Are you Japanese?

On my latest trip, I managed to find a copy of Zork 1 for the PC-98! And let me say, let the adventure begin!

I went to Beep and the place next door I always forget it’s name, and I found this burried in the back for a mere ¥2,860! Not exactly what I thought would be a bargain, but flipping it over however…

Zork 1 for the PC-98!

¥7,800 YEN! From 1991!Honestly I don’t even know what is up with the price of software in Japan! Clutching this thing in my hands for the ¥2,800 makes it feel like a steal so of course I buy it!

Contents of the box

Nice to see that opening of the box gives me a catalogue, a manual, minimal map, registration card and a diskette! And I’m hoping I can read it using a USB drive.

Now I have no pc98 gear in Japan, and I’m trying to not have a mountain of hardware here, the i7 desktop and 30″ cinema display are already feeling ‘too big’ for this place anyways. I go to hardoff and pick up 2 USB floppy drives hoping to read the 3 1/2″ diskette.

Now I bought an IBM & some weird iMac looking drive, I was hoping between the two drives, maybe one would work. And I was right for buying the two. The IBM drive didn’t read the disk AT ALL.

However this iMac looking Logitec LFD-31US did the trick!

Apparently you need what is known as a “3-mode USB floppy drive”. Whatever that means. Although I can read the disk fine from Windows 10, winimage was unable to make a disk image. Disk Explorer is another option, which also specializes in the PC-98’s weird 1.2MB on a 1.44MB disk, however it couldn’t read the disk either.

I write a simple C program to read 512, 1024, 2048 blocks from \\.\A: (the physical drive), however it was cut short after 138kb. Maybe a hidden bad sector? Xcopy ran without issues, so who knows.

Looking at what I could dump, it does look like a bootable image:

and the xcopy did pick up MSDOS.SYS & IO.SYS. I though Microsoft was so against people redistributing MS-DOS, but then again aren’t most PC98’s floppy only?

I was able to cobble together a DIY disk image, and it doesn’t work fully on Neko Project II sadly. However Annex86 works fine.

On boot there is a nice graphical logo, and animation as the door opens. Really cool I have to say. Searching through zork.exe there is some interesting strings

  • Are you Japanese?
  • MS Run-Time Library – Copyright (c) 1988, Microsoft Corp
  • Original copyright (c)1988 Infocom Inc.
  • Used under license from Activision. All rights reserved.
  • (c)1991 SystemSoft
  • Copyright VACS Corp./ASCII Corp.,1986-90.
  • @(#)sunedit.c 1.0 07/03/1989 by VACS Corp.

Well that’s interesting. I was wondering how to trigger the ‘Are you Japanese?’ and well it turns out it’s pretty simple:

I’d have to figure out how to type in things like eat/sleep take… Although it is a twist on the old Infocom style. Now could this have ‘saved’ Infocom before their sale to Activision? I guess there was a market for Infocom games in Japan, although probably far earlier than 1991.

DooM 1.2j1.0 on NekoProject II

So the first thing you’ll need is Neko Project II.  It can be a little hard to track down downloads, but there is a whole slew of them here:

http://ux.getuploader.com/emu/index/1/date/desc the site has since moved to here:

http://nenecchi.html.xdomain.jp/

So for now this link, is the latest build, which was last updated on

Extract that, and rn np21nt.exe

You’ll want to configure the sound.

MIDI options

MIDI options

If you choose to use the MIDI you’ll have to map them to a MIDI-OUT port, and I used the default Microsoft GS Wavetable.  Of course you could use MUNT, or any other MIDI mapper or port.  Also you may want to setup the serial port MIDI as a backup plan.

Serial MIDI

Serial MIDI

The sound effect settings work best for the PC-9801-86 audio board.

xx

Select the correct board!

I’ll save installing MS-DOS, and installing DooM for another fun episode, but to configure DooM.

Run setup.exe to setup DooM!

Setup menu

Setup menu

The menu is simply:

  • 1 graphics
  • 2 Background Music
  • 3 sound effects
  • 4 not sure
  • 5 controller

Graphics

Graphics

The PC9821A driver works best from what I’ve done in my limited testing.  I guess if you had a different emulator, or a real PC-98 you’ll get more out of this.

Next is the BGM or music

 

BGM

BGM

You really have 2 options here, #3 for the PC9801 driver which uses the YM2608 chip.  Or the General MIDI either option 4 or 6. I didn’t notice any difference between the two of them, they both sound kinda slow, but workable.

Now for the audio board, select the PC-98

Doom sound drivers

Doom sound drivers

The PC-9801-86 is what you want here.  Now with either a 100% PC-9801-86 config, or a 50/50 of the MIDI/PC-9801-86 we are ready to run DooM!  Selection option 6 and away we go!

Save settings and run DooM

Save settings and run DooM

And all being well you’ll get the start of DooM!

DooM starting up

DooM starting up

Otherwise you’ll get this fun error:

DX386 error

DX386 error

In this case I had emm386.sys in my config.sys which conflicts with the dos extender DX386.

Personally I find it easier to boot off the #1 install diskette which will automatically start DooM!

If you are feeling brave, listen!

 

Qemu & the PC98

I have only seen one NEC PC-98 in my life, and naturally it was in Japan.. Wiki has a great article, (naturally), basically it was an intel powered IBM incompatible system, that ran an adapted version of MS-DOS localized to Japanese. It wasn’t until the introduction of Windows 95, did these machines die out, as 95 could be localized pretty well..

Anyways, after googling around to see who linked my builds of Qemu, I found this site, by Takeda Toshiya that includes patches and binaries for PC-98 emulation via Qemu!

I understand the PC-98 had quite a following for all kinds of games as people shifted away from the Sharp X68000.. Who also announced last week that they would exit the PC market all together.

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