Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Andlabs, Aug 25, 2011.
Shenmue the Animation Episode 2, "Daybreak":
Virtua Fighter in 1986?
show sux 0/10
Okay, so, I recently discovered official Model2 emulators contain source labels, and that's really cool. I plan on doing a write-up of how I ended up finding them in a bit, but first, I wanted to share this interesting finding from Virtua Fighter 2:
At offset 0xA6F8 in Virtua Fighter 2 (2.1) is a list of game modes. The game uses this list of offsets in order to properly execute which type of mode it should be in: WARNING (the region warning screen), ADV (advertisement/attract cutscenes), INFO (!!!), SEL (character select screen), GAME (the main game), OVER (game over screen), NAME (name entry screen), TEST (service menu), and RANK (displays ranking if you are playing ranked mode).
So the interesting thing here is "INFO" mode. In the actual game code, (and in subsequent engine releases in Fighting Vipers and Sonic the Fighters), the only remaining code for this mode is "INFO_INT" or (what I believe to be) "INFORMATION INITIALIZATION". Each mode, like the ones above, have an initialization routine followed by a display routine. For instance, the "SEL_INT" routine gets called to initialize the character select screen, then "SEL_DSP" displays the character select screen. The way the game stores these routines like this: (VF2)
ROM:0000A6F8 off_A6F8: .long WARNING_INT # DATA XREF: mode_control+28↑r
ROM:0000A6FC .long WARNING_DSP
ROM:0000A700 .long ADV_INT
ROM:0000A704 .long ADV_DSP
ROM:0000A708 .long INFO_INT
ROM:0000A70C .long INFO_INT
ROM:0000A710 .long SEL_INT
ROM:0000A714 .long SEL_DSP
ROM:0000A718 .long GAME_INT
ROM:0000A71C .long GAME_DSP
ROM:0000A720 .long OVER_INT
ROM:0000A724 .long OVER_DSP
ROM:0000A728 .long ENDING_INT
ROM:0000A72C .long ENDING_DSP
ROM:0000A730 .long NAME_INT
ROM:0000A734 .long NAME_DSP
ROM:0000A738 .long TEST_INT
ROM:0000A73C .long TEST_DSP
ROM:0000A740 .long RANK_INT
ROM:0000A744 .long RANK_DSP
Note that "INFO_INT" is listed twice. It's offset is located at 0xC45C.
So why am I explaining all this? Well, the labels stored within the emulator list the offsets and labels... WELL, take a look at the list for the "INFO" labels:
So whatever source this was pulled from, it looks like "INFO_INT" and "INFO_DSP" existed together at one point in development, but they "share" the same address space in this list.
I just thought this was interesting proof that an "INFO_DSP" did exist at some point in development.
I had to read that twice to actually understand it... but wow, that really is fascinating! Keep it up!
I understand it's kind of weird and confusing without context, and if I can think of how to rephrase it to make it simpler I will, but yeah, it's quite the fascinating find.
On rare occasions websites redirect to their IP address, which archive.org archives, so a couple more mirrors of Sega.co.jp / Sega.jp;
Sega.co.jp (1998 - 2001; 8,091 URLs captured)
Sega.jp (2001 - 2006; 10k+ URLs captured ...wayback machines current limit)
So if a certain page wasn't archived on the regular address, or a regularly updated page has a time gap in it check those out. A quick look found some missing content.
Here's an interesting factoid / mystery. I keep seeing the add for Total War: Warhammer 3 on Youtube. It starts with the new Sega "bong" noise - the one with the eye reflecting the SEGA logo - but the screen is black and doesn't show the eye or SEGA logo. Does anyone know why it is not shown? It shows the SEGA logo in the bottom corner of the ending screen.
Playing with the PC-6001 on NEC Retro made me wonder if I'd made mistakes on Sega Retro. We're incorporating the window borders in PC-6001 screenshots because they're visible on real hardware - like many systems, this was an overscan area that was outside the "safe zone" for drawing, but this was a limitation driven by old TVs, not necessarily computer monitors which were also compatible.
