Author Topic: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles  (Read 1096 times)

APM

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Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« on: March 23, 2024, 06:38:57 PM »
About a year ago, I learned about the existence of the SPG293, a system-on-a-chip developed and manufactured by Sunplus as part of their SPG line of video game hardware. The SPG293 is an evolution of the SPG290 platform (best known for being used in the Mattel Hyperscan) and to my knowledge thus far, it mostly saw use in educational computers and plug and play systems that were manufactured by Subor and sold under various names, all of which included support for Wii-like controllers that used IR. The most notable of these releases are the Wii clones distributed by Lexibook in the mid-2010s that came bundled with various 32-bit games and what are essentially graphically enhanced NES games (VTxx) as ".wxn" files. You may have heard about it from this video. SPG293 mainly adds high resolution 16-bit color modes and rotation/scaling features to sprites. Like the SPG290, it uses the proprietary 32-bit S+Core architecture, developed in-house by Sunplus themselves. Comparing it to dedicated game consoles is a bit difficult, but the graphics are equivalent to a PlayStation 2 in regards to 2D and utilize a PPU similar to a SNES, making use of tiles for graphics as well as having support for a Mode 7-like feature, and audio quality can be on par with any fifth-generation home console at best. If you're interested in learning more about the SPG293 on a technical level or are interested in checking out the game library on the Lexibook consoles, I highly recommend checking out gatecat's video demonstrating them on her SPG293 emulator, as well as her development blog series on the emulator on cohost: https://cohost.org/kbity/post/775535-spg293-adventures-p

From my own research, it seems that some awareness of this technology being used for plug and plays goes back to the discovery of the now-defunct istudy666.cn site and the downloadable .wxn pack in 2011, but otherwise attempts to shed light on consoles using SPG293 hardware haven't been very prominent other than casual mentions on this forum from years ago. Recently, I've been collecting any information on systems that use the SPG293 whenever motivation strikes me, and now I've decided to create this thread with the intention of sharing the more interesting systems I've come across so far in an organized and public manner. I'll mostly be posting sporadically when it comes to sharing info I've found because writing takes time and there are surprisingly a lot of SPG293 consoles out there, albeit most of them are just variants of Subor's 32-bit computer/PnP hardware. I'm also keeping my postings limited to the more generic plug and plays that use this hardware so as to not stray too far from the topic of bootlegs. Others are free to share information or leads on any other consoles potentially using SPG293 hardware if they so choose to.

To start this off with a bang, I'll be sharing a couple of SPG293 consoles that until now were essentially unknown and that I thought were interesting enough to share here:

iSports Pro (Japan)


This was a bit of a shock to me when I first discovered this from doing a simple Google search in an unrelated context. The iSports Pro, a plug and play system based on the 32-bit Subor Wii clone hardware, got a release in Japan by a company named "GAMEJOY JAPAN". Unlike most of the Subor consoles, though, this one only comes with 15 32-bit sports games. Now, the same console was released in Asian (and possibly European?) territories under an identical name and with the same shell as the Japanese version. That release appears to have been preloaded with the usual quasi-OS with menus for sports games, regular games, and miscellaneous applications. The Japanese iSports Pro actually uses a completely different menu more fitting of a typical multi-game console. The menu and games are completely in English and the games themselves are variants of games known to be included with the Lexibook consoles:

  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Super Slider
  • Golf
  • Fencing
  • Super Shoot (Basketball)
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Darts
  • Horse Racing Speed
  • Ping Pong
  • Bowling
  • Fishing
  • Football
  • Trampoline
  • Sword of Warrior

The most interesting of the 15 games to me is Ping Pong, as it's a bit different from the version included with the Lexibook consoles. Not only does it use the PINGPONG.AVI video for its intro, which the version on the Lexibook consoles don't use (the file is still included on the Lexibook under "Classroom > More" and in the files for the ping pong game those come with), but the game itself from the little footage I could find has some visual changes. You can watch an unboxing of the Japanese iSports Pro and gameplay footage of all 15 games here.

This version of the iSports Pro seems to be very uncommon. I've only ever found two listings for it on Mercari Japan and Yahoo! Auctions. The Mercari listing also happened to have a couple of what I can only describe as "proxy listings" for it on eBay with inflated prices and the exact same images from it. From what I can gather, the iSports Pro didn't sell particularly well in Japan, likely explaining why it's so scarce on Japanese auction sites. As of writing, this particular console also hasn't been dumped yet, which hopefully changes soon.


iGame Family/iGame V60/i-Vision Game/IPSPG1000A


And now for an SPG293 console not manufactured by Subor. Or at least, I believe it's SPG293-based from what I've been able to deduce. I have gatecat to thank for mentioning the existence of this thing on the BGC Discord and indirectly bringing it to my awareness.

