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Old 12-11-2006, 14:44   #1
MCSmarties
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Default HOW TO: Play games on your COWON A2

I'm writing this guide mainly because I noticed how many people were asking for help in the development/emulator threads.
I'm trying to give the developers some peace so they can concentrate on their work instead of having to coach newbies around!

Disclaimer: I am not a programmer. I don't even understand how all these files work!
All I did was collate the information I found by reading different threads into one easy step-by-step tutorial.
All the credit goes to the people who have created these awesome tools.

YOU GUYS ABSOLUTELY ROCK!!

Of course, you are not supposed to be messing with your A2 internals. Don't blame me or anybody else if things go wrong.
This stuff is early beta stage at best so don't do it if you don't feel comfortable with the idea.

Keep in mind that following these instructions will most likely void your warranty with Cowon.


This information is current as of 08/14/2007.

***

Step 1: BACKUP EVERYTHING FROM YOUR A2!
A no-brainer. You don't want to risk your files just to beta test a halfbaked unofficial feature!
Include the .system folder in your backup.


Step 2: Update your firmware
Install firmware 1.91 or at least firmware 1.85 if you haven't done so already (don't bother with 1.87 or 1.89, they are broken)
I'm not sure if this really works with firmware 1.81, so better be safe.


Step 3: Get all the files
- Iscran's awesome bootloader. Version 1.8 is available here
EDIT: Version 2.5 is now available here.

- The SMS emulator developed by our genius Korean friends over at www.pmptune.net.
Get version 0.1 here (note: I don't know if a more recent version is available)
Note: you must login to access the file (if you don't have a login name you can use iaudiophiler for both login and password)

- Download the game ROM files you want. Only Sega Master System (SMS) is supported.
Google for SMS ROMS (Note that many sites may have pop-ups, porn adverts, whatever... you've been warned)
Some recommended sites are CoolRom, ROMhustler and SMSPower.
Note that not all games work well. In particular, games with complex movements (lots of background animation,
fast scrolling screens etc.) tend to slow down the A2 a lot.


Step 4: Prepare the files (this is all on your PC, leave the A2 disconnected!)
0. Create a temporary folder. Make 2 subfolders: Bootloader and ROMS.

1. Prepare the bootloader:
- Extract all the files from bootloader.zip to the new Bootloader subfolder on your PC
- You can delete the subfolder Development if you are not interested in the source code (If you need the help provided here, you probably aren't!)
- Check that the subfolder path .apps\SMS (both are empty) have been created in that folder
- If the empty subfolder SMS does not exist, make it.

2. Prepare the emulator:
- Extract the file sms.zip to the new ROMS subfolder.
- RENAME the extracted SMS file to "sms_emulator.a2" You MUST write sms in lower case (see the readme file in the bootloader archive for details)
- move that file to the Bootloader\.apps subfolder (delete the original in the ROMS subfolder)

3. Prepare the ROM files:
- Extract the ROM files from the zip archives they came in to the ROMS subfolder.
- Rename all the ROM files to whatever you want (I would remove the file extensions and give them descriptive names)
- You CAN use spaces - for example "Sonic The Hedgehog 2"
- Copy all the resulting files to the Bootloader\.apps\SMS subfolder

So you should now have the following structure:
Code:
(temporary directory)
Bootloader\.apps\sms_emulator.a2
Bootloader\.apps\SMS\(all your game ROMs, without extensions)
ROMS\(a copy of all your renamed game ROMs, ready to be archived somewhere)

Step 5: Install the games on your A2

0. Verify that the A2 has plenty of battery power left, then connect it to your computer.

1. Rename the official firmware:
- Open the .system folder and RENAME the file "A2_player" to "A2_OS" (type everything EXACTLY how it is written between the quotes!)
- Don't modify, move or rename ANY other file in that folder.

2. Add the bootloader file:

EDIT: The way you carry out this step depends on the version of the bootloader you downloaded!

For version 1.8 only:
Copy the A2_player file that was included in the bootloader archive to the ROOT (the 'top level') folder in the A2
Let me be crystal clear: that's where the .system, PHOTO, VIDEO, MUSIC... folders are.
ROOT does NOT mean the .system folder!!

