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News Posts

post-everything

Okay, I just added the long-overdue ability to browse through these posts by page (and by category too, even) because if I keep up this trend of actually posting stuff rather than just saying "hey I updated x, go look at it", I guess people might want to read it. Well, stranger things have happened. And that old "temporary" list of links to posts wasn't really cutting it for actual reading purposes, especially given my tendency towards completely useless post titles that only vaguely hint at the posts' subject matter. Like this one!

There'll probably be a couple more changes on the way, and I've cleaned up quite a lot of the code behind the scenes (before messing it up again with the aforementioned update) so as per usual if you notice something broken, let me know. Even if it's only slightly broken! It might be a sign of much greater brokenness to come.

posted by taizou at 03:52:04 on 21/06/2010 in site updates ~ comments (0)

asder price

Cah4e3 has dumped one of my Famicom carts, the Asder 20 in 1, which is totally awesome. get it here! Its a multicart by Asder with a few previously undumped games on it. Can't say I ever paid that much attention to Asder/NTDEC/Mega Soft/Caltron/etc etc, but they made some reasonably fun shit over the years, much of which is represented here (you won't find any of their later/larger games, mindyou). Bastards ruined Pokey though.

I actually recorded a bunch of footage of this one before it was dumped with the intention of putting it on youtube, but you might as well just play it for yourself now. so yeah! do it.

posted by taizou at 04:18:48 on 19/06/2010 in "news" ~ comments (1)

go go logo

Okay, this might be a long one. I've been looking into something probably not very many people are aware of, in this age of emulators and whatnot (especially when some of the games it concerns are damn near impossible to find in cartridge form): the dubious phenomenon of .. custom gameboy boot logos!

standard nintendo logoSo, a brief explanation. For a piece of software to run on a Game Boy, it must contain a copy of Nintendo's logo identical to the one in the console's internal ROM, and that logo will be displayed at startup; this was presumably done for similar reasons as Sega's TMSS, in that it forces any unlicensed producer of cartridges (whether a pirate or an otherwise legitimate unlicensed developer) to include the Nintendo logo in their games, theoretically committing trademark infringement in the process. These measures were particularly aimed at Taiwan, which at the time had no copyright agreement with Japan but did allow Japanese companies to register trademarks; this is why you'll often see Taiwanese pirate games with company and console logos removed but everything else intact. (It's also one of the many reasons NTDEC - Nintendo Electronic Co - ended up with a massive lawsuit from Nintendo, while its competitors mostly escaped.) But, fortunately for unlicensed developers, Sega's TMSS didn't hold up in court (in the US anyway), which I'd guess rendered Nintendo's Game Boy efforts largely pointless too.

Some companies, though, (whether they believed it legally necessary - which it may well have been in some places - or they just wanted to stick two fingers up to Nintendo) managed to replaced Nintendo's logo with their own. This works because the Game Boy reads the logo twice: once to display it, then again to check it against its own stored copy. So the cartridge provides the custom logo for the first check, then Nintendo's for the second - you can see this being exploited in this video. The Game Boy Color performs the check differently, which breaks older mono games using this method (eg Sachen's) but only checks the first half of the logo, hence why you'll sometimes see GBC games that only modify the lower half. Others still managed to replace the whole thing, though. Inevitably the GBA came along with yet another modification to the checks, but every GBC game I've tried seems to sidestep this by feeding it the standard Nintendo logo.

Now, emulator users will probably be unfamiliar with all these logo shenanigans; the GB's internal ROM was only dumped recently, and even those emulators that do make use of it (such as MESS) don't emulate the hardware trickery employed by these carts to display a custom logo, so you'll only see Nintendo's in any case. But the alternate logo is, usually, still present in the ROM at 0184h (sometimes accompanied by an entire secondary header, sometimes just the logo itself); if you use a hex editor to copy 30h bytes from that location over the real Nintendo logo at 0104, you can see the custom logo in any emulator that would otherwise display Nintendo's. Even if the game won't boot.

Anyway, I've tried this on pretty much every unlicensed Taiwanese/Chinese GBC ROM I could get my hands on, and here are the logos I found:

GOWIN®
A Taiwanese unlicensed GBC developer. This logo appears in most of its GBC games (the mono GB ones were by different people entirely, and the current ROMs are cracked in any case). "Most", because some of the later ones have...

HotKid-®
This! Top half Nintendo, bottom half Hot Kid (which was a brand name used by Gowin sometimes). And they so nearly pulled it off, too.

