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xDragonWarrior

How powerful was the Game.com?

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If the CPU is an oddity it mean learning to write for it. On a system that receive only mockery even from the owners of that system, it's barely surprising.

Homebrews on the Supervision and Gamate happened because both use an ultra-standard Z80 CPU most retro-homebrew makers know well, and those systems receive some praise by peopel who own one.

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19 hours ago, CatPix said:

Yeah filming make those old screen even worse. I also feel that many people that were alive BITD forgot how bad those screens are or are too used to wank about "60 fps lag-free games" (or people that mix up the refresh rate of their Tv and the actual game refresh).

I have both the Supervision and the Gamate and while their screens are nothing to be amazed with, it's not as some people suggest, a blurry unreadable mess. Though it's mostly because msot games are slow paced.

It's also possible that screen tech is in play, too. I bought a Game Boy Clone, the GB Boy. Unlike the related GB Boy Colour, the GB Boy come with a back and white screen.

My goodness, this is a crappy display! My best guess is that today B&W LCD screens are using in industrial or low-power applications where lag display is irrelevant. It's even worse than the original GB screen.

It could be the reason why the Game.Com screen get despised - using inadapted tech to save money.

This pretty much sums it up. Like all the posts about how bad game boy screens are. "But gamegear was great" uh... No. If your only reference is og gameboy, vs something modern, psp, ds, heck, even gba, yeah, dmg screens suck. But, if you lived through the 80-90's and had experience with the actual hw when it was new, I can honestly say, lcd tech of the time just generally sucked. Ghosting, bluring, and streaks are all over gamegear and lynx screens. BUT, yt videos are often ripped from emulation, so if you weren't there, you may not realize how bad those screens truly were. Even if you get a system today, it very likely has been moded and doesn't have the original screen anyways (gamemear especially, those things have horrid reliability, and if your good enough to recap it, why not give it a screen upgrade too?)

 

On game.com, don't get me wrong, a game in motion IS pretty bad, but yt isn't the fair judgement for several reasons, emulation won't show what the system looked like, and high res yt video will display 30-60hz video, while low res video is locked at 30. Meanwhile the game.com displays at 50hz. Add to that, the shading method simply refresh the screen (up to 4 times) to provide different shades, dropping the practical frame rate to 12.5 hz. There simply is no way to get a 1 to 1 image of the game.com, and since most people don't stray from the big names, and most the rest only get the small names "to see how bad it is", curiosity, or the "gotta get them all" mentality, there literally is next to NOBODY that will have real experience with one.

 

I bought the thing bitd, and accepted it as passable, due to different expectations (I knew in 97 it wasn't competing with gameboy, but rather, tigers own single function lcd games) while MOST bought it, expecting it to somehow be a game boy killer, gamegear and lynx (and a host of others) couldn't do it, what made anyone think this would?

Edited by Video

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What were they called active or passive scan?  Before the TFT/IPS level stuff where you have now the high refresh, bright sharp poppy little pixels, you had the old smearing tearing low blurry ghosting resolution LCDs in gray scale(pea green) or color like gamegear/lynx/gt had.  They were all relatively great for the time, but crap in the big picture of CRT then and LCD/LED now.  I'm used to it, they don't bother me as I can happily jam away still on a stock Gameboy just fine, but I'm also not in denial about the issues either.  Ever wonder why the bullets that should be small in stuff from MegaMan to Contra to Gradius on GB were big, white, and outlined?  Because you couldn't see it coming otherwise.  Yet all that known, for some inexplicably stupid reason Tiger decided to use something that was 1 step barely above their classic segmented LCD tech on the Game.com and it's basically unviewable crap in motion.  If we're comparing, it makes the old DMG look as smooth as that modern made now TFT drop in screen in disparity. :D

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I noticed the system had 3 revisions, the later 2 were a match other than a frontlight being installed.  I read they had a nicer screen, but how much less nasty is the blue issue on that panel?  Like it is even worth owning it for the few games the system has which relatively seem to just be console/arcade ports or custom variations of that?  Finding non-salty reviews seems challenging since people find fun punking this disaster of a handheld.

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On 3/13/2020 at 9:04 AM, CatPix said:

If the CPU is an oddity it mean learning to write for it. On a system that receive only mockery even from the owners of that system, it's barely surprising.

Homebrews on the Supervision and Gamate happened because both use an ultra-standard Z80 CPU most retro-homebrew makers know well, and those systems receive some praise by peopel who own one.

