Handheld Underground


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.)


The Return of Li Cheng 2015 (pt1)

posted by taizou @ 2015-09-20 20:52:17 Dumps

Got a few more dumps of Li Cheng releases of various games today - including a couple hopefully people will find interesting.

It's kind of a shame that I can only bring you these bad title hacks instead of the original releases of the games, but.. maybe someday!

Chao Jinhua Shuma Baolong - Zuanshi Ban (超進化 数码暴龙-钻石版) (CBA012)

Okay so this first one is just Digimon D3 again. Please try to contain your excitement.

raw: Chao Jinhua Shuma Baolong - Zuanshi Ban (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA012) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Chao Jinhua Shuma Baolong - Zuanshi Ban (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA012) [Fixed].zip

Taikong Zhanshi - Jingdian Ban (太空战士经典版) (CBA063)

Now here's something new, and something that could have been great in the right hands - an attempted port of the Mega Drive game Barver Battle Saga: Taikong Zhanshi. Sadly this port is garbage, and I don't say that lightly.

It's developed by the same "Tian Cai Xiao Zi" team as a bunch of other dubious RPGs, but even by their standards it's a bit of a mess. AFAIK there was also a version published by Sintax with different graphics, which I don't have to hand right now, but I really hope it looks better than this version.

Oh and the music (all three tracks of it) seems to be stolen, bizarrely, from "Pocket Voice 2.0", a voice recorder cartridge by Bung; but one of the tracks was also used in ROM intros by the release group Paradox (where it's credited to "Blackbox"), so its true origins remain mysterious for now..

raw: Taikong Zhanshi - Jingdian Ban (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA063) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Taikong Zhanshi - Jingdian Ban (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA063) [Fixed].zip

Xin Shediao Yingxiong Chuan (新射雕英雄传) (CBA090)

Another Tian Cai Xiao Zi game, based on the novel Legend of the Condor Heroes. This one is much better made than the previous, but it does suffer from a very unfortunate bug which causes the music (stolen from Telefang this time) to mess up horribly when the text printing sound effect plays. This has been confirmed to happen on the real cart - it may have been introduced by the Li Cheng release though.

Interestingly, not only does this game open with a Sintax logo (several TCXZ games were originally released by Sintax in China) but I received it in the original Sintax box (bearing the same title without the "Xin"), despite the cart inside being 100% Li Cheng. I'm not sure if this is evidence of cooperation between the two companies though - or if it was just a case of the seller mixing and matching the box and cart for the same game.

raw: Xin Shediao Yingxiong Chuan (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA090) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Xin Shediao Yingxiong Chuan (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA090) [Fixed].zip

Xin Guangming Yu Hei'an 2 - Zhushen De Yichan (光明與黑暗2-諸神的遺產) (CBA095)

..And here's another Tian Cai Xiao Zi RPG, falling somewhere in between the previous two in terms of production values (and thankfully without the sound bug). Allegedly it's based on Sega's Shining series somehow, but I'm not particularly familiar with those games so I have no idea if it's ripping off any particular entry.

raw: Xin Guangming Yu Hei'an 2 - Zhushen De Yichan (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA095) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Xin Guangming Yu Hei'an 2 - Zhushen De Yichan (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA095) [Fixed].zip

Tezhong Budui (特种部队) / Teshu Budui 2001 (特殊部队2001) (CBA100)

Just Metal Slug 2001 - which has been dumped for a long-ass time - with a different title screen. Still, it's a fun enough game, for what it is. Li Cheng didn't bother protecting this one at all, so even the raw dump works fine in any emulator - my fix just tweaks the header to remove the SRAM it never uses.

