MSU-1 Getting Started Guide

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MSU-1 Getting Started Guide

Post by qwertymodo on Sat 27 Jan 2018 - 19:54

This is a guide I've been wanting to write for awhile now, but haven't gotten around to actually doing it.  Now, with Karkat accepting MSU-1 into the aLttP Randomizer, I suspect I'm going to be answering a lot of these questions on Discord repeatedly, so it's time to sit down and write.

What is MSU-1?
The MSU-1 is a custom coprocessor much like the DSP chips used in games like Super Mario Kart or Pilotwings, designed by byuu, the author of bsnes and higan.  This chip enables playback of CD-quality (44.1kHz, 16-bit) audio, as well as addressing up to 4GB of data, far more than a typical SNES cartridge could ever hold.  This allows ROM hacks to replace the background music of games with high quality versions, and even play full-motion videos.


What do I need to play MSU-1 games?
MSU-1 ROM hacks are supported in higan, bsnes, Snes9x v1.55, and the SD2SNES flash cart.  They are not supported by ZSNES, old Snes9x forks such as Snes9x-2010 or Snes9x-next, or by the Super Everdrive flash cart.  Playing an MSU-1 game requires several files, including a patch file, a data ROM, and several PCM audio files.  It also may or may not require a manifest file, depending on what emulator you are using.  See below for a full explanation of these files.


But... why?  The original music sounds better!
Nobody's forcing you to do anything.  If you don't like it, move along.


These tracks sound terrible!
Unless you're talking about actual audio problems with the files you downloaded, see above.  If you ARE experiencing sound problems, there are a couple of potential causes.  If the audio files are way too loud and sound distorted, the files may have been boosted, and you need to find audio files that are properly normalized.  Try looking here or here for properly normalized audio tracks.  If you're wondering why this happened, I wrote up an explanation of the problem here.  Also, it's possible that the audio files are simply very poor quality, sounding terribly compressed or otherwise just "bad".  The MSU-1 is only playing the audio files that it is given.  If the original audio source was low quality, such as a bad YouTube rip or low-bitrate MP3 file, then the MSU-1 is only going to sound as good as the actual audio file.


Ok, I downloaded all of these files... now what?
If you downloaded one large file named with a .msu1 extension, see the section below on using Mercurial Magic.  Otherwise, you should have downloaded a .zip/.7z/.rar file, which you'll need to extract.  Once you have extracted the files, you should have a patch file, either .ips or .bps.  You can apply this patch to your ROM file using Floating IPS (LttP Randomizer users, skip this step, the patch is already applied by the Randomizer website).  Now that the patch is applied, you can test that the patch was successful by loading the patched ROM in your emulator of choice.  At this point, the audio won't be working, but it's good to check that the patch applied successfully and that the game still runs, instead of resulting in a black screen or a crash, especially if your patch was in the .ips format.  Now that you have a patched ROM, the next step depends on what emulator you are using.

SD2SNES/Snes9x
The SD2SNES and Snes9x do not use a manifest file to enable MSU-1.  Instead, they rely on your files following a specific naming format in order to detect the presence of the MSU-1.  First, you'll need the MSU-1 data ROM.  This file might be named msu1.rom or else it will end with the .msu file extension.  If you don't have this file (as is often the case with audio-only MSU-1 hacks), you can just create a blank file with the correct file name. Rename this file to match the name of your ROM with the .msu extension.

BE SURE TO DISABLE HIDDEN FILE EXTENSIONS

Next, rename the .pcm files to also match the name of your ROM, followed by a dash and the track number, without any leading 0's.  Place all of these files into the same directory and load the ROM, and you should hear the new MSU-1 audio playing.

Example:


bsnes/bsnes-classic/bsnes+
Follow the same instructions as SD2SNES/Snes9x, but you will also need a manifest.xml file, except for the latest release of bsnes+, where manifests are no longer required.  See below for manifest instructions.

higan
higan can detect the MSU-1 either through the use of a manifest file, or else through renaming all of the files in a specific manner.  Most people choose to use manifests because it allows them to keep using the SD2SNES/Snes9x/bsnes naming format, but manifests are also a constant annoyance.  If you want to use the manifest, see below for manifest instructions.  To set up higan without manifests, the first thing to do is locate your library folder.  This can be found by opening higan and selecting Settings>Advanced and looking at the Game Library>Location field.  Navigate to this folder and open the Super Famicom folder (or create it if you have not imported any games into your library).  Now, create a game folder for your new game.  It can be named anything you like, but the folder name must end with .sfc .  Copy all of the MSU-1 files into this new game folder and rename them exactly as follows:

ROM file (.sfc/.smc): program.rom
Save file (.srm): save.ram
MSU-1 data (.msu): msu1.rom
PCM audio files: track-#.pcm (e.g. track-1.pcm, track-2.pcm, etc. no trailing 0's)

Example:


Now, you should be able to load the game from your higan library.

SNES Classic/hakchi2
See the guide here with a few changes:

  • Use pre-converted .pcm files rather than converting them the way he describes.
  • There is no need for a manifest file (xml/bml)
  • Use Floating IPS for .bps patches, not Lunar IPS
  • Do not use any of the year-versioned Snes9x cores (e.g. snes9x-2010), as they don't include MSU-1 support.  Use snes9x or snes9x_dual_core.


Since you'll be using Snes9x "under the hood" the file names should follow the naming format described above under SD2SNES/Snes9x


Last edited by qwertymodo on Tue 13 Nov 2018 - 2:52; edited 6 times in total
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Re: MSU-1 Getting Started Guide

Post by qwertymodo on Sat 27 Jan 2018 - 19:54

*Reserved for manifest explanation*
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Re: MSU-1 Getting Started Guide

Post by qwertymodo on Sat 27 Jan 2018 - 19:54

*Reserved for Mercurial Magic explanation*
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Re: MSU-1 Getting Started Guide

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