 

 I looked over the specs. It has a pretty nice instruction set architecture. Anyone who's written for more than at least one CPU, which have no problems writing code for it. I mean, it's not convoluted at all.. like an old PIC processor haha.

 

 If the only reason those systems have homebrew is because they used a z80 variant, well then that's a pretty lame excuse haha.

 

Anyway, what's interesting about this compared to the gameboy.. is that the extra resolution lent itself nicely for dithering. It might have only four shades, but some of the games have pretty decent artwork for only 4 shades with that dithering. The more hilarious thing though, is that this is a general SoC by Sharp (I found the datasheet from 1996) and wasn't meant to be a game system - it's apparent that it was meant for some LCD touch interface with simple sound feedback. But Tiger was like oh wow, we can make this into a game system - and literally changed nothing haha.

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On game.com second and third revision, the screen is a tad smaller, like half an inch, which makes it appear slightly better looking. I did like the back(side?) Lit version, but honestly, no it's not sufficiently better to warrant searching one of the newer ones out. (it still does that multi refresh thing for shading) Unless your a completionest, or don't have a system at all, (and actually have an interest in the thing, remember there's only like 20 games) I'd say skip the newer model.

 

On gameboy, not saying it's screen was great or anything. I found it fine, especially considering it was an 80's system. Just saying it wasn't sufficiently worse than gg or lynx like many people make out. Actually, I wonder if the pocket screen would work in the dmg? That was a much better screen, unfortunately it's attached to a system with a horrible battery life. (Really nintendo? 2AAA?) I think most people that have on gb screen, mostly hate on it because it's not color, or backlit.

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Some corrections, having done reverse engineering on a few of these...

 

  • The SM8521 used by the Gamecom isn't too bad programmatically. Its CPU core is kinda different, but the support modules around it (both graphics and sound) were well thought out. It's not going to handle fast action scrolling games at any decent framerate - although given how trash the LCD refresh is, that's probably fine. Nonscrolling or flipscreen stuff where only the characters are redrawn would be fine.
  • In terms of running unlicensed stuff, the Gamecom has a signature check before dispatching any software. Luckily it's not too complicated - basically a checksum of a predefined list of bytes scattered around the cartridge.
  • The biggest problem I saw with the Gamecom's design was the limited memory. Your software only has some of the 1KB SRAM internal to the SM8521 to work with. There's 8KB of battery backed memory in the console, but it's reserved for the PDA features and high scores. You also have to play nice with the system firmware which eats up more resources. The console gets way better just by removing the built-in software and adding more RAM.
  • Most of the cost-cutting seems to be in build quality and electronics design rather than the "numbers" - the GameBoy has this really nice little ALPS regulator board which keeps it stable across a wide range of power sources, the Gamecom (and SuperVision) have nothing like this. The board layout is also hideous, it looks like babby's first PCB.
  • Both the SuperVision and Gamate are 6502-based, not Z80. Praise should be awarded to neither.

 

Could you make a decent game for this handheld dot-com bubble? Yeah, sure.

Should you pay real buckaroos for this hardware? No.

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I'm not sure I'd take shots at the Supervision for the CPU, it was capable enough to do stuff fine for the NES for a time until they had to stretch into using memory mappers to expand capabilities.  Both those two systems seem almost saintly compared to game.com in various ways.

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On 3/14/2020 at 9:52 PM, TheObscureGamer said:

I was on a Game.com kick and never seen nor heard of room before. Where might I find this "rom"

It was on an obscure message board on a game.com fansite.  It being a pda allowed me to play it in school. The Castlevania symphony of the night rom was also release neither was 100%. They play as well as any other gamecom game. I really like Duke nukem on gamecom it was the geat game out side of solitaire . It played like screen flip dungeon crawler. 

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Wonder how it Would of been with a slightly lower res screen that was 21 color .  With a 2nd faster co process/GPU and some ram. Ironically Nintendo out cheap it first wave competition.. colorizing the gamecom is a dream for me. 

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On 3/14/2020 at 8:55 PM, Tanooki said:

I noticed the system had 3 revisions, the later 2 were a match other than a frontlight being installed.  I read they had a nicer screen, but how much less nasty is the blue issue on that panel?  Like it is even worth owning it for the few games the system has which relatively seem to just be console/arcade ports or custom variations of that?  Finding non-salty reviews seems challenging since people find fun punking this disaster of a handheld.

I had one of the later revisions. It was still awful. Managed to actually beat Fighters Megamix on it, but only because I forced opponents to one side of the screen and mashed the kick button. What a blurry mess. Solitaire was decent on it, but that should never be a console's killer app.

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