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CaseyDog

PC-98 Doom

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The thing about Japanese PC gaming in the 1990's is that it was dominated by the doujin (independent developers, more often than not featuring trademarked pre-existing characters) scene. Even then, it was mostly RPGs or visual novels, with a few shmups (like Touhou) and platformers here and there. Western games lost in term of popularity. Infinity/Imagineer also previously brought Wolf3D to the Japanese market, so it must've been a business cooperation of sort, like what happened in Taiwan (in which case they contacted Kingformation, a pirate game distributor, to release DOOM in Taiwan with a profit of $1 for each copy sold), the difference being that the Japanese market wasn't full of pirated games like in Taiwan.

 

Edited by InDOOMnesia

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PC98 graphics are dominated by support for Kanji, or high res Japanese text. Because these are set in ROM, you also need a graphics adapter to support it. The West obviously didn't had Kanji. But NEC's PC98 is rather famous for supporting it and also high-resolution support in its time.

These adapters came in various flavors, similar to how Amiga had distinctive graphic chipsets (OCS/ECS/AGA). Here you find names as GDC, GRCG, EGC. For a long time, detailed information was only delegated to Japanese sites.

Fortunately, an English equivalent exists. Here is a page that describes all the various graphics options available to PC98. Well worth a read.

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17 hours ago, InDOOMnesia said:

......(in which case they contacted Kingformation, a pirate game distributor, to release DOOM in Taiwan with a profit of $1 for each copy sold), the difference being that the Japanese market wasn't full of pirated games like in Taiwan.

 

Just point this sentence.

 

Even Kingformation Co. LTD. was infamous did some nasty "pirate-style" business(like their unofficial Dragon Quest 1+2 and 3 port for PC MS-DOS, and "copy" some ideas from other famous Japanese games to their own developed games), it didn't counted them as pirate game distributor(we actually called "pirate software(s) distributor" to those nasty distributors who put "shitload of full version of games/programs/videos/AVs/whatever else" in a/few disks/CDs/DVDs and they still exist in today...just sell some education things...), most Taiwan game companies almost doing similar shit back that time, even famous companies/game studios too(normally nobody knows, because won't officially being told)...well, if you want strict to say it could be true but it may not really accurate. And most pirate distributors won't be know what they actually are until being found by police.

 

But yeah, even with official license, pirated DooM games still around in the the island, it won't help at all, and even worse, Japanese and Chinese were not huge fan of first person shooter back then, and violence games tend not good from parents' point of view, it just niche enough to have some fans.

 

(FPSes get so famous in Taiwan was back when Half-Life : Counter-Strike happened, but even that, most of gamers never heard about other FPSes but only CS. Still, did improved some fans base and getting better with games like Halo, CoD, Battlefield and other games.)

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I want to point out that the computer used in the video has a 386SX processor, likely at 20MHz and with at most 4 MB ram. I'm sure the port would run better on a computer with better specs.

 

Not sure if anything could be done about the sound though, it's pretty awful.

Edited by plums

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47 minutes ago, plums said:

I want to point out that the computer used in the video has a 386SX processor, likely at 20MHz and with at most 4 MB ram. I'm sure the port would run better on a computer with better specs.

 

Not sure if anything could be done about the sound though, it's pretty awful.

 

The video says it's a NEC PC-9821 Ce2, and that's apparently a 486 SX with 25 MHz.

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21 minutes ago, boris said:

The video says it's a NEC PC-9821 Ce2

Whoops, I missed the Ce2 suffix when checking the specs. That does make it look less impressive.

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PC-98 Doom is... mildly interesting. The random beeping drove me crazy on finding ways to get rid of it.

I did manage to run nuts.wad on it, so that was hilarious.

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6 hours ago, ZeroTheEro said:

PC-98 Doom is... mildly interesting. The random beeping drove me crazy on finding ways to get rid of it.

I did manage to run nuts.wad on it, so that was hilarious.

Oh it works with WADs? That makes me more interested outside of the Japanese market novelty.

 

Also dear Christ I can only imagine Nuts running with its optimisation.

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1 hour ago, Kilo said:

Oh it works with WADs? That makes me more interested outside of the Japanese market novelty.

 

Also dear Christ I can only imagine Nuts running with its optimisation.

It was a slideshow shitshow of course

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2 hours ago, ZeroTheEro said:

It was a slideshow shitshow of course

Welp, I know the name of my next indie band now.

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10 hours ago, Dark Pulse said:

Welp, I know the name of my next indie band now.

Album covers in the form of Powerpoint presentations.

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2 hours ago, Redneckerz said:

Album covers in the form of Powerpoint presentations.

