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Hacking GG games to run on SMS.
Post Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:23 pm
Hi, folks. Just for the sake of curiosity, and to see if it could be done, I tried to hack some Game Gear games to make them run on the Master System. I'd like to announce my first fully successful attempt. I've converted Pop Breaker to work on the SMS.

You can check out screenshots and some more info from the link below.

Sega Hacking
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:05 pm
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> Hi, folks. Just for the sake of curiosity, and to see if it could be done

What do you think kept Tec Toy in business all these years? :) (I know, theirs generally weren't hacks but weren't far off it)

Quote
> I tried to hack some Game Gear games to make them run on the Master System. I'd like to announce my first fully successful attempt. I've converted Pop Breaker to work on the SMS.

> You can check out screenshots and some more info from the link below.

It occurred to me that I didn't think about scrolling issues for the conversion. A quick and dirty way to test is to open the debugger -> tilemap window in Emukon, which lets you find out what gets drawn in the masked-out area of the game. Some GG games work nicely and give potential to convert, but most scrollers are troublesome and would require some serious hacking to make the csrolling non-ugly on the SMS.

One more thing to potentially add to your list: stereo sound writes. According to Charles' doc, that's equivalent to writing to port $3E, so it causes no end of problems as it merrily ANDs overlapping areas (BIOS, cart ROM, etc) and disables RAM, etc. One to avoid; just nop out outputs to port $06.

And, of course, fixing up the ROM header is needed but we all know that anyway.

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You are god!
Post Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 7:52 pm
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> Hi, folks. Just for the sake of curiosity, and to see if it could be done, I tried to hack some Game Gear games to make them run on the Master System. I'd like to announce my first fully successful attempt. I've converted Pop Breaker to work on the SMS.

> You can check out screenshots and some more info from the link below.

This is excellent work!

Many people have thought and discussed this idea, but no one took the time to actually do it. Pop Breaker looks pretty good using the SMS palette, also.

I'd like to see more of these. Of course, it is not necessary to port every single GG games back to SMS, but a few selected and interesting games would be great. If you have time and motivation, maybe you should further describe how you did it with Pop Breaker, eventually describe how you solved certain problems.

Scrolling games can be a problem, as Maxim pointed out.

Gil Espeche (who developped the excellent Pac-in-Time,
said he used to mainly works on the SMS. He had switch in the code to revert to SMS-ish palette and Pause button.

(meaning that he may have build of Pac-in-Time for SMS, yeah)

I appreciate what you're doing, Chris.
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Convert GG Shinobi !
Post Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:42 pm
that would be excellent!
best regards...
 
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2 more games hacked!
Post Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:51 pm
Hi, folks. I've spent a few days doing almost nothing but hacking (and game-playing) and I have a couple more hacks to show for it:

The Berlin Wall
Frogger [Prototype]

Both of them work reasonably well on the Master System, and they look very nice considering the SMS' palette limitations. You can see the hacks and download IPS files here: http://disgruntleddesigner.com/chrisc/segahacking/gg2sms.html

And, to get more people doing this, I've written a "Hacking Diary" just as Bock requested. It took a long time to write, and I'm sure I forgot some details, but here it is. I hope it helps. http://disgruntleddesigner.com/chrisc/segahacking/hackingdiary.html
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Post Posted: Sat Jan 01, 2005 9:48 pm
I had a little trouble patching them, maybe because my IPS tool was too old or maybe because I made a mistake along the way. Anyway, I downloaded "Lunar IPS" and it works much better so I'd recommend that.

Here are the CRCs of the patched files:

      131072  b37c3ea8  Pop Breaker (JP) [GG2SMS].sms
      262144  b672ae7a  Berlin no Kabe - The Berlin Wall (JP) [GG2SMS].sms
      131072  f5d98348  Frogger [Proto] [GG2SMS].sms


And that's a preview of the naming I'll give them in SMS Checker in a few minutes.

Regarding the hacks, they're pretty good. I'd suggest removing the SEGA logo screens since they wouldn't be there on an SMS version. The garbage on scrolling in Frogger is tricky to solve without very in-depth hacking, but a halfway solution (if you can find the right place to do it) would be to fill the appropriate tilemap space with zeroes. The only other thing to do is to move the status display sprites.

