Learning to Dump Game.com

Discussion in 'Dumping and Backing Up Your Games and Prototypes' started by Kao, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Kao

    Kao Gutsy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    458
    Likes Received:
    307
    Hey, does anyone know how one would go about dumping Game.com carts?

    As I understand it (and I could have this wrong), a group called "Game.commies" dumped most every Game.com title known so far some years ago. However, I may soon be in a position to handle some titles that didn't make it to retail, and I'd like to be prepared to dump them should the situation arise.

    Thanks for any tips or contacts you can offer!

    Edit: Through the magic of the internet archives, I was able to get a hold of one of the original Game.commies guys, and he dropped a ton of knowledge my way. Sounds like I have process outlined pretty well, although there's a fair amount of electrical and circuitry knowledge required which isn't my forte exactly. I'll give it a go, though.

    If anyone else is interested in this stuff, I can see if he'd be cool with my copy/pasting his process here for increasing the knowledge pool.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
    fate6 likes this.
  2. retro

    retro Resigned from mod duty 15 March 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,354
    Likes Received:
    823
    Sounds interesting. Game.com was pretty cool!
     
    Kao likes this.
  3. Kao

    Kao Gutsy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    458
    Likes Received:
    307
    It wasn't a very good platform, but Tiger was great at securing licenses, so there's a ton of big-name unreleased games, which is kind of appealing to the researcher/archivist in me.

    I'm actually working on the build for the Game.com ROM dumper now. I'll try to share my results here.
     
    Conte Zero likes this.
  4. Mord.Fustang

    Mord.Fustang Fiery Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    185
    As long as he is cool with it, it could be very handy for archival purposes if you posted the process online.
     
  5. Kao

    Kao Gutsy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    458
    Likes Received:
    307
    I've built a ROM dumper for Game.com... and against all odds, it works!

    [​IMG]

    The device is basically an adapter that allows you to dump the roms through any standard EEPROM programmer (I'm using the "MiniPro" TL866CS universal programmer, for example).

    So far I've dumped Jurassic Park and Lights Out as tests, and both run perfectly on the official Game.com emulator that drx released some years back (check Hidden Palace for the download link), and I may have an opportunity to attempt dumps of some unreleased games in the future. We'll see.

    In the meantime, I'm hoping to document the process online somewhere. Would redump.org be a good fit, or is that just for disc media?
     
    Conte Zero and wazzal like this.
  6. Muramasa

    Muramasa Rising Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    33
    As someone that is interested in dumping games for all consoles I would say start by getting the gist of what you know up here. I'm guessing if you can dump it with a normal eprom programmer then there must not be any mappers or anything like that.
     
  7. Kao

    Kao Gutsy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    458
    Likes Received:
    307
    Dumping Tiger Game.com ROMs

    Materials required:

    • Game.com game catridge
    • Phillips head screwdriver
    • 2 position switch (I used this, but any will do)
    • EEPROM programmer (I used the "MiniPro" TL866CS)
    • Materials to connect the cartridge, switch, and programmer (up to you, but specific recommendations given below)

    Instructions:

    Tiger Game.com cartridges can be dumped through any EEPROM programmer that can read from 27C080 integrated circuits.

    The main hurdle to dumping the cartridge therefore is to get the pins on the cartridge to map to the correct positions for the 27C080 integrated circuit. Additionally, while many Game.com games will fit well within the 27C080's maximum size of 1 megabyte, some will require the addition of a two position switch to the pinout remapping so that two dumps can be done; one of the lower half of the ROM, and then another of the upper half of the ROM. The two halves can then be joined together using any file-joining utility.

    To determine if your cartridge requires two dumps, use a phillips head screw driver to open the plastic shell of the game cartridge, remove the circuit board, and check the ID markings on the board to compare against this list:

    Code:
    71-516CD-3  256-Kbit
    71-529-1      2-Mbit
    71-525-1      8-Mbit
    71-728-1      8-Mbit (Transistor)
    71-709-1     16-Mbit (Transistor)

    The mapping of the game cartridge's pinout to the 27C080 IC (as well as the 2 position switch) can be found in this diagram:

    [​IMG]


    Any method of making the correct connections between the cartridge's pins, the switch, and the EEPROM reader in a safe and stable manner is acceptable, although my recommended method would be to create an adapter using a custom printed circuit board (PCB) that has traces making the required connections, as this will provide a sturdy, reliable, and reusable adapter.

