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To-Do Part Two

Posted by Nathan Strum, 14 March 2006 · 1,341 views

Video Game Reviews To-Do Lists
Well, just when I get a bunch of stuff checked off my To-Do list, more stuff gets added to it.

So, new to the list are:
  • New ghost sprites for Dennis' PacMan (not Pac-Man) Posted Image
  • (Some) new sprites for Rainbow Invaders
  • Tiles for Bob (maybe he's redecorating his bathroom or something)
Plus I still have to clean up the Four-Play title screen a bit, finish the label art for it, finish the manuals for RPS and MGD, and I may take a crack at the power-ups for SuperBug.

Plus, I need to write up some store reviews for my latest haul from the AA store:
Posted Image

And of course, I need to spend some quality time with my 2600, too.

Posted Image




Good selection! :cool:

:)
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Nice picture, I like how you put all the games you contributed artwork for on the front and back rows. :cool: Hope you enjoy all the games and I look forward to reading your reviews!

..Al
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That is a nice selection of games - I hope you enjoy Hunchy 2. I didn't know that the Krokodile Cart was back in production yet :thumbsup:

Chris
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Redecorating my bathroom? Actually, my bathroom needs some serious work...:thumbsup:

Anyway, I eagerly await the tiles! 8)
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You finally got your Krok Cart! hurray!
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You finally got your Krok Cart! hurray!


It's a pretty cool piece of gear - I can't wait to start using it. However, my serial/USB adapter hasn't arrived yet, so I can only play the ROM Albert left loaded on it. :thumbsup:

Fortunately, I've got a few other games to keep me occupied. 8)
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I didn't know that the Krokodile Cart was back in production yet :thumbsup:

It is back, and of course we made sure that Nathan gets the very first cart from the current production run 8)
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And thank you for doing that!

I got my adadpter today, so I'll check out the programmable goodness tonight. :thumbsup:
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Sweet! Let me know if you have any issues with Krokcom!
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Sweet! Let me know if you have any issues with Krokcom!

Yes, in fact I ran into a couple of them:
  • I'm a moron.
  • See #1.
Actually, the only problem I ran into, was that I didn't install the Keyspan driver initially, so of course, KrokCom couldn't see the serial port. It could, however, see Bluetooth, which I mistook for the serial port, until I actually read that the name of the port included the word "bluetooth". Naturally, this confused me as to why the Krokodile Cart wasn't responding.

I would like to point out, however, that this wasn't entirely my fault, because I didn't realize there was a CD in the package. Only after numerous futile attempts at trying to figure out what was wrong, did I actually pick up the package to read it, and the CD fell out.

Note: checking the product's website would have also worked. :thumbsup:

Anyway... at some point I'll probably put together a "Moron's Guide to Using KrokCom", since someone equally clueless may come along and buy one of these.

That said...

I've now got it working spiffily. I've loaded up several Activision games, Crazy Climber (take that, eBay!), Colony 7 and Ladybug. Very cool! Sweet piece of hardware, indeed. (I'll have to try making a multi-cart next.)

And the Keyspan USB Adapter works great! (Once, of course, the software gets installed.) The nice thing, is that it includes a USB cable (how many products do that anymore), and can plug straight into the Krokodile Cart w/out an additional serial cable (I'll probably just send mine back to Albert). The only downside is it requires a powered hub, or direct connection to the computer, so I guess it's time to get a new USB hub.

So... any chance of adding a GUI to KrokCom someday? 8)
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Well, I ran into something weird with Pick 'N Pile. I e-mailed Albert about it, but it's not so much the cart as the binary (or perhaps, my 2600).

On my six-switch 2600 (with a Cybertech video mod), when I load Pick 'N Pile, I hear music, but see static. This is present on the title screen, game select screen, and "get ready" screen. If I blindly move through them and manage to start a game, then all of the sudden the graphics appear, and things are perfectly normal (until the next "get ready" screen). On my four-switch 2600 (non-modded), the game works perfectly fine.

To make sure it wasn't the cart, I loaded the NTSC binary onto the Krokodile Cart, and got the exact same behavior. Static on the six-switch, normal on the four-switch. All of the other carts I own work fine on the six-switch - except Midnight Magic.

Midnight Magic will not work about 2/3 times I power it up. I have to cycle the power a few times in order for the game to come up, then it's fine (although depending on which demo loads up, sometimes the game will reset after a minute). When it doesn't come up, I get static and a high or low buzzing sound. On the four-switch, it comes up fine almost all of the time (it might miss 1/10 times, but it does so with a black screen - not static).

When I loaded the Midnight Magic binary into the Krokodile Cart, it seems to load properly on the six-switch almost all of the time (7/10 or better). When it doesn't, there's just static - no buzzing.

I'm guessing that Midnight Magic must randomly load one of several demo modes (I've seen several different ones on the four-switch), and something in my six-switch doesn't like what's happening on some of them. So could this issue be affecting Pick 'N Pile, too? Or do I just have a weird Midnight Magic cart?

What's the likely culprit? Did I somehow damage the TIA while modding the 2600? Is the CPU fried? Bad RAM? (I seem to recall the problem happening even when I removed the mod - but I can't be 100% certain of that.)

