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[REQ] Vectrex emulator???

Posted by oldskooler 
[REQ] Vectrex emulator???
March 06, 2011 02:05AM
I used to love the vectrex when I was younger and I'd like to know if it's possible to create/port an emulator to the wii?

I'm not a coder in any way so I really have no idea but just thought I'd ask for some feedback.

So is it possible, any ideas?
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 23, 2011 05:47AM
With this many views I would've hoped that someone knew if it was possible or not....

I'd be willing to donate to have a functional vectrex emulator, if it can be done.

If anyone can help, I would appreciate it greatly.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 23, 2011 10:04AM
I just ported one after reading your rage (joking)...

I'll release it when I map the wiimote buttons and write a way to browse ROMs.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/23/2011 10:07AM by Aruskano.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 23, 2011 11:04AM
I just ported one after reading your rage (joking)...

I'll release it when I map the wiimote buttons and write a way to browse ROMs.

"rage"? He asked nicely. If you have nothing useful to contribute, don't post nonsense like this.

As for the actual emulator request: I have no idea if it's possible or not. I haven't heard of the "vectrex", but looking at the specs on Wikipedia, I'd say the Wii should be able to handle an emulator.

Technical specifications
Circuit Board

CPU : Motorola 68A09 @ 1.5 MHz
RAM: 1 KB (two 4-bit 2114 chips)
ROM: 8 KB (one 8-bit 2363 chip)

The main CPU in the Wii (the PowerPC one, which runs actual games etc.) is clocked at 729MHz and it has 88MB RAM (i.e. roughly 88,000KB), so the specs of the Wii far out weigh that of the original console i.e. it should be possible to emulate it.

The next issue is finding a ready made emulator that works well to port. (Much easier than writing one from scratch, hence much more likely to happen). This is one candidate : [www.valavan.net] - the author even says it was coded with portability in mind.

However, I am not a coder, so my post is merely a sort of "yeah, that could work" post I'm afraid. Maybe you can make use of some of this info to persuade a developer to port it.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 23, 2011 12:24PM
I said I was joking and I said I ported the emulator. Those two things make your whole post nonsense.

I've implemented wiimote functionality and appended 55 roms I found around the internet to the binary (still need to write a way to browse through them).

I apologize if I made you feel bad by using that forbbiden word (rage), oldskooler. I do not see how but just in case... I'm serious.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/23/2011 12:35PM by Aruskano.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 23, 2011 01:02PM
The way you said it, it seemed like the entire statement

"I just ported one after reading your rage"

was a joke i.e. you had not ported it, and were just acting like a jerk. Obviously this was not true. I apologize for any confusion, I haven't slept in a while.

And if those are commercial ROMs you'd better remove them if you plan on posting it here, that'd be very against the rules. If they are public domain ROMs (i.e. homebrew ROMs or something similar), that's OK.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 23, 2011 05:34PM
I apologize if I made you feel bad by using that forbbiden word (rage), oldskooler. I do not see how but just in case... I'm serious.

No apology needed at all, I understood the light hearted joke of my 'alleged' rage and found it pretty funny, but anyway, back on topic.....

I know the vectrex can't possibly be in high demand but I had always hoped that there would be a emulator for the wii so I'd like to say thanks for taking the time to work on this project Aruskano, I look forward to seeing what results you can achieve. :)
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 24, 2011 12:30AM
SifJar: I'm sorry about the confusion (and the way I reacted) too.

oldskooler: Yeah, I guess you will be the only one downloading this... You will get the exact features the emulator mentioned by SifJar has because that's the code I ported (I ported a port of that one, but both are the same with the exception that the one I ported had already been rewritten without windows API calls and using SDL for rendering which pretty much made all the work, this virtually ported itself to the wii). There's no multiplayer nor sound. I can't think of any other feature that could be lacking, any ideas? I could try to add those later but do not expect me to do it anytime soon (I'll have my vacations in a month).

I will release this tomorrow or monday. The only [must] feature lacking for a release is still ROM browsing. I just do not have the time to do it today, sorry.

