CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Discuss emulation of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom.

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hawken
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CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by hawken » Mon Mar 09, 2015 7:51 pm

A while back an artist on pixelation / pixel joint known as Arne (not sure if he frequents here) wrote up a fairly detailed and interesting proposal for a console that would sit somewhere in-between the NES and SNES in terms of technology. The reasons why might not be apparent from a programming side but for artists, the NES had a difficult palette and the SNES had almost too many colours to choose from. Arne is well known on those forums for his excellent concept art and custom palettes "Arne 16" etc.

It would be interesting to hear from the NesDev community about how you would spec this fantasy machine. I have my take on it written below, but first the original spec put forward by Arne:

> Link to original article <

Image
The CNES-88 was partially built on the foundations of the failed Commodore 128, using similar MOS Technology chips. However, instead of the VDC&VICII the CNES-88 used an upgraded version of the Ricoh PPU which was used in the Famicom.
  • CPU: N65SC02, a 6502 derivative with improved bit operations, running at 4MHz.
  • MMU and RAM: N8722 managing four banks of 64kB for a total of 256kB.
  • Sound and I/O: "Pauline" chip, 4 channels (Square, Triangle, Noise, and DPCM) extended by up to 8 wavetable channels.
  • Video: "Daisy" (Ricoh PPU II):
  • Media: 3½ inch 720kB microfloppy drive.
Image
(Full specs of the consoles are on the link above)

My initial thoughts are that although the Disc system is a good cheap way of shovelling game data, there still needs to be a cartridge port on the machine. This could serve two purposes; 1. Reverse compatibility with Famicom library, 2. Expansion slot to extend performance of console. Without cartridge based games we would have never of had the likes of starfox etc.

Also at the time Nintendo were still experimenting with disc based data and didn't make the full jump till the gamecube. It is debatable that systems like the famicom and snes / sfc were consumer friendly because users could actually see the game they had inserted into the system. (Remember this is a time when record sleeves and tapes were still a thing, consumers were tactile and visual)

My other point is that "Fami-do" wouldn't really work in Japan as "fami" just means "family" - I had a "fami-chiki" the other day, which is chicken I bought from FamilyMart (a convenience store). "do" is pronounced "doh" in Japanese, it would more likely be "du", as with mainland european languages, Japanese vowels are voiced: ah(a) ee(i) uu(u) eh(e) oh(o), not: ay(a) eye(i) you(u) e(e) oh(o).

So I would propose FC-DX or Famicom Advance. The late 80's in Japan was the rise of countless gadgets and abbreviations were the order of the day. For the western version maybe CNES works. Although I take it in North America it was pronounced N. E. S. not "nes" or "snes".

Any thoughts welcome!!
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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by tepples » Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:05 pm

hawken wrote:A while back an artist on pixelation / pixel joint known as Arne (not sure if he frequents here) wrote up a fairly detailed and interesting proposal for a console that would sit somewhere in-between the NES and SNES in terms of technology.
NEC and Hudson already made it. It was called the TurboGrafx-16.
So I would propose FC-DX or Famicom Advance. The late 80's in Japan was the rise of countless gadgets and abbreviations were the order of the day. For the western version maybe CNES works. Although I take it in North America it was pronounced N. E. S. not "nes" or "snes".
In North America, "N.E.S." (source: Tiny Toon Adventures commercial) and "Soo-per N.E.S." (source: Super Mario Kart commercial) were the norm.

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by lidnariq » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:16 pm

One problem with Arne's work is that he likes working with fixed palettes that have no basis in physical or monetary costs.

The reason that the NES and Atari 2600/5200/7800 have the palette that they do is because these consoles natively generate video in HSV.

Most other consoles natively generate video in RGB (TG16, SNES, Master System, Genesis, and everything newer)

The exceptions to this have relatively small and kinda awkward palettes: the VIC-1 and -2 (VIC-20, C64) and TMS9928A (ColecoVision). (I'm certain there are many others, especially amongst what wikipedia calls "second generation" consoles.)

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by tepples » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:43 pm

I first learned of Arne here.
lidnariq wrote:One problem with Arne's work is that he likes working with fixed palettes that have no basis in physical or monetary costs.
A 2C04 variant feeding the Famicom Titler's output circuit could have generated a 64-entry palette like this.

