As many of you know from reading the announcements, I have been working on the Analogue nt mini. This is an FPGA based NES/Famicom system that takes cartridges.
It seemed like a waste to only have one system on it, so I have decided unofficially to release all of my existing FPGA videogame cores on the system for free via "Jailbroken" firmware. The Core Store is officially open for business!
What this means: All of my existing cores (probably, as time permits) will be released, 1 per week for the system. While the mini doesn't have all the hardware that a Zimba 3000 is going to have, and while I have not cancelled my plans for the Z3K, I couldn't let the hardware sit idle and only play 1 system. The FPGA inside it yearns to be free!
The cores "live" on the SD card, so adding them is as simple as unzipping some files onto the SD card and plugging it in. As each core is released you can simply place the new files on the SD card, plug it in and it will update the firmware and add them. After that, a "core" menu will appear on the main menu, along with a "CopyNES Mini" menu. Yes, I added a CopyNES right inside too!
As of today, the NES core is available for use, and supports over 200 mappers. Please read the release notes on each core that lives in each directory for more information about common problems, solutions, and what is supported.
Wow! This is awesome news!!
Yes, this means that it runs ROMs now!
Just to be clear, you mean it runs ROMs directly from the SD card, with no cartridge plugged into the cartridge port? So there's a menu system that lets the player select the game he wants? For games with "save-game" chips (like NES Zelda) can I save my game on the SD card?
I have some future plans beyond just offering cores for this system, I want to offer controller and cartridge adapters too! I have big plans for this if people are interested. Specifically, Atari 2600/7800, Coleco, Gameboy and possibly others. Let me know what cartridge adapters you think would be useful.
Well, if ROMs from any supported console/handheld can be played directly from the SD card, then cartridge adaptors are not terribly important, except perhaps for one: The Game Boy adaptor. I figure this single adaptor could be used to play Game Boy and Game Boy Color carts (which are pretty much all still functional today) and perhaps this same adaptor could also be used to play Game Boy Advance cartridges, if you could manage to develop a GBA core (note the shoulder buttons on the NES30 controller!). All this would make the GB adaptor worth owning.
Beyond this, I'd like to see a ColecoVision cartridge adaptor, and an Atari 2600 adaptor. Others will probably want the Intellivision cart adaptor, or SMS/Game Gear, but those are less interesting to me if I can play the ROMs via an SD card.
The controller adapters will be designed such that you can plug in say, DB9 style controllers (2600, intv, coleco, etc) to the expansion port on the back. I will attempt to make 1 adapter that will work for all types of controllers that take DB-9. This will take care of the bulk I think.
This is a must for many retro consoles, but it needs to be configurable. For example, the ColecoVision core should be able to interface with a real ColecoVision controller via a DB9 connector, but the Atari 2600 core should also be able to use the keypad on a ColecoVision controller as an "easy" interface for all the switches on an Atari 2600 console (TV black-&-white, difficulty switches for both players, game select and game reset). Also, one should be able to map some ColecoVision keypad keys to some of the buttons on the NES30 controller...
That's about it for now, I will post updates on cores as they are released here. I hope this sates everyone's FPGA videogame fix for awhile!
Well, personally, I'm in no hurry to see the 16-bit cores become reality (although it's still a very-much-wanted feature for the Zimba 3000) so this is really great news indeed. My only real question: Now that I'm actually excited about this little console (screw the NES Mini!!!) where can I buy one?