Phoinix, the free Gameboy emulator for PalmOSby Bodo Wenzel
This page was only possible because of the Internet Archive! I have to confess that I didn't save the old news myself, until this page was initially built. Thank you folks for this great site!
Please note that all links and embedded images are removed to save space. Don't hesitate to ask if you're interested in anything!
Finally I found some time to add the lastest "Thank you!" entry on the Cookies page. Though they still need a quiet hour to be tried adequately.
The new version v.1.4.2 is available: triggered by a user request the direction control via the pen was enhanced.
Well, we have again a full translated Spanish version, provided by Alex Henrie. To send some greetings to the U.S.A. it lives separately from the Bolivian version that was never updated to v.1.4.1...
Today a small maintenance update is released. It corrects a small error that prevented the deletion of saved states of games on external memory cards.
Phoinix becomes mature now. The long awaited feature to save multiple states per game is available, all translations at one place on the download page of the SourceForge project. PLEASE BACKUP YOUR PRECIOUS DATA BEFORE TESTING!
Below in the table of downloads you will miss this current version for most languages. This is because no one translated the texts of the user interface. If you like to help, read the translation chapter.
Finally it's on its way: the long awaited feature to save multiple states per game is available as beta test. The files to download are in the experimental package of the SourceForge project. PLEASE BACKUP YOUR PRECIOUS DATA BEFORE TESTING! 'Phoinix-1.4pre1-Full.zip' contains the full English interface, and 'Phoinix-1.4pre1-Lite.zip' is the version with the Lite interface.
Please note that the structure of the preferences (emulation options, button mapping, screen layout) has changed, because there is another enhancement. You can choose to show the time of day on the screen. You have to adjust the preferences anew.
If you like to send any reports, direct them to the development mailing list so that duplicates are minimized. Please note that you have to be a subscriber or your posting will be automatically discarded. Sorry, but there is too much spam.
Well, well. The holidays gave me some chance to work through my to-do-list. And Rana helped a lot to find some minor errors in Phoinix, and some patches. So there's another release v.1.3.3 which is available right now. Have a lot of fun!
For you curious ones, this is the list of changes:
OK, finally I found the time to finish the next release. Phoinix v.1.3.2 is now available, see below. For the casual user it has nothing great new; but the Fossil Wrist PDA is now supported much better, and the import of new games is more relaxed now.
Well, this project is not dead, even if some of you might think so. It's right, the lists didn't see any posts for quite some time, if you don't count the spam I'm filtering. This might be a sign of Phoinix' maturity, because users don't need any assistance. Anyway, as time allows I'm still working for Phoinix:
Just a quick update, and unfortunately bad news: a nice Chilean started another GB emulator for OS5 devices with the ARM processor. It is very promising, even though its sound routine crashes my T|T. This guy set up the "mario" project at SourceForge and everything looked so cool. But then some moron stole his PDA and he can't afford a new. So development has to be stopped! If you think you can do something, get in contact via the link above, please.
There is still an issue with Fossil's Wrist PDA and its Back key. If you happen to call one your own, and you like to help getting this key to work with Phoinix, please drop me a note.
Currently I'm working most of the time on Rana. Rana (Latin for frog, guess why this name was chosen) is a graphical "front-end" application that talks to Phoinix and shows things from the Gameboy's point of view. I'm writing it in Java, just to learn that language and because Rana can run on every reasonable system.
What are the reasons for Rana? It is so difficult (and it has always been) to investigate why some games are not emulated correctly. For few problems solutions are found, mostly patches to work around the dirty tricks of the GB programmers. Rana should reduce the effort greatly!
The drawing at the right shows roughly how Rana should work:
Currently Rana can load PDB files with saved states. Most views are implemented, and I have learned a lot. Launching GDB, sending commands, and receiving its output works already, too. Now comes heavy stuff: control Phoinix so exactly that everything runs reliable. It must be possible to set an unlimited count of breakpoints, and to single-step through the machine code.
