[Acorn Gaming]


news from 1999

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Mike Foot continues to pile improvement after improvement into his free BBC emulator, BeebIt. Version 0.10 brings a long list of tweaks to improve compatibility with the original machines so even more games now work properly, such as Revs and Psycastria 2. There's now also sound support, and some more of it has been rewritten in ARM code for extra speed.
Gareth Long has updated his port of SNES9X to version 1.26 beta 4.0. This new version brings improved sound, which should mean that everything will play at the correct pitch, as well as other more minor changes.
There's a new release of VICE, the multiple Commodore machine emulator, as it reaches version 1.2. This update hopefully gives some worthwhile speed increases.
David McEwen's Megadrive emulator, DGen, is now available only direct by email from him. If you'd like a copy send a polite request to him.
In addition to his existing 16 emulators (see story for 10/9/99 below), David McEwen has also taken over development of the Acorn version of Commodore emulator VICE - but he'd still be very happy for someone else to come along and volunteer to maintain it instead!
David also reports that his emulators all run very much faster under RISC OS 4. David writes "Believe the hype - single tasking things do run faster." Although he hasn't performed thorough tests, his emulators seem to work correctly under the new release of the operating system. The speed-up is around 10-15%.
David has also pointed out that if you're looking for some absolutely-certain-to-be-legal games to play on Spectrum, C64 or CPC emulators then http://www.beam.com.au/play_games.html contains some that have been released for free by Beam International. These games include Way of the Exploding Fist, Horace and The Hobbit. Unfortunately when I just tested the site they seem to have broken it at the moment, since it links back to itself from the contents page and the link above is dead. Hmm!
Andreas Dehmel's excellent port of multiple Commodore machine emulator VICE has been upgraded to reach version 1.1. New features include configurable key maps and an optional status bar, plus there are some bug fixes. Andreas says that his A5000 is too limiting for the project now and asks if anyone can sell him a StrongARM Risc PC at a decent price! Or failing that, if any experienced programmer wants to take over the project they should contact him.
The insanely hard-working David McEwen has been further improving his large suite of emulators - he's currently working on 16 of them!
VGB (Color Gameboy), MasterGear, ColecoEm and fMsx now have all working 'Eagle' modes, giving better high-resolution displays, and the frontends and sound have been improved. These are due for full release very soon.
New sound code is being integrated into Hugo, the new PC Engine emulator, and it now runs more than twice as fast as the current release! The frontend needs tidying but once this and the sound are finished it will be released.
Handy, the Lynx emulator, will be released once the frontend code is written.
Sound code is being written for AdamEm (Coleco Adam emulator), and the graphics improved. This is close to release.
A new Commodore 64 emulator, ComeBack 64 is progressing slowly, although the graphics routines are currently mostly working. There is no sound or frontend yet, so this is still some way from release.
There has been new source released for Atari 800, so the Acorn port is being updated.
A ZX81 emulator, XZX81, is being worked on, but not very fast since it's a bit of a minority interest (although I'd love to see it!). It won't be released in the particularly near future.
Yet another brand new emulator is the snappily-titled JzIntv, an Intellivision emulator. Work on this is going smoothly, and David reckons it "fills a nice niche in the scene"!
Meka (another Sega Master System and Game Gear emulator), Generator (Megadrive/Genesis) and Snes9x (SNES) have been slightly improved, and the last two both need to be rebuilt using the latest source code.
Thanks to Peter Teichmann, David now has the Acorn source for UAE, the Amiga emulator, and will be maintaining this. He is intending to speed it up to make games more playable - there is apparently a lot of room for optimisation and the new source code is faster anyway.
David also reports he is working on an emulator called YAE - 'Yet Another Apple II Emulator'(!)
Anyway, David's slacking off, as you can tell.
Michael Foot has improved BeebIt, his BBC emulator, still further. The latest 0.06 release has optimised screen plotters written in assembler (for speed), as well as various improvements in the emulation.
Gareth Long has announced that he's working on new versions of MESS, MAME and SNES9X, with SNES9X likely to be the first released. He's currently finishing work on MAME 0.36 beta 4, and a new release of MESS is nearing, with new machines emulated including the Dragon 32, Spectrum, IBM PC(!) and several more.
The latest new emulator coming up for its first public release in the near future is David McEwen's port of Hugo, a PC Engine simulator. I've been testing a beta and it all seems to work, although it's a bit slow on my ARM710! Apparently it usually runs fluidly with StrongARMs, and it can run the larger ROMs which the earlier Acorn emulators by Paul Clifford can't hope with. The test version doesn't have sound, but this is due to be added soon.
