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What was the first NES assembler?

What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191164)
This isn't a necessary question, but what were the original tools they used to program and design the graphics for games like Super Mario Bros. I'm just curious because I can't seem to find any information about that. And if anyone knows, I'd also be interested to learn what computers they used. Not any modern assemblers like ca65, but the older ones from the mid 80's that Nintendo used.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191167)
Assemblers for 6502 existed long before the FC or the NES were even in project of being made, so the question makes no sense.

We don't know about tools used by Nintendo, but we know about tools used by a small british company to develop Elite, a NES game using wireframe graphics. Search for Tank Demo on the old Nesdev main page., a demo which uses an improved version of the same wireframe engine, version that never made it's way onto the game market.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191168)
Do we know what graphics tools they used?
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191174)
Here's a video of someone using the Merlin 64 assembler.

https://youtu.be/CDPlfqpgW8c

EDIT...all the paint programs I am aware of were designed around 1986-88. Since SMB was done in 85, they wouldn't have used them.

I've heard that levels and graphics were drawn by hand, on graph paper, and converted to hex values manually. But I have no proof.

Edit 2 - note, that this is not an NES specific assembler, but a general purpose 6502 assembler. I have no idea what the actual Nintendo programmers used.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191177)
There are some magazine scans with pictures of the development of SMB3 showing some Mario sprites being drawn and you can see a bit of the interface.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191182)
dougeff wrote:
I've heard that levels and graphics were drawn by hand, on graph paper, and converted to hex values manually. But I have no proof.

References to "tracing holes" in a rant that fills unused space in Pachi Com confirm that this was done in at least the NROM era.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191183)
Way way back in the early days, Nintendo designers would fill in squares on graph paper, either in B&W or using coloured markers. They would then "scan" them in 16x16 (8x8?) dots at a time using an LED and photoreceptor array. This was fortunately superseded by the PC-based CHR editors seen in the Mario 3 pics in Nintendo Power, etc.

Pics of the archaic & laborious process caught on videotape:
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191186)
What issue of Nintendo power had the screenshots?
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191187)
Leftover data in the Japanese version of Air Fortress suggests that x6502 (judging by how the text refers to ".X65"?!?!) from the 2500 A.D. assembler set was being used at the time. At least in 1987, that's the earliest year I can point out for sure...

As a side note, the leftover text also curiously refers to a DOS port of grep as well.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191189)
DementedPurple wrote:
What issue of Nintendo power had the screenshots?


From chris's website...

http://www.chrismcovell.com/secret/week ... tars10.jpg

Full link...
http://www.chrismcovell.com/secret/week ... puter.html

(Scans from a Japanese book called The Stars of Famicom Games)
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191191)
The HP 64000 mini computers seem to be used a lot, so I guess whichever ASM their 6502 ICE came with. They probably also used PC86-88, Sharp-X based system as well though. I would also think that Europeans probably used the PDS system as well, maybe having to make a custom cable to attach it. Commodore used VAX based systems for the assembling. But none of these would have been NES assemblers, I would think the first NES assembler was probably a Scene based thing. SN/Psy-q didn't start until later, there is no SNASM for NES.. Lots of fun details in the Untold History of Japanese Games books though.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191193)
I'm imagining a 6502 assembler that runs on a Z80 and the thought kind of makes me smile.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191202)
I wonder which CPU assembles faster... C64 vs Spectrum FIGHT!
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191244)
Nasir Gebelli used an Apple II and its mini assembler to make all his games, including the Famicom games Rad Racer, 3D Worldrunner and Final Fantasy. Yes, the mini assembler and nothing else. He was a legend. He didn't even know how a RPG game worked when he started programming Final Fantasy!
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191246)
And it showed. ;)
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191822)
Punch wrote:
Nasir Gebelli used an Apple II and its mini assembler to make all his games, including the Famicom games Rad Racer, 3D Worldrunner and Final Fantasy. Yes, the mini assembler and nothing else. He was a legend. He didn't even know how a RPG game worked when he started programming Final Fantasy!

I'd like to have your sources for this statement. I'm quite interested in Square's early days.

Quote:
And it showed. ;)

What exactly do you mean by this statement ? I have several suspictions on my side but I'd just like to confirm that yours are the same as mine.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191825)
Bregalad wrote:
Punch wrote:
Nasir Gebelli used an Apple II and its mini assembler to make all his games, including the Famicom games Rad Racer, 3D Worldrunner and Final Fantasy. Yes, the mini assembler and nothing else. He was a legend. He didn't even know how a RPG game worked when he started programming Final Fantasy!

I'd like to have your sources for this statement. I'm quite interested in Square's early days.

Quote:
And it showed. ;)

What exactly do you mean by this statement ? I have several suspictions on my side but I'd just like to confirm that yours are the same as mine.


Romero's Apple II reunion interview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGzd7JRbxL0

Softalk mag, 1981:

https://mirrors.apple2.org.za/ftp.apple ... pdf#page=6
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191826)
So the question's been asked about what tools commercial developers used, but how about the homebrew scene? What did people use before nesasm and friends came around, if anything?

I assume someone here knows since some of you guys are like, at least 200 years old. not meant to be rude
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191827)
I think early NES homebrew was mostly x816, which was for MS-DOS and (as far as I can tell) proprietary. But the loss of NTVDM with the upgrade to 64-bit Windows killed that off.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191828)
nicklausw wrote:
So the question's been asked about what tools commercial developers used, but how about the homebrew scene? What did people use before nesasm and friends came around, if anything?

For the CopyNES plugin, Kevtris apparently used the Telemark Assembler, which was a customizable assembler. The big thing with this assembler was that all the opcodes would come from an external table, so it could be used for different CPUs. This is the table used for the 6502 code in CopyNES' plugins: TASM65.TAB

Writing a very simpler assembler is not that big a task though, maybe a few hours of work? Some people might have just wrote their own as needed. Here's a particularly terse 6502 assembler written in Forth (found during a discussion of Forth in another thread here): forum.6502.org thread

There are one or two people around here who seem to prefer using hex editors and memorizing opcode values directly, too, though it kinda boggles me that anyone wants to work that way.

Didn't MS-DOS used to come with a very rudimentary command line x86 assembler tool? I seem to recall using it to create a very tiny example .COM file years ago... (it had sort of "immediate" entry, didn't process an external file)
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191829)
rainwarrior wrote:
Didn't MS-DOS used to come with a very rudimentary command line x86 assembler tool? I seem to recall using it to create a very tiny example .COM file years ago... (it had sort of "immediate" entry, didn't process an external file)
DEBUG.

It was stunningly useful for patching things.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191830)
Ah, thank you. DEBUG
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191831)
Ah, TASM! Sega 8-bit devs also used that before WLA came around. If there was a more modern assembler like that, I'd use it for pretty much everything. (Well, excluding the potential of ca65 or python to just have a macro pack full of assembler instructions :P).
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191835)
I think that DEBUG is available in windows 7 even, if it's the 32 bit version.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191836)
nicklausw wrote:
So the question's been asked about what tools commercial developers used, but how about the homebrew scene? What did people use before nesasm and friends came around, if anything?

In the early days, I used DASM 2.12 on the Amiga.
Re: What was the first NES assembler?
by on (#191837)
I often used DEBUG for creating small assembly routines for QBASIC programs.