How were Neo Geo games so big?

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Pokun
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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by Pokun » Sat May 15, 2021 5:39 pm

Oh I see. The Neo Geo isn't as smartly designed as I thought (I'm using "smartly" very freely as it was probably a smart design decision at the time).


There are three Neo Geo flashcarts: TerraOnion's Neo SD (very expensive), Neo SD Pro (ridiculously expensive) and Darksoft's MultiMVS/MultiAES (very very expensive). The Darksoft one is more expensive than Neo SD but cheaper than the Pro. Pro doesn't seem to have an MVS version yet though.
The Neo SD should cost about as much as 15 cheap games (sports and mahjong), 7 medium-priced games (Art of Fighting and KOF '94), 3 expensive games (Metal Slug and Neo Driftout) or 1 very expensive game. I think the most expensive games goes for much more than the Neo SD itself, but I'm not sure. MVS isn't as bad as AES is.

I think the other flashcarts are too much more than what I would want to pay though. Especially since they don't really seem to offer much more than the cheapest one.

ccovell
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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by ccovell » Sat May 15, 2021 6:55 pm

If you're casually into the Neo-Geo and on a tight budget, I think a cheap MVS, homemade power+JAMMA cable+Joy connector, and suitable 1xx-in-1 multicart with the right combination of games that you want, is the best compromise.

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Gilbert
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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by Gilbert » Sat May 15, 2021 6:58 pm

I think the Neo Geo CD is more or less this?
I never studied its specs, but it at least could load (uncompressed) tile files directly from disc into RAM like the FDS.
I don't know whether the CPU can change the RAM tile data in game though. If it can it should be able to use compressed tile data or change them in game. (like the FDS, but then the Famicom can write to CHRRAM for carts with such RAM anyway.)

psycopathicteen
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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by psycopathicteen » Sun May 16, 2021 9:27 am

I don't know how much this applies to Magician Lord, but the Neo Geo's PCM playback is very wasteful. I think only one channel has controllable pitch, and the other 6 channels have a fixed sample rate. In order to use more than one channel for music, you need to have samples for each note.

Pokun
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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by Pokun » Sun May 16, 2021 10:11 am

I don't know, but I heard that later Neo Geo games just streams music to the ADPCM DAC and won't touch the PSG or FM other than for sound effects. Sounds very boring if you can just cheat like that. :)

ccovell wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 6:55 pm
If you're casually into the Neo-Geo and on a tight budget, I think a cheap MVS, homemade power+JAMMA cable+Joy connector, and suitable 1xx-in-1 multicart with the right combination of games that you want, is the best compromise.
Homemade power+JAMMA cable+joy-connector+audio/video output, that would be a supergun. Though I'm not sure about a homemade PSU? I would use a normal arcade PSU with +5V, +12V and -5V. Neo Geo doesn't seem to need -5V, but if I'm gonna build a supergun I might as well have it fully JAMMA-compatible in case I get my hands on other boards. This is a cost factor for a supergun setup though as PSUs are not that cheap. Another is the joystick if you want to use real arcade parts like Sanwa.

Those Chinese multicarts are known to be dangerously using 3.3V parts without voltage translation, so I'm not sure about using one of those unless it has been fixed (besides I would want to be able to run homebrew).

Gilbert wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 6:58 pm
I think the Neo Geo CD is more or less this?
I never studied its specs, but it at least could load (uncompressed) tile files directly from disc into RAM like the FDS.
I don't know whether the CPU can change the RAM tile data in game though. If it can it should be able to use compressed tile data or change them in game. (like the FDS, but then the Famicom can write to CHRRAM for carts with such RAM anyway.)
Yeah since it uses optical discs it must have RAM to upload the data to before it can be accessed. Don't know if such RAM is writable by the CPU though. Other than that, NGCD is very close to the MVS/AES hardware (but not identical). Most NGCD games are ported from MVS/AES.
The NGCD is also a decent budget alternative to MVS. It's cheaper than AES and especially games are much cheaper. There's no copy protection so homebrew can be burned to CD-R discs, and I think someone was working on an ODE solution for it. Not all games exist on it though and some are exclusive to it.

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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by psycopathicteen » Sun May 16, 2021 11:00 am

I think Metal Slug games mostly use the approach where they sampled instruments for each notes, because it sounds kind've like an SNES game, but without the muffling and echo. It doesn't sound like FM synth, but still sounds like a chip tune.

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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by ccovell » Sun May 16, 2021 5:14 pm

psycopathicteen wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 9:27 am
I don't know how much this applies to Magician Lord, but the Neo Geo's PCM playback is very wasteful. I think only one channel has controllable pitch, and the other 6 channels have a fixed sample rate. In order to use more than one channel for music, you need to have samples for each note.
Yes, many Neo-Geo games, until the "streaming samples" era of ~1995-onwards, used a combination of FM instruments, and those sample channels. Percussion didn't have to be pitched, but if they wanted pitched instruments on the fixed sample rate channels, they'd have to record multiple copies.

I actually have done a bit of hacking to some Neo sound drivers and isolated channels & made videos of them, so check out a few here:

https://www.chrismcovell.com/ADKMML.html#videos

I also have some others on YouTube, like Blue's Journey with its FM / Sample etc channels isolated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVDAEgCsMGU

and Magician Lord:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaXOBpUm_yA

Pokun
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Re: How were Neo Geo games so big?

Post by Pokun » Tue May 25, 2021 8:52 am

Yes but you are still comparing the AES to other home-consoles that were not consolized arcade machines like the AES is. The question is if the MVS was more expensive than other arcade systems of the time. Looking at Wikipedia it sounds like the MVS was indeed very powerful even for an arcade machine in 1990, and even outperforms the X68000 computer. Capcom wouldn't top it until they released their CP System II in 1993.

That's what I like about the Neo Geo. It has a nice library of games, is cartridge-based and it's in the height of the 2D game era of gaming systems. The CP Systems are also interesting (and CPS2 also seems to have a ridiculously expensive flashcartridge) but has smaller game libraries. After the CPS2 you have things like Sega Model 1 which are more of the early 3D era, then there are Naomi and Atomiswave which are basically the 128-bit era.


As for a Neo Geo emulator box with HDMI output, there are two of them (the Neo Geo Mini and the Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro), both with Metal Slug 1-3 and neither gets the button arrangement right. Both are compatible with USB joypads that looks like the Neo Geo CD joypad but they messed up the button order on this too (was that on purpose?). The Pro uses the same color arrangement despite being an 8-button arcade stick. I don't get why they couldn't just arrange them like on Neo Geo arcade cabinets. I don't know if it uses good quality joysticks and buttons, but I've seen mods for replacing them with Sanwa.

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