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ColecoVision and SG-1000 specs

ColecoVision SEGA SG-1000 Specifications 8-bit console RAM Z80

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#1 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 5, 2014 3:36 PM

Can someone confirm the correct specifications for the ColecoVision and the SG-1000?

 

Both of these systems have varying specification listings on the web.

 

However, as a ColecoVision owner since day one, I know its specs as:

 

ColecoVision (1982)
CPU: 8-bit Z80A (3.58MHz)
RAM: 1 KB

Video RAM: 16 KB
Video Display Processor: Texas Instruments TMS9928A
Colors: 16
Sprites: 32
Resolution: 256x192 pixels
Sound: TI SN76489AN. Channels: 3-tone, 1-noise

 

 

As for the SG-1000 (1983), I'm pretty sure it's the same.

 

However, I see some reports claiming that the SG-1000 has 2 KB of RAM and 16 KB of VRAM.

 

Others claim that it has 1 KB of RAM (like the CV).

 

I tend to think the specs between the two machines are actually the same -- except for the system ROM and the memory maps.
 



#2 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 6, 2014 10:36 AM

They are extremely similar. So similar that there was a clone system, the DINA 2-in-One (aka Telegames Personal Arcade), which ran both SG-1000 and Coleco cartridges.



#3 gamecat80 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:28 PM

Sega SG-1000 = Japanese ColecoVision.  The SG-1000 provided the foundation for the later, more powerful Mark 3 (Sega Master System).  Interestingly, I have read that the ColecoVision inspired Nintendo to create the Famicom (NES).  And there were Sega and Nintendo licensed games on the ColecoVision.

 

Sega and Nintendo owe A LOT to the ColecoVision  :!:



#4 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:38 PM

A poster from SMSPower looked into it and confirmed that the SG-1000 only has 1K of RAM. The SC-3000 (computer version) apparently has 2K.



#5 Pixelboy ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:02 PM

I'm not sure, but I think the SG-1000 doesn't have any BIOS, unlike the ColecoVision. Could someone confirm this?

#6 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:25 PM

I'm not sure, but I think the SG-1000 doesn't have any BIOS, unlike the ColecoVision. Could someone confirm this?

 

No BIOS.


Edited by 5-11under, Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:25 PM.


#7 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:44 AM

Hm, from somewhere I got the impression that the ColecoVision only had 512 bytes of RAM, but apparently that is false.

 

While you're onto comparing systems, you might want to run the specs for the Sord M5 home computer too. I'm still unsure which was announced/released first, the M5 or the ColecoVision, although both are built from stock chips like the Z80 and the TI VDP and PSG.

 

Then there are all other VDP based systems, some with Z80 but AY sound, or 6502 + SN sound like the CreatiVision, but those are not as immediately similar to the ColecoVision.



#8 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:19 PM

Yep. After doing more digging, it looks like the RAM, VRAM, GPU, and sound specs between the ColecoVision and SG-1000 are indeed the same.

 

It also looks like the Spectravideo SV-318, SV-328, and the MSX machines all owe more than a bit to the ColecoVision (since I've yet to find a similar spec that pre-dates the CV).



#9 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:06 PM

Yep. After doing more digging, it looks like the RAM, VRAM, GPU, and sound specs between the ColecoVision and SG-1000 are indeed the same.

 

It also looks like the Spectravideo SV-318, SV-328, and the MSX machines all owe more than a bit to the ColecoVision (since I've yet to find a similar spec that pre-dates the CV).

 

The Creativision pre-dates the ColecoVision by about a year, but we can't necessarily consider strong "influences" among videogame or computing platforms of the era. They all more or less had the same technology to build a platform around, so there are lots of similarities between various classes of platforms, particularly those based around specific processors and using essentially off-the-shelf video chips.



#10 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:28 AM

Or for that matter the Sord M5 as I mentioned is pretty contemporary with the ColecoVision.

 

The topic has been up for discussion before, and my personal belief is that Texas Instruments at one point - second half of 1980 perhaps - started to bundle the VDP with the PSG to potential manufacturers. Whether it would be due to low sales figures of their own TI-99/4 (before the A model, so pretty much requiring the Zenith monitor) or if they already from the start planned to sell their custom chips is another question. It has been speculated that some company in Taiwan or Vietnam would have been among the first to produce reference implementations of those TI chips with various CPU's, and some of those might have been obtained by the manufacturers we know or they came up with their own implementations.

