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Author Topic: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?  (Read 6514 times)

Scio

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Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« on: February 07, 2014, 08:47:15 am »
I don't know the correct term for it, but what I mean is which consoles have an embedded system font that can be used in the games themselves? An example is the Nintendo DS, I guess (a lot of games use the same font, which I believe is the system font). I don't know if it's the same thing as shared libraries.

Just curious.

Bregalad

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2014, 09:00:52 am »
Any console with a BIOS have an internal font.
Any console without a BIOS (i.e. you can't boot without a game) don't.

Modern consoles all have a BIOS, only the old consoles such as NES, SNES lacks a BIOS (but the Family Disk System HAS a bios), and therefore lack an "internal" font.

Scio

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2014, 09:17:18 am »
I'm asking this because of the PSX. I'm pretty sure none of its games use the internal font (I think the only internal font is the one used on the CD player), but plently of Dreamcast games use the internal font.

KC

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2014, 09:20:05 am »
The presence of a BIOS doesn't say anything about the presence of a font. Take the GBA as an example.

PSX does have a builtin font though, which can be accessed through syscalls. Many games use it, for example Castlevania SotN (except for the fan retranslation).

Zoinkity

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 09:56:20 am »
It really matters on the design of the system and if the BIOS were designed to be accessible.  Not just the GBA, but the GB had a BIOS.  Other systems utilize the BIOS to provide simple utility, taking away some of the overhead you'd have with embedding the same basic libraries in all software.  Early microcomputers tend to have internal fonts and some function to simplify using them.  All iterations of the Spectrum would be an example.  In fact, pretty much all games on there utilize different functions from its BIOS, including string manipulation, mem copy, and IO. 

Funny situation with the N64 is that although the system doesn't have an accessible "internal font", all bootstraps had a 1bit font that could be used as one.  Nobody used it of course (though a few cloned it for their internal debuggers), but it's part of the specification.
The 64DD, on the other hand, provided several functions for printing its 6-8 internal fonts.  They're actually the same fonts stored two different ways, though I'm pulling a blank on just how many there were.  It also had a generic sound bank containing stuff from the Foley library.  It's still to be deduced if anybody bothered using any of it.  Only expansion disks have been dumped so far, and they all utilize their own resources.

The PSX was designed along the same lines, so I think you'll find similiar functionality if you poke it hard enough.

henke37

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 06:57:05 pm »
To add to the list, the GameCube has at least one font built in.

Bregalad

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2014, 05:59:44 am »
Quote
The presence of a BIOS doesn't say anything about the presence of a font. Take the GBA as an example.
Oh that's right I completely forgot about this.

In other words, if there's no BIOS there's no internal font (*), if there's a BIOS it depends how advanced the BIOS is.

(*) technically speaking it's not true, but you're very very unlikely to ever see a system with a built-in font and without a BIOS. The C64 has a CHR-ROM with a built-in font which is separate form the Kernal (Comodore's name for their BIOS), so technically, a system COULD have a CHR-ROM with a font in it, without having a ROM with a BIOS, but again, there is no reason for doing so and you'll be extremely unlikely to ever see this.

hugues

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2014, 10:40:10 am »
The Intellivision and Odyssey2 both had built-in fonts. The Odyssey2 font set is limited to uppercase letters, numbers, and some special characters (I don't know the complete list but Google could find it). The Intellivision had everything you would find on a computer keyboard in addition to a copyright symbol that looked more like an @ sign.

VicVergil

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2014, 11:10:15 am »
I have yet to see any DS game that uses an "internal font" from the bios.
If you meant the one commonly used in Avalon Code/Chibi-Robo/... for example, that one was actually an NTRF file included in the ROM itself, and by modifying it we can see it uses that variant actually.
Saying it was some kind of standard font is like saying the SMB font used in many NES games is an internal font; which is wrong. It might have been a standard font included in the SDK.

Same goes for GameCube games.
Dunno about the Wii.
Only game I learned it used such a font was all non-fantranslated Castlevania SoTN variants for the PSX (the Saturn port has the font instead included in the ISO).

Gemini

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2014, 11:23:06 am »
Quite a number of Japanese PlayStation games use the BIOS font, such as Mizzurna Falls or Clock Tower: The First Fear. A special case is also Xenogears, which reads the BIOS font for displaying Memory Card SJIS strings lifted from save data. As for DS games using the BIOS to retrieve glyphs, I can think of most Chinese games available on iQue DS, a special revision of the regular DS which contains a BIOS with a full Chinese set just to allow the language without having to resort to an NTFR file in memory (restrain issues? Caching stuff on demand can fix... :o).
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Scio

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2014, 11:40:59 am »
Now that you mention it, I distinctly remember Clock Tower really used a very different font. I wondered if they did a rush job in porting the game, because the font is quite big for the window (it only printed two lines of text, because of how big it was), and they left broken words all over the place (a word begins in a line and ends on the other), something japanese games rarely do.

