Author Topic: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs  (Read 26472 times)

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Offline ChrisP

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All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« on: August 04, 2013, 09:04:34 PM »
I originally wrote this for the high score forum, but I'm not sure it goes there because it's sorta bigger in scope than just submissions. So I'll just post it here!

Some questions are being raised about Donkey Kong PCB hardware and ROM sets, what's valid and what isn't, etc., so here are some things I've learned over the past couple of years after a butt-ton of research on KLOV, etc.

There are THREE different Donkey Kong board sets: TKG-2, TKG-3, and TKG-4, and TWO different ROM sets.

The "TKG" numbers refer to the part numbers of the PCB sets, not to the ROM revision (which have no official name that I'm aware of, other than the MAME nomenclature "Set 1" and "Set 2").

There are, as far as I've been able to find, only those TWO ROM sets in the US, Japan had three, for five total.

The board set TKG part numbers have come to be semi-synonymous with the ROM revisions because of the semi-reliable correlation between the hardware and the software. People just use the PCB part number for simplicity and lack of a better term.

TKG-2s are actually not Donkey Kong boards at all. They're Radarscope boards that were hand-converted at the factory to DK, with "TKG-2" stickers over the original "TRS" part numbers. But I'm sure you all know THAT story by now.

Only 3,000 of these TKG-2s existed, and most are probably gone now. They would have shipped with the original code ("US Set 2" in MAME). But they will probably never be an issue as far as submissions are concerned. (And if somebody shows up with a working one of those, call me any time day or night. I will have cash in hand. ;D )

The TKG-3 boards were the first DKs that were NOT Radarscope conversions. They also would have shipped with the original code (US Set 2).

The TKG-4s were the newer, streamlined 2-board sets that Nintendo put into production as soon as DK started taking off in the arcades. These are found in the vast majority of all DK uprights produced. All TKG-4 boardsets shipped with the updated ROM code (US Set 1). So unless somebody "downgraded" their board to the original code, these will always be legit.

The TKG-2 and TKG-3 boardsets are not so simple. Some will have the older "Set 2" ROM code, some will have the newer "Set 1" code.

The updated ROMs were made available for purchase in December 1981 to any operator with a TKG-2 or 3. Nowadays, of course, anybody could burn a set. So any of those boards MAY OR MAY NOT have been updated to the newer code anytime between BITD (in the field by an arcade operator), up to this very moment (by a collector). The hardware will not show this.

The question of how cocktail scores should be handled was recently raised, so here's how that works: ALL non-fullsize DK machines (the cocktails and cabarets) used the TKG-3 board set. The TKG-4 two-board set will not fit in a cocktail or cabaret machine, so Nintendo kept using the 4-board for the odd-sized cabs, all the way to the end of production.

What this means though is that cocktails/cabarets produced later in the run, while containing TKG-3 boardsets, DID ship from the factory with the updated ROM code, and are legit.

Those that shipped with the updated ROM are TKG-3-7s. The older ones, which shipped with the original ROM, are TKG-3-6. But again, any TKG-3-6 COULD have been manually updated at any point between then and now, so a "-6" on the PCB doesn't necessarily rule out an updated ROM.

In other words, you can't tell anything just from looking at PCBs. TKG-3 boardsets should NOT be disqualified just because they're TKG-3 boardsets, because many of them either shipped, or were updated with, the updated ROM code. The TKG-4 requirement is an error in TG's rules (one that we should not inherit).

So what to do?

I've mentioned this before, but there is a simple way to differentiate the old ROMset from the updated set, and it's a lot easier than dissecting gameplay for use of the ladder cheat or looking at the physical hardware.

The title screen on the original ROM set says "(C) Nintendo 1981."

The updated set says "(C) 1981 Nintendo of America Inc."

It's really that simple.

So, just look at the title screen and you can see which version of the ROM is running (assuming that the owner hasn't hacked it, which takes things into a realm that we can't do anything about, other than to watch the game for oddities).

The DK running on the Braze kits (high score save, Foundry, and D2K) adds code for FREEPLAY and high score save, but is otherwise untouched and runs identically to the updated ROMs that shipped with the TKG-4s. Jeff Kulczycki would not have modified the actual gameplay code without making it known, would have had no reason to (and every reason NOT to), and after years in the field, nobody has been able to provide evidence of any gameplay differences. If these aren't legit, I can't imagine how.