 

It is well known that the SVI-318/328 were the basis for the MSX standard, supposedly ASCII had this idea of a standard but no reference system what the standard exactly should consist of, until they learned about the Spectravideo models.



#11 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:21 AM

 

The Creativision pre-dates the ColecoVision by about a year, but we can't necessarily consider strong "influences" among videogame or computing platforms of the era. They all more or less had the same technology to build a platform around, so there are lots of similarities between various classes of platforms, particularly those based around specific processors and using essentially off-the-shelf video chips.

 

Well, you just re-defined everything for me. Despite the tendency for manufacturers to use similar off-the-shelf solutions, I'm a big believer in proof-of-concept. I spent four years with industrial designers, so I have a pretty good idea how this scenario likely played out.  :)

 

- TI gives evidence of what the TI graphics and sound chips can do with the TI-99/4 in 1979.

 

- CreatiVision is released in the first half of 1981 with a form-factor that is

 

- 'copied' by Coleco for the ColecoVision (with the 6502 subbed-out for the Z80).

 

Clearly, someone at Coleco MUST have seen the CreatiVision (the shape of the controllers, the name of the machine, placing the controllers in storage spaces formed from the machine's case, ...).

 

I feel sorry for VTech now, since I think they deserve more credit.

 

http://www.videogame...tm#page=reviews



#12 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:34 AM

I'm just not convinced. I mean, it's just as easy to make the argument that the engineers at Coleco were influenced by the Intellivision (name, controllers, etc.; 1979/80) for the ColecoVision design (1981/2), but then you could also argue that they were influenced by their own Telstar Arcade (1977) for several elements/ideas. Clearly companies liberally borrowed ideas of what worked/didn't work from each other, but I still say it all came down to what mated well to certain processors, what was available at what cost, etc. In other words, it wasn't necessarily (at least significantly) copying, it was practical reasons to release similar hardware. Unless you were going to spend significant time on R&D, you went with mostly off-the-shelf stuff that could be produced in quantity. Once the programmable home computer/console revolution was underway there was little time to do anything but your own spin on certain accepted standards. Creating something completely different would have presented challenges in both scale and being able to program to it properly. Look how long it took Motorola-based designs to take off with the Macintosh, ST, Amiga, etc., and even the Atari 8-bit was built off the back of the R&D first put to use in the 2600, which both were milked for many years thereafter.



#13 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:57 AM

I'm just not convinced. I mean, it's just as easy to make the argument that the engineers at Coleco were influenced by the Intellivision (name, controllers, etc.; 1979/80) for the ColecoVision design (1981/2), but then you could also argue that they were influenced by their own Telstar Arcade (1977) for several elements/ideas. Clearly companies liberally borrowed ideas of what worked/didn't work from each other, but I still say it all came down to what mated well to certain processors, what was available at what cost, etc. In other words, it wasn't necessarily (at least significantly) copying, it was practical reasons to release similar hardware. Unless you were going to spend significant time on R&D, you went with mostly off-the-shelf stuff that could be produced in quantity. Once the programmable home computer/console revolution was underway there was little time to do anything but your own spin on certain accepted standards. Creating something completely different would have presented challenges in both scale and being able to program to it properly. Look how long it took Motorola-based designs to take off with the Macintosh, ST, Amiga, etc., and even the Atari 8-bit was built off the back of the R&D first put to use in the 2600, which both were milked for many years thereafter.

On the one hand, I agree. Yes -- there's definitely an iterative design process happening here. And there's the use of the word 'Vision'. You could argue that CreatiVision took two ideas from the Intellivision (but they made enough changes to make it theirs, once you start to pick the machine apart and examine the guts of it).

 

 

On the other hand, the CreatiVision and ColecoVision are just too similar for the CreatiVision to not be an obvious precedent for the CV:

 

Same video chip.

Same audio chip.

Same amount of system RAM.

Same amount of Video RAM.

Same corded controller design (raised disc and keypad)

And almost identical name (both have 12 letters, both start with a capital 'C', both end with the word 'Vision' with a capital 'V' and both are two words combined into one.

 

I mean... really....

 

 

Of course, I do agree with you on the liberal borrowing that was clearly happening in the industry in general:

 

E.g.) the controllers -->   Coleco Telstar Arcade for the raised disc component and Intellivision for the cord, keypad, and bays.


Edited by Nebulon, Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:20 PM.


