Identifying unknown games

Have you ever gotten a PCB and you didn't know what the heck game it was for? A few years ago, the only way to figure it out was to ask someone to look at it and identify it visually, or read the numbers off the board and check long lists of games available somewhere on the internet.

Now, since the rise in popularity of emulators, there are huge archives of ROMs available and each and every ROM has a checksum and/or a CRC that will uniquely identify what game the ROM came from, just like a fingerprint. All you need to find out what game you have is access to an EPROM reader. There are several tools available for identifiing your ROMs.

Romident by Theirry Lescot is a program that you can run in DOS to identify a binary file image of the ROM you read in your reader. There is also a Macintosh version available here. (I'm sure there ports to other OS's, but I don't know where to find them.)

ROMCMP is a ROM comparison and validity checker written by Nicola Salmoria. It is included with MAME. It will compare two binary file images and tell you how closely they match each other. It will also tell you if there are potential problems with the ROM image, like stuck bits, duplicate data, etc. There's a Macintosh version, too.

My favorite, however, is Kurt Koller's online RomId. With it, you can enter the CRC of the ROM in question and it will search a large database of CRC's and report any match. You can also simply select the ROM dump image file with your browser and it'll tell you if it is in the database. Awesome. The database is quite a bit more up-to-date than Romident.

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