It's been a really long time since the last update of these pages. Partly it was because Phoinix seems to be quite mature, partly because there is a life beside the computer ;-) However, I have not been lazy; several weeks were dedicated to 25thanni, a demo program for the ZX81 and its 25th anniversary. And read below about Rana, a frontend to debug Phoinix at the level of the Gameboy. This is what I'm working at most of the time. But before telling that story, let's look at some updates:
Update 1:Alex released his Phoinix Conduit for Windows some time ago. I'm sorry for the delay...
Update 2:David wrote a converter frontend for Mac OS X, see the converter GUI chapter.
Update 3:This has nothing to do with the emulator, but with me: I'm really disappointed by some people. They contact me, appreciating the work I've done, announce some cookies, and then nothing happens! It might be too much to mail a packet, so I have collected some links to on-line shops. Hopefully they know how to click a button ;-)
OK then, what is Rana? [...] Here followed the text that went into Rana's description on the "How to make cartridges run" page.
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 :-(
You waited so long, but now it happened: a new version is released. Quick, scroll down the page and get it! But don't forget to backup your precious data before installing! The preferences of the games have changed so much that they could not be imported; they are only few, no big deal...
Oh, you're still here?! Probably you would like to know what changed from the last version. Well, that is documented on the history page.
Nothing more to say... but: HAVE A LOT OF FUN! Hint: the last time some cookies reached me is more than a year ago. If you like the new version, I'd love to find some cookies in my mailbox...
Oh well, actually I wanted to release the v.1.3 these days. But on one of the last tests on OS5 I came across a bad bug. So the release will be delayed some more days, sorry :-(
Update: This bug is obviously in the RAM disk driver I had on my device. The fatal error "Free memory handle" is also shown when the driver is installed after a hard reset...
Christmas is coming, and I'm very sorry to say that I can't give you a new public version of Phoinix this year :-( My free time is still very short, but I hope to find some free hours "between the days" as we say in Germany.
To bribe me - or better my family - to spend more time on Phoinix, some cookies might help ;-)
And another translation is available, finally! Users from the Netherlands may now enjoy Phoinix in their native language. It took long, because the first three tries failed before they succeeded.
Some good news for the Greek users: a translation just for you is available. You have to install PiLoc from Paragon Software (SHDD) to use it.
You know, it's a lot to do in the garden this time of the year... So the development of Phoinix goes on, but slowly. The new handling of the hard keys is in its test phase, I'm waiting for some reports. Currently I'm working at the code to make the controls below the emulated GB screen configurable.
Alex updated his Phoinix ROM Converter a bit. Please send all questions about it directly to him.
Some good news for the Greek users: a translation just for you is on its way. You might like to install PiLoc from Paragon Software (SHDD) and get familiar with it until the translated version of Phoinix is published.
Yes, after some days I'm back home and hope to have some hours for Phoinix. Alex sent me an update of his Phoinix ROM Converter, and it's included in the tools.zip archive.
Alex sent me the new Phoinix ROM Converter, and I included it in the tools.zip archive. It looks really great, the right stuff for M$ users!
Since days I'm brooding over the user interface in the manager, and I'm wondering whether the user interface of PalmBoy (Phoinix' precursor) wasn't better. The matter is discussed on the mailing list for development, please feel free to subscribe it. To get the amount of malicious emails limited, only subscribers are allowed to post, but anyone can browse the archives.
It would be great, if you share your opinion. If you don't want to subscribe the list, just drop me an email.
Because Alex' page for his "Phoinix ROM Converter" got too much traffic, his converter is now included into the tools archive.
Alex set up a page for his "Phoinix ROM Converter", it acts as a frontend for the command line converter I wrote. Please don't confuse this application with Aaron's Phoinix RAM Save Converter which converts saved cartridge RAM.
As requested, the v.1.2.2 supports the 5-way-navigator found on OS5 devices. This is a hard coded quick-n-dirty fix.
Another small bug in the VFS support was found: games with bad filenames on memory cards are now DELETED! However, this will be solved better with the coming v.1.3. Good filenames consist of letters, numbers, and a small set of special characters including apostrophe, minus, dot, underline, round braces, and some few more.
This is just an intermediate version. I'm still working on v.1.3 with quite some new features. You might like to subscribe the mailing list for new version announcements to get notified. Even more you can join the mailing list for developers to discuss with us.
