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Verifying ROMs would be the best way to go. Last time I checked Nintendo don't release games for their original Entertainment System, so there is a limit on the amount of unique games ("clones" included), excluding fan-made homebrew games.

That said, would there be clones of NES games like in MAME or a simpler CHR+PRG regardless of identical images? There is a possibility of a game having a different program revision but the same CHR ROM. Not that zipped games are larger than around 300K!

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Originally Posted By hap
Have you considered the fact that some game revisions are equal when it comes to ROM contents, but have a different hardware configuration? It's impossible to include that in a universal database using ROM checksums as private key.


If there were, you could probably just have a window pop-up with a selection upon detection of this.


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Originally Posted By hap
Have you considered the fact that some game revisions are equal when it comes to ROM contents, but have a different hardware configuration?


Can you name any examples for this?

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IIRC, I read about a Turtles game with 2 different hardware revisions. I can't find the source where I read that.

I've invited the other NesDev guys to join the discussion, they decided to discuss over there instead (thus as a whole this discussion is getting kind of messy): http://nesdev.parodius.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=3387&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

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Their objections are just weird, although tepples did a nice job rebutting them. And some of them point to exactly why a zip container is the right thing: if you want to include manual and label scans, external sample ROMs, strategy guides, cheat codes, or whatever you can just toss 'em in the zip and it won't hurt anything. You could even include patch files for translations/cheats/etc and have the emulator prompt which ones to apply.

The one thing I agree with is that it would be hard to redump everything, but I think we know enough about a majority of already dumped games to create at least provisional "znes" (I personally like ".nez" for the zip format) versions of most games (additional info could be added as needed). Certainly bootgod's database would be useful here.

Last edited by R. Belmont; 05/29/07 09:58 PM.
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Just to weigh in, as an electrical engineer, I think the best format is a zip container with one file per ROM (flat binary, Intel hex or something like that) and programmable logic device (JEDEC would be my format of choice). The cartridge configuration can be described with a textual netlist - this is intelligible by humans (it's just a list of which pins are connected together), and easy to parse in software. On top of this, you can put in PCB scans, user guide PDFs and whatever else.

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I'm certainly no expert, but I myself would prefer any format that would archive the cartridges as accurately as possible. Say the new format contained information on how the chips are layed on the PCB and made it possible to emulate -- even if it were too slow for common computers (the NesDev forum claims that, but it might as well be FUD in favor of iNES), it could be optionally loaded in an emulator (they don't seem to have much trouble without such information currently).

I work at a museum on weekends, and I understand how important it is to properly preserve items. There is no way we would replace those old Vinyl 78s with some MP3s, it's just not proper and loses all value in studying the old format. One day, say in a few decades, real working NES/Famicoms might be nearly-non-existent, and if all we had were files in the clunky iNES format, nobody would learn anything. You can't recreate a cartridge based on an iNES container, we need a format that would allow you to do so. I really couldn't care less if it makes all hacks incompatible with the new format--that's inevitable (though NINJA is supposedly format-neutral (eg, a single patch works for both iNES and UNIF formats)). Hell, if a cartridge is stored as accurately as possible, it would be perfectly feasible to create a program that can convert it into the lesser formats if the need arises (like how you can convert FLAC to MP3 without re-ripping a CD).

Back in the day, those old vinyls were thought to be a convenient way of playing back your favorite music. Very few people thought it was necessary to preserve them, lucky for us many of those vinyls have been preserved, and we even have the technology today to use them without damaging them (laser turntables). Be it music or video games, it represents a part of the culture that cannot be ignored, historians and game-enthusiasts alike need to have a way of studying the era. We cannot afford to be careless -- it is our culture we can either throw away or preserve for ages to come.

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Especially with older systems like the NES - ten years ago people couldn't care less about the 'normal' Nintendo as there was the Super Nintendo, Mega Drive (Genesis), Saturn, PlayStation, Nintendo 64 etc, all delivering much better graphics. However there was quite a few games which never made it past the 8-bit stage, which people do miss.

My opinion is the ZIP file is the virtual cart or PCB where the chips live as such. I'd leave documentation in a separate file - the game's instruction book was never hidden inside the cartridge, even though there is probably enough space inside it!

MAME doesn't need the extra information like artwork or user's manuals in the ROM container, it's optional (particularly for bezels, marquees etc).

Originally Posted By "Mike S."
One day, say in a few decades, real working NES/Famicoms might be nearly-non-existent


NES consoles don't break, they're not called a pee-ess-two. wink

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People are seriously claiming that a zip container would be too much for low-end computers? Zip was invented on 8088s when half of NESdev wasn't even a sperm yet. Gimme a break.

Besides, any half-accurate NES emulator's going to have requirements dwarfing those of an unzip implementation.

Last edited by R. Belmont; 05/30/07 10:46 PM.
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Originally Posted By Heihachi_73
Especially with older systems like the NES - ten years ago people couldn't care less about the 'normal' Nintendo as there was the Super Nintendo, Mega Drive (Genesis), Saturn, PlayStation, Nintendo 64 etc, all delivering much better graphics. However there was quite a few games which never made it past the 8-bit stage, which people do miss.

Not only that, but many game series' had their roots on the NES (Final Fantasy, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, etc). Many people love to look back on how it all started, how far they have come. It's simply unacceptable to say "we have better consoles, destroy all the old ones!"

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