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Emulating the Philips G7000 Videopac console in Linux

Posted on Sunday, October 14 2018

The Philips G7000 Videopac game console from 1978, also know as the Magnavox Odyssey 2, was my first video game console. Let's see if we can bring some of the memories back to life...

My original G7000 console was sold when I was saving up money for buying my first home computer, but I bought another one back in 2008 on Ebay. It came with plenty of cartridges and is in working condition, however it's not yet fully restorated and so it spends most if its time in a box in the attic until I find time to do so.

In the meantime I am using the O2EM emulator to occasionally play some of the old Videopac games.

Please note: As always with emulation of old hardware the most difficult part is to find the appropriate binary images of cartridges and the BIOS. I can't provide them to you and you will need to utilize your favorite search engine to find them on the net. Please do not mail me and ask for them. That said, let's set up O2EM...

Compiling the O2EM emulator

First, install the Allegro library, which is a prerequisite for O2EM.

sudo apt-get install liballegro4-dev

Get the source code for O2EM either from the project homepage or from the Lutris Github repository. I will use the Github repo here:

git clone https://github.com/lutris/o2em.git

Compile it:

cd o2em
make

Setting up the emulator

Now let's set up a seperate directory for the emulation. Create a new folder in your home directory and copy the o2em executable that was just compiled to it and create some additonal folders.

mkdir ~/videopac
cp o2em ~/videopac
cd ~/videopac
mkdir bios
mkdir roms

The bios directory will hold the system BIOS, the binary images of the cartridges go to the roms directory.

BIOS

O2EM emulates the G7000/Odyssey2 system as well as the G7400/Videopac+ system so there are different BIOS images around. For the original G7000 system you will need a 1K BIOS image named o2rom.bin. Videopac games with a "+" in the name are most likely for use with the G7400 system and require an image named g7400. There are also French versions of both images around, which could make your search a little confusing. So here is an overview:

These files go to the bios directory.

ROMS

Of course you need binary images of the game cartridges as well. Once you have obtained them, just place the .bin file of each cartridge into the roms directory.

Starting the emulation

It's time to have fun. Start the emulation with:

./o2em [ROMNAME.bin]

where [ROMNAME.bin] is the name of binary image of your cartridge (in the roms directory).

You can exit the emulation by pressing ESC.

Now it is time to read the documentation that comes with O2EM as there are numerous command line options and keyboard functions.

I usually start the emulation with

./o2em -fullscreen -euro -s1=UP,DOWN,LEFT,RIGHT,LCONTROL ROMNAME.bin

Meaning, start in fullscreen mode, with european 50Hz timing, set the controller of player 1 (s1) to the cursor keys with the action button on the left control key.

That's it folks, now let's play...

Tags: ancient videopac