For versions 2.0 and 2.5
Copy the A2_player file that was included in the bootloader archive directly to the .system folder in the A2
(aka where Cowon's A2_player file - the one you just renamed to A2_OS - was).

If your bootloader does not seem to work properly (most common symptom is that there is a red 'X' appearing
when you start the player and the Cowon OS refuses to start), check whether you did this step correctly for
the bootloader version you are using.

Sorry about the earlier misleading instructions, I only noticed my mistake now!3. Add the sms emulator and ROM files
- select the entire subfolder Bootloader\.apps and COPY to the ROOT folder of your A2
you should now have the following folder structure on your A2:
Code:
.apps (with a subfolder called SMS)
.system
MUSIC
PHOTO
VIDEO
etc...
4. Install the files
- Safely disconnect the A2 from your computer and start it.
- DO NOT PRESS ANY BUTTON YET, JUST WAIT FOR THE NORMAL FIRMWARE TO LOAD!
- This is to make sure that the original firmware works before you attempt to load the emulator
- Turn the A2 off, power it on again and keep the "C" key pressed to access the bootloader.
- Select "sms_emulator" (the only option you have!)
- Select the game you want to play, and enjoy...


Notes and issues
1. ONLY SEGA MASTER SYSTEM GAMES WORK. Don't waste your breath asking for Super Mario!
(this game requires a separate SNES emulator, an early version is available but it doesn't work properly yet)
Try the excellent Wonder Boy or Alex Kidd games instead...

2. Button assignments:
- C corresponds to a SMS button 1 / START
- B corresponds to a SMS button 2
- Joystick corresponds to the gamepad
- Buttons A and BACK as well as pushing the joystick in do not work

3. Pressing two buttons at the same time (even directional pad + one button) does not work.
Keep that in mind when choosing the games you want to play!
(don't bother with Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat or Double Dragon for example...)

4. No sound.

5. No possibility to save games.

6. The only way to quit a game and load another one is to TURN THE A2 OFF AND RESTART IT.

7. To launch the normal firmware, just restart and don't do anything... it will load as normal.

8. To add another game, just copy its ROM file to the .apps\SMS folder.

9. Note that the .apps folder (and all your game ROMs) will be invisible from your A2.
Keep that in mind if you run out of space and don't understand why... although the ROM files are pretty small!

10. If you upgrade your A2 to a new firmware, you have to do the following:
- rename the (new) A2_player file in the .system folder to A2_OS (if another A2_OS still exists, delete it)
- copy the A2_player bootloader (from the bootloader.zip archive) to the ROOT folder
- reboot the A2 completely once before you attempt to load the sms emulator.

11. YOU MUST KEEP THE STATE OF YOUR BATTERY IN MIND!
There is no battery indicator and the emulator bypasses the A2's battery discharge safety mechanism.
If you completely drain your battery while playing a game, you may not be able to charge it again.


12. PLEASE, GO ON EASY ON THE JOYSTICK AND THE BUTTONS!
Remember that the A2 has never been designed to work as a gameboy. Don't risk breaking your A2 just to beat a 20 year old game...
In fact, I don't recommend any games that require overly fast movements or hitting a key repeatedly.
Playing games on your A2 is just meant to have some extra fun, not to compete with your buddy's PSP...

THE A2 IS NOT A GAMING CONSOLE!

Last edited by MCSmarties; 08-14-2007 at 15:50.. Reason: Fixed a crucial mistake in the instructions.
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Old 12-11-2006, 15:58   #2
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Man, that is one piece of beautiful instruction set! Good work!

One comment though, the second #7 is wrong, you only need to re-copy the A2_Player.
Installing a new firmware overwrites it (and a bunch of other files) but would keep the .apps folder intact...

Thank you!
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Old 12-11-2006, 16:34   #3
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Thanks for catching the mistakes, centus. I fixed them.
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Old 12-11-2006, 17:16   #4
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Obviously, doing all of this may void your warranty as far as Cowon is concerned. Caveat Emptor.

