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.
By downloading the software from this page, you agree to the specified terms.
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.
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.
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!
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 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:
You can also use following keystrokes to invoke some of the commands:
|Up arrow||Next Game|
|Down arrow||Previous Game|
|'?' or '/'||How to play 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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