Saturday, October 16, 2010

Magic Girl Unofficial Soundtrack

  Sorry for the lack of new unlicensed videos.  They are coming, I've just been busy with stuff.  Anyway, here's the first of many old soundtrack recordings of mine that I'll be uploading in the future.  Some are of unlicensed games like Pocket Monsters, Sachen, and Super Boogerman, and others are of official titles desperate for a soundtrack like Super Bomberman, Bomberman II, Air Zonk, Bonk 1-3 (including the CD tracks) and more.  For this post, it's Magic Girl, developed by Gamtec of Taiwan.  The sound engine is based off of a Sunsoft title called Shi Kin Jou, and actually sounds very fitting and nicely composed for the engine used.  Magic Girl is a fun game with some great music and graphics, so it's worth checking into if you like this sort of thing.  Included in the ZIP file is a thrown-together bonus I made.  Nothing fancy, but neat.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Unused Sprite Examination: Jurassic Boy 2 (Sachen, NES/GBC)

  Something new that I wanted to try out.  As many of you probably know, video games are often turn out not to be what they were originally planned as.  One popular example is Sonic the Hedgehog 2; just one of the prototypes alone contains enough unused stuff to probably warrant it to be an entire game.  These unused, prototype mechanics, graphics, etc. sometimes end up hidden in the final commercial release's code, just not used by the game.  I plan on doing at least two other games (Magical Doropie and the NES Rocman X game) that showcase what hidden graphics lie inside these games.  Believe it or not, there's a ton of unused stuff in these games, and while I know dick about programming, I can at least show what graphics are hidden with Tile Layer Pro and rip them into sprite sheets (for anyone who gives a damn).  For this installment, it's Jurassic Boy 2.

  Forgive me if the layout's rather sloppy.  Here are all the unused graphics for Jurassic Boy 2 found in the NES ROM.  There's 10 used sprite sets and 21 unused sprite sets for Chen alone.  Yikes.  There's also two unused objects (they're just variations of what's in the game) and three unused enemies.  The slime enemy is easy to figure out, but the other two...I'm guessing they were planned as bosses?  Oddly enough, there's no other unused enemy graphics for the last two worlds.  Also, that skeleton rex doesn't have a jump(?) sprite like the caveman does.  Back to the Chen sprites, they certainly planned this game to match the calibur of Sonic 2 or Sonic CD, seeing as there's sprites for a peelout skill, and also how he would've been much more animated during gameplay.  Shame this never came to fruition, huh?  I haven't come across anything relating to the unused stuff mentioned in the NES manual, such as the powerups.  If they're there, they're likely compressed in a way TLP doesn't pick up.
  Another interesting find, digging around the ROM, was this:

  Beta Popo Team stuff!  This is actually hidden in the Popo Team ROM as well, and likely in other late TC-XXX and SA-XXX titles.  Looks like they base their games off of a previous one.  I couldn't piece the beta title together (not everything appears to remain) but it looks like it was even going to be called something else, judging by that "S".  "Po * Po's World"?

  The GBC ROM?  (Look to the left)  Nothing new.  It seems to repeat its tile set repeatedly, with only one of them actually used.  Chen's animations and the caveman are still there, but the skeleton rex is MIA.  They were probably too lazy to erase the beta remnants from the NES version.
  Last thing to mention: It turns out that some of the sprites used in the game are actually animated.  The moving platforms are an example.  All Sachen did was paint each animation the exact same so it looks static.  Maybe they meant to animate them?  (This could possibly explain the slightly-choppy framerate in the game; there's a ton of stuff happening but it's not visible.)  Below are examples, with red circles showing the sprites on the arranger and in the tile viewer:

The Original Platforms used

Platforms re-drawn with seperate animation frames

Video showing the newly animated platform in action

  I don't think I missed anything.  If I did, it's minor stuff.  My next U.S.E. won't be for a while, as it took long enough to put this together.  Stay tuned for more!  By the way, if anybody's wondering about using the ripped sprites:  go nuts.  Use them for whatever you'd like (though I'm not sure how many people care about Jurassic Boy 2) and have fun with them.  Seems kinda stupid to mention, but people care about this stuff when it comes to sprite sheets.  Hm.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bomboy [轟炸小子 - Explosion Kid] (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive)

  The year is 1993. The super-popular strategy game series Bomberman has released possibly its biggest installment ever: Super Bomberman. Gamtec of Taiwan noticed this game’s popularity and that Sega Genesis (Mega Drive to everyone else) was missing out on the action. Mega Bomberman was only released in the U.S. and Europe, while Japan got the Turbografx (PC-Engine) version called Bomberman ’94. Mega Bomberman wasn’t released for another year, mind you, and Japan missed out on the Sega installment, so it was the perfect game to score in on. Three of their staff members pulled together and released Bomboy [轟炸小子 – Explosion Kid].

