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ColecoVision - The best is yet to come


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#26 doubledown OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2005 12:04 AM

P.S. I have one of these modded beauties ending tonight on Ebay:
http://cgi.ebay.com/...RK:MESE:IT&rd=1

Out of curiousity, is that white sticker on the front bilingual? I've only ever seen those on Canadian ColecoVisions.

--Zero


Yes, it's a Canadian console.

#27 Lost Monkey OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2005 12:06 AM

My guess is an MSX cart  adapter.


I was thinking SG1000.. but its not like the carts are plentiful in North America...


Oh well 04/01 is only hours away now... ;)

#28 MichaelJMcKernan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2005 1:28 AM

Um, my guess is an April Fool's joke.

#29 Lord Helmet OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2005 11:23 AM

Seems like there are several possible April fools jokes an the boards right now...wonder which ones are true...

They don't seem to be as good as some of the past ones...

#30 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 7:45 AM

Excerpt from the ColecoVision Super Expansion Module Technica Data Book:

"The Super Expansion Module introduced in this manual is a peripheral developed for use with the ColecoVision. Coleco introduced the ColecoVision video game system in 1982. At present, the ColecoVision is no longer commercially manufactured. In 2005, the Super Expansion Module was designed to enhance key functions of the original ColecoVision. In addition to being software compatible with the ColecoVision, the Super Expansion Module supports new media and has video and sound processing capabilities unavailable in conventional 8-bit video game consoles.

To make the Super Expansion Module a worthwhile and faithful member of the family of ColecoVision expansion modules, some technical and creative decisions were made early in the project phase:

- The Z-80 processor inside the ColecoVision base unit controls the whole system, so the ColecoVision is still is a true 8-bit system even with the Super Expansion Module attached.
- Cartridges are still plugged in the ColecoVision base unit, not the Super Expansion Module.
- All parts used in the Super Expansion Module were available in mid '80s at a reasonable (consumer level) price range, so the Super Expansion Module is a practical add-on for that time.
- To keep with Coleco’s tradition of using only off-the-shelves parts, the Super Expansion Module does not utilize custom made ICs.

To make the Super Expansion Module a reality, four sub-systems were designed with two basic requirements in mind: backward compatibility with existing ColecoVision software, and an increase in the system's number of available functions and processing power. In a hypothetical situation where the "video game crash" of 1984 had not occurred, the ColecoVision would have faced fierce competition from other video game systems from the mid to late 80s, like the Atari 7800, the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System. Because the expansion port in the ColecoVision base unit is both powerful and versatile, Coleco would probably have chosen to create an expansion unit, rather than an entirely new system.

The following is a summary of the main functions of the Super Expansion Module:

- Up to 49KB of RAM available for the Z-80 processor inside the ColecoVision base unit.
- 24KB of NVRAM (non-volatile), allowing game data to be saved.
- New video IC backward compatible with the ColecoVision's standard TMS9928 IC. However, a plethora of new functions have been added.
o Enhanced color palette (16 colors from 512)
o More sprites per scanline
o Sprite colors can be specified for each horizontal line
o Smooth hardware scrolling
o Full bitmap modes
o High resolution modes (512x212, or 512x424 interlaced)
o Bit block transfer commands implemented by hardware to decrease the processing time of the I/O driver: AREA MOVE, LINE, SEARCH, RASTER OPERATION, etc.
o Programmable line interruption
o Ability to display 19,268 colors using YJK system display
o Ability to display 256 colors in bitmap mode
o Wait function for VDP, eliminating the need for manual timing access
o 192KB of Video RAM
- Disk subsystem adds a 3˝” floppy unit and disk BIOS.
o 720KB of data per disk
o Ability to boot from floppy disks
o Ability to load ColecoVision ROM images from disk
- New sound system capable of up to 14 sound channels.
o Uses a separate Z-80 processor to handle all sound and music functions
o Communication between processors through I/O ports and bus request
o 32KB of sound RAM
o Programmable sound generator capable of 3 square wave channels, 8 octave frequencies and amplitude envelope.
o FM sound generator capable of 9 channels of modulated sound or 6 channels plus 5 rhythm instruments.
o ADPCM sound syntesis and analysis.
- The Super Expansion Module includes A/V, S-Video and RGB outputs in addition to the RF output present in the ColecoVision base unit.

