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About Free FM TOWNS Project

The goal of this project is to make fully self-contained FM TOWNS emulator. Also, if someone take on a project to replicate a FM TOWNS hardware (like by using an FPGA), I want to make available ROM images that can be used without a copyright concern. I don't know if anyone can take on such a project, well, but I think it is very possible because FM TOWNS was based on DOS.

Fujitsu released a hobby personal computer FM TOWNS in 1989, which was the first computer that had an internal CD-ROM drive as a standard equipment of the minimum configuration. All FM TOWNSes had a CD-ROM drive, which gave a significant incentive for software developers to release software titles in a CD-ROM. CD-ROM can last long if you keep it in dry cool location. We can still buy working media of FM TOWNS apps from a retro-game shop or from an auction legally.

However, the running environment is quickly diminishing. FM TOWNS hardware very often has an issue with the internal CD-ROM drive. Since Fujitsu did it too early (Fujitsu did always things too much ahead) the internal CD-ROM drive was proprietary. In fact, there was no such thing called CD-ROM drive standard then. Once the internal drive is broken, it is nearly impossible to find a replacement.

So you can think of using an emulator like UNZ and Tsugaru. However, if you strictly interpret the copyright law, it is illegal to use ROM images extracted from FM TOWNS unless you own a FM TOWNS computer.

The current copyright law protects the software developer, but not the software. Once the developer closes the door, nobody can use the software legally. Should the developer be given a right to take software away from the users? Should a developer be allowed to kill a software that was once released to the world? I don't think so. The copyright law should protect the developers as well as the software. I'm not saying make all old programs free. I am saying there should be a rule that the user can continue using old software for reasonable price, and the developer can benefit by keeping the software available.

You need minimum two ROM images, FMT_SYS and FMT_DOS. Others can somehow be auto-generated. The developer of UNZ emulator, Kasanova, has also developed a compatible and free version of FMT_SYS. He has generously opened the source code. His version is only good for booting from CD-ROM drive, but I took over and made it bootable from Floppy and Hard disk drives.

The other ROM image, FMT_DOS, was a problem. It includes MSDOS.SYS, COMMAND.COM, and MSCDEX.EXE. MSCDEX.EXE can be replaced with SHSUCDX (https://github.com/adoxa/shsucd). I really appreciate the developer of SHSUCDX for their effort to develop a compatible version of MSCDEX. However, I still needed MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM equivalent to MS-DOS Ver 3.1. Microsoft opened MS-DOS V2.0 source code, but stopped short of V3.1.

You also need a font-ROM image, FMT_FNT.ROM, which pinterior developed a tool for converting a public-domain font into FM TOWNS ROM format, and you can download FMT_FNT.ROM from his github repository. https://github.com/pinterior/FMT_FNT.ROM/actions) 20-dot font image can just be filled with zeros. Earlier FM TOWNS models didn't have this ROM, and FM TOWNS applications rarely use font from this ROM. FM TOWNS also had a ROM that stored a dictionary for typing Japanese Kanji charactors in FMT_DIC.ROM, which can be filled with 0xFFs, and at least you can type Hiragana and Katakana.

So, I started writing YSDOS.SYS, a compatible version of DOS, and YAMAND.COM, a compatible version of COMMAND.COM. I finally made it bootable into FM Towns OS. So, I opened it.

Well, it was a heck of assembly programming....

Source code and ROM images (FMT_SYS.ROM, FMT_DOS.ROM, FMT_DIC.ROM): https://github.com/captainys/TOWNSROM

Confirmed to work with Tsugaru and compatible ROMs

Afterburner II SEGA/CRI Confirmed playable into several stages.
Microcosm Psygnosis Confirmed to start.
Megamorph Psygnosis Confirmed to start.
Fractal Engine Demo Psygnosis Plays all the way.
Strike Commander Origin Confirmed hard-disk installation to opening movie.
Wing Commander Origin Confirmed to start
Wing Commander II Origin Confirmed hard-disk installation to the first menu.
Alone in the Dark Infograms Confirmed to start directly from CD, and hard-disk installation to start playing.
Towns OS V1.1 L10 Demo Towns Illusion Fujitsu´╝łT&E) Runs all the way.
Brandish Falcom Confirmed the opening movie.
Galaxy Force II SEGA/CRI Confirmed to start.
RAYXANBER DATAWEST Confirmed to start to the auto demo.
Turbo Outrun SEGA/CRI Confirmed to start to the auto demo.
Viewpoint SNK/VING Confirmed to start to the auto demo.
Chase HQ TAITO/VING Confirmed to start to the auto demo.
Air Combat 2 Special Systemsoft Confirmed to start
A Train 3 Artdink Confirmed to start.
F-29 Retaliator Imagineer Confirmed to start to the auto demo.
Panzer Division Artdink Confirmed to start to the opening movie.
Libble Rabble namco/DEMPA Confirmed to start.
Shadow of the Beast Psygnosis Confirmed to start to the opening movie.
Advantage Tennis Infograms Confirmed to start.
Super Daisenryaku (Super Strategic Confrontation) Systemsoft Confirmed opening to the start of the first turn.
Emerald Dragon Glodia Confirmed to start game play.
Augusta Far Far Away T&E Confirmed to start playing Stroke Play mode.
ImageFight IREM/VING Confirmed to start playing.
Raiden SEIBU/SUCCESS/KID Confirmed to start playing.
Operation Wolf TAITO/VING Confirmed to start playing.
The New Zealand Story TAITO/VING Confirmed to start playing.
Puyopuyo COMPILE/CRI Confirmed to start playing.
F-BASIC 386 V2.1 L10 Fujitsu Tested some commands.

Known Issues

Dungeon Master FTL/Fujitsu The program tries to open Q:\JDATA\DUNGEON.DAT without stopping CDDA BGM. The program first opened the file, stopped CDDA, and then read from the file. Obviously wrong order. MSCDEX happens to have the directory in cache, and succeeds in opening the file. However, SHSUCDX fails to open, and the program freezes. Actually, failing to open is the correct reaction to FOPEN because there is no guarantee that the directory happens to be in the cache. You can bypass this freeze by force stopping CDDA by Tsugaru command or GUI menu, or waiting until the opening BGM plays all the way, then click to enter the dungeon.
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