Guide to the SNES Architecture

Image from the site

Rodrigo Copetti has an interesting rundown of the architecture to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System! It’s an interesting system over all. In clock speed it’s really not that much faster than an NES, but it has vastly superior graphic and sound capabilities, plus so much more addressing space that the phenomenon of mappers that ruled nearly every NES game worth talking about (except maybe Super Mario Bros. and Tetris) was completely absent. The SNES did have frequently-used add-on chips, but they tended more to take the form of co-processors to take some of the load off of the machine’s relatively slow CPU.

Super Nintendo Architecture: A Practical Analysis by Rodrigo Copetti

The Difference Between Kiosk New 3DSes and Normal Ones

It’s a video from YouTube Channel The Retro Future with the title “Nintendo didn’t want us to know this…” which I hate. Why not just mention it’s about the difference between the Kiosk Units and retail ones? I’ve seen a hundred clickbait titles like this that have completely disappointed me.

This time though, it actually was interesting content, even if I can’t see why Nintendo would care if we knew it.

The kiosk units that were displayed in stores to demonstrate software differed from the ones you could buy in one important respect: they have a resistor in a different place on the motherboard. Without this resistor, the kiosk units will only turn on if they’re connected to power. They still have a battery, but it doesn’t appear to be used! If the resistor is removed and soldered into the location it’s at on a production unit, it seems, it’ll function normally.

Here is the video:

Video: tom7’s Harder Drives

tom7, aka suckerpinch on YouTube, is a freaking genius. I don’t believe in geniuses, but he is a strong counter-argument, I will admit.

His modus operandi is to take some absurd premise and carry it to its logical conclusion, usually using some form of technology along the way. He then makes a video about it. Sometimes the video is in connection with a paper he’s written for SIGBOVIK, which is an entire oil tanker full of worms that I really don’t want to get into here, suffice to say it’s hosted on the site of the Association for Computational Heresy.

The PDF of their 300-page record of proceedings calls itself, “The fifteenth annual intercalary robot dance party in celebration of workshop on symposium about 26th birthdays; in particular, that of harry q. bovik,” about which all I can say, honestly, is, woof. I encourage you to go to that side and read, or at least try to read, some of their papers. You will come to feel like a complete imbecile, but you’ll probably be entertained.

AnYwAy. This post isn’t about SIGBOVIK but about tom7. The post above is about his questionable quest to construct mass storage devices out of unlikely things, like masses of Nintendo Tetris emulators, or a mass of used COVID tests. In the past he’s done fascinatingly-insane videos on bad chess algorithms, generalizing the concepts of uppercase and lowercase, created a number of weird bikes, or (to stick with the blog’s theme) teaching a computer to play Super Mario Bros. in a fairly silly way, which at least will teach you what lexicographical ordering means.

Found via a Metafilter post from user zengargoyle.

Running DOOM on an IBM RS/6000 Under AIX

I’ve been rather taken by NCommander’s YouTube channel lately, in which he regularly tries to build and run old versions of Unix and software for it. He’s run an old boxed version of Debian 2.1, Internet Explorer 5 for Unix, the first Linux live CD (Yggdrasil), and–get this–even a version of System V made for the Commodore Amiga that was officially published by Commodore! It comes out of the box with NetHack 3.0! (Warning: that one’s a seven hour live stream.)

A highlight of the channel that falls under our jurisdiction is him trying to get DOOM running on an old IBM machine running old IBM Unix. Over an hour long, the video is a long sequence of sadness, involving misconfiguring hostnames, getting X running, discovering that IBM’s C compiler costs about $2,500, running into basic C functions IBM didn’t implement, building OSS for AIX (and buying a $10 license for that), and then the issues with building and running the game itself. So yes, add it to the long list of devices that run DOOM, but at what cost?

Well, to NCommander, $10 plus several days of time. To you, about an hour of entertaining (somewhat) learning about obscure computing esoterica!

NCommander at YouTube: What Does It Take To Runu DOOM On A $10,000 IBM RS/6000 From 2001?

PS1 Rendering Quirks

via @doc on Twitter. PikumaLondon tweeted out a thread (unrolled) explaining, in general, how the original PlayStation rendered graphics, and the source of its distinctive graphic artifacts, specifically texture warping, pixelated textures, and jittery polygons. The Nintendo 64 didn’t have these problems, but also couldn’t draw as many polygons each frame.

The thread also links to developer David Colson’s efforts to create a PS1-style 3D fantasy console. I’m sure this isn’t interesting to everyone, but worry not, this blog isn’t going to become entirely low-level hardware rendering geekery. At least, not yet.

Nicole Express: Tengen’s NES Chips

The always-wonderful retro gaming and hardware info site Nicole Express has a great post about the chips that Tengen (a subsidiary of Atari) used in their cartridges! Tengen is a special case among NES developers, in that while a Nintendo licensee they got to use their own mapper, from Namco, but went and manufactured their own ASICs when they split off from Nintendo’s licensing program. The deets are all in the article!

Nicole Express’ archives are well worth a look, which among other items hosts their article on Zaxxon and Future Spy. They have interesting games to play on their itch.io page too! Have I used enough exclamation points yet?!