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Reminder, if you like these repos, fork them so they don't disappear

Big thanks to Fonzie for allowing this to be published.

  • written by hostile, with supporting information from the community at large!

Pseudo-Legal opinion

Additional text relevant to our pseudo-legal opinion on this document, and any accompanying digital artifacts resulting from our research work, can be found in the "legal" directory of this repository.

Please note that the following text is considered "for purposes of good-faith security research". This write up will give you all the knowledge, and access you need to backup and preserve your Genesis MegaDrive Paprium cart as supplied by Watermelon Games. It will also serve as an academic tome on the security ramification of Voltage Glitching the STM32F4 MCU, FPGA security through obscurity, physical protection methods, and anti tamper techniques.

Project Little Man

This project details the active efforts to dump the contents of the Watermelon Games Paprium cart, and understand the logic that allows the cart to function.

The Paprium Press Release from 03/16/2017 brought many promises that simply never manifested into reality. At this point many people have recieved their Paprium cart, where as many others have not. Some of those that have carts in hand, happen to have broken, unusable carts. There is no replacement path, there are no support options, you simply have the pleasure of owning a brick. What can you do? Shitpost? Bellyache, and whine? Quit being a "little man", and take matters into your own hands? "Rule, Be Ruled, or Die"!

Paprium launch

The goal of this project is to empower Paprium cart owners to ensure that their investment is protected well into the future. Design flaws such as BGA voiding in the cartridge manufacturing process make it susceptible to failure. It is literally a ticking timebomb, and it will likely fail eventually.

Since Project Little Man has been released, Paprium now has a new KickStarter, seemingly selling old assets that the company refused to provide to existing customers for various reasons.

Current Progress

Paprium in Mame
Click the thumbnail to see Paprium running in MAME.

Update: 11/30/21

  • Intel 10M02 (10M04 dev board & USB Blaster arrived, not used yet)
  • STM32F4 (custom SWD breakout PCB version 2 back from fab with bug fixes)
  • 24C64WP EEprom (dumped)
  • Spansion GL064N Series Flash (dumped)
  • Game Strings have been extracted
  • Game Audio has been extracted
  • Game 4Bpp & Palate images have been extracted
  • Sprite Sheets have been extracted
  • Sprite animation sequences extracted
  • Confirmed character "inspiration", in some cases egregious
  • Confirmed reused game assets from 3rd parties are present
  • STM32F4 basic operation emulated in MAME
  • Game boots & plays in MAME (no sound due to STM32)
  • DMCA threats from Watermelon Games (achievement unlocked)
  • Hoes mad!

Paprium CSI

As a result of our reverse engineering work there is now plenty of visual data that can be academically examined in order to determine whether there is any truth in the original plagiarism claims. Kenshiro vs Stalone is often cited by Paprium art director Luis Martins as a landmark example of inspiration vs plagiarism. Dive into CSI Paprium to learn more, while keeping in mind that the lead art director has already had a run in with stolen art.

Chrono Resurrection
"Artist(s) Luis Martins"

Re: Infringement of “CHRONO TRIGGER” trademarks and copyrights
"We understand that you are developing “Chrono Trigger: Resurrection”, a 3D remake of our client’s “CHRONO TRIGGER” game which will recreate scenes from the original game. Your conduct in this regard constitutes copyright infringement and, inter alia, violates our client’s exclusive right to prepare derivative works based on its copyrighted work. Your use of the words “CHRONO TRIGGER” in connection with your “remake” and on your web site “”, and your use of logos, scenes, characters and other images associated with our client’s games, constitutes trademark and copyright infringement and false designation of origin.

Accordingly, demand is hereby made that you immediately cease and desist from further development, promotion, sale or distribution of any product which is based on or derived from our client’s “CHRONO TRIGGER” games, and that you cease and desist from all use of the “CHRONO TRIGGER” trademark and logo, and all use of images or artwork from “CHRONO TRIGGER” games."

Video Games and Intellectual Property: Chrono Trigger Fan Remakes and Copyright Protection
"These first two were notable in that Square Enix, owner of the copyrights and trademarks related to Chrono Trigger, sent cease-and-desist letters to the developers of these games claiming trademark and copyright infringement."

At the very least there is confirmed stolen IP for Sega Golden Axe, and Sega Streets of Rage. These stolen assets in essence make Paprium a "mash-up".

Paprium Codes!

An additional benefit of the reverse engineering work is the exposure of codes used in the game to influence behavior of the running cartridge. Our codes were in fact released before they were shared on Kickstarter. The entire list of known codes is shown below.

