Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Lunchtime Coder #4 - Space Invaders Emulator in Blitz3D / Blitz Basic

Have you ever wanted to take a trip down gaming nostalgia lane and relive the “good old days” of late 70s/early 80s arcade gaming?


Me neither... but apparently there are some odd types around who miss the retroness of old skool arcade gaming in smoke filled germ ridden festering pits of arcadiness, and this led to the miracle of EMULATION !

But... Playing retro games using emulators is one thing... Writing an emulator? Now thats a tough old well done rump!

(BTW I kid... I bloody love emulators!)

I wrote this emulator as a two headed "Technical Demonstration":

1. I wanted to demonstrate that Blitz3D, despite being an older language, still has good capability and can still be used for some kuul coding projects.

2. I wanted to prove to myself that I could write an emulator...

I have provided a link above for the Blitz3D source code of my basic Space Invaders emulator.

The basic emulator includes support for the following:

1. Two romsets of the original Space Invaders monochrome game - an older and newer version with noticeable differences.

2. Adjustable dip switch settings and access to the diagnostic mode and the coin mechanism tilt switch function.

3. A cocktail flip screen mode.

4. A simulated colour overlay (the old skool red, green and white overlay).

5. Any other settings that existed in the original arcade Space Invaders.

There is also a lot of rambling comments / remarks to explain what each part of the emulator code does.

The emulator should run other 8080 based Taito Arcade games and bootlegs with a bit of adjustment on the memory array size, rom placing within the array and dipswitch / Input Port settings and assignments.

I have tried Lunar Rescue, Galaxy Wars and other Space Invaders variants / bootlegs and these seemed to run fine.

The full compiled release has additional support for Space Invaders Colour, Space Invaders Part II, Space Invaders Deluxe and Super Earth Invasion (Bootleg of Space Invaders).

I included Super Earth Invasion for one reason only. Its the version I remember playing as a kid back in the very early 80's.

It also includes a lot of "fluff" such as Bezels, Backgrounds and simulated colour cellophane overlays, and the whole thing runs from a select menu system making jumping between games a bit easier.

So what does the emulator contain?

1. Full Intel 8080 processor emulator including all opcodes and conditional flags.
2. Rom and ram area up to a maximum of 64 kB, the maximum that the 8080 with its 16-bit memory bus could address.
3. Emulated 16 bit Shift Register.
4. Video Display emulator including Interrupt generator.
5. Master and Secondary dip switch Input.
6. Inputs from Coin mechanism including Tilt Switch.
7. Inputs from Player Controls.
8. Sound Output simulator using sound samples.

I will follow this post up with some posts on the trickier aspects of the emulator, and how to overcome them.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Space Invaders (Arcade Original) on the Sony PlayStation 2/ PSTwo / PS2

Almost everyone must have a Sony PS2 knocking around somewhere at home; in a cupboard or atic, maybe even a soft or hard modded one?

And almost everyone likes a good blat on an old arcade classic once in a while right?

So why not go grab it and get old skooling!

But first... Lets ask the question:

Question Can I play arcade original Space Invaders on my Sony PS2?

Answer Of course you bloody can! And in so many variants!

Taking into account that you can play Arcade Original Space Invaders on the PS1 (See Post Here), and that the PS2 is almost 100 % compatible with PS1 games, you can already blat away at the invading hoards without checking out what PS2 offerings there are out there.

That would make a bit of a boring post though, so lets take a look at what PS2 Space Invader options there are.

This post will cover: Commercial releases, Commercial Compilation Releases, Unlockables and Homebrew.

Commercial Release - Space Invaders Anniversary

I love Space Invaders so I should be really happy with this release, but I'm not. I will try and explain why in the shortest possible narative.

The PS1 had three commercial releases of Space Invaders in the NTSC-J regions:

  • Space Invaders (Not the same as the PAL and NTSC-U release of the same name. In Japan that was called Space Invaders X)
  • Space Invaders 2000
  • Simple 1500 Series - The Invaders

Each release contained the same 4 core variants of Space Invaders:

  • Monochrome table top
  • Colour Cellophane table top
  • Colour table top
  • Upright (The one with the moon style backdrop)

Each release also added an additional game to the list of playable Space Invaderness:

  • Space Invaders had a two player "VS Mode"
  • Space Invaders 2000 had VS mode and Timed Attack Mode
  • Simple 1500 The Invaders had VS Mode, Timed Attack Mode and 3D Space Invaders

So, what are we given on PS2 Space Invaders Anniversary?

The SAME four variants of the original Space Invaders... and another bloody Space Invaders 3D!

There is also a VS Mode... but at least its a different VS Mode than was included on the PS1 releases, and I guess to be fair the 3D mode has been reskinned to look different but is essentially still the same game.

As for original content, we have Space Invaders Part II (tabletop and Upright) and Space Invaders Doubles, a variant of Space Invaders colour but as a two player co-op game (May have been titled Space Invaders 2 in the arcades). Its not exactly piles of joy.

I know that I'm being a bit negative about this title, but Taito just could have done so much better with the content. Return Of The Invaders, Super Space Invaders 91 aka The Majestic 12, The parody from Space Invaders DX, Space Invaders 95.. Where are they all?

To make matters worse, most of the list of missing items above then rocked up on Taito Legends / Taito Memories a couple of years later.

As I mentioned earlier, Space Invaders 3D in Simple 1500 Series The Invaders is different graphically to Space Invaders 3D in the PS2 Anniversary collection, but why do I hear Alan Partridge saying "They Rebadged it you fool!".

3D Space Invaders on the PS1
3D Space Invaders on the PS2

Yes, it is arcade original Space Invaders on the PS2, but its also such a missed opportunity.

