Handheld Underground

Sintax's English Treasures

posted by taizou @ 2016-09-26 00:54:43 Dumps

So it's my favourite time of the year! The time I find some games in English!
All of these games have been dumped in Chinese before (or as a title variant, in one case), but now I can read them!
Special thanx to Svetlana for her help in obtaining the first three games! She is cool & also makes cool music

General note - the reason I've listed two titles for each of these games is that, in typical Sintax style, the name on the label (and presumably the box, where one existed) never matches the one on the title screen. So I've given the label title first, with the title screen title second. Except for the third one where I don't actually know what the original label title was (more on that later).

2003 Lion King Advance 3 / The King Lion III 2003 Advance

First up! THIS GAME IS ABOUT ME Okay so I guess this game is about some other lion asshole or something. It's pretty heavily based on the old official Lion King game, mostly consisting of fairly large open platforming levels, although unlike that game you have to collect a series of gemstones scattered around the levels instead of proceeding to a boss fight at a fixed point. It does mix it up a bit with a short chase stage which seems Simba pursued by an enormous buffalo though. And there's no adult Simba sprite in this game at all (.. kinda like the official NES game then). Also it kinda sucks tbh

Raw dump: 2003 Lion King Advance 3 (The King Lion III 2003 Advance) (Unl).zip
Unprotected: 2003 Lion King Advance 3 (The King Lion III 2003 Advance) (Unl) [Fixed].zip

Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring / King of Ring

This is one of Sintax's more interesting games, having a definite Zelda 2 vibe about it with its mix of a top-down RPG-style overworld and side-scrolling action. I can't say I find the action stages particularly enjoyable, but hey at least they tried something a bit different. This game also benefits more than the others from being in English, since there are various NPCs to interact with and other bits of useful text scattered around. Except for the item/magic names which they forgot to translate. oh well.

Incidentally the label on the cart here is basically just a copy of the Fellowship of the Ring movie poster, with none of Sintax's entertainingly weird design, so I would guess it was published by someone else. But probably not 'New Game Color Advance', who published Pokemon Sapphire and some other stuff, because the style doesn't match up with their known releases. Mysterious!

Raw dump: The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (King of Ring) (Unl).zip
Unprotected: The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (King of Ring) (Unl) [Fixed].zip

Super Marrio Sunshine

This is. This is a thing right here. It came in a cart labelled as 'Mickey's Speedway USA', in a lot of games I'd only bought to get at Lion King 3. But that unassuming cart revealed something far more magical. Super Marrio Sunshine! Despite the promises made by its name, it is identical to the previously dumped Super Mario Bros clone Donkey Kong 5, but with two important differences:

  1. The title screen!
  2. It's slightly broken!

That's right! If you hit the flagpole (or, uh, bell-rope, as it is here) ANYWHERE other than the very bottom, you get an instant game over. You're forced instead to simply shuffle through the bottom and accept the measly 100 points to continue the game. And yes that's not an emulation bug, I have confirmed this behaviour on the real cart. Thanks Sintax!

(Oh and if you were wondering - the Mickey's Speedway label appears to have been the result of some label-swapping shenanigans by a previous owner of the cart, which sadly resulted in the Marrio Sunshine label being lost to the mists of time)

Raw dump: Super Marrio Sunshine (Unl).zip
Unprotected: Super Marrio Sunshine (Unl) [Fixed].zip

The second edition Harry Boy: The secretx of the chamber of secrets / Harry Boy and the Chamber of Secrets

This one was dumped by Robert Bannister who also provided a picture of the cart which you can see at the right. It's another variant of the Super Mario Bros clone engine as seen in Donkey Kong 5/Super Marrio Sunshine, except you play as Harry Potter - starting out as a frog (in a manner probably-coincidentally reminiscent of the NES SMB hack 'Frog Prince'), with pieces of meat returning you to Harry form, because uh sure why not.

Incidentally, according to Sintax's numbering this one is "ST-0206002E", which would make it the second game they released (after Super Robot War X) and their first on this engine.