I had come across this issue in the past, but not all emulators seem to treat the border area equally. As such, because we don't typically include the Mega Drive's borders, I made the (incorrect) decision not to bother with other systems. In fairness, I'm not sure it matters most of the time, but thanks to my YouTube subscriptions, I now have a test case:
The Amstrad CPC has a few "official" screen modes. I'm not an expert, but (ignoring the double-width pixels) when the borders are cropped, they usually seem to come out as 256x192 or 320x200, in-line with other machines. The results seemed good enough back in 2019-ish so I didn't think too much of it. There are demos that draw in the border area, but (I didn't think) any Sega games did, and I wasn't really thinking too hard about the consequences. We could always add "pseudo-borders" back in through the wiki if we wanted.
"Out of this World" does draw in the border region, and I don't know if this emulator (Arnold) is accurate to the real thing. It renders a 384x272 window by default - it could be that all Amstrad CPC screenshots need to be at least that size.
The reason this might matter in this case is that Out of this World is a contemporary Fantasy Zone clone (circa 1987). The game is not within the scope of Sega Retro (so wouldn't get a dedicated page, and any screenshots or scans would go on Retro CDN) but I am drawn to the idea of acknowledging that clones "exist" in some way, maybe with comparison screenshots or whatever. If the clone was better or sold more than the real thing, that's noteworthy, but we'd limit it to commercial games sold a few years after the Sega game's release, so as not to be listing a bazillion modern interpretations that were never considered competition.
Answered my own question:
160x200, "20 columns", 16 colours
320x200, "40 columns", 4 colours
640x200, "80 columns", 2 colours
But as far as screenshots go, with borders:
For modes 0 and 1: 384x272
For mode 2: 768x544
These seem to be accepted numbers by the Amstrad CPC community. So yes, all our CPC screenshots are wrong. And 256x192 isn't really a thing but just sorta happened because the ZX Spectrum existed.
Oh wow, those images take me back. I've been dicking around with the Spectrum a lot recently but haven't touched a CPC in years.
iirc there's also a mode 3 which is 160x200 + 4 colours which was only useful if you desperately needed the extra memory it frees up, but you can treat it as mode 0 for screenshot purposes.
All these years playing with old computers and it's surprising the internet doesn't have a firm answer to some of these questions.
Next, Commodore 64.
I had a copy of WinVICE from 2004, and as I was rarely using it (let alone coming into problems), didn't notice that the emulator has very different views on colour these days. I already knew the screenshots I had taken were now "wrong" but now there's a border question in the back of my mind, that adds to the complications.
Anyway my old copy of WinVICE opts for 384x272 - in line with the Amstrad CPC
Until now I'd been cropping out the border and focusing on the actual 320x200 screen, because I knew Sega games weren't going out of bounds. But that's not a good plan long-term - loads of demos go past this range as to plenty of games, like Wizball:
But just like the colour palette, not all emulators agree with this resolution. We definitely need to take into account the border on C64, but I don't know what the best plan of action is (bearing in mind we'd want a screenshot guide that everyone can stick to).
My ZX Spectrum emulator, SpecEmu hails from the space year 2008, and it draws a 352x296 window:
(ignoring the red cassette - that's part of the emulator UI)
There is clearly an expectation that a border will be visible to end users, as there's a "BORDER" command in BASIC that lets you change its colour (which I did above). Core drawing happens in the 256x192 window - I'm not sure how much software goes beyond this (other than things written for those weird Russian clones/extensions).
There's this demo that draws in the border area that's claiming a resolution of 352x239 - I think the PC Engine can be made to use a similar resolution, so they're not plucking numbers out of thin air. Of course, this version of SpecEmu can't actually run that demo properly and the project as a whole doesn't seem to be getting maintained anymore, so idk.
The problem is, this was all designed in the context of analogue televisions, so it's all about "lines" and "overscan" and NTSC/PAL differences. And while this is all important, it's not clear what a games wiki should do if the image is to be represented digitally. The MSX will be a thing too.
I'm less concerned about the Amiga, Atari ST and IBM PC. These can have borders, but I'm not sure they're ever going to be much of an issue in terms of screen aspect ratios and game comparisons. But you may know differently.
For context - guidelines would go here to make sure every screenshot is correct.
Something that's recently appeared on archive.org:
File:SegaPrizeSeriesCollection JP 1995-04.pdf
"Sega Prize Series Collection 1995 Vol. 4"
It's a catalogue detailing various prize sets you'd find in UFO Catchers and the like. We have next to no information on this on Sega Retro... because we had next to no information to work with. Sega has kindly labeled each set with product IDs, and rough release date estimates.