  Bomboy, as you can probably guess, is based off of Super Bomberman. The game plays like Super Bomberman’s story mode does: you travel to different “worlds” and cleared all of its stages by defeating every enemy in that stage. There’s 10 worlds to travel to, which ranges from typical places like ice worlds and a haunted mansion, to more interesting worlds like one with gold “? Blocks” and mushrooms (Mario reference, most likely) to one with cows (moo!). Seeing their eyes bug out when you blow them up is priceless.
  The graphics, especially the portraits for things like the ending, are what you expect from Gamtec: relatively simple in design and style, yet nicely drawn out. It’s kinda like a budget Ken Shugimori look (Ken Shugimori is Game Freak’s character designer/artist who did Pulseman, Mendel Palace and the Pokemon titles, to name a few.) The in-game graphics do resemble Super Bomberman’s in-game graphics, with a pseudo-3D (whatever you would call it) feel to it. Nothing fancy, but it works very well in its own right.
  The music doesn’t compare to Super Bomberman, but it’s still pretty good. I know it seems kinda unfair to keep comparing this game to Super Bomberman (and I am judging it in its own right) but it’s obvious Gamtec wanted a Bomberman game and didn’t hide it, so I’m judging it by both. The music sounds similar to Gamtec’s other games, like Magic Girl and Adventurous Boy. The sound engine used seems to be based off of a Sunsoft title called Shi Kin Jou (it even steals sound effects from it!) but like Vast Fame with the Rockman World 5 sound engine, they actually composed some great music with it. The music is mostly upbeat and is fun to listen to while you play.
  The controls work very well. Though it’s not like a normal Bomberman game where you move pixel-by-pixel rather than tile-by-tile, it’s functional enough. I encountered no problems with controller responses, and the bombs work and explode like the official title. It’s better than the NES Bomberman game, at least.
  Gameplay is the biggest downfall to this otherwise excellent game, and basically where I’ll be listing the Cons. First off, there’s no Battle Mode. One of the biggest things about Super Bomberman was the multiplayer mode. Hell, they even bundled a Multi-Tap with some copies of the game! I know this was the first Bomberman game with real multiplayer (Bomberman II had it as well, but this was the first big multiplayer mode) but they should’ve known that this was important, seeing as they knew a lot about Super Bomberman to begin with.
  The other problem is the level design. Instead of a grid-pattern to the level like almost every other Bomberman game made, they instead have hard blocks scattered in random patterns. Sometimes they’ll form a small “room” in one portion of a stage and in another there’s none, leaving you with a huge, empty space for enemies to waltz around in. The same goes for some of the soft blocks, though they still do their job properly. It’s a pain to attack enemies when they can just sidestep to avoid death. Anyone who’s played Bomberman Quest or Bomberman Tournament’s over world can relate to this.
  Lastly, the enemies move in random-as-hell patterns. Normally in Bomberman, an enemy would move in a straight line, only changing directions when they hit an obstacle, with the occasional exception in some games that they change direction when you’re in sight or something. Hell, even the first Bomberman for the NES was more tolerable. But here they sometimes move back and forth on two tiles, or they just beeline around without any sense of direction. Try killing an enemy with random movement in open space with weak firepower (especially after you die, since your firepower starts back at one when you lose a life.) Also, if they happen to be trapped between a bomb’s explosion and a wall, they’ll actually pause to avoid walking into the fire. Worse are some enemies later on that will move through everything, even hard blocks, and chase you if you’re close to them…At various speeds, no less. This is very bad when you first start a stage and have no room to move. Combine this with the previous problems, and you’ll be definitely sure to jot down the passwords for each level.
  Overall? It’s very frustrating to play, namely in the later levels, but it’s still not too bad. For a game made by three people, it’s pretty impressive, though you don’t need more than one person to realize that the enemy and level designs are a bad idea. It’s much like Mendel Palace in the fact that it’s very hard and not too fun to play alone, but it’s fun with a friend. Great audio, visuals, and controls, but bad design. As long as you have a friend and aren’t too serious, it’s a nice title.




Last Level & Ending

Thanks to “pirateman” for finding this game.