Phoinix, the free Gameboy emulator for PalmOS

by Bodo Wenzel
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  free cartridges
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  the history ==>
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  the playability testing
  skipping frames
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  limits and extensions
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About the history

On this page, newest first: - Phoinix v.1.4.2 - Phoinix v.1.4.1 - Phoinix v.1.4 - Phoinix v.1.3.3 - Phoinix v.1.3.2 - Phoinix v.1.3.1 - Phoinix v.1.3 - Phoinix v.1.2.2 - Phoinix v.1.2.1 - Phoinix v.1.2 - Phoinix v.1.1VFS - Phoinix v.1.1 - Phoinix v.1.0 - PalmBoy

Phoinix v.1.4.2 (June 2008)

This version has an enhanced direction control via pen. Around the start point where you set down the pen there is a "dead zone". Inside the zone no direction button is simulated as "pressed". The size of this zone is now guided by the distance of the dragged pen for a better user experience.

Phoinix v.1.4.1 (July 2007)

Well, there was a small error preventing the deletion of saved states, if the games is stored on an external memory card, and you switched to another game after the deletion. If you launched the game, the states were deleted correctly.

Phoinix v.1.4 (March 2007)

The main new feature is the support for multiple saved states per game. Whatever you like to play best, adventure, action, or puzzle: No more fear of taking the wrong decision. Just a quick save, and you can return to this point in time...

Additionally Phoinix has received some improvements:

  • High resolution icons, and uncompressed thumbnails on devices with high resolution displays.
  • An option to show the wall clock as info field while playing.
  • Better compatibility for some games.

Phoinix v.1.3.3 (January 2007)

Huh, two very old errors which hid from the beginning are caught! The first depended on erroneous documentation which flags are changed by the simple rotates. In the other case there were too many raster interrupts. Both errors didn't show up in most games of all.

Phoinix v.1.3.2 (December 2006)

This release adds just two improvements, support for the users of the Fossil Wrist PDA, and a relaxed import of new games.

There were two problems on the Wrist PDA. First, characters are written directly on the screen. So Phoinix has to switch off this feature, called "Jot", to enable direction control via the pen. Second, the Back key has the special function to close dialogs and applications. If the Back key is mapped, and the emulation runs, Phoinix traps the key and prevents the quitting.

The import of games from the directory "/PALM/Launcher" reported an unnecessary error when a file was no Phoinix game. This is gone now.

Another change was introduced just for the development to get Rana, the Phoinix debugger, up and running. Rana simplifies the debugging and searching for patches a lot!

Phoinix v.1.3.1 (June 2005)

Only two days later, and a little fault had to be corrected: when launching the emulator with a paused game, the GB screen wasn't redrawn :-(

Phoinix v.1.3 (June 2005)

This version received a lot of improvements and additions. Some enhancements are just under the hood, but other things add greatly to your user experience:

  • For users with low memory there is now a Lite edition which has a minimized user interface, mainly by removing all options dialogs.
  • The manager lists the games in a scrollable list instead of the old popup.
  • You can navigate the manager quickly by entering the first character of a game's name.
  • The new feature "Auto save state" enables to change the game without losing your state. This is an early stage for multiple saved states ;-)
  • After many requests "frameskip" is finally implemented. And it is done in two modes, "Normal" and "Boost". The former controls the pace of the emulation trying to maintain the speed of the real GB by using only the necessary number of skipped frames or inserting small delays.
  • The new button mapping gives you a never known freedom in using available hard keys.
  • The emulation screen layout is configurable with emulation controls, GB buttons, or information fields.
  • Just a small but nice feature: no auto-off while keys are pressed.
  • Pen controlled playing (opening the menu, direction control, configurable screen layout) is now possible.
  • The VFS (external memory cards) support is greatly enhanced. Games with bad names are not deleted any more but reported.
  • The error handling is improved also.
  • And last, but not least, there's now a hidden easter egg...

Phoinix v.1.2.2 (April 2004)

On OS5 devices the 5-way-navigator works as direction control. This is just a quick-n-dirty hack, and its mapping can't be changed.

Another small bug in the memory card support is fixed: bad filenames stopped the build of the list of games. Now those cases are reported and the files are deleted.

Phoinix v.1.2.1 (March 2004)

Two problems are addressed with this intermediate version:

  • New devices with OS5 and/or certain screen properties are supported better.
  • Due to a bug the manager froze under certain circumstances. This bug has been worked around.

Phoinix v.1.2 (April 2003)

This is a maintenance update to v.1.1VFS, I have just smoothed some quirks. Additionally HJ's ideas about the user interface clean-up are included.

Phoinix v.1.1VFS (May 2002)

Because of my faux pas this version made it into the starter kit. It was not planned, but since it works well, it's now an official release version. Yes, it has some minor quirks when you install games via install tools or card managers. (Work-around: install games on-board and move them with Phoinix.)

The only difference to v.1.1 is the VFS support. "VFS" stands for Virtual File System, an extension of the PalmOS introduced with OS4; it may be available as a separate library on earlier versions, too. With VFS there is a common way to access several kinds of external media like memory cards.

Phoinix v.1.1 (March 2002)

This version is just a bug fix. Under rare circumstances (launch Phoinix with saved state and low memory) the device needed a reset and lost the saved state.

The Portuguese and Italian translations were added. Netherlands, Spanish, and French translations are in preparation, too.

Phoinix v.1.0 (January 2002)

Phoinix introduces these new features compared with PalmBoy v.3.3b:

  • Cool new graphical user interface, no special meaning for the Menu and Find silk buttons any more.
  • Your preferences are preserved.
  • The last selected game is the default selection.
  • A running game is continued after re-launching the emulator.
  • Game can be renamed (the clipboard is supported).
  • Button mapping.
  • Support of the GamePad of Worldwide Widget Works.
  • Support of HandEra's H330.
  • Option to reset the game directly in the emulation.
  • Checkbox "Run" to pause the emulation.
  • Info display: played time, battery power, and emulation speed.
  • Games with MBC3 cartridge controller get the real time.

Unfortunately PalmBoy's format of the games' databases is not suitable for some new features. So you have to convert the cartridges again with the new converter for Phoinix. Some next version of Freedom will change the format from PalmBoy's to Phoinix'. Additionally read about the thoughts on what to implement, please...

PalmBoy (March 2000 - July 2001) Morphing Palm to GB and back.

The idea for a Gameboy emulator was born somewhen in 1999. I heard that another programmer, Mike Ethetton, was working on an emulator and I mailed him, offering my support. After many weeks he sent around a mail saying that the legal aspects of emulation are quite difficult, if you want to make money. And he seemed to stop the project, so I started my own.

PalmBoy came out in the summer of 2000 and it could only render the background of the GB screen, therefore only few games worked... You'll understand my surprise when Mike released his emulator (known as Liberty) at nearly the same time.

After only one year most games could be played, and PalmBoy had some ten thousands of downloads. At that time Palm Inc. decided to defend its trademark, the word "Palm", against even the smallest unlicensed usage. In the course of this campaign many authors of websites and applications were asked to change the name, and at PalmGear an application was not shown if its name contained Palm.

My emulator was affected, too. Since it is available at no cost, and it is a hobby project, I don't feel like spending time and effort for such issues. Consequently I took PalmBoy away from PalmGear. At the end of 2001 I designed a new user interface, the old one was not versatile enough for the planned enhancements. This was the chance to rename, and a colleague had the idea; and the "Phoinix" was reborn!