Pseudo Saturn Kai official thread

cafe-alpha

Member
1. Can the Saturn play original games without cartridge inserted ? YES


2. Can the Saturn show Pseudo Saturn Kai boot menu without any CD inserted ? YES


3. Can the Saturn play original games with the cartridge inserted ? YES - although I've found that F-1 Live Information, and one of the bootleg samplers that I have will not work with the cart in (F-1 boots and runs, but crashes after the intro movie, bootleg makes it to the menu, but locks up when any selections are made). Cat the Ripper, Enemy 0, Literary Fragment, etc. all load and run fine.


4. Can the Saturn play copied games other than Vampire Savior ? YES - I've tried out around 30 games, and the only ones that haven't worked for me so far are Vampire Savior and Waku Waku 7 (goes to the character select screen, you pick a character, and then black screen).

Thank you for the feedback :) You probably may want to try with another brand of CD-R in the hope it would improve compatibility.
Also, it sometimes helps to keep burning speed to its default (usually, the maximum speed supported by CD drive) because it is said that recent drives are not optimised to handle slow speeds. Personally, I always use fastest speed, and it usually works fine on first try ... if not I re-burn another CD-R on same conditions and (with enough luck) it works fine on second try.


I suppose it could be my luck that my Saturn didn't flash them correctly due to some unknown problem, or maybe like you suggested - the carts had some flaws that didn't show up when they were Action Replay's.
Action Replay and their clones (for example Gameshark, "all-in-one" red cartridge etc) use old electronic chips no longer officially produced for around a decade. As a consequence, even if the cartridge is advertised as "new", their chips may be either old (probably defective) or counterfeit (probably defective too) so that quality may not be at the meet.
Main advantage of Pseudo Saturn Kai is to be an affordable, non-invasive and widely available mod, but on the other hand quality of cartridges may sometimes be so-so.


I did have a quick question - if I hard mod one of these Saturns, it should make flashing/experimenting/etc. easier, right? Trying to do the swap trick - especially with the one with the power supply in the top is a real pain, and I seem to get worse at it with practice instead of better!
An hard mod (modchip or ODE etc) definitely helps the installation of Pseudo Saturn Kai, because swap trick is no longer required after that.


I have the cartridge "Multi-Game Adaptor". I use it to play NTSC games on my PAL Saturn. Is it flashable? Hopefully...
This looks like an old clone of Action Replay cartridge (= it may probably be possible to flash Pseudo Saturn Kai on it), but as indicated by @RazorX, a picture of the PCB accurate enough to read what's written on electronic chips may help to verify if it's compatible or not.
 

RazorX

New Member
Here are my pictures of the PCB.
gotta scratch off that info lol, no pseudo saturn kai won't run on this i'm afraid so you'll just have to get something like an action replay if you want to flash it on something.
you can get them pretty easy, i got one off amazon.
 

cafe-alpha

Member
TL;DR : it's worth trying to flash, but I'm not completely sure it's compatible.

WR0 pin is connected to the PAL/GAL chip, so let's hope that flasher utility can write to flash ROM chips.
But, flash ROM chips have their markings being erased (that's a fashion to do that when counterfeit chips are used ...), so I can't 100% verify if flash ROM chips are supported or not by flasher utility.
Additionally, it looks like CS1 pin is connected, which implies some kind of backup memory feature being available ?! As you indicated that this cartridge can play import games, I assume it features a boot ROM (mapped on CS0, not CS1), which is the same area as used by Pseudo Saturn Kai.

EDIT : I forgot to add that expansion RAM chips aren't available on the PCB.
Here is a list of games requiring expansion RAM : List of Sega Saturn games that require an external cartridge - Satakore.com
If your favorite game(s) are on the list above, you may prefer to purchase an Action Replay cartridge with eventually Pseudo Saturn Kai pre-installed on it. Red "all-in-one" cartridge may have issues regarding this features, hence not recommended.



It's completely unrelated, but I plan to continue Pseudo Saturn Kai on a crowdfunding basis. Short-term goal is the support of image disc selection for Fenrir ODE. Please contribute if development goals make sense to you :)
 
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RazorX

New Member
TL;DR : it's worth trying to flash, but I'm not completely sure it's compatible.

WR0 pin is connected to the PAL/GAL chip, so let's hope that flasher utility can write to flash ROM chips.
But, flash ROM chips have their markings being erased (that's a fashion to do that when counterfeit chips are used ...), so I can't 100% verify if flash ROM chips are supported or not by flasher utility.
Additionally, it looks like CS1 pin is connected, which implies some kind of backup memory feature being available ?! As you indicated that this cartridge can play import games, I assume it features a boot ROM (mapped on CS0, not CS1), which is the same area as used by Pseudo Saturn Kai.



