Last month I wrote a small piece around Space Invaders turning 40 years old, as well as some other arcade games around that era. See here.
I also mentioned that we thought of having a small project recreating a game, but with modern logic parts.
Now and then you need to have some fun projects on the side. Here at Additude where devotion to technology is king, it is no different. So the question arose. What about a new implementation of a classic arcade game? What would be possible today?
The classic way of doing such a project would be either ...
Both of these have been done and are fun on their own, but we choose a different path for this project.
First we wanted to recreate the logic in the same way it used to be done, but with modern and smaller parts. To see how small we could make it. The average size of the components for the video timing is typically done with modern SMT parts is 4% of the area in 1978 using DIP.
Below is a comparison of implementing the video timing circuitry in a typical arcade. Left using 70's Dual In Line Plastic components and right top corner using modern SMT components.
We also wanted to create a unique and stylish cabinet that are less clumsy and easier to place in a home or office. And just for the sake of it use a nice curved full HD screen. Classic sturdy Arcade quality stick and buttons is a must.
Regarding rules it is a bit tricky. Some of the parts is just not available or would be ridiculously difficult to integrate. The running thought is that any IC used in 1978 will be replaced by equivalent IC from today. The Logic is not a problem, but some of the custom chips would be. However, by replacing these with a CPLD/FPGA is ok or, since many of the custom chips where just logic, replace with discrete logic.
Another tricky issue is data storage for game data. Usually the arcade games had a huge number of small PROMS/EPROMS for all kinds of look-up tables. We will replace these IC by IC with static SRAM. Game data loaded by a housekeeping MCU at boot.
Note: it will be ok to actually replace a number of identical ROM/RAM packages with a larger modern one. Including simplification of the address decoder logic.