OK, I spent ages hacking this one to show I'm not all criticism and I can do this stuff when I have some time (that I could better spend on other stuff, but there we go).

; Frogger status sprites position hacks
[crc32:f5d98348]
ROM[1a28]=e0 ; life/timer x - initially b0
ROM[1a3a]=9c ; life/timer y - initially 9c

ROM[1a7b]=6c ; score x - initially 6c
ROM[1a8d]=18 ; score y - initially 18
ROM[1aa7]=18 ; score y (for last 00) - initially 18

ROM[1a5b]=10 ; lives counter x - initially 40
ROM[1a55]=9c ; lives counter y - initially 9c

ROM[1AE3]=18 ; "HELP" y - initially 18
ROM[1AE7]=18
ROM[1AEb]=18

ROM[1AEf]=e4 ; "HELP" x values - initially b4,bc,c4
ROM[1AF7]=eC
ROM[1AFf]=f4

ROM[1B11]=94 ; "LIFE" y - initially 94
ROM[1B15]=94
ROM[1B19]=94
ROM[1B21]=e0 ; "LIFE" x - initially b0,b8,c0
ROM[1B29]=e8
ROM[1B31]=f0

ROM[1B39]=08 ; Life counter frog head x - initially 38
ROM[1B1d]=9C ; Life counter frog head y - initially 9c


ROM[1B51]=3A ; "TIME OUT" y - initially 3a
ROM[1B55]=3A
ROM[1B59]=3A
ROM[1B5d]=3A
ROM[1B61]=3A
ROM[1B65]=3A

ROM[1B69]=6C ; "TIME OUT" y - initially 6c,74,7c,84,...
ROM[1B71]=74
ROM[1B79]=7C
ROM[1B81]=84
ROM[1B89]=8C
ROM[1B91]=94

ROM[1bbc]=e4 ; frogs to save counter x - initially c4
ROM[1bc0]=20 ; frogs to save counter y - initially 20

meka.pat format, easy to understand, with some intially changed values. Bear in mind the 8 sprites per line limit when rearranging.

Bock: did you notice the comment regarding the overdump of Frogger?
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Post Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 12:07 pm
Maxim, thanks for the comment. Regarding the patched ROM CRCs, I wouldn't suggest adding them just yet. Your first post in this thread mentioned changing the headers, too. What exactly did you mean by that? In the "TMR SEGA" header, I did change the byte at $7FFF from showing it was a GG ROM to a SMS one in Berlin Wall and Frogger, but is there anything else that needs to be done? (Besides fixing the checksum, which I don't know how to do yet.)
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Post Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 5:08 pm
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Regarding the patched ROM CRCs, I wouldn't suggest adding them just yet.

If I dont add them, they'll just turn up anyway since your site is public and presumably someone has downloaded the patches already. I'll just have to add version numbers.
Quote
Your first post in this thread mentioned changing the headers, too. What exactly did you mean by that? In the "TMR SEGA" header, I did change the byte at $7FFF from showing it was a GG ROM to a SMS one in Berlin Wall and Frogger, but is there anything else that needs to be done? (Besides fixing the checksum, which I don't know how to do yet.)

Get my header reader here and it'll tell you what the checksum is supposed to be. (There are plenty of other checksum calculators but mine is more pretty and has loads of documentation included.) That's all that's missing for it to pass an export BIOS's checks. If there was room, you could add an SDSC header but that won't be easy without relocating some stuff.
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Post Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 10:04 am
Maxim, thanks for the sprite locations for Frogger, and the header program. (You missed the TIME tiles in the bonus round, but don't worry, I found them.) I'll release newer IPS files sometime (next weekend) with the fixed sprites and headers (and checksums) so they should work on an export SMS.

Currently, I'm working on converting two classics to the SMS: Pac-Man and Power Strike II/ GG Aleste II. Not too many problems, I just have to do some troubleshooting and data hunting.

GG Aleste II is a great game, and it works nicely on the SMS. Too bad about the export title screen, though; it looks terrible.

This:
got changed to this: . Pathetic.