Do not thank me! This made me learn some things and that's why I picked it up. Also, as I already mentioned, it virtually ran itself. Hey, can you help me to do a list with the corresponding name of each of these ROMs? (Vectrex Roms were made public domain in the 90s) You get the full name of the game when you run it. You would help me more than you think.

Have a good day!
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 24, 2011 03:20AM
Sounds good so far, of course it would be better to have audio as well, but anything is better than nothing. :)
As for any other features/ideas...the only thing that springs to mind currently is classic controller support.....I'm sure I'll think of others in time. ;)

Also, I'm not sure if you are aware but each game had its own unique transparent overlay to go over the screen to give the illusion of colour, it would be great if this can be implemented too (?). I could probably source the .png files if it would help.

I went through that list as requested and have put the matching names to the ROM's (even had to fire up an emulator for a few of them....it's been a while)

The list is here - [www.mediafire.com] - hope it helps.

You've been very helpful so far, so instead of thanking you, I'll just stamp my feet and scream "I WANT IT NOW!!!!!" (j/k) - seriously though, there's no rush, I'm just pleased that this actually being worked on.

Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 24, 2011 08:51AM
Thanks for the list! I did not think you were going to do it that fast. You deserve this rush-build. I did not care about the rom browsing I just wanted to build something playable soon at that's what came out... you change the room at the first screen with the (+) and (-) buttons, pressing any other button will load the current ROM. You will have to load the binary again to change the ROM. Ugly, huh?

I thought (because of the original code) vectrex's stick was more like a button (thought it tracked if you pulled to the right but not how much you pulled it). This is actually easy to implement. I found a controller scheme with a stick is a must-have after trying to play hyper chase, lol.

Yeah, there's plenty of things to be done to the emulator but when I asked you about features that may be lacking I was talking about the actual machine features. You brought those overlays and pngs up, are those working in any emulator you know of? (I mean you talk about PNGs... if putting a semi-transparent PNG with certain color on the screen does the same visual effect than the original overlays then yes it is possible, if those PNGs already exist let me know and I'll have a look). I also read something about a light pen... is there any other feature you can think of?
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 24, 2011 03:19PM
Firstly.....wow!!! Thanks for the 'rush build', I can't believe I was just playing Minestorm through my wii. You might think that the front end is a bit ugly, but for me, I certainly couldn't do any better. And even if I could, why would I? This one works. :)

I never even considered how awkward/impossible Hyperchase would be until you mentioned it, that game was frustratingly super sensitive even on the vectrex itself. :D
From my experience back in the day, this was the only game that took advantage of the analogue control stick. It's great that you've found a workaround for it though.

Sorry for not understanding correctly when you were talking about the features, they were also something I didn't consider at the time. The Vectrex did have a couple of strange accessories for something made in 1982. The lightpen you mentioned was compatible with only one cartridge which allowed you to 'draw' lines on the vectrex screen, kinda like a very prehistoric version of photoshop. The other one was a 3D imager, a very bulky headset that gave the illusion of 3D graphics (hmmm, they may been on to something here.....), only supported by about 2 or 3 games. In any case, these were pretty much the only 'other' features it had and really, there's no reason to bother with those aspects of it. Same with multiplayer, only 2 games supported simultaneous play so I don't think it's worth worrying about - and also, I'll have a pretty hard time getting a second player, lol :)

Actually, there is another feature I just realised and that's the 'noise' it makes. I don't just mean the audio from the games, this thing gave a 'buzzing' noise through the speaker which depended on the screen content at the time. The cables in the vectrex were so poorly shielded that it was picking up the electric noise from the console itself. If this 'feature/defect' could be put in then that would be awesome.

Regarding the overlays, spot on! I had a emu a long time ago running with windows 95 that had the overlays with the ability to turn them on/off & set opacity. I found a few emu's that support it, most of them I can't get to work on my cheap laptop except for one and that was done with Java. Not sure how much that helps if at all, the format was actually .tga for the ones I found.



Again.....wow!!! Thank you so much for the work you've done, I kinda rushed through this post due to my excitement so hopefully it all makes sense. :) In any case, you're a champ & I love your work!!!
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 25, 2011 12:13AM
Minestorm is surprisingly fun to play!