I'm rather attached to this 2600 (it's my original one from nearly 25 years ago), and would like to keep using it (99.9% of the time, it's fine). But if it's something I can actually repair and return it to 100% working status, so much the better.

Is it just something odd in the Pick 'N Pile conversion (and my Midnight Magic cart)?

Any suggestions are welcomed.
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GUI version is planned, but I've been kinda sidetracked by writing Medieval Mayhem, my own version of Warlords for the 2600.

I can check out Pick 'N Pile tonight. I've seen similiar problems on other games in the past so I'm guessing either the game is an unsupported bankswitching type, or the type was incorrectly selected prior to loading it into the cartridge(ie: maybe the cartridge has extra RAM but the cart type w/out RAM was picked).

I'm planning to port Stella's cartridge type detection routines over to Krokcom for the next update.
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silly me - I thought you were loading Pick 'N Pile into the Krok Cart. I just saw that it's one of your new arrivals from AtariAge. :thumbsup:
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To make sure it wasn't the cart, I loaded the NTSC binary onto the Krokodile Cart, and got the exact same behavior


Try loading the binary on a F6 multicart and start it from the menu. What happens then on your 6-switch ?
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I looked at the binary - it seems to have VBLANK in a bad place. Try this binary on your KC and see if it works.
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Try loading the binary on a F6 multicart and start it from the menu. What happens then on your 6-switch ?

I can't figure out how to set up a multicart. I'm trying to interpret from the PC Krokodile Commander instructions to the Mac's command line terminal, and not too successfully.

However...

I looked at the binary - it seems to have VBLANK in a bad place. Try this binary on your KC and see if it works.

You sir, are the man! That worked perfectly. We should bring this to Albert's attention, so he can use the corrected binary in the future (and hopefully replace my cart). :thumbsup:

(Strange thing though - the version you posted is cropped off at the top in Stella, but is fine on a real 2600.)
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For multicarts, KrokCom uses a text file that basically lists 1 ROM path/filename per line. An example file would look like this:

MCF8
NTSC
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Combat.bin
Space Inv DX/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/8K_SIdeluxe.bin
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Pengo.bin
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Ms.\ Pac-Man.bin
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Galaxian.bin

Use the m command(instead of f) to load a multicart text file. KrokCom will on-the-fly load each ROM image into the Mac's memory. Once that's done use the s command to send it to the Krok Cart.

1st line is the type of multicart (MCF8 = multicart of 8K games)
2nd line is TV type (for screen timing on the game selection menu)
3rd line(and up) list games.

By default the ROM name is used in the menu. YOu can override this by putting a new name before the path like the example does for 8K_SIdelux.bin. The selection menu for the above will look like this:

COMBAT
SPACE INV DX
PENGO
MS PAC-MAN
GALAXIAN

I copied most of this info from the readme file included with KrokCom. Look for the section right after Step 6- Quit titled MultiCart Creation File format for more indepth information.

NOTE 1: the documentation recommends using a terminal editor to create the text file so you could use drag & drop to add in all the /fullpath/romfile.bin entries. As of OS X 10.4 you can use TextEdit and drag & drop will now put /fullpath/romfile.bin. In 10.3 it would leave off the path and just put the filename.

NOTE 2 : There's a minor bug that will cause the last line of the text file to not be processed. To work around it just hit ENTER after the final /fullpath/rom so the last line of the text file is a blank line.
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You sir, are the man! That worked perfectly. We should bring this to Albert's attention, so he can use the corrected binary in the future (and hopefully replace my cart). :thumbsup:

I'll use this version in the future, and for the replacement cart I'm sending you. 8)

..Al
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For multicarts, KrokCom uses a text file that basically lists 1 ROM path/filename per line. An example file would look like this:

MCF8
NTSC
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Combat.bin
Space Inv DX/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/8K_SIdeluxe.bin
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Pengo.bin
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Ms.\ Pac-Man.bin
/Applications/StellaOSX1.4.2b/roms/Galaxian.bin

Ohhhh... one filename per line. That must have been the problem. I just dumped them into the terminal app w/out line breaks. Plus I didn't know you specified cart and TV type in the first two lines.

I'll try that out tonight. 8)

NOTE 1: the documentation recommends using a terminal editor to create the text file so you could use drag & drop to add in all the /fullpath/romfile.bin entries. As of OS X 10.4 you can use TextEdit and drag & drop will now put /fullpath/romfile.bin. In 10.3 it would leave off the path and just put the filename.

It does? All it does on my Mac (10.4.5) is drop the icon into the window. Wait a minute... (checks preferences, changes it to "plain text") okay. Now it works! I was wondering about that - I'd been trying to copy/paste file names of images in there, and it kept just putting in the images themselves. :thumbsup:

Thanks!
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I looked at the binary - it seems to have VBLANK in a bad place. Try this binary on your KC and see if it works.

What exactly did you do? Just removing VBLANK after VSYNC?

Since I didn't touch VBLANK in the conversion, it seems that PAL is more tolerant here than NTSC.

EDIT: Found the difference, the VBLANK has just been moved from directly after to directly before VSYNC. Together with my experience with Splatform (no VBLANK at all, screen rolled on some TVs when background was flickering) it seems that you either have to use VBLANK during VSYNC or at least keep the background dark.
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