Updates from MiSTerland: Chip shortages and weird shooters

On this edition of MiSTerland, the chip shortage that plauges all of tech extends to the retro scene and more CPS-2 beta updates featuring some great shooters that you might have not played.

skankcore

Hello from MiSTerland, your source for new MiSTer FPGA updates on Shacknews Cortex. This week, we have some bad news after years of trending upwards but to no fault of the project. Also on deck, the latest and greatest games in the on-going CPS-2 beta from my favorite FPGA developer Jose 'jotego' Tejada. Let's dive on in.

When the chips are down

First up, the retro scene—like any other industry reliant on printed circuit boards—is not immune to the chip shortage that has affected every sector of technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused a recent spike in prices for the Terasic DE-10 Nano board that is the heart of the open-source MiSTer FPGA project. Heavily subsidized by partner Intel, the DE-10 Nano board is estimated to contain around $300 worth of tech that was initially offered for only $110 through websites like Digikey or directly from Terasic.

Prices had climbed to around $140 in the later half of last year, when the crunch of this transistor drought was first being felt. That's the price I was able to purchase one for from Amazon in January of this year, and now the going rate is around $170 on any retailer that carries the feature-rich project board. Unfortunately for enthusiasts and those still waiting to get on-board, it looks like the trend might be only going upward with major manufacturers giving estimates of the chip famine lasting until 2023.

This project board was being subsidized from the start for educational purposes and to foster enthusiasm of HDL FPGA development. Retro game replication wasn't exactly the goal for this board to find mainstream appeal but the MiSTer FPGA project is sparking increasing interest all the time. People will have to pay a little more to build their own kit and start a digital game museum of their own for a little while, but I believe the end result is far worth it. Terasic and Intel could start selling the board at cost to retro game and MiSTer-focused shops like Castlemania Games or MiSTerAddons due to the demand for the project solely to facilitate classic game preservation. Even at $300, I would consider the overwhelming open-source support and excellent core availability to be worth it.

Wild and wacky CPS-2 shmups

Next up we have the latest from jotego and his on-going CPS-2 arcade beta core. Making their debut this past Friday, a couple of horizontal shooters that I had never seen before. Developed by CAVE but published by Capcom, Progear is a bullet-hell shmup with an incredible art style and interesting co-pilot system. The sprite work evokes a sense of Studio Ghibli with gorgeous backgrounds and impressive aircraft design.

I've definitely never seen a cabinet for this game in the wild and I've yet to play through the full campaign, but I did spend a couple minutes just getting a feel for the game. What I experienced so far was excellent and I can't wait to go back and feed the game credits until I roll its credits.

Jose also released Eco Fighters, an odd shooter with a Captain Planet bend. You take control of pods that have their weapons fixed to a rotating arm. This allows the players to shoot around the screen in any direction while dodging enemies and their attacks. Anyone familiar with Capcom's previous title, Forgotten Worlds, will be instantly at home with this control scheme.

This was made by the same team behind the Mega Man Power Battle series and that same kind of fun and playfulness shows. I played through the entire game over the weekend with a friend and we had a blast going through the varied stages with incredibly unique enemies and bosses. The weapons were also really fun to learn, with each one featuring vastly different mechanics.

If you haven't played either of these games, I definitely recommend you give them a try any way you can. Stay tuned for more updates from MiSTerland and keep classic games alive.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 20, 2021 10:42 PM

    More reports from MiSTerland and the latest in open-source FPGA gaming

    Read more: Updates from MiSTerland: Chip shortages and weird shooters

    • reply
      April 20, 2021 10:46 PM

      I really loved Progear. Generally not a fan of horizontal shmups but it really clicked with me

      • reply
        April 20, 2021 10:50 PM

        The artwork is phenomenal. I'm definitely going to play through it soon. I should do it tonight but this Diablo 2 Resurrected alpha has its hooks in me deep.

        • reply
          April 20, 2021 11:09 PM

          I never got too deep into the score attack side of it, but I put a lot of hours into trying to get a 1CC (never did accomplish it). Maybe one of these days I'll have the time to give it another shot

    • reply
      April 20, 2021 11:15 PM

      Thanks for these roundups!

      • reply
        April 21, 2021 6:58 AM

        You’re welcome! I love doing them so it’s a win-win :D The next report is going to be more Marvel focused, I think... :)

    • reply
      April 21, 2021 7:30 AM

      Looking forward to seeing what Jotego poops out this Friday. That’s a dude I’m happy to throw a couple bucks at each month for his Patreon.

