This project started in December 2020, the idea was to hack one of these cheap 220-in-1 NES arcades as a birthday present for a very good friend of mine.
It ended up taking a little longer than original planned, much longer 🙈.
Originally purchased from OneDayOnly for R159 each (I purchased two because I knew I would end up breaking one).
The device comes apart simply enough and there are two PCB’s inside, one has the buttons & d-pad on and the other is the “NES” part.
This device uses a NOAC or Nintendo On A Chip, unfortunately it’s a epoxy blob so I’m not sure which NOAC chip it uses.
Along with the NOAC chip there is a 8MB SPI Flash chip which appears to be a GD25Q64C-SPI NOR Flash-GigaDevice Semiconductor Inc.
The plan was simple, put
bsides.nes onto the ROM replacing what was there and I would be done, unfortunately things are never that simple.
The problem is that you need the initilisation for the NOAC chip and LCD and which it appears is done by the menu. It was at this point that this project got put on hold where it stayed for a few years 🙈🙃.
NOAC - Nintendo On A Chip
While googling for something else Nintendo related I stumbled across the following company. VRT (V.R. Technology Co. Ltd) IC Design
Of particular interest was EmuVT which is an emulator for their chips, this emulator was able to run a dump from the arcade cabinet, although not 100% correctly (the menu goes blank after some movement) it was good enough to know that I was on the right track.
There are some other tools listed for building the combined flash image but I was not able to get them to work. In particular NesMaker looks interesting as it appears to be able to build the menu etc.
NES Maker 1.8.1 - Copyright Tim Schuerewegen
This is not the tool by VRT but rather a different tool I found on NES Maker (for VTxx machines) - nesdev.org This is the magic tool that makes all of this possible as it is able to build a custom flash image containing a menu and the various game ROMS.
Unfortunately it’s got a long list of consoles and I wasn’t sure which one, if any would work.
I ended up building
.bin files for each of the consoles and then loaded them up in EmuVT until I found one that behaved the same as the dump from the arcade.
This arcade appears to be similar to the
Lexibook Cyber Arcade (200 in 1)
Dump the SPI Flash
While you can probably dump it while still mounted to the PCB, I’ve never had great success with that. Instead I decided to remove it and put it into my TL866II programmer and dump it that way.
For those interested you can find a copy of the dump here As I kept taking the chip on & off the board I decided to solder on some thin wires and add a 8pin socket to a piece of perf-board. That way I could put the flash chip on a SOIC break-out board and be able to easily remove it from the arcade to try new flash images.
This was later hot-glued onto the back of the PCB for easy access later.
Finally we have games.
After adding the BSides NES game I decided to add another often discussed “South African” game, Van der Merwe and Boetie
Van der Merwe and Boetie
B-Sides - Hackers Game
After all the games were loaded, I did a little clean-up to make the arcade more “Hacker” themed.