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The NEC Retro topic

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Black Squirrel, Dec 31, 2021.

  1. SupperTails66

    SupperTails66

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    This was actually the subject of a chat I happened to be in recently. I'll quote the explanation given there because I don't think anyone would object to the knowledge being shared, but do note that this is one person giving an off-the-cuff paraphrase of someone else's explanation and isn't necessarily 100% accurate:

    I'm not an expert on the topic, so if you want gorier details than that, I suggest you ask on the PC Engine Software Bible forum.

    For the record, the image captions on that article are:

    1. "Pause during the game and input the command below."
    2. "Look, the screen's split into two. The left edge of it is cut off."
    3. "An enlargement of one of the screens. You can barely make out the message."

    The main article is largely just saying the same things with more detail.

    The fact that there are two screens instead of four is obviously a discrepancy, but it's possible that this specific game is doing additional manipulations with HBlank interrupts to eliminate the lower screens. I have no familiarity with it, though, so I'm afraid all I can do is speculate.
     
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  2. Overlord

    Overlord

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    I'm confused. Why would you want to render 4 screens at once? Can't you only ever see three of them?
     
  3. BSonirachi

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    So if both this and the scan are correct, then that means TurboNyma's attempt at rendering the display mode is the most accurate one then. Now I have to question why such a feature exists in some games when there really isn't any practical use for it.
     
  4. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

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    According to someone in the comments, this is based on the PC Engine

     
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  5. BSonirachi

    BSonirachi

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    I'm exhausted...

    Throughout the past three months following NEC Retro's revival I've been filling up the Hidden Content category with as much content as possible to bring it up to Sega Retro's standards, primarily for the PC Engine and CD-ROM² games. Lots of different cheats that come from a variety of sources, including GameFAQs, TCRF, Twitter user @yamada_arthur, and even PC Engine Fan magazine, where I found out about this particular gem from Zero4 Champ:

    Zero 4 Champ (J) [a1].2022-03-31 03.22.01.png

    Entering certain profane words as a name will cause the name to be censored in-game, complete with a censor bleep. The magazine stated that "SEX" will trigger this censorship, but I've tested that "FUCK" also works. From what I can tell, those are the only two English words that will do that - there may be some Japanese words that will also have this effect, at least based on what I can find in a hex editor:

    upload_2022-3-31_21-38-54.png

    However, there are still a few other pieces of hidden content out there that have to be documented, and some I've been unable to do due to requiring more complicated hacking, or a better understanding of Japanese in order to get to it (the large majority of games are only in Japanese, so I've had to bash my head through the language barrier many times to be able to verify most of it), and I hope someone who can understand Japanese better than I can will one day get them sorted.

    Also, almost every CD-ROM² game that has a page as of this post now has a title screenshot! This was something I decided to cover with all those hidden content pages, along with another project I wanted to do when that was done: documenting what happens when Super/Arcade CD-ROM² games are booted with the wrong System Card.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The overall structure of this is derived from the region coding pages on Sega Retro, and is similar in scope to how VGMuseum.com documents the error screens from these games, except our scope expands to every possible game that can be tested, because not every game has an error screen and may have other effects when the wrong System Card is used:
    • 11 games will display a blank screen when booted with the wrong System Card. While most of the blank screens are black, Super Real Mahjong Special boots to a pink screen.
    • 10 games will just loop back to the BIOS when attempting to start them, and at least two of them freeze it on the "JUST A MOMENT..." message.
    • 4 games will still start up, but end up as horribly broken messes with garbled graphics and possible crashes.
    • Strangely, 5 games will start up without any issues that I can see. They might need more testing to see how far they can go on the wrong System Card, which is a task for someone with more time.
    I couldn't get every one of them documented, however, and those are:
    • Akiyama Jin no Suugaku Mystery: Hihou Indo no Honoo o Shisyu Seyo! (there doesn't seem to be any dumps of this game on the internet from where I've searched, and according to Redump it's considered "undumped". It's known to have an error screen, but I have idea how VGMuseum managed to get a screenshot)
    • Godzilla (both Japanese and North American versions have scrolling marquees that fill up the whole screen and I don't know how to best display it - I might have to use GIFs like VGMuseum does, and it should be noted that I did a trial of that with Janshin Densetsu's error screen, so check it out)
    • The Kick Boxing (I did get the screenshot uploaded, but didn't make the compatibility page for it. Why? Because the game page is pending a possible merge with André Panza Kick Boxing)
    That said, there's a few more things out there with their own error screens that don't have pages, such as the 3-in-1 CD that came with the TurboDuo (it has a hidden fourth game on it, and most databases call it "4 in 1 Super CD"), and Bomberman '94 Special Version (a demo version of Bomberman '94). Those should be done. Now I need to take a load off.