BTW, reports about G18, iQue, i500 devices are still missing. If you have such a device, please check out v.1.2.2 and send a report.
Additionally, I'd like to have some user of a Garmin iQue run a small test application to obtain screen properties. Please send me an email if you like to be the one.
Yes, I'm back... and I could work on Phoinix. But there's again a woman in my life, and additionally she has four nice daughters. So my time is limited more than before. Currently I'm preparing another release of the debug version of v.1.2 to hunt down the error that few of you encountered.
These days the internet is flooded by the email worm "Sobig-F", and so are several mailing lists and many email accounts. My own accounts received over two hundreds of such emails. Fortunately it infects only Micro$oft(TM) systems, and I'm using Linux ;-) There's no need to unsubscribe the lists: I'm sure that this won't last for days.
Sorry folks! For the three weeks I'm away from my keyboard, and I will be so busy that I can't answer any mails. In August I'll be back, and promised: I'll answer any question then. Hopefully the bug described below will be found then, so you all can use this emulator with more fun!
Aaron Link's converter for saved cartridge data is now available as a beta version. Please visit its homepage, Aaron loves to hear from you ;-)
Unfortunately there seems to be a problem with v.1.2: under currently unknown circumstances the manager (the screen with the big "GO!"-button) doesn't let you start a game, the device just beeps. If you like to help, there is a test version. As always: PLEASE BACKUP YOUR DATA BEFORE TESTING! Installing the test version does _NOT_ overwrite your standard version, it has another name ("PhoinixDebug") and another creator ID. You can remove it without affecting the other Phoinix stuff. Each run adds some messages to a database named "Phoinix-dump", which you should find after a standard backup in the appropriate directory on your PC. Due to an error I made, you need some tool like FileZ to set the backup bit of this database before, sorry. Currently I haven't the opportunity to correct this. Please send me this file, including any information you think is important.
Yay! Raul Rea made it: the spanish version. Just click the Bolivian icon below to download...
Do you like to play on your handheld and on your PC? Aaron Link's converter for saved cartridge data has its own homepage. Please consider that it's an alpha version, yet.
Currently my time is very limited, so the next version with integrated OS5 and Clié compatibility will be published some later time. Sorry for the bad news...
Phoinix is now available in french: Phoinix-1.2-frCA.zip, translated by Marc Collin.
To thank you who have spent money for the TT, I have made a q'n'd hack to put the GB screen back to full size. Unfortunately it slows down the emulation a lot. Please try Phoinix-1.2OS5.zip. It should help users of the NX70V, too.
Of course I'm working on a better solution to give you back the used speed. But probably it will take some percent...
Sorry, Ben! The last time I forgot to mention your contribution: you compiled the converter for MacOS X. All its users should download the new tools.zip!
Thank you very much! This goes to all the generous donators who contributed to Till's collection. Now that Palm let down the prices, a brand-new Tungsten T is in my hands! I'll see what creeps into my mind to enhance Phoinix further ;-)
No surprise, the announcement of a C64 emulator produced some return. So its initiator (no, it's not me!) created a Yahoo group named "pal64". Please subscribe its mailings and post there. They are thinking of an Open Source project at SourceForge, too.
SORRY, the link was broken! But now it should work: Till has started a collection, see his posting to the mailing list. Instead of shipping some cookies you might like to contribute ;-)
To present you the converter with a nice graphical user interface (GUI) I'm learning Java; you might have read it. Now Java Web Start is part of the Java 2 Standard Edition, so I'd like to give this way of deployment a try. Please check out my test application!
Sorry for being so lazy, but I'm quite busy. There are some contributions to check.
The text "Translating Phoinix" is now available.
The GUI flaw with OS3.5 or better (the first taps in the manager form seem to be offset) will be corrected soon, promised! The simple work-around is to bring up and cancel the find dialogue or the menu with the menu button.
After checking the unavoidable overhead for frame skipping, I decided to introduce this feature in some next version.
There's a new patch: "Tabaluga" (german version) should now show correct texts and player sprite. As a test, patches will be distributed in IPS format now. Please let me know your thoughts about this!