#14 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:25 PM

It's certainly a reasonable argument, but slapping "vision" on the end of things was common for the era so I seriously doubt that was in any way borrowed. It was just something obvious/natural for the era.

 

Anyway, as an owner of a CreatiVision (specifically the Dick Smith Wizzard versions), I can say that the controllers are not as similar as you might think from a superficial glance, but I do agree it's easy enough to draw a path from the Intellivision and then in turn to the ColecoVision. The CreatiVision has a somewhat similar woodgrain look (though cheaper), cartridges that plug into the side, and similar action buttons (though, strangely, they're more reminiscent of the crappy Intellivision II side buttons, which themselves were cheaper versions of what was in the Master Component), etc. However, other than possibly borrowing some ideas, I just don't know if the timing would work out for out-and-out copying. Both the Intellivision and CreatiVision were born out of 1970s design sensibilities, while the ColecoVision clearly was the start of the next generation of design in the early 1980s that would mark the new generation of consoles (and computers). In other words, there was a clear effort made to distinguish the console from what came before (and Coleco did a masterful job at that, obviously) as a sort of dividing line between old/new.

 

I just really think most of these similarities boil down to access to the same components, access to the same design standards, and other practical concerns, with liberal use of "hey, I like that feature in console x, so let's put it in ours!" It's also important to remember what was present in the ColecoVision prototypes (there are obviously plenty of photos of what was originally intended) and how the final design deviated from that. That to me is further evidence there wasn't out-and-out copying.

 

In any case, it's splitting hairs at this point. Hopefully the upcoming ColecoVision book will shed some light on the inspirations for the console and the reasons behind why certain chips were chosen from the people who were there. That, along with an Intellivision book, was something I was thinking about writing after finishing the "CoCo" book (which itself uncovered many of those things for the first time for that platform), but both of those were already spoken for. I look forward to reading the findings, which hopefully will settle whether it was more on the "era-specific coincidence/inspiration" side or more on the "copying" side.

 

Oh, and in regards to the Telstar Arcade, I was more referring to inspiration for all the expansion options for the ColecoVision. The Telstar Arcade obviously had most of its options onboard, which was rather clumsy, while the ColecoVision obviously split them all out, including the computer.



#15 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:37 PM

It's certainly a reasonable argument, but slapping "vision" on the end of things was common for the era so I seriously doubt that was in any way borrowed. It was just something obvious/natural for the era.

 

Anyway, as an owner of a CreatiVision (specifically the Dick Smith Wizzard versions), I can say that the controllers are not as similar as you might think from a superficial glance, but I do agree it's easy enough to draw a path from the Intellivision and then in turn to the ColecoVision. The CreatiVision has a somewhat similar woodgrain look (though cheaper), cartridges that plug into the side, and similar action buttons (though, strangely, they're more reminiscent of the crappy Intellivision II side buttons, which themselves were cheaper versions of what was in the Master Component), etc. However, other than possibly borrowing some ideas, I just don't know if the timing would work out for out-and-out copying. Both the Intellivision and CreatiVision were born out of 1970s design sensibilities, while the ColecoVision clearly was the start of the next generation of design in the early 1980s that would mark the new generation of consoles (and computers). In other words, there was a clear effort made to distinguish the console from what came before (and Coleco did a masterful job at that, obviously) as a sort of dividing line between old/new.

 

I just really think most of these similarities boil down to access to the same components, access to the same design standards, and other practical concerns, with liberal use of "hey, I like that feature in console x, so let's put it in ours!" It's also important to remember what was present in the ColecoVision prototypes (there are obviously plenty of photos of what was originally intended) and how the final design deviated from that. That to me is further evidence there wasn't out-and-out copying.

 

In any case, it's splitting hairs at this point. Hopefully the upcoming ColecoVision book will shed some light on the inspirations for the console and the reasons behind why certain chips were chosen from the people who were there. That, along with an Intellivision book, was something I was thinking about writing after finishing the "CoCo" book (which itself uncovered all of those things for the first time), but both of those were already spoken for. I look forward to reading the findings, which hopefully will settle whether it was more on the "era-specific coincidence/inspiration" side or more on the "copying" side.

 

Oh, and in regards to the Telstar Arcade, I was more referring to inspiration for all the expansion options for the ColecoVision. The Telstar Arcade obviously had most of its options onboard, which was rather clumsy, while the ColecoVision obviously split them all out, including the computer.

