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  • Joined: 15 Aug 2019
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Homebrew Potential
Post Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:21 am
Been seeing more and more homebrews on the Master System recently and for some titles I've never even heard of like Cabbage Patch Kids etc. I was speaking with a guy on twitter who is doing something with the original Final Fantasy for SMS too. Can Speccy games run on there? What else?

What potential is there for porting other systems onto the Master System? I'm a complete novice and apologies if this have been asked before.
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Post Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:41 am
Because of the Master System’s backward compatibility with SG-1000, games for ColecoVision and MSX1 are often quite easy to port, but with the same graphics capabilities as on the originals. The developer might make a port to Master System with enhanced graphics if that fits the game.

For other Z80 based systems it is rather more difficult. The systems of that time were generally differentiated by the graphics chips and the games built closely to match the capabilities of the chip. Porting a game from Spectrum to SMS would be difficult to do without basically rewriting much of it. It’s also the case that ROM based code is often written differently to RAM based systems like Spectrum, so code changes would be needed.

Games written for other CPUs will need to be rewritten from scratch in most cases.

One possible exception is games written for the original Game Boy, which has a CPU very similar to the Z80. However, the graphics chip capabilities and screen resolution are very different which is likely to frustrate ports. While the Game Gear does have the same screen resolution, it’s a different shape and the difficulty in converting the data remains.

Another example is some homebrew written to be very portable in C. There are C compilers for many systems and sufficiently simple games can work across many of them.
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Post Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 12:52 pm
Thanks Maxim, it's really interesting to me and really opens up the potential for new games on the Master System. I knew a little about the SG1000 and to a degree the Mark III as well. I did see some really weird copy of Q-bert a few weeks back too. I think I'll have to get looking at a few more.



Maxim wrote
Because of the Master System’s backward compatibility with SG-1000, games for ColecoVision and MSX1 are often quite easy to port, but with the same graphics capabilities as on the originals. The developer might make a port to Master System with enhanced graphics if that fits the game.

For other Z80 based systems it is rather more difficult. The systems of that time were generally differentiated by the graphics chips and the games built closely to match the capabilities of the chip. Porting a game from Spectrum to SMS would be difficult to do without basically rewriting much of it. It’s also the case that ROM based code is often written differently to RAM based systems like Spectrum, so code changes would be needed.

Games written for other CPUs will need to be rewritten from scratch in most cases.

One possible exception is games written for the original Game Boy, which has a CPU very similar to the Z80. However, the graphics chip capabilities and screen resolution are very different which is likely to frustrate ports. While the Game Gear does have the same screen resolution, it’s a different shape and the difficulty in converting the data remains.

Another example is some homebrew written to be very portable in C. There are C compilers for many systems and sufficiently simple games can work across many of them.
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 2:21 pm
8BitBoy wrote
What potential is there for porting other systems onto the Master System? I'm a complete novice and apologies if this have been asked before.


Hi 8BitBoy - I've been mulling over this question myself. I've not been on this forum for many years, I wrote the game "Bloki" (a Tetris clone) for SMS Power compo in 2015 and haven't really been back since. Its a long story but I was an alcoholic when I wrote it and my life fell apart. I'm doing better thesedays and recently I've been wanting to do some retro asm coding again and have been coding a simple PONG game on the CGA for IBM PC which is nearly finished. I aim to continue with this process, since I have a few games I'd like to tackle and will hopefully have a game to contribute to SMS Power 2022 compo. PONG has been a good way of "lumbering up" and getting myself back into the swing of it again.

I've been getting inspired by a number of old arcade games (think late 70s) and also looking more at the SG-1000, early PC games and Spectrum games. There is something really beautiful about the most minimalist games and you can work out in your head as you're playing them how you would approach doing them yourself as a dev.

A great example of a Spectrum port would be Bruce Lee which was done by Kagesan of this forum in 2014, it is beautifully done.

SG-1000 as mentioned would be a good platform to play with for simpler games, and as the system isn't exactly bursting with quality titles it feels like a good challenge to do something really well on it. Its one of the reasons I stayed away from NES dev because the NES is so well served for brilliant games that any of my efforts will likely pale horribly in comparison.

I would say the Spectrum library offers some great inspiration, and its also nice in that the screen res 256x192 is basically ideal for SMS or SG-1000.

So my advice is to go trawling through older and more simple games looking for inspiration on what you might adapt or improve.

If you're totally new to it don't feel embarrassed to write pong or snake, you'll gain a lot of satisfaction from doing it. Heck, getting your first Hello, World on screen is a buzz.

How about trying to port ZX Spectrum's "Ground Attack" to the SG-1000? I think that would be a nice fit.

Also, as an aside, I'm also based in Lancashire, so its nice to come across someone else who is! Feel free to have a natter with me.
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