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What was the first NES assembler?
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Author:  DementedPurple [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:30 pm ]
Post subject:  What was the first NES assembler?

This isn't a necessary question, but what were the original tools they used to program and design the graphics for games like Super Mario Bros. I'm just curious because I can't seem to find any information about that. And if anyone knows, I'd also be interested to learn what computers they used. Not any modern assemblers like ca65, but the older ones from the mid 80's that Nintendo used.

Author:  Bregalad [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

Assemblers for 6502 existed long before the FC or the NES were even in project of being made, so the question makes no sense.

We don't know about tools used by Nintendo, but we know about tools used by a small british company to develop Elite, a NES game using wireframe graphics. Search for Tank Demo on the old Nesdev main page., a demo which uses an improved version of the same wireframe engine, version that never made it's way onto the game market.

Author:  DementedPurple [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

Do we know what graphics tools they used?

Author:  dougeff [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

Here's a video of someone using the Merlin 64 assembler.

https://youtu.be/CDPlfqpgW8c

EDIT...all the paint programs I am aware of were designed around 1986-88. Since SMB was done in 85, they wouldn't have used them.

I've heard that levels and graphics were drawn by hand, on graph paper, and converted to hex values manually. But I have no proof.

Edit 2 - note, that this is not an NES specific assembler, but a general purpose 6502 assembler. I have no idea what the actual Nintendo programmers used.

Author:  tokumaru [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

There are some magazine scans with pictures of the development of SMB3 showing some Mario sprites being drawn and you can see a bit of the interface.

Author:  tepples [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

dougeff wrote:
I've heard that levels and graphics were drawn by hand, on graph paper, and converted to hex values manually. But I have no proof.

References to "tracing holes" in a rant that fills unused space in Pachi Com confirm that this was done in at least the NROM era.

Author:  ccovell [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

Way way back in the early days, Nintendo designers would fill in squares on graph paper, either in B&W or using coloured markers. They would then "scan" them in 16x16 (8x8?) dots at a time using an LED and photoreceptor array. This was fortunately superseded by the PC-based CHR editors seen in the Mario 3 pics in Nintendo Power, etc.

Pics of the archaic & laborious process caught on videotape:

Attachments:
mar04.png
mar04.png [ 828.9 KiB | Viewed 1333 times ]
mar03.png
mar03.png [ 543.45 KiB | Viewed 1333 times ]
mar02.png
mar02.png [ 401.48 KiB | Viewed 1333 times ]
mar01.png
mar01.png [ 901.3 KiB | Viewed 1333 times ]

Author:  DementedPurple [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

What issue of Nintendo power had the screenshots?

Author:  kazblox [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

Leftover data in the Japanese version of Air Fortress suggests that x6502 (judging by how the text refers to ".X65"?!?!) from the 2500 A.D. assembler set was being used at the time. At least in 1987, that's the earliest year I can point out for sure...

As a side note, the leftover text also curiously refers to a DOS port of grep as well.

Author:  dougeff [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

DementedPurple wrote:
What issue of Nintendo power had the screenshots?


From chris's website...

http://www.chrismcovell.com/secret/week ... tars10.jpg

Full link...
http://www.chrismcovell.com/secret/week ... puter.html

(Scans from a Japanese book called The Stars of Famicom Games)

Author:  Oziphantom [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

The HP 64000 mini computers seem to be used a lot, so I guess whichever ASM their 6502 ICE came with. They probably also used PC86-88, Sharp-X based system as well though. I would also think that Europeans probably used the PDS system as well, maybe having to make a custom cable to attach it. Commodore used VAX based systems for the assembling. But none of these would have been NES assemblers, I would think the first NES assembler was probably a Scene based thing. SN/Psy-q didn't start until later, there is no SNASM for NES.. Lots of fun details in the Untold History of Japanese Games books though.

Author:  rainwarrior [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

I'm imagining a 6502 assembler that runs on a Z80 and the thought kind of makes me smile.

Author:  Oziphantom [ Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

I wonder which CPU assembles faster... C64 vs Spectrum FIGHT!

Author:  Punch [ Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

Nasir Gebelli used an Apple II and its mini assembler to make all his games, including the Famicom games Rad Racer, 3D Worldrunner and Final Fantasy. Yes, the mini assembler and nothing else. He was a legend. He didn't even know how a RPG game worked when he started programming Final Fantasy!

Author:  furrykef [ Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What was the first NES assembler?

And it showed. ;)

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