This console isn't purely meant for video games, and its main purpose was to function as an iPod dock that let you stream music and video from your iPod to your TV. It also happened to have the ability to play games natively that made use of a motion controlled wireless remote (sounding familiar to anyone?) and had an SD card slot to allow more games to be loaded onto the console. Apparently, the OEM of this device is Sansonic, a Chinese company with next to no documentation and a very generic name, and the original names for it were the i-Vision Game and the more cryptic IPSPG1000A. According to this Softpedia article, the i-Vision Game used "a SPG293 MCU running at 162MHz, 32 MB of SDRAM memory and 8MB of NOR Flash memory". It appears that this console managed to get distributed by PealPal, another Chinese company, and of all things, an IT and consumer electronics company in the UK named Elonex that rebranded the device as the iGame Family. I believe that the iGame Family is connected to the i-Vision Game since not only do the consoles themselves look almost identical outside of branding, the image of the box the i-Vision Game supposedly came in on its ECPlaza page shows a 3D model of a boy character at the far right (named Mark in the games) that would also be used for the iGame Family's box art and promotional material (attached below). The Elonex release is interesting in that it's the only version of this console known to have had extra games released for it, which could be downloaded or purchased from the igamefamily.com site (now defunct) and put onto an SD card for use on the iGame Family. So far, none of these downloadable games were archived and have been lost since the iGame Family website shut down. A complete list of games that came included with the iGame Family or were available for download online can be found here.

I won't be delving into the dock functionality of this console to keep this thread focused, so I'll just talk about the games for a brief moment. From the scant few videos covering them that I could find on YouTube, most of the games are the typical knock offs of the games from Wii Sports. One game that particularly stands out from the rest though is the trampoline game, which uncannily resembles the one made for the Subor consoles down to the presentation and gameplay mechanics (doing button/motion combos to maintain jump height, obtaining points when completing certain combos).

The iGame Family in particular seems to have been sold exclusively in the UK and retailed for £79 there. It launched on October 2009 and was discontinued in 2012. I'm not sure how Sansonic or PealPal originally distributed the i-Vision Game but the ECPlaza page for the PealPal release still has the option to contact the company to request a bulk order, so make of that what you will. Of course, none of these consoles have been dumped yet either and wouldn't work in emulation at the moment anyway since they rely on flash memory to store system applications.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2024, 12:09:37 AM by APM »

APM

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2024, 12:01:18 AM »
A while ago I came across some videos showcasing a fitness mat plug and play named Xtreme Fit. Based on its abundant use of high resolution pre-rendered 3D graphics and the inclusion of certain games that also appear on the Lexibook consoles (the Snake game and Hitting Mice come to mind), this appear to be another SPG293 system designed by Subor. This was also released as the Zone Family Fit, which has since been dumped by people working on MAME (it uses NAND flash as opposed to SD cards like the Subor Wii knockoffs and their descendants), and the iFit, which I've only seen once on Xianyu about a year ago. I'm not sure if there are any differences between those versions and the Xtreme Fit, and Xtreme Fit is the only version that has gameplay footage online at the moment so I'll be covering that version in this post. The gameplay videos for the Xtreme Fit that I found are linked below:


Xtreme Fit from what I can tell boots up to a menu asking if the television it's hooked up to is 4:3 or 16:9. After confirming your choice, you're greeted with a menu with thumbnails for the various activities shown. I assume you use the buttons on the mat to select an option from the menu. The activities it comes with are "Fitness Workouts", "Athletics Games" (sic), "Jogging", "Dancing Game", and "Fun Games". The dancing game on this system is a DDR clone where you choose one of several different cartoon characters to dance along with. There are 5 songs available in total and you can also choose a scene to use when playing the game. The athletic and fun games are just a selection of the respective games ported from the Wii knockoff systems to work with the fitness mat controls. The fitness workouts section is intriguing to me as from what the videos show, it not only offers an extensive number of exercises in three different categories (yoga, muscle workouts, and aerobic steps) that offer decent information about their health benefits but also has training programs you can follow that I assume are tailored based off of the health information you specify in Health Indexes, as well as the option to create your own workout regiment.



