If you were a kid anywhere in the last 30 years, it was nearly impossible to avoid at least some exposure to the Pokemon franchise. Whether that’s through games like Red and Blue to Scarlet and Violet, the brief summer everyone played Pokemon Go, or to other media such as the trading card game or anime, it seems to have transcended generations and cultures fairly thoroughly. And, if you’ve consumed all there is of official Pokemon video gaming, you may be surprised to know there are a number of slightly modified games floating around out there that can be translated onto game carts just like their official counterparts.
[imablisy] has played a lot of these ROM hack games but always within something like a virtual console or emulator, so he wanted something physical which would work on original hardware of the era. For this he’s making physical copies of Flora Sky and Vega, which are based on Pokemon Emerald and Fire Red originally for the Game Boy Advance. To get the cart he found a bunch of Mother 3 cartridges to use as the donor. From there he backed up his Emerald and Fire Red cartridges, modified the ROMs with the modifications, and then sent those new ROMs to overwrite the data on the Mother 3 cartridges.
A playable cartridge is only half of the build, though. He wants these to look and feel like real Pokemon games, so he added a color-appropriate translucent case and also printed custom holographic labels for each. It might seem straightforward, but from the style of [imablisy]’s video it’s clear he is very familiar with processes like these, from the artwork all the way to the hardware and software side. We’re also pleased no classic hardware was damaged during this build, much like this version of Doom on an NES cart which used a common game for the donor to upset the least number of collectors.
Continue reading “Pokemon ROM Hacks Brought To The Real World”
The Nintendo GameCube in many ways defied expectations. It was purple, it had buttons shaped like beans, and it didn’t launch with a Mario game. What we got instead was the horror-adjacent ghost adventure game starring Mario’s brother — Luigi’s Mansion. The game was a graphical showpiece for the time, however, the camera angles were all fixed like an early Resident Evil game. Not satisfied with playing within those bounds, modder [Sky Bluigi] created a first person camera patch for the game that finally let players see why Luigi was so freaked out all the time.
The patch dubbed Luigi’s Mansion FPO (First Person Optimized) does a lot to drive home the game’s child-friendly, spooky aesthetic. Along with the ability to explore environments with a new lens, it provides the ability to turn the flashlight on and off manually if you want. Though the most impressive part of Luigi’s Mansion FPO is that it runs on real hardware. All that’s needed to play the mod is clean image of the North American release of Luigi’s Mansion and a .xdelta patching utility like Delta Patcher. GameCube games can be ripped directly to a USB thumb drive using a soft-modded Nintendo Wii console running Clean Rip or similar backup tool.
Luigi’s Mansion FPO actually provides a collection of patches that offer revised controls and increased field of view depending on which patch is used. The original game had inverted controls for aiming Luigi’s ghost vacuum, so the “Invert C-Stick Controls” patch will install a more modern aiming scheme where up on the right stick will aim upwards and vice versa. The “Better FOV” pulls the camera a little further back from where Luigi’s head would be while the original aiming scheme is retained. Though no matter which patch you decide to go with, a mod like this is always a good excuse to revisit a cult classic.
For another fresh GameCube mod check out this post about a Raspberry Pi Pico based modchip for the system.
Continue reading “Luigi’s Mansion First Person Mod Brings Spooky New Perspective”
September 13th 1993, colloquially known as Mortal Monday, became as dividing line in the battle for 16-bit supremacy. The mega popular arcade game Mortal Kombat was ported to Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis consoles, and every fanboy and fangirl had an opinion on which version truly brought the hits. The Super Nintendo version opted to remove the blood and gore in an attempt to preserve the company’s family-friendly image. While the Sega Genesis merely locked the game’s more violent content behind a cheat code that so many fans learned by heart, ABACABB. Nintendo’s decision to censor Mortal Kombat on their console pushed public opinion in favor of the Sega Genesis version being superior, though it was clear that corners were cut in order to squeeze it onto a cartridge. Recently a group of developers led by [Paulo] sought to restore the Genesis version to its full potential with a ROM hack they’re calling Mortal Kombat Arcade Edition.
