Monday, November 23, 2020

FPGA NES and Famicom Solutions' Mapper Support Matrices

There have been several hardware devices released over the past four decades which play NES and Famicom games.  Any regular reader of this blog will know that the NES and Famicom have many, many different ways in which it supports memory management.  Hardware devices which support a wide variety of games use FPGAs to configure their logic to handle the various memory mappers used by NES and Famicom games.  Below I will give matrices of each device and identify the mappers it supports.  Both iNES 1.0 and NES 2.0 mappers will be identified.  None of these devices support UNIF format mappers and UNIF should be fully deprecated by NES 2.0 now.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Review of Products Three for my Apple //e

A minimally-functional Apple //e requires very little in the form of upgrades.  Add an 64KiB memory expansion, a floppy disk controller card and a disk drive or two and you should be all set.  But a few upgrades can really improve the experience, and to allow my Apple //e to be the best Apple //e it can be, I purchased three modern upgrades for my newest vintage computer.  Here I will review each product, describe its features and caveats and indicate whether I recommend it.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Apple II - Classic Games and Resources

When I re-started my Apple II journey I wanted to share some of the knowledge I had acquired over the years and put into full service when I began to build my Apple //e system in October.  For me, an Apple //e is a gaming machine, and there are lots of great games for the system.  I will discuss some of them first, then give links to more information which I have found helpful for Apple II users.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Running the Apple //e - Intermediate Topics

In the last blog entry I focused on the basics of how to get an Apple //e up and running.  In this entry I am going to focus on some of the more advanced issues that users may encounter with running software, programs and hardware on an Apple //e.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Beginner's Guide to Running an Apple //e

The Apple II platform lasted a very long time.  The first Apple IIs were released in June of 1977 and the last Apple //e systems were last sold by Apple in November of 1993. No other non-PC compatible home computer had as long an official lifespan.  Unlike its early home computer competitors, Apple is still in business, still independent and still highly relevant to the consumer today.  Apple first entered the public consciousness with the Apple II and II Plus computers, and its Apple //e computers were many, many schoolchildren's first encounter with a computer. The Apple II was the first computer with some attention given to playing games, and over a fifteen year period thousands of games were released for it. There are several emulators for the system and some emulate the system to a very advanced degree, but the hardware is also fairly easy to use.  Here I am going to give a beginner's guide into using Apple //e hardware.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Speak to Me! - Speech Synthesis with Early Home Video Games

When considering the evolution of video game audio, of the three components of audio, sound effects, music and speech, those components were introduced into video games in that order.  The earliest video games generated simple tones and noise to produce simple sound effects.  Music chips were well developed by the late 1970s, bringing a slightly more sophisticated method of sound generation to video game players.  Speech, which requires the utilization of more complex sounds to be intelligible, tended to be brought to home consoles and computers in the form of specialized speech chips.  In this article we will trace some of the lineages of speech in early video games.  

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The PlayStation 3 (Fat/Slim) as a Universal Region Free Blu-ray Disc Player

Although not as popular as its predecessor, the PlayStation 3 did almost as much to bring Blu-ray discs into the mainstream as the PlayStation 2 had done for DVDs. Every system came with a disc drive and flat screen HDTVs were also affordable by the time system sales began to pick up with the Slim revision of the console.  When I picked up mine in 2010, I bought it more as a Blu-ray player than for games.  I knew that at some point the console was hacked and jailbroken, but I did not want to continually switch between official firmware updates and iffy custom firmware that could end up bricking one of the only ways I had to play high definition discs.  For many years I got by with ripping DVDs and Blu-rays and streaming content via the media server, but that tended to take up a lot of hard drive space and time when I could just simply run the discs I had legitimately purchased.  I have as many UK DVDs than US DVDs and a fair number of UK Blu-rays.  Now that the PS3 has been discontinued and the console is essentially on life support in terms of firmware updates, I finally decided to investigate what it would take to get my PS3 working as a Universal DVD and Blu-ray disc player.  It turned out to be quite a journey.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Early Efforts at Online Interaction on Nintendo Consoles

We tend to think that Nintendo consoles first entered the online arena with the GameCube, its Modem and Broadband Adapters and Phantasy Star Online.  In the west, this is the case, but every Nintendo home and portable console (except that hunk of eye-straining junk called the Virtual Boy) has had some way to access the non-local world.  Sometimes these methods were first party supported, sometimes third-party exclusives and there was even an unlicensed publisher or two in the mix.  This blog entry will give an overview of the subject.  I will describe briefly each device or method, As this blog entry's purpose is not meant to give a comprehensive review of each of these devices.  I will include links for more information to sites and videos with more information.