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5 hours ago, turboxray said:

 

But because of that whole fiasco, I'm leery to buy anything from them. I mean, we're retro gamers so we own more than just the PCE (even if its your favorite). So that kinda of attitude hurts them for things not related to the PCE experience.

 

 

You tried both Neutopia II JP and US roms?

I'm in the same boat re: Terraonion.  I did get the Mega SD in a moment of weakness (it's fine), but went with other options instead of MODE.

 

I ended up just getting a physical copy of Neutopia II, Japanese ROM is 768k... I never considered that the US ROM might be smaller!

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39 minutes ago, newtmonkey said:

I ended up just getting a physical copy of Neutopia II, Japanese ROM is 768k... I never considered that the US ROM might be smaller!

Sure, why not? Japanese text takes up more space than Roman letters do.

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@CZroe

For now, I've got physical copies of the few HuCARDs that won't work with the UGX, but I've got a high quality PSU coming.  I'll test it with the TED once it comes in!

 

I couldn't get the MMC save option to work at all.  It would cause memory card errors, and wasn't even saving anything haha.  For now, the banks are more than enough, and I guess you can also backup individual game saves over USB to a PC?

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[mention=4949]CZroe[/mention]
For now, I've got physical copies of the few HuCARDs that won't work with the UGX, but I've got a high quality PSU coming.  I'll test it with the TED once it comes in!
 
I couldn't get the MMC save option to work at all.  It would cause memory card errors, and wasn't even saving anything haha.  For now, the banks are more than enough, and I guess you can also backup individual game saves over USB to a PC?
I used the save backup feature once and it backs up the entire selected bank as one file, if I recall correctly... much like the Tennokoe Bank Card.
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13 hours ago, newtmonkey said:

I'm in the same boat re: Terraonion.  I did get the Mega SD in a moment of weakness (it's fine), but went with other options instead of MODE.

 

I ended up just getting a physical copy of Neutopia II, Japanese ROM is 768k... I never considered that the US ROM might be smaller!

Both versions of Neutopia II have 1.1 megs of empty space. If the developer cared they could have fit the game in a 5 meg rom chip, but they would have been more expensive, if they existed or if they crammed in a couple of 2's and a 1 meg.

 

Either way it would still be too big for the UperGrafx.

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I've never been happy with the options available for PCE controllers.  I've got a bunch of official first-party and third-party controllers, but have never liked the dpads, which are made from hard plastic without rounded edges.  I always have trouble with diagonal directions on these pads, where it seems like more pressure is required for diagonals than for the four cardinal directions.

 

The closest I've come to a good dpad is the HORI Commander.  Although it indeed has an excellent dpad that's both comfortable and highly accurate, the buttons leave something to be desired as they feel slightly too far apart for comfortable platforming.

 

However, I just received this in the mail:

i-img500x500-1599232190con2kn2971116.jpg

 

The official Playstation controllers do not have great dpads.  However, there are plenty of third-party controllers with EXCELLENT dpads (the official Sega Saturn PSX controller is fantastic), and this also opens up the possibility of using PSX arcade sticks with the PCE, rather than trying to hunt down the lackluster ASCII stick or the rare and expensive XE-1 PRO HE.

 

I've tested this converter, and it works great.  There's no input lag that I can detect (and I am quite sensitive to it), and the layout works well.  It maps X and O to II and I, and [] and ^ II turbo and I turbo, respectively.  It also maps the shoulder buttons as redundant SELECT and RUN buttons.  The other shoulder buttons are used in combination with other buttons to enable faster turbo settings and slow motion.

Edited by newtmonkey
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[mention=4949]CZroe[/mention]

For now, I've got physical copies of the few HuCARDs that won't work with the UGX, but I've got a high quality PSU coming.  I'll test it with the TED once it comes in!

 

I couldn't get the MMC save option to work at all.  It would cause memory card errors, and wasn't even saving anything haha.  For now, the banks are more than enough, and I guess you can also backup individual game saves over USB to a PC?

