Souseiki Fammy and I Line-PC Information

Started by aitsu124, December 15, 2017, 04:54:22 pm

Previous topic - Next topic

aitsu124

So, for a long time now, I've been researching the products of the FDS piracy company Aitsu, who a lot of you probably know for making Tonkachi Mario, Tonkachi Editor, and Kosodate Gokko. But one of their most interesting products was the Souseiki Fammy. Released in 1988 and retailing at 19,800 yen ($190 or $350 in 2017), it was made to convert cartridge games to disks, so they could then be edited with Tonkachi Editor. Due to its price, it failed hard, and is now extremely rare.

However, here's where it gets interesting. A total of four disks were released for the SF. The first, called something along the lines of "ROM to QD for 256K", was bundled with the unit and was the core of basic operation. There was another disk bundled with it as well, called "SSO-1: B.B RAM Plus :R/W Back UP RAM Data(Nintendo Cassette type) to Disk" which was used to backup S-RAM data to disks. There were two other sold separately. "SSO-2: Slow Plus" enabled real slow-motion in games (aka not how the NES Advantage did it), however how this was controlled is unknown as it is not at all documented. Finally, "SSO-3: I2 Disk Basic" converted Family Basic tapes to disks. Out of these, only "ROM to QD" is dumped.

It doesn't stop there. There are two expansion ports on the device, each with different functions, and here's where I have to do a bit of filling in the gaps. The one on the front was planned to be used for RAM expansion packs, as the SF initially only supported Mapper 0. No one knows if these were ever released, but if they were they'd go by the names "SHO-3" for Mapper 1 and "SHO-4" for Mapper 2. I don't believe a Mapper 3 expansion was ever planned.

And now we get to the most confusing part of it all. The back expansion port was seemingly used by I Line-PC for some or all functions, but ads for the latter seemed to show it working without the SF. ILPC is an enigma, so I've never been able to find anyone who can confirm or deny this. Beyond data transfer from the FDS to Japanese PCs and vice versa, no one seems to even know how exactly ILPC worked. Not to mention, this page seems to indicate another Aitsu-made program near identical to SS0-3, and shows something called Kodakara Kun, which seems similar to ILPC's I Line Driver program.

So, it is here that I need your help. Does anyone know more about the undumped SF disks, or its expansion packs? Does someone know how ILPC worked, or anything regarding its programs, Kodakara Kun, or anything else unbelievably obscure that Aitsu might've put out? An image of a CIB I Line-PC is here, along with another I Line Driver screenshot (using my old, outdated site for now). I should also mention that a version of Kosodate Gokko also exists that was just a cable for two FDS data transfer, see here. I'm trying to compile everything I can about them, and have plans to film a mini-documentary of sorts about them when I'm done.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer regarding any of this.
Increasing source of obscure Japanese information...and interface.

Sho

Pretty old post but I'ma add to it.  A few days ago there was a seller who sold not only a Souseiki Fammy, but all 5 disks.  I was able to win the lot on the Souseiki Fammy.  Unfortunately, I passed out when the disks were sold.

I'll be getting the Souseiki Fammy shipped to me within the month, and will be able to start to provide any information that I piece together on the device.

c0op3r

Totally looking forward to hear how it works. Are you going to do a video?

theoakwoody


c0op3r





these are the 2 from the auction listing - I had never seen the thing before either.

Sho

Quote from: c0op3r on June 18, 2021, 05:26:04 pmTotally looking forward to hear how it works. Are you going to do a video?

Once I figure out how it works I'll totally do a video!  I'll definitely take pictures as well!

Sho

Finally came in!  The damn casing is solid metal.  Built like a tank!  It was dingy when it came in, but it cleaned up good.











And a comparison shot next to an AV Famicom:



Now to see if this guy still works and if not, why.  :bub:  :bub:  :bub:

Sho

June 21, 2021, 10:39:32 pm #7 Last Edit: June 21, 2021, 11:12:45 pm by Sho
The Souseiki Fammy works dumping the contents of the ROM inserted into what seems to be a QD format that is only usable by the Souseiki Fammy itself.  Meaning, you'll need one to run the dumps you create.  That is, unless there's someone out there savvy enough to fix the .FDS files to work normally.  The games dumped must be Mapper 0 & 64kb in size.



(Just for aesthetic purposes.  It looks like the machine was designed for original Famicom consoles and NOT AV Famicoms or Twin Famicoms.  However, I did test it to get it working with my TF and another FDS drive anyways.)

So, it does work!  The pins were corroded some, and some traces are broken, but it does in fact work!  Flipping the switch to "DISK" allows you to skip to the FDS BIOS screen to load a disk, and flipping to "ROM" allows you to playtest the cart you have inserted.

Since I didn't have the disks that come with this device, I instead used the trusty ol FDSStick.  Great device, everyone should have at least 1 or 2. 



It uses a ROM file named "Souseiki Fammy - ROM-QD for 256K+64K (Japan)".  This file can be found online with some good sleuthing, however the ROM does not work at all without the Fammy unit.



Upon booting it up in "DISK" mode, it asks you to eject the disk.  Of course, I'm using an FDSStick, so I simply removed it and hooked it back up to my extra drive.  Once you have "ejected the disk," it asks you to select a mirroring mode for the Fammy to use as it converts the contents of the cart to disk.  You can select horizontal or vertical mode by pressing the select button. 





Once you've selected a mirroring mode, it'll ask you to set a new disk for copying.



And once it starts copying, it'll flash a few times, with each flash being a "count" until it's done, from "Wait 05" down to 01, and finish.



One this is complete, it'll ask you to eject the finished card, and then to set a new one if you want to copy multiple copies of the game.  After this, you can reset the console and insert the disk and see if the game worked.  (Note that I removed the cart from the Fammy to show it working off of the disk.)



However, I selected the wrong mirroring for the game (horizontal), and it started to freak out as soon as the scrolling began in-game.  Similar crashing/glitches/bugs happen per-game if you select the incorrect mirroring mode for the game.



I then switched to vertical mirror mode, copied the game again, and got it working perfectly the next time:



It's a very cool device, however there is the caveat of needing a Fammy to play games converted by the Fammy.  If you try to use it without one, it'll just go to a black screen after it loads the copyright screen.



While I was doing this, a good friend of mine found that the owner of the website BAKUTENDO procured the device, and devised a way of batch converting the games WITHOUT the need for a Fammy device:

https://bakutendo.net/blog-entry-415.html

Unfortunately, you still need the Fammy to run batch converted .NES ROMs.  In this example, he quickly whipped up a .FDS convert of Duck Hunt, which I tested.



And finally for fun, I used Chris Covell's FDS Lister program to see what was going on under the hood for these converted games.  Here's what it releveled:



Every game seems to be named Sokoban Special, but with a special "001A" code before it.  A very interesting machine to be sure, with very scant information of it online.  I'll be spending the next few weeks and months looking to see if I can find any information on if it's possible to get these ROMs working without a Fammy.  :bub:  :bub:  :bub:


theoakwoody

Thanks for sharing,  what an incredible find.  On a side note,  it would be amazing if someone did a new home brew exclusive to the FDS.

Sho

Quote from: theoakwoody on June 23, 2021, 04:38:03 pmThanks for sharing,  what an incredible find.  On a side note,  it would be amazing if someone did a new home brew exclusive to the FDS.

Welcome!  It really would be amazing if someone did a homebrew exclusive to the FDS.  It should be possible, as I have seen many GD ROMs with Mapper 0 games on them.  The exact same concept, other than the fact that you need a Game Doctor to run them.  Someone savvy enough could hack those .NES ROM games to run as .FDS games and even be copied to disk.