Mortal Kombat Arcade Edition is the sort of ROM hack where every facet of the game has been retouched. All sorts of sound effects and animations that were omitted in the 1993 translation to the Genesis have now been restored in higher quality. Every fighter’s look was remastered to more closely match the arcade presentation complete with move timing tweaks. Secret characters like Reptile, Noob Saibot, and Ermac are all playable, plus all the character bios from the arcade game’s attract mode make an appearance. An SRAM save feature was implemented in order to save high scores, and for an additional dose of authenticity there’s even a “DIP switch” configuration screen where you can set it to free play.
This ROM hack comes as an IPS patch that can be applied to a legitimate dump of the user’s Sega Genesis or Mega Drive cartridge. The site hosting the Mortal Kombat Arcade Edition patch features an online IPS patching tool called Rom Patcher JS that makes the patching process more convenient for those attached to their browser. The patched ROM can then be enjoyed in the user’s favorite emulator of choice, though running it on original hardware via a ROM cart is also possible (even encouraged). Considering the limitations of the Sega Genesis’ color palette the revamped look of Mortal Kombat Arcade Edition is all the more impressive. It just goes to show you that Genesis still does!
Not ready to FINISH HIM? Check out this countertop arcade build featuring some Mortal Kombat II art, or marvel at the incredible effort that went into creating the Knights of the Round ROM hack known as Warlock’s Tower.
Continue reading “Mortal Kombat ROM Hack Kontinues Arcade Legacy”
Turning a game like Super Mario World for SNES into a widescreen game is not a small task, but [Vitor Vilela] accomplished just that. [Vitor] has a long list of incredible patches such as optimizing code for better frame rates and adding code to take advantage of the SA-1 accelerator chip, so out of anyone he has the know-how to pull a widescreen mod off. This patch represents a true labor of love as many levels were designed with a specific screen width in mind. [Vitor] went through each of these single-screen width levels and expanded them by writing the extra assembly needed.
On a technical level, this hack was achieved by using the panning feature built into the game. The left and right shoulder buttons allowed a player to pan the camera to the left and right. The viewport is considered to be two times the screen resolution and so items will be rendered within the widescreen resolution. By taking away the panning feature and render a larger section of the viewport to the screen, you get a widescreen view. However, to save cycles, enemies and items don’t start moving until they get close to the screen edge. So how do you make a game widescreen without ruining the timing of every enemy that spawns? Suddenly the hours of muscle memory that fans have drilled in over the years is a disadvantage rather than a strength. The answer is a significant time investment and an eye for detail.
All the code is available on GitHub. A video of a playthrough of the mod is after the break.
Continue reading “Modifying A SNES Rom To Be Widescreen”
For the uninitiated, Knights of the Round was a hack-and-slash arcade game released by Capcom in 1991 that rather loosely followed the legend of King Arthur and the eponymous Knights of the Round Table. In it, up to three players make their way from stage to stage, vanquishing foes and leveling up their specific character’s weapons and abilities. But [Sebastian Mihai] was looking for a new way to experience this classic title, so he decided to reverse engineer the game and create his own version called Warlock’s Tower.
Those familiar with the original game will no doubt notice some of the differences right away while watching the video below, but for those who don’t have an intimate knowledge of Arthur’s digital adventures, the major changes are listed on the project’s web page. Among the most notable are the removal of cooperative multiplayer and stage time limits. This turns the game from a frantic beat ’em up to a more methodical adventure. Especially since you now have to compete the game in a single life. If we had to guess, we’d say [Sebastian] prefers his games to have a bit of a challenge to them.
Even if you aren’t interested in playing Warlock’s Tower yourself, the story of how [Sebastian] created it is absolutely fascinating. He started with zero knowledge of Motorola 68000 assembly, but by the end of the project, was wrangling multiple debuggers and writing custom tools to help implement the approximately 70 patches that make up the custom build.