OK, I've figured out how MMC saves work and I'm surprised to find out that it is essentially per-game saves so you don't ever have to worry about running out of saves on a particular bank. The feature gap between the Super SD System³ and the UperGrafx UGX-02 just got a little bit closer, and that was probably my biggest wish on the wish list.  Granted, it is not as effortless as the Super SD System³, but neither is an Everdrive 64 v2.5 where you have to remember to Reset before you power off or else you lose your saves.

 

So, this is how it works:

The Backup RAM is normally saved to a bank of non-volatile RAM in a memory chip on the UGX-02. Each numbered bank, 0 through 2, will behave exactly like the battery or capacitor-backed RAM in an Interface Unit, Super CD-ROM², Turbo-CD dock, Duo, Ten No Koe 2, Backup Booster, Turbo Booster Plus, etc... so it's like having three different Interface Units for you PC Engine and CD-ROM² drive and you can swap between them at will.

 

Picking "MMC" will save a per-game save file to the SD card instead. This means that every game gets a full bank of memory and you will never have to delete a save file to make room for another. MMC (Multi-Media Card) is the same thing as SD Card (Secure Digital) without the "Secure" DRM (Digital Rights Management AKA "copy protection") but the name "SD" is encumbered with licensing and trademarks and all that. This is why the UGX insists on calling it MMC. You may recall that the SD2SNES had to change names to "FX Pak Pro" because of these same issues so their concern is founded. Almost nothing actually uses the SD function of SD cards so for all intents and purposes MMC=SD.

 

When you pick "MMC" the game saves still write instantly to a section of RAM that serves as a buffer, holding the save until the UGX can copy to the SD card when it gets the chance. It cannot write the save file to the SD card while it is still accessing the card to stream game data, which includes CD audio. Any time the music stops or changes or the game loads something else the UGX will go ahead and commit that backup data to a file on the SD card. I already mentioned the Everdrive 64 v2.5 but this is also very much like SNES flash carts and emulators have to deal with games that use battery-backed SRAM as work RAM. They can't copy every SRAM write to the SD card or else it would be saving thousands of times per second (what a great way to wear out flash memory!) so they try to be smart about it and save on some interval.

 

So the trick is to pause the game, or enter a different area or do something that triggers a load or music change after you save your file in-game. Pressing Run + Select to return to the UGX screen seems to work in the games I tested, like Akumajou Dracula X Chi no Rondo and The Dynastic Hero.

 

The "savedata" backup function on the main tab in the Ikaebi PC app ("UperGrafx Control Panel") lets you copy Backup RAM banks to your PC over USB, but it is only for the nv-RAM banks and not for the new MMC saves on the SD card. It has a whole new tab for managing those and it's way more convenient since you don't have to connect your UGX to the PC with a USB cable. Instead, you insert the SD card into your PC and specify a folder to backup all the game saves to. Once you specify a folder and tell it to "read all datas to PC" you will have a list of all the saves on the SD/MMC card. Each one will have the name you gave that particular game image. Once they are on your PC you will have a list of game saves you can copy back to the SD card... you just click it and hit the "write to MMC" button.

 

If you are still having trouble with corrupt MMC saves, press Select on the System Card screen to manage/delete the save file for that game and make sure to quit the game properly. If Run + Select doesn't consistently work (I haven't done enough testing to verify) then make a conscious effort to do something in the game to load or make the music change, repeat, play/pause, etc. I know there are four games that don't support Run + Select to return to the UGX menu (some Irem titles) but I think it will still help with saving since it should still free up access to the SD card and take you back to the System Card screen, IIRC.

 

I'm still excited to find that we have per-game saves now.

 

 

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@CZroe

Very interesting!  I was testing MMC save with Last Alert, but couldn't get it to work; I probably didn't get the game to a point where the UGX could actually write the save.