V.fame®
Another Taiwanese unlicensed developer - the makers of Shi Kong Xing Shou, which I dumped recently. Aside from the games explicitly credited to VF already, this also appears in Rockman DX3 (Zook Hero 2), some Three Kingdoms game (in GoodGBX it's "Shawu Story", but some of the alts are a different game entirely) and Super Fighter S ('99). The first two were pretty much already known as VF games anyway, and Super Fighter S was kinda speculated to be one based on leftover graphics in their other stuff, but hey its nice to have confirmation.

SOUL®
Only used in Soul Falchion, which is also pretty much accepted to be a V.Fame game .. wonder why they didn't use their own name, though?

Waixing®
Waixing! A fairly prolific NES developer, but next to nothing is known about their GB stuff. The only game I found with this logo is "Legend of Heroes", which doesn't seem to boot in any emulator.

FIVER FIRM®
An obscure one, this - try searching for it. as of this writing there's only a smattering of spam, OCR errors and GBC roms misinterpreted as text. Appears in E'Fighter HOT, Garou: Mark of the Wolves and Dragonball Fight 2005 (a title hack, not sure what its real name is). All fighting games based on Takara's GB KOF engine.

SACHEN®
Okay, I don't have a screenshot of this one. But Sachen used custom logos too. Yep.

BBD®
The developer credited for quite a few GBC Sintax games. This particular logo shows up in Harry Potter and some versions of Metal Slug 2001.

TD-SOFT®
First encountered in "Final Fantaxy IX", which I own, and am currently trying (and failing) to dump. Also used in "San Goku Shi - Act C" (rom name), which also happens to be called "FF9" in its fake header. Hmmmmm.

DIGI.®
From "Zelda Shi Kong Zhi Zhang", which is encrypted, so I have no idea what it is. The header name is Digimon, though, so it could be a reference to that rather than a company name.

Niutoude®
And we're onto the cheap edits of the Nintendo logo. Woo. This one is in "Bokujou Monogatari GB2 (Unl)" (that's the rom name; its nothing to do with Harvest Moon really, I'm not sure what its real name is), "Dragonslayer Chapter - Surrounded" & "Sky Dragon" (again, rom names), Harry Potter 3, "Heroic Sword", one version of Metal Slug 2001, and one version of Final Fantasy X: Fantasy War. Doesn't seem to be a great deal connecting these games; maybe a few different developers used this one?

Yiutoudz®
Christ. Really? Yeah really. Yiutoudz. Appears in another version of Fantasy War, and King of Fighters R2. These were both at least published by SKOB (and its fantastically named Chinese affiliate "Super Huge Dragon"), but other SKOB games seem to retain the Nintendo logo.

[corrupted nintendo logo]®
I don't think this is supposed to be anything. It's just not supposed to be Nintendo. But it still pretty much is. Ah well! Mostly, if not exclusively, used by Sintax, it would seem, in the likes of "Castlevania EMO Demo" (rom name), "Saishuu Gensou" (rom name again), Shin Sangokumusou 2, Zhong Zhuan Qi Bing, Ice Age, Ice Age II, and Pokemon Sapphire.

As far as I'm aware, Yong Yong games (ie the characteristically awful ones) don't have custom logos, if you were wondering. Or if they do, I can't find them, and I don't care about Yong Yong enough to look. And that's that! Maybe.

posted by taizou at 06:18:17 on 08/06/2010 in research & shit ~ comments (14)

dumping grounds

shi kong xing shou logomain character + monsteri recently took delivery of four undumped, unlicensed gameboy color games, along with something to - in theory - dump them; three of them either didn't dump properly or have some kind of copy protection. (i suspect the latter; i know certain other unlicensed gbc games had to be cracked, which is a bit of a pain in the arse. if you can help with this, please contact me!)

but one - a 12 in 1 multicart - at least yielded a working copy of its first game. which is something! so i hereby present my first rom release:

SHI KONG XING SHOU (時空星獸)

approximately translated, "space-time star beast". also known as 星空神獸, for some reason. also, the multicart menu calls it "spatio monoster", while in the header it's "timer monster", but i doubt it ever had an official english name. it was originally released in 2001 for the game boy color by v.fame of taiwan, generally considered (at least by me, and the two or so other people who consider such things) the best unlicensed developer on the system.

it's an RPG, very similar to pokemon, but somehow spacier. i think the monsters appear after a meteor storm, but maybe they were there all along. hey i don't know! it's in chinese. but it seems pretty cool. and if you've played pokemon it shouldn't be too hard to figure out the gameplay, because it's, y'know, the same. there are a few variations on the concept - you apparently join up with seven other people, each with their own monster with some kind of special skill, but I haven't played very far yet so I'm not sure how (if at all) this ties into the usual six-monster team setup the game employs.