What I would love to do (if the tiles weren't compressed X-P) would look something more fitting, like this:
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 11:52 am
Damn, what you are doing is unbelievable! - I'm gonna download those patches right now!
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Post Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 6:46 pm
I'd be interested in seeing GGT runnin on a SMS ; )
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Post Posted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 3:04 am
This is sweet!

I'm going to get my bills taken care of and order a flash cart ASAP now that Frogger is available!

I know I shouldn't request stuff and be a pain, but the GG Shinobi games would be excellent!

Thank you!
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Post Posted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 9:50 am
Thanks.

Yes, I'll try to keep on hacking. It's been slow going this month, with work. I miss my winter holidays... (I had 10 days off and I did nothing but relax, read, hack, and program. Then work starts again and I have no energy to finish up the hacks that I've been working on.)

With enough encouragement, I'll try to get GG Aleste II and Pac-Man finished up, and then I'll look for another game to work on.
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Post Posted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 10:32 am
Without wishing to knock Chris' achievements (they are difficult hacks to do), people do need to realise that he's only hacking games that tend to work well at an SMS screen size. Most GG games were designed to update the tilemap just off-screen; when you enlarge them to the SMS screen size, you find that most of the screen contains invalid data, or parts of the level that you've already pased that make it very confusing to play. Emulators that allow you to "unmask" the GG screen, or view the tilemap, allow you to see what games are hackable this way.

I did look at Gunstar Heroes as a possibility for hacking to work on SMS (I was thinking of making a fake TecToy version), and it'd be almost impossible to do without access to the source. I think some of the TecToy "hacks" did need access to source, though.
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:22 am
OK, folks. I finally finished up the projects that I was working on, so here are GG->SMS conversions of GG Power Strike II (GG Aleste II) and Pac-Man. You can find them here:

http://disgruntleddesigner.com/chrisc/segahacking/gg2sms.html

These hacks were not so difficult as to take 2 months; it's just that during January I did almost no hacking. But then I tried out the new debugger in MEKA and it made the job so much easier! Thanks, Bock! (A note to Eric Quinn: I did try out MesaDX specifically because it had a debugger, but yes, it was a bit difficult to use, and the debugger seemed to halt for no reason every time I got to the title screen of some game.)

Anyway, enjoy the conversions and please tell me what you think. I'll write up about their technical aspects in my hacking diary sometime later.

Ah, also, I updated the other games (Frogger, Berlin Wall, Pop Breaker) to fix the checksums.
------
And yeah, of course I'm picking the games that have an easy to adapt screen layout. Some games that show garbage outside of the GG's window seem a little tough for now. Probably sometime in the future, I'll look into hacking a game's screen-drawing functions. I'm sure that it's entirely possible to hack a game's initial pointers so that it draws a level from the edge of the screen, and that it draws the full width of the screen. But I do worry after that's done whether the game will show garbage at the beginning or end of the current level's map; that's the problem...
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 2:56 pm
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I'm sure that it's entirely possible to hack a game's initial pointers so that it draws a level from the edge of the screen, and that it draws the full width of the screen.

If the game's drawing code is drawing more than one column at a time then it's likely to be very difficult to modify for 1-column updates (to look like a "proper" SMS game). As you mention, constraining the view to valid data is also a problem; in my SMS Sonic mapping hack I disabled these contraints sometimes and in general, going out of the valid level area would cause sufficient damage to memory structures that glitches would appear in the valid level area when scrolled back.
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:09 pm
ccovell wrote
OK, folks. I finally finished up the projects that I was working on, so here are GG->SMS conversions of GG Power Strike II (GG Aleste II) and Pac-Man. You can find them here:


Hey, massively cool! Pac-man for SMS!! Thanks Chris!
 
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 8:20 pm
Yeah, couldn't have said that better : ) Thank you very much!
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 9:36 pm
Do you have a list of known bugs in the patches? For one thing, the Power Strike/Aleste II Sega bumper screen has the wrong colour for half of the screen.

I cheated in Pac-Man (MEM[C180]=ff) and it seems to have no ending. The third "reward" screen repeated three times and then seemed never to come back again.