Stuck.
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Old 12-11-2006, 21:02   #5
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Nice tuto, extremely useful, I hope it helps as many people as possible!

doniago => I don't really see how doing this may void our warranty... It is only softare mod, not hardware. Moreover, it is quite easy to reinstall the original firmware if there is a problem...
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Old 12-11-2006, 23:10   #6
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Any modification of the product's firmware is a potential warranty-voider. There have been ENDLESS discussions about this on the RB forum. Kindly don't roll your eyes at me for having a valid concern.
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Old 12-12-2006, 00:01   #7
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We are not touching the FW, only the software...
The flashed part of the A2 is left exactly as the FW release flashed it.
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Old 12-12-2006, 01:03   #8
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I suggest looking at step 3 again.

Besides, I never said doing this WILL void the warranty, I said it MIGHT. Until I see a statement from Cowon saying otherwise, I maintain that my viewpoint is valid.
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Last edited by doniago; 12-12-2006 at 01:06..
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Old 12-12-2006, 03:13   #9
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wait - and the problem that made most of the movies and mp3s freeze was fixed?
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Old 12-12-2006, 03:34   #10
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I noticed version 2 came out.
can you update the guide according to it?
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Old 12-12-2006, 04:48   #11
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Fantastic guide MCSmarties.

Yes the power problem that made movies and music freeze was fixed. Use the latest bootloader (V2.0 as of now).
Keep an eye out in the linux software development thread in the firmware sub forum for the latest apps and how things are progressing.

Great to know I'm helping out the community and would like to thank Dan & Centus as well.

If anyone has any suggestions for the bootloader on how to make it better please drop me a private message.


As stated, it 'might' void your warranty. But if you're going to RMA your A2 for any reason (other than you borking it due to this software mod) just reflash it with the latest firmware like as if you were upgrading it normally (Cowon will not know the bootloader was there).

Last edited by Iscran; 12-12-2006 at 09:49..
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Old 12-12-2006, 09:12   #12
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Of course, if you did something to fubar your player so you _can't_ reflash firmware, don't expect free repairs.

Also, though I'm not going to edit the previous post, I take moral exception to the idea of advocating ways of making it look like you didn't do something yourself to fubar your player. Such as mucking about with its OS via Rockbox or setting it up to play games it wasn't intended to play.
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Old 12-12-2006, 09:47   #13
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Agreed. If you fuck it have the good will to pay for the repairs yourself.
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Old 12-12-2006, 12:23   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doniago View Post
Any modification of the product's firmware is a potential warranty-voider. There have been ENDLESS discussions about this on the RB forum. Kindly don't roll your eyes at me for having a valid concern.
Well, I had no intention at all to offend you, but unless you work for Cowon, I may not take your words for *absolute truth*, which, I hope, you can understand. I would also like to add that I've been able to have my iRiver H120 RMA'd, with Rockbox on it, without any problem; they repaired my unit, changed parts of it, and everything was done under warranty.

I'm sure most people here appreciate the work you do & the help you kindly provide, doniago, but unless you speak as a Cowon's representative and bring evidence of your arguments, I will not give more credit to your speech.

[I apologize for drifting this topic out of its original subject ]
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Old 12-12-2006, 16:26   #15
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Surrender Easy does it...

Whoa guys, chill out! This is heating up a bit too quickly for my taste.

I can understand both sides of the argument but I think I need to protect doniago here.
Guys, in case you're not realizing it he's only acting out of concern for all of us users!
Whether or not this mod really voids the warranty is for Cowon alone to decide.
It's definitely a very grey area so it all depends on how lenient they want to be with their users.

I also can't stress enough that since the A2 is NOT designed to be used as a gaming console,
its controls may well be too fragile to support extensive gaming. This is a GIMMICK only!!

In the meantime, why don't we just leave it at the following statement:
THE MODIFICATIONS OUTLINED ABOVE ARE NOT ENDORSED BY THE MANUFACTURER
NOR THE ADMINISTRATORS OF THIS FORUM IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.
CARRYING THEM OUT MAY VOID THE WARRANTY OF YOUR PLAYER.

IN PLAIN ENGLISH: DON'T COME CRYING IF YOU SCREW UP!
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