Do you think Mega-LD games will ever be emulated?

Let me just say first, to remove all doubt, that I am not making any kind of request for someone to work on this or anything. I'm just asking what kind of insights people have in the subject.

Do you guys remember the Pioneer Laseractive? For the most part, it really wasn't all that special, especially in light of other good Mega Drive clones like the Wondermega/X'EYE. But there were a couple dozen games made for it that utilized the LD-ROM format, and unless you own a Laseractive, you simply cannot play them even now. This goes for both the Sega PAC and the TG-16 PAC. Many of these games are completely exclusive to the system, too.

So, what do you guys think? Can such a thing be emulated? I suppose there are a couple big questions to ask. What would be the best way to rip the analogue video content? How might one rip either that or the data directly from a laserdisc? Would you need a really custom drive? I would imaging that emulating these LD games would be a piece of cake if there was a standard method of imaging them.

The entire Pioneer Laseractive system may not have a single great game in it - I've heard as much myself - but it's sad and also intriguing to think that these games may be doomed to fade into history as their original hardware and software dies out. I'm surprised to find myself thinking of buying one of these just to try out some of the extremely obscure shmups on the thing.

EDIT: I found out all about the DAPHNE project for arcade laserdisc games, and in their forums I found this very insightful topic. I'd still like to hear what people here think, though.
 
The main problem is dumping the LD-ROM data. The LaserActive is the only device I know of which supports LD-ROM formatted discs.

However this works to our advantage. Going on the assumption that both the Sega and NEC PACs have modified BIOSes that support CD and LD content, the BIOS could be dumped and examined to determine the extra LD-specific hardware registers and BIOS functions. This would allow a custom program to be written to sequentially dump the LD-ROM section of the disc. This program could be run from the cartridge slot using a flash cart.

Transferring the data back to a PC could be accomplished using the Sega CD transfer suite that Mask of Destiny developed, or something custom in case more speed was needed - I think the LD-ROM section is 540 MB.

It's also possible that if any LD specific hardware is disabled when a cartridge is inserted, that a dumping program could be loaded off CD-ROM into RAM, and then the user could eject the CD and insert a LD assuming that doesn't force a reset of the system.

So in short, it's possible, but we need somebody with a LaserActive, the right PACs, all the LD-ROM games, and some technical know-how to get it done or the willingness to send all that expensive and rare gear to somebody who can do it. What a mess. :)

EDIT:

According to this pic:

http://assembler.roarvgm.com/laseractive/laseractive_3/laseractive_3.html

The Sega PAC has the BIOS in a standard sized EPROM *and* it's socketed. Talk about a no-hassle dump. Maybe it would be easier to convince an owner to dump theirs if they had the right equipment as no desoldering would be involved.
 
Thank you very much for the input. I'm glad to see at least some optimism about something like this. I've actually been casually eying some laseractives on Ebay, and even though I am honestly too broke to handle getting one this month, it may just happen some time in the coming year. If it does, I would honestly be very interested in getting something like this started. I've already got a flashcart (tototek kind), and I'm not scared to open up my systems.

What exactly would one need to dump the BIOS?

EDIT: Things certainly seem to be happening on the MAME front. Their methods may seem a bit extreme, but I think they are probably the best and would be a good example for any Laseractive efforts to follow.
 
What exactly would one need to dump the BIOS?
You will need a device programmer. There are hobbyist kits like the Willem programmer, and then professionally made ones which go for $100 and up. On average they are quite expensive.

If you didn't want to dump it yourself, you could remove the BIOS from the socket and then ship that to somebody who could dump it. Maybe they could burn a spare EPROM for you for future repairs. ;)
 

ExCyber

Staff member
Is there a "front-end" BIOS that would need to be dumped that's outside the 68K address space? If not, shouldn't it it be possible to dump the BIOS noninvasively via the controller port with an SCD program?
 
ExCyber said:
Is there a "front-end" BIOS that would need to be dumped that's outside the 68K address space? If not, shouldn't it it be possible to dump the BIOS noninvasively via the controller port with an SCD program?

Depends on how things are set up. The Sega CD BIOS could have been rewritten for Mega LD support so a BIOS dump would do it. Or it could be banked (or there's another ROM elsewhere) that contains the LD specific stuff, which would need special hardware access (like a register write) to enable.

Probably the first thing to do would be as you said, run a SCD dumping program to snag the BIOS and check it for any differences. I was just pleased to see how easy it was set up for 'regular' dumping with a device programmer.
 

Xavier

Mid Boss
Hi imo the hard thing would be getting the info(iso) off the ld's. Ive been looking at laserdisc players on ebay and I bet itd take a week to dump a game. I really wouldnt be suprised if the bios is any different than a SCD. The system isnt any more powerfull the storeage meduim is just bigger. Other systems used ld-roms like the the palcom and halycon.

Ill check out the link(on Daphne) but last time I looked Daphne just recorded video so itd only work for games like dragons lair.

I have most of the laseractive games and a wilem, Id love to dump these games.

Taken from wikipedia:

The standard LaserActive games were on Laserdisc encoded as a LD-ROM. An LD-ROM had a 540MB data area (where digital audio would have normally been stored) with sixty minutes of analog audio and video.

So basically it has over a gig(each side), you can split it up half and half. 1/2 data 1/2 sound music.
 

Xavier

Mid Boss
everything I dump comes up as DDDDDDDD when I open it with wordpad, Ive tried dumping the bios, a cart and the cd back up ram cart
 
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