The checksum in Pac-Man may not be OK, because the header specifies a 128KB range. Your just-less-than-48KB trimmed version will almost certainly fail on a real system as a result (the only way it'd pass would be if padded to 128KB with zeroes, maybe); set the last nibble of the header to C and it'll only checksum 32KB.
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 1:37 am
Maxim wrote
Do you have a list of known bugs in the patches? For one thing, the Power Strike/Aleste II Sega bumper screen has the wrong colour for half of the screen.


Not on the real hardware it doesn't. Or did you test the game on your SMS and got the wrong colour on the bottom half? If so, that's a problem. Most emulators seem also to fail the country test, which worked fine on my MD and GG.

Maxim wrote
I cheated in Pac-Man (MEM[C180]=ff) and it seems to have no ending. The third "reward" screen repeated three times and then seemed never to come back again.


Yes, I did try to search for the ending, since I did see some extra graphics tiles that suggested a nice smiling Pac-Man ending. Perhaps you have to collect all the fruit, or finish without dying, or something?

Maxim wrote
The checksum in Pac-Man may not be OK, because the header specifies a 128KB range. Your just-less-than-48KB trimmed version will almost certainly fail on a real system as a result (the only way it'd pass would be if padded to 128KB with zeroes, maybe); set the last nibble of the header to C and it'll only checksum 32KB.


Did your IPS patcher trim it to less-than-48k? I trimmed my original down to exactly 48k. I should change the header, since the game clearly just uses 48k. Does anybody know what the original dumped version had? A 64k ROM? 128k? Zeroes after 48k?
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 9:38 am
ccovell wrote
Maxim wrote
the Power Strike/Aleste II Sega bumper screen has the wrong colour for half of the screen.

Not on the real hardware it doesn't.

I didn't try on hardware, but it seems odd for it to act that way. I think your target audience is mostly using emulators anyway. Is it not just a palette issue?

Anyway, as I suggested before, a true (export) SMS game doesn't have a SEGA bumper because the BIOS does that.

ccovell wrote
Most emulators seem also to fail the country test, which worked fine on my MD and GG.

You mean Aleste II vs. Power Strike II? That seems to work fine in Meka, at least. I was half expecting you to force it to Aleste mode, though, due to the PSII logo ugliness.

ccovell wrote
I did see some extra graphics tiles that suggested a nice smiling Pac-Man ending. Perhaps you have to collect all the fruit, or finish without dying, or something?

Well, you can get more than one fruit per level and I cetainly didn't go hunting for it. I played up to 150,000 points without dying, and the fruit had stopped changing (the last fruit is a key). I thought maybe the screen you found was for 2-player mode. Someone with a low boredom threshold can try it, perhaps.

ccovell wrote
Did your IPS patcher trim it to less-than-48k? I trimmed my original down to exactly 48k. I should change the header, since the game clearly just uses 48k. Does anybody know what the original dumped version had? A 64k ROM? 128k? Zeroes after 48k?

It trimmed down to 47.9KB or so (roughly, I'm not at home now). What does your patcher do?

It's not unusual for games to have oversized ROMs - a lot of the later production runs (mostly of 128KB and 256KB games) were on 512KB ROMs. The "true" size of the game then becomes hard to ascertain; should the dump be a true reflection of the contents of the ROM, or just the nearest 16KB necessary? Anyway, given that it has a 128KB rom size field in the header, it seems it must have been padded to at least 128KB on the ROM. A redump would help to confirm it.
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 2:41 pm
Maxim wrote
I think your target audience is mostly using emulators anyway. Is it not just a palette issue?

Anyway, as I suggested before, a true (export) SMS game doesn't have a SEGA bumper because the BIOS does that.


I don't think it's a palette issue; I believe the game is turning off the BG mid-way down the screen to give the logo a place to hide. Anyway, it works mostly fine in EmuKon.

But at any rate, I'm not making these hacks for playing on emulators. People can already play their favourite GG game in an emulator, so why would they need an SMS conversion of it? I'm hacking them for playing on the real SMS hardware since -- as we can see above -- emulators aren't perfect.

As for the SEGA logo at the beginning, I don't want to remove anything from a game just to hide its origins or to make it look like a real "Tec-Toy" release. ;) A few SMS games seem to have a SEGA bumper in them too, like Daffy Duck, X-Men Mojo, etc. No sense removing something that looks cool. ;)

Maxim wrote
You mean Aleste II vs. Power Strike II? That seems to work fine in Meka, at least. I was half expecting you to force it to Aleste mode, though, due to the PSII logo ugliness.