The Super Expansion Module's enhanced functions provide for superior audiovisual capabilities, paving the way for a variety of new games which were not previously possible on the ColecoVision, including very faithful arcade conversions, advanced role-playing games, and photo-realistic adventure games. However, since some of the Super Expansion Module's features are also present in legacy graphic modes, it is possible to improve existing games with little programming effort. It opens an array of new options for “hacking” like no other home console has offered before. The inclusion of a floppy drive allows for simple testing and distribution.

This manual was written to explain how to use the new features of the Super Expansion Module, and can be used as a reference for software development.

We are pleased that you have chosen to develop software for the Super Expansion Module and that you have referred to this manual for assistance.

January 2005"

More to follow shortly...

Eduardo

#31 Allan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 8:10 AM

I sure hope this one is not a joke.

Allan

#32 Lost Monkey OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 10:38 AM

Two things...

1. If this is a joke, it is very cruel. :wink:

2. I haven't kept a CV for years, due to having lost interest... but .. I found a complete one at a thrift last week - and didn't buy it - therefore if this is true, it is very cruel. :wink:

Very cool either way... :thumbsup:

#33 J.Max OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 10:48 AM

Wow. If this true, this is MAJOR. I'm not sure why this would be a joke...but I'll believe it when I see it.

#34 else OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 11:17 AM

Sure looks like April Fools to me! Half those features are already available on the Coleco Adam! Why would anybody want to reinvent the wheel?

#35 Ze_ro OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 11:29 AM

Assuming this is true, is there a way for a game to probe the system to detect whether the Super Expansion Module is there or not, and then take advantage of it accordingly? Specifically, I'm curious whether Coleco ever actually put some extras like this in their later games hoping that it would provide a selling point for the Super Expansion Module when it would have eventually come out.

--Zero

#36 Troy_Whelan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 11:31 AM

I do not believe this is a joke and I cannot wait to get my hands on this! :D

#37 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 11:45 AM

o 192KB of Video RAM

Um, I know memory was getting cheaper at the time, but 192K was way out of range for that era. I call shenanigans.

#38 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 11:48 AM

In 2005, the Super Expansion Module was designed to enhance key functions of the original ColecoVision.

Oh, never mind.

#39 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 11:55 AM

Assuming this is true, is there a way for a game to probe the system to detect whether the Super Expansion Module is there or not, and then take advantage of it accordingly? Specifically, I'm curious whether Coleco ever actually put some extras like this in their later games hoping that it would provide a selling point for the Super Expansion Module when it would have eventually come out.
--Zero


I am at work right now, but I promise I will give further details once I am get home. However I can already answer your question: yes, a game can detect the Super Expansion Module and take advantage of it. For example, even if a programmer doesn´t want to use any of the new A/V features, he can still allocate NVRAM blocks to save high scores. But it is just the tip of the iceberg. The floppy is the key element here for many cool things...
Ok, need to get back to work...

Eduardo

#40 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 11:57 AM

You know, I've been thinking that if someone is willing to go to this much trouble, including a new video chip, why not just make a standalone clone to begin with? I seem to recall that the expansion port was not famous for its reliability.

#41 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 12:02 PM

You know, I've been thinking that if someone is willing to go to this much trouble, including a new video chip, why not just make a standalone clone to begin with?  I seem to recall that the expansion port was not famous for its reliability.


The complete, expanded system will also be offered....

#42 Stingray OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 12:25 PM

Has anyone else noticed with everyone yelling April fools in this thread, Opcode has still not even acnowleged the fact that today is April 1.

I do so hope it's not a joke though.

-S

#43 Dav OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 12:48 PM

o 192KB of Video RAM

Um, I know memory was getting cheaper at the time, but 192K was way out of range for that era. I call shenanigans.


Nvram doesn't work so good in a console either, I'm also calling shenanigans.