      For some reason, on my CRT I can’t get the screen orientation to flip properly for the vertical shooters. I haven’t really looked into it too much, but when I do the flip, it gets all static and weird. Maybe I need to enable the scaler for VGA to get that to work, although I don’t wanna do anything to introduce input lag. One of these days I’ll try to fix it.

      • reply
        April 21, 2021 7:54 AM

        I have a strong inkling that we’re going to get at minimum, X-Men vs Street Fighter. Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter would be nice, and if we’re really lucky, maybe MvC itself. I wouldn’t mind if he spaces them out a little bit, though. He took his time on the SF Alpha series with a week between each entry, which is actually a crazy turnaround time now that I think about it. I don’t mind at all if it means he’s working off the real PCBs, which has been the case so far.

        For vertical shmups on CRT, the MiSTer can rotate the digital out on arcade cores that are in TATE mode and have the option available. The analog output cannot be rotated in the same way. You have to put your tube in TATE mode just like the arcade cabinets do. Some cores, like DoDonPachi have the option to completely flip the vertical screen if your CRT is rotated the opposite way, but you gotta flip that screen either way if you want TATE mode on a CRT.

        • reply
          April 21, 2021 8:02 AM

          https://i.imgur.com/CbGk4cF.jpg

          I keep the small CRT rotated at all times just to play TATE mode games. I have my Alt1 .ini setup to rotate the OSD and switch from the VGA to S-Video converter to Y/Pb/Pr. I desperately want both CRTs hooked up at the same time but I’ve yet to find a good solution.

          I got a powered VGA splitter which should work perfectly and the VGA to component cable works just fine with it. The VGA->composite/s-video adapter I use for the Trinitron just doesn’t like the splitter. Couldn’t get a signal at all.

          I have a VGA Y-cable that works just fine with both the component cable and the s-video adapter but because it’s splitting analog video, the brightness level gets cut literally in half. I would have to crank the brightness on my tubes to compensate and that is not good for their lifespan.

          I then got the cheap HDMI->VGA adapter that everyone claims to work perfectly with the MiSTer with no lag if your .ini is set up properly. No matter what I tried, I could not get it working for the smaller component ready TV.

          So for now, I’m just physically switching the VGA cables when I want to switch TVs but that will put too much stress on the VGA port over time.

          Maybe a different powered splitter will work...

    • reply
      April 21, 2021 7:56 AM

      i ordered one last night just in case. I guess i better actually read up on this shit

    • reply
      April 21, 2021 9:09 AM

      Updates like these should be frontpage news, a weekly recap from the MISTer land. Did you see the new design for ram expansion? https://misterfpga.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2480

      • reply
        April 21, 2021 9:17 AM

        I had not seen that, thanks! I wonder what the revision changes will be. I got my 128MB RAM from MisterAddons via Amazon and consider myself lucky to have gotten it when I did now that is has also spiked in cost. I haven’t had any problems so far in any cores that require it, with one exception, but I think it was the fault of a core update.

        DoDonPachi shows sprite corruption with its newest core update when using SDRAM but not when using the onboard DDR3. The problem has been widely reported and the underlying cause was a decoupling of some timings when using SDRAM. I think it’s fixed now (as of a couple days ago), I need to run the update script and test it again.

        • reply
          April 21, 2021 10:21 AM

          Did you try the test he posted some time ago? I tried to run it the other week, and i have no issues with any of the timings. https://misterfpga.org/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=1737&p=15267#p15267

          • reply
            April 21, 2021 10:24 AM

            Yeah, I’ve run memtest with no problems. The issue is different core developers are going to use different methods of managing their timings. Even people involved in the scene like Owlnonymous were reporting the same issue, I’m sure his personal MiSTer kit is immaculate.

          • reply
            April 21, 2021 10:24 AM

            Oops, pressed to soon, anyway, i did not have any issues with the tests when i ran it last week, but maybe that comes down to this (the other post had the wrong link): https://misterfpga.org/viewtopic.php?p=16429#p16429

            • reply
              April 21, 2021 4:57 PM

              I ran update_all and noticed a DoDonPachi update from two days ago. I switched back to SDRAM and there's no graphical corruption to be found! I didn't think there was anything wrong with my SDRAM module, I'm glad because I don't want to have to scramble for the updated module when it drops along with everyone else trying to build a kit :D

Hello, Meet Lola