Raw dump: The second edition Harry Boy - The secretx of the chamber of secrets (Harry Boy and the Chamber of Secrets) (Unl).zip
Unprotected: The second edition Harry Boy - The secretx of the chamber of secrets (Harry Boy and the Chamber of Secrets) (Unl) [Fixed].zip


Vast Fame multicarts dumped!

posted by taizou @ 2016-09-05 00:56:39 Dumps

So, recently I added support for a multicart mapper to my Game Boy emulator hhugboy. You may be wondering at this point (unless you've been following me on Twitter, or read the emulator readme, where I kinda gave the game away) - why? THIS is why:

Yin Ban Zhongwen RPG Zhanlüe + Dongzuo + Yizhi 12 in 1 (銀版中文RPG戰略+動作+益智12in1)

that's right - 12 whole games from Vast Fame! This cart was the source of my Shi Kong Xing Shou and Xin Feng Shen Bang dumps, but I recently figured out how to dump the whole thing (with the help of a custom-built cable and a modified version of Brian Provinciano's gblinkdl software).

The multicart mapper and menu (featuring music stolen from Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible) don't seem to have been created by Vast Fame, and certainly aren't specific to their carts, having shown up on numerous generic multis too. Presumably these carts were produced towards the end of Vast Fame's life, and as far as I know they were only released in Taiwan.

Most of these games have been dumped in some form by now, but there's one kinda-new one, Digimon Pocket; it's similar to the previously dumped Chong Wu Xiao Jing Ling (aka Pokemon Ruby) but with new maps and obviously Digimonified. Its intro and map screen also features music obviously nowhere near Vast Fame's usual standards, not sure what's up with that. It gets better once you get into the game though. There are also two interesting variations here - Zook Hero 2, the original version of the game released elsewhere as "Rockman DX3", and an alternate version of Soul Falchion with a different title screen and Super Fighter 2001's soundtrack.

And then there are the mono games, about which - if you know your unlicensed GB stuff - you may be thinking "weren't those by Gowin?" Well, yes they were released by Gowin, but they were developed in the early 90s by staff involved with the whole Gamtec/Chuanpu melange from which Vast Fame would later emerge. It looks like they shopped them around a few publishers before finding Gowin; the Gowin releases contain (mostly) unused logos for Syntek Ltd, and Top Secret here has an unused copyright to Sonling (Songtly) and Jumbo, the same duo credited for the Mega Drive version of Fire Dragon. The versions on this cart all seem to be earlier revisions than those released by Gowin, with some featuring severe bugs.

ROM: Yin Ban Zhongwen RPG Zhanlve + Dongzuo + Yizhi 12 in 1 (Unl).zip

But that's not all! Would you believe there's something even bigger out there..

Shishang Chaoqiang RPG + Gedou + Yizhi Ban Zuhe Ka 18 in 1 (史上超強RPG+格鬥+益智版組合卡18in1)

Yep, they released an even bigger multicart, adding the first Zook game (the original version!), both installments of their Richman series, a couple more RPGs, the Harry Potter 2/3 reskin Qi Tian Da Sheng, and one more mono game. This isn't quite their entire library - they made at least one Pokemon and two Digimon games that aren't present on either cart (in addition to Digimon Pocket, which is only on the 12 in 1), and their earlier fighting games Super Fighter S, Queen Fighter 2000 and Super Fighter 2001 Alpha are missing too. Presumably copyright is the reason for Digimon, Pokemon and Super Fighter's absence; but Queen Fighter is if anything less ripoff-y than Soul Falchion, so I'm not sure why that didn't make the cut. But even with those few missing, it's a damn fine selection of games from the GB's best unlicensed developer.

Big thanks to Shamboozle for lending me this one!

ROM: Shishang Chaoqiang RPG + Gedou + Yizhi Ban Zuhe Ka 18 in 1 (Unl).zip

36 in 1 (SL36-0032)

This one is perhaps less interesting, it's just a generic multicart; it has (fairly common, buggy) Chinese translations of Pokemon Gold and Silver, plus a selection of 34 mono games. But it helped me understand more about the mapper, including how it handles banked SRAM (like Pokemon's) and MBC1/MBC5 incompatibilities (which affect Rolan's Curse and other mono games), so it was useful in its way. It's also kinda interesting in that it was released by "SL", a company that published several of Vast Fame's games in Mainland China.

ROM: 36 in 1 (SL36-0032) (Unl).zip

Split games

Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, it's all well and good that I can play these on your weird emulator, but what if I want to play them on something that can record videos or that runs on my phone or my Bingoo A420 or whatever? Don't worry, I got you covered~

So these are separate versions of any game (or variant thereof) not previously released, with header fixes where necessary; most of the games using SRAM don't have the correct header values to allow them to save in most emulators.


