Loving Launchbox so far and thought I’d try and contribute something back to the community.
I’ve wanted to get the FM Towns system running in a way that I’m happy with for quite a while and have finally managed to get somewhere close…
I will say this is still a work in progress and is not perfect but I’ve got to the point where games are launched through LB, the CD is inserted and either a boot/User/Blank disk is inserted automatically. The emulator then switches to full screen and captures the mouse. Exiting the emulator is done with Esc. I have CD,FD and pre-installed HD games working (all the ones I’ve tried so far), I haven’t got my head around installing games yet though.
This is not a one click and done set up, so if you’re not that bothered about the FM Towns then I wouldn’t try to follow this tutorial…
This is also my first LB Guide, if anyone spots anything that's wrong just let me know.
Ok, firstly, things you need:
Unz emulator - - I would recommend getting the ‘Neo Kobe Emulator Lite’ pack - not sure If I can link as it includes BIOS files but Google is your friend.
Daemon Tools Lite - - I paid €4.99 for the ad free version but I assume the free one will work just as well.
FM Towns Roms - Again Google can help you here hint: searching “Neokobe FM Towns” will set you in the right direction.
AHK Script - attached
Blank Disk - attached
Bat file - optional but makes life easier - attached
Install Daemon Tools Lite and get it set up. Fairly self explanatory, the only thing to note is that you need to make sure the settings are configured to mount discs to the same drive, not to keep creating new drives.
You can also set a drive letter for the virtual drive, I’m using E: but if you pick a different drive then amend settings accordingly.
If you got Unz from the Neo Kobe pack then the BIOS files should be in the Unz folder already. If not, you need to find fmt_dos.rom, fmt_sys.rom, and mytowns.rom and put them in the Unz folder. I’m using the BIOS files for the ‘FM Towns II UX’, I’d recommend using the same as they seem very compatible.
The first thing to do is start Unz by double clicking the Unz.exe file in the folder. You’ll then see this screen
We need to set up the CD drive and change a couple of other settings. First head to the CD-ROM 1 tab. You need to change the selection to ‘Select Drive’ and then pick the drive letter from the drop down. This will be the drive you specified in Daemon Tools
I’d have a quick look in the General Tab to make sure it matches this
Note: Don’t select FM Towns II UX if you don’t have the right BIOS files, it won’t work!
Next go to the Video Tab and enable High Resolution and Full Colour - this is also the screen you enable V-Sync in if you experience tearing problems
Now go to the Resolution Tab
If you’ve tried to get Unz working before in full screen you’ll be aware that it doesn’t seem to work properly. What I had to do was change the bpp for each setting to 32 instead of 16. Leave the resolution as it is as this will allow Unz to scale properly. My settings are like this
Finally, go to the Sound Tab. Tick the ‘Enable Midi’ box and select Microsoft GS Wavetable from the drop down (unless you use a third party midi mapper, if so, use that).
You can now click Ok. Unz will auto close, so don’t worry that it disappeared.
I’d run a test at this point to make sure you’re not wasting your time.
You need to mount one of your games to Daemon Tools. Obviously we’ll do this automatically later but at this point you should be able to double click a cue file and Daemon Tools will mount it for you (Note: game files for Unz need to be unzipped, Unz zip each to it’s own folder).
If it’s mounted correctly you’ll be able to see it in Windows explorer
If it’s mounted, double click on Unz to open the emulator. Give it a few second and if you see the clock in the bottom right hand corner then it’s loading the CD
If you get a Disk, CD and Hard Disk image constantly alternating in the bottom right hand corner then it’s not recognised the CD. Check that it’s mounted correctly and that it’s mounted to the drive you specified in the Unz settings.
Leave Unz running and do the second test. Press F11 on the keyboard. If Full Screen is working then Unz should switch to full screen and capture the mouse (make it moveable within Unz). If it doesn’t work you’ll have to fiddle with the resolution settings to see what works for you. To get back out of full screen just press F11 again. If you press F12 you’ll get the windows mouse back to close the emulator.
The AHK Script
The ahk script I’ve attached can be put wherever you like (just remember where), I put it in the Unz folder for neatness. For some reason I had issues getting the in built ahk tab (in Launchbox) to properly interact with Unz, so this is just a way of getting the functionality I wanted.
You can test the script out by double clicking it. Nothing should happen initially. Then double click Unz and don’t touch anything. If it works, the script will grab the Unz window and activate it (this is important later on…) It will then switch to full screen.
