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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:02 am 
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The unofficial port of Road Blaster to the SNES, called Super Road Blaster, is quite the piece of work. It would have been a game that would have run with a SNES CD-ROM attachment, but no such device ever made it to market. The game is very, very large, clocking in at 753MB. On real hardware, it has been only able to be run on an SD2SNES. However, the SD2SNES costs about $190 for the bare board, making it quite expensive for a homebrew release.

If you were to make a homebrew cartridge, I would suspect that you would need an 8 Gigabit NAND Flash memory chip, logic level translators, a battery backed S-RAM chip and some kind of chip to implement the MSU-1. In addition, you would need a cartridge and labels and perhaps a manual and a box. Is this feasible at a $50-60 price range?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:26 am 
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How many people do you think would actually want to buy such a cartridge?

Let's say you could sell 100 of them at a profit of $20 per cartridge. Is $2000 worth the time and investment designing a board, and everything else you'd need to do just to get this off the ground? How much is the legal risk of copyright violation worth? Are you going to give a cut to the person who did the port too?

I don't have much basis on how many people would want an SNES cart that's a port of an old game that's easy enough to emulate in its original form, but I suspect the number is fairly low. (100 is my actual ballpark guess.)

What I'm saying is I think the question of whether you could build the board for $50 or not is kind of irrelevant unless you could sell enough to cover your setup costs.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:10 am 
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G-Mode owns most of Data East's back catalog, including Road Blaster. G-Mode is also the Japanese licensee of Tetris on mobile phones. I imagine that publishers with enough clout to be Tetris licensees would be unwilling to negotiate with an unknown hobbyist in another country for a production targeting a discontinued video game platform.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:42 am 
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Great Hierophant wrote:

If you were to make a homebrew cartridge, I would suspect that you would need an 8 Gigabit NAND Flash memory chip, logic level translators, a battery backed S-RAM chip and some kind of chip to implement the MSU-1.


You'd probably want to use an FPGA, as I don't know if a CPLD would cut it for the MSU-1. And if that's the case, adding a SD card interface might make more sense than NAND and a bunch of logic ICs, and would be easy enough to implement into an FPGA.

Quote:
Is this feasible at a $50-60 price range?


Hardly. The FPGA alone would cost between $15-25, plus the chip to configure it, plus other parts costs and assembly. The profit margins would be exceptionally small, and probably make it not worth it for any homebrew release.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:26 am 
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Actually, I have no intent or ability to make such a cartridge, but I was interested to see whether it was feasible to do so at substantially less cost than an SD2SNES. It doesn't look like it would get to a reasonable homebrew cartridge price.

However, on the right forum, it could be even if the cartridge was closer to $100. Add in a box and a manual, make some "limited editions" and there will be some takers on a certain Nintendo forum, even if for a few dollars more they could play this game and many more.

Alternatively, if you could get official backing, then perhaps a kickstarter would be appropriate to get some of the costs down. Unlikely unless you had a working prototype.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:41 am 
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It sounds like you want to restrict the present discussion to technical ability, not licensing negotiation. Or perhaps you want to build a tech demo using original video before you approach G-Mode.

At bare minimum, you'd need to design a CPLD that allows DMA from the eMMC and then port the program from MSU1 to that circuit. Audio could be handled by streaming BRR data from the cart to the S-SMP I/O ports using HDMA, as suggested in prior discussions about "Bad Apple". I wonder how much functionality along these lines could be packed into a 256-cell Lattice CPLD.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:20 pm 
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Great Hierophant wrote:
Actually, I have no intent or ability to make such a cartridge, but I was interested to see whether it was feasible to do so at substantially less cost than an SD2SNES.

Even if the board required was simple, the effort and expense required for making any custom board completely dwarfs the $190 you'd spend on an SD2SNES. Unless this is a case of "my time is worth $0 to me", I presumed the only reasonable intent was to make many for sale.

Great Hierophant wrote:
Unlikely unless you had a working prototype.

The SD2SNES implementation is already a working prototype, is it not?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:32 am 
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I've thought about this before.
Another (IMHO the most feasible) solution would be to rewrite the game (source code available here: https://github.com/DocSchoko/SNES-SuperRoadBlaster) to run on stock hardware with minimal additional custom hardware:
-replace MSU-1 audio with BRR streaming via HDMA. This implies a drop in audio quality.
-encode video at lower bit rate (maybe also compress frame tiles or tilemap).
-put everything on a high capacity flash chip and add a simple bankswitching circuit (could be done with a CPLD or even TTL logic).

I'm sure you can get it down to between 512 and 256 mbytes or less.

I don't think it's worth the effort, but you could say the same thing about porting that game to the SNES in 2012 in the first place. :wink:
For me personally, the latter was the realization of a childhood dream.


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