The DSi browser uses Opera 9.50. There are no security mitigations whatsoever. Jumping to shellcode is back on the menu! Stack buffer overflows are viable. Exploiting use-after-frees, which are often common in browsers, is easier than ever. In fact, the DSi doesn’t even have an operating system, so there’s no kernel to exploit. Various system privileges are handled by the SCFG register. The browser has enough privileges to run most homebrew, but not enough to gain persistence across boots without another exploit. Browsing on the DS was a nightmare – and Nintendo charged for it. Crazy how times have changed.
Recently over the holiday break, I became interested in the 2600’s hardware architecture and started reading everything that I could find about it. I knew that it was some kind of 6502-based system, and I’d heard mentions of “racing the beam”, but that’s as far as my knowledge went. I was shocked to discover how primitive the 2600 hardware was, even compared to contemporary 6502 systems like the Apple II, Commodore PET, and even Atari’s own 8-bit computers. The 2600 was a bit before my time – I’m from 1984 – and I’ve never even seen one in person. While I understand how important and influential the 2600 really was, I find the games and technology just a bit too primitive to enjoy today, whereas games for the NES I can still happily play today. I’m sure if you grew up with the 2600, you’d disagree.
At CES today, Sony gave a look at its latest PlayStation 5 gaming controller, but this one is very different from its previous designs. Aimed at lowering the barrier of entry for players with disabilities, Project Leonardo for the PS5 is a highly customizable controller kit that has been developed with help from organizations such as AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up. The unique-looking controller does not have an official name nor a price attached to it yet, but Sony gave an in depth look at its features today. The unique design is said to help players with limited motor control, letting them use the controller for long periods and be accurate without much difficulty. This is very similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller, and a very welcome product for those with disabilities.
Out of the blue my Steam started picking a random font I had in my user fonts dir: Virgil, the Excalidraw font. That triggered me all sorts of emotions, ranging from laugh to total incredulity. I initially thought the root cause was a random derping from Valve but the Internet seemed quiet about it, so the unreasonable idea that it might have been my fault surfaced. Who doesn’t love a good technology mystery story?
An old article, but since I had no idea Sega made Palm OS games, I find it deeply fascinating. As part of my ongoing efforts to uncover lost gems from Japan, I recovered two exclusive games made by SEGA in their brief flirtation with Palm OS back in 2002. These games were presented by their Smilebit division at PalmSource Japan Forum 2002. This was around the time SEGA were abandoning consoles and Palm OS seems to have been part of an effort to figure out “what next?”. I have to fire up one of my dozens of Palm devices to check these out. Excellent work.
Tetris is a classic time-waster, both in and outside of the office. What good is any computing device if it can’t play this game? Tokyo System House certainly thought so, and ported it to the NEC mini5 line of CP/M-based word processors. Let’s preserve it for future generations and then see what it’s like! First, the author had to get their hands on a NEC mini5 word processor. Then, they had to somehow manage to find a copy of the game itself. Then, and only then, could the actual preservation attempt begin.
We talk a lot about standards over this way, including what came before the standards were put into place and what came before that. Our last issue was about standards, even. But sometimes, de facto standards simply come into place, where a large number of people and organizations agree to do something a certain way, despite no formalized agreement or strategy. And one of the greatest examples of a de facto standard in computing history may be a controller port that remained in constant use on mainstream consoles and computers for two whole decades. I’m, of course, talking about the Atari joystick port, a port with a surprising amount of history behind it. My experience with this venerable port came through the MSX, which was weirdly popular in The Netherlands thanks to Phillips being a Dutch company. It wasn’t until much later that I realised it was in use all over the place.
The Steam Deck is a handheld gaming computer that runs a Linux-based operating system called SteamOS. The machine comes with SteamOS 3 (code name “holo”), which is in turn based on Arch Linux. Although there is no SteamOS 3 installer for a generic PC (yet), it is very easy to install on a virtual machine using QEMU. This post explains how to do it. Exactly what it says.