 

Yeah, the design process information on the ColecoVision would help a lot. As you can tell, I'm really just speculating based on what I know about released machines. When it comes to the CV, I really don't have any historical design information to draw upon. So yes, it really is a case of splitting hairs as you said.

 

I think carlsson has a good point about TI likely shopping their graphics and audio chips around. I've certainly seen that before in my years in the computer hardware industry. Texas Instruments appears to have been very happy to get their chips in to as many products as possible and 'boost those component sales numbers!' :)

 

I've been an owner and fan of the ColecoVision since it was first released. I just had a hard time seeing Coleco make such a big leap from their older game offerings without some kind of assistance (if that's the right word for it).

 

It's very cool that you have a CreatiVision machine. I still think it's a landmark machine -- based on what I can dig up so far.



#16 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:51 PM

 

Yeah, the design process information on the ColecoVision would help a lot. As you can tell, I'm really just speculating based on what I know about released machines. When it comes to the CV, I really don't have any historical design information to draw upon. So yes, it really is a case of splitting hairs as you said.

 

I think carlsson has a good point about TI likely shopping their graphics and audio chips around. I've certainly seen that before in my years in the computer hardware industry. Texas Instruments appears to have been very happy to get their chips in to as many products as possible and 'boost those component sales numbers!' :)

 

I've been an owner and fan of the ColecoVision since it was first released. I just had a hard time seeing Coleco make such a big leap from their older game offerings without some kind of assistance (if that's the right word for it).

 

It's very cool that you have a CreatiVision machine. I still think it's a landmark machine -- based on what I can dig up so far.

 

I discuss a lot of this in the ColecoVision chapter of "Vintage Game Consoles," but Coleco was positioning themselves to make a major run with a powerful next gen console since transitioning away from failed systems like the aforementioned Telstar Arcade in the late 1970s (and taking huge losses) and leveraging the relationships that were giving them so much success with their tabletop arcade line that was starting to break out with consumers in a big way in 1981. Negotiations for Donkey Kong were also completed by late 1981, so again, based on the timing of everything, it would be a tight squeeze to take excessive inspiration from the CreatiVision, which was released that same year.

 

Of course, Coleco is the same company who was the biggest clone maker of home Pong systems and had among the biggest successes among those copying Mattel's handhelds with games like Electronic Quarterback, so it's quite possible they had some insight into what VTech was doing, if only by talking to the same component suppliers and making their own tweaks as needed.



#17 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:28 PM

Regarding the specs, I believe the VDP expects to be wired up with 16K, or at least that is as much as it can address, so if TI or someone else had a reference design, it'd be the way to go. Interestingly in one of the VDP programming handbooks, there are code examples for different CPU's how to use the VDP. The TMS9900 one might very well be actual TI-99/4 code. I'm not sure if the Z80 example matches any known implementation regarding base/port address for the VDP, but the 6502 example does not match how the VDP is addressed in the CreatiVision.

 

Go figure, TI publishes developer information for multiple types of CPU's, and one of the few, if not only known commercial product featuring a certain combination of said hardware does not exactly match the developer notes. While it is rather straightforward to add an offset to given addresses, it suggests that TI may had put together actual hardware, if only on a breadboard.

 

A lot of people point at the APF MP-1000 as a forerunner to VTech CreatiVision. Visually, I suppose most 1970's systems including Arcadia 2001, Interton VC4000 and so on can equally be said to be inspiration. Also consider the Bandai Supervision 8000. Anyway, there have been a few threads before on AtariAge about possible forerunners to Colecovision and friends.



#18 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:34 PM

Another reason why VTech was early on the market might've been they appear to have set up developers to produce knock-offs of popular arcade games without putting much thought about licensing, something that probably takes both time and money to get settled. The infamous game Crazy Pucker even got pulled from the market and was replaced by Crazy Chicky, which is a Pac-Man clone but in reverse so the hen lays eggs instead of eating dots, and somehow they got away with it. Perhaps there was less money in VTech for Namco (?) to sue than it was in Magnavox/Philips etc, while K.C. Munchkin actually is further away from the original Pac-Man game than what Crazy Chicky is.

 

As far as I know, most ColecoVision arcade ports are legitimate, using the original name, trademark and artwork, rather than coming up with own names and badly disguised knock-offs.



