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Tabletop VFD Game Programming


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The user Kevtris at handheldmuseum posted a link to binaries and source code for vfd and lcd games many years ago.  Is there a compiler that can read this old source code?

It is for a Hitachi HD38820 chip.  The source code is free domain.

The link is Index of /blogfiles/Handhelds/VFD Games (kevtris.org)



HD38820A61 Coleco Ms Pac-Man.txt

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On 10/25/2023 at 6:49 PM, carlsson said:

Is that the same @kevtris who is on this forum? Perhaps he would remember.

yes, that would be me.  I have dumped 50-60 or more hand held game CPUs and took pictures of the guts and vectored many VFDs. 


to the thread author, the code is a disassembly of the dumped binary from the game. The source code is not freeware and is still technically copyright by whoever wrote it.  The CPUs used are generally somewhat obscure 4 bit ones, and the best source to understanding them is probably the mame source code (mame runs most of the dumps I have made, so if you really want to play the coleco tabletop games you can do that through mame (or many many others)).  The chip datasheets are available but don't list the opcodes for each instruction, which is where the mame source comes in.    I dumped these by reverse engineering the chip and figuring out the factory test modes to dump several different kinds and brands of microcontroller used in these.  Then some custom hardware was made to do the job.

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