Pseudo Saturn Kai official thread

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privateye

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Been having a weird issue that I posted elsewhere but figure here might be a better place to inquire about it:

Recently I decided to purchase one of these pre-flashed PS carts. I got it because while my flashed Action Replay cart generally got the job done, the malfunctioning RAM issue they suffer from led to some problems. Not being able to play backups of Street Fighter Zero 3 because of this was one thing, but having to switch back to my legitimate RAM carts every time I wanted to play a legitimate disc made me fear for the lifespan of my system's cartridge slot, as I've already had RAM connection issues in the past. Being able to just keep one cartridge in the system is ideal, and the extra backup memory was a nice bonus too.

For the most part, the new cartridge seems to work wonderfully! I haven't had a single issue or RAM corruption error with any game yet. However, I still have a strange issue relating to Zero 3 once it gets into a match. The music on most of the game's stages will immediately start to skip, temporarily freezing the game while it attempts to address the error and making the game unplayable.

I thought it might be the disc being too dirty or scratched, as it sometimes had audio skipping issues through the AR cart (though no game freezing), but even after burning a fresh disc that matches redump, the issue persisted. I tried it with my older AR cart again, and apart from the eventual RAM corruption, the game played flawlessly. I've also tried downgrading the version of PSKai on the ebay cart to match the one on my AR cart, but it didn't fix anything.
I'm not too plussed if it's just this one game that doesn't work, but I'm fairly curious what would even cause this sort of thing to happen to just one game to begin with.
I'm sure @cafe-alpha will chime in about this too, but I'm highly doubtful that this is a Pseudo Saturn Kai issue as PSK does not touch expansion RAM. In fact, RAM related features (= cartridge RAM initialization on startup, self test and system information features) were completely disabled in v6.274 after I reported a potential bug in the RAM check during self test. This means that the cartridge RAM should be in a stable state by the time it is accessed by the game, which therefore points to a hardware problem. Though it's very strange that other games which use expansion RAM work fine on your cart...
 
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cafe-alpha

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Been having a weird issue that I posted elsewhere but figure here might be a better place to inquire about it:

(snip)

I'm not too plussed if it's just this one game that doesn't work, but I'm fairly curious what would even cause this sort of thing to happen to just one game to begin with.
If you quote a message, please indicate where it is taken from so that other people can get idea about its context : it took me a bit of time to realize that searching in segaxtreme wasn't useful, and another bit of while to find it was initially posted in reddit :

My insights about cartridge expansion RAM are basically :
1. I'm not super knowledgeable about it.
2. It's not trivial to implement on cartridge hardware -> problems may happen on third party cartridges

Additionally, Action Replay carts and their "all-in-one" clones use DRAM chips which are no longer produced for a long time : advantage of using theses chips is that it simplifies the memory controller logic (Saturn was designed to easily interface such DRAM chips from cartridge) but on the other hand it has the disadvantage of using chips from old stocks and/or counterfeit with questionable quality.
If you have the original game and an official 4MB cartridge, it may be interesting to test several combinations to get clues about the culprit, but whatever it may be I'm 99% (not to say completely) sure that modifying Pseudo Saturn Kai won't fix the problem : my two cents is that it's either related to usage of NTSC game on PAL hardware, or related to inexistent R&D and poor manufacturing on Chinese products.


I'm sure @cafe-alpha will chime in about this too, but I'm highly doubtful that this is a Pseudo Saturn Kai issue as PSK does not touch expansion RAM. In fact, RAM related features (= cartridge RAM initialization on startup, self test and system information features) were completely disabled in v6.274 after I reported a potential bug in the RAM check during self test. This means that the cartridge RAM should be in a stable state by the time it is accessed by the game, which therefore points to a hardware problem. Though it's very strange that other games which use expansion RAM work fine on your cart...
I removed cartridge expansion RAM check in self test feature because as you indicated, it's better to avoid unnecessary changes of hardware configuration, and also because expansion RAM integrity is verified on game side.

BTW, It's good you were on beta testing front line at that time (and still now !! Thank you :) ), because that cartridge expansion RAM problem you reported made me realize it's safer to touch only things directly related to Pseudo Saturn Kai (= cartridge ROM and SD card when using Gamer's Cartridge) and keep everything else as-is.
 

Xia Liu Bei

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Hi, guys.

Newbie here. So I bought a pre-flashed Pseudo Saturn 1M/4M cartridge, which I'm currently using on my Japanese Saturn (Model No. HST-3220).



The Saturn recognizes and plays real CDs without a problem. But when I use Pseudo Saturn to play CD-R's, it rarely ever loads the game. When it does load, it will play for a little while, but will then reset to the main menu.

I've cleaned the laser and tried to adjust the laser pot, but that only made the problem even worse.