Although I have an idea how to avoid the problems and I'm working on adding 2k of nvram to the CV.

#44 birdie3 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 1:53 PM

This sounds pretty neat. Hopefully something cool will come out of this regardless of whether it is April Fool's Day or not. Looking forward to hearing about it.

#45 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 7:52 PM

Ok, I am back home... :)

Here is a list of cool things about the SEM:

- It will be possible to download any CV ROM image to a floppy disk and then run it from your CV.
- The SEM will ship with a game manager utility, which will allow you to run CV ROM images from disk, apply "game genie" like codes to existing games, and customize the color palette of your favourite games.
- The SEM can be used as part of a development system.
- New games can be distributed with almost no cost. The user just need to download the game from any website and save it to a floppy.
- The NVRAM sub-system is segmented in 84 save blocks, which can be allocated and used by games though the news BIOS.
- The new video IC takes the place of the original TMS9928 (thanks to the very clever CV architecture), and is completely backward compatible. There is a new video mode which is compatible with the old graphics 2 (used by almost all CV games), but add new features, like configurable color palette, twice as many sprites per scanline, more colorfull sprites and.... tahtah... hardware scroll! Old games can be hacked to use these new features. The new bitmapped video modes are better than the SMS, with more colors to choose from, and many, many patterns (around 4K patterns in the low resolution modes).
- The new sound IC was created by Yamaha back in 1985. But don't let it deceive you. It is even more powerfull than the MegaDrive/Genesis sound subsystem. The built in ADPCM sampler can produce better sound than the MegaDrive PCM with virtually no processing penalty to the sound CPU. The sample playback is completely CPU free.

Plans are to have the SEM base unit (memory and disk sub-systems) released next year (packed with the game manager and a few games in disk), with the A/V unit coming in 2007 (which will fit inside the base unit). The reason is to make the expansion more affordable and a viable option even if you are a very conservative CV user. The second reason is because I already have several games which can use the base unit (with standard CV graphics and sound) ready to release. In fact I don't need to worry about standard games for the next two years... In the meantime I started to work on two SEM exclusive games which I think will leave many CV fans in awe...
We are also planning a complete, expanded CV unit, built inside a compact case.

The current status is: I start this project some months ago. The memory sub-system was completed last month, but then Ademir Carchano, one of the best electronic engineer I know, joined me and he is taking care of all hardware related things now. Mr Carchano was responsible for several 8bit Brazilian computers from the 80s. The BIOS for the memory module and boot up sequence has been written (it takes care of the memory mapper and NVRAM allocation), with more to come in the next months. I early draft of the programmer's manual already exist, and a few key programmers have already received it. Two games in development, with a more planned (an arcade port)...

I will bring more info as it evolves... I need to get back to some games now... :)

Eduardo

#46 Brad2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 8:02 PM

It sounds rad but like everyone else, I do have to reserve a bit of skepticism due to the timing.

I'd use my CV more if I could get it modded for A/V.

#47 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 8:06 PM

It sounds rad but like everyone else, I do have to reserve a bit of skepticism due to the timing.

I'd use my CV more if I could get it modded for A/V.


As I said, the SEM will include A/V, S-video and RGB, for both the new and legacy games....

And I find your lack of faith disturbing.... :)

#48 Brad2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 8:12 PM

If you are serious about this, then I will have to consider it when it's available.

What I also think the CV needs is better controllers. The controllers just don't make it fun for me to play it.

#49 Allan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 8:32 PM

When can we check out the programmer's manual? Would love to see any screen shots or photos of the prototypes.

Allan

#50 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 1, 2005 9:16 PM

When can we check out the programmer's manual? Would love to see any screen shots or photos of the prototypes.

Allan


Hey Kepone, arcade controllers are coming too, tough they don't have anything to do with the SEM..

Allan: screenshots.... The programmer's manual will be available soon...
BTW, the screenshots bellow weren't take from any current project. But they are all possible with the new video IC, including the photo quality one, which uses YJK data format....
The DK screenshot showcases an example of palette optimization...

Eduardo

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