Doom RPG, id’s Doom game for pre-iPhone mobile phones, has been reverse engineerd and ported to Windows. Even id Software’s official “Year of Doom” museum at E3 2019 left this 2005 game unchronicled. That’s a shame, because it was a phenomenal example of id once again proving itself a master of technically impressive gaming on a power-limited platform. And platforms don’t get more limited on a power or compatibility basis than the pre-iPhone wave of candy bar handsets, which Doom RPG has been locked to since its original mid-’00s launch. You may think that “turn-based Doom” sounds weird, but Doom RPG stood out as a clever and fun series twist to the first-person shooter formula. Its abandonment to ancient phones changes today thanks to the reverse-engineering efforts of GEC.inc, a Costa Rica-based collective of at least three developers. On Wednesday, the group released a Windows port of the game based on their work on the original game’s BREW version (a Qualcomm-developed API meant for its wave of mobile phones from 2001 and beyond). Very few people even remember Doom RPG – and the various other games from id using the same engine – so it’s great more people get to play these games now. Excellent work.
It’s been 50 years since Nolan Bushnell co-founded Atari, which brought video games to the mainstream. To celebrate, we asked Bushnell what he learned during the early years—and what we’ve lost sight of since then. I’m too young to have experienced Atari in its heyday, so I don’t have much to add here. I am, however, fascinated by Atari’s classic computers, like the 800 or the Falcon, and remember fawning over the Jaguar before growing up and realising what a terrible console and cheap marketing trick it really was. That being said, I still want a Jaguar.
Valve is doubling the number of Steam Decks it ships to customers, the company announced Monday. “Production has picked up, and after today we’ll be shipping more than double the number of Steam Decks every week!” Valve said in a tweet from the official Steam Deck account. And in response to a question from my colleague Sean Hollister, Valve designer Lawrence Yang spelled out the change more clearly: “in previous weeks we were shipping x units / week to customers, starting this week we’ll be shipping 2x units / week.” Not only is the console with by far the largest game library a machine running a standard full Linux distribution, it’s also apparently doing really, really well.
The Intellivision Voice Synthesis Module was released in 1982, giving the 16-bit console the power of speech. But unfortunately, most other consoles weren’t quite as lucky. Sure, some systems, like the PC Engine CD and Nintendo Famicom, have the ability to play samples directly, so at least they can do pre-recorded speech. But the Sega Master System can’t even do that. So how do we manage? This is the kind of obscure stuff the internet needs more of.
Released a year before its main competitor, the Xbox 360 was already claiming technological superiority against the yet-to-be-seen Playstation 3. But while the Xbox 360 might be the flagship of the 7th generation, it will need to fight strongly once Nintendo and Sony take up retail space. This new entry of the console architecture series will give you an additional perspective of how technology was envisioned during the early naughties, with emphasis on the emerging ‘multi-core’ processor and unorthodox symbiosis between components, all of which enabled engineers to tackle unsolvable challenges with cost-effective solutions. As with the other entries into the series, this is great weekend reading. Incredibly detailed, covering both hardware and software, the games, the development tools, and so much more. Excellent work.
Ars Technica reports: In most cases, the release of yet another classic console emulator for the Switch wouldn’t be all that noteworthy. But experts tell Ars that a pair of Game Boy and Game Boy Advance emulators for the Switch that leaked online Monday show signs of being official products of Nintendo’s European Research & Development division (NERD). That has some industry watchers hopeful that Nintendo may be planning official support for some emulated classic portable games through the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service in the future. It would be so much easier for everyone involved if companies like Nintendo embraced the classic gaming emulation scene instead of fighting it. Imagine if you could easily buy ROMs for classic NES, SNES, Game Boy, and so on, games, without having to resort to shady ROM sites.