I won't care about lightpen nor the 3D imager then. I do not think multiplayer would be hard to implement and [game] sound seems (looking at the code you just posted) very easy, so those 2 should make it into the emulator when I get some time. Yeah, I have heard about that buzzing, I could look at it closer but that's a weird feature... are you sure it depended upon the screen content? Overlays would be easy to implement too. Do you know of any bigger source of those PNG/TGAs?

That would be it. This could turn into something enjoyable. I did not play many of the games but Minestorm itself would worth the download, lol.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 25, 2011 05:21AM
Yeah, Minestorm, Solar Quest & Web Wars were easily the best games I ever played on this.

With regards to the buzzing noise, it is a little difficult to explain exactly but I remember at the first screen where you see the vectrex logo and it alternates from what looks like a 'normal' font to a 'bold' font - this would cause a distinct change in the buzzing volume (slight buzzing when normal, slightly louder buzzing when bold). Another example is the start of each level in Minestorm when the mother ship comes down the screen - this produced a slightly louder buzz than normal, same when completing each stage when the ship is in the center of the screen with all the sparks flying out of it.

I found a collection of 25 overlays which you can find here - [www.mediafire.com]
If they are suitable then I would be happy to make up the rest of them in photoshop - should be easy enough for me.


Edit - just found a clip where you can clearly hear the buzzing noise and how it changes with screen brightness.
[www.youtube.com] - skip to 7:20, hope this helps.

Edit 2 - updated link for higher quality overlays

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/25/2011 09:33AM by oldskooler.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 25, 2011 12:10PM
This thread is too awesome for words!
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
April 28, 2011 05:00PM
The number of vectors is already stored so adjusting the buzzing to that is possible. I will do that to see how accurate is it.
If overlays work by just making those images transparent take them from granted too. I'll confirm those images work when I implement this.
I compiled the sound playing code from one of the emulators you posted but I did not like the output (it was ugly, if anyone reading this know something I have to do when playing sound files using SDL Wii, info is welcome), I will do more reasearch on that.

Just leting you know what I plan to do when I get some good-freetime so you know I'm alive.

Thanks for the enthusiasm. Have a nice day.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
May 04, 2011 03:30PM
That all sounds very promising, I look forward to seeing the results. Hopefully you can find an easy solution for the audio issues too. :)

I've been using the ParaJVE emu recently on my laptop and going through various settings/features and I discovered a few visual effects that really help to achieve the look of the original vectrex. I've attached some screen shots in the different modes because I thought it would be easier than trying to describe them all, lol.


In short, there are options to set the overall glow and persistence of the vector graphics. It would be great if something similar could be implemented too but as I said before, I'm not a coder so I wouldn't really know but I would like your opinion on if it's possible or not.

Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
May 07, 2011 09:21AM
I'm completely lost at that one and that's what will make me look further into it. I'll surely learn something out off it.

Sorry for my lack of activity. That rush build gave left a feeling of high-activity but (as I stated earlier) I'm really busy right now. It's around 12 days left to get some free time back.
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
May 07, 2011 02:51PM
Hey that's cool man, I can understand what it's like to be busy and as I mentioned before there is really no rush at all. You've done more than I had already expected and that rush build is quite an achievement in my opinion. I'm certainly not expecting you to devote all of your time on this. :)
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
May 27, 2011 12:07AM
I have had some days of vacations now and I'm ready to turn this onto something good. Updates are to be expected each couple of days.

I have migrated from SDL to pure GX to feel more comfortable (SDLWii was a glad surprise! but I'm not familiarized with the way SDL reads user input). I'm basically where this started but using SDL-less GX to draw. Not much to talk about this.

Any new comments/ideas?

Have a good day,
Re: [REQ] Vectrex emulator???
May 30, 2011 06:27AM
Hey that's great news, can't wait to see what you come up with.

I haven't thought of any new ideas apart from the one I've already mentioned, but if I think of any you'll be the first to know about it. lol :)

I'm curious to know if you've had any luck with the overlays or is that something you are still working on?
Only reason I ask is because I was planning to make some overlays to complete the set as there were some missing from the pack I posted previously.


Also, hope you're having a good vacation. :D
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