It seems like a very cool feature, but I'm also the type who would spend hours on a game and then just turn the system off without allowing the UGX to save my progress (I constantly do this with my Everdrive 64...).

 

Still, I'll test it out this weekend and see if I can get it working.  It might be useful to set MMC as the general option (there are a ton of CDROM games that create save files when you boot them up, very annoying), and then just select the backup RAM on a game-per-game basis for RPGs and the like.

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I tested out the MMC save option and it works fine!  Like @CZroe mentioned above, this means per-game saving for CDROM games.  Very nice!

The UperGrafx online manual seems to suggest that per-game saving only works for images, and that all actual HuCARDs will use a common backup file as the UGX can't determine which game is inserted.  I'll have to test it out with pce roms and actual HuCARDs.  Anyway, there really aren't that many HuCARDs that support backup saving, so the shared SD card bank and the additional 3 banks of memory built into the UperGrafx should be more than enough for them.

 

Very convenient!  This is the number one feature I missed from the SSDS3, so I'm glad it's an option.

Edited by newtmonkey

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So here's one downside to the UperGrafx I just discovered.  Unlike the Turbo Everdrive and SSDS3, it doesn't seem able to bypass regional restrictions for HuCARD games.  I'm using an unmodded Core Grafx and can only run Japanese HuCARD images.  TG16 images show up in the list (obviously), but launching any of them just gets me a black screen or garbage.

 

CDROM games are not region protected, so I can run both JPN and US CDROM images just fine.

 

Since I can't run TG16 roms on this, I have deleted them... but since they are on the first couple pages of my UGX menu, that means everything after needs to be deleted and readded; i.e. all my CDROM games.  ☹️

It's not a huge deal, I can just re-add them all at once and go do something else for the next hour or so while I wait for them to be copied over my network.

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What it does is run the unpatched American ROMs exactly the way any system would if you bypassed the physically reversed pins on the HuCard... like old flash cards/EPROM cards, passive import adapters, etc. Only American games are programmed to check the region flag so everything will work on a TG16 with the UGX but American games can still detect/reject Japanese consoles that haven't had the region flag changed (short HuC 6280 pin 29 to ground).

 

The physically-reversed HuCard pins for American consoles never come into play with downloaded ROMs since we are using the EXT port but if you dump your own American games through the UGX with an unmodified Japanese console you will likely have to reverse the bits in every byte. This dude wrote a Python script for that so he could run any game on any system with his simple DIY EPROM/EEPROM card:

 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-apNvwwyKI0?feature=oembed

 

The same video also shows that you can patch one byte in any American game to pass the region check on an unmodified Japanese console. Elmer and David Shadoff discussed it in-depth here since they were working on custom Turbo Everdrive OS/menu files:

https://pcengine.proboards.com/thread/662/american-hucard-region-check-code

 

They sped up the region patching by a factor of 1,000 and added Ten No Koe Bank functionality with the option to swap the function of the I and II buttons, which was annoyingly backwards in Krikzz's original TED menu software.

 

So technically the UGX is working fine with American games but the PC Engine is doing exactly what a PC Engine would do when you run those unpatched ROMs without a hack of some kind. If you don't want to open up the console to ground pin 29 then you can patch the ROMs.

 

A TurboGrafx-16 should run US and Japanese ROMs just fine from the UGX but a Japanese console will behave exactly like you reversed the pins for an American game but did not ground out the CPU's region pin. It should be possible for Ikaebi/UperGrafx Control Panel to detect and patch the US ROMs when transferring, since the region check is the same code for all US games. Until then, we have to patch that byte ourselves with a HEX editor or custom utility or Python script or something. I'm sure someone has made something. :)

 

FWIW, I noticed that the American Super System Card BIOS does not have a region check. It works but the UGX Control Panel software does not automatically recognize and configure it as a ROM+RAM card. You can manually change the setting in the UGX CP and it will work. Of course, it's literally just the Japanese Super System Card BIOS with "PC Engine" erased from the screen, so of course it has the same region protection as the Japanese version (none). :)

 

The Japanese games that load a cool Super System Card transition screen obviously based their animation on the screen they expected you to have on a Japanese console so you will see "PC Engine" appear on the screen as it spins off or zooms or whatever.