As an honorable mention, while I'm unsure if this is an SPG293 system, I came across an old thread from taizou here mentioning the existence of a "WiWi 65", which is a 32-bit Wii clone from Qi Sheng Long that, as it says on the tin, comes with 65 games, some of them reportedly being 32-bit games from Nice Code according to taizou. While the prospect of Nice Code making 32-bit games is surprising enough, what shocks me personally is that their 32-bit games were actually (considered to be) put onto a plug and play at all, as for the longest time (really, like a year or two) I couldn't find any confirmation of any 32-bit games from Nice Code existing outside of pictures on a Wayback Machine archive of their website and eventually figured that they were nothing more than vaporware. There were two versions of the WiWi 65 that supposedly existed: the HD-032A model and a HD-032D "simple pack" edition. Unfortunately, information and documentation on both consoles are very scarce especially since the pages for them on Qi Sheng Long's website have been taken down, and all that remains on the Wayback Machine are partially saved copies of the product pages for each version with only the first image in their galleries saved, although all the thumbnails for them are intact on both. It also appears that if this console ever did get a proper release, that it was very very limited. The only evidence of it being sold anywhere are two links in the thread I linked that were from early 2013 and went to a now dead shopping service that operated in Crimea. A supplier page for the HD-032A WiWi 65 is still up as of writing, though, using the generic name of "32 Bit TV Entertainment System" for the product.

Now, the uncertainty of whether the WiWi 65 is based on SPG293 hardware or not is from the fact that on the development page from Nice Code's website, they claimed to have made 32-bit games for the "GPL293" and "GPL16258" platforms. The mention of "GPL16258" suggests that Nice Code also worked with the GPL162xx hardware, which is a SoC from Generalplus (another name that Sunplus operates under) that uses a completely different architecture and more advanced hardware compared to the SPG family, although I believe it's safe to assume that by "GPL293" they meant to refer to the SPG293. For what it's worth, this surviving thumbnail from the QSL product page for the regular WiWi 65 shows a menu similar to the one on the 48 in 1 Spielkonsole, which is known to show signs of potentially using SPG293 hardware (namely in its reliance on loading screens), so take that for what you will. There's also the possibility that there are other plug and play systems out there that also have Nice Code's 32-bit games on them and we just don't know that they exist. I highly doubt those will be discovered any time soon though.

APM

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2024, 10:28:14 PM »
Here's an interesting variant of the SPG293 Subor hardware I had my eye on some time ago that I finally got images of: the Subor C21! Unlike most of the Wii knockoffs using the 32-bit hardware, this console comes in a shell not dissimilar to a portable CD player (although there is nothing even close to a disc compartment in the console from what I can tell). According to a translation I did on the description of the Xianyu listing I found of this thing, it comes with an 8GB SD card preloaded with the usual 32-bit games as well as some 8-bit NES ROMs, which going by the translation refers to actual NES/Famicom games. The unique thing about this 32-bit Subor console compared to the rest of the known ones is that it appears to have a completely different menu that takes on more of an overworld map type look. While typing this and going back to check the Xianyu listing I found out that a laptop-like device from Subor, the Subor V16, uses the same type of menu. It looks like that system also has the typical quasi-OS menu that comes with the Subor consoles so I'll probably look at it some other time. Pictures of the Subor C21 box, its contents, and the menu will be attached below.

forgotusername

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2024, 09:59:30 AM »
There is a video of the C21 if it's of any use (see https://youtube.com/watch?v=SWQM6L3g0LI). The NES games seem to be typical .wxn fare, though it has SD card compatibility with .nes roms (which the Lexibook console did as well).

I honestly had no idea there was an emulator for this hardware, nor that the hardware chipset was even known (I referred to it on the wiki as "unknown 32-bit hardware" once or twice…). I'm surprised that the Zone 3D uses it as well, as I assumed that was the more typical Sunplus chip used in the Zone 60 and whatnot (as the 2D games are all the standard Jungletac library).

APM

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2024, 11:29:56 AM »
There is a video of the C21 if it's of any use (see https://youtube.com/watch?v=SWQM6L3g0LI). The NES games seem to be typical .wxn fare, though it has SD card compatibility with .nes roms (which the Lexibook console did as well).