Oh, naturally. Song titles that are simply "Here is Song One," "Here is Song Two," and so on.

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8 minutes ago, Dark Pulse said:

Oh, naturally. Song titles that are simply "Here is Song One," "Here is Song Two," and so on.

Not Slide One, Slide Two?

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11 minutes ago, Redneckerz said:

Not Slide One, Slide Two?

Nah, that'd be for the double album.

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On 7/25/2020 at 3:00 PM, Endless said:

Man, the things you learn in Doomworld.

I'm especially interested in the state of DOOM in East Asia, especially nowadays. Glad to know the likes of Player Lin (Taiwan), Benjougami & Nanka Kurashiki (Japan), and others.

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8 hours ago, InDOOMnesia said:

I'm especially interested in the state of DOOM in East Asia, especially nowadays. Glad to know the likes of Player Lin (Taiwan), Benjougami & Nanka Kurashiki (Japan), and others.

Judging by higher levels of motion sickness incidence among many East Asian people (which is an ongoing field of study), first-person games with a lot of motion and disorientation (visually and spatially) tend to be less accessible for those players. I'd rather hear from them first WRT how they first met with Doom and got into it, but I wouldn't be surprised if ports to domestic Japanese PCs like the PC-98 played a part in it all. It might also be the case that more of them get into games like Doom now thanks to the global popularity of less demanding first-person games like, say, Skyrim and Minecraft. Getting used to first-person play in a less strenuous environment can remove the biggest personal barrier to trying more intense experiences like, well, classic Doom.

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On 7/25/2020 at 5:02 AM, plums said:

I want to point out that the computer used in the video has a 386SX processor, likely at 20MHz and with at most 4 MB ram. I'm sure the port would run better on a computer with better specs.

 

Not sure if anything could be done about the sound though, it's pretty awful.

 

On 7/25/2020 at 6:56 AM, ZeroTheEro said:

PC-98 Doom is... mildly interesting. The random beeping drove me crazy on finding ways to get rid of it.

I did manage to run nuts.wad on it, so that was hilarious.

Hey, I'm the guy who uploaded the video and I finally ended up getting another PC-98. This one is a much higher specced one with a Socket 5 (it accepts non-MMX pentiums, "upgrade CPUs" for the PC-98, and IDT Winchip 1/2 CPUs, I'm using a Winchip 2-200 right now) and you're right. DOOM does run far faster on this CPU. Something else interesting is that with the CanBe sound system/PC-9801-118 soundboard (YMF-288/297 + CS4231) there is no random beeping like there is on the Ce2 and NP21w with the -86 sound board.

 

While it's like playing DOS doom, there is one massive difference. DOOM 2 won't load DOOM 1's IWAD (and throws a texture error). This is important as only DOOM 2 supports the CS4231 PCM chip as an option, with DOOM 1 only supporting YM2608 ADPCM. I'm not sure if DOOM for PC-98 ever had patches aside from the one for 2 to fix a level problem. I'll probably post a video of it running without the beeps later. I'm not sure if there's any fixes for the sound system being unsupported problem.

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Later PC-98(21) sound systems/card setups can definitely get finicky. There wasn't quite as much standardization/conglomeration over there vs. the Gravix-/SoundBlaster-dominated market for IBM compatibles in the West.

 

Since the thread's revived, I'll add on to some earlier posts:

 

On 7/24/2020 at 8:39 AM, Kilo said:

Everyone talks about the different console ports of Doom 1 and 2, but rarely ports to different PC architectures of the time. I only just found out yesterday that Doom was released in Japan for their then-popular PC-9800 series of computers (MS-DOS did horribly in Japan), probably best known internationally for the first five Touhou games. Ported by a company named Infinity, it was published by Imagineer just a few months after the initial US DOS release, and as you can see here it kind of sucks.

 

I find this interesting not just because of its obscurity, but also because FPS's never took off in Japan until just a couple of years ago as of this post. PC as a game platform was rapidly declining at the time of Doom due to the immense popularity and market dominance of the Super Famicom, though I can't say for certain why the SFC/PS1 ports also flew under the radar. Additionally I wonder how exactly this port came to be legally with the guys at id and all that.

 

 

PC-98 was MS-DOS for a majority of Japanese computer users. You definitely had CLI versions of MS-DOS on competing systems like the X68000 and FM Towns, but the PC-98 effectively dominated the country's personal and business desktop PC market share. This journal article gets very in-depth with how NEC cornered the market and then struggled against the onslaught of cheaper IBM compatibles, IBM's DOS/V alternative for displaying Japanese characters on those PCs, and how Wintel machines from abroad and Fujitsu/Toshiba/etc. finally toppled the regime. Korea, Taiwan, and China were already all in on IBM compatibles and then Windows, making Japan the holdout because of their earlier start with domestic micros from NEC/Fujitsu/Sharp and the MSX platform.

