Codex Gamicus
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This article is a generic description of Namco's "Galaxian" hardware. For the specific arcade game, see Galaxian.

The Namco Galaxian is an 8-bit, two-dimensional, arcade system board, that was first used by Namco in 1979. It used specialized graphics hardware supporting RGB color, multi-colored sprites and tilemap backgrounds.[1] It debuted with Galaxian in 1979.

Its introduction of colorful tilemap graphics distinguished it from the Taito 8080 monochrome framebuffer system of Space Invaders.[2] Namco Galaxian also introduced a sprite line buffer system,[3] which was adopted by later arcade system boards from other companies.

The Namco Galaxian hardware was widely used by other game companies during the golden age of arcade video games,[4] including Centuri, Gremlin, Irem, Konami, Midway, Nichibutsu, SEGA, and Taito, as well as bootleg manufacturers.[5]

Nintendo also credited the Namco Galaxian hardware as the basis for their own Nintendo Classic hardware used for the Radar Scope and Donkey Kong arcade games, and subsequently the Family Computer (Nintendo Entertainment System) console. According to Family Computer designer Masayuki Uemura:

Despite Galaxian displaying many enemies on the screen at once, players were treated to a background of smoothly-animated glittering stardust. “This was a shock to engineers,” Uemura recalls. Galaxian used a sprite (object) system. It animated preloaded sprites by shifting the coordinates on the scrolling background. This function, now an integral part of modern-day game consoles, was pioneered by Galaxian.[6]
~ Masayuki Uemura

Namco Galaxian specifications[]

CPU[]

Sound[]

  • Sound chips: Namco custom sound hardware[4]
  • Audio channels:[4]
    • One programmable 4/8-bit waveform channel
    • Three 4-bit square wave channels
    • Two 17-bit noise channels
    • One modulated noise pulse channel

Graphics[]

Expansions[]

King & Balloon[]

King & Balloon (1980) adds the following audio upgrades:

Ghostmuncher Galaxian[]

Ghostmuncher Galaxian is a Pac-Man clone running on Namco Galaxian bootleg hardware. It adds the following upgrade to the color palette:

  • Colors on screen: 64[4]

Konami Scramble[]

The Konami Scramble hardware, originally created for Konami's The End (1980) and Scramble (1981), was used from 1980 to 1984.[14] It is based on the Namco Galaxian hardware,[15][16] and is part of the Galaxian hardware family.[17] Konami Scramble includes the following upgrades:

  • Sound CPU: Zilog Z80 @ 1.78975 MHz[14] (8-bit & 16-bit instructions @ 260,000 instructions per second)[8]
  • Sound chips: 2x AY8910 @ 1.78975 MHz[14] (6 square wave channels & 2 noise channels combined), 6x Konami custom RC @ 1.78975 MHz,[18] DAC[16]
  • Color palette: 224[1] to 288[16]
  • Colors on screen: 98 to 99[16]
  • Graphical capabilities: Side-scrolling[18]

An upgraded version of Konami Scramble was the Super Cobra hardware. Originally created by Konami for Super Cobra (1981), it was used from 1981 to 1984.[19][14] It added the following color palette upgrades:

  • Color palette: 288[16] to 354[19]
  • Colors on screen: 99 to 354[19]

Sega Z80[]

Main article: Sega Z80

List of Namco Galaxian arcade games[]

Namco[]

  • Galaxian (1979) - Namco's first big hit
  • King & Balloon (1980) - one of the first games to feature synthesized voices

Nichibutsu[]

Konami[]

The following Konami games were running on the Galaxian-derived Konami Scramble hardware:[16][14]

Sega[]

Armenia[]

  • 4 Fun in 1 (Armenia/Food and Fun, 1981)
  • War of the Bugs - or Monsterous Maneuvers in a Mushroom Maze (Armenia, 1981)

Subelectro[]