I honestly had no idea there was an emulator for this hardware, nor that the hardware chipset was even known (I referred to it on the wiki as "unknown 32-bit hardware" once or twice…). I'm surprised that the Zone 3D uses it as well, as I assumed that was the more typical Sunplus chip used in the Zone 60 and whatnot (as the 2D games are all the standard Jungletac library).

Great find! Surprised to find out that the C21 has options for English and Chinese as the system languages, even if the games are only in Chinese regardless. Disappointed to hear the default selection of 8-bit games included is just the typical Nice Code fodder, though. I know some of the 32-bit educational computers (at least the A8) and the ET-100 come with licensed NES games so I was under the impression this may have included them too.

I've noticed that in general, 32-bit plug and play systems aren't as well known as the 8 and 16-bit systems and aren't as plentiful as those systems either. Up until I started to really look into the SPG293 the only 32-bit plug and plays that I was aware of were the Lexibook consoles, and before I learned about the SPG293 being a thing from the author of emu293 (the SPG293 emulator) sharing her progress emulating one of the Lexibook games on the BGC Discord, I wouldn't have guessed that there would be a company attached to the hardware or games or that they were Chinese in origin (Subor manufactured the hardware and Waixing developed the games for it). I'm not sure if the GPL162xx systems count as "32-bit" but I only discovered those were a thing at all and that they were used in plug and plays very recently as well. Thankfully, MAME has been picking up the slack on documenting these things recently and are at least cataloguing and dumping them whenever they can, as slow as it is. Here's to hoping they get a hold of and dump the Japanese iSports Pro some day...

On a side tangent, I'd be surprised if the Zone 3D used a 16-bit architecture because the image quality for the "3D" parts of the system are much cleaner compared to what you'd expect from a typical 16-bit SPG system. Usually the SPG293 systems tend to use high-resolution graphics that look very crisp compared to most plug and plays (in the case of the Subor/Lexibook games, most of them have graphics comparable to pre-rendered cutscenes in games from the late 90s), meaning that it shouldn't be difficult to suss out a plug and play potentially using the SPG293 hardware. Although in the case of the two known licensed plug and play units from Jakks Pacific that use the SPG293 (Big Buck Hunter Pro and Big Buck Safari), they look more in line with what you'd expect from a PS1 game so it's not an exact science.

APM

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2024, 06:57:53 PM »
In a previous post I briefly mentioned that the 32-bit Subor hardware used in their Wii clones also appears to have been used in a laptop (presumably an educational one like their other computer products) they produced, the V16. I'll be writing a bit more about it here and give you all a general overview of what the device is like:

The Subor V16 is a clamshell laptop that has a regular LCD screen, a trackpad, speakers, and a full keyboard complete with shortcut keys where the function keys usually are and a Windows key. This is one of the releases of the 32-bit Subor hardware that was positioned more as a learning device. Despite this, it still has the game player fully intact and comes with the IR knockoff Wiimotes. At the bottom of the laptop is a reset button and a removable compartment that I assume is where the battery is, and the laptop allows power to be received from a power adapter. Along with support for the knockoff Wiimotes, the Subor V16 also supports external USB mice. Thankfully, there's video footage online of the Subor V16 in action so I was able to get a bit more insight into how it works. Pictures of the V16 and some of its menus that I found on Xianyu will be attached here as well.

The V16 laptop has an overworld map-type menu with different sections to access like the C21. Going into one of these sections on the V16 appears to go to a specific menu on the more typical OS most of the 32-bit Subor consoles use (the C21 uses its own custom menus). Like the other 32-bit Subor devices that are positioned as learning devices, they come with educational materials that I believe add points to the system if the user engages with them. The points can then be used to play the games on the system. To my knowledge, the game library on the Chinese releases of Subor's 32-bit devices are similar to what you'd find on the Lexibook and whatnot. The video linked earlier should be able to illustrate what the educational activities are like.

APM

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2024, 04:40:30 PM »
I discovered something interesting about the Chinese 32-bit Subor Wii clones that I thought would be worth sharing here.

If you're familiar with the Wii clones Lexibook released during 2015-2017, you may have seen a version of their consoles that somewhat resembles the Wii in design and looks like this. It was released as the JG7420 and saw distribution in both Europe and the United States (I'll probably make a post on the latter specifically soon). What most people don't know is that Subor did release this version themselves in China under a few different names. I'll be focusing on the release named the SB-A10 (or "SMARTstation" if you prefer) in this post.