It's completely unrelated, but I plan to continue Pseudo Saturn Kai on a crowdfunding basis. Short-term goal is the support of image disc selection for Fenrir ODE. Please contribute if development goals make sense to you :)
thanks :D
i'd also like to see the ability to add/remove and edit cheats :)
as to the patreon you may want to consider also adding a $1 option just to open it up to pretty much everyone
 

cafe-alpha

Member
There will be a feature to use custom cheats, but it won't be an "add/remove/edit cheats" as done on Action Replay firmware because this requires writes to flash ROM (and potentially brick it), which I want to avoid when it is possible. Instead, custom cheat codes will be saved in internal backup memory.

I hesitated a bit in adding a $1 tiers, but if that attracts supporters from upper tiers it will be counterproductive. I prefer less supporters (but more amount in total) to terminate current goal in a short span of time rather than waiting for 5 times more supporters.
And $5 per month is something like giving me one chocolate bar every weekend, so not a big deal IMHO.
 

RazorX

New Member
There will be a feature to use custom cheats, but it won't be an "add/remove/edit cheats" as done on Action Replay firmware because this requires writes to flash ROM (and potentially brick it), which I want to avoid when it is possible. Instead, custom cheat codes will be saved in internal backup memory.

I hesitated a bit in adding a $1 tiers, but if that attracts supporters from upper tiers it will be counterproductive. I prefer less supporters (but more amount in total) to terminate current goal in a short span of time rather than waiting for 5 times more supporters.
And $5 per month is something like giving me one chocolate bar every weekend, so not a big deal IMHO.
i see, will that also mean it will support custom cheat text documents from the sd card on a gamer's cartridge for example.
yeah that makes sense :D
 

vbt

Staff member
i own this multi-game adapter too, it doesn't allow to save games, you can only run JP games on EUR saturn , i got it with bio hazard
 

cafe-alpha

Member
i see, will that also mean it will support custom cheat text documents from the sd card on a gamer's cartridge for example.
yeah that makes sense :D
Yes and no : there will be availability to read custom cheat codes from SD card, but format will be binary because parsing text is messy and makes executable larger (= less free space on ROM) on Saturn side.
Advantage of Gamer's Cartridge will be to save custom cheats on a per-games basis, vs one common list for all games when using regular cartridge.
 

megatron-uk

New Member
Hi, I've been out of the scene for quite a while - pretty much after the Rhea was first released I installed it in my Saturn and then got married, moved house and had kids... I only recently unboxed the Saturn and tried setting it up again.
I've recently updated Rhea to the latest firmware and have updated my old Linux/Unix script for generating the RMENU list/iso to be a bit better about extracting from disc images (megatron-uk/PyRMenuGen), and I then caught wind of Rmenu Kai as a replacement to the old RMENU interface.

I'm now trying to flash the full Pseudo Saturn Kai (lite version, of course) to my original Action Replay 4M Plus (+comms port) cart:

IMG_1354-.JPG

The problem I'm having is that the flasher doesn't verify writing to the cart - I have the normal cart seating/recognition issues, but I can just about get it sitting right to be recognised as a SST29EE010. If I view the cart contents in the hex viewer I can see the data constantly fluctuating:

IMG_1348-.JPG IMG_1348-.JPG

You can see the values 0xBF changing to 0xFF - it's doing this several times a second.

When I run the flashing tool it either fails immediately at the write test:

IMG_1350-.JPG

... or very, very occasionally the write will complete but the final verification will fail.

Obviously I don't have a problem re-launching the flashing tool, as it's running from Rhea, but I just can't seem to flash this cart no-matter how I seat it. Clearly after the first erase/write process the working (AR 2.02) firmware has gone, but something is definitely getting written to the flash memory judging by the contents of the hex viewer.
 

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cafe-alpha

Member
Welcome on segaxtreme forums !

The problem I'm having is that the flasher doesn't verify writing to the cart - I have the normal cart seating/recognition issues, but I can just about get it sitting right to be recognised as a SST29EE010. If I view the cart contents in the hex viewer I can see the data constantly fluctuating:
From the screenshots you took, it looks like that one of the flash ROM chip was not written (or can't be accessed) correctly.
If the flash ROM can be recognized, it means that both chips are likely to be still in working condition, so please try to re-seat your cartridge in its slot while main menu of flasher utility is running.

→ Lifting the cartridge a bit (something like 0.5mm or so) usually helps in having flash ROM being correctly accessed. You can also try this operation in the "Cartridge ROM Hexview" feature until getting data at odd bytes becoming stable, to then start flasher utility.


