Author Topic: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully  (Read 14954 times)

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Offline sarang

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GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« on: October 01, 2010, 03:23:59 PM »
 ~sm-54.gif~.gif
Seems a lot of people complaining they can't get the flash card to work correctly. So, I made this little document to share my experience. I think it can be helpful for a lot of people. I guess some things may be different for JPN or PAL machines, I don't know yet ...

MY SPECS:
-Windows VISTA 64-bit laptop computer
-Turbo Duo USA version
-NEO PC-E FLASH CART 128Mb+Save (white '2006' version with characters label)
-USB SLIM LOADER IV

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK
Step 1. Throw out the CD that came with the NEO PCE FLASH! Hehe, I found the software on the CD to be outdated. You want the Neo2 Pro Manager. Get it here- http://www.neoflash.com/go/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=362&Itemid=30

Step 2. Install the Neo2 Pro Manager. I recommend you do NOT install to Program Files folder(s)! For example, mine is at D:\PCE\NEO2
note-First I left default installation folder (Program Files (x86)), and it didn't work well. I had to run program as administrator or I had errors. I think if you install to a different directory you can run normally. (It's better not to run programs in administrator mode...)

Step 3. Download new PCE BOOT MENU (PC-E Flash Card menu v1.10). Get it here- http://www.neoflash.com/forum/index.php/topic,6253.0.html
Open the .ZIP file and copy PCEBIOS.BIN to PCE NEO FLASH "Manager" folder (e.g. D:\PCE\NEO2\Manager ) You can just make backup (rename) the old PCEBIOS.BIN if you like, but the new menu by mic_ looks great! PCEBIOS.BIN is copied to NEO PCE flash card as the menu, whenever you burn some ROMs to it.

Step 4. Plug in USB SLIM LOADER IV. Probably Windows can recognize your hardware now, because Neo2 Pro Manager should installed the driver already.

Step 5.Insert card (if you didn't already) into USB SLIM LOADER IV. The GBA pins (smaller side) plugs in, and you gotta push pretty hard, so take care not to break anything. I think you will know when it is inserted correctly.

Step 6. Open Neo2 Pro Manager.
If this is your first time to use the card, you better format it first. Click PCE icon at top-center of the window. Standard format should be OK for both options, and do NOT check "Support ROM FAT". Also select "PC-E" for "Menu Type". Now click OK. It will take some time, but this standard format can tell us if there is any physical defect with the memory on the card. If you got a bad error here, you better write it down and contact NEO TEAM, you may need a replacement card. I had no problems, I hope yours is successful too!

Step 7. If you must, click REFRESH button at top-left on the window. Before you add any ROMs, you gotta select the region. On the right hand side of the screen you can see "NEO2 Properties". Under "PC-E Global" there is option called "PC-E Version". If you have USA machine, select USA. If you have JAPAN machine, select JAPAN. Sorry, I don't know about PAL consoles yet...
This option sets the region for your whole flash card. It does not change region of the games!! So, don't lie about your console version, it won't work ^^;

Step 8. Find your ROM files using the file browser on the left side. Double click a game to add it. When you have made a list of games you want to put on your card (Neo2 Pro Manager will complain if you put too many, so don't worry about overload it), just press BURN button (top-left corner, next to REFRESH). Now wait as it copies all games and the menu (which you replaced with new one, right?) to the card. Unplug your flash card.

Step 9. Plug PCE side (big side, with many pins--NOT GBA side) into your PCE or Turbo Grafx. Turn on the console.

Step 10. Select the game you wanna play from the list, and press the button to load it up! If you want to change and play a new game, press RESET button on the PCE FLASH to go back to game selection menu.



"IT'S STILL BROKEN!!"
Probably not.

After I got NEO software installed and burned a bunch of different games as a test, I was disappointed to see that I could only run USA region ROMs on my USA Turbo Duo. OK, no Japanese games... but.. then....... NO HOMEBREW??! Yes, it didn't even run homebrew software, including my own source code made with HuC or MagicKit. I knew there must be a software fix to this problem, so I did some reading.

I found some technical documents discussing the differences between USA and JPN HUCARDS and ROM, sounded pretty complicated, but I started to experiment... what I found, the solution, is very simple! (good ^^;)

I opened my homebrew ROM in a hex editor (WindHex, I recommend you use this too). I noticed a strange header with lotta 00h. I thought I must need to write special header code, so I looked at official japanese released ROM... wow! It's the same! The first 1FFh of memory or so is filled with 00h. Odd. So, I used WindHex's very useful function to remove this. When I burned these modified ROMs to my PCE FLASH (still using USA region option), they can run on my USA Turbo Duo! Flawless Victory, what a simple solution to a frustrating problem.

I tried this method on a variety of ROMs and I haven't been disappointed yet. It's so nice to see my own homebrew programs running on a real PCE ^^; now I need PCE+RGB and it's paradise, ha ha ha

The REGION FIX - JPN games on USA hardware
Step 1. Download WindHex. You can get it here- http://www.zophar.net/utilities/hexutil/windhex.html

Step 2. In WindHex, Open the ROM you can't play with your PCE FLASH

Step 3. If you see many zero's (00) at the start of this file, you gotta fix it.

