Sunday, November 20, 2016

Retroactive's New 64drive HW2 - Now You're Playing with Ultra Power!

Retroactive recently began shipping their completely redesigned 64drive. It offers a solid alternative to the Everdrive 64 and provides a number of special development oriented features. The new HW2 features an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA and retires the Compact Flash (CF) interface in favor of a discretely positioned micro SD card slot and USB interface for N64 game development.

Here's a quick run down of the notable electrical components contained in this cartridge:
FPGA - Altera Cyclone IV (EP4CE10F17C8N)
2x SDRAM - Alliance Memory 1Gb DDR2-800 (AS4C128M8D2-25BCN)
USB Interface - FTDI Hi-Speed USB to Multipurpose UART/FIFO (FT232HQ)
ST 8Mbit Serial Flash memory (25P80VP)
Microchip Technology 8-bit MCU (PIC16F1613-I/ST)
Ai-Thinker Serial WIFI MCU module (ESP8266MOD)

What's most surprising is the inclusion of a Wi-Fi Module! When inquired as to it's usage, the tentative future feature is - "to [sic]be able to post doge pics on twitter from my N64".

A "fuller" review to come soon. So far everything I've tried with the ED64 v3 also works with the 64drive HW2. The UX is a bit nicer on the 64drive than the ED64!  Stay tuned!



 



Thursday, November 10, 2016

NES Classic Palette "Beta" - Sifting Through the Noise

Without further ado, here is my capture based extraction of the NES color palette used by the new NES Classic! Nintendo added a surprising feature - subtle active "noise" throughout the picture. I surmise this was to give a "magic" texture to the image for games with large flat fields of colors. See the following image capture with zoomed in snippet to observe the noise.

UPDATE: Release version of the NESCLASSIC.pal can be found here.

If you'd like to try my NESCLASSIC palette, you can download it here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NES "Hybrid" Palette - Striking a Balance Between Composite and RGB

After "accurately" capturing the NES composite video signal and creating a palette, I felt that the resulting image could use some seasoning of sorts.  While I enjoy the FCEUX palette, it can be a little too vibrant with a number of titles in the NES library.  I took the opportunity to create a "Hybrid" palette - an interpolation between my NESCAP and the FCEUX palettes.  The results of this palette give a best of both worlds colors.  Even the purple-ish sky in Super Mario Bros. retains some of it's purple-ish without going too deep into saturated sky blue.  Keep in mind that the color temperature and other settings on your display heavily influence the perceived color as well as the viewer's vision system (eyes and brains!).

If you'd like to try my HYBRID palette, you can download it here.

If you'd like to try my NESCAP palette, you can download it here.

The following images have NESCAP on the left, HYBRID in the middle, and FCEUX on the right.