    (also Chou Aniki and Travellers Densetsu o Buttobase still have broken pages please fix them)
     
  6. Rosiero

    Rosiero

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    Because I guess I will forever have the mind of a twelve year old, I figured out the full list of no-no words for Zero4 Champ. As expected, most of them are Japanese words for sex acts and genitalia, but there's also a couple names of other game companies in there and a couple other weird things that I'm not sure what they refer to, but I gave my best guesses.

    The list is as follows:
    おまんこ (pussy)
    FUCK
    おめこ (pussy)
    みなよし ("Minayoshi"--possibly referring to Seitaro Minayoshi in the game's credits?)
    ぺにす (penis)
    くりとりす (clitoris)
    きんたま (balls)
    SEX
    せっくす (sex)
    せんずり (fapping)
    まんずり (schlicking)
    そうろう (premature ejaculation)
    ほうけい (phimosis)
    たんしょう ("short"? This can mean a few different things, but I guess it's referring to having a small dick?)
    ふぇらちお (fellatio)
    みかのへそ ("mikanoheso"... "heso" means bellybutton, so maybe it's "Mika no heso"? There is someone named Mika Nagiri in the credits. anyway, weird)
    なむこ (Namco)
    こなみ (Konami)
    えにっくす (Enix)
    ばんだい (Bandai)
    ひゅーまん (Human)
    ふぁみこん (Famicom)
    おなにー (masturbation)

    Some of these might be more commonly written in katakana, but the game doesn't care which you use, so I wrote them all down in hiragana.
     
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  7. BSonirachi

    BSonirachi

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    Oooh, cheers for going through all these! I can go ahead and put all these up onto the hidden content page as a table and link back to your post as a reference.

    Also lol at Konami being censored.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Video game research is all about finding things accidentally.

    So the plan was to attempt to make sense of PC-9800 releases from around 1991-1993 on the off-chance there'd be DOS/V versions that in turn supported the Teradrive. It was a big ask. And an even bigger ask for me not to be distracted by something else.

    This list was borrowed from a Japanese website years ago, and I didn't fully translate it before getting bored. I've pushed a bit further on this second round, but I kept coming across the word TAKERU.

    TAKERU TAKERU TAKERU TAKERU. What's a TAKERU?




    So the Famicom Disk System - kind-of an oddity in the West, because it solved short-term problem we never really experienced - Famicom games being too big for cartridges... until they worked out how to make bigger cartridges. Nintendo opted for a proprietary disk system, and one of its main selling points was that you could go to a physcial vending machine and write a new game to disk. Spoilers: they weren't the only ones.

    [​IMG]

    That's a Takeru.

    A vending machine that writes computer software to floppy disks. There may have been Takeru-only games.
     
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  9. Saad

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    I've been looking into that Takeru stuff for a couple months now, I got some Takeru magazines i was gonna mirror (eventually) to Retro CDN over on my User Page on NEC (which yall should check out and if u want, choose smth to work on, there's so much to do).

    There's so many wild things with Takeru, there were 3 types of vending machines made, and they not only wrote computer software to floppy disks, but also printed manuals for the games. They also switched to a steam-like system called "TAKERU at Home", which was sold in CD-ROM format and let you dowload a bunch of doujin games, it had a similar interface to the dismags of the era like Disc Station :p
     
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  10. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Sonic Retro has clear and obvious limits, and even in 2010 I expected Sega Retro to be hilariously massive since there are thousands of known games. NEC Retro though? That's an unknown, and part of the reason why it exists - we don't know how many fingers this company had in the gaming pie.



    [​IMG]

    I found a new finger. This is the NEC 電子手帳 PI-ET1, which according to the marketing, is an ELECTRONIC TOOL. It was released to little fanfare and had a lifespan measured in months. Unfortunately it's from Japan and that means even the footnotes have a legacy:


    [​IMG]

    This thing had games. Luckily not many - the entire software library amounts to just eight (and only four of those are actually "games"), but apparently it's the law that every obscure Japanese system needs to have a Daisenrakyu title. Software came on dinky little cards, so is totally incompatible with every other NEC system ever made (although there is supposedly some rough PC-98 crossoever like file systems or whatever).


    This is within scope of NEC Retro, but given it wasn't much of a success, I think we can safely presume there won't be other obscure portable computing formats with their own line of software to worry about...








    [​IMG]

    ...oh.
     
