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Author Topic: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?  (Read 681 times)

Psycho Fox

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MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« on: December 09, 2017, 09:46:05 am »
Hey folks.

The MSU-1 has had quite an impact on the SNES emulation community.

I wonder if it's possible that something similar could be created for the N64 (or indeed any other console emu).

There are a lot of games that could really benefit from higher quality music.  The Turok games, Mario Kart and many others.  Personally, I'd love to play F-Zero X with the Guitar Arrange album - can you imagine?

Anyway, being ignorant as to what the prerequisites to such a thing would be, I thought I'd ask you guys. :)

KingMike

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2017, 11:16:59 am »
MSU-1 was designed to be something possible on an actual SNES console. It was not created simply because the author wanted to make sound hacking easier, as what I feel a lot of requests for "MSU-1 on x console" are.

So that would require an answer from someone who actually understands how the N64 works on as deep a level as byuu has researched the SNES.
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Chronosplit

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2017, 02:18:47 pm »
The N64DD, perhaps?

Jorpho

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2017, 02:36:57 pm »
As I understand, part of what inspired MSU-1 was a rather reviled hack for Chrono Trigger ("Chrono Tied", wasn't it?) that supplied it with a custom soundtrack – but it only worked in ZSNES, and there's plenty of hate for that already.

So, sure, it would probably be quite possible to make a similarly awful kludge for an N64 emulator; it might even be easier with the plugin architecture – but it would be an awful kludge.  Something resembling MSU-1 would probably require considerably more in-depth knowledge of the N64 than is readily available.

The N64DD, perhaps?
Documentation for that is pretty spotty, isn't it?  I might expect that it would be easier to start from scratch.
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KingMike

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2017, 02:59:33 pm »
Aren't N64DDs only about 64MB, which was about the same size of the largest cart game?
(it probably seemed like a lot of memory in the early days when they were dealing with mostly 8 and 12MB carts)
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nesrocks

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2017, 03:02:46 pm »
I think the question that has probably already been asked and answered is "is it possible on the NES?". A lot more people know the NES ins and outs than the n64.

Chronosplit

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2017, 03:12:00 pm »
Yeah that's true, the DD needs a lot to get big enough (IIRC research is why N64 emulation is lacking as a whole).

Flames of Eternity also sort of has this problem with sound last I heard.  It's somewhat similar to older SMW hacks exploiting ZSNES in the audio.

I think the question that has probably already been asked and answered is "is it possible on the NES?". A lot more people know the NES ins and outs than the n64.
I can only imagine someone making FMVs for Ninja Gaiden.  I wonder how far the limits would be for that?

Psyklax

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 04:28:07 pm »
I can only imagine someone making FMVs for Ninja Gaiden.  I wonder how far the limits would be for that?

Remember the Sega CD? Yeah, let's not even try it on the NES.

But can't the N64 just play CD quality audio? It just doesn't have a CD drive to store it on. Then again the same could be said of the SNES...

Frankly I'm not entirely convinced by the MSU-1 anyway: BS Zelda was absolutely fabulous, but beyond that I can't really see anything interesting. I can enjoy games without a CD soundtrack. At least the Sega CD had an extra 68k processor so the games could be better (in theory).

Psycho Fox

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2017, 12:01:17 pm »
^
Oh, don't get me wrong.  I still enjoy the games I play.  I just think that one of the areas that the N64 (and the GBA for that matter) lagged behind was the audio side (mainly due to storage).

Would 'virtual ROMs' be an idea?  Say, doubling the ROM size and using half of it purely for audio storage.  Then music tracks could be called using some sort of page flipping instruction or something?  Sorry if that's all rubbish - just a pleb putting it out there. :)

radorn

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2017, 04:17:42 pm »
I'm not entirely sure about what the exact MSU-1 specs are, so, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but, I think it is an extension to the SNES, such as any other special chip could have been, that just adds 4GB of storage (32-bit address space) that devs can use however they want. Storing audio and video are two "simple" ways to use it, but it could be used to add regular graphics and data too (?).

IF this correct, then I have two answers for you.

First of all, even though no cartridges were ever officially produced bigger than 64MB (512mbit), the address range available for ROM use on the console's specs is bigger than that. I looked into this a long time ago and I don't remember just how much you could have, but it's more.
If that isn't sufficient, keeping it to official hardware, there's the 64DD, but that's kinda messy and impractical to use for homebrew, I would say, plus very few people have one.

As for unofficial hardware, I don't know about the everdrive, but the 64drive allows direct access to the slotted SD card from software, so you can basically have multigigabytes of storage that way. Plus, the newer HW2 model has 256MB (that is, 2048Mbit, 4x the biggest released cart) of RAM mapped to the cartridge ROM address range, with RW access. I think you can even DMA from SD to ROM-RAM. You could use it as a large cache, as a slower RAM, or whatever really.

If emulator devs wanted that kind of functionality, they could copy that.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2017, 05:02:34 pm by radorn »

Jorpho

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Re: MSU-1-Like Upgrade for N64 Emus Possible?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2017, 12:59:31 am »
I'm not entirely sure about what the exact MSU-1 specs are, so, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but, I think it is an extension to the SNES, such as any other special chip could have been, that just adds 4GB of storage (32-bit address space) that devs can use however they want. Storing audio and video are two "simple" ways to use it, but it could be used to add regular graphics and data too (?).
The MSU-1 takes care of playing audio.
http://helmet.kafuka.org/msu1.htm

There is a demo of CD-quality music playing on a SNES without an MSU-1.  I thought I read somewhere that it was unusually CPU-intensive, but I can't seem to find that reference.  But certainly, I would expect hacking an arbitrary SNES game to use CD-quality audio in that fashion would be extremely difficult.  With the MSU-1, it's basically a matter of sending a quick instruction to the chip to play a music track, leaving the rest of the code to execute normally.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_60V8UdYEY

See also this video regarding how the Genesis was tortured into playing unusually high quality music.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3m3JrVImmU
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 01:08:44 am by Jorpho »
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