there seems to be a glitch with the "pokedex" (which, by the way, has space for 152 monsters, one more than the original pokemon games. take that, nintendo!) which i can't reproduce on the original cart: after saving in the second town, it fills up with a seemingly random bunch of monsters you haven't actually caught. so i'm not sure if this is an emulation problem, or it's a bad dump. i suspect the former, because it doesn't seem to happen in no$gmb, but if it's the latter, i apologise! i'm also labelling this as a multicart rip because it may or may not be identical to the single cart version (i think the menu code might be buried in it somewhere); hopefully someone will be able to dump that too at some point, and we'll have a "proper" version.

screenshot 1 screenshot 2 screenshot 3 screenshot 4 screenshot 5 screenshot 6 screenshot 7 screenshot 8 screenshot 9 screenshot 10 screenshot 11 screenshot 12

download! Shi Kong Xing Shou (Multicart Rip) (Unl) [C].zip (714k)

(btw, I've made a couple of changes to the site's CSS to accommodate this update, if this has broken it in your browser let me know)

posted by taizou at 03:23:49 on 28/05/2010 in dumps ~ comments (44)

simply dying?

updated the simple list. i hadn't touched it in almost a year, but it still wasn't massively out of date. which is testament to how little activity the series has seen recently, i suppose. i wonder if people just aren't buying them any more? there hasn't even been a DS release in ages.

D3 seem to be trying to resurrect it on download services, but i guess quirky low-budget games are pretty much what everyone else is doing on download services too, so they might have trouble standing out from the crowd. good luck to them, anyway!

posted by taizou at 18:36:14 on 21/02/2010 in site updates ~ comments (2)

board out of my mind

well i totally changed up the message board again. i mean i know no one posts on it but the sort of 90s-web-design-meets-80s-colour-scheme thing was starting to look less charmingly retro and more... shit. now hopefully less shit? maybe.

posted by taizou at 22:19:54 on 01/02/2010 in site updates ~ comments (0)

yes a'can

the super a'can is emulated! :O

seriously. in mess. (and about two weeks ago, i just feel like i should mention it here ... and i'll probably update my stupid super a'can temporary information page to reflect these developments too.)

three roms are available so far: boomzoo, super dragonforce and sonic dragon. boomzoo is completely playable and i can get to the menu before a battle in super dragonforce (it's probably possible to pass that bit, i just don't know what i'm doing), though both lack sound and have certain graphical glitches, and sonic dragon doesn't work at all. screenshots ahoy:

so yes! good times to be a fan of weird obscure old taiwanese game systems. speaking of which, maybe the gamate could be next? it won't be, but it could be.

posted by taizou at 05:39:20 on 23/01/2010 in "news" ~ comments (0)

i'm so fucking future

it's 2010! the future! and somewhere near this site's 5th anniversary. sort of. i've completely lost every news post from its earliest incarnation (the one that seriously nobody visited, as opposed to the like three people and twelve spambots that visit this one) thanks to a knackered hard drive. okay, i do prefer to blame the hard drive, but honestly it's equally my fault - it just so happens that the drive broke right after i'd formatted it having forgotten to back up the directory containing the file in question. but still! i can estimate, based on timestamps and the like, that the site that would later become this one was created sometime in january of 2005, which conveniently means i can upload this 5th anniversary/2010 redesign thingy whenever i get around to finishing it. which is today! woo.

it looks a bit different in ie6 because that browser doesn't support transparent pngs properly, and although this design could almost certainly be achieved without them, no one's paying me to do this and i'm too lazy to sort it out. sorry! but if you have any thoughts or notice any problems in any browser newer than ie6 (or indeed any in ie6, since it should only look different, not broken) it'd be much appreciated if you left a comment or something.

posted by taizou at 06:22:54 on 22/01/2010 in site updates ~ comments (1)

watch the sun

Fucking SUNSOFT is back! I love Sunsoft. Although they never really went away. They were only hibernating; waiting for the right moment to re-emerge. And that moment is now! They've re-established a US publishing presence in association with Vic Ireland's Gaijinworks - which in itself sounds pretty excellent, even though I don't live there - but I'm pretty confident that the inevitable success of this venture will bring all the original Sunsoft developers back together to revive the Hebereke franchise as the definitive best thing ever and the global megahit it always should have been. There'll be a movie and everything, you mark my words.

posted by taizou at 04:50:50 on 08/12/2009 in "news" ~ comments (0)

gam(upd)ate

i've updated the Gamate pages with a whole bunch of new stuff - new games, company info, PCB shots, and much (okay, a bit) more. so, check it out! if you like that sort of thing. and why wouldn't you?

posted by taizou at 04:20:32 on 08/09/2009 in site updates ~ comments (1)