    Materials Required for PCB Approach:
    Instructions for PCB Approach:

    A printed circuit board can be created in a PCB design program (such as KiCAD, which is free), designed such that pads and connective traces are laid out that will connect the cartridge edge connector, the two position switch, and the two rows of header pins to the specifications of the pinout mapping diagram seen above. This part is a little complicated if you've never used one of these programs before, but it's definitely manageable, and there are many guides out there to assist you. If you find connecting all the pads with traces daunting as I did, Google "KiCAD autotracer" for a tool that can automate the process. Alternatively, feel free to simply use the KiCAD project file I've linked to above.

    [​IMG]

    Once you have your PCB file, you can then have it manufactured by one of the various PCB services out there (I had mine made on the cheap with about two weeks between order and delivery at OSHPark.com).

    With your board now in hand, the only task left is to solder all of the components to the board. Make sure you solder the edge connector down in the correct orientation (there's a little circular hole in the top left corner).

    Instructions for Dumping the ROM

    Once you've completed whatever method you chose to make the connections and built an adapter for the 27C080 integrated circuit, all that is left is to mount your adapter onto your EEPROM programmer and read the data off using the 27C080 setting.

    First ensure that you have your adapter oriented to correctly match the sockets in your EEPROM programmer. Even though the connections coming out from the adapter could fit into the programmer in two orientations, only one is correct. There should be a half circle mark on the programmer, similar to the one in the pinout diagram above, and your connections corresponding to VCC and A19 should be closest to the side of the programmer with that mark.

    If using a cartridge edge connector like that from the PCB instructions, insert the game cartridge’s circuit board into it with the side that has the blob on it facing away from the circular notch in the top left corner of the cartridge edge connector.

    When dumping your game, confirm that the 2 position switch is in the "lower" position (the GND position) for the dump, and then, if necessary, switch it to the "upper" setting (the VCC position) for the second dump (see the table of ROM sizes above to determine if two dumps are necessary for your game cartridge).

    If you're using the MiniPro software that comes with the TL866CS EEPROM programmer, you'll want to uncheck the "Check ID" option as well as set the IC Device to any of the 27C080 @DIP32 device options available (I used AMD's AM27C080 @DIP32).
    [​IMG]

    If your ROM required two dumps you can now join the two halves together with any file joining utility. Windows has one built in that can be accessed via run->cmd, going to the directory where your two ROM dump .bin files are, and typing the following command:
    Code:
    copy /B *.bin output.bin
    Make sure that the .bin file representing the "lower" half of the ROM is named something that puts it alphabetically before the "upper" half.
    e.g. "myRom_Lower.bin" and "myRom_Upper.bin"

    And that's all there is to dumping Tiger Game.com games!

    A huge, huge thanks goes out to parasyte, who was the one who figured out how to dump Game.com ROM data, and without whom the information in this guide would not exist. Thank you!

    Disclaimer: these instructions are offered for educational purposes only. No guarantee is made regarding their completeness or accuracy. Their author cannot be held liable for any damage to property, injury, etc. that may occur during their use.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
    windwakr and Muramasa like this.
  8. Muramasa

    Muramasa Rising Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    33
    Thanks a ton for the info! I wasn't expecting anything nearly this detailed. What part did you use for the cartridge connector?I don't actually have any game.com cartridges yet so haven't checked but is the cartridge an off the shelf part that can still be ordered?
     
  9. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    Messages:
    8,613
    Likes Received:
    1,383
    He posted a link to the connector in the guide, it's still available.
     
    Muramasa likes this.
  10. Kao

    Kao Gutsy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    458
    Likes Received:
    307
    Thanks for taking a look and for your interest. :)

    Yeah, for the cartridge edge connector you can use any 40 position edge connector that will fit the pins on the cartridge's circuit board. The one I used was a Sullins RBB20DHHN.

    I've updated the instructions above to include a link to the PCB project file.
     
    Muramasa likes this.

Share This Page