As it turns out, the Subor SB-A10 Wii clone actually has a notable difference from the Western Lexibook releases of the hardware: the addition of a 9-pin connector. It's located on the back of the console and is labelled "PAD". What this port is used for isn't exactly known as even on the Chinese speaking side of the internet, it doesn't appear that the 32-bit Subor consoles have much documentation to my knowledge. If I had to take a guess though, it was probably intended to be used for a peripheral of some kind (perhaps a wired controller going by the name the port was given?). On a particular Xianyu listing I found selling an SB-A10, though, the console also had what look like two PS/2 ports on the back in addition to the other connections, which I've attached pictures of here. I'm not sure what the purpose of those ports are or how common this revision of the SB-A10 is. Based on my understanding of how the Chinese versions of this hardware work though it's likely they're just normal keyboard and mice ports. So many mysteries, yet so little time.

APM

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2024, 09:02:32 PM »
For anyone who hasn't been following this thread too closely, I made a post here where I briefly talked about a 32-bit Wii clone named the WiWi 65 manufactured by Qi Sheng Long, which came with 32-bit games from Nice Code and didn't appear to have been released, and in the same post, also briefly mentioned a similar 48 in 1 system from the same manufacturer (which comes with Shenzhen Niutai games, just for the record), which along with the 65 in 1 I suspected to use SPG293 hardware. Just to go on a side tangent about the 48 in 1 for a moment, I only recently just found out that there was actually solid proof of it using the SPG293 in the form of Chinese copyright filings (They're linked on the BootlegGames Wiki page for Sunplus SPG but are on a website that no longer works. I dunno if there's a way to access the Chinese copyright database still).

Anyway, as luck would have it, I managed to find a Wii clone system with 54 games on Carousell that has a similar menu to the previous two Wii clones I mentioned. It doesn't appear to have a proper name, instead just calling itself something along the lines of "TV Sport Game plus color 32 bits", with the menu calling itself the "Ultimate Sport 54 in 1". The console's box credits it to a "Virtual Interactive", or Vi as also shown on the box. Unfortunately, it's sold out, but here's a link to the listing just to prove that I'm not making stuff up: https://www.carousell.sg/p/tv-games-like-wii-36764154/ - I'll also attach the pictures from the listing here in case the link goes down for any reason.

From the looks of things on the box and menu, it appears to mostly consist of the same 32-bit Shenzhen Niutai games from the 48 in 1. Assuming that all 48 of the 54 games are Shenzhen Niutai games, though, that still leaves 6 extra games. I don't believe those extra games are shown on the box and the picture of the console's menu from the listing shows games that already exist on the 48 in 1 to my knowledge. I also haven't a clue on who could've developed the extra games. I really want to believe that they may be SPG293 Nice Code games though, and I think that it's definitely possible, as Nice Code games being included with other games has happened on at least one plug and play system before to my understanding. The 205-in-1 "Wiii3" console comes to mind, which supposedly does a similar thing if the BootlegGames Wiki is anything to go by, although the Nice Code games are included on a separate 7-in-1 cartridge instead of being built in with the rest of the games, and the 198 games it comes with are currently unknown (the regular 198-in-1 model shows Shenzhen Niutai games on the box, for whatever that's worth). The possibility of the extra games just being more Niutai games or even games from an as of yet unknown developer is also likely, though. I haven't looked too hard but it does seem like this specific console isn't too easy to come by, which makes things annoying to research but also intriguing. Where was this console released? When was it released? How different is it from the 32-bit 48 in 1 console? Not sure if we'll ever find out, but learning that this exists at all is exciting to me and I'm glad to be able to talk about it here.

EDIT: Realized that two versions of the Wiii3 were released. A 198-in-1 model that appears to come with Shenzhen Niutai games according to the back of the box (it's being sold on eBay from Greece at the moment), and a 205-in-1 model with a 198-in-1 cartridge with games of unknown origin (according to an old thread most of them were from Cube Tech? Unless that was ye olde timey bootleg company speculation that no longer applies) and a 7-in-1 cart with 16-bit Nice Code games. Reworded my theory regarding the 54-in-1 to consider this information, although it doesn't affect it by much.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2024, 10:52:09 AM by APM »

APM

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Re: Sunplus SPG293 32-bit consoles
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2024, 12:39:27 PM »
Just created a page on the BootlegGames Wiki for the 32-bit TV Sport Game. There isn't much on there considering how seemingly obscure and difficult to research this console is, but someone had to do it lol.

https://bootleggames.fandom.com/wiki/TV_Sport_Game