Also, on the 60-in-1s, and possibly some other multiboards, the title screen says "(C) 1981". No "Nintendo of America Ltd." Otherwise, they appear to run the "Set 1" code, and (again) after years in the field, there is no evidence that anything is amiss, other than imperfect audio emulation.


To sum up...

GAME CODE-------------------------------
Original code (MAME: "US Set 2"):
Ladder cheat possible. Title screen: "(C) Nintendo 1981."

Updated code (MAME: "US Set 1"):
Ladder cheat patched. Title screen: "(C) 1981 Nintendo of America Inc."


HARDWARE--------------------------------
TKG-2: 4-board set Radarscope conversion.
Shipped with original code (US Set 2).
ROMs might have been upgraded after shipment.

TKG-3-6: 4-board set, second run of uprights and cocktails/cabarets.
Shipped with original code (US Set 2).
ROMs might have been upgraded after shipment.

TKG-3-7: 4-board set, third run of cocktails/cabarets.
Shipped with updated code (US Set 1).

TKG-4: 2-board set, third run of uprights.
Shipped with updated code (US Set 1).

Multiboards: There are many, but the most common 60-in-1 that everybody has seen in arcades, etc. is a JAMMA PCB that utilizes drivers written for MAME (as most multiboards do). These appear to use the "Set 1" code for Donkey Kong, except for the removal of "Nintendo of America Ltd." from the title screen.

Braze kits (HS save, Foundry, D2K): Daughtercard that plugs into Z80 slot on a TKG-3 or TKG-4 board. These kits bypass whatever ROMs are installed on the PCB and contain "Set 1" DK code, except additions for FREEPLAY and high score save.

So there you have it.

And for anyone who has not seen the famous "service bulletin," check out the attachment. (Re the header: "LMC" was a company that distributed games for Nintendo.)
http://donkeykongblog.blogspot.com

4 Quarters :-* - 800K Avg. Per Qtr. :o - No Restarts 8) - No Proof :'(

7/26/2013   Coin 35,946   710,800   18-1
7/28/2013   Coin 35,947   903,700   22-1
8/16/2013   Coin 35,948   694,100   17-6
8/17/2013   Coin 35,949   893,100   22-1

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Offline xelnia

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2013, 09:19:57 PM »
Awesome. I love to see the back stories on this kind of stuff. Now break down the bootlegs/clones!  ;D
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corey.chambers

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2013, 11:01:28 PM »
Wow, this is awesome! This is what I am talking about right here. This is the good stuff, the stuff that dreams are made of. Thank you, Chris, for your thorough analysis, just the kind of thing I was hoping to learn in the midst of these discussions. :)

Offline Scoundrl

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 07:04:28 AM »
Did you find any information on the 'Hard' roms? I know there are more that one example of these out there so I doubt it was just some hacker messing around. There is a similar set for DKJR That I am still trying to get my hands on.
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corey.chambers

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2013, 11:08:17 AM »
I am wondering what to do if someone ever submits a score with a TKG-3-7, or a TKG-3-6 with an updated Roms. If US Set 1 is used then there is just an issue with hardware. Were the 4 board sets ran with the same processor as the 2 board set? Why the 2 extra boards?

Offline JCHarrist

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2013, 11:19:15 AM »
I am wondering what to do if someone ever submits a score with a TKG-3-7, or a TKG-3-6 with an updated Roms. If US Set 1 is used then there is just an issue with hardware. Were the 4 board sets ran with the same processor as the 2 board set? Why the 2 extra boards?

Yes, same processor. My guess is that the 4-board sets were made to fit in cocktail machines as that is where you usually see them. They have a much smaller footprint.

A 2-board set will not fit into the small space of a nintendo cocktail.
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Offline pwnasaurus

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2013, 11:20:55 AM »
They were Radarscope conversion PCBs prior to further modification and Radarscope was a 4 board set.

Is this for the HS board on DKF?  If the reissue PCB and 60-1s are allowed then I would think the only issue is utilization of the top of the ladder cheat and basically any ROMS are par for the course.
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Offline up2ng

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2013, 11:57:45 AM »
I would think the only issue is utilization of the top of the ladder cheat and basically any ROMS are par for the course.

This makes no sense to me.  ANY ROMS are par for the course?  What are you talking about?  I don't have much of an opinion about differences in hardware, but I DO know that we should all be playing on the same software.  Not any rom, but only ONE rom should be allowed and that is US Set 1.