For completeness, here are links to the five other colour games, which were previously ripped from multicarts by me:
Sheng Shou Wu Yu, Xin Feng Shen Bang & Shi Kong Xing Shou, E Mo Dao, Qi Tian Da Sheng.


And that's it! Six years after Shi Kong Xing Shou, we finally have Vast Fame multicarts completely dumped and emulated!


hhugboy v1.1.1 release

posted by taizou @ 2016-09-04 20:43:11 hhugboy

a small update - this fixes the Li Cheng release Sanguozhi Wudai, which had issues with dialogue boxes not appearing, and also adds support for the Korean-only collection cart Bomberman Selection, which features colourised version of Bomber Boy and Bomberman GB, the latter with a (pretty bad) English translation not seen anywhere else.

get it here!


hhugboy v1.1 release!

posted by taizou @ 2016-08-30 01:19:05 hhugboy

hey I made a new version of hhugboy again! This one adds support for a certain type of multicart with menus that look like this:

and that play music from Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible, aka Revelations: The Demon Slayer. I've taken to calling these "Last Bible multicarts" for this reason, given that I have no other unique identifier to refer to them by.

Most notably, this type of cart was used by a certain vastly famous unlicensed developer for a series of multicarts containing their own games.

🐯 But wait! None of these carts are dumped yet?

🦁 ooh you'll just have to wait and see won't you

There are also a few smaller fixes, incuding savestates in Sintax games, and a bunch of refactoring was done in the mapper code which hopefully hasn't broken anything but will make it way easier to add new mappers in future.

I've also moved the project to GitHub from BitBucket - the repo on BitBucket will no longer be updated & I will probably make it private later to avoid confusion.

You can find the new version here!



posted by taizou @ 2016-06-26 22:51:37 Dumps

YES! After a ton of work which I probably will write a blog post on at some point - Vast Fame GBA games are HERE!

To cut a long story short - these games are copy protected and can't be fully dumped using normal equipment/software, but I was able to dump them by observing the protection's initialisation routine in No$GBA, replicating it on a real GBA and dumping the ROM through the GBA itself using an Xboo cable (super thanks to Robyn for that suggestion!). But even with the games dumped, there's a bunch of other protection in place, which I implemented in endrift's excellent GBA emulator mGBA. So these dumps are now supported in mGBA nightly builds from 2016-06-26 onwards!

Unlike my previous GBC releases, I have NOT (yet?) prepared a version of these games with the copy protection hacked out. I may or may not do that later, but don't hold your breath too much. This means these dumps will not work on any emulator that does not implement Vast Fame's protection (i.e. any emulator other than mGBA, as of this writing) and they also will not work on flash carts.

Zook Man ZX4 / Luke Ren ZX4 路克人ZX4

After that one, uhm, underwhelming semi-unofficial entry by Sintax, Zook is back for reals! You may know this game better as Rockman & Crystal; this is the Taiwanese release. For those unfamiliar with Zook, it's a series of Mega Man clones, and this one takes most of its inspiration from the X series. And I like it a lot! Okay it obviously was rushed (spoilers? there's no unique last boss, only a boss rush, and the Zero-ish dude from the first stage never shows up again) and jacks a lot of graphics from elsewhere, but they nailed the controls really well, and there's plenty of variety. And the music is p cool as usual for Vast Fame.

Zook Man ZX4 (Luke Ren ZX4) (Unlicensed, Chinese).zip

Juezhan Sanguo 決戰三國

An interesting strategy RPG based on the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. Haven't played too much of this one, but its copy protection is implemented slightly differently from the others.

Juezhan Sanguo (Unlicensed, Chinese).zip

Digimon Rury / Digimon Ruby

The famous(?) RPG with barely-comprehensible dialogue. A dump of this game is already available, but it comes from a later reprint with the copy protection hacked out. This is the original! It's the proper size (hacked dump is 32MB, the game is really 8MB) and may be less buggy (e.g. the hacked dump crashes and resets on the ending screen) but I haven't tested it thoroughly so can't confirm that.

Digimon Ruby (Digimon Rury) (Unlicensed, English).zip

There are several other Vast Fame GBA games which remain undumped, though - these are the known ones:

If you have any of these games and would like them to be dumped, please contact me! Email, Twitter, or just leave a comment here.

(For Digimon Sapphire - if you bought it brand new from a Chinese reseller from the late 2000s onwards, and it goes to a black screen after completing a level, it's probably not the original version I'm looking for. But if you're not sure, let me know and I'll help you figure it out.)