Yes, I was soooo tempted to do that, but I thought a) it would confuse people about whether their PSII ROM would work with the patch, or whether they'd have to find the GG Aleste II ROM; and b) the original game had a working country detection, so the conversion should too.

Maxim wrote
It trimmed down to 47.9KB or so (roughly, I'm not at home now). What does your patcher do?


My patcher trims it to exactly 48k. I'm using "ips XP" for WinXP, and it seems to work nicely. I'm sorry if the IPS files don't work well with other patchers.
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:13 pm
I'll try it on hardware this evening. In Meka, I get a black turned-off-screen on your hack but not on the GG version. I thought it was using tilemap location switching, but either way would probably work.

Your idea for a modified title screen would be the best solution to the ugliness, but that would require a bit of work to code a compressor/decompressor.

I'm not sure if an Aleste II cartridge has been dumped. Power Strike II does country-detect for both regions but its header specifies it as an Export ROM image which usually means it's different to the domestic release. As it is, any "Aleste II" and "Power Strike II" roms people might have are in fact the same data (except for a bad dump which doesn't run anyway).

IPS is a nasty format but there's no real competition to it. The format is poorly specified so tools tend not to produce the same output. The best thing you can do is to specify the checksum of the file before and after patching and to recommend the patcher that you know will do the patching, for those of us having difficulties. If the format just specified these two CRCs it could fail gracefully instead of dumbly patching anything. Actually, it'd be easy to add that to the format in the same way truncation was added, but I'm not about to do it.

Manually inspecting the IPS file, it does specify truncation to 48KB. I'll throw away my patcher and get a better one.

IPS XP is hard to find these days - the site has been down since 2003. I found a copy at zophar.net, and it's a nasty XP-looking installer-using VB monster, and even then it's just a frontend for UIPS. So maybe I'll use that instead.
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Border color
Post Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 11:12 pm
Maxim wrote
I'll try it on hardware this evening. In Meka, I get a black turned-off-screen on your hack but not on the GG version. I thought it was using tilemap location switching, but either way would probably work.


Wow. This is a stupid bug in MEKA (it's there since 0.10, I remember adding this code). Basically in SMS mode, whenever screen was disabled I was filling with black. Whereas in GG mode filling with border color (which is right). This difference is nonsense. It's fixed for next release.

What surprise that is that no SMS game exhibited an incorrect display behavior when always filling with black. Gotta think that all games set border color to a black color when disabling the screen.
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:12 pm
Sorry for the massive bumb, but I wonder if it'd be possible to convert games like the GG Shinobis, Phantasy Star Gaiden, Shining Force Gaiden III: Final Conflict or Megaman to Master System.
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:49 pm
First check how it looks with the "GG border" removed. In Meka, you do that by inspecting the tilemap window. Games that don't update near the screen edges will not be hackable (without 100x effort).
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:49 am
Christuserloeser wrote
Sorry for the massive bumb, but I wonder if it'd be possible to convert games like the GG Shinobis, Phantasy Star Gaiden, Shining Force Gaiden III: Final Conflict or Megaman to Master System.


Only Shinobi would be possible, the others all write garbage data to the borders like Maxim said (except for Megaman, haven't tried that one myself).
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:30 am
Chris C wrote

You can check out screenshots and some more info from the link below.



Cannot download that game.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:19 pm
Link fixed.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:59 pm
Sorry if my links get old. By the way, my "disgruntleddesigner.com/chrisc" domain is going to disappear someday, so my friend is redirecting all pages with that path to: www.chrismcovell.com

So just to be safe (until the next change?) the correct link is http://www.chrismcovell.com/segahacking/gg2sms.html
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:43 pm
Thanks for doing these great hacks! FYI, someone has been dumping them as .gg files, so they need to be renamed to .sms to work. And apparently GG Aleste 2/PS2 on a the Genesis Everdrive crashes at the first boss if the ship goes outside the playing area (i.e.top of screen). Seems to work fine on my GG Everdrive though :D

-Segasonicfan
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