#19 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 14, 2014 8:46 PM

Just to throw another curveball in the mix, there's a recurring rumor that the SG-1000 was test marketed in 1981 in some capacity. If it's true, it could put a fascinating spin on the evolution of the ColecoVision (and on the competition between Nintendo and Sega); if it's false, it'd be good to put the myth to bed once and for all. An interview with the right people at Sega could settle the matter, but then again memories that old aren't always reliable...



#20 NIAD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:24 PM

Development of a videogame system by Coleco began around 1979 through the efforts of Eric Bromley, but his efforts were continuously shot down by the powers that be in upper management due to numerous reasons... the Telstar fiasco that nearly bankrupted Coleco which made management very leery, the high cost of chips that made it difficult to sell a system at a reasonable price point, etc., etc. The videogame PCB that eventually was used in the Intellivision by Mattel was actually offered up to Coleco first, but Eric was not completely sold on it's capabilities and eventually passed on it in favor of developing something more advanced.

 

Numerous prototypes of the system that eventually became the ColecoVision were developed through 1981 until Eric finally received the good news from management that they were finally agreeable to finishing development and releasing a system. This is the point when Nuvatec became involved in this new Coleco videogame system and made some changes of which the front Expansion Interface was the most prevalent... making it more easily expandable.

 

While it's been very interesting reading through everyone's posts about the similarities of certain systems, I think Bill L.'s explanations in his numerous posts here hit the nail on the head.

 

What still interests me more than anything is whether Nintendo and then Sega would have ever entered the North American market with their own systems if Coleco didn't shot themselves in the foot with all the managerial mistakes made over the release of the ADAM Computer (this really killed the CV, not the Crash) and the CV therefore remained the hottest selling videogame system in North America. Undoubtedly Nintendo and Sega would have, but it might not have occured until many years later with the Super NES and Genesis systems.



#21 CatPix ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 15, 2014 4:24 AM

The case is certainly interesting to think about for Sega. Nintendo tried to work with Atari but Atari would eventually end the collaboration; Nintendo would have at least released the Famicom and, given that is was designed with expansions though carts from the beginning, they would have at least tried to sell in in NA.

But Sega may have rather giving up on the SG-1000. After all, both systems are close enough, and Sega could have ended working with Coleco to produce games and add-ons.

And maybe selling the Colecovision in Japan as a Sega product.

It wouldn't be unknow to them. The Sega SG-1000 is rumored to have been sold under the Yeno brand in France, and the SC-3000 was sold under the same brand after that; so doing the reverse would certainly not displease Sega.



#22 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:48 AM

Well, apparently all the chips that make up the Colecovision, SG-1000, Sord M5, Creativision and Younameitvision were all available by 1981 and well before, so technically there was not much reason why one system could not be released before the other. Pricing is a different matter, MADrigal once remarked that manufacturing in Hong Kong was what made it possible for e.g. VTech to release their system early on, whether it means they could get ahold of cheaper custom chips from TI and MOS/WD/whoever, or just that labour in Hong Kong was dirt cheap compared to e.g. US engineers and assembly work.



#23 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:37 PM

As you were mentioning, Bill, it could have happened a number of ways.

 

Here's some interesting information. This one talks about Coleco talking to a company in Hong Kong as early as 1980. Other articles I've read suggest that Eric Bromley had been working on developing ideas for what would become the ColecoVision as early as 1979. That, and he was known for making quite a few trips to Asia.

 

http://www.colecovision.dk/history.htm

 

And another link that I'm sure most of you have read (but is so entertaining that it deserves posting):

http://www.nintendol...he_king_of_kong



#24 nitrofurano OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:42 AM

I'm not sure, but I think the SG-1000 doesn't have any BIOS, unlike the ColecoVision. Could someone confirm this?

yes, no bios, and this brings a situation: the difference between Master System and SG-1000-Mark-III is that the first has a bios that checks for a 16 byte checksum in the tail of 8kb, 16kb or 32kb from the game cartridges, and the second doesn’t - which means that, if in theory, both allow retrocompability with SG-1000 (those called Mark-I and Mark-II), but for running these SG-1000 games on Master System, you need to overlap this 16 byte checksum there, or run those .sg files into a sd card reader like everdrive (that has this checksum bytes chunk) - i guess that there are also Mark-III games that doesn’t run on Master System because of this situation, like Chase HQ



#25 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:42 AM

With the risk of getting off-topic, a while ago I found a blog about someone who had adapted the various levels of SC-3000 BASIC to run on a Master System with some add-on keyboard I believe.







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