3 Players CO-OP unlocked!

Enable 3P mode: 
on map screen before character select.
A A A U U U D D D 

obj viewer:
on options screen Highlight "BOF naming" and input
St X X A Y C  

Megawire 4.0 screen:
on options screen Highlight "BOF naming" and input
St St St St C C  

Train Wreck Demo:
on title screen

Sound Test:
on title screen

Better CPU Buddy with megaCD(?):
on menu screen

A A A C C C St U St D St  
on options screen Highlight "BOF naming" and input

A A A C C C St D St U St  

Original mode, on file select screen with city map:

Enable JP region features:
pause game

Further exposure of the fake Datenmeister DT128M16VA1LT

In an amazing feat of false advertising, Gwénaël Godde completely manufactured from thin air, the concept that he'd created a new SoC. The DT128M16VA1LT is supposedly a "custom" chip made by Daten Semiconductor, that is really just a bunch of commodity parts covered in black epoxy glob top encapsulant. Never mind that it has been proven that "Datenmeister DT128M16VA1LT chipset is fake", or that the website of the company that "makes" it, was originally registered to Fonzie.

The Datenmeister serves as the central piece of technology driving the Paprium cart. The only problem is, that it does not exist, at all. In reality, it is just handful of common components.

Any Paprium ROM archival efforts would have to revolve around exploiting weaknesses in the "DT128M16VA1LT" components.

DT128M16VA1LT parts related to data storage, and game logic.

The actual technology in the ficticious "DT128M16VA1LT" from the Paprium cart is made up of known ICs that are succeptable to known weaknesses, and potential attacks. Being beneath black goop does not at all make the chips impervious to attack. It should in practice be trivial to interface with each of the major componets. The primary hurdle, and barrier to entry is physical access to each component, or it's pin/ballout. Due to the black epoxy these components must be carefully excavated.

Intel® MAX 10 FPGA

Altera 10M02SCU169C8G FPGA (UBGA169)

The Intel "10M02" FPGA on the Paprium cart "may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable escalation of privilege and information disclosure via physical access". The vulnerability has been assigned CVE-2020-0574. Dr. Sergei Skorobogatov of the Dept of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, has been credited with reporting this issue. His papers and persentations on the subject are linked below:

Sergei's research outlines several weaknesses that can aid in archival of Paprium's Max10 FPGA contents:

"Verify Protect fuse only protects the configuration Flash memory (CFM) but leaves user Flash memory (UFM) fully accessible"

"Encrypted POF Only fuse on its own does not protect JTAG access to the Flash memory"

"Write access to both user Flash and configuration Flash is still possible. This can be used for modification attacks, for example, to extract the encrypted bitstream"

"AES decryption always leaves distinctive power traces clearly distinguishable for different keys and different data. In combination with Flash modification attacks this can be used for encrypted bitstream extraction."

"Semi-invasive attacks in the form of laser fault injection were found to be capable of bypassing all security protection fuses in MAX 10 devices."

All of these vulnerabilities can in theory be used to dump the FPGA that is present on the Paprium cartridge. Although the bitstream can not be easily reverse engineered, it could absolutly be used in a remanufactured cart, assuming it plays some role in security, or audio and GFX rendering



Assuming that the STM32 is making use of RDP based protection it will require some special conditions in order to dump the firmware. If it is on the other hand not protected, a physical connection to the SWD pins will be all that is needed. Once freed from the black epoxy, the chip is more susceptible to examination, and attack.

Similar to the Intel FPGA, the STM32F4 inside the Paprium cart is known to be vulnerable to voltage glitching attacks that should aid in archival of Paprium's data. The attacks have moved from theory, and manual one off demonstrations to now being available in ready made productized form with tools like ChipWhisperer. Various exploitation demonstrations have occured outside common lab constraints, and SDK kit based testing.

Real, actual products have been attacked at this point. The exploitation techniques are reliable:

TheHpman appears to have done some basic reversing of the Paprium cart mini game that was dumped via traditional techniques. Watermelongames included a security mechanism to prevent dumping of the actual game, instead serving up a "mini game" when dumping is attempted. The logic used by the carts STM32 is explictly mentioned on his Twitter account as he explains his disassembly efforts:

Commercial RE company BreakIC aka Mikatech will dump the STM32 for a fee of $6500 USD, claiming that "The tools needed to read it costs USD2million". We have reliably used Mikatech in the past for less costly extractions, and originally found them because their marketing claims that they are "World first mcu cloning company". Worst case scenario, we could in theory pay to have the Paprium STM32 chip dumped via their expensive machine.

Alternatively practicing on STM32F4 dev boards using a standard ChipWhisperer setup should set the stage for dumping the Paprium STM32F4 using standard community accessible tools. Similarly starting with the standard STM43F4 "UFO" target board is a great way to practice before moving on attempting to attack the Paprium cart. Again, assuming there is RDP protection enabled at all!

MirrorBit Flash

Spansion GL064N Series Flash (BGA48)

Reading the Spansion flash is confirmed to be possible with a standard Universal Programmer, and the appropriate adapter. Your adapter must also support the proper flash algorithm, or your reads will be garbage. We had to purchase an RT809H and a BGA48 adapter for example, because our Top3000 did not properly support reading the chip.

You can see from the chip routing that the Flash data access for the running cart is gatekept by the FPGA.


24C64WP EEprom (SO8)

Similarly reading the i2c EEPROM is confirmed possible with standard EEPROM readers, or even an Arduino. It is sitting outside the black epoxy, making it easy to examine.

You can read the chip in place on the cart without removing it by using a pogo reader.

Useful information & tools

The standard tool for voltage glitching is the Chip Whisperer, STM32 is a default target in the "level 1" kit, so this seems like a natural fit for anyone wanting to play along:

Before the ChipWisperer came along you often saw FeelTech FY3200S used in academic papers about voltage glitching STM32 MCUs. This device contains a USB API that can be used to script voltage changes. A Python API makes scripting easy. Keeping in mind of course that these tools may only be necessary if RDP protection is enabled on the STM32F4.

Cart Specific detail

The Paprium cart is a special unicorn. If you don't pay attention, you may perhaps miss some notable "features".

Megawire 4.0 (MW4.0)

Described in the manual as being used to "Connect to PAPRIUM's NXT network and enable the game's online services". It can also be used because "Some game updates may be available for download. Nobody's perfect...", or for DLC that "can be purchased with GEMS".

"Megawire 4.0 is a special connector that has 4 segments to it. There are 2 segments for data transfer & 2 for are for power & ground."

You can find the appropriate 4 Pole Stereo 2.5mm adapter easily on Amazon

Exposed vias on rear of cart

Vias on the cart expose the BGA ball array from the STM32F4, making the epoxy less effective at protecting it.

This allows for access to SWD lines from outisde of the black epoxy obfuscation blob.

Attacking the cart through via access would require some effort to build a bed of nails, or some sort of effective jig. This is really intended as a last ditch effort in the event that the STM32 can't be free'd effectively from the epoxy. It is unlikely that chasing via's will be needed, but the information is good to have on hand.

Debug headers?

There is a 9 pin header at the top of the cart labeled "DT", the functionality is not understood at this time. Several of the pins are GND, and three of the pins connect to themselves. The remaining pins may go to the Megawire interface, or to the Spansion flash. They may also simply be a red herring troll by Fonzie.

Below is the pinout:

        "DT 1" silkscreen wording  ◍ GND ◍ SELF ◍ SELF ◍ SELF ◍ DQ6 on Spansion ◍ VCC on Spansion ◍ VDD ◍ unknown ◍ Pin7 BR3  "9" silkscreen wording<br>

Pin map:

DQ6 - "Toggle bit" for erase / write status <br>

There is also an 8 pin header just below the STM32 above the cart connector that appears as if it may connect to the USB OTG pins, or alternately it could be an SPI interface.

Below is the pinout:

                                ░ PB14 ░ PB12 ░ PB13 ░ PB15              "DT128M16VA1LT" silkscreen wording<br>
                                ░ GND  ░ GND  ░ GND  ░ GND<br>

"B1 (FRONT)" skilscreen wording

Pin map:


Possible use for DFU protocol bootloader.


These are random related backstory items that make for good reading, or listening.

Grandious Ideas

Failure to deliver

Need for Change!


An amazing Paprium troll, ahead of their time

Little men

Fonzie ranting on Twitter calling everyone "little man", and complaining about PayPal.

Fun Quotes
st1ka: "A ROM dump will always happen, I believe Paprium has already Been dumped, if I'm not mistaken"
Fonzie: "no no no no no no no no no no I don't think so I don't think so, I don't encourage anyone to dump anything"
"What about the customer"
"These guys are lucky we don't have very strong lawyers"
st1ka: "the fpga is primarily used as a copy protection"
Fonzie: "... what ever is said is just some ideas, it is true it serves in some way as copy protection"
"It has a memory interface"
"the game is going realtime decompression, and this decompression algorithem is inside the one IC"
Fonzie: "I chose component from the market, because I can not make my own IC".
"I chose the IC from the market that fits the requirements, of course becuase it is not custom".
Fonzie: "The final state of testing we modified something on the game, but we could not test again"
"We have to trust everybody to not put the cartridge on eBay. the problem is it was very big risk"
"for sure someone with alot of money will try to take the cartridge and dump it"

Youtube Interviews & Documentaries

PAPRIUM megadrive / genesis longplay part 1 PAPRIUM megadrive / genesis longplay part 2 PAPRIUM megadrive / genesis part 3 - instruction manual & manga investors What Happened to Paprium? A Documentary - St1ka's Retro Corner What Happened to Paprium? A Documentary (Part 2) - St1ka's Retro Corner What Happened to Paprium? A Documentary (Part 3) - St1ka's Retro Corner Paprium Documentary - Complete Series | Movie Length Documentary | St1ka's Retro Corner PAPRIUM - THE FONZIE INTERVIEW (English Subtitles) The Paprium SCANDAL Paprium Update: Fonzie FINALLY Breaks His Silence Analyse de l'interview de Fonzie Scene World Podcast Episode #109 - Watermelon Games' CEO Gwénaël Godde aka Fonzie L'entrevue la plus puissante avec Gwénaël 'fonzie' Godde PDG de Watermelon Partie 1 Entrevue avec 'Fonzie', PDG de Watermelon #teaser Entrevue avec fonzie, suite et fin. Paprium's Creator: An Interview | St1ka's Retro Corner FAQ watermelon : Les réponses Scene World Podcast Episode #125 - Watermelon Games - Fonzie Part 2

Support situation

Per the press release "Anyone pissed about lack of support, well, we cut out all our cost so the game can ever release. And the game is there, that's all [that] matters." interview with
Q: So before this interview we actually spoke a couple of times on the phone and you told me that you found a way to make an update on Paprium cartridge for the compatibility and perhaps tell me about that because I'm waiting to make to make my game running on my version one of my megadrive"
A: "Yes Yes many people ask this online at least we got uh not many customers asking to us on our customer support but many people ask online so I think there's some problem with that. It's a serious problem and uh I have to confirm I would say it should be fine, but I I don't want to give something and then I don't want to tell anything until I want 100% sure people can do it at home themselves. So that's the only point I'm not sure if people have to return their cartridge to some service point or if they can do it themselves. That's the thing I need to confirm but I would not hide that the last couple of months have been very tough and uh I'd say I have to decide on which thing I focus. My main focus was to not get bankrupt mostly"
"This kind of stuff does not work well if the company is not in a good shape, you don't want to ship something and of course if we had everything running fine if our shop was still running I could have paid someone full time to do this servicing, it's no problem. We can even pay for the shipping is not so expensive the problem is that there is no way to do anything like so I don't want to I I I want to wait and see how things are going to happen. Then we can give a good service to the customers becasue it's not a at the moment it's not good. Like we don't the customer support. I have to shut it down like some customers they call us on the phone, it's fine, but when some people they send emails so but it's um too many people make fake requests or to get free games. It takes a lot of time people don't see that like it takes a lot of time to figure that out and uh we have nobody to do the customer support at the moment.
"Oh there's nobody. So I got to decide if I do it, and then nothing else is done, or it's like I got to decide what I want to do like. I think it's better for now that we try to solve this situation. We try to move forward and then we when things is back on track we can fix every people's problem. But if I start handling the case one by one uh in a in a cheap way, it's not going to be good. So yeah, I'm sorry for that some cusomers are waiting and they get the personal return but like I keep saying that I cannot ship you back. There's no way like as they say oh hey but I can pay but I can pay. Even if you pay I cannot ship back to you becasue I have so many uh things to pay before I got to ship your things.
"If the kickstarter goes well if we get back on track I can arrange a customer service. Someone to contact every customer and fix this, yeah by the way like, a yeah, it's my the biggest issue is for people who are living in the US because um in europe uh maybe we can have a even center in paris or in germany. Some people who live around can bring their cartridge you can fix them. But um in USA it's a very big country so you can't do this easily. So he has to do he has to be some shipping or people to do it at home. We will see, we will see. I don't want to announce this thing yet because uh I'm a very um let's say I have good experience now and I'm saying something, and the next day it goes horrible.