The following news are from PalmBoy, Phoinix' precursor!
OK, folks. This will be the last message on this site, I think. The second beta version of Phoinix is out, and I'm preparing its homepage. If you like to know about the public launch as early as possible, please subscribe the mailing list for new version announcements. I expect the launch in the first days of 2002.
WHOOPPEEEE! You folks at SourceForge have accepted my request for "Phoinix", thank you very much!
Phoinix is now the name of the emulator, please visit the new homepage, and get all you like there. Hopefully there's enough time in the Holidays to setup everything: downloads of the emulator (after killing all bugs of the betaversion), tarballs of source code of released versions, CVS access to current source code, mailinglists, ... When the new home of the emulator is up and running, I will stop updating this site.
Good news! I just finished the beta version of the next version. It is sent to the betatesters, and now I'm preparing the release. Keep your fingers crossed...
But no light without shades: I have a warning for you. The version 1.0 of Freedom has a bug if used with MBC2 games. Please use only the corrected version 1.1!
Paul Chandler wrote a graphical front end for the converter in Tcl/Tk. You need a Tcl/Tk installation to use it, the primary HTTP site is www.scriptics.com/software/download.html. The frontend is included in the tools.zip archive. There's also a new EXE for Windows which doesn't cripple the filenames.
HJ did some more playability testing - please look carefully through the compatibility list if you missed your favorite game; maybe now it's tested?
Saving the current state between exit and relaunch of PalmBoy seems to work properly. Now I have to clean up the code and do some more checks, then the next betaversion will be sent to the testers...
I'm sorry that the host were down some time. But now it's back! There's a new page with patches...
The playability datasheets are now in HTML instead of PDF. Thanks to HJ for his effort. Please mail him, if you like to comment the datasheets.
Now the basics of accessing the screen of the HandEra H330 are worked out. So you will get H330 support in the next version. Currently I'm working on the save state feature, and having not finished it yet...
Vouzella has translated PalmBoy to (Brasilian) Portuguese. Please visit his site at http://www.vzsolucoes.cjb.net though it's under construction.
Now I found the source of one big problem with the betaversion of the new UI on PalmV. It happened that if more than two application hardkeys are pressed, one of the assigned applications were launched. Apparently on this devices (it does _NOT_ happen on my Palm III) the OS sends key-down events even though all keys are masked!
And good news for all HandEra 330 users: my researches about correct handling of their machine's display are close at their conclusion. You may expect the next version of PalmBoy to run on the H330.
Last, but not least I heard a rumour that this unbelievable trademark thing about the syllable "Palm" will come to a happy-end. We all may leave the names of web sites and applications as they are. If you get to know anything sure, please let me know...
Two weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with another idea for some nice user interface. It took me about one hour to write it all down and fell asleep again. Today I sent the mock-up to the betatesters to see how they like it.
Did you like the datasheets about the playability? HJ found that the Acrobat plugin takes longer to load than the PDF files. So he's converting all sheets currently. The compatibility pages will be updated at time.
By contribution of HJ I'm able to present you some nice "Playability Datasheets"! You'll find them as links on the games in the compatibility list.
Now that the first(!) cookies came to me, I started a page with notes: what delicacies from where I liked or not... These will be just my personal and subjective impressions, it has no influence on how I treat the big spenders ;-)
HEY, ALL YOU MICROBLOAT OUTLOOK EXPRESS USERS! *PLEASE* USE A GOOD ANTI-VIRUS SCANNER! My mailboxes were flooded by this "cool" email-virus - it's really interesting what files you have in your "My Files" folder :-P
Now some good news: the old assembler sources of PalmBoy v.3 are successfully converted to the GNU tool chain. Few minutes ago (local time 18:40) I got it to run with some quick checks. Now I need to do heavy testing - hopefully my betatesters will spend some time, too.
In the next step I will include one or more new features; I'm sure you won't use a new version without being attracted. I don't know yet which of the favorite feature list it will make into the v.4, please be patient!
Today I sent the mock-up (the demonstration program) of a new user interface to the betatesters. I'm dying to hear their thoughts.
Recently Palm Inc. wrote me a mail and insisted that I shouldn't use the word "Palm" any more. Please send me your comments!