Step 4. Click Edit menu, click "Remove SNES Header" (yes, SNES.... o_o) Click YES, OK. Click File menu, click "Save File". Click OK.

Step 5. Copy the modified ROM to your NEO PCE FLASH. Go play japanese games and homebrew on your USA console!!

NOTE- Help! I don't really understand why this method works for me. Do JPN PCE ROM have header officially? I thought maybe it's just modified ROMs with SNES header mistakenly patched which are circulating internet, but even this data is present in my own compiled code... so, is this standard method for JPN games (magicKit probably compiles JPN ROM)? Is it possible to patch a USA ROM to play on a Japanese PCE using the reverse of this method? I wish I had white-PCE here to do some experiment ^^; hmm...


Thanks!
That's all for now, I hope this document was helpful for you
« Last Edit: October 01, 2010, 03:28:28 PM by sarang »

Offline Dr.neo

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Re: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2010, 12:09:20 PM »
it's a nice guide really!!!  ~sm-69.gif~.gif
In my world,have 0 and 1 only ......Matrix World......

Offline spelosi

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Re: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2010, 11:58:14 PM »
I followed your guide and found it very helpful.
Thanks.

I am having some issues though:

Some roms are inconsistent. I can flash the same Rom 5 times and it will work maybe 2 of 5 times.
Also sometimes I will select 1 game on the menu and another loads.

It seems to only be with certain roms. I have good roms though according to pcegood.

Would it be ok to list the roms?

I have tried win 7 and xp.

Im using 128mb +save.

Thanks.

Steve

Offline Sinizar

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Re: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012, 04:43:53 AM »
My games show up in the list but they do not load when I try pressing any of the buttons.  I can move up and down the list but when I click any of the buttons, I, II, select, run, nothing starts or loads.

I just got my Neo PC-E 128M Save in today.

Please help.

Offline mic_

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Re: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 05:14:06 AM »
Have you tried this?

Offline Sinizar

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Re: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2012, 05:53:15 AM »
Have you tried this?

I got it working but cannot play any Japanese PC-Engine games.  The Flash Cart works with most of my USA ROMS but not the Japanese ones.  When I flash the USA ROMS as Japanese I can play them on my PC Engine when it is set to Japanese.  When I flash the USA ROMS as USA I can play them on the PC-Engine when it is set to USA Mode.  I cannot play Japanese games flashed either way.

« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 12:39:05 PM by Sinizar »

Offline mic_

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Re: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2012, 03:16:33 PM »
The region setting in the Neo2 Manager should be set to the region on the console you're going to play on, not to the region of the games you're putting on the card as one could easily believe. So make sure you set it to USA if you're using a TurboGrafx or JAPAN if you're using a PC-Engine, before you write the games to the card.

If your ROMs contain any copier headers you need to remove them. For example, a 512kB ROM should be exactly 524288 bytes. If it's 524800 or something like that, it contains a header and you need to remove it before writing that game to the card.

The only real difference between a japanese ROM and a US ROM (besides that some of the in-game text might have been translated) is that each byte in one version is the reverse of the same byte in the other version. So the value $E2 (%11100010) would become $47 (%01000111), etc.
The Neo2 Manager is supposed to detect whether games are japanese or US and write a flag to the game table stored on the card, which the menu uses to set up the card correctly when you load a game. If the Neo2 Manager failed to do this for some reason, you could try doing the byte-reversing process yourself (essentially converting the game from JAP->US or vice versa) and see if that helps.

Offline Sinizar

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Re: GUIDE: How to use NEO PCE Flash successfully
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2012, 11:17:11 PM »
The region setting in the Neo2 Manager should be set to the region on the console you're going to play on, not to the region of the games you're putting on the card as one could easily believe. So make sure you set it to USA if you're using a TurboGrafx or JAPAN if you're using a PC-Engine, before you write the games to the card.

If your ROMs contain any copier headers you need to remove them. For example, a 512kB ROM should be exactly 524288 bytes. If it's 524800 or something like that, it contains a header and you need to remove it before writing that game to the card.

The only real difference between a japanese ROM and a US ROM (besides that some of the in-game text might have been translated) is that each byte in one version is the reverse of the same byte in the other version. So the value $E2 (%11100010) would become $47 (%01000111), etc.
The Neo2 Manager is supposed to detect whether games are japanese or US and write a flag to the game table stored on the card, which the menu uses to set up the card correctly when you load a game. If the Neo2 Manager failed to do this for some reason, you could try doing the byte-reversing process yourself (essentially converting the game from JAP->US or vice versa) and see if that helps.

Thank you for your help with this.

By listening to you and being persistent I found that it is the ROMS that are the issue.  I tried every ROM version I had of 6 different games that were in Japanese and burned them as Japanese for Japanese hardware and it works perfect.  So now my hardware is working as it should!  Thank you very much!