I'm using Verbatim's DataLifePlus CD-Rs by Mitsubishi Chemical Corp, and those discs have always worked perfectly on my Dreamcast, so I don't think that is the issue.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

cafe-alpha

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So I bought a pre-flashed Pseudo Saturn 1M/4M cartridge, which I'm currently using on my Japanese Saturn (Model No. HST-3220).

The Saturn recognizes and plays real CDs without a problem. But when I use Pseudo Saturn to play CD-R's, it rarely ever loads the game. When it does load, it will play for a little while, but will then reset to the main menu.
Theses are high quality CD-Rs, but the symptoms described look like an affinity problem between Saturn CD unit and CD-R, so if possible please try with another brand. There's no need to try with expensive brands : personally I use the ones available from my nearest drugstore (yes, they sell CD-Rs in drugstore here) and didn't had major problems so far.



That's a bit unrelated, but release candidate version for Pseudo Saturn Kai next release will be available within a few days :)
Before publicly releasing Pseudo Saturn Kai, I would like it to be tested by enough people to be sure it won't cause any problem after release, so if you are volunteer for testing (and reporting me testing results) please contact me by PM, or by email from my contact page.

If you just want to use latest version and don't plan to give feedback regarding RC version testing, then please *don't* contact me and wait patiently for one week or two.

About changelog : basically there aren't new major feature available, but enough changes and/or improvements to make Rhea/Phoebe users happy with this incoming version.
changelog said:
- Show error message when SD card is not inserted into Rhea/Phoebe ODE.
- Added RmenuKai : enjoy cheat codes on Rhea/Phoebe even without cartridge !
- Improved compatibility of JHL loader-only games with Rhea/Phoebe ODEs.
(Panzer Dragoon Saga can now be correctly loaded from Rhea ODE)
- Improvements in automatic selection of game in cheats codes feature.
- Improvements regarding Virtual Memory Cartridge automatic settings.
- Fixed support for some third party pads.
 

JDE

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Wow guys! It's truly amazing to see how far this has come since i posted on the first few pages. Well done all!!

Just wondering where you buy these pre flashed Pseudo Saturn Kai carts now? Did a quick search and didn't find much here but did find an old reddit post which is now closed though :(
I was going to get some more AR's off ebay or amazon, for a friend who still has his Saturn i actually modded and like me...has kids now. He has gone all retro, so if i can get them flashed already i want have to start doing all my finger stretch's and exercises again.. :D
 

cafe-alpha

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Wow guys! It's truly amazing to see how far this has come since i posted on the first few pages. Well done all!!
Size of Pseudo Saturn Kai readme is currently 106 KB, so there were few things added and/or improved during the last few years :)


Just wondering where you buy these pre flashed Pseudo Saturn Kai carts now? Did a quick search and didn't find much here but did find an old reddit post which is now closed though :(

I was going to get some more AR's off ebay or amazon, for a friend who still has his Saturn i actually modded and like me...has kids now. He has gone all retro, so if i can get them flashed already i want have to start doing all my finger stretch's and exercises again.. :D
There are plenty of offers on ebay or amazon, so feel free to choose the one you prefer and in the case you need expansion (1MB/4MB) RAM, please verify thoroughly it is available : Action Replay always have it, but for example Gameshark or other third party carts don't feature expansion RAM.

And, the request I have is to choose a cart at reasonable price : Action Replay with stock firmware costs around USD 35, so please don't pay more that USD 50 for a same cartridge with Pseudo Saturn Kai pre-installed. When developing Pseudo Saturn Kai, I didn't begged about crowdfunding nor donations so that's quite frustrating to see people making money out something they didn't contributed for.

At last, I hate self-advertisement but would like to recommend Darius if you are located in EU : price of Action Replay carts with Pseudo Saturn Kai pre-installed and tested is reasonable and unlike other sellers he helped me a lot during development of my Saturn projects.
 

cafe-alpha

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And, there aren't any volunteers for Pseudo Saturn Kai release candidate testing ? It's around one week from initial announcement, so if nobody is interested it will be put in the wild as-is.
Usual beta testers (thank you @privateye and @hugo19941994 :) ) reported it was working fine so I'm quite confident about it even if nobody more test it. With some luck, it shouldn't make your Saturn exploding this time :D
 

cafe-alpha

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privateye

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Great job @cafe-alpha! I have announced the new releases of Pseudo Saturn Kai and RmenuKai on the Saturn reddit page:
One thing though is that it seems you forgot to update the version of Pseudo Saturn Kai that includes Dezaemon 2 Save Game Manager. Here is the list of things left out from that release:
  • RmenuKai
  • Cue files for flasher ISOs (normal and alternate versions)
  • Updated flasher ISOs (normal and alternate versions)
  • Updated flasher.bin
  • Updated patcher utility
  • Updated readme
  • Updated source code
Also, there is a minor typo in the title and first line of your recent blog post; the latest firmware is announced as v6.374 but it is actually v6.314.
 
