Super Mario Game & Watch Hacking

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I managed to successfully unlock my G&W firmware using an STM32 programmer.

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Once unlocked, it's possible to compile and flash a port of the retro-go emulator collection and a handful of roms.

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The emulation is surprisingly good, making the games fully playable at 60fps with sound.

Currently supports Game Boy, NES, SMS and Game Gear.

The G&W only has 1MB of storage available, but it's possible to solder a 16MB replacement instead which should allow for a good selection of roms.

Be very careful de-soldering the SPI flash chip as it's easy to lift pads and break traces. Then solder in the new 16MB chip.

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Now when you re-flash the chip you can fit all the larger roms easily.. 16MB is a lot for NES games, mine isn't even half full with 24.

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** All credit to stacksmashing for figuring out how to break the device open, and kbeckmann for porting the emulator.
 
Last edited by subcon959,

hippy dave

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This is awesome and I'm glad there's a nice multi-emulator already ported for 8 bit systems, but the one thing I'm still waiting for that I thought would be near the top of people's lists is a port of the classic Game & Watch games, whether it's the recreations that dude did or the more recent actual emulations from MAME.
Oh I guess there's the GB/GBC collections of ports by Nintendo, LMK if you see or make a video of any of those running on this bad boy B-)
 
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Oh I guess there's the GB/GBC collections of ports by Nintendo, LMK if you see or make a video of any of those running on this bad boy B-)
I'm definitely planning to put the GBC G&W collections on there, I just need to solder the flash replacement first as the ROMs are 1MB each. The funny part is, I actually find this handheld better to play on than the GBA Micro, so the NES and GBC emulators are very welcome. I agree though, it would be awesome if someone did a dedicated port of all the old G&W games.
 
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hippy dave

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I guess beyond classic G&W, the only other thing I'd especially like to see done for these is dumping the clock mode from the official firmware, and making it runnable from whatever you flash unofficially. I want it all.
 
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hippy dave

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@hippy dave I updated the OP with some new stuff after replacing the flash chip. It can now play all the G&W Gallery games.

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Here's a very short clip but I fully expect it to get taken down so didn't bother with a longer one.

Awesome, thanks for the update, and the video. The GBC game looks pretty at home on the device.
Glad the flash chip replacement wasn't too taxing, as it seems like an essential to make the project really useable. I got new soldering kit recently, and am planning to practice and improve my skills on dead electronics before I touch anything I care about, but this looks achievable.
 
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Awesome, thanks for the update, and the video. The GBC game looks pretty at home on the device.
Glad the flash chip replacement wasn't too taxing, as it seems like an essential to make the project really useable. I got new soldering kit recently, and am planning to practice and improve my skills on dead electronics before I touch anything I care about, but this looks achievable.
Yeah, it's all about practice and experience. My early console mods were shockingly bad and they were mostly super easy through-hole components. SMD stuff like this is definitely more intermediate skill level. My two main tips are 60/40 solder (lead-free is terrible) and use plenty of liquid flux. Also watch as many videos as possible of people who actually know what they're doing (professionals not hobbyists).

Edit: Oh and have a multi-meter handy to check continuity points so you're not pulling your hair out when things don't work.
 
Last edited by subcon959,

KleinesSinchen

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Nice! Good work!
I thought about getting one but the price for this limited device is pretty high. The only reason for really buying one is this modification. With Game Boy and NES emulators it might be a fun pocket console.

How good is the LCD and the sound in the Game and Watch?
 
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hippy dave

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Good tips, thanks - yeah I do still need a multimeter, thanks for the reminder, that can go on the birthday prezzie wishlist.

Yes the screen is really nice. I think you'd struggle with button mapping for a SNES emulator even if it did have the processing power tho.
 

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Screw the high price! I ordered a Game & Watch now. Will take some time until it is delivered (and I still need to order the other stuff – so don't expect results soon).
I will try to use a Raspberry Pi for the firmware dump and flashing. According to the Github pages it should be possible.

My main problems are:
  • I do not find any real guide how to proceed. There are the five scripts on Github for dumping and unlocking. That does not tell me (on first look) how to install anything.
  • What is that 16MB flash chip called? What would I have to order? I really didn't find a part number or similar.
  • Any particular reason for 16MB? Why not 8MB or 32MB? Is 16MB a hard limit?
I'm not computer alliterate – but not a developer as well. There are these YouTube videos telling what can be done (with blurred image due to Nintendo DMCA'ing for video footage showing Super Mario Bros – *facepalm*). I didn't find a real howto.

Can anybody help me?
 

KleinesSinchen

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@KleinesSinchen go to their discord (the link is on the github somewhere) then search for the Raspi guide by Micky. I haven't tried it but there should be plenty of information to get you started.
Sorry, can't do this. I don't have an account on Discord and don't want one either.
If there is no public information online which can be retrieved without singing up somewhere I will have to figure out on my own.

Can you at least tell me what flash chip you used so I know what to search for/buy?
 
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Last edited by subcon959,
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KleinesSinchen

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That part is public https://github.com/kbeckmann/game-and-watch-retro-go/wiki/WIP:-How-to-extend-flash-storage

Btw, you must backup the firmware BEFORE replacing the flash otherwise you will brick.
Thanks you very much! That does indeed help.
Backing up the firmware surely is the first thing to do. Replacing the chip and not having unlocked the CPU and not having the flash contents would be pretty useless. Before getting out the soldering iron I will try to add something small like Tetris (NES/GB) or Super Mario Land (GB).

But it might take weeks until I get all the materials and the motivation to actually try this modification.
 

dudmonxo

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I was just looking to my game and watch and decided
Thanks you very much! That does indeed help.
Backing up the firmware surely is the first thing to do. Replacing the chip and not having unlocked the CPU and not having the flash contents would be pretty useless. Before getting out the soldering iron I will try to add something small like Tetris (NES/GB) or Super Mario Land (GB).

But it might take weeks until I get all the materials and the motivation to actually try this modification.

I've been looking the videos and it actually doesn't look that difficult, but I'm pretty dumb to do this without a throughout guide... I hope you can be a hero and share what materials you buy and your process.

Putting mario 3 and pokemon red on it would be a dream and I'm willing to try it.
 
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