I oughta buy a case for it.

The official case doesn't fit the USB bracket I'm using (remember, there's a USB bridge and a USB bracket; I bought a used USB hub with a defective port, so it won't take the bridge, only the bracket). I looked around eBay for awhile and there are a whole lot of different listings for this same acrylic case but it doesn't have space for the USB hub, and...what, am I supposed to buy buttons separately? It's just got holes above the buttons on the board.

I liked the look of a 3D printed case from the UK (it comes in several variations, including one that's got space for a hard drive) but man, that UK shipping.

So eventually I settled on this acrylic case. Good seller, good communication (I asked if it would fit with the USB bracket; he said he thought so but to let him know if it didn't and he'd cut a new side and send it to me free of charge, but that wasn't necessary as it fit just fine), crazy-fast shipping (I put the order in Friday night and had it by Monday; I'm not sure how that even happens from South Carolina to Arizona with standard shipping). It took some figuring out how to put the whole thing together (mainly, working out the height of the gap between the USB hub and the bottom piece of the case; I wound up using nuts and screws, not included).

Looks good (maybe I'll post photos at some point), everything works, and while I'm not planning on yanking it to the ground I get the sense that if I did the case would probably absorb the brunt of the shock.

Could use some feet. Right now it's just sitting on screwheads.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Jul 20, 2020 2:43 pm

Turn a crappy cheap video scaler into a pretty-good cheap video scaler:



At present it requires some soldering work, though apparently there's a plug-and-play kit in development.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:06 pm

Previously:

Thad wrote:So the good news is, the transcoder works.

The bad news is, it might not work with my CRT.


Also previously:

My Rockstor box can sit in the corner for awhile in case it turns out I need anything off it. After that I'll figure out something to do with it. I'm curious whether it would work as a replacement for the emulation box I've got hooked up to my TV (the one where the analog output video is fixed at 800x600 downscaled to 640x480; maybe this one would let me do a 320x240 or whatever).


And so, today I tried hooking up the VGA output on my Rockstor box to the VGA transcoder to my CRT TV. And it works! 240p* works without issue. I eventually got 480p working once I learned that the NTSC standard is actually 720x480 overscanned, not 640x480 at all.

This doesn't do me a whole lot of good for 8- or 16-bit consoles now that I've got the MiSTer, but it should still be useful for MAME games that MiSTer doesn't support yet, as well as consoles that MiSTer doesn't support but which aren't too burly for a Sempron with onboard graphics. (I'm figuring PS1/Saturn/N64, anyway, and maybe Dreamcast, PSP, and not-particularly-taxing PS2 games like the Phantasy Star remakes.)

But oh yeah...

Thad wrote:Can anybody recommend a good YPbPr switch with more than four inputs?


* do not copy-paste the commands directly from that page; Wordpress has done what Wordpress does and reformatted the quotation marks as "smart" quotes and the -- flags as en dashes.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:39 am

Thad wrote:
Thad wrote:Can anybody recommend a good YPbPr switch with more than four inputs?

I decided to widen the search and include SCART switches, and RetroRGB has some recommendations, notably the ones at Otaku Games, which, starting at $53.60, include SCART/RCA switches. (And, at $87, include a built-in SCART-to-YPbPr converter, which could have saved me a bunch of money on HD Retrovision cables if I'd known it was an option. Which I guess it may not have been at the time; I don't know how long these things have been available.)

Anyway, thinking about it. At this point I've got a 4x1 YPbPr adapter with 4 devices plugged into it -- SNES, PS2, Wii, and MiSTer -- and I'd like to plug this PC into it. I could disconnect the SNES but the MiSTer can't quite replace it; it's good enough for SNES games but the Super Game Boy support isn't really there. (Plus I just bought a custom Shiren cart because that game writes a save after every move and that's a good way to wear out an SD card.)

Anyway, if I got a 6-input switch, I could add the PC and then...I dunno. Dreamcast? VCR?

Could hook up my GameCube, I guess, but my Wii will play GC games and my MiSTer will play GBA games.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 31, 2020 2:20 pm

8BitDo has a new arcade stick and Gizmodo has a teardown. Main difference in the guts of it appears to be that now you can attach a Sanwa stick without having to solder anything. I'm quite happy with the Seimitsu stick I put in the previous-model 8BitDo stick, but Sanwa's the more popular brand and I think you can get their sticks for a little less than what I paid for the Seimitsu too.

You can easily switch between PC and Switch button layouts, too, you can use it wired or with a 2.4GHz receiver, there's a program that allows you to customize it extensively, and the P1 and P2 buttons can have macros assigned to them (which seems like the sort of thing that tournaments are going to have to write some rules and checks around).

I'm perfectly happy with the modded N30 I've got and if I did need a second stick I've got a Hori one for Wii in a drawer somewhere, but this looks pretty neat for somebody who's interested in a not-too-expensive, easily moddable stick.

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