 

The Super Famicom didn't really dent PC-X8 adoption and games productions any more than other successful consoles of the period, such as the PC Engine (our TurboGrafx 16). Japanese PC software largely targeted an older set of players than Nintendo did; NEC tellingly went after kids and young adults with the PC Engine because they already had college-age/adult buyers on their PCs. Decline in genres outside ADVs/VNs/wargames didn't set in until the Windows era when many PC-X8/X68k/FM Towns devs jumped ship to consoles rather than struggle with Windows 95's toothing problems and the collapse it brought to the PC-98.

 

On 7/24/2020 at 8:55 AM, taufan99 said:

The thing about Japanese PC gaming in the 1990's is that it was dominated by the doujin (independent developers, more often than not featuring trademarked pre-existing characters) scene. Even then, it was mostly RPGs or visual novels, with a few shmups (like Touhou) and platformers here and there. Western games lost in term of popularity.

 

 

Doujin presence was always there, but much more noticeable once the commercial decline in J-PC games development/distribution hit with Windows 9x. FPSes were indeed rare (I'll happily point to the few examples we have which aren't Doom), but there's more genre diversity for PC-98 and competing systems than most would know about. One commonality between their PC communities and ours in the early-1990s was widespread BBS use for discussion and sharing content. Business standards and funding meant that shareware was far less common a distribution strategy than in North America or Europe, but it still existed at the doujin level and some commercial outliers.

 

Anyway, that's enough of a tangent. I just feel we needed some more context here for posterity.

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46 minutes ago, PasokonDeacon said:

PC-98 was MS-DOS for a majority of Japanese computer users.

And that's why when you want to talk about the computers with a specific x86-based architecture common to the western world, you say IBM compatible. Or more specifically, IBM Personal Computer compatible.

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On 3/4/2022 at 1:04 AM, Pawlicker said:

 

Hey, I'm the guy who uploaded the video and I finally ended up getting another PC-98. This one is a much higher specced one with a Socket 5 (it accepts non-MMX pentiums, "upgrade CPUs" for the PC-98, and IDT Winchip 1/2 CPUs, I'm using a Winchip 2-200 right now) and you're right. DOOM does run far faster on this CPU. Something else interesting is that with the CanBe sound system/PC-9801-118 soundboard (YMF-288/297 + CS4231) there is no random beeping like there is on the Ce2 and NP21w with the -86 sound board. 

 

While it's like playing DOS doom, there is one massive difference. DOOM 2 won't load DOOM 1's IWAD (and throws a texture error). This is important as only DOOM 2 supports the CS4231 PCM chip as an option, with DOOM 1 only supporting YM2608 ADPCM. I'm not sure if DOOM for PC-98 ever had patches aside from the one for 2 to fix a level problem. I'll probably post a video of it running without the beeps later. I'm not sure if there's any fixes for the sound system being unsupported problem.

sweet heavens, that would be nice.

 

20 hours ago, Alfonso said:

There is no Ultimate Doom release.

What about Final Doom?

Same deal.

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On 7/26/2020 at 4:50 PM, PasokonDeacon said:

Judging by higher levels of motion sickness incidence among many East Asian people (which is an ongoing field of study), first-person games with a lot of motion and disorientation (visually and spatially) tend to be less accessible for those players. I'd rather hear from them first WRT how they first met with Doom and got into it, but I wouldn't be surprised if ports to domestic Japanese PCs like the PC-98 played a part in it all. It might also be the case that more of them get into games like Doom now thanks to the global popularity of less demanding first-person games like, say, Skyrim and Minecraft. Getting used to first-person play in a less strenuous environment can remove the biggest personal barrier to trying more intense experiences like, well, classic Doom.

 

Funny, because this supposed 'Asian susceptibility to motion sickness' never prevented South Korea from churning out a gazillion F2P CS 1.6/CoD clones one after another since the early 2000s.

 

BTW one of these Korean F2P games shown in the video, Crossfire, also happens to be massively popular in China. But how big is it ? Well, if PC Gamer is to be believed, the game had more than 660 million registered accounts back in the year 2019 (https://www.pcgamer.com/the-5-biggest-pc-games-in-china-that-youll-probably-never-play/). For the sake of comparison, Fortnite had only about 250 million registered players at the time.

