Tech' Specs.

I have a vague memory of reading back around the time of Black Tiger's release, that the reason it looked so good compared to anything else in the arcade was because it was the first game to have a colour palette of 1024 colours. A quick look at the MAWS list of games released around 1986-87 might dispute this claim though. Rygar was released in '86, so was GauntletII with its prequel Gauntlet in '85 all of which have 1024 colour graphics. Then there's Darius which has a massive 8192 colour palette, released in 1986. So maybe that claim was false after all.

Our local arcades in '87 still retained a good mix of late 70's, early 80's games. Perhaps Black Tiger stood out because it was mixed in with a lot of these older 4-8bit colour machines?

Black Tiger uses a similar pre-CPS-1 board to other Capcom games of the period such as Commando. It features two Z80 chips; one as CPU one for sound, clocked at 6Mhz and 3.579545Mhz respectively. It also has twin Yamaha FM sound chips; YM2203 (@ 3.579545Mhz).


  • -Programmed by : Imo (Akapa)
  • -Character designers : Kuramoyan, Satochin, Kawamoyan, Miyaji, Fukumoyan, Nono, Rattchan
  • -Sound & Music by : Tamayo Kawamoto
  • -Hardware by : Panchi Kubozoo (Crazy Kubozoo)

Z80 Overview:

The Z80 came about when Federico Faggin, after working on the 8080, left Intel at the end of 1974 to found Zilog with Ralph Ungermann, and by July 1976 they had the Z80 on the market. It was designed to be binary compatible with the Intel 8080 so that most 8080 code, notably the CP/M operating system, would run unmodified on it.

The Z80 offered many real improvements over the 8080:

  • -An enhanced instruction set including bit manipulation, block move, block I/O, and byte search instructions
  • -New IX and IY index registers and instructions for them
  • -A vectorized interrupt mode (mode 2), as well as a useful "no hardware"-mode (mode 1)
  • -Two separate register files, which could be quickly switched, to speed up response to interrupts
  • -Less hardware required for power supply, clock generation and interface to memory and I/O
  • -Single 5 Volt power supply (the 8080 needed -5V/+5V/+12V)
  • -Single-phase 5V clock (the 8080 needed a two-phase high-amplitude clock generator)
  • -A built-in DRAM refresh mechanism that would otherwise have to be provided by external circuitry
  • -Non-multiplexed buses (the 8080 had state-signals multiplexed onto the data bus)
  • -A much lower price

The Z80 quickly took over from the 8080 in the market, and became one of the most popular 8-bit CPUs. Perhaps a key to the success of the Z80 was the built-in DRAM refresh, and other features which allowed systems to be built with fewer support chips.

For the original NMOS design, the specified upper clock frequency limit increased successively from the introductory 2.5 MHz, via the well known 4 MHz (Z80a), up to 6 (Z80b) and 8 MHz (Z80h). A CMOS version was also developed with specified frequency limits[1] ranging from 4 MHz up to 20 MHz for the version sold today. The CMOS version also allowed a low-power sleep with internal state retained (having no lower frequency limit).[2] The fully compatible derivatives Z180 and eZ80 are currently specified for up to 33 and 50 MHz respectively.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zilog_Z80

YM2203 Features:

  • -The FM system sound source produce three different sounds simultaneously.
  • -One of the above three sounds can be set to the mode by which specific sound effects and composite sine wave sound are synthesized.
  • -Two programmable timers are incorporated.
  • -8 bits general purpose input/output ports of two system are incorporated.
  • -Three square wave sounds and white noise can be produced in addition to the FM system sounds.
  • -Clock divider is built in so that wide operating frequency range is obtained.
  • -Input and output are compatible with TTL.
  • -Nch-Si gate MOS LSI is used.
  • -Single phase power source of 5V is used.
  • -This is compatible with software of YM2149 and AY-3-8910 and 8912 produced by GI.

source: http://www.larwe.com/technical/chip_ym2203.html