Guest post by Fabjo Arbaro
The Nintendo Game Processor was a custom built computer — complete with a keyboard & mouse — that was built with one specific purpose: to visually create your own Super Nintendo games, via drag and drop, and write those games onto an actual SNES game cartridge. Although the machine was never released, the planned architecture was really interesting: two parallel systems, one console-like which executed games natively and another where the development environment resided.
The Dreamcast is a bit of an odd beast. Coming on the heels of the unpopular Sega Saturn, the Dreamcast was meant to be a simple console built with off-the-shelf parts. The PlayStation 2 was already tough competition, and ultimately the Dreamcast fell out of the public eye as the Nintendo 64 was released with incredible fanfare. In some sense, it’s a footnote in console history. But despite not achieving the success that Sega hoped for, the Dreamcast has formed a small cult following, because as we know, nothing builds a cult-like following like an untimely demise. Since its release, it has gained a reputation for being ahead of its time. It was the first console to include a modem for network play and an easy storage solution for transferring game data between consoles via the VMUs that docked in the controllers. It had innovative and classic games such as Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Phantasy Star Online, and Shenmue. Microsoft even released a version of Windows CE with DirectX allowing developers to port PC games to the console quickly. We see our fair share of console hacks here on Hackaday, but what is the ultimate legacy of the Dreamcast? How did it come to be? What happened to it, and why did so much of Sega’s hopes ride on it? I missed out on the Dreamcast, but I’ve always been deeply fascinated by it, and on many an occasion I’ve come close to pulling the trigger on eBay. What always holds me back is the knowledge that most likely I’ll buy it, mess around with it for a few days, and then rarely look at it again. To any Dreamcast owners among our readership – would any of you say the Dreamcast and its most prominent titles are still worth it in 2021?
Proton has made enormous strides toward game compatibility through advances in related technologies like DXVK, which enable DirectX 9, 10, and 11 games to run through the Vulkan API. In fact, the project is so far along that Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring, working toward streaming Proton enabled games through Luna. The progress of this effort is updated all the time on ProtonDB, and today they crossed a major milestone as user reports on the site reveal that 80% of the top 100 games on Steam now run on Linux, and by extension, Steam Deck. I have long stopped even checking ProtonDB to see if the games I’m interested in run well on Linux – I just assume that the games I’m into belong to the 80%, with the remaining 20% being the massive garbage pile that are abandoned indie games, anime nonsense, and porn that have infested Steam over the years. Proton, and all the work Wine, Valve, and open source developers have poured into it, is arguably one of the biggest contributions to desktop Linux in a long, long time, and with the Steam Deck on the horizon, it’s only going to get even better from here.
Everybody knows how big of a sandbox Minecraft is, but this is taking it to the next level: somebody has built a complete 8-bit RISC processor in Minecraft, capable of running custom software: Sammyuri has reportedly spent seven months constructing an enormous–and enormously complicated–computer processor that exists virtually within the Minecraft engine. Although another Minecraft mod allows players to run the Mario 64 engine within Minecraft, sammyuri’s creation, called the Chungus 2, exists on an entirely different scale. The Chungus 2, which is short for Computation Humongous Unconventional Number and Graphics Unit 2, may be the single largest and most complex processor built in Minecraft as of writing. He even wrote an assembler so you can program it yourself.
The Casio Loopy is a 32-bit machine with a SuperH CPU, released in 1995. This family of CPUs is probably more famous for its use by Sega, but the SH7201 used in the Loopy appears to be still in production by Renesas. I’m not sure how much the SH7201 has changed over that time; it seems to be an SH-1 system, as opposed to the SH-2 used in the 32X and Saturn, and the SH-4 used in the Dreamcast. The Loopy is a treasure. If you’ve never heard of this thing before – you’re in for a treat.
A considerable amount of people assume Wayland isn’t particularly suitable for gaming, usually because you can’t turn off the compositor. This post will challenge that assumption and see how the current state of gaming on Wayland is, with a focus on KWin, KDEs compositor. A very in-depth look at how Wayland works for gaming – from input lag to rendering – compared to X, including latency benchmarks.