Clearly after the first erase/write process the working (AR 2.02) firmware has gone, but something is definitely getting written to the flash memory judging by the contents of the hex viewer.
According to your second screenshot, Pseudo Saturn Kai firmware is written in Flash ROM chip mapped at even bytes (for example, you can guess my nickname from offset 0x10 and "PSKAI_L" from offset 0x20), but Flash ROM chip mapped at odd bytes returns garbage data.
For that reason, Action Replay stock firmware is no longer accessible and Saturn directly boots to ODE menu utility.

Please give another couple of tries, and let's hope results will be better after that :)
 

megatron-uk

New Member
Yeah, after posting and looking back through the images I took it was obvious that only every-other byte had been written.

I'll try the wiggling again - buying a 'modern' all-in-one would be the easy answer, but I don't want to lose the comms link function (I have a USB Datalink for backing up saves).
 

cafe-alpha

Member
All-in-one carts are known to have issues with expansion RAM, so if you want to play games requiring it (list here : List of Sega Saturn games that require an external cartridge - Satakore.com ) you probably may want to use your Action Replay cart.


I'll try the wiggling again - buying a 'modern' all-in-one would be the easy answer, but I don't want to lose the comms link function (I have a USB Datalink for backing up saves).
Oh, thank you for this precious information ! I was planning to ditch comms link support on next release of Pseudo Saturn Kai (to save room on ROM), but maybe it would be better to keep it if there are still people using USB Data Link.
 

megatron-uk

New Member
Oh, thank you for this precious information ! I was planning to ditch comms link support on next release of Pseudo Saturn Kai (to save room on ROM), but maybe it would be better to keep it if there are still people using USB Data Link.
It's my intention, once I've got everything up and working again to take a look at the USB Datalink tool for Linux (VGKintsugi/Satlink-Linux) and see if I can add in support for extracting and inserting single saves. At the moment the official USB Data Link tool only supports saving and restoring the entire contents of BRAM; the above is a more general 'save this region of RAM', 'write to these region' tool. With a bit of work it should be possible to make an interface to manipulate the individual saves.

I would have gone for one of your Gamers Cart devices for the SD save support, but the particular flakiness of the Saturn cart port makes me wary about swapping between that and the Action Replay (for the 1/4MB support) as needed; the less swapping the better!
 

RazorX

New Member
It's my intention, once I've got everything up and working again to take a look at the USB Datalink tool for Linux (VGKintsugi/Satlink-Linux) and see if I can add in support for extracting and inserting single saves. At the moment the official USB Data Link tool only supports saving and restoring the entire contents of BRAM; the above is a more general 'save this region of RAM', 'write to these region' tool. With a bit of work it should be possible to make an interface to manipulate the individual saves.

I would have gone for one of your Gamers Cart devices for the SD save support, but the particular flakiness of the Saturn cart port makes me wary about swapping between that and the Action Replay (for the 1/4MB support) as needed; the less swapping the better!
if you flash Pseudo Saturn Kai Lite to your cartridge you will loose 1/4MB support unless you mod the actual cartridge like i did with the modern Action Replay here:
 

megatron-uk

New Member
if you flash Pseudo Saturn Kai Lite to your cartridge you will loose 1/4MB support unless you mod the actual cartridge...
I know that save support isn't currently in place (since it writes to the same flash chip that stores the cart firmware - short term planning there by Datel/EMS), but why would access to the DRAM be blocked by the replacement firmware?
 

megatron-uk

New Member
Reseated the cart as best as I can, I even reflowed every single through-hole connection on the cart; the quality of the original work was dire.

No good. The best I can manage still has several bytes fluctuating on that eeprom that won't erase.


The errors are always on the same column of bytes, all the way through the cart address space, but no consistency in where they are location (not every 128 or 1024 bytes, for example).

The only things I can think of now are:

  1. The second eeprom is dead or dieing
  2. The cart slot on this console has become faulty
  3. The Saturn is faulty in some regard
I do have another Saturn boxed up in storage, though that one obviously doesn't have a Rhea fitted. I'll try to dig it out of storage (I think it's in the attic somewhere) and see if I get the same symptoms on that. If I do, then it's obviously one of the flash roms on the cart slowly dieing. The next steps after that are to desolder the flash chips and try to find some a pair of SST29EE010 (or equivalents).
 

RazorX

New Member
I know that save support isn't currently in place (since it writes to the same flash chip that stores the cart firmware - short term planning there by Datel/EMS), but why would access to the DRAM be blocked by the replacement firmware?
ram support hasn't been implemented as to why or if it can be that's a question for cafe_alpha, until then that's a little mod i came up with.
actually in your case this maybe worth trying anyway, if a part of the SST is corrupt or not working correctly then perhaps that mod which switches between the high and low address areas may actually be what you need to get this working, at the very least it maybe worth a try.
 
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