For some reason the Menu stays present at the top of Unz, so the script also sends F12 twice. This de-captures and re-captures the mouse which gets rid of the menu.
If all has gone well, you should be in full screen Unz. The script also adds the ability to close Unz with Escape. So if it looks like it worked, press escape to close the emulator.
A Bit about FM Towns Roms
The FM Towns had a CD Drive and Floppy Disk drive. It could also have a Hard Drive. What this means for us is that it’s not normally as simple as just mounting the disc in the CD drive to actually be able to play games.
Some games run just from floppy disk. Some run just from a CD. Some will boot from CD but then ask for a blank disk in the drive for game saves. Some have to have a ‘User’ disk formatted in a particular way to work. Some have ‘Boot’ disks that have to be in the drive as well as the CD. Some run from the hard drive. You get the picture… I’ll try and cover all the different combinations I’ve come up against so far but can’t promise that it will cover every game type you try and run.
The Blank Disk
As I said above, some FM games need a save disk in the drive before the game will load. The ‘BlankDisk.hdm’ I’ve attached is a pre-formatted disk that will work with these games.
To make my life easier I use the attached .bat file.
Important: This is reliant on you having your FM Towns games unzipped and in a sub folder for each game. If you haven’t done it that way, this guide probably won’t work for you.
If you have got your games in a folder with sub folders, then drop the ‘BlankDisk.hdm’ and the ‘CopyDiskToFolders.bat’ into the main folder and double click the .bat file.
If all has gone well, you should now have a copy of ‘BlankDisk.hdm’ in all of your game folders (we’ll use these later).
Adding Games and Getting Them to Work
Ok, this is the bit that’s a real pain. You can either try and bulk import your games but you’ll then have to go through each one changing the settings. Or you can add them one at a time, I’d recommend this as although it’s a pain it means you don’t miss anything and to be honest the FM Towns library isn’t huge...
In Launchbox, add a new emulator. I’ve called mine ‘VirtualDrive’ but you can call yours whatever you like.
In the details tab, set it up like this, take note that the Emulator Application Path is to ‘DTCommandLine.exe’ (it’s in the program folder) and not the main application.
For ease, the command line is ‘-M -l "E" -p’ (without the quotes)
Go to the default emulator tab and set it as the default for your FM Towns platform.
Then go to the ‘Running AutoHotkey Script’ tab and add the following
Run "D:\Emulators\Unz 0.5L30\UnzSelect.ahk”
You’ll need to change the path to wherever you are keeping the AHK Script you downloaded.
How you set up different games will depend on what format they are.
CD Only Games
For games that just have a CD, the folder should look like this
Add the cue file to LB as your rom (either drag and drop or through the menus). Let LB do it’s thing RE metadata but don’t be surprised if there isn’t any, the LB database appears to only be for FM Towns Marty so the number of games is limited.
Once the game is imported, right click the game in LB and open the ‘edit’ screen
Then select the ‘Additional Apps’ tab and then ‘Add Application’
Call the App whatever you like, I stuck with Unz so that I know what it is.
For the application path, click browse and then select the Unz.exe in your emulator folder.
The command line is going to be as follows:
-f0 “FullPathToBlankDisk” (including the quotes)
This needs to be the blank disk you created using the bat file earlier. This will be slightly different for each game as the disk should be in the game folder.
You also need to tick ‘Automatically Run After Main Application’
Something like this
You can then click OK and OK again to exit the game edit screen.
Now the moment of truth… You should be able to double click the game in Launchbox.
If everything has gone to plan Daemon Tools will mount the cue file, LB will call the AHK Script and then the additional app will launch Unz with the correct command line to put the blank floppy disk in drive 0. After a couple of seconds the AHK Script will activate and switch Unz to full screen and capture the mouse.
You should also be able to use Esc to exit the emulator when you’re done.
This process then needs to be repeated for all the games you have (that are just CD images).
A Note RE .mds & .mdf
These function in the same way as bin/cue. Use the .mds (the small file) as your rom and Daemon Tools will mount it like a CD.
Games with a ‘boot’ or ‘user’ disk + CD image
The process for these is almost identical to the CD only games. You still add the cue file as your rom.
Obviously you don’t need to create the emulator again if you’ve done it with the CD only games. If you haven’t done it yet, follow that part of the guide.
As I said, everything is exactly the same as the CD Only Games apart from the command line in the additional apps screen.
Instead of including the path to the blank disk, you include the path to the boot/user disk. Like this
Note: There are some games that load using a boot disk and then ask for a blank disk.
