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.


Let me start with the key to the tables and the statistics for NES Mappers :


Now I will identify the seven devices profiled, in order of their release and using their latest firmware :

1.    Analogue Nt Mini Noir
2.    Krikzz EverDrive N8 Pro
3.    MiSTer NES Core
4.    Analogue Nt Mini
5.    Krikzz  EverDrive N8
6.    RetroUSB NES PowerPak
7.    Bung Enterprises Game Master 2.0

Analogue Nt Mini Noir Jailbreak v6.5


Krikzz EverDrive N8 Pro OS v2.10


MiSTer NES Core 11-02-20


Analogue Nt Mini Jailbreak v2.0

Krikzz EverDrive N8 OS v1.24

RetroUSB NES PowerPak v1.35b

Bung Game Master v2.0


When I said that FPGA cartridge simulating devices have been sold in four decades, I am speaking truth.  The Nt Mini Noir was released in 2020, the EverDrives, MiSTer and Nt Mini in the 2010s, the NES PowerPak was released in 2007 and the Game Master was released sometime in the mid-1990s.  Even though the NES and Famicom were officially end of life by 1994 (support for Famicom hardware continued until 2003), companies and later homebrewers just have not stopped making or adapting software to work on this hardware.  

It is important to observe that quantity of mappers supported is only one indicator of a device's accuracy.  Certain older devices like the original Nt Mini and NES PowerPak have some buggy mappers which relied on out of date information.  Even the EverDrives have a few long-standing bugs in their supported mappers.  Many mappers are not exactly mainstream, being used for Taiwan and Chinese games with which relatively few people concern themselves.  Some mappers also come with built in hardware, use expansion ROMs or unusual peripherals. Bandai was fond of this with the Datach Joint ROM System and the Karaoke Studio.  Several mappers use expansion audio and there is work to be done there for almost all the current devices.  Only one PC emulator, Nintendulator-NRS, supports all identified iNES 1.0 or 2.0 mappers but some of those mappers use underlying hardware that is more advanced than a standard NES or Famicom.  

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