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More about how UperGrafx per-game saves work:
If the UGX detects a change to the backup RAM that has not been committed to the SD card you will see a yellow line at the bottom of the screen. It will go away as soon as the UGX gets an opportunity to synchronize it, so avoid powering off the console with that yellow line visible. If you power off while that line is visible your save will either revert or corrupt.

I tested using Gate of Thunder where you get a yellow bar right after you put in your initials and it shows where you rank. If you power off while on that screen with the yellow bar then your score and initials will not be saved and it will revert to whatever scores and initials were already there just before you ranked. If you press Run + Select to reset/return to the UGX game list, the yellow bar goes away and it saves properly. To make sure it wasn't happening because I pressed run to move on from the ranking screen, I made sure I was already holding Run before I got to the screen with the yellow bar. I then pressed Select at the same time to reset and powered off. It retained my new score.

The yellow line is hard to miss with a 4x (960p) scale in a 1080p window but 720p fills the screen with gameplay imagery and you can only see the edges of the yellow line in the pillar boxes on either side.

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I've had good luck so far with the per-game saving, for both CDROM and HuCARD images.  One issue I encountered is that my Gate of Thunder save was somehow lost when I had to re-add my CDROM games (after deleting the US HuCARD games).  Other CDROM game saves carried over fine, so I'm not 100% sure what happened.  I backed up my saves from the SD card and the Gates of Thunder save simply didn't exist, which is strange (and somewhat worrying).  I noticed that the UGX names these saves as XXX_name of file on SD.sav where XXX is the index number of the game image, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.

 

In other news, I followed the links you posted @CZroe and went in and modified the hex values of my US HuCARD games and got them working.  There is only a handful of US exclusives (and the superior US version of R-Type), so I just manually modified them.  They work like a charm!  Apparently, the TED and SSDS3 actually do this in real-time for you, which is how they bypass region locking.

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I've had good luck so far with the per-game saving, for both CDROM and HuCARD images.  One issue I encountered is that my Gate of Thunder save was somehow lost when I had to re-add my CDROM games (after deleting the US HuCARD games).  Other CDROM game saves carried over fine, so I'm not 100% sure what happened.  I backed up my saves from the SD card and the Gates of Thunder save simply didn't exist, which is strange (and somewhat worrying).  I noticed that the UGX names these saves as XXX_name of file on SD.sav where XXX is the index number of the game image, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.
 
In other news, I followed the links you posted [mention=4949]CZroe[/mention] and went in and modified the hex values of my US HuCARD games and got them working.  There is only a handful of US exclusives (and the superior US version of R-Type), so I just manually modified them.  They work like a charm!  Apparently, the TED and SSDS3 actually do this in real-time for you, which is how they bypass region locking.


Hmm... for Gate of Thunder I was using the 3-in-1 disc image which is really a 4-in-1 when you count the hidden game. I can see some potential for confusion but, as far as I know, Gate of Thunder is the only game on that disc which uses the backup/save RAM (others are Bonk, Bonk 2, and Bomberman) so it should have it all to itself.

If it did back up a Gate of Thunder save for you and you changed the game name and index when rebuilding your SD card then you probably just have to change the file name in the folder where UGX Control Panel is saving them... but it sounds like you are saying it never got that far... or maybe the Control Panel software only shows it if the index matches and it doesn't now. Perhaps it writes over saves with the same index number and changes the name when another game sits at the old index number. Not sure.

If it does something like that it might be best to change the folder UGX CP backs up saves to when you rebuild the game list. You could then rename the files you want to keep with the new index numbers and move those into the new/current working saves folder.
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13 minutes ago, CZroe said:

maybe the Control Panel software only shows it if the index matches and it doesn't now. Perhaps it writes over saves with the same index number and changes the name when another game sits at the old index number.

I'm really not sure what happened, but I suspect it's the former.  It's strange, though, because I don't think the index numbers really changed for any of the CDROM titles as I replaced all the .pce files I deleted with blank files so that the CDROM games would still start from Page 3 (US) and 4 (JPN).

 

At any rate, it's probably a safe idea to just backup all saves before fooling around with adding/deleting games.

Edited by newtmonkey
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On 9/9/2020 at 2:54 AM, newtmonkey said:

I've had good luck so far with the per-game saving, for both CDROM and HuCARD images.  One issue I encountered is that my Gate of Thunder save was somehow lost when I had to re-add my CDROM games (after deleting the US HuCARD games).  Other CDROM game saves carried over fine, so I'm not 100% sure what happened.  I backed up my saves from the SD card and the Gates of Thunder save simply didn't exist, which is strange (and somewhat worrying).  I noticed that the UGX names these saves as XXX_name of file on SD.sav where XXX is the index number of the game image, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.

 

In other news, I followed the links you posted @CZroe and went in and modified the hex values of my US HuCARD games and got them working.  There is only a handful of US exclusives (and the superior US version of R-Type), so I just manually modified them.  They work like a charm!  Apparently, the TED and SSDS3 actually do this in real-time for you, which is how they bypass region locking.

I hate to break it to you, but the US version of R-Type is actually gimped compared to the Japanese version. The US localization team panicked an thought they were overclocking vram with the mid resolution option, so they changed the settings and clipped part of the screen. In the end, it wasn't needed but a few games like this have alternate settings for mid res that actually limits the sprites per scanline. Anyway, the US version of R-Type has different settings than the Japanese version and thus can only show 12 sprite cells per scanline instead of the normal 16. I.e. the US version has more flicker. You need to patch that US version!

Edited by turboxray
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Amazon UK has the CoreGrafx mini. The pound is like 35% stronger than the yen or something like that, though, so no way am I paying that much for it! Maybe eventually it will be in stock someplace else where I won't get completely screwed by the exchange rate.

Edited by Steven Pendleton
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11 hours ago, Steven Pendleton said:

Amazon UK has the CoreGrafx mini. The pound is like 35% stronger than the yen or something like that, though, so no way am I paying that much for it! Maybe eventually it will be in stock someplace else where I won't get completely screwed by the exchange rate.

Wow yeah, if the spread is that wide currently I'm not paying that level of conversion tax either.  I still have my CG2 even if I'm letting go of the Duo, along with an everdrive so I'll need it at retail or within maybe $10 to even care.

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22 minutes ago, Tanooki said:

Wow yeah, if the spread is that wide currently I'm not paying that level of conversion tax either.  I still have my CG2 even if I'm letting go of the Duo, along with an everdrive so I'll need it at retail or within maybe $10 to even care.

lol yep, here's what it is right now. Took a screenshot because it might change later, of course.

Untitled.jpg

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Well, I may have ruined my Turbo Express. D:

It was still working last year when I removed some capacitors and stored it away until I had time to finish the job. That isn't to say it was working well... low audio and the screen had to warm up a bit, but that was as well as the day I got it well over 10 years ago. I routinely opened it to look for leaks (about twice a year) and noticed fresh corrosion on the card slot board and one edge on the main board (ground plane).

Both areas were relatively easy to clean up but I did not have the right capacitor kit on-hand (thru-hole... YUCK!) to go ahead and replace them all. I removed the easily-accessible capacitors that weren't under a shield, cleaned with 99.9% isopropyl, and stored it away for a year. Now that I finished the job it suddenly does not work. :(

At first I wasn't getting anything... not even backlight. Later I momentarily measured 5V on some of the chips, but never again. Finally I got backlight but still no 5V, which is where I am today almost a week later. Only change I might be able to explain is the backlight, since it came back after reinstalling a couple metal shields over nearby components. No idea what's going on with VCC for all the logic.

