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25.04.2017 - Dodgeman [Omori 1983]

Fixed BG decoding and color mapping for this rare old game...


18.12.2016. - Future Flash / Laser Base.

What's Future Flas (or Laser Base)? It's an arcade game, similar (at first look) to Missile Command. The real gameplay is (or rather - was ) unknown. There's only one screenshot from the game - taken form the official flyer:

Soooo, 'planet of the apes' meets 'star wars' ;) ? More info here

There are two versions of the game - Laser Base (1980 - Hoei Int) and Future Flash (1981 - Amstar/Hoei). Amstar mainly licensed games from overseas and imported into the USA. Hoei only became Coreland and began making their own games a little bit later, but Future Flash was made in their era of rip offs. So, who was the actual developer of the game? I have no idea...

I've got the FF (broken) PCB a couple of years ago. The hardware is a bit complicated: 4 MHz 8 bit CPU (Z-80), framebuffer based video hardware (two 256x256 4bpp layers) driven by common HD46505R CRT and overcomplicated sound hardware ( two 8253 clock generators, and over 150 other parts (op-amps, reverb buffer, noise generators, tons of capacitors and resistors)). Game is controlled with trackbal and single button. There's also game manual with partial (missing the sound section....) and buggy schematics avaialble.

I wrote a basic emulation driver, but found a blocker - protection device. There's a custom chip marked "Z1". Game wasn't playable at all. Was crashing soon after boot. Protection wasn't just a simple check at game start, like in some games from '80s. Z1 device was was mapped into memory range like a common RAM chip and accesses very often. I've removed Z1 fro the board and sent to someone for decapping. But it got lost... Nothign happened for a couple of years then...

Few weeks ago Morten Shearman Kirkegaard, Samuel Neves and Peter Wilhelmsen made an awesome step forward. They bought another (also broken...) board and cracked the Z1 protection - ended up with an algorithm that can be represented using a bunch of MUX2 gates taking entropy based on the past 4 read offsets (40-bits state). It took about a week. After that, i started to improve the emulation driver. Fixed controlls, interrupts, added very preliminary audio (only the 8253 clocks are emulated). Here's a video from the MAME - attract mode (notice the special level - space tunnel made of dots) and start of gameplay. Emulation is far form perfection. There are gfx glitches, weird colors and lacks of most of the sound effects. There's no reference video - no one knows how the game should looks like.

Future Flash PCB set: XBC-101-00-1 - CPU board and XBC-102-01-1 - Video board
(courtesy of Peter Wilhelmsen)

Arduino Mega plays with the Z1 device ;)
(courtesy of Peter Wilhelmsen)

Future Flash

Laser Base (set 1) - notice the energy bar on top, instead bottom (like in FF), and the colors - wrong or changed intentionally?

Laser Base (set 2) - energy bar at the bottom of screen.

© 2016 Tomasz Slanina