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 Post subject: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 1:57 am 
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I thought I'd mention this here, since it's both NES-related and "Other retro dev"-related: I've recently released an NSF player for the SEGA 32X. For those of you thinking "the 32-what-now?", the 32X was an add-on for the Megadrive/Genesis containing dual Super-H2 CPUs clocked at ~23 Mhz (same setup as the Saturn, but clocked slightly lower), some WRAM, some VRAM for a linear framebuffer and a PWM audio circuit. I do all the NSF-related stuff on one CPU and handle the UI on the other CPU.

Image

Download the ROM. Works best on an actual 32X, but it also runs fairly well in Kega Fusion.
The source code is also available for those who are interested.
And here's a video capture from my PAL setup (Megadrive model 2 + 32X).


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 2:44 pm 
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That's awesome. You seem to have made a few of these music players for older systems now. I like the UI on this one.


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 5:34 pm 
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Very cool. I'm sorry now that I sold my 32X because it was so otherwise useless.

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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 9:11 pm 
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I think someone ported Wolfenstein 3D to the 32X. You could have used it for that too.


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2014 12:57 am 
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There's also a Wolf3D port for the plain old Genesis.

From a gamer's perspective the 32X is little else than an expensive paper weight. The few games that were made for it were mostly rubbish. But for someone who likes to develop for old video game consoles it's a pretty nice system, reminiscent of late 80s or early 90s PCs. It's also fairly easy to develop for, depending of course on how far you're trying to stretch things (theoretically you could have code running on 4 CPUs in parallel, and graphics made up of the 32X's framebuffer + the Genesis' tile layers and sprites)


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2014 9:53 am 
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mic_ wrote:
There's also a Wolf3D port for the plain old Genesis.

It doesn't look as similar to the original game though... This IMO actually makes the Genesis port more interesting than the 32X one, which doesn't bring anything new.

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But for someone who likes to develop for old video game consoles it's a pretty nice system, reminiscent of late 80s or early 90s PCs.

I don't know, this lack of originality makes it look like a boring platform to develop for.

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graphics made up of the 32X's framebuffer + the Genesis' tile layers and sprites)

This mixing is analog though, right? With cables carrying the video out of the Genesis into the 32X? I have a hard time believing this results in a good picture...

I've been trying to buy a 32X for my video game collection for years, but the minuscule amount of good games can never seem to justify the prices people ask for it.


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2014 10:29 am 
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Quote:
I don't know, this lack of originality makes it look like a boring platform to develop for.

That was just a shallow comparison of performance and capabilities. There are obviously differences. Not that many old PCs had dual CPUs, for example.

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This mixing is analog though, right? With cables carrying the video out of the Genesis into the 32X? I have a hard time believing this results in a good picture...

Yeah, it's a cable going between the 32X and the Megadrive. I've never really thought about the image quality. It's not something old game consoles are known for anyway. Here's a video of when both the 32X framebuffer and the Megadrive VDP is used (the box with the scrolling text is drawn on the Megadrive side, and the rest comes from the 32X).

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I've been trying to buy a 32X for my video game collection for years, but the minuscule amount of good games can never seem to justify the prices people ask for it.

They're also pretty unreliable. I've got three 32Xs; two broken ones, and one that works. But I don't collect them so I didn't care about getting the boxes or manuals, which lowered the price considerably.


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2014 11:08 am 
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I've never seen the 32X in RGB, but in Composite the mixing of 32X and Genesis graphics doesn't result in any noticeable loss of quality. I really don't see why there would be any loss. I've always thought the 32X was an interesting and under utilized piece of hardware. I don't think it really had a chance in the marketplace but it's interesting to see what you could do with it.

There was a point in time where for gamers the 32X was worth it because the 32X cost maybe $20 at most and most games weren't much more than that. There aren't alot of titles but enough for that low cost of entry to have been worth it at the time.


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 5:02 pm 
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The 32X takes in the Genesis' analogue RGB and overlays its own RGB & encodes it. The resulting output is still pretty clean as far as RGB goes, and since the video encoder in the 32X is superior to the Genesis', the combined video will look superior in composite as well.

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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:34 am 
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Too bad Sega composite is pretty bad regardless. The only good thing about it was the color blending, which made X-only dithering very popular for increasing the color count or for faux translucency.

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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:02 am 
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Awesome job on the NSF player. It's the first time since I got a 32X without cable over 15 years ago that I am tempted to find a way to hook it up. I was expecting the NSF to sound weird on the Genesis/32X sound chip but it sound pretty good!


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:43 am 
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Quote:
I was expecting the NSF to sound weird on the Genesis/32X sound chip but it sound pretty good!

It's PCM, so it's really no different from how you would generate the audio on a PC (other than the fact that the 32X has variable sample resolution which decreases as the sample rate increases). The Genesis' sound chip is not used at all, if that was what you were thinking of (i.e. trying to recreate the NES sound with an FM chip).


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:48 am 
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Can you do VRC7 sounds on FM chip? It may be difficult since it is different FM, but maybe it works, I don't know because I haven't tried.

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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:40 pm 
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zzo38 wrote:
Can you do VRC7 sounds on FM chip? It may be difficult since it is different FM, but maybe it works, I don't know because I haven't tried.

You could certainly make a decent approximation of the pre-made patches, and it would be a very good experiment to translate the VRC7 parameters to the YM2612. The result would sound different, but would no doubt be interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: SEGA 32X NSF player
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:41 am 
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Synchronizing the FM register writes with the PCM data for the other channels could be a bit tricky, but might be doable. I'm not sure how many NSFs there are out there that only use the VRC7 and no other expansion audio chips.


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