 

In other other words, susceptibility to motion sickness does not appear to be a significant factor in the FPS genre's popularity. Platform availability, on the other hand, seems to be the key factor, as both South Korea and China happen to have a very significant PC gaming market, with console presence being relatively smaller (or outright nonexistent, in the case of China). Japan's PC gaming scene, on the other side, pretty much died off in the mid 90s, with most developers choosing to migrate to consoles instead. As a result, most Japanese developers and players not only missed out the genre when it was still in its formative years, but also completely ignored the multiplayer shooter boom of the late 90s/early 2000s. So we really shouldn't be surprised that the genre as a whole is unpopular there.

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I fully agree at this point. The popularity of VR games/software in East Asia also dispels this notion, given how much more disorienting that can be for just about anyone. For that matter, top-down Japanese games like Cameltry or Brandish or even Sonic the flippin' Hedgehog have more potential to cause motion sickness than people generally consider. It's less that the study findings aren't trustworthy and more that genre exposure and ensuing popularity does a lot to normalize FPSes and games with unique player viewpoints overall.

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I do remember the motion-sickness thing being the reason Metal Gear Solid 3 initially shipped with a primarily top-down camera (Kojima himself is a sufferer and apparently still can't play most FPSes to this day). They tried a user-controlled third-person camera for the Substance re-release and it stuck for the rest of the series after it didn't trigger mass-nausea in the dev team.

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On 3/3/2022 at 3:56 PM, PasokonDeacon said:

Later PC-98(21) sound systems/card setups can definitely get finicky. There wasn't quite as much standardization/conglomeration over there vs. the Gravix-/SoundBlaster-dominated market for IBM compatibles in the West.

There's not as much there as there is video standards. The PC-9821 only had around 3 sound systems or so actually supported in many games: the 9821-26 (ym2203), 9821-86 (ym2608), and the 9801-118/CanBe sound system (CS4231 and YMF288/297, the latter having an OPL3 core as well that is selectable with a pin). As many PC-98 systems shipped with one of the FM chips on board, most games targeted this. A few DOS games support the SB16 as well, while next to nothing uses the Mate PCM (no FM), AWE32 for PC-98, or PC-9801-14 (a PSG IIRC) sound system.  On the other hand the PC-98 had multiple external Windows only "window accelerator" cards most games didn't exactly support, but DOOM definitely supports it as it has multiple video card options along with the "onboard PC-9821 video" option.

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Some info on the development of the PC-98 port: It was handled by a company called Infinity Co. Ltd., formed by a programmer called Yukio Horimoto after a document-filing utility he created resulted in a modest financial windfall. They originally developed original games - the NES and Gameboy game The Battle of Olympus was their big passion project - but a lack of success lead them down the path of porting western computer games to Japanese systems for most of the 90s, until the massive success of Windows 95 rendered such work largely unnecessary and they moved onto work-for-hire game development for various publishers.

 

Their work with foreign games had them port all sorts of well-known titles, including the Ultima series, Populous, ShadowCaster, Descent, System Shock, and of course, Wolfenstein and Doom. In a 2015 career retrospective interview with USGamer, Horimoto remembers the period fondly:

Quote

It was a really exciting time, there were so many genius programmers in the United States and Europe. I got to work with their source code, which was really fun for me.

 

My challenge then was to run such sophisticated software on different hardware with the same speed. But I did it! I like programming game software, but systems programming... other than disassembling, it’s very common work. Decompiling the binary software and making it into source code and reading the comments and examine what this program does. I increased my knowledge with that method, and I became familiar with hardware. It wasn't usually difficult to change the source code, depending on the hardware. I really enjoyed it, and reading the source code written by different people—I learned many things from them.

 

I enjoyed going to Akihabara shops to find imported English magazines for games, buying them and reading them. I first saw Populous in one of these magazines. It was just some screenshots and a brief description, not very detailed, but at first sight I liked it. So, I recommend to my client, 'You should buy this IP and sell the game in Japan.'

 

We went to England and met with Peter Molyneux, and the publisher bought the rights to publish the game in Japan. After that, they'd only ask me to come back for games from Europe or the United States. I worked for them for several years. Later, Electronic Arts established an office in Tokyo, and I knew the Japanese president, Mr. Honda, so he asked me to convert Ultima Underworld. I liked that game, so I enjoyed converting it. And Imagineer, the company that published Populous, they bought the rights for Doom, so I enjoyed it and bringing it to Japanese computers. I studied the source code and figured out how to convert it to different computers... writing, learning, all those different computers... those were very good days.

Infinity still operates to this day, although most of their work does not escape Japan. They were last seen remastering one of Namco's Mr. Driller games for Steam and modern consoles.

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