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MSU1+higan+LaunchBox tutorial


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After much hair pulling, I've gotten these three things to play nice.  It's not perfect, but it's a working solution for the time being with the current version of higan.  I've only gotten this working with higan v106 but if this is how you want to play MSU1 games, I've mostly got it figured out.

First, make sure the ROM you want to play is patched for MSU1 support and you have all the .pcm files.  Mainly these are available from zeldix.net if you're having trouble tracking these down.  Next, use icarus, higan's importing tool, to import the ROMs into higan (if you get an error message, specifically about a missing BIOS ROM, ignore it for now because I'll get to it in a sec).  This will create a new directory for each game.  These directories are called "game paks" by higan and its author byuu and his explanation can be read here if you're interested.  The folder will have the name of the ROM you imported and end with .sfc but they aren't files.  They're folders.  This is just how byuu does things.  By default these game pak folders are located in your home folder in a new directory called Emulation.  If you're having trouble finding that, paste this into Windows Explorer:

%homepath%\Emulation\Super Famicom

You can open any game pak folders to view their contents.  The only thing that should be in them so far is a file called program.rom.  That's the ROM for the game, as you may have guessed.  The game will play if you launch it in higan now, but to get the MSU1 support, you need to copy and paste the pcm files into the game pak folder.  You'll also need the file msu1.rom which is an empty file that just tells higan to enable MSU1.  You can create a new text file and change its name and extension to msu1.rom and it should work fine.  The part that makes this tricky is that higan expects files to have very specific names so be sure you have program.rom and msu1.rom in there WITH THOSE EXACT NAMES.  The pcm files also use a specific naming scheme.  You'll need to make sure they're named track-1 track-2 track-3 and so on.  Most MSU1 games weren't given these titles so if they're named zelda_msu1-1 etc. you'll need to rename them.  Yes, all of them.  I use Bulk Rename Utility to do this since it's free but you can probably use any renaming app.  JUST MAKE SURE you don't change the numbers.  These were numbered by the person who made the hack and they need to be in the correct order.  Also, don't use trailing zeroes.  This means the number one should be 1 and not 01.

NOTE: If it looks like some tracks are missing, they're probably not.  For whatever reason, not all games have track-1.  For example, Ys III starts with track-8.

If you got an error about a missing BIOS ROM, it's because higan needs another file for that game.  Quite a few SNES games used co-processors such as the Super-FX chip and higan needs the BIOS for that.  Mega Man X2 and X3 need the CX4 ROM, for example.  Fortunately, higan tells you the name of the file it's looking for and if you search for it by that name, you can find it.  Make sure it has the correct name and place it in the game pak folder.

At this point, higan should be able to play the game with MSU1 support.  Make sure everything works before proceeding.  Launch the games from higan and make sure the MSU1 music files are playing instead of the SNES's audio.  At this point you'll probably notice higan uses its own internal database to launch games similar to how Daphne does.  This means LaunchBox can't launch the games by default through the usual method, but with a little bit of elbow grease we can get it to work the same way we can make Daphne work.  First, go to the directory where you installed higan and create a new text file.  Open it and paste the following into it:

higan.exe --fullscreen "C:\%homepath%\Emulation\Super Famicom\%1.sfc"

Save the file and close it.  Now change the name and extension of this new file to higan.bat to change it into a batch file.  Next, pick a folder, preferably higan's Super Famicom folder but any directory on your hard drive will do as long as you remember where it is.  Make a bunch of new text files, one for each game.  Change the name (but not the extension) of each file to the name of the game pak folder of each game sans the .sfc.  That means if you have a folder called ys3_msu1.sfc you want to have a corresponding file named ys3_msu1.txt.  Be very careful about these names.  I realize that this step is going to be a big pain for people who have many MSU1 games but right now I don't know a better way to accomplish this.

Next, go into LaunchBox and import ROMs.  You want to use the .txt files you just created as your ROM files.  You'll need to create a new MSU1 platform and set it to scrape as Super Nintendo Entertainment System and you'll need to set up the higan.bat file we just made as its emulator.  If you've already set higan up in LaunchBox, you'll still have to do this since we need to use the batch file for this to work so create a new emulator and call it something else such as higan batch.  Check the boxes for "don't use quotes" and "use filename only".  This is essential to getting this to work (you can also set it to hide the console window and set AutoHotKeys if you like).  You will probably have to change the game titles within LB during the important process or afterwards one at a time for the titles to be recognized by the database.  Complete the import process as usual and if you did it all correctly, the game should launch and the MSU1 music should play.

I want to apologize for how lengthy and inconvenient this whole process is.  There could easily be a better way but I don't know what it is and I did spend more hours than I'd like to admit trying to figure all this out. Most of the forum postings on EVERY board just say "just use RetroArch instead" but for me that wasn't a good option since I couldn't find the manifest files RA needs to run MSU1 games.  Also, some people just want to use higan and there's basically nothing on how to get it to work properly with LB for MSU1.  I hope this is useful to some people and if you're struggling with any of these steps or know of a better way to do anything I said, please let me know.  

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9 minutes ago, strizzuth said:

Most of the forum postings on EVERY board just say "just use RetroArch instead" but for me that wasn't a good option since I couldn't find the manifest files RA needs to run MSU1 games.

You don't need the manifest files unless you use the BSnes cores, the Higan and Snes9x cores both just straight up use the rom file itself now.

Great guide though for anyone dead set on using the stand alone version of Higan. I added this thread to the Guides & Tutorials thread:


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Yeah I was simplifying the story since it was more or less two days of me going in circles and getting nowhere with RA.  It wouldn't load MSU1 support without a manifest for some games no matter what I did and some games it wouldn't load period.  It's certainly possible I did something wrong but...  if nothing else I hope I've at least helped other people.

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Like I said, the BSnes cores you have to load the manifest.bml file but both the Higan and Snes9x cores you don't, those just load the rom file and the MSU music will play, the manifest.bml file is completely unnecessary for both of those cores to play the MSU tracks.

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In another thread, spycat pointed this out:

On 9/17/2014 at 9:16 AM, spycat said:

Hi realbout WinKawaks will not work in LaunchBox if you use the Emulator tab method. You need to treat WinKawaks as an application. To add a game: Select the Launcher tab. Set the path to the WinKawaks executable in the Application Path box. Put the game's name in the Application Command-Line Parameters box.

I hadn't even considered that approach but I gave it a try and it works.  However, there are a couple drawbacks.  For one, you can't set AHK scripts since those are in the emulator tab.  You also lose the ability to launch higan from the right click menu of the game within LB.  The worst part to my mine is that it messes up the ROM import process and you'll have to do each game one at a time.  After that you'll have to copy and paste the path for each game pak folder by hand.  I don't think this is going to save anybody any work. Any thoughts on one method vs the other?

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