The last update of the PalmBoy site was a very quick shot. So the new MacOS converters were only found by accident. This time all of you should get all what's there.
Rejoice, all you Mac users! Thanks to the work of Julian Hsiao the converters are runable on Classic MacOS! Try the executables in the archive tools.zip and tell me about your mileage.
Damn! The bugfix had a bug, though it was just a few lines of code! Some japanese user ran into it and was so kind to report it. I hope nobody else had bad troubles...
Here's hope for all of you who got problems playing Zelda and other games based on the MBC1 type of cartridge: I think the problem is fixed. Many thanks to the betatesters; without their help it would have been impossible to check it. Please use the current version (at the time of writing: v.3.3)!
More thanks to a friendly MacOS X user and programmer, there's now a converter for this great system! It's added to the archive, too. For the other Mac users: you have to wait for another contribution. I'm really sorry, but I can't do it myself! Is there no one, who got a DOS emulation to work?
And even more: after getting requests for a reverse tool, there's now the "pdb2gb" converter. It works mostly like the standard converter, but the other way round: PDB files are cut back to GB files. Use it at your own risk, there aren't many runtime checks!
In the meantime I'm still working hard to design the new user interface. It will be available to the registered betatesters soon. If you like to be one, and you have time, and you're willing to give reasonable comments, feel free to join.
OK, it's two months ago that I wrote something... (Hi, Faydtoblack!) To get something other in my mind I took a long break - but now I'm back at work.
There are some reports I'm looking after. There seems to be a bug in my MBC1 code which leads to damaged Zelda games. The update is in beta testing. And other games make problems, too. All this looking for reasons and (if found) solutions takes much time.
In the "user poll" area is a new table showing the priority of your wishes, sorted by poll counts. Some of these features will be implemented in the next version, don't know which yet. By the way, concerning user feedback: no cookies came to me, but the counters at the download sites show tens of thousands of downloads. So, what about some motivation for me?
Now it's finished: the version v.3.14159 "¶ gotchu!" The emulation is nearly finished as far as I planned it. Next versions will bring luxury: state saving, key mapping, screen hardcopy, link emulation. I'm thinking of a new user interface to bring this all in a comfortable way to you. Have fun!
Please excuse me for taking so long. I had so much to do the last months that I only had few hours a week for PalmBoy, sorry!
Yes, I'm still working on the next version but it's not ready yet. In the meantime I have reorganized the PalmBoy site. There are new pages with the compatibility list and its index. And the rumours were true: I found the german online Palmtop Magazin with preconverted games, try this link.
Phew, I'm back in the electronic world! Since December 2000 I have a new employment - and there's no WWW access there! That's why you didn't get anything new about PalmBoy until now. My new computer is up and running but the development environment isn't ready yet.
What will come with the next version: support for bigger cartridges and more interrupts. Oh, I hear you screeming: PocketMonsters will crowd your palmtop... Till wrote a HackMaster hack for customizing the gray levels of your display. It will be included, too. And even more: rudimentary support for the GamePad of Palmgamepad! I got my test device just before xmas and found it great fun!
Sorry for all who tried to get to Kojote's homepage. I had a typo in the link. There are rumours about specialized sites which collect already converted games. As soon that I have the URLs, you'll see them at the other links!
Trying some OS 3.5 calls with elder OS I found that they are usable. So I could build the new v.3.1 cleanly starting with Till's enhancements. Please enclose him in your praying because now every Palm Computing® Platform with OS 3.0 or newer should be capable of running PalmBoy!
Last sunday my good old Atari MegaST break down, may it rest in peace! After first losing its harddisk, then its floppy disk, now its power supply, I now have to buy a new computer! That means that the next steps might take some time... The plan is 1st to install the current sources and tool chain on the new machine (if I only had it already!), 2nd to port some code from assembler to C, 3rd to create the emulation kernel without an Atari, and then I can think about further development. You've been so patient, I hardly dare to ask you for more patience!
Thank you all who helped hunting this "Visor bug!" Today the corrected version is available. There's also a fix for OS 3.5, which brought you back to the main menu if you switched off and on again.