I asked this mainly because I restarted a work someone abandoned long ago, and in his notes he said he suspected of the game font being from the console itself, because he couldn't find a corresponding font in the game, not even encrypted. It was a Dreamcast game.

KingMike

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2014, 11:45:53 am »
Technically FDS has an internal font. It's loaded into VRAM before booting the game. I don't know if it can be reloaded afterwards. But since it's numbers, uppercase letters and a couple punctuation marks only, it's probably not that useful for most Japanese games anyways.
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VicVergil

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2014, 02:17:01 pm »
iQue DS roms (all six of them) are self-contained, and they have the font needed inside the roms without any need fora special bios. Just changing a single byte can make the roms free region to test this.


Scio

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2014, 05:50:29 pm »
Here's a comparison screenshot I took between both versions of Clock Tower 1 (SNES and PSX):


Even if the PSX image is stretched, the letters barely fit one line.

Bregalad

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2014, 05:56:59 pm »
Quote
Technically FDS has an internal font. It's loaded into VRAM before booting the game. I don't know if it can be reloaded afterwards.
Of course it can (the BIOS, including the font, is mapped at $e000-$ffff). I don't know how many games uses it, but it certainly could be useful for games with not a lot of text. But considering how few space it takes, it probably wouldn't hurt to have your own custom font stored on the disc, unlike the disc is like crowded.

As for clock tower : Does the kanji comes from the BIOS as well ? That'd be quite impressive. Still even the size of a full kanji font is negligible compared to the size of a CD-ROM...

Gemini

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2014, 06:49:05 pm »
Here's a comparison screenshot I took between both versions of Clock Tower 1 (SNES and PSX):


Even if the PSX image is stretched, the letters barely fit one line.
I see only a difference in style there. The PlayStation port fills the entire horizontal space for glyphs, while the SNES leaves a few empty dots, but the strings begin and finish exactly in the same portions of the screen.
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Scio

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2014, 06:51:08 pm »
I looked through some PSX BIOS dumps, and indeed, there is a 1bpp font right at the end of the file, all in S-JIS order. In every BIOS except the japanese one, there is a section before the roman alphabet, with a lot of letters from Spanish/Portuguese/Slavic alphabets (é, ã, ñ).

I see only a difference in style there. The PlayStation port fills the entire horizontal space for glyphs, while the SNES leaves a few empty dots, but the strings begin and finish exactly in the same portions of the screen.
There's a part after this where she spells someone's name (Graham something?), where the SNES game renders all in one line, and the PSX one uses two lines.
And those brackets...

FAST6191

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2014, 07:05:41 pm »
On the DS. Outside of the menu/pictochat if you see a game shares a font then it is far more likely because Nintendo*/the publisher/dev/some middleware company provided it; theoretically you could pull one out of the firmware (I doubt the BIOS features one) but when the font is otherwise a few hundred kilobytes at worst and would end up in memory either way it is easier to just stick it in the ROM somehow.

I will have to have a look though, I had not really noticed such a thing (I can well believe it mind you, I tend to only notice if it uses an exotic font).

*most are probably aware but the DS SDK was very extensive and includes a rather nice font format (NFTR) plus the relevant libraries as far as consoles go. Granted not even close to most games used such functionality but that is not what was asked.

Celice

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2014, 09:17:00 pm »
Did the PSP ports of Final Fantasy I and II use the PSP's internal font? If not those, I seem at least to remember hearing something about translations using the internal font, or being unable to translate precisely because the game in question depended on the system's font :o

KingMike

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Re: Which consoles have "internal fonts"?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2014, 12:32:53 am »
As for clock tower : Does the kanji comes from the BIOS as well ? That'd be quite impressive. Still even the size of a full kanji font is negligible compared to the size of a CD-ROM...

Say there's 2000 characters at 1bpp 16x16, that's only 64,000 bytes (1/8 the BIOS). I can't imagine a great deal of memory being needed for the Sony logo, CD player and memory card graphics and code doesn't usually take up nearly as much space as graphics. :)

GameCube must've, as I believe there's some Japanese games that require the BIOS font and as such will unavoidably have mojibake if... somehow... booted on a non-JP console.
(Nintendo Puzzle Collection is a specific game I've seen.)
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