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Author Topic: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?  (Read 557 times)

BlazeHeatnix

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Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« on: August 13, 2018, 05:12:47 am »
We have a fantranslation for the original FDS version of Zelda 1&2, but the FDS required an annoying amount of load time. There are hacks for the NES versions to make them a bit closer to the FDS original such as putting in the original font, but because NES systems normally don't contain expanded audio, the original music and SFX of the FDS versions are still replaced, many of which sound inferior. This also goes for any games with extra chips, like VRC6.

However, shouldn't it be possible to hack the cart version of Zelda to let FDS audio play if expanded audio support is detected? And if not, play the stock sound? Or if that's not possible, to just replace the sound entirely? Or does that depend on the mapper?

Basically, I want to know why we don't have music hacks on Mega Man for example that change the music to be VRC6 or VRC7 quality. I apologize if this seems like a stupid question, because I don't know much about romhacking. :huh:

Bregalad

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Re: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2018, 06:00:44 am »
Basically, what you're aiming to is both almost impossible and almost useless.

Impossible because the FDS sound channel is complex, moreso than any channel of any other expansion sounds used in any other cartridge. In particular it's pitch modulation feature (used extensively in Zelda games) is extremely complex and cannot be easily replicated on other sound hardware.

It's almost useless because playing a hacked ROM on real hardware, for instance an hypotetical Zelda game hacked so that it plays FDS sounds on a cartridge mapper, requires a flashcart. Most flashcarts supports emulating the famicom disk system as well, so if you care about sounds of the FDS you should just as well play the original on your flashcart.

Even if you were to modify directly a game cartridge ROM to have Zelda instead, this would destroy a rare game with expansion sound, which is not desirable.

So basically the only approach which makes any sense would be to use $4011 and play exact records of the sound from the FDS but this usually takes almost 100% CPU time, which definitely is quite a problem.

NERV Agent

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Re: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 06:38:32 am »
There are hacks for the NES versions to make them a bit closer to the FDS original such as putting in the original font, but because NES systems normally don't contain expanded audio, the original music and SFX of the FDS versions are still replaced, many of which sound inferior. This also goes for any games with extra chips, like VRC6.

I'm curious, which hacks would these be? I always wanted an NES Metroid hack that imitates the FDS music and sound effects.

It's almost useless because playing a hacked ROM on real hardware, for instance an hypotetical Zelda game hacked so that it plays FDS sounds on a cartridge mapper, requires a flashcart. Most flashcarts supports emulating the famicom disk system as well, so if you care about sounds of the FDS you should just as well play the original on your flashcart.

His reason for doing this is because of "an annoying amount of load time". If he uses such a flashcart, will that cut down the load time?
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Mister Xiado

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Re: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 08:21:09 am »
FDS games load and flip in a very short amount of time on an Everdrive, in my experience. No reason to use an actual FDS for anything other than limited demonstration purposes, to preserve the original disks a bit longer.
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BlazeHeatnix

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Re: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2018, 02:29:25 pm »
Basically, what you're aiming to is both almost impossible and almost useless.

I see...what about my other question about changing an MMC3 game to have VRC6 audio?

I'm curious, which hacks would these be? I always wanted an NES Metroid hack that imitates the FDS music and sound effects.

Technically it's just the FDS original with an English patch. I'm surprised there aren't more FDS hacking tools out there.

http://www.romhacking.net/translations/3183/
http://www.romhacking.net/translations/2958/
http://www.romhacking.net/translations/3177/

nesrocks

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Re: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2018, 02:55:33 pm »
In short, expanded audio is usually ignored in the hacking/dev community because it doesn't work on the NES, only the famicom. So unless you're targeting the japanese "market" I think that people tend to just prefer their games to be pure 2A03.

edit: though I do own an everdrive and this seems tempting: http://www.retrofixes.com/2014/05/open-hidden-sound-channels-in-nes.html
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 03:00:51 pm by nesrocks »

BlazeHeatnix

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Re: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2018, 11:05:51 pm »
In short, expanded audio is usually ignored in the hacking/dev community because it doesn't work on the NES, only the famicom. So unless you're targeting the japanese "market" I think that people tend to just prefer their games to be pure 2A03.

edit: though I do own an everdrive and this seems tempting: http://www.retrofixes.com/2014/05/open-hidden-sound-channels-in-nes.html

I would imagine most people who make romhacks are making them with the mindset that they are either for emulators, flashcarts and modded consoles. MSU-1 hacks exist for a reason.

Bregalad

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Re: Getting expanded sound out of an NES rom?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 04:13:20 am »
I see...what about my other question about changing an MMC3 game to have VRC6 audio?
Then you have 3 separate tasks to deal with: 1) Hack the MMC3 games to that it runs fine on the VRC6 mapper, and once this works 2) Hack the sound engine to add support for extra channels and 3) actually make the music use those extra channels.
All of them are doable, but none of this is easy work. Probably requires large amount of free RAM and ROM. I'd definitely be interested in playing such hacks if the new music is good.