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  11. Pirate Dragon

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    These were covered in Micom Basic, so we have something to put on the pages, when the wiki works at least. For those wondering what the actual games looked like;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Have you heard of the Panasonic U1 word processor? It doesn't sound like Micom Basic had until they made this article. It's not Sega or NEC, but it did have games which have Sega or NEC versions, so we at least need to acknowledge it for "Non-Sega/NEC versions".

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Yes there's a port of that Mahjong Goku game to the Panasonic U1 - I'll just fetch a phot-

    [​IMG]

    So I heard you like undocumented video game platforms.

    [​IMG]
    This is a Bungo Mini 5 (文豪mini5). There's more than one model - this is an RX. NEC considers these to be "typewriters", but it's an interesting definition.

    The good news is this version of Tetris has actually been preserved:
    https://archive.org/details/mini5-tetris


    [​IMG]
    But it doesn't make the lineage any less terrifying.
     
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  13. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Looks like the Japanese wikipedia groups some NEC word processors under the same banner, but not others.

    [​IMG]
    I said the Canon Navi looks like a microwave. The PWP-100 from 1984 looks like a pizza oven. Or a kiln.

    First glance and I'm not convinced it's really related to the Bungo Mini line other than having the same manufacturer. Once you go back a certain amount you start getting exotic creatures like the NWP-20:

    [​IMG]
    For James Bond villains to launch nuclear missiles.

    That wacky key layout is an "M System" keyboard, optimised for Japanese audiences. And don't worry, there's versions for computers we do care about:

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Did you know AMD made sound cards for the PC-9801??

    [​IMG]



    ...that's because they didn't. This is the AMD-98, a sound card by System Sacom circa 1986.

    As a business machine, the PC-9801 didn't bother with such frivolities such as "audio" when it launched - it has a beeper*, so if you wanted games with genuine sound, sucks to be you. The AMD-98 adds a square wave or two:

    ->

    There doesn't appear to be masses of games which support this thing, but given System Sacom also made software, there's a few.


    I'd say it's the equivalent to Adlib cards for IBM machines, except Adlib is more capable and became a de facto standard. The AMD-98 was pushed aside when NEC released their own sound card, the PC-9801-26K. As usual, not much is documented in English (yet), so exact details are hard to come by.



    *for those who are half awake and are wondering if this beeper was like the IBM "PC speaker", the answer is... no. The PC speaker, while crude, is reasonably capable and can be made to do wonderful things. I'm told early models of the PC-9801 wouldn't even let you change the beeper's pitch - it literally just beeped.
     
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  15. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    We'll make sense of this one day, I'm sure.

    [​IMG]

    1994 and NEC introduce their "CanBe" range, headlined by the "PC-9821 Cb" - an all-in-one computer that is meant to do everything ever. Great.

    [​IMG]
    Return to Zork is a video game. We knew a PC-9821 version listed and look
    [​IMG]
    https://aucview.aucfan.com/yahoo/1064311663/

    it definitely exists, however
    [​IMG]
    https://aucview.aucfan.com/yahoo/535636041/

    There's a special CanBe version too. How (or if) it differs, nobody knows. Other software is affected.
     
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  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    So how has this gone? Eeehhhhhhhh.

    Long story short, I don't think the Japanese were willingly making DOS/V games in 1991/1992. Virtually everything we've seen originated in the West, and while there might have been Japanese teams localising the contents, it's obvious that DOS/V was an afterthought until later in the decade. In fact, maybe it never had garnered much "thought" as a gaming platform full stop - it feels like there was a jump from PC-9801/9821 to Windows. Maybe it was more important in business, or not important at all and the internet misleads.


    tl;dr Japanese-developed titles rarely came to DOS/V, and most PC-9801 games are Japanese-developed titles.


    But at least this exercise can be helpful for NEC Retro, right? Noting down games that weren't ported is just as important as those which were. And yes, that would be true... but I'm rediscovering the reason I ran away last time:

    [​IMG]
    Here's a typical PC-9801 video game from 1991: Arcus III. We already have pages for Arcus 1 and 2 on NEC Retro, and we've seen this game as part of Arcus I-II-III on the Mega-CD - it's not completely alien to us.

    But it's the specs: "V series", 640KB of RAM. Maybe a 286 processor but it's not clear on that. There's also a version that ships on 3.5-inch disks that says the same thing... even though PC-98 systems with a V had 5.25-inch floppy drives.

    It's not "wrong" for not specifying an exact off-the-shelf system - PC-98 models had satisfied these requirements since 1986, and if you wanted simple gaming, you'd buy a console, but from a wiki perspective, I can't confidently categorise this game without a bazillion emulator tests (and if it turns out the box is wrong, that'll confuse people even more).


    There would no doubt be similar problems if we were running "Fujitsu Retro" or "Sharp Retro" - it's just that Japanese computers don't really play ball with classically designed video game databases.
     
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  17. Saad

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    i had to deal with that before and I was actually having that same thought today while working on the Disc Station 98 stuff; i-img1200x900-1653703588zgzb6z57734.jpg
    Specifically mentions the PC-9801 VM, but its 3.5" (there is also a 5" version). and there's already a case (NSFW Warning) on NEC Retro where i just went with what the box is saying
     
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  18. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    The very first system I ever played video games on was an IBM PC clone with a 386. It came from my Dad's office, and so had no sound card... and never got one, because I was too young to understand what sound cards were. That and the machine was out of date.

    Still, later games teased me with technology: Adlibs and SoundBlasters and what's a Gravis Ultrasound and an AWE32? I bet they're cool, or something. By the mid-90s the options were insane:
    [​IMG]
    Not that there's always much difference betwen them all, but still, mystery solved... years after it mattered.

    As said, sound was also optional on with PC-9800 computers. There was that AMD board posted above, but you might expect a bazillion Japanese sound cards to show up, just like with IBM.

    Not so much!
    [​IMG]

    This is the state around 1992 - there's our nightmare list of computers, followed by some noise I haven't looked into yet, and a final section for audio. There's kind-of only two choices: "FM" and MIDI.

    This is because unlike IBM, NEC actually released a sound board, thus invented a standard.

    [​IMG]
    The imaginatively titled PC-9801-26(K). I'm told this brought the PC-9800 range up to the same level as the supposedly inferior PC-8800 range - you get some Yamaha chips for that mid-80s Yamaha-y computer sound. Eventually this became integrated into the main board so every PC-9801 had one, thus hurray, standardised audio. Not as good as some of the later IBM cards, but at least you knew what to target.

    I think this satisfies all the "FM sound" requirements a PC-9801 game is likely to ask for - there were some later revisions that offered more channels, but whether games made use of those, I can't say.

    The problem is MIDI. MIDI works with pre-loaded "instruments", and until "General MIDI" was invented, manfuacturers made up their own rules. As such, games have to tailor themselves to specific MIDI devices, and for whatever reason, there seems to be more of those in Japan than the West. So it's not about cards (or "boards" as NEC likes to call them), it's physical boxes that sit on your desk.

    Goh II above is offering support for the Roland MT-32, the Roland CM-32L and Roland CM-64, which even though they come from the same company, are all subtly different (the CM-300 and CM-500 are being ruled out as incompatible). I've seen other games support hardware by the likes of Casio and Yamaha - ever seen LGR's MIDI tower?

    [​IMG]
    How about one in beige. All so you can play every PC-9801 game on the market with the best possible sound maybe kinda sorta.
     
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  19. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Here's an issue - these are computers first and gaming machines second.

    The very first PC-9801 games with MIDI support date back to 1989. Maybe Police Quest 2:
    [​IMG]

    Basically the idea is you connect a MIDI device to your computer, data generated by the game gets fed to the device, and then the device outputs music to some speakers. Two of the devices Police Quest 2 supports are Casio's MT-540 and CT-460. Spoilers: those are keyboards. Like, fully fledged musical instruments that can double up as MIDI modules for computer games. Technology.


    But how do you connect a MIDI device to a PC-9801? Well I'd seen cards like these:
    [​IMG]
    And yeah, maybe in 1989 that's all you needed - all the MIDI processing happened on the card. No worries.

    Unfortunately Roland started playing with MIDI back in 1984.

    [​IMG]

    In the early days, you needed a dedicated box to do the processing. So you bought a special card (MIF-PC98) to interface with this box. The earliest references to it I can see date back to 1985, because business came before gaming.

    Thing is, this box isn't PC-98 specific. It was sold all over the world and supports a dozen different computers (including the PC-8801 and PC-8001). I think there were clones and revisions of this thing too.


    Not that I'm super surprised by any of this - there's a reason these setups weren't ultra common back in the day, but god is it a lot of writing and explanation just to document how music works.
     
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  20. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    There are HD versions of PC-9801 games, for later systems better equipped than earlier ones.


    [​IMG]
    Oh you thought?... no, hard disk.

    I mentioned this before, but NEC's computers were a little late to the party when it came to hard drives. They always existed, but the computers almost always came with two floppy drives, and software usually ran straight off those. Need so save? Insert a floppy disk in the other drive.

    Games were getting a bit too big for that by 1992 though, and so there's a library of "HD" games that get installed onto a hard drive. Some of these look as if they might have been re-releases, or at least "different" versions of pre-existing games.

    Not all games needed to be installed, and when CD-ROMs became a thing, the issue with disk swapping became moot, but yeah, HD before HD. But after HD.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2024
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