lördag 23 juni 2012

Emulating Virtual Boy on a 3D TV

Inspired by this video from "Bureau voor Gamers", I wanted to try playing some Virtual Boy on a modern 3D TV. It was a bit tricky so I'll share how I did it. What I have is a Panasonic DT50 and a computer connected to the PC using HDMI, running Windows 7 64-bit.

First off, the TV must support "side-by-side" video. This is when the two images (left and right eye) are horizontally compressed to half their width and displayed side by side. My Panasonic sometimes automatically detect this signal as a 3D signal, but sometimes I will have to go the the 3D menu, press the button to go to manual signal selection, and select the "side by side -> 3D" option.

This means your computer/graphics card does NOT have to support 3D in any way! With an emulator that can output side by side video in fullscreen, it will work with any computer, drivers, cables etc as long as your TV supports the mode.

So here's how to do it:
* Get Medafen from http://mednafen.sourceforge.net . I got 0.9.22-WIP.
* Unpack it and change the cfg file: Find the "vb.3dmode" and change it from "anaglyph" (the classic red/blue mode) to "sidebyside".
* Change "vb.stretch" to "full".
* Change "vb.3dreverse" if and only if the images are reversed (i.e. stuff that should be in the background appears to be closest to you)
* Run the emulator (has to be started from command line, like "mednefaren filename.vb"). It should be displayed in a very wide window, with two images displayed side by side.
* Press Alt+Enter to go to fullscreen. The two images should be horizontally compressed.
* Set the 3D mode on your TV if your TV doesn't detect it automatically. You may have to select 3D mode manually (for example "Side by side -> 3D")

There you go! Don't hesitate to comment if you run into any problems or want to add something.

Some notes:
* Mednafen is also available for Wii (WiiMednafen). 3D settings are not available in the UI but they might still be set in the config file.
* Don't bother with "WiirtualBoy" for Wii, it's been superseeded by WiiMednafen!
* I also tried "Reality Boy" and "Red Dragon" (Red Dragon is the one used in the video I mentioned above), they both looked fine in windows mode but all the colors got messed up when running them in fullscreen.
* If you like the games or the console, you should buy them!

onsdag 6 juni 2012

FAT32 Formatter

I needed to take a backup of my PS3 hard drive. The USB drive to backup to must be formatted with FAT32. Windows wont format partitions larger than 32 GB with FAT32 so you'll have to use a third-party utility for that. (The limitation is not due to technical reasons, the limit is strictly artifical to make people stop using FAT32.)

This good utility worked fine for me, in Win 7 64-bit:

Also tried this WDs formatting utility, but that only works on specific WD external drives:

torsdag 31 maj 2012

Problems upgrading WiFi + BlueTooth on HP laptop

My mission: Upgrade the Broadcom 54mbps WiFi in my old HP 530 laptop to something faster, "Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230" (300mbit N-card with Bluetooth). It was not as easy as I first thought :(

First problem: Full-length vs half-length PCI Express Mini. The newer card was (like most other cards) half-length, to fit that in the older computer I needed an adapter which was about €1 on eBay.

Second problem: "104-Unsupported wireless network device detected". The BIOS of most HP/Compaq laptops whitelist only a few specific wifi cards and will not boot if they detect any other card. This is f*cked up and this alone makes me never buy an HP laptop again (or a Lenovo, which appearantly does the same). I bought the laptop, let me do what I want with it!
Fortunatelly, some very skilled people have found ways to disable the lock-out in the BIOS and have published these hacked BIOSes. See links below.

Just make sure you don't accidentally downgrade your BIOS. And of course, do this at your own risk, etc :)

Third problem: No Bluetooth device detected by Windows. The wifi device was found in device manager and worked fine after I downloaded the appropriate drivers. However, no Bluetooth devices were found or listed in the device manager - like the Bluetooth didn't even exist. Unfortunatelly, after reading a bit about the PCI Express Mini standard, I realize that it has two interfaces: PCI-e and USB. I think that the Bluetooth portion of the card works over the USB interface, while the wifi use the PCI-e interface, and that none of my two computers implement the USB interface, only the PCI-e interface. Either that or only the BT component of my card is broken, but I think that is less likely. So... Pity, I'll have to get a Bluetooth USB dongle I guess. But at least the wireless is a lot faster now :)

Please let me know if this helped you! Also please share any additional findings about this if you can!