But it's the last page that's most interesting, because these machines are undocumented!
GAMERA GAMERA GAMERA GAMERA
I can answer this for the Spectrum at least: The Spectrum draws its 256x192 resolution doubled in the centre of the screen; PAL signals are typically considered a 704x576 resolution, so the screenshot resolution would be half that, at 352x288. BizHawk renders at this resolution by default; Fuse, SpecEmu, and Spectaculator all share identical or very similar resolutions (and these are emulators we've tested as being stupidly accurate too, for what it's worth).
A build of SpecEmu from six days ago - 320x240 seems to be the default now. Fuse seems to have similar ideas.
Given this discrepancy between emulators, maybe 256x192 is the best plan right now.
The border is important, though; a lot of games use it for visual effects, with a much smaller number that use tricks to draw in it. For example, when you collect an orb in Tintin on the Moon, the screen looks like this:
Taking 256x192 would give you this:
Which is clearly wrong and missing information. I'm wondering if 320x240 is an NTSC thing (480 vs. 576 lines -> 320x240 vs. 352x288 when halved), although it doesn't explain why Fuse uses it in non-NTSC modes.
Oh no I agree the border's important (that's why I'm looking into this), it's more about conveying a set of standards that everyone on the wiki can use. If every emulator has different ideas (or better yet, changes its ideas when a new version comes out), it's going to get messy.
Playing around with a few lightweight emulators:
This is "The Sentinel" which has border effects on its title screen. Except in SpecEmu where they don't show at all. I'm thinking that might not be a great emulator.
Two incredible magazines have been scanned from what I consider the golden age of gaming.
Game Charge – Vol. 16 Winter 1996
and Arcade Game Magazine – February 1996
Both contain information about Fighting Vipers (obviously from the covers) but they also cover prototype builds of Sonic the Fighters. The magazines have high resolution images of images that have crawled their way around the net since the late 90's and are on our wiki today! I will work on replacing images as I can from the RAWs provided by archive.org and a little post processing to remove dust and lint.
Yes there's been a few interesting scans recently, both on that account and this one. I've been working on other things, so haven't kept up.
Other things such as:
Shinnyuu Shain Tooru-kun, which I hadn't sat down with because... look at it. But it got my attention when I learnt there was a BBC Micro port. Surely it's a bit too "Japanese" for the UK's 3rd/4th/5th/whatever-th most popular home computer of the early 1980s?
Turns out it was originally called "Mickie" and was about headbutting people in a school. Konami had a crisis of confidence in Japan and gave it a business setting, but internationally, yeah, assault everyone then run away. And yes it does have licensed music.
The SG-1000 version is stripped down to the point where it loses a lot of the appeal, but it was the only home version of the game released in Japan, so that's a thing.
Not just Sonic The Fighters - that issue of Arcade Game Magazine has some amazing coverage of the Sega AM teams, their produce, and the development/engineering work that went into their machines, particularly AM4 (who probably deserve much more credit than they get nowadays):
Most notably includes a prototype Indy 500 cabinet, concept art of the neighbouring AM5 team's VR-1 + Virtua Formula attractions, and even some talk with Satoshi Tajiri, the man who Sega had previously turned away and scammed out of his own arcade game about 15 years prior.
Amazingly, there is even an interview with Yasushi Nakajima of AM2 and Masaki Matsuno of AM4, both of whom I had been researching (and adding info to the wiki about) just mere hours ago from right now (!). Small world, etc etc.
Not forgetting a B/W Sega column (with mention of what I am pretty certain is the Roppongi GiGO FV cosplay tournament that kukun kun uploaded footage of a while back), and opening coverage of Niigata Joypolis. This may well be peak mid 1990s Sega arcade dominance
Coincidentally I was just looking through some old folders the other day and came across some pictures of "Sega Loop" a bilingual pamphlet from "Tsukuba Expo '85" and noticed that they called it "TORU, THE NEW EMPLOYEE" with "MIKIE" in brackets for the English translation. So there's a semi-official English name if anyone ever bothers to give it a title screen hack.
Separate names with a comma.