Friday, September 12, 2008

Emulation News

This isn't strictly CFC2English-specific, but there is some news about new developments in NGPC emulation that I thought I should mention.

First of all, a guy called FluBBa has been working on a new NGPC emulator that runs on the GBA. That's right, Neo Geo Pocket on the GameBoy Advance. My hope is that he will use the same emulation engine and build a version for the Nintendo DS. Based on what I know about the design of his emulator, I think it has a good chance to run near full speed on the DS. FluBBa's site (with downloads of his emulators) can be found at http://www.ndsretro.com/.

During development of his emulator, FluBBa noticed that certain games check a (previously thought to be unused) bit in the input status byte. Basically, there's a byte (8 bits) in the NGPC that contains the status of all the inputs. On a normal NGPC, there are 7 inputs (up, down, left, right, A, B, and Option). That leaves one bit unused. It seems that it's not totally unused after all. This bit seems to be the "D" button for debugging. Perhaps it is included as an input on the development hardware.

I made a quick hack to RACE! so that I could test this find. I tested it with several games, but I only found 3 that seemed to respond when I hit the "D" button. These games are Card Fighters' Clash, Card Fighters' Clash 2, and Dokodemo Mahjong. So, this news does relate to CFC2English. At the right, you should see a screenshot of CFC2English running the debug menu (which pops up when the "D" button is pressed). http://www.insertcredit.com/ also has a post about this find which has a link to download screenshots of all 3 games' debug features.

Speaking of RACE!, there is a new version of RACE! for the PSP. A guy named Akop (AKA Uberjack) has continued the RACE! project. He is known for porting emulators to the PSP. Here is his blog post about the release. Here is the link to download RACE! PSP. This new version has a nicer menu system among other user interface improvements. I don't plan to compete with Uberjack for RACE! updates. My current feeling is that Uberjack's version of RACE! is the official PSP version. If things (like the "D" button) need to be added to RACE!, they should show up in his version. At this time, I don't plan to release new versions of RACE! on my own.

8 comments:

David said...

Thought i'd leave a quick comment on this.

Firstly, great work, very impressed with the translation.

I've been trying all morning to get this working using my Bung NGPC flash cart, with some interesting results. I thought i'd feed these back to you.

Since i found it quite difficult initially to find appropriate linker software, i eventually settled for PocketSend, which, i've just realised, appears to be written by yourself ...

Firstly, it's a great application, but i noticed some strange results with CFC2 English ...

The way i generally use pocketsend is simply writing files to the cart, rather than using the advanced menu features.

It seems that CFC2 English has some issues with this method, the game gets up to the first tutorial battle then crashes on the first enemy turn (perhaps this is to do with the power-off saving mechanism?).

However, the game SEEMS (not extensively tested) to work fine using the pocketsend menu system to access the game.

I'll feed you back some more details as i continue to play, hope this helps!

Kusanagi-san said...

Some questions:

1. Have you fixed typos from the first game, like "Fei Long" instead of "Fei-Ling", or "Gai" instead of "guy"?
2. Does it work on NeoPop?

If so, I'll definitely get it (I play on NeoPop only, it's hella good for me, and I just figured how to link data without needing another player over the web ^^') - mostly because of the new characters which were (sometimes unfairly) forgotten in the first game, though I don't quite like some of the newer artworks.

Flavor said...

Kusanagi-san: First of all, it should work fine under any emulator or hardware that the actual CFC2 works on. I'll get to David's issues in a bit. So, yeah, NeoPop should be great for you.

As for typos, yeah, some have been fixed. I believe that some of that stuff is intentional, though. Check the game out on NeoPop and see what you think. I'm sure that we've introduced typos, also, so nothing will be perfect.

Flavor said...

David: Thanks for the praise.

Yeah, I did create PocketSend (which started out with the source code from PokeLink) and the MultiROM menu.

Writing files to the cart should be the most reliable way to do it. It should bypass the need for any of the MultiROM menu stuff.

Your guess about the power-off saving is a good one. That's probably when it would be saving to the cart. Though, I don't know how/why that would cause a crash.

The MultiROM menu system shouldn't add anything (that I can think of) to the equation that would help/hurt it.

If you could get more details or test it further, that'd be interesting. Though, I'm not sure that I could do much about it. I no longer own a Bung flash cart. :(

David said...

I am happy to help you with any testing you wish if you give me some directions.

I'm a software developer myself, but i have no experience with Assembler or game/NGPC coding (although i do have experience with C).

Another problem i have noticed seems to be a bug with some text. I've just reached the point in the game where you go back to the school and end up being asked out by some random girl on the roof (?!?).

After you've beaten her in a battle, she says some of dialogue and then the chat window continues to spam a single kanji character. I've no idea how long it could potentially go on for, but i kept pushing A for about 5 minutes.

If you want any help with this, feel free to contact me at dave ( at) eatmyhat.co.uk ...

Flavor said...

Hey David. Thanks for the offer. I'll email you.

kris said...

I don't know how i stumbled apon this page but i am happy i did.

I really want to thank you for translating this game fully. I honestly thought it would never happen.

I beat the semi translated version a few years back and i really hated skipping all the dialogue

anwyways, i was wondering if there is any possible way i could play this my pocketpc?

I'd really enjoy going through this game again. Let me know and thanks again for all your hard work.

Flavor said...

Hey Kris. Thanks for the comments! To be honest, I didn't really think it would ever happen after all those years, either. I just got the idea stuck in my head again after taking all that time off and re-started the project.

I don't really know much about the PocketPC platform. I would doubt that there's a NGPC emulator for it. I do know of one for the Palm OS. It's called Little John, and you can find it here http://www.little-john.net/.

Other potential portable platforms that have emulators are Nintendo DS, PSP, GP32, GP2X, Tapwave Zodiac (I think), Gizmondo, etc. Maybe you could find one of those for cheap somewhere.