Again with the allusion to lazy programmers:
While there was no pure bitmap mode, it was possible to manipulate the tile data to produce bitmap images, though this was rather slow due to bit plane separation and bus limits and not often used in games (other than for manipulation of single tiles which could be repeated, such as ropes or water).
[...]
If the system has a real bitmap mode (probably only fast enough for visual novels and the like), maybe Chaos Angels might look something like this.
By the Super NES era, use of proportional fonts in RPGs was commonplace even though the system used essentially the same tiled background with planar pattern tables as the NES and TG16. And you can ask me about my experiments with proportional fonts on NES. So I don't see why this would necessarily be "not often used in games".
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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by lidnariq » Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:07 pm

tepples wrote:
lidnariq wrote:One problem with Arne's work is that he likes working with fixed palettes that have no basis in physical or monetary costs.
A 2C04 variant feeding the Famicom Titler's output circuit could have generated a 64-entry palette like this.
The Titler cost 43k¥ while the Famicom cost 14k¥, and although some of that is the cost of a smaller production run and a specialty item, I suspect no small amount of it is also the extra die size for those PPUs. The Famicom Titler gets to replace the existing 2C02 output resistor ladder with three separate linear 3-bit DACs as well as a 64x9 table ... which we can look at Visual2A03 to know how big it'd be (twice the height of the APU length counter ROM and 15/13ths as wide).

The 2C03 and 2C04 colors were chosen to match the 2C02; that the 2C03 and 2C04 were made at all says more about market price insensitivity, especially in the arcade market.

For a machine being designed de novo, since you already have the RGB333 DAC, there's no reason not to expand the palette entries from 6 bits to 8 (or 9) and just skip the lookup table at altogether.

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by Drew Sebastino » Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:20 pm

hawken wrote:SNES had almost too many colours to choose from.
:| ? Since when have more colors been a bad thing? I feel like the SNES was one of the first consoles with a color palette that you don't need to look at when making graphics, and the SNES's color palette still looks great today. This is generally what I do: If I'm looking for a new color for a palette on the SNES, I go look at the NES palette, pick the closest color I want, and then I change it a bit to where it looks exactly how I want it. I find the NES palette near impossible to work with because A. I don't know how exactly it is going to look on TV, so I have to guess and B. Lack of simple colors (Like stated earlier, there is no perfect yellow, and the color brown is severely limited. I also often want a dollar bill green, but there isn't that either...) I often end up using gray as a transition color for whenever I need a color the NES doesn't have, and it works alright for the most part, but still...
tepples wrote:NEC and Hudson already made it. It was called the TurboGrafx-16.
hawken wrote:a console that would sit somewhere in-between the NES and SNES in terms of technology
:lol:
lidnariq wrote:One problem with Arne's work is that he likes working with fixed palettes that have no basis in physical or monetary costs.
I'm pretty sure Arne (whoever he is) isn't a hardware designer. :wink: I always thought it would be awesome if there was an ultra advanced 2D machine that had 256 256 color palettes to choose from using 24 bit RGB, but I didn't base this off anything and it probably isn't practical. Like I said before, I really wish 2D hardware was still being made for A. The charm of it, and B. (actually good) 2D games, as big companies no longer really make them. Just thinking, I know how machines now have just gotten to 1280p, but I wonder if a modern 2D machine were made if they could get it running at 4K because overall less power to have good looking 2D games. I like the pixelated look much better, but I still think it would be slightly hilarious to show up the 3D hardware (like what had been done with framerate.) Now, all I need is a 3Ghz 65816. :P

Oh, on a more serious note I guess, how many systems used 3bpp graphics? All I can currently think of is the Amiga 500 (didn't it?) If the SNES could support 3bpp graphics, I'd gladly take 1 4bpp and 2 3bpp layers over 2 4bpp and 1 2bpp in several situations. Man I wish Nintendo just raised the cost a little for 2 more bits per pixel out of 16 (I'm including the name table fetches and whatnot) It would have made about 90% of all arcade ports a hell of a lot easier. It's just insane to me how just 2 more bits can make such an impact.

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by lidnariq » Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:37 pm

Espozo wrote:if there was an ultra advanced 2D machine that had 256 256 color palettes to choose from using 24 bit RGB
Not an ultra-advanced 2d machine, but SGI's early workstations did support multiple (at least 4, maybe 8?) independent 256-entry palettes on-screen at the same time; and yes, it was done in hardware, not by rendering to a truecolor buffer and drawing that (How do I know? Because you could open enough windows to exhaust them and then start having palette flash).

I have absolutely no idea how that interacted with OpenGL... given the era, OpenGL there might have only supported palettes anyway.

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by Drew Sebastino » Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:54 pm

lidnariq wrote:Not an ultra-advanced 2d machine, but SGI's early workstations did support multiple (at least 4, maybe 8?) independent 256-entry palettes on-screen at the same time; and yes, it was done in hardware, not by rendering to a truecolor buffer and drawing that (How do I know? Because you could open enough windows to exhaust them and then start having palette flash).
I can think of several systems with a couple of 256 color palettes, (Namco System 1. 24 bit RGB? Wow!) but not to the extent that I gave. (does anyone have the specs of the Sega Saturn? It's always kind of mystified me.) I really had no idea some SGI workstations using palettes though.

