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Thomas Jentzsch

Looking for odd console owners!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks to DirtyHairy, Stella's TIA emulation has greatly improved over the last two years. It is now able to emulate a standard TIA almost completely with perfection. But "TIA is a beast" and on top of that Atari used numerous slightly different TIA versions in their consoles. Some of these TIAs cause problems with original games and homebrews. To help homebrewers avoiding such problems in the future, we want to analyze these TIA differences and then add some developer options to Stella.

 

This website describes a lot TIA chips in detail, together with the potentially affected games.
Note: Most INFO links are broken, you have to change the path into "www.ataricompendium.com/game_library/easter_eggs/vcs/" to make them work.

So if you own a console with an odd TIA which exhibits one of these problems and maybe also own a flash cart (e.g. Harmony, Krokodile, CC, Supercharger, Uno-Cart), you can help us.

 

For now we are mostly interested into consoles which

  1. display stray dots in Ebivision's Pesco/Pac Man (we suppose Atari Video Cube, QuickStep, Thrust and Ixion might be affected on these too)
  2. display extra pixels in Masters of the Universe - The Power of He-Man; note that there are two different variations of the problem (here e.g. Obelix, Octopus, Room of Doom, Ski Hunt, Space Treat Deluxe, Squeeze Box and SW-Ewok Adventure might be affected too)
  3. have problems with Kool Aid Man and Thunderground (probably Spider Fighter too)
  4. have problems with G.I. Joe - Cobra Strike

(see pictures attached)

 

There are more bugs listed (especially with the Cosmic Ark stars), these may follow once we unterstand the other ones.

 

If you want to help us, please tell us (here or via PM)

  • which of the bugs listed above your console exhibits
  • if you own a flashcart (for executing test ROMs) or any of the ROMs related to your console glitch listed above

We will then ask you to verify other games (as listed above) and try some test programs. With your help we hope to be able to adapt Stella to as many TIA variations as possible. Fingers crossed!

post-45-0-21298900-1546686619.jpg

post-45-0-07156700-1546686660.jpg

post-45-0-47321900-1546686674.png

post-45-0-37412500-1546686868_thumb.jpg

post-45-0-45550800-1546686875_thumb.jpg

post-45-0-89203300-1546688790.gif

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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I've found out the hard way via development that my TIA timing on my Jr. is slightly different, and have seen issues with a 48-pixel routine that looked fine on other consoles as a result. I haven't yet tested those other games on this console, but I have a Harmony cart and should have time to give it a try this coming week. Having oddball TIA support in Stella would be awesome.

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I've found out the hard way via development that my TIA timing on my Jr. is slightly different, and have seen issues with a 48-pixel routine that looked fine on other consoles as a result. I haven't yet tested those other games on this console, but I have a Harmony cart and should have time to give it a try this coming week. Having oddball TIA support in Stella would be awesome.

Do you still have that 48 pixel routine. Also which of the bugs listed above affect your console?

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Do you still have that 48 pixel routine. Also which of the bugs listed above affect your console?

 

I do; I'll just need to dig it up. I'm not sure which of those bugs affect my console. I should have some time to do some testing with my Harmony cart tomorrow.

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Posted (edited)

It's not on your list, but I have an NTSC JR that exhibits a small visual issue in Spider Fighter. There was a thread on here regarding others having the same issue, and someone posted a patched PAL rom that fixed the problem (Which I couldn't test on my North American system).

Edited by Jstick

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Posted (edited)

Then you might have a console that has problems with Master of the Universe too. And/or it has problem with Kool Aid Man or Thunderground (see above).

 

Can you test these games for us? In case of any glitches, screenshots are welcome.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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If you have a Jr. with an oddball TIA, please give also this test ROM a spin and post images: modified_test.zip Beware that the pattern might change over the course of a few minutes as the console warms up.

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I won't have access to my JR until next week, but I'll test the mentioned games when I have a chance (Although I recall Kool-aid man working fine on that system).

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Do you still have that 48 pixel routine. Also which of the bugs listed above affect your console?

 

Okay, I'm attaching the ROM that contains the 48-pixel routine that glitches on my and my girlfriends Jrs, but works fine in Stella and on other consoles. It was inadvertently doing an early HMOVE at cycle 71 instead of 73 (as discovered by SpiceWare). I've also tried out the other games. He Man and Pesco look normal, but Kool-Aid Man and Thunderground have issues. The "oddhmovetest" definitely looks a lot different than it does on Stella.

 

post-48311-0-49627200-1546973859_thumb.jpg

 

post-48311-0-74546900-1546973974_thumb.jpg

 

post-48311-0-03037600-1546974029_thumb.jpg

 

post-48311-0-34589600-1546974057_thumb.jpg

 

post-48311-0-64435700-1546974097_thumb.jpg

post-48311-0-29752100-1546974211_thumb.jpg

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Many thanks for the pictures. Looks like your console is only affected by "early HMOVE" problems.

 

BTW: The ROM is missing. :)

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I'm odd too.. and I even smell funny.

 

Happy to be your friend,

 

 

Andre

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The "oddhmovetest" definitely looks a lot different than it does on Stella.

 

Thanks for testing! As a reference, here is what this ROM looks like in the current code (with an experimental option to emulate what I think is part of the oddities of this TIA revision). We don't have a 100% match, but the result is very close:

 

post-47984-0-25170000-1546981922_thumb.png

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Just two people who can help us here? Are the oddball TIAs really that rare? :ponder:

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Kool-Aid man is the litmus test for odd TIA's

 

I have a Junior but it's TIA is fine, well almost. My Vader has better sound; from discussion with Crispy (he knows the most about it, not the Stella devs) the difference is clearly audible.

 

Juniors with a really odd TIA can't play Kool-Aid man.

