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Moviecart – Full length color movie and audio cartridges for stock Atari 2600 (github.com/lodefmode)
346 points by Lutzb 78 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 39 comments



I love the absolutely crazy things happening in the retrocomputing space right now. We have these chips with many, many orders of magnitude more computing power available for peanuts, and the obvious thing to do is apparently to cram them into these ancient machines for fun.

Throwing a bunch of compute into a cart and using the "real" computer as a very bad GPU is such a fun idea.


I want to see retro gaming built on ESP32 hardware.



Action Retro just posted a video of an AppleII card based on the ESP32. It plays Doom


exact spot in video where it plays Doom

https://youtu.be/NT5fb6wR5M8?si=b1WKlpCk5BNE8ETc


ESP32 with 4MB of RAM.


This is exceedingly cool use of cartridges. Just as a thought experiment I've often wondered if some of the cartridge based consoles could be expanded considerably. Along the lines of this project, would it be possible to throw an arm chip in a cart and send these as h.264? I'm not at a computer but would love to see how differently some modern codecs compress.


On top of all the other examples, Hayazashi Nidan Morita Shogi 2 was a cancelled SNES games from 1995 that was going to us a 21MHz ARMv3 processor for AI. I just like the idea that they would throw in a processor that was probably about 5-10 times the power of the main system CPU.

That a very similar spec ARM processor would become the brain of the Gameboy advance many years later.


Assuming by SNES you mean Super Famicom (since there’s no way a shogi game was going to be localized!) - it did release. The NES port was cancelled, though.


Definitly! Check for example https://github.com/ShironekoBen/superrt allows for realtime raytracing on the Super Nintendo using a Cyclone-V FPGA.


See also tom7’s Reverse Emulation video: https://youtube.com/watch?v=ar9WRwCiSr0


The "making of" video is also great : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTlNVUmBA28


Yes. The Harmony Cart and the UnoCart/PlusCart both have ARM chips. Games have been made that make full use of the chip. Probably the most impressive IMO being Robotron from ChampGames.

The PlusCart also includes a WiFi chip for Internet access.

Exciting times in the world of the Atari2600.


I was thinking about making a chess cartridge for a famicom, with something like lower end arm in it.


There was a Super Famicom shogi title that did exactly that, Hayazashi Nidan Morita Shogi 2.


Thanks for the info!


You may already know this: there were pretty decent chess programs for 6502 CPUs back in the day; you don’t really need an ARM unless you want to run a modern chess engine.


Not for famicom afaik. And I see no point putting yet another 6502 on cartridge.


This is exactly the sort of gem I love to find occasionally on HN.

Done not for money, but, if I may paraphrase George Mallory, because the challenge was there.

Someone had to do it.


Right? Expecting to see this on hackaday soon, if it isn't already.


I always say, I was so stupid/pointless - it had to be done!


Outstanding! And props to the author for creating a 2600-style manual for this with "The Jerk" (Steve Martin at his finest) on the front cover and "more great titles to add to your collection" on the back, including Star Wars and Kramer vs. Kramer. I'm curious why he chose "Model CX2615" for this though. That was "Demons to Diamonds" and was released in 1982, though his manual clearly shows "(c) 1977 ATARI, INC."


Just waiting for 'E.T.' to get the treatment. =P


They did fix the game already. http://www.neocomputer.org/projects/et/


So the cartridge is the computer and basically treats the console as a dumb display? That's not as exciting as I was hoping.


The 2600 is streaming the data from the cartridge, including the program that is run on the 2600. We should remember that there's no frame buffer in the 2600, so there's considerable work done by the 2600 every frame - just as there is when its working with any other cartridge.

The 2600 kernel that runs on the 2600 is excellent but the encoding method is what makes a real difference here. Lodefmode did a great job with this. The use of playfield/background and player colour is exceedingly clever.


No frame buffer. The target CRT display scanned an electron beam from left to right in about 63 microseconds, snapped it back in just a couple more microseconds, working gradually downward to produce about 200 such lines before taking a couple milliseconds to return to the top. The 6507 had to literally write the pixels into that raster in real time, and was just skin of the teeth able to do that, hence the phrase 'racing the beam', leaving just the retrace times for any other program code to run. To get video from a cart, all that still has to happen. Pretty cool.


It reminds me of the gameboy player for the SNES, where the entire gb console ran inside the cartridge and used the snes for inputs and display. In this case a PIC controller is the cpu in the cartridge doing the heavy lifting.


Ever hear the term "racing the beam"? That came out of game programming for the 2600. There is a book named after the technique that is pretty great and well worth a read.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racing_the_Beam


Now, if we just add Sloot's compression technique, we can include an entire movie library on a single cartridge! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloot_Digital_Coding_System


Interesting mystery!

> The Sloot Digital Coding System is an alleged data sharing technique that its inventor claimed could store a complete digital movie file in 8 kilobytes of data — violating Shannon's source coding theorem by many orders of magnitude. The alleged technique was developed in 1995 by Romke Jan Bernhard Sloot …

> just days before the conclusion of a contract to sell his invention, Sloot died suddenly of a heart attack. The source code was never recovered, and the technique and claim have never been reproduced or verified.


8k for a prompt perhaps


About four hours of total content from 4GB is really nice. The cartridges seem to go for $25. This is a cool medium to explore. Gonna have to put me on one of these.


I’m impressed! The way the 2600 does graphics I would have thought this to be impossible but you did it!


See also: the port of Dragon's Lair to the TI-99/4A.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB3oHdSjfCE


Keeping it period accurate.. 7 more years until cloak and dagger would come out!

https://youtu.be/tB6Uj2RGhPU


That’s some deep nostalgia right there.


I wonder if this would run properly on a moded Atari Flashback 2...


Wow very cool




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