However..I do love this special edition NTSC-J release of Space Invaders Anniversary, complete with a mini table top arcade machine controller.

Compilation - Taito Legends I and II, Taito Memories Gekan and Jokan, Taito Memories 2 Gekan and Joukan.

Taito Legends I and II (72 games total) released in the PAL and NTSC-U regions, Taito Memories 1 and 2, Jokan and Gekan (100 Games Total) released in NTSC-J regions, and as It's Taito, some Space Invaders variants made their way into these collections.

Taito Legends

Space Invaders
Space Invaders Part II aka Space Invaders Deluxe
Return Of The Invaders

Taito Legends II

Super Space Invaders '91 aka Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV
Space Invaders DX
Space Invaders '95

Taito Memories Jokan

Space Invaders Colour
Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV aka Super Space Invaders '91
Space Invaders DX

Taito Memories Gekan

Space Invaders
Space Invaders Part II
Space Invaders '95

Taito Memories 2 Jokan

Return of the Invaders

Unlockable - Space Invaders Invasion Day (PAL) (NTSC-U) aka Space Raiders (NTSC-J)

An imaginitive Space Invaders remake, although the game itself doesn't quite live up to the overdone graphical introduction and cut scenes, but guess what?! Space Invaders Colour arcade original is unlockable by Holding L1+R1 and pressing X + O on the "Press START Button" screen.

The "Press START Button" will flash faster, then the screen will fade, and then... Arcade original Space Invaders Colour begins!

Homebrew - PS2 MAME

PS2 MAME will allow you to play a whole host of 8-bit Arcade Classics, including all of the 8-bit variants of Space Invaders.

It will however struggle with more advanced variants though e.g. Super Space Invaders '91, Space Invaders '95 etc, and it doesn't support sound samples so on the earlier variants, you will need to make your own sound effects (Puew! Puew!)

For further information on PS2 MAME, have a read of the post HERE!

And so..

That wraps up Space Invaders on the PS2. Plenty of options for the moral, immoral and amoral gamer.

Have I missed one? Probably.. Let me know and I will add it to the post.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

My TOP 10 Horizontal SHMUPS on the Sony PlayStation / PSOne / PS1 / PSX

Being an absolute fanboy of all Sony PS1 shmuppiness, and playing more Sony PS1 / PS2 shmups than anything else, I have a full list of absolute favourites, both horizontal and vertical.

This is my absolute favourite Horizontal shmups on the PS1. I guess that they are not everyones favourites, however its a subjective list, and hopefully there's something here that you didn't know existed and will go on to try and enjoy.

I'm not going to bang on about how great each one is, but I will give a small amount of info and provide a link to where you can "Read All About It".

And I'm not a mad fan of 3D shmups / 3D remakes. I like the flat sprite shooters.. But a couple of Polygon style shooters have made the top 10.

and so in no particular order..

1. KYUIN aka Vacuum Kids (NTSC-J)

An absolute cute-em-up with kid riding on a magic flying shooting vacuum that still stuff sucks up pretty well too.

2. Harmful Park (NTSC-J)

Another excellent cute-em-up set in a theme park with tons of varied enemies, power ups, multiple methods of gatting the bad guys and an all round superb presentation.

3. Cotton (Original and 100%)

Cotton Original aka Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams (NTSC-J)

Cotton 100% aka Märchen Adventure Cotton 100% (NTSC-J)

Yet another cute-em-up. Witch on broomstick gatting everything she sees, and a few half dressed hot pixie women. Whats not to like?

4. Parodius (Series)

Parodius (PAL) aka Parodius Deluxe Pack (NTSC-J)

A Compilation pack of Parodius - From Myth to Laughter and Parodius - Fantastic Journey.

Sexy Parodius (NTSC-J)

Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius - Forever With Me (NTSC-J)

And the cute-em-up's keep coming. Parodius - Combination of "Parody" and "Gradius". Better than Gradicup I guess (Gradius and cute-em-up). Plays like Gradius but better/surreal bizarre graphics.

5. Gradius Deluxe Pack (NTSC-J)

Enought Cute-em-ups! Some real gatting of nasty aliens intent on making balloon animals out of your intestines! Tip top shmups all the way through.. except when you die and ALL of your power-ups are wiped out.
Contains Gradius and Gradius II.

6. Salamander Deluxe Pack

Another selection of absolute arcade classic H-Shmups. The Salamander series is a spin-off from Gradius, but has its own style and charm.
Contains Salamander, Salamander 2 and Lifeforce.

7. Scramble (Konami Arcade Classics (NTSC-U) aka Konami 80s Arcade Gallery (NTSC-J)

It's the Granddaddy of horizontal shmups. Loads of aliens, rockets, meteors, falling fuel levels, caves, passages.. What more could you want.. And in a psychodelic colour scheme!

8. In The Hunt (PAL) (NTSC-U)

OK, so space is now safe, lets take it under water. Describes as a cross between R-Type and Metal Slug, this graphically pleasing blaster looks amazing and plays so smoothly. Try at your peril (as it will eat up hours of your life!).

9. Thunderforce V - Perfect System (NTSC-U) (NTSC-J)

Well technically it does have some 3D, but also some sprites.. OK its 3D and its pretty good.
For a 3D Shmup, its pretty darn good.

10. G Darius (PAL) (NTSC-U) (NTSC-J)

Another 3Der.. and yup its pretty decent! For some reason I love G Darius, but not so much on Darius Gaiden.. Bizarre. Maybe I should give Gaiden another go.

Some Honourable mentions for those that didn't make the Top Ten: