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FM Towns Marty

FM Towns Marty
The FM Towns Marty with controller.
FM Towns Marty console with controller
Manufacturer Fujitsu
Type Home video game console
Generation Fifth generation (32-bit/64-bit era)
Release date
  • JP February 20, 1993
Discontinued
Units sold 45,000 (as of December 31, 1993)[1]
Media CD-ROM, 3½-inch floppy disks
CPU AMD 386SX at 16 MHz
Memory 2 MB
Display 352x232 - 640x480 resolutions, 256 colours on-screen out of a palette of 32 768
Sound
Backward
compatibility
FM Towns

The FM Towns Marty (エフエムタウンズマーティー Efu Emu Taunzu Mātī) is a fifth-generation home video game console released in 1993 by Fujitsu, exclusively for the Japanese market. It was the first 32-bit home video game system, and came complete with a built in CD-ROM drive and disk drive. It was based on the earlier FM Towns computer system Fujitsu had released in 1989. The Marty was backward-compatible with older FM Towns games.

In 1994 a new version of the console called the FM Towns Marty 2 (エフエムタウンズマーティー2 Efu Emu Taunzu Mātī Tsū) was released. It featured a darker gray shell and a new lower price (66,000 yen or 670 USD) but was otherwise identical to the first Marty. It is widely believed that the FM Towns Marty 2 would feature similar improvements to the FM Towns 2, which had a swifter CPU than the first, but this is not the case.[2] It has also been speculated that the Marty 2 featured a 486 CPU, however this was also discovered to be false.

There is also the FM Towns Car Marty (エフエムタウンズカーマーティー Efu Emu Taunzu Kā Mātī) for installation in automobiles. It included a built in navigation system with audio and video guidance, and could also be detached from the car and played at home.[3] It came in two versions, the MVP-1 (released in April 1994) and MVP-10 (released in November 1994). The only difference between the MVP-1 and MVP-10 is the drive mechanisms. There has been speculation that the MVP-10 was introduced since the MVP-1 broke easily. An optional IC Card for the FM Towns Car Marty allowed it to use VICS,[3] and was subsequently sold with a video monitor.

Contents

  • Reception 1
  • Technical specifications 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Reception

Despite having excellent hardware from a gaming perspective, both the FM Towns and the FM Towns Marty were very poor sellers in Japan. They were expensive and the custom hardware meant expandability wasn't as easy as with DOS/V (IBM PC Clones with Japanese DOS or Microsoft Windows) systems. NEC's PC98 series computers were also dominant in Japan when the FM Towns Marty was released, making it difficult to break out before the DOS/V invasion took control of the market. This was despite such revolutionary features as bootable CD-ROMs and a color GUI OS on the FM Towns PC, something that predated Microsoft's Windows 95b bootable CD by 7 years. Software today is rare and expensive due to the low production runs. Despite backwards compatibility with most older FM Towns PC games, compatibility issues plagued the Marty as newer titles were released with the FM Towns in mind, further limiting its potential as a true "console version" of the Fujitsu FM Towns PC. The Marty did have its own library of "Marty" specific games, but they were not enough to strengthen its niche position between video game console systems and personal computers.

When Fujitsu lowered the price and released the Marty 2 sales started to increase, but the corporate attitude was that it was a lost cause, and so the system was dropped. This led to the creation of the Japanese "Marty's Law" (マーティーの法則 Mātī no Hōsoku): if you don't keep offering something to sell, you can't increase sales.

Technical specifications

CPU AMD 386SX processor (32-bit) @ 16 MHz (3.6 MIPS[4])
RAM
Graphics
  • GPU: Fujitsu custom graphics chip
  • Display resolution: 256×240, 256×256, 320×240, 352×232, 360×240, 512×480, 640×200, 640×480, 720×480[6]
  • Bitmap background planes: 1 (with sprite plane) or 2 (without sprite plane)
  • Sprite foreground plane: 256×240[6] to 640×480 resolution, 256 colours on screen, out of 32,768 colour palette
  • Hardware integer zooming: 1/2× vertical, 1/2/3/4/5× horizontal[8]

The Marty had only composite and S-Video output, no other video connectors are possible. As some FM Towns games were VGA-only, the Marty had a 15 kHz down-scan capability for displaying on a household TV screen.

Sprites Up to 1024 sprites, 16×16 pixels sprite size, 16 colors per sprite[8]
Sound
Data storage

Floppy disks must be formatted 1.2M (PC98-style). This can be done from the BIOS GUI. The Marty's disk drive does not support standard 1.44M or 720k FAT formatted 3.5" floppy disks. For a PC to be compatible with FM Towns Marty floppies it must have a disk drive, BIOS and OS that supports "3 Mode". There are also USB floppy drives that support "3 Mode".

Multi-Purpose PCMCIA type 1 slot The Marty's IC Card slot is compatible with type 1 PCMCIA cards, including battery-backed SRAM cards (accessible from the BIOS menu) that can be mapped to a drive letter and used as a small drive. Fujitsu also officially released a PCMCIA 2400 bit/s modem (FMM-CM301) for the FM Towns Marty. This modem was bundled with the special TCMarty that also came with a printer port. While it is widely believed that the IC Card slot can be used for RAM expansions, this is not correct.
Controllers
  • 4-way D-pad, A and B buttons, Select, and Run, as well as an extra button above the two "face" buttons
  • 2 standard controller ports
  • Keyboard port

The controller connector is a DE-9, referred to as an "Atari Type" in Japan because it's fundamentally the same connector as an Atari 2600. The Marty's Run and Select buttons are the equivalent of pressing right and left, or up and down at the same time. A six-button controller from Fujitsu was available for use with Capcom's Street Fighter II. Capcom also released an adapter for their CPS Fighter stick which made the stick compatible with the FM Towns/Marty as well as the Sharp X68000.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ 清水欣一『富士通のマルチメディア・ビジネス』オーエス出版社、May 15, 1995第1刷、March 14, 1997第4刷、ISBN 4-87190-415-6、151頁。
  2. ^ http://nfggames.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=2130&st=0&#
  3. ^ a b "International News".  
  4. ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=sc0wyeolS8cC&pg=PA97
  5. ^ http://archive.org/stream/ace-magazine-27/ACE_Issue_27_1989_Dec#page/n27/mode/2up
  6. ^ a b c d http://www.old-computers.com/museum/doc.asp?c=968&st=1
  7. ^ http://www.edge-online.com/review/tatsujin-2-review/
  8. ^ a b http://mamedev.org/source/src/mess/video/fmtowns.c.html
  9. ^ http://www.datasheets360.com/pdf/9092021866535445725
  10. ^ http://gamesx.com/articles/doku.php?id=controls:capcompowerstick

External links

  • tripod.com/~faberp/: General information and pictures
  • consoledatabase.com: Console Database entry
  • nfggames.com: FM Towns Marty Disassembly
  • gamesx.com: FM Towns Controller Connector
  • xe-emulator.com: Xe, an emulator collection - domain appears to be squatted
  • gamescollection.it: Fm Towns Marty games database
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