I forgot though. If there I were to design my own "dream hardware" I'd make it my first priority to make it use cartridges. You know though, whatever happened to the processor families of old? Did they get discontinued? All I ever hear about nowadays is ARM and x86 processors, and I already know (from a little personal experience) that ARM processors are not fun to program for, and I heard that x86 processors are a nightmare. Off course, "Programmers" work at such a high level now that some people who say they are "programmers" don't even know hexadecimal, or grasp the concept of registers...

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Just like, the Atari Jaguar...

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by Myask » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:58 pm

ファミコンド is Famikondo.

...FamiKoji?

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by lidnariq » Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:00 am

Espozo wrote:whatever happened to the processor families of old? Did they get discontinued? All I ever hear about nowadays is ARM and x86 processors, and I already know (from a little personal experience) that ARM processors are not fun to program for, and I heard that x86 processors are a nightmare.
I was going to say a lot, but I figured it'd be easier to point you at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template: ... hitectures , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Microcontrollers , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category: ... hitectures .

As far as "mass market" ones ... it's (still) pretty easy to get your hands on a Z80, 6502, or 68k-based system.
MIPS (N64, PS1, PS2) isn't hard (about half of all the random standalone wireless thingumies are MIPS), but doesn't come with exciting peripherals.
PowerPC (PS3, 360, GC, Wii, Wii U) is still in the Wii U, and the Wii "jail" inside of it is still eminently appropriable.
SuperH (Saturn, Dreamcast) and the 65816 are going to be a bit tricky; you'd probably have to build something. (Are they still manufacturing new SNES clones?)

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by koitsu » Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:55 am

65xx -- still made: http://www.westerndesigncenter.com/wdc/

Random "omg!!!" moment this week: on the 5th I mailed WDC about their 6502/65c02/65816 PDF having boatloads of mistakes compared to the original Lichty/Eyes book (wrong opcodes in some spots, and massive formatting problems everywhere). Within 24 hours I received a personal response from Bill Mensch (one of the inventors of the 65xxx series of CPUs, especially the 65816, and founder/CEO of WDC) acknowledging the problems + agreed they're bad + are in the process of getting them fixed.

Oh, and the manual is once again free for download (though we still have the nesdev wiki archived copy too): http://65xx.com/Products/Programming_an ... e-Manuals/

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by Sik » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:45 am

Espozo wrote:(does anyone have the specs of the Sega Saturn? It's always kind of mystified me.)
Depends on the situation (i.e. sprites/quads are rendered to a 16-bit framebuffer while tilemaps are rendered on the fly), but it does indeed have a pretty large amount of palettized colors (most graphics were 4bpp using a 16 color row, though - and before somebody complains, 4bpp textures were common on the PS1 too =P). I need to recheck the specs to make sure exactly how palettes were handled.

Also note that vertex colors could also be paletted. This resulted in a funny interaction with gouraud shading which always assumed RGB. If you didn't mind being limited to 32 color boundaries (since each RGB component is 5-bit), you could abuse this to do a "chrome" effect or something like that =P (depending on the 32 color palette you used)

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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by hawken » Tue Mar 10, 2015 6:00 am

Myask wrote:ファミコンド is Famikondo.

...FamiKoji?
yeah, Family Condominium!
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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by hawken » Tue Mar 10, 2015 6:03 am

lidnariq wrote:One problem with Arne's work is that he likes working with fixed palettes that have no basis in physical or monetary costs.

The reason that the NES and Atari 2600/5200/7800 have the palette that they do is because these consoles natively generate video in HSV.

Most other consoles natively generate video in RGB (TG16, SNES, Master System, Genesis, and everything newer)

The exceptions to this have relatively small and kinda awkward palettes: the VIC-1 and -2 (VIC-20, C64) and TMS9928A (ColecoVision). (I'm certain there are many others, especially amongst what wikipedia calls "second generation" consoles.)
So if the CNES-88 was RGB, could we get that proposed palette? Theoretically?
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Re: CNES-88 / Famido / Famicube

Post by lidnariq » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:03 pm

hawken wrote:So if the CNES-88 was RGB, could we get that proposed palette? Theoretically?
It'd be the same RGB333 that the Genesis and TurboGrafx have.

Any hardware-constrained palette is going to be a grid when plotted in RGB, YUV, or HSL space.

NES, Atari 2600, 5200, 7800 will produce a uniform grid in HSL.

The funny ones are still subsets of those grids:
2C03/2C04:
2c04-rg.png
2c04-rg.png (1.58 KiB) Viewed 10426 times
VIC-20 and C64: http://c128.com/sites/default/files/fie ... 0wheel.PNG

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