Links I learned stuff from:





tisdag 8 maj 2012

Backup savegames from Indiana Jones on Steam (and probably other games)

I needed to copy the savegames for the Steam/LucasArts/SCUMM game "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" from one Windows 7 PC to another. The files were not that easy to find...

The files are located here:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\indiana jones and the last crusade\INDY3\savegame.___"
"C:\Users\<your username>\AppData\roaming\LucasArts\Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade\*.*"

You need to copy the both the "savegame.___ " file and all files in the other folder and copy them to the corresponding location on the other computer.

I would guess this applies to other Steam/LucasArts classics as well.

Also note that using the Steam function "Verify integrity of game cache" can actually overwrite your Indiana save games! This is because Steam thinks the "savegame.___" file is a game data file and thus overwrites it with some file one they have on their servers! Because they don't change the other files, they will mismatch and wont be possible to load. That happened to me, but I was fortunate enough to recover my savegames by using system restore (or whatever it is called) - right-click on the file, Properties, Previous versions. Copy the old version.

Based on the fact that one of the savegame folders are for all users, and one which is specific for the current computer user, I think trying to run the game using different Windows accounts on the same computer would probably not work and might corrupt savegames!

I would be happy to post this info to Steam's support and the Steam forums instead, but because they for some moronic reason require separate accounts, I write about it here instead.

By the way, I wouldn't recommend anyone to buy the LucasArts classics from Steam. Even though non-steam of the games are made for DOS/Amiga/etc, you can use ScummVM to play the games on virtually any operating system and hardware.

Hope this was usefull to anyone!

söndag 5 februari 2012

PAL vs NTSC - what to play?

Some things you should know:

Japan/America and Europe use different TV systems (NTSC and PAL respectivelly). This matters, because video games must be adjusted for the different for the different formats. Because NTSC is a bigger market, games are usually adjusted for NTSC, and only a cheap PAL conversion is made, running in wrong speed (slower than it should) and with lower resolution (picture is letterboxed and "squeezed"). See comparison between NTSC and PAL here:


This was an issue all up until the PlayStation 2/GameCube/Xbox generation! For example, Final Fantasy X has a horrible PAL port (notice how the lipsynch is always good at the beginning of lines, but gets progressivelly worse the longer the conversation is...)

It is also an issue when playing Virtual Console/PSN games, see for example:


So - which games should you play to get the best experience?

Portable consoles
Play anything, no difference in performance!

Get an NTSC console and NTSC games. Most PAL games (with some exceptions) are horrible ports. A PAL console can easily be modified to be region free, but games will still run in the slower speed!


Get an NTSC console and NTSC games. Most PAL games (with some exceptions) are horrible ports. A converter can let you play most NTSC games on your PAL console - but the games will still run in the slower speed! If you're handy with a soldering iron, you could do this: http://www.gamesx.com/importmod/snes5060.htm - but remember that many games are "semi-ported" (for example, speed of music has been corrected but nothing more). Also, while the speed may be corrected for PAL games, you will still get a letterboxed and squashed video.

Nintendo GameCube
Sony PlayStation
Sony PlayStation 2
Get NTSC games, and any machine that can play NTSC games, if they run they will run properly (not including disc swap mods etc!) Many PAL games are bad ports.
Note that some NTSC PS2 games can even do 480p (as opposed to 480i)! This option is almost always removed in the PAL port.

Nintendo Wii
PAL ports of Wii games are fine. On Virtual Console, the "import" games are fine (including Final Fantasy VI and Super Mario RPG), they run in proper NTSC speed and resolution. Avoid all other games that can be purchased in the European VC store as they are the same shitty PAL ports as when they were originally released. Try to get games from a store in an NTSC region instead. TurboGraphx games found in the VC store are always fine, that console were built so that games did not have to be adjusted for NTSC/PAL!

Sony PlayStation 3
For physical PS1 and PS2 games, see above (get NTSC games). NTSC/PAL is no longer something to care about on PS3 games, and PS3 games are region free (all PS3 games works on all PS3 consoles). The PS1 games found in the european PlayStation Stores are bad ports. From any console you can, however, access any store, just lie about which country you live in, but NTSC PS1 games MAY not play on a PAL machine or vice versa (when launching it, you may get an "invalid video mode" message).

- For consoles not listed, I don't know.
- There are no one NTSC region - Japanese NTSC consoles wont run north american NTSC games.
- Regardless of console, viewing NTSC signal may may require certain cables. Component and RGB has a higher probability of working with most TVs than the common composite and RF cables.