I also cringe whenever I see people mention the ladder cheat.  People really need to be aware that it IS possible to hang onto the top of a ladder in US Set 1 and survive an oncoming barrel if it rolls on by over your head.  The difference is the probability of this happening -- instead of 100% it's more like 25%.  But, this means that you CANNOT invalidate any attempt simply because you see someone survive this situation.
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Offline pwnasaurus

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2013, 12:07:43 PM »
This makes no sense to me.  ANY ROMS are par for the course?  What are you talking about?  I don't have much of an opinion about differences in hardware, but I DO know that we should all be playing on the same software.  Not any rom, but only ONE rom should be allowed and that is US Set 1.

I was making a joke.

I also cringe whenever I see people mention the ladder cheat.  People really need to be aware that it IS possible to hang onto the top of a ladder in US Set 1 and survive an oncoming barrel if it rolls on by over your head.  The difference is the probability of this happening -- instead of 100% it's more like 25%.  But, this means that you CANNOT invalidate any attempt simply because you see someone survive this situation.

Obviously.
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Offline LMDAVE

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2013, 01:20:24 PM »
I know, there's games when I stupidly get caught and have to let a barrel roll over me on the ladder and I immediatley think that someone is going to think a have an old ROM Set.
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corey.chambers

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2013, 05:56:56 PM »
Only US Set 1 for the rom. I just had a question about the other hardware. I don't expect to get such a submission but I am curious.

Offline ChrisP

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2013, 07:01:28 PM »
From an electronics standpoint, the 2-board is a much more simple, stable, streamlined configuration than the 4-board, and from a materials standpoint, would have to have been cheaper to produce.

My speculation: At the outset, Nintendo was just going with what they had, but when they realized that the game was actually a hit and that they'd have to massively scale up on the production end, they probably started asking questions about how to make things cheaper and more efficient and shopped the schematics around to electronics companies to make them a better boardset.

Note that this is also around the time that Nintendo started moving from sturdy plywood cabinets to the crappy particle board cabs.

Lowering your "cost per unit" becomes increasingly important the more units you're shipping.

Ken asked a good question about this "hard" version that's been seen here and there. I'd forgotten about that. I have definitely heard of this one before, but I know absolutely nothing about it and have never seen it discussed anywhere outside of CAG circles (that is, no collector on KLOV ever seems to have run into one). It's also not MAME'd. No clue. Somebody needs to crack open one of those machines and report what they find.

As for the hard version of Junior, I know you're looking for that. ;D Considering that it might be the only P-kit left in the world and I don't feel 100% good about the mail, I think I would feel best about it if I just brought it with me to the KO3 and had somebody dump it for us while I'm there. (I also don't want to make you the one responsible for something bad happening to it! That would be awkward.)
http://donkeykongblog.blogspot.com

4 Quarters :-* - 800K Avg. Per Qtr. :o - No Restarts 8) - No Proof :'(

7/26/2013   Coin 35,946   710,800   18-1
7/28/2013   Coin 35,947   903,700   22-1
8/16/2013   Coin 35,948   694,100   17-6
8/17/2013   Coin 35,949   893,100   22-1

3,201,700: the $1 World Record?
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Offline marinomitch13

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2013, 07:24:46 PM »
Maybe Estel can convince Dock Mac at Galloping Ghost to dump the 'Hard' DK roms and get them to the MAME programmers, since GG has a 'hard' version out on their floor.
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Offline Hamster

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 08:12:04 AM »
Thanks for the info ! I learned alot .

I was thinking of getting my DK JR PCB , Double Donkey Konged , I guess people don't trust them as authentic game play .

Offline Hamster

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Re: All About DK ROM sets and PCBs
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014, 09:40:46 AM »
I don't think it was mentioned , but don't forget about the ArcadeSD board . I feel as far as emulation goes , this is the most accurate way to play DK .

Clay said the ArcadeSD is NOT running MAME , or any OS program . Thats why when you turn it on , its instantly on like a real PCB , it doesn't have to boot up like a computer does .

Clay also said theres no Lag at all .

So from my experience of different computers running MAME differently , which can cause the game to slow down , make it more easier , and that in turn makes every ones DK experience slightly different ,  the ArcadeSD is a solid way of knowing the game is being emulated the best it can .

So I think the ArcadeSD is the top alternative to a real DK PCB , even over a PC running MAME , because all PC's behave differently , but all ArcadeSD's behave the same .