  • Exodus (Subelectro, undated)
  • Pisces (Subelectro, undated)

Other companies[]

  • Eagle (Centuri, 1980)
  • Gingateikoku no Gyakushu (also known as UniWar S) (Irem, 1980)
  • Black Hole (TDS, 1981)
  • Rock Climber (Taito, 1981)
  • Streaking (Shoei, 1981)
  • Azurian Attack (Rait Electronics Ltd., 1982)
  • Check Man (Jaleco/Zilec-Zenitone, 1982)
  • Sky Base (Omori Electric Co., Ltd., 1982)
  • Dingo (Ashby Computers & Graphics, 1983)
  • Levers (Rock-Ola, 1983)
  • Ozon I (Proma, 1983)
  • Devil Fish (Vision/Artic, 1984)
  • Driving Force (Shinkai Inc., 1984) - another version also exists on Namco Pac-Man hardware
  • Defend the Terra Attack on the Red UFO (no manufacturer credited, undated)
  • Orbitron (Signatron USA, undated)
  • Scorpion (Dorneer, undated)

Bootlegs[]

  • Galaxian Part 4 (1979) - hack of Galaxian
  • Galaxian Part X (1979) - hack of Galaxian
  • Galaxian Turbo (1979) - hack of Galaxian
  • Space Invaders Galactica (1979) - hack of Galaxian
  • Super Galaxians (1979) - hack of Galaxian
  • Swarm (1979) - hack of Galaxian
  • Zero Time (Petaco SA, 1979) - hack of Galaxian
  • Fantazia (1980) - bootleg of Moon Cresta
  • Space Battle (1980) - bootleg of Gingateikoku no Gyakushu
  • Sky Raiders (1980) - bootleg of Gingateikoku no Gyakushu
  • Batman Part 2 (1981) - bootleg of Phoenix
  • Frog (1981) - bootleg of Frogger
  • Ghostmuncher Galaxian (1981) - bootleg of Pac-Man and Galaxian. It contained Pac-Man and Galaxian on one board, changed using a DIP Switch.
  • Video Pool (1981) - bootleg of Video Hustler
  • Zig Zag (LAX, 1982) - bootleg of Dig Dug; another version also exists on Namco Galaga hardware
  • Omega (undated) - bootleg of The End

Bootlegs of Valadon Automation's Bagman, Nintendo's Donkey Kong Junior, Konami's Scramble and Universal's Lady Bug also exist using this system board.

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/tree/master/src/mame/video/galaxian.cpp
  2. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=oK3D4i5ldKgC&pg=PA173
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.vasulka.org/archive/Writings/VideogameImpact.pdf#page=25
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/tree/master/src/mame/drivers/galaxian.cpp
  5. https://web.archive.org/web/20140103070737/http://mamedev.org/source/src/mame/drivers/galdrvr.c.html
  6. http://www.glitterberri.com/developer-interviews/how-the-famicom-was-born/making-the-famicom-a-reality/
  7. "Game Logic Schematic" (pdf). Midway Galaxian Parts and Operating Manual. Chicago, Illinois: Midway Games. February 1980. pp. 22, 24. http://www.arcadedocs.com/vidmanuals/G/Galaxian.pdf. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 http://www.drolez.com/retro/
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=513
  10. https://github.com/mamedev/mame/tree/master/src/mame/includes/galaxian.h
  11. http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=7885
  12. http://aarongiles.com/?p=212
  13. http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~%20sedwards/classes/2011/4840/reports/Galaxian.pdf
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=554
  15. https://github.com/mamedev/mame/tree/master/src/mame/includes/scramble.h
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/tree/master/src/mame/drivers/scramble.cpp
  17. https://github.com/mamedev/mame/tree/master/src/mame/includes/galaxold.h
  18. 18.0 18.1 http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=scramble-model-gx387&page=detail&id=2328
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/tree/master/src/mame/drivers/scobra.cpp
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