The Arcade Blaster Help

The Arcade Blaster is a new multi-platform application that simplifies using Papilio Arcade kit and eliminates the need to directly work on HDL sources, which is time-consuming as well as requires some external tools and some expertise in VLSI. It runs on both Windows and Linux and uses command line tools from various sources.


IMPORTANT NOTE: NO ORIGINAL ROM CONTENTS ARE SHIPPED WITH THIS DISTRIBUTION. YOU WILL NEED THE ORIGINAL/ALTERNATIVE ROM FILES TO RUN THE GAMES THAT ARE SUPPORTED BY THE APPLICATION.

By downloading the software from this page, you agree to the specified terms.

Quick Links

Requirements

Windows XP SP2 and above or Linux Kernel 2.2 and above
JRE (Java Runtime Environment) v1.6
FTDI drivers

Now both JRE and FTDI drivers are part of the installer. If you have these components already installed or prefer to download and install them separately, you can use the Arcade Blaster compact version (that comes without Java) of the installer linked below.

Download

Windows Installer with Java (~19.7MB)
Windows Installer without Java (~5.7MB)
Arcade Blaster-1.0-Lin-Setup.tar (not available yet)

Source Code

Arcade Blaster-1.0-Src.zip

Installation

If you have downloaded the compact version, please make sure you have JRE installed before running the Arcade Blaster installer. Arcade Blaster installation is simple and quick. You can configure some key operating parameters for the Arcade Blaster after it is installed.

If you have downloaded the full version, it will install both, the FTDI drivers and JRE for you.

Introduction

Modern VLSI technology has made possible extremely high level of integration, allowing entire systems to be integrated into a single chip. The FPGA technology even goes one step further making this chip reprogrammable with different hardware every time. The Arcade Blaster uses pre-built FPGA bitstreams that implement all the hardware circuitry on the arcade control boards of late 70s and 80s. These bitstreams do not contain any actual game code, but provide all the hardware that a game needs to run. One such hardware can run a number of games since game developers reused their hardware platforms for different games.

The FPGA device on the Papilio boards needs to be programmed with bitstream in order to work. A bitstream is basically a series of bits that configures the FPGA to create the hardware designed into the bitstream which is, for all intents and purposes, the same hardware used originally to run the arcade game. To play a game, all you need is to select a game and press [Load Game] button, here is what the Arcade Blaster does for you:

1. Consolidate parts of ROM and convert them to mem files compatible with hardware bitfile.
2. Merge the mem files into hardware bitfile to produce a single file that represents a fully programmed Arcade board.
3. Writes this final bitfile to the Papilio FPGA board

and within a few seconds you are ready to play the game!

How to use the Papilio Arcade Kit?

The Papilio Arcade Kit consists two boards, the Papilio FPGA board (e.g. Papilio One 500k Spartan 3E board) and the Arcade MegaWing. The FPGA board implements actual hardware required for the game, while the Arcade MegaWing provides physical interfaces to connect to devices like the VGA monitor, stereo speakers, joysticks, keyboard and mouse.

The Papilio FPGA board connects to the PCB with a standard 5-pin mini USB female to B-type male cable.

The Application

The default GUI for Arcade Blaster application is a gamepad that has controls to select and load a game, look for new games and provide help for installed games.

The different parts of this gamepad interface are as follows:

  • Game list box: This list shows all the games that can be played on the Arcade kit. The game logo in the middle indicates the selected game.
  • Up/Dn buttons: Use these buttons to scroll through the list of playable games
  • Game Screenshot: Shows a small screenshot of the game, gives you an idea what the game looks like.
  • Load Game button: If you like the game you are looking at in the screenshot, it this button and the application will load it into the FPGA.
  • Updates button: This button invokes a dialog box to check for updates and lets you add support for any new games that may have been added to our list since you last updated.
  • How to play button: This button will show you a small guide to the selected game, giving a brief background, the story line and the controls. This is not as comprehensive as online help, but will give you an idea as to how to play the game.
  • Install Game button: You can install the ROM files for a game that is supported by the application. You simply need to provide it the zip file, the application will take care of figuring out which game it contains and will install it properly. You can then select it and play.
  • Settings button: This button invokes a dialog box that lets you specify which board, joystick and other items you are using so that application will use correct files and provide you the right information on playing the games.
  • Help button: Help (with the question mark) button opens the local copy of this file in the browser.
  • Exit button: This button (with cross in a circle on top center) disconnects the gamepad i.e. closes the application.

You can also use following keystrokes to invoke some of the commands:

KeystrokeCommand
Up arrowNext Game
Down arrowPrevious Game
F1Help
F5Load Game
'?' or '/'How to play game

Loading a game

Loading a game into the FPGA is very simple. Using [Up] and [Dn] buttons, browse through the list of installed games. The current game will be seen in the list box and its screenshot in the center of the gamepad window. When your favorite game is selected, hit the [Load Game] button. The Arcade Blaster application will process the game's ROM files, put them into the relevent hardware bitfile and write it into the FPGA device on your Papilio Arcde kit.

Within 2 to 3 seconds, the game should start.

How to play help

This button will display a brief description of the game, how to use the joystick, the keyboard and cursor keys on the Arcade Megawing or invoke coin play.

Installing a new game

Installing a game is very easy. All you have to do hit [Install Game] button and provide the zip file containing game ROMs to the application. The application will look for any matching files in the database of supported games. If a match is found, it will install the ROM files into the application folder and add the game to the game list box. You can now select the game, see its screenshot, and load it to the FPGA.

Looking for new game support updates

The Arcade Blaster application maintains a database of supported games, various hardware architectures required for the games and information about Papilio boards they would run on. This support keeps increasing on a regular basis, so it is a good idea to check for updates once in a while. Clicking on [Updates] invokes the following dialog box.

The application checks for updates online and displays the list of games in its database and their support status. New games that are not in its local database can be marked for update. It also shows whether a game has its support files present, and also whether it has all its ROM files installed. The icons in the games list Support/Installed columns are:

Game support files are available for download
Game is already supported by the application
Game is already installed and ready to play
This game cannot be played because of unavailable hardware or other resources

Any game with checkbox in support column can be marked to update. This will download and install the files required to play the game, which will be used when the user provides appropriate ROM files. Only games that are supported by the application can be installed and played.

Settings

The Settings dialogbox allows you to select your FPGA board and joystick. This helps the application to select the correct files to compose the game for your hardware.

Support

Help is always available on pressing the F1 key in the application
For any queries, bug reports or feature requests please make a post on Papilio Arcade forum

THE ARCADE BLASTER SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED TO YOU "AS IS," AND WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES WHATSOEVER WITH RESPECT TO ITS FUNCTIONALITY, OPERABILITY, OR USE, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR INFRINGEMENT. WE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY LIABILITY WHATSOEVER FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL OR SPECIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, LOST REVENUES, LOST PROFITS, LOSSES RESULTING FROM BUSINESS INTERRUPTION OR LOSS OF DATA, REGARDLESS OF THE FORM OF ACTION OR LEGAL THEORY UNDER WHICH THE LIABILITY MAY BE ASSERTED, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OR LIKELIHOOD OF SUCH DAMAGES.

  

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