David has also been working on his port of Handy, the first Lynx emulator for Acorns, and a public beta version is now available for download from his website. Although David's version is already faster than the PC version he's promised to make it run even faster in future. Sound code has been written but isn't yet active in the beta version.
Michael Foot's development of his impressive free BeebIt BBC emulator continues. He's recently rewritten the display code in assembler leading to good speed gains on pre-StrongARM machines. He's also been working on improving the sound and cursor emulation. A private 0.06a test version has been distributed, and other recent improvements include various bug fixes.
Back to David again, and he's been working on merging an image processing technology called 'Eagle mode' into his emulators, providing better-looking images in larger screen modes. On some games this has little effect but on others it gives very worthwhile gains - there are some interesting screenshots on his website giving comparisons.
James Ponder has mentioned that a new release of his Generator Megadrive emulator will be out soon. This emulator forms the core of David McEwen's as-yet-unreleased emulator of the same name.
David McEwen recently released a beta of an exciting new emulator - Handy, which brings an Atari Lynx to your home computer. The Lynx was a surprisingly powerful colour handheld console that did reasonably well but never really took off, and it did play host to some really great games. I spent many happy hours playing Viking Child, Chip's Challenge, RoadBlaster and others. David's hoping for a release soon, and to whet your appetite he's set up a new previews page on his website. Unfortunately I seem to be the only tester who couldn't get it to work, but David tells me that it runs games at full-speed if you have a StrongARM. Progress is currently slowed due to bugs in the Acorn version of the gcc free C compiler which are affecting the latest version sources.
David is also hoping to get the new versions of VGB and MasterGear mentioned below out in the very near future.
Mr. Acorn Emulators (aka David McEwen) has been working on VGB, the Virtual Gameboy Emulator. The past week has seen a couple of new private beta-test versions, with improvements in both speed and compatibility. The front-end has also been upgraded.
David McEwen has been hard at work upgrading his various emulators. Recently he's released a couple of private MasterGear beta-test versions with many new features, including vastly improved sound and a speed-up of the renderers, not to mention various bug fixes and extra configuration options. It even now features an interpolation feature to filter the display and make it clearer on high-resolution systems, and you can switch to greyscale mode if you want(!). Many of these improvements will be copied across to David's other emulators once they're all complete.
Being typically prolific, David McEwen has also been working hard on madNES, releasing both a private and a public beta version of the latest improvements. Version 0.65-BETA 5 can be downloaded from David's website, although the current private beta is version 0.70. The release version is 0.10 and the large increase in version number is easily explained by the myriad enhancements - the vast majority of new features relate to support for many more games, plus improvements that apply across all games. Games which now work properly include 720°, Star Wars, Castlevania 3 and Afterburner 2. The forthcoming full release will offer a significant increase in speed, and possibly also sound. If you want to help David then pop along to his website, download the public beta and let him know of any games that don't work properly.
Development continues on BeebIt apace. Michael Foot's free BBC emulator is now on version 0.05, with various bug fixes and improvements which allow even more games such as Strykers Run, Psycastria and Skirmish to now work. Snapshots can be saved in 6502Em format, and if you have a StrongARM the emulator is now faster than a real BBC in most cases (although there is not yet any speed regulation)
Andreas Dehmel has upgraded his port of VICE, a Commodore emulator which features the C64, C128, VIC20, PET and CBM2, to the latest version, (despite the identifiers inside the archive which still contain the old version numbers!)
Warm Silence Software have upgrade their seminal BBC and Spectrum emulators, 6502Em and Z80Em. 6502Em 3.00 now has many improvements to its already superlative emulation, including precise timing of mode and palette switches, and smoother scrolling. Classic games like Exile, Elite, Revs, Stryker's Run, Snapper and more all now run better. Unfortunately it does cost £11.75 to upgrade, which I think is a bit expensive considering that you can buy an entire PlayStation emulator for this much if you're a PC owner! It costs £17.63 from new, and the same prices apply to Z80Em 3.00 which now offers multitasking and more accurate emulation, plus various new tape support features.
Michael Foot's BeebIt is now onto version 0.03. Some of the 6502 op-codes have been rewritten in assembler to speed things up, and a bug fix now allows the most impessive game of all time (Exile) to run. It also now supports more disc drives and allows disc images to be written to.
Michael Foot has released version 0.02 of BeebIt, the BBC emulator. There are various bug fixes and the keyboard support is now complete