This is very frustrating. It means I have high-voltage for driving the display but no power for the logic chips (~5v). There is no 7805 voltage regulator to check... just a B1182 audio amp that also seems to be unpowered. The system gets ~5v using a Zener diode setup, which I have no idea how to troubleshoot. I see a zener diode refdes on both sides (ZD500 & ZD501) but no idea which is supposed to do ~5v. ZD501 is for a glass diode in a MELF package with the anode and cathode easy to identify but ZD500 is an SOT-23-packaged component with three leads. It seems most of their diodes have three leads. I don't know if they simply have a duplicate terminal for test points or if they are essentially two diodes in one package sharing an anode or cathode.

I'm in way too deep. :(

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On 9/5/2020 at 5:17 PM, CZroe said:

Old linear PSUs like the originals are the ones known for having a higher voltage when they aren't under load. Modern switching PSUs are supposed to be better at regulating regardless of load but, in practice, the cheap ones get all kinds of issues when you approach their maximum rating, assuming their rating was true at all (they often aren't)... issues from ripple to noise to voltage drops, to out-right shutting down.

 

Old simple transformer-based power supplies definitely have output voltages that vary depending upon the load (within a "nominal" range).

 

And, as you say, modern regulated switching power supplies shouldn't have that problem, but cheap ones can have other problems.

 

IMHO, when searching for replacement power supplies for electronic equipment (such as computers and video games), you would be wise to look for something that is rated as an "I.T.E. Power Supply" (Information Technology Equipment), which means that it has been designed to a higher set of standards, and if UL Listed as an "I.T.E. Power Supply", then it has been tested to meet those standards.

 

Here's my current-favorite 9V center-negative PSU for systems like the PC Engine.

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Played some Ninja Spirit on the Mini today. Really a one-of-a-kind game, and this is a cracking port of it, almost arcade perfect with some very nice parallax background effects.

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Setup my MisTer today. A few days ago the TG16 core was updated and now includes "original" and "raw RGB" color options. You can switch them in the fly. It's pretty nice - huge thanks to Rysha for finally nailing the accurate colors. Dumping the YUV table in the VCE wasn't enough, because the VCE was also applying a non-linear step in the R-Y and B-Y intensities. One thing's for sure, whoever designed the VCE definitely wanted to get the most out of those 512 colors and really optimized it (there's a bit of useless colors in straight 9bit RGB). Skin tones definitely look correct now and not all orange-ish or yellow tinted. Browns no are cooler instead of orange-ish. That garnish raw RGB yellow and red push throughout a good mount of the color range is now dialed back. I can't believe it took this long to figure out. But yeah, the PC-Engine was definitely a system that put importance on colors.

 

 I also received some PCEMON debugger stuff from Dave Shadoff (much thanks!). Works both with the MisTer and the real consoles. A nice feRam mod board for my real Duo too. And his prototype hucard "MegaVault" bram backup.

Edited by turboxray
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Any ideas what could be causing this issue with my TG16? Happened once yesterday, but returned to normal after a half hour or so. All games will display this issue. Was using the system again today, testing games, when it has suddenly returned.

DSC00943.jpg

DSC01006.jpghaji blood+ wallpaper

Edited by livingonwheels

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7 hours ago, livingonwheels said:

Any ideas what could be causing this issue with my TG16? Happened once yesterday, but returned to normal after a half hour or so. All games will display this issue. Was using the system again today, testing games, when it has suddenly returned.

DSC00943.jpg

DSC01006.jpghaji blood+ wallpaper

This would sometimes happen while using my orange kisado bitd. Adjusting the position of the game in the converter and the converter in the card slot is all it took to fix.

 

It's happened with regular HuCards directly inserted a couple other times over the years. Again, just cleaning the pins cleared it up.

 

If it's not your games then ut might be your system's card slot connector.

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