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- Dwedit

#1 2019-02-10 1:45:36 pm

Registered: 2019-02-10
Posts: 2

Which emulators work on GBA Movie player

Hi Dwedit et. al,
So, I found my GBA SP and my "The 2nd version GBA Movie player" (odd that they didn't capitalize the "p" in player...not that odd given where it came from, I guess - lol) while cleaning out a drawer today.  Fired it up, had some games on it, and for emulators, had:

- goomba.gba on it (which when launched and you press L+R, reads "Goomba v2.23 on GBA")
- bignes.gba (which when launched and you press L+R reads "PocketNES v9.98 GBAMP r5")
- smsadvance.gba (which when launched and you press L+R reads "SMSAdvance GBAMP V1.1 on GBA 2005  Flubba, Dwedit, Chishm http://boards.pocketheaven.com" whew, that was a long one :)

I'm trying to figure out if things advanced (pun intended) much further on the GBA Movie player or if this was pretty much as good as it got?  It seems like most folks have moved on to various flash cards like the EZ-Flash Omega and Everdrive, or EZ4 or something like that.  I went and got the latest firmware that I could find (here on your boards, thanks - update.e19 from http://www.dwedit.org/dwedit_board/atta … ?item=286) and updated that (was scared after all these years, but went just fine).

And then I went and got the latest emulators that I could find, I got PocketNES Version 7-1-2013 from your site (http://www.dwedit.org/gba/pocketnes_2013_07_01.zip) and Goomba Color Version 12-14-2014 from your site too (http://www.dwedit.org/gba/goombacolor_12_14_2014.zip) and found the latest SMSAdvance Version 2.5 from Zophar (https://www.zophar.net/download_file/16428), from their great list of emulators (https://www.zophar.net/consoles/gameboy.html)...

Anyway, sadly, all three seem to just launch with a white screen on my GBA - I copied each of them just into the root of the 256MB (lol) CF card, and tried to launch them, like the above ones would just launch, and Goomba and PocketNES just give a white screen, pressing L+R doesn't help, have to turn off the GBA and turn it back on.

My guess is these aren't compatible with the GBA Movie player?  Or maybe I have to build them into roms (concatenate them)?  I tried doing a cat of the latest Goomba with a game (no dice, still just gave a white screen), the resulting .gba just gives a white screen, tried pnesmmw.exe with a game (Pirates!) and no dice, still just gave a white screen on the result of that too.  Bummer.

In the old days (over a decade ago) I know I eventually got some of this to work as I have some .gba files on the flash card that are actually .gb games that are packed with the emulator (an older version of Goomba - the games say "Powered by XGFLASH2.com 2004 Goomba v2.0" in the L+R menu).  But, whatever PC and utilities I used is now long gone 10+ years later.

It would be super fun to get the latest and greatest (or the latest that can be run) going on the GBA SP with the Movie player again - but am kind of at a wall here - do these versions work with the Movie player?  If not, what are the latest ones that will work?  I know you don't own SMSAdvance, and I believe your versions of Goomba and PocketNES are dramatically updated/rewritten from the versions above (I've tried to do some homework and read every thread I could find here on the forum that seemed related), but any advice would be awesome.

I'd gladly write and host (or you could host) a FAQ for folks on getting this going if you have any advice here - it feels like a fun part of history and it'd be nice to preserve it.

Thanks for any advice, and sorry for the long post (I wanted to provide as much info as I could).


#2 2019-02-12 10:56:40 am

Alex Trebek (Administrator)
From: Chicago
Registered: 2004-12-12
Posts: 991

Re: Which emulators work on GBA Movie player

Thank you very much for this post, I'm excited to still hear about the GBAMP versions of emulators.

Emulators that run on the GBAMP are very different than the standard versions of the emulators intended for flash cartridges.

On a Flash cartridge, you can take the emulator file, and append on the games, and all the data is sitting in cartridge space, ready to use.  Everything is available to the emulator.

But the GBAMP is completely different.  In cartridge space, you only have the GBAMP's own bios, and none of the emulator code or ROM data in there.

The GBA has a total of 384KB of RAM inside.  32K of fast memory, 256K of slower memory, and 96K of video memory.

An emulator made for the GBAMP will need to fit the entire program code, filesystem access code, and game ROM together within the GBA's own ram.  In order to make ROMS fit, it uses a paging system.  16K chunks of game roms are paged in and out of memory.  So when the game needs to load a new page of code or data, it needs to throw out an old page, and load in a new page.  You get a delay during this time.  If there isn't enough memory to hold the 'working set' of code and data the game needs, then it will repeatedly be unloading and loading new data, this is called "thrashing".

The newer development versions of emulators need more memory than before, so if I were to GBAMP-ize them, there would be fewer pages available to store banks of rom data, so they would cause thrashing a lot more.

There was this one time where I actually relocated the emulator code to run inside of the GBAMP's own flash rom, so the emulator set acted as a kind of 'firmware update'.
I actually got the emulators working, and they were newer versions than what was available before, and had more RAM available to run games.  Unfortunately, I was getting strange crashes at random.  Later, I figured out that it was probably due to an electronic part inside of the GBAMP responsible for locking and unlocking the cartridge ROM (there's a CPLD in there).  So it would trigger locking the cartridge ROM while it was running. and Crash.

"We are merely sprites that dance at the beck and call of our button pressing overlord."


#3 2019-02-12 2:48:43 pm

Registered: 2019-02-10
Posts: 2

Re: Which emulators work on GBA Movie player

Thanks Dwedit!
You confirmed my suspicions, that the modern emulators (at least the ones you maintain - PocketNES and Goomba Color) aren't cut out for the GBAMP.  Bummer, as I was hoping I was just doing something wrong here or had forgotten some trick from 10+ years ago or a piece of software I had to use to prep the emulators/roms (concatenating them, packing the roms, whatever). 

I suppose you would have said so, but I'll ask just in case, do you know the latest versions of the emulators that work with the GBAMP (extra credit if you have links to them or something) :)  As far as I can tell, it is:
Goomba 2.23 (roughly from August, 2005)
PocketNES 9.98 (roughly from May, 2005)
SMSAdvance 1.1 (roughly from November, 2005)

At least, those are the latest ones that I can find that seem to work...not sure if they advanced beyond that and I just stopped installing the updates, or if that's when the scene basically ended (with the emulators basically getting as advanced and complete as possible with the constraints that you noted about RAM) for the GBAMP and everyone moved on to flash carts.

On that point, even if there are newer versions that work on the GBAMP, I doubt they handle all the roms and mappers and so forth, so I went ahead and ordered an EZ-Flash Omega (will take a month to get here from China via eBay, but it was only $15.99 - shockingly cheap compared to the old days)...looks like they build in the latest emulators (two of which, per above, are yours - hopefully you're okay with that or are being compensated somehow), we will see, but the reviews and videos look good.

Thank you again for help, and for the huge contribution you've made over the last 15+ years here with work on this stuff.


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