Added this news page to the PalmBoy home. I know that you like to read as much as possible so I copied the PalmBoy news from my home page.
Yesterday I discovered that a local computer shop sells Visors. So I tried a debug version of PalmBoy there - and it seems that this awful bug is about to be smashed! There are differences in the behaviour of some OS functions...
Good news for users of PalmBoy on color Pilots! Till made support for you, it will be released in some days.
Till and I got web space offered! So I decided to use the already installed domain palmboy.suburbia.com.au and copied all PalmBoy stuff. Please update your bookmarks! Logically there's a new email address, too: email@example.com. Please use it for comments about PalmBoy.
What a shame... there are many replies of pleased users, but on some Pilots (mostly Visors) PalmBoy crashes! Now that's the main point to work at.
You waited such a long time, BUT NOW IT'S READY! The first really useable versions of STemBoy and PalmBoy are available for download.
Nothing more to say...
Whoopeeeeeeeeee! Yesterday late at night I tried all the GB ROMs I have with the pre-3.0 version of STemBoy. And nearly all of them worked! There's just a small problem left with Dr.Mario and Tetris: they use a timer to get random numbers - and this is not yet emulated. So I get always the same tile resp. pill.
For the converter program "GB2PDB" I plan to implement a patch database. I know that there are GameGenie® and GameShark® cheats, but I found no documentation what they mean. Please, can anybody help me with this?
2000-10-03 (the Day of the German Reunion):
First I planned to release another version of PalmBoy and STemBoy with implemented DAA opcode. But today I implemented the first interrupt functionality (the vertical blank) - and it works! I think I can make it in a short time so stay tuned...
BTW, has any GB programmer a cute small game with less than 5 KBytes? There's some space in STemBoy and I like to fill it. Because of the nature of the emulation it has to be cut into many small pieces, therefore I need the source code.
You waited a long time, but now it's available: the next generation of PalmBoy and STemBoy. If you miss the scroller "PalmBoy" of v.1.0, you'll have to wait for Easter ;-) I hope that you'll have no problems, but if mail me!
Is there anybody still using PalmOS 2.0? Please try to load PalmBoy, POSE rejects it because of a big record - but the record isn't too big... Now the discovery of the secret: the game to play is PuzzleX! It runs smooth and perfectly (even without overclocking), I came upto level 4.
I made another suggestion to the makers of "liberty": wouldn't it be cool if you could play two-player-games via IR with either emulator? Please comment to Maven and me.
Sigh! It is done... The preliminary V2.0 of STemBoy works like I want it to. Now for the simpler part: converting the algorithms to PalmBoy. I wont make any promises, but expect v.2.0 to appear the next weeks. Both STemBoy and PalmBoy will be updated together. I found another fine (free!) game to play on the emulators - you'll love it! Until release its name is -psst- a secret!
I was so happy after trying "Jurassic Park II" with STemBoy, it uses no interrupts. But when the demo parts started, shock: the screen flashes and some parts are scrambled. After spending some hours I found the reasons for this. Currently I don't emulate the horizontal syncs - that's for the flashing. The scrambling comes from using the stackpointer as pointer into the ROM and switching banks. The latter is not emulated for the stackpointer for speed... For now I leave this problem alone, may be it will be fixed by patching the cartridge.
The window emulation is ready!!! Scrolling and colors are OK, I'm now looking for some demos to try out. Still to implement for V2.0 of STemBoy are the objects, aka sprites. Then, when this is done, I will port the algorithms to v.2.0 of PalmBoy and throw it at you.
YEAH!!! After many hours of coding and debugging the background of STemBoy works as I want it to! The "Space" demo scrolls and fades like hell (hrm, it's slow as usual.) Did you know the key mapping for it? The joypad controls the speed of movement, with "A" for the window, or with "B" for the background, else for the planet. Hitting "Select" lets the background and window fade to black and back, "Start" opens resp. closes the window. You can't look through the open window, because the real hardware won't let you, too.
Still in contact with Maven, the author of "liberty" (another emulator), I suggest to make the databases of converted games compatible. I think that most users would like this very much. Comments to me are welcome, you may try Maven, too.