David McEwen has been working (as usual) on his host of Acorn emulator ports. Stella has been upgraded, and I have a beta-test version of 1.1 which is a port of the latest sources. David also has the newest VGB source and is working on some major changes to madNES. Unfortunately a looming deadline at his work means he won't have much time to work on his emulators in the near future, but he's hoping to get the new release of VGB out before too long.
MAME has been updated to version 0.35 beta 3.1. Weighing in at over 1.5MB it now supports a staggering 1148 arcade games!
David McEwen continues to work hard on MasterGear - he's currently experimenting with various new screen refresh methods to make it faster on pre-StrongARM machines. This includes interesting interlacing effect which gives about a 30% speed-up on my Risc PC 700, and David tells me he's since got another 25% from plotter improvements, which will have even more effect with Game Gear games. More optimisations are on the way and he hopes to release a new version fairly soon. Once this is done VGB is next on the optimisation schedule, and a new version of madNes is also due. In fact, there is a possibility that madNes might be rewritten from scratch - if this happened it would be a joint Acorn and PC project, allowing a significant speed increase
Hard to believe, but David's also looking at writing a fourth NES emulator for RISC OS (following xNes, ArcNes and madNes)! This one is called DarcNES and is apparently rather like MESS except that it runs quickly(!) - it includes support not only for the NES but also for the Sega Game Gear/Master System and PC Engine
Mike Foot is working on a new version of BeebIt with many improvements including a front-end, bug fixes and some code optimisation to speed it up. He's also hoping to rewrite some bits of the C source in assembler to speed it up even more. Those who are happy to mail back a beta-testing report can fetch the beta
Pop along to the Moving Pixels website and you can download the assembly language source to the native Gameboy emulator as well as the unfinished source to a native SNES emulator for RISC OS, which whilst only advanced enough to run some demo ROM images does run pretty fast on my ARM710!
Gareth Long has announced that he'll soon be well enough to continue work on MESS, MAME and SNES9X - see news story of the 24/1. The new version of MAME should run faster, especially with 68000 titles. ALSO I'd just like to correct my inaccurate previous version of the news story on the 24/1 which incorrectly reported that Gareth was now married - in fact this should have been engaged... oops! Sorry!
Andreas Dehmel has released a port of the latest version of VICE, a Commodore emulator which features the C64, C128, VIC20, PET and CBM2
Probably the most prolific emulator porter in the entire world has released yet more neat packages of delight for Acorn emulation fans. David McEwen's latest round of new releases brings us two new emulators: a NES emulator called MadNES and TI8x series calculator emulator. Also released are upgrades to his ColecoVision, Sega Master System/Game Gear, MSX and - last but not least - Color Gameboy emulators. David says he's now going to take a brief - and certainly well-deserved - rest from emulator coding!
I was shocked to learn recently that Gareth Long, author of the most technically stunning emulators on the platform - MAME, MESS and SNES9X - was the innocent victim of a serious car accident over the Christmas period. Suffering head and other injuries, Gareth is now fortunately on the slow, painful road to recovery. This terrible event sadly followed shortly after Gareth's engagement - his fiancée was also involved in the accident, and suffered more serious injuries which very nearly killed her. The accident happened in the US and she is not allowed back to Britain before the end of February. Despite all this personal tragedy, Gareth has expressed a desire to continue with the development of his Acorn emulators as soon as possible. I of course wish him and his fiancée all the very best for a speedy recovery
David McEwen has announced that a new NES emulator is on the way from him - MadNes. He's also hoping to soon release two other new emulators: XTRS80 is a TRS80 emulator, and CB64 is a Commodore 64 emulator that is progressing well. He's also said that if things go well he'll release a couple of other brand new emulators, too
David McEwen has also been working hard on his myriad of existing Acorn emulators. I have beta-test versions of VGB 1.4, which now supports Zelda DX and runs more quickly as well as letting you use Game Genie/Game Shark cheat codes; fMSX 2.0b, which is faster and more stable; and MasterGear 1.33, which is also faster and has various display and other fixes. In addition to these, ColEm is also now faster. Expect releases sometime soon
Michael Foot has released a beta-test version of his new free BBC Micro emulator, BeebIt. I've also added a BBC emulation page to this section
VGB Gameboy emulator released, and MasterGear upgraded

news from 1998

...this page last updated: 7/5/2000...
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Apple II
Arcade (MAME)
Atari 2600
Atari 800
BBC Micro
Capcom Play
NeoGeo Pocket
PC Engine
Sega 8-bit


Old News
2000 1999 1998
Back to the Emulation News page

Play arcade games with the Capcom Play emulator from David McEwen, a RISC OS original that's now been updated to version 1.25a.
Multiple Commodore machine emulator VICE upgraded to version 1.7
Full Tek review now online - finally!
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©Gareth Moore 1993-2003

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