What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Discuss emulation of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom.

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Shonumi
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What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Shonumi » Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm

I'm compiling a list for various systems regarding hardware and software that's currently not emulated at all, or it's not sufficiently emulated to be considered "preserved" i.e. people of the future could play it and have a decent idea of the original experience, more or less. By that definition, I'd like to know what kinds of hardware (accessories and add-ons) or software for the NES would be considered "unemulated".

I've heard the following is unemulated, not well emulated, or not 100% emulated:

* Miracle Piano
* Power Glove
* R.O.B. + its functionality in Gyromite and Stack-Up

I'm not particularly interested in unofficial or "pirate" games. Thanks for the help everyone!

Sour
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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Sour » Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:56 pm

I think the miracle piano/power glove/R.O.B are all fairly well documented (at the very least, they are all documented in nocash's NES documentation, and some emulators implement them - maybe some bits are incomplete?).

The one thing that nothing emulates to my knowledge is the Study Box. I've tried to figure it out based solely on the ROM before, without much luck (but my 6502 assembly skills were even more terrible back then than they are now).

I have 17 audio+data tapes recorded in .wav format for it (sent to me by a Japanese user of Mesen), but never managed to figure out how the game reads the data stream from the tape. If you ever decide to give reverse engineering it a try, let me know.

Shonumi
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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Shonumi » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:12 pm

Thanks for the insight, Sour! I'm not looking to do any NES work myself, just trying compile a list for others who want to tackle it. I got my hands full reverse-engineering Game Boy stuff at the moment :wink:

Never heard about the Study Box though, that's definitely the kind of obscure stuff I need to know about. Adding that to the list.

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koitsu
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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by koitsu » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:25 pm

TMK, some of the weirder Japanese/Asia devices are emulated (and there are TONS!), but not very well across all emulators. Nestopia UE has very diverse input support (check out Machine -> Input -> Expansion Port for a list of all the wild Asian stuff), and may be the only emulator with support for such "regional-specific" hardware. I think VirtuaNES might be another. FCEUX has some interesting devices in it (esp. for mice), but Nestopia UE has all the really "odd" ones (odd to us in the West anyway).

The documentation that is available now (but wasn't several years ago), that covers a large number of devices from all over the place, is over at nocash's site here:

http://problemkaputt.de/everynes.htm#controllers

I do have a question: is the focus on every accessory that's unique, or just input/device protocols that are unique? I think it's the latter given the examples given, but I wanted to ask.

If my question isn't very clear, here are two examples of the former:

- Acclaim's Wireless (Infrared) NES controller -- an absolutely horrible device (I owned one!) -- uses the standard NES controller protocol, AFAIK, but it's a wireless NES controller with awful lag and coverage/reliability. So it's a unique accessory, but not literally emulated (what would there to be emulate, the lag? :-) )

- The Hudson Joycard Sansui SSS, which is a NES controller with adjustable turbo support for A/B, and a mono headphone jack for audio (w/ adjustable volume). The audio comes from the NES's RCA audio out jack. Again: a unique accessory but not literally emulated (what's to emulate? Most emulators already have adjustable turbo A/B support)

Finally, there is one particular device I don't think any emulator has emulated, and no documentation is available on it: the Famicom modem: http://problemkaputt.de/everynes.htm#modems

I actually have one of these and would be happy to donate it to someone who wanted to try and RE the interface protocol and the underlying BIOS/firmware. I'd love it to send it to nocash, but shipping to Germany is $$$. I could certainly disassemble it myself, and dump the BIOS (assuming its IC is 1980s-common), but I'd feel better giving it to someone more hardware-savvy. I do not have any cards for it, I just have the device. I also think most all of the Famicom dial-up services via POTS have shut down, but IIRC, several remained running until very recently.

You can find Youtube videos of almost all of the devices I mention above.

Great thread, BTW!

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Shonumi » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:59 pm

koitsu wrote: I do have a question: is the focus on every accessory that's unique, or just input/device protocols that are unique? I think it's the latter given the examples given, but I wanted to ask.
I meant to put a definition on accessories but couldn't word it correctly earlier. Let me try it this time. I guess I'm looking for accessories that actually caused the gameplay itself to change in some way. That is to say, when using the accessory, the gameplay is discernibly different or unique. On a technical level, I suppose that would be saying the code accounts for the use of an accessory versus not having the accessory. A good example would be the NES Four Score: gameplay changed from 2 players to 2-4, and the game is uniquely programmed for with/without the accessory. A counter-example would be the NES Advantage, which is just a controller variation as far as I can tell.

That's the kind of distinction I'm interested in. Unemulated hardware like that changes the experience, even if ever so slightly, so as a matter of digital video game preservation, I'm taking stock to find out what gaps we currently have. Mind you, I'm not saying all accessories aren't important (some of the stuff available is absolutely fascinating for 80/90s technology) but my focus is on gameplay for the time being. For many items that do not change gameplay, we run into the problem you noted: what would there be to emulate? Some stuff might be fun for hyper-realism (like the lag you mentioned on IR controllers) but perhaps for another day :D
koitsu wrote: Finally, there is one particular device I don't think any emulator has emulated, and no documentation is available on it: the Famicom modem: http://problemkaputt.de/everynes.htm#modems
Oh, that's a good one! Added to the list then. That's something I'd really like to see documented one day. It's a shame I'm not well versed at all in 6502 ASM or have any familiarity with the NES hardware, else I'd offer to help some how on that front. Like I said, my domain is in Game Boy stuff, and there's already a ton of things I have on my TODO list (recreating online servers, carts with built-in IR diodes, a sewing machine). My goal here is to organize a list and hopefully bring attention for other emudevs here and elsewhere.

Anyway, thanks for the info koitsu! These details are very helpful.

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Sour » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:01 pm

koitsu wrote:Nestopia UE has very diverse input support (check out Machine -> Input -> Expansion Port for a list of all the wild Asian stuff), and may be the only emulator with support for such "regional-specific" hardware.
For what it's worth, Mesen supports most of these, too (since last December or so) - it's still missing a few of them, though. You need to select "Famicom" in the input config window to see the expansion device dropdown (which is probably a requirement I should get rid of since it makes them harder to find). It also has the only open source Battle Box (external storage) implementation that I am aware of (based on nocash's documentation).

And yea, I think there are at least 2? different modems for the NES, and none of them have been emulated afaik. But then you'd also need to emulate the remote server to be able to use any of the features the modem offered (which would probably be hard at this point in time). Of course you could arguably emulate the modem & allow 2 emulated modems to communicate over the internet, but that's probably a bit too niche for anyone to use in homebrew software :p

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koitsu
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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by koitsu » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:13 pm

@Shonumi -- understood! Your explanation makes total sense (and is much better than mine). :-)

I have lots of folks who follow me on Twitter given my SNES/NES background so I tweeted out mention of this thread in hopes it gets more eyes thus potentially more devices.

@Sour -- It's been a while since I've tried Mesen, but great to know. I wasn't even aware that a lot of this stuff had been documented by nocash -- I always thought peripherals had been neglected (esp. those from Asia), e.g. tribal knowledge + reverse-engineering emulator source + "oh there's this one .txt file that's in broken English". But peripherals I never focused on much.

And yeah, there's at least 4 models of modems. I know which one I have and will have to see if it powers on + boots into a FW/BIOS of some kind. Literally have no idea how it works/what its behaviour is. But if it's got a FW/BIOS that's EPROM-based then I could certainly dump it. I won't have time for this until next week.

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by NewRisingSun » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:43 pm

Also currently unemulated:
  • Expansion audio of the Jaleco sports games. Emulation of the µPD775x chip would be trivial, but dumping the speech ROM apparently requires decapping the chip.
  • Same thing with Bandai's Family Trainer: Aerobics Studio, although the speech chip is a bit more involved.
  • AFAIK, no emulator translates Famicom 3D System functionality for use with modern 3D PC glasses.
Even as you write that you are not interested in unofficial or "pirate" games, be it known that the following of them are unemulated as well:
  • Copiers and their disk images. In the early days of NES emulation, dumps from original cartridges were not available, so many people used images from an "FFE CD-ROM" that had been modified to run on the Front FarEast Super Magicard copier, (badly) converted to the iNES format. When the original cartridge dumps became available, the Super Magicard images were tossed aside. These Super Magicard images were already conversions; the original distribution method of copier games were FDS disks, and many of them were not even for the Front FarEast's copier models. While I agree that iNES-format FFE hacks are basically worthless, I do believe that copier FDS disks are worth preserving in their original formats, i.e. as disk images, and that would imply emulating copier hardware using their respective BIOSes as well.
  • There are at least two variations of the Subor Mouse that are currently unemulated.
  • That Mapper 178 Ping Pong game has some sort of infrared sensor that is currently unemulated.
Last edited by NewRisingSun on Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

MLX
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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by MLX » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:27 am

If you include the consoles in hardware, there are notable keyboard Famiclones that operates differently from the Subor ones. An example is the Bit 79 Computer, which seems to be the first ever keyboard Famiclone with an included BASIC.

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Memblers » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:38 am

I don't know if this counts (not knowing if it's emulated somewhere), but one thing I always felt was missing is the default/uninitialized background palette. It varies by system, so would need to be selected by the user. Seems like most of them are $00 grey. My first NES was a peach color, since then I've also seen ones that have been white, purple, and dark green.

It can't really affect gameplay, just when first powering up the system, if at all. I'm pretty sure at least the Game Genie doesn't initialize the palette immediately, I don't know of any other examples. You'd see it all the time if your connector was bad, hehe. Developers will often see it when they don't use the palette, or screw up their reset bad enough.

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Quietust » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:52 am

I'm pretty sure the default palette isn't something that can be emulated, since it's based on the physical characteristics of the transistors inside the PPU and is thus potentially different for every PPU in existence (or at least each production batch).
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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by zeroone » Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:53 am

I have yet to see the VS Dual System emulated, ideally over the network.

Some versions of the Subor mouse were never emulated properly.

Does any emulator support the UForce? Even though that sounds kind of pointless without the hardware.

Barcode Reader support has been hacky. But, since few have actual barcode readers, it doesn't matter that much.

If anyone has figured out how the RacerMate Bicycle Trainer works, please let me know. Nocash's documentation is incomplete.

3D Glasses system are supported by some emulators, but I'd love to see it used with an actual VR headset.

I haven't seen an emulator that uses the TV-NET or Famicom Network Controller or any of the prototype modems.

Does any emulator support the Bandai Microphone?

The Hori Game Repeater is also something I've never seen emulated.

-----------------------------------------------

This is a little off topic, but I might as well ask here. I once owned an exercise device that connected to the SNES, but I've never found any information about it online anywhere. It was a chair where the seat was mounted to a stationary base frame via some sort of spring. Using a motion similar to a rowing machine, you would press your legs against stationary pads in front of you and the seat would move backwards. But the seat could also pivot in 4 directions, serving as the D-pad. The remaining controller buttons were on stationary handle bars attached to the base frame. In other words, you changed directions in the game by literally wiggling your ass. I'm completely serious. And it was not a bicycle. I wish I still had it. I don't even know the name of it. If anyone has any info on this, please let me know.

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by rainwarrior » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:16 am

Memblers wrote:I don't know if this counts (not knowing if it's emulated somewhere), but one thing I always felt was missing is the default/uninitialized background palette. It varies by system, so would need to be selected by the user. Seems like most of them are $00 grey. My first NES was a peach color, since then I've also seen ones that have been white, purple, and dark green.
My NES usually powers on blue, my Famicom usually grey, but I don't think it's entirely consistent, as I'm sure I've occasionally seen different colours on both.

I think this is in the same cateogry as uninitialized RAM? i.e. it probably has strong tendencies and patterns for any given system but is also subject to noise. You could emulate it as completely random as an option... or a choice of colour would probably be just as good.

It seems pretty unlikely to me that anything interesting would be found in a game as the result of palette RAM being initialized some particular way, but cosmetically choosing your startup colour could be fun.

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Sour » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:55 am

zeroone wrote:I have yet to see the VS Dual System emulated, ideally over the network. [...]
Barcode Reader support has been hacky. But, since few have actual barcode readers, it doesn't matter that much. [...]
Does any emulator support the Bandai Microphone?
I believe MAME supports the VS Dual System? (I've never tried it myself, but I'm pretty certain I've been told by other people that it does)

What's hacky about the barcode readers? AFAIK, the implementation I used for both readers seems to work as expected. The specific timings of the scanner may not be perfect, but the end result should be.

Mesen has support for the Bandai Microphone, in the same sense as it has support for the Famicom microphone (e.g it has a button to output random bits for the microphone's input) - I've been able to at least get various ratings on the karaoke game with this, so in a sense it works? :p

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Re: What NES hardware/software is currently unemulated?

Post by Shonumi » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:06 am

Lots of great responses so far; kudos to everyone for contributing. Still gathering a list for other consoles as well, but when I'm done (or when I think I'm close to done) it'll be public. I'm thinking about making some notes regarding possible misinformation that needs to be corrected. For example, on this page: http://emulation.gametechwiki.com/index ... eripherals

Stuff like Karaoke Studio is listed as "unknown" for emulation status, and I think Dwedit mentioned the Miracle Piano on reddit last year (and the link above lists that as unknown), so any false positives that can be eliminated, I'll definitely have a section about them and write down any supporting emulators.

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