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cafe-alpha

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IMHO, Dezaemon 2 SGM3 release is OK as-is (old v6.274) for the simple reasons that there aren't new entries to add, and also because from a fine analysis done by humble myself during the last 5 months ... it interests more or less nobody.


Thank you for spotting the typo ! I fixed it on my blog, so please fix the URLs on the reddit threads.
Additionally, please change the links to Pseudo Saturn Kai from direct link to appropriate download section : this will prevent users from using outdated version after an eventual update of Pseudo Saturn Kai.
 

privateye

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Thank you for spotting the typo ! I fixed it on my blog, so please fix the URLs on the reddit threads.
Additionally, please change the links to Pseudo Saturn Kai from direct link to appropriate download section : this will prevent users from using outdated version after an eventual update of Pseudo Saturn Kai.
Done. One more suggestion; the Pseudo Saturn Patcher Utility can be downloaded on its own, so would it be possible to offer RmenuKai as a separate download too? I think this would make sense because RmenuKai is only a few kilobytes but right now you have to download a 35MB archive to get it.

IMHO, Dezaemon 2 SGM3 release is OK as-is (old v6.274) for the simple reasons that there aren't new entries to add, and also because from a fine analysis done by humble myself during the last 5 months ... it interests more or less nobody.
Ok, I understand. I guess Dezaemon 2 home-made shmups have quite a niche audience, but I like them a lot so thank you for making SGM3!
Recently @retrodadandmodernlad did a nice review of the Saturn Gamer's Cartridge and he also showed off SGM3, so perhaps the audience for this great utility will grow a bit :)

 

cafe-alpha

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Done. One more suggestion; the Pseudo Saturn Patcher Utility can be downloaded on its own, so would it be possible to offer RmenuKai as a separate download too? I think this would make sense because RmenuKai is only a few kilobytes but right now you have to download a 35MB archive to get it.
That's a good idea, thank you :)
Separate archive is added, but I fear that users may mistake between the vanilla flavor of Pseudo Saturn Kai (for cartridges) and the other one (for ODE and not requiring cartridge), so I added RmenuKai readme and a small warning message near its download link ... let's hope it won't cause too much troubles like that.
 

cafe-alpha

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Finally posted the 3d models for a couple of the Gamer's Cartridge designs I did on thingiverse.

Sega Saturn Gamer's Cartridge Case by ammarcoux
Sorry it took 3 years :ohmy: Better late than never? :marchmellow:

Think it would be worth posting the models for the label version of the case cafe-alpha?
That's very good news, thank you !! :banana:
And three years are not so long because I still have unfinished projects from that time :D

I personally think too it's a good idea to share the design(s) with label enclosure.
And if you're OK to continue cartridge case design, let's resume things with dev/proto carts ;)
 

zone66x

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Wow you really did a lot of notes with the cases! :ohmy: The page looks awesome :D Looking forward to working on the new carts :bigthumb:
 

cafe-alpha

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That's basically the notes you handwrote for each of the cases ;) Adding extra notes about PCB used, etc are important for me because I use theses custom shells to keep a track of every minor changes made on Gamer's Cartridges : more than only showing pictures, it also describes the development of my cartridges.
I still have around the half of theses shells available so that's a lot of free room for future minor or even major changes :)
 

3rdman

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Hello to all...gosh its been a while since I've visited...wow.

In any case, I recently picked up a "This is Cool" console (stealth brag) and paired it with an "all-in-one" styled Pseudo Saturn red cart...every backup I've thrown at it works perfectly EXCEPT for Magic Knight Rayearth. The game would play the opening cinema as normal, fade to black, and it would stay there.

One thing I triy was pulling the PS cart out during the cinema and sure enough, the "Press Start" screen would appear...pressing it however would lead to an error screen telling me that the cartridge save system needs formatting with no way of exiting back into the game.

The compatibility lists shows that this game should play without issue...any ideas?
 

Ponut

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Pulling the cart out while the system is powered on was very likely to irreversibly damage it.
It sucks to say this but there is little assurance we can give unless you get a new cart.

That said, I had a lot of trouble playing Magic Knight Rayearth too. It was all down to the quality of the burn. Burn, burn, re-burn, re-burn, maybe even get a new laser. Or was that the one where I needed the CD patch? Hm, i don't remember, wouldn't hurt to try,

I also had the issue of "stopping after FMVs" with the US release of MechWarrior 2 ACE in particular. To get around that, I used a different release.
 

3rdman

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I think the cart is OK...everything works and I even updated the firmware. In any case, most of my backups boot without issue and the cart's behavior is unchanged.

I'll try different media and try again. FYI I've continued testing and comparing with my other mod-chipped Saturn...Policenauts has been interesting. I made patched English backups and only disk 1 boots with PS yet all 3 boot on the other.
 
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