 

Another Atari console with an odd TIA is the Flashback portable and Flashback9 Composite version that run AtGames emulator; we were able to patch most of the games to run and didn't have to dump the superchip RAM to figure out how it worked, but we did have to figure it out.

 

Next odd TIA's would be the one in the Reton77 but the Stella devs patched it to run Kool-Aid man (good job).

 

Flashback9 HDMI - this has an odd TIA and an odd vCPU.

 

Answers may vary but those are the consoles that are most challenging to work with; I support them all with games and development tools.

 

Suggestion: Instead of creating your own idea of how an Atari should work and having it only work that one way, make the emu more compatible with existing consoles. You didn't want to support the AtGames emu; looks to me like now you have to support older versions of Stella just like I do if you actually want to support all Atari consoles.

 

 

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Anyone with a Jr which has problems with Cosmic Ark around who could do some tests for us?

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Late 2600 Jr PAL (1991 copyright on the box):

post-10599-0-96454300-1547978316.jpg

 

(I used NTSC roms for these screenshots, and my TV shows PAL color loss with odd number of scanlines)

 

Pesco

post-10599-0-33216400-1547978263.jpg

 

Masters of the universe

post-10599-0-49888200-1547978265.jpgpost-10599-0-86136300-1547978267.jpg

 

Kool-Aid man (took a while to understand that I have to set the left diff to B to make it run...)

post-10599-0-30534700-1547978271.jpg

 

Thunderground

post-10599-0-15553400-1547978273.jpgpost-10599-0-48374600-1547978276.jpg

 

Spider Fighter

post-10599-0-18503500-1547978826.jpg

post-10599-0-64533500-1547978279.jpgpost-10599-0-44039900-1547978281.jpg

 

G.I. Joe

post-10599-0-94490000-1547978303.jpg

 

Cosmic Ark

post-10599-0-19465300-1547978307.jpgpost-10599-0-30612900-1547978309.jpg

 

Hmove test

post-10599-0-63243900-1547978315.jpg

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PAL 7800

this one gave some trouble with bus stuffing and needs a couple minutes of warmup to stabilize its behaviour. I posted a video of the hmove test on the Stella github pages (https://github.com/stella-emu/stella/issues/246):

post-10599-0-89597500-1547979287.jpg

 

 

Pesco

post-10599-0-17508100-1547979164.jpg

 

masters of the universe

post-10599-0-77186900-1547979166.jpg

 

Kool-Aid man

post-10599-0-99440600-1547979169.jpg

 

Thunderground

post-10599-0-83490000-1547979173.jpg

this game needs a while to stabilize on this console. here are a few pictures taken while it was warming up:

post-10599-0-73856100-1547979272.jpgpost-10599-0-30557500-1547979277.jpgpost-10599-0-72641700-1547979281.jpgpost-10599-0-62256100-1547979286.jpg

 

Spider Fighter

post-10599-0-54252600-1547979177.jpgpost-10599-0-17478200-1547979180.jpgpost-10599-0-27042700-1547979183.jpg

 

G.I. Joe

post-10599-0-84993900-1547979185.jpg

 

Cosmic Ark

post-10599-0-83062800-1547979264.jpgpost-10599-0-73318400-1547979267.jpg

 

 

I have a few other consoles (including a working Tournament table arcade board), but it might take a while before I can test them (they're on storage and a few need some repair work).

Edited by alex_79
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Thanks a lot for the valuable feedback. icon_thumbsup.gif

 

It looks like your Jr and 7800 are both having problems with (too) early HMOVEs. And your Jr shows duplicate dots in Cosmic Ark.

 

Thanks for confirming Spider Fighter too. Since Thunderground stabilizes after a while, I suppose the same is true for Kool-Aid Man and Spider Fighter?

 

 

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I tried again and you're right: if I leave the console cool down for a while before testing those two games, I get the same kind of behavior.

Edited by alex_79

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Hmmm.... my Lite Sixer from Christmas 1980 couldn't run any copy of Air Sea Battle. Does that count? :)

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Hmmm.... my Lite Sixer from Christmas 1980 couldn't run any copy of Air Sea Battle. Does that count? icon_smile.gif

I suppose that was not TIA related.

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Okay, I just went through all my Atari consoles and could have sworn I had one with an "odd TIA"... but turns out, it may be a little more odd than I thought. lol

 

I threw all the typical suspects at it (game wise like He-Man, Kool-Aid Man, Thunderground, GI Joe, etc.) and it displays all of them properly. BUT, here's where it gets interesting... on certain games where there is supposed to be a single solid line, it displays dots instead. And the Harmony menu looks like crap as well.

 

Attached are a few pics:

 

post-13896-0-42501700-1548098869.jpg post-13896-0-43881700-1548098876.jpg

 

post-13896-0-59748100-1548098882.jpg

 

...and no amount of warmup time corrects this. Is this a funky TIA issue or do I have a component that's going bad you think? System is an unmodified 4-switch woody. RF out.

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Okay, I just went through all my Atari consoles and could have sworn I had one with an "odd TIA"... but turns out, it may be a little more odd than I thought. lol

 

I threw all the typical suspects at it (game wise like He-Man, Kool-Aid Man, Thunderground, GI Joe, etc.) and it displays all of them properly. BUT, here's where it gets interesting... on certain games where there is supposed to be a single solid line, it displays dots instead. And the Harmony menu looks like crap as well.

 

Attached are a few pics:

 

attachicon.gifIMGP8439.jpg attachicon.gifIMGP8440.jpg

 

attachicon.gifIMGP8442.jpg

 

...and no amount of warmup time corrects this. Is this a funky TIA issue or do I have a component that's going bad you think? System is an unmodified 4-switch woody. RF out.

 

I've seen this on some composite mods with certain televisions. Is this a composite modded unit?

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