The hundreds of hours of work that went into creating these patches is documented as a sort of stream of consciousness on the project page, allowing you to follow along in chronological order. Whether it inspires you to tackle your own reverse engineering project or makes you doubt whether or not you’ve got the patience to see it through, it’s definitely worth a read. If you’re a Knights of the Round fan, you should also take a look at the incredible wealth of information he’s amassed about the original game itself, which honestly serves as an equally impressive project in its own right.
Modified versions of classic games, known colloquially as “ROM hacks” are fairly common among serious fans who want to see their favorite games improved over time. While they aren’t always as ambitious as Warlock’s Tower, they all serve as examples of how a dedicated community can push a product well beyond the scope envisioned by its original creators.
Continue reading “The Epic Saga Of Hacking Knights Of The Round“
Going back to classic games can be a difficult experience. The forward passage of time leaves technology to stagnate, while the memories attached to those old games can morph in mysterious ways. Therein lies the problem with how you remember a game playing versus the reality of how it actually does. Developer [Jorge] saw that situation arising around Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and it inspired him to create the Zelda II Redux ROM hack.
Years in the making, Zelda II Redux takes a relatively light-handed approach to revising the original NES game. Graphical enhancements include: a reworked HUD complete with the series’ tradition of hearts, animated enemy icons in the over world, a new title screen, and giving Link the shield from the Famicom Disk System release’s box art. Text speed has been increased and a revised translation of the Japanese script has been incorporated. Under the hood, all sorts of boss battles have been re-balanced while casting magic spells doesn’t require multiple return trips to the pause menu. Though Zelda II Redux’s most important feature may be the inclusion of manual saving via “Up + A” on the pause menu. There are also a whole host of other changes Zelda II Redux incorporates in order to bring Link’s second adventure more inline with the rest of the Legend of Zelda series that can be found on the project’s change log.
To play Zelda II Redux requies an IPS patching program, like LunarIPS, along with a clean dumped image of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Dumping NES cartridges is easier than ever these days due to many cartridge dumper devices being plug-and-play over USB. A successfully patched ROM file can be played in an emulator or on actual NES hardware through a flash cart. A video of a tool-assisted speedrun has been included below, so there may be some new strategies to employ.
Continue reading “Zelda II Redux ROM Hack Plays How You Remember The Original”
It was about time (Mario Time) that Super Mario Land for the original Game Boy was revisited. The game served as the entry point into the world of portable gaming for millions, and it was an early example of the type of adventure players could expect from a handful of AA batteries. The original Game Boy system itself may have only been able to display four shades of grey, however, that never stopped players of Super Mario Land from imagining what the game would have looked like in stunning color. Now thanks to [toruzz] we no longer have to imagine, because their Super Mario Land DX ROM Hack does just that…and then some.
The Super Mario Land DX ROM hack adheres to the Game Boy Color’s 16-bit color palette, so it actually runs on real hardware. No changes to the gameplay were made and it also runs in the native 10:9 aspect ratio for the Game Boy. According to the patch readme file, it is recommended to use a legally sourced dump of the 1.0 version of Super Mario Land and utilize Lunar IPS to apply the patch. Additionally a CRC check sum is provided to ensure everyone is working from the same starting point.
Super Mario Land was a launch title for the Game Boy in 1989, but there was another handheld game system that released that year as well (the Atari Lynx). The Lynx featured a full color backlit LCD display, so it was not as if handheld game systems of the era were restricted to being monochromatic. Granted the Lynx came with a price tag nearly twice that of the Game Boy, but a transformative ROM hack such as the Super Mario Land DX one can serve almost as an alternate history. An alternate history that we all can experience now be it on a desktop or in true portable form.
To see the Super Mario Land DX ROM Hack in motion, there is the gameplay video from YouTube user Vincent Hernandez below:
Continue reading “Super Mario Land DX ROM Hack Shows What Game Boy Could Have Looked Like”