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Namco Galaxian

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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[edit | edit source]

CPU[edit | edit source]

Sound[edit | edit source]

Graphics[edit | edit source]

Expansions[edit | edit source]

King & Balloon[edit | edit source]

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

Ghostmuncher Galaxian[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Main article: Sega Z80

List of Namco Galaxian arcade games[edit | edit source]

Namco[edit | edit source]

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

Nichibutsu[edit | edit source]

Konami[edit | edit source]

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

Sega[edit | edit source]

Armenia[edit | edit source]

Subelectro[edit | edit source]

Other companies[edit | edit source]

Bootlegs[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

  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