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An Idea for Crowd Funding: Making 2600 Reproductions


vidak
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I've noticed a lot of threads on multiple forums lately about how expensive it is to get a hold of carts of fun games to play. Especially for the VCS2600.

 

Personally, I will never be able to afford many of the video games I collected and sold when I became unemployed in 2014. Prices for 2600 consoles are pushing AUD$250 for good condition lots on eBay and on our local second hand site, gumtree.com.au.

 

Many old carts are now becoming rare and as a result expensive. YouTube is also driving up demand for the limited supply of old carts, and in the long run YouTube will eventually make it virtually impossible to collect all your favourite games.

 

I was wondering, is there an organisational and social case for getting involved in making reproductions of carts? I understand there would be some tricky legal issues to work out. My hope is that a group of people could organise production around abandonware for the 2600. There must be a lot of it.

 

I see "multicarts" of NES Megaman on eBay, and I see obviously illegal reproductions of Pokemon Stadium 2 on Alibaba.

 

I've always wanted to give back to the retro gaming community, and I feel like getting involved in making reproductions could keep the community alive and accessible to new blood.

 

I firmly believe that gaming culture belongs to everyone, and having cheap copies of carts would strengthen and grow our community.

 

What do you think? Also, what would I have to do?

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You might upset some collectors by increasing the supply and diluting the market. But that's ok.

 

Doesn't Hozer do this by making carts on demand?

If I was to get involved in repros, I'd mark them as repros, to not affect the vintage market. I would also advertise them as reproductions.

 

Any reproduction organisation I set up would also have to have a social mission. I would aim not to make profit in running the organisation, and I would try my best to sell cartridges at cost, to make them as cheap as possible.

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I understand Albert makes reproductions, but I was thinking of doing it for cheaper, with perhaps a little worse quality. What I've learned from researching is that it's not really prohibitively expensive, and 2600 carts are actually much easier than other systems because the carts don't use memory mappers, all the bank switching is done in the ROM. You just have to make sure that the banks line up at the right memory addresses for 8KB and upwards games.

 

I may take out a personal loan or something, and just make a run and see who is interested. I plan on having very simple labels to make sure that the reproductions don't get passed off as originals. I may even hack the ROMs to make sure nothing unethical happens.

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What I've learned from researching is that it's not really prohibitively expensive, and 2600 carts are actually much easier than other systems because the carts don't use memory mappers, all the bank switching is done in the ROM. You just have to make sure that the banks line up at the right memory addresses for 8KB and upwards games.

The 2600 cart port can only address 4k of rom. Larger games require bankswitching circuitry in addition to the rom, and this circuitry is different for each bankswitching scheme.

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From my research the bank switching is done in code in the ROM. There isn't memory mapping circuitry like in NES games. It is true that the 2600 can only address 4K of ROM.

 

Different carts use different memory locations for the different banks.

Edited by vidak
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Nope.


The document you linked explains how bankswitch is performed from the software side, but of course this assumes that the circuitry for the corresponding bankswitch scheme is present on the cart.

You can't address more memory than a system is designed to handle without adding extra hardware.


The only way you can access a byte in a rom is by setting ALL its address lines to the value corresponding to the address of that byte. Each rom size requires a certain number of address lines: a 4k rom has 12 address lines (2^12=4096), a 8k rom has 13 (2^13=8192), a 16k one has 14 (2^14=16384) and so on.


The 2600 cart port only has 12 address lines available, so you need to add circuitry to set the extra ones in roms larger than 4k. No way around it.


Some example circuits to implement a few bankswitching schemes on a 2600 cart:




Edited by alex_79
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I would love to see this happen.

 

But I am also a strong believer in the fact these games ARE someone else's work; and say what one wants about only charging enough to cover parts and labor, but the fact is the REAL reason one would buy these is because of THAT someone's work.

I doubt the financial gains are so great as to ruffle feathers, but involving the people who created the game you're selling is just the ethical thing to do.

 

Without the actual game creators/license holder's consent, I just can't agree with a re-production, as much as I'd like to see ALL the games become widely available!

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I'm going to throw in my opinion here too. :)

 

As far as the 2600 is concerned, most of the games are really cheap. There are only a few that I consider to be too expensive. "IF" I were a collector, I'd want original carts, not repros. Since I'm a player and don't feel the need to have every cart, the Harmony Encore works perfectly for me. The only games I'd consider buying on carts would be some of the good Homebrew games, just to show my support. I don't know why the prices are so high in Australia, but here carts are extremely cheap. I would say there's more of a need for new cartridge shells for homebrews, than for reproduction games.

 

I think the system that NEEDS cheap repro games is the 7800. There are a few games that demand absurd prices, like Midnight Mutants, Commando, and Alien Brigade. Someday there may be a fully functioning Harmony type cart for the 7800, but until there is, I'd be willing to buy repro games for the 7800, if they were produced at a reasonable price. Right now, the best option for 7800 games is the Mateos Multi Cart. :-D

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Nope.

 

The document you linked explains how bankswitch is performed from the software side, but of course this assumes that the circuitry for the corresponding bankswitch scheme is present on the cart.

You can't address more memory than a system is designed to handle without adding extra hardware.

 

The only way you can access a byte in a rom is by setting ALL its address lines to the value corresponding to the address of that byte. Each rom size requires a certain number of address lines: a 4k rom has 12 address lines (2^12=4096), a 8k rom has 13 (2^13=8192), a 16k one has 14 (2^14=16384) and so on.

 

The 2600 cart port only has 12 address lines available, so you need to add circuitry to set the extra ones in roms larger than 4k. No way around it.

 

Some example circuits to implement a few bankswitching schemes on a 2600 cart:

F8 bankswitch

F6 bankswitch

Parker Brothers bankswitch

ahhh I see!

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