In these cases you have to disk swap in Unz. Pressing F12 will give you back control of the mouse and show the menu, you then click Drive0, Insert and browse to the game folder. If you followed the bat file part of the tutorial earlier, there will be a blank disk in the game folder that you can insert.
Disk Only Games (Single Disk)
Some games are just one disk image. Most of the ones I’ve come across are .hdm files.
With these games, you import the hdm file as your rom.
Still select the emulator as VirtualDrive (or whatever you decided to call it). This will mean the AHK script still gets called to switch to full screen etc…
Once imported, open the Edit Game screen (right clicking in LB). Click on the emulation tab, check the ‘Use Custom Command-Line Parameters’ and enter -u
This sends the Unmount All command to Daemon Tools. This is important as Unz will default to loading a CD over a floppy disk.
You then go to the additional apps tab and add Unz as an additional app. However, in the command line you enter -f0 “PathToTheSingleGameDisk”, everything else is the same as previously.
Click Ok and Ok to confirm everything and get back to the game screen.
You should now be able to double click the Disk only game. Daemon Tools should unmount, Unz should start with the game disk in the drive and load the game. The AHK Script should still kick in and switch to full screen and add the Esc to exit functionality.
Disk Only Games (Multi-Disk)
These are a bit of a pain to be honest…
Depending on the game you may need different combinations of disks in Drive 0 and Drive 1. The best way I’ve found to deal with them is as follows.
Open Unz outside of LB. You click on Drive0 or Drive1 on the menu to insert the game disks. I start with Disk 1 in Drive0 and Disk 2 in Drive1. On some games, you start with Disk 1 and 2 in the drives, it will then prompt for disk 3 before loading the actual game.
Once you’ve found the correct combination to get to the actual game, in Unz, click file and save state. Call the state the same name as the game. Close Unz.
You can then add the Save State file to LB as your rom.
As before, set the emulator as the VirtualDrive you created.
The same as with a Single Disk game, you also need to edit the game and change the Emulation tab. As with Single Disks, check ‘Use Custom Command-Line Parameters’ and enter -u
You then need to open the Additional Apps tab and add Unz as an additional app. However, this time the command line will be -s “FullPathToSaveStateFile” -- Note the -s instead of -f0
Once again, click Ok and Ok again to get back to the game selection screen.
If you double click the game in LB it should now load back to the Save State (I.E the actual game) with the correct disks in the drives.
A Note: To save anyone else wasting time, I’ve tried the Save States with CD based games. The disk in the drive always overrides the save state and reboots the machine.
And Finally - Preinstalled HD Image Games
Be very careful doing these, you don’t want to mess up your main Unz directory!
Some games you get will come as .h0 files. These are basically a hard drive image with the game pre-installed. They normally also come with a CMOS.dat file.
I’m sure the way I’m doing it isn’t the best, If anyone has any suggestions I’ll gladly take them…
Basically the way I’m dealing with these is to create a completely separate instance of Unz. Copy the entire Unz folder and make a new folder called something else, I just appended the game name.
You then copy the .h0 file and the CMOS.dat that came with it into the new Unz folder. It will ask if you want to replace the CMOS.dat, say yes.
Make sure there is nothing in the virtual CD drive and open Unz (the one in your new folder). You then need to click settings, property and open the HDD tab, once there click Mount(0)
Select the .h0 file to mount it to the drive. Click Ok and then exit Unz.
You should be able to test it out by reopening Unz (in the new folder). The CMOS.dat should tell Unz to boot from the HD and the game should load. Note: some games will boot to Towns OS, you just double click the game file to load it.
I created a blank .txt file with the game name and imported that to LB as my rom.
Again, select the VirtualDrive as the emulator and go into the edit game screen. The emulation tab needs to be changed to the same as with the disk games, I.E. Custom Command Line Parameters -u
The additional apps section is also slightly different. You still add an app and call it whatever you like. However, the Application Path has to be the path to the Unz in your new folder (the one that you mounted the hard drive on).
You don’t need any special command line for these
As before, Ok and Ok to get back to the game selection screen. You should then be able to double click the game to launch it.
Games that come as CD but need installing
I haven’t worked these out. If anyone has, a guide would be much appreciated
Well, I can’t imagine that many people have made it all the way through this guide, it’s a bit of a slog! but if you have you should now have Unz up and running in a way that feels (reasonably) integrated with LB.
If anyone has any other tips or information to make this better/easier please let me know.
BlankDisk.hdm CopyDiskToFolders.bat UnzSelect.ahk