Incidentally the title on the box/cart differs slightly from the one on the title screen, hence the two titles here. both of them roughly translate to "Special Forces" though.

raw: Tezhong Budui (Teshu Budui 2001) (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA100) [Raw Dump].zip
header fix: Tezhong Budui (Teshu Budui 2001) (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA100) [Header Fix].zip

Taikong Zhanshi DX3 - Zuizhong Huanxian (太空战士DX3-最终幻想) (CBA145)

this is an interesting one! It's a (bad) title hack of a game originally known as "Final Fantaxy IX", a heavily FF9-based beat 'em up/RPG hybrid. The original version was released by "TD Software", but it seems to have been developed by the same team (possibly BBD) behind Sintax's early stuff. and much like their other early beat 'em ups, it's very well-made if a bit repetitive.

raw: Taikong Zhanshi DX3 - Zuizhong Huanxiang (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA145) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Taikong Zhanshi DX3 - Zuizhong Huanxiang (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA145) [Fixed].zip

Tezhong Budui 2 - Jidi (特种部队2-基地) / Teshu Budui 2 - Jidi (特殊部队2-基地) (CBA146)

and now: the game better known as Terrifying 911, aka Too Soon: the video game. originally released (and developed?) by Hitek, on the market at least by June 2002, using actual footage of an attack that killed thousands less than a year previous. bad taste? i'll say.

but underneath all that, there's a surprisingly faithful port of Metal Slug 1. Compared to other unlicensed Metal Slug games it's in a whole different league - just about everything is here, the original levels, weapon upgrades, bosses, prisoners to rescue, and even the Metal Slug itself have been retained.

And yet this was (as far as I know) Hitek's only action game - the rest of their output on the Game Boy consisted mostly of RPGs, strategy games, board games and the like. I believe it was also their only game released in English, but this is the Chinese version (and naturally a shoddy title hack thereof).

raw: Tezhong Budui 2 - Jidi (Teshu Budui 2 - Jidi) (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA146) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Tezhong Budui 2 - Jidi (Teshu Budui 2 - Jidi) (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA146) [Fixed].zip

[finally, just to note that I am aware my previous fixed version of of Gangdan Wuyu 2 crashes after level 2 and may have other issues - I'm looking into it!]


Merry Sintaxmas 2014!

posted by taizou @ 2014-12-25 23:19:16 Dumps

bet you didn't think it'd be back! I didn't even think it'd be back. but here it is! Sintax Claus has visited us once again and his sack is full of dubious games:

Qi Long Zhu Z 3 (七龍珠Z3) / Dragon Ball - Advance Adventure

This is something you don't see very often - an attempt at a port from Sintax, rather than an original game and/or lazy reskin of a previous game loosely based around whatever property they're ripping off. So the game being ported is the pretty excellent Dragon Ball: Advance(d) Adventure for the GBA; I've previously dumped a (yes) lazy reskin of this game posing as "Bynasty Warriors 5" but this is the original.

raw: Qi Long Zhu Z 3 (Dragon Ball - Advance Adventure) (Unlicensed, Chinese) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Qi Long Zhu Z 3 (Dragon Ball - Advance Adventure) (Unlicensed, Chinese) [Fixed].zip

Yuenan Zhanyi X - Shenru Dihou (越南戰役X-深入敵後)

Now this one is interesting - it appears to have started life as a followup of sorts to Vast Fame's quality Mega Man-clone Zook Hero series, titled something like "洛克英雄传3" or "Rock Hero Legend 3". I have no idea if Vast Fame approved of these shenanigans, but they may well have done, given that they're known to have worked with Sintax in the past. This is a Metal Slugified version of that game, but it still retains plenty of signs of its origins; perhaps inevitably it's nowhere near as good as the Vast Fame games that inspired it though.

raw: Yuenan Zhanyi X - Shenru Dihou (Unlicensed, Chinese) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Yuenan Zhanyi X - Shenru Dihou (Unlicensed, Chinese) [Fixed].zip

Lao Fuzi Chuanqi (老夫子傳奇)

Hey it's this engine again. Taking the starring roles this time are "Spudz" and "Master", of the popular Chinese comic Old Master Q; the official translation of Spudz' name these days seems to be the overly-literal "Big Potato" but for once I like Sintax's version way better.

raw: Lao Fuzi Chuanqi (Unlicensed, Chinese) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Lao Fuzi Chuanqi (Unlicensed, Chinese) [Fixed].zip

Digimon Crystal II

I've previously dumped the Chinese version of this game, but here's an English one! I love English Sintax games. They're the best. But they're also much harder to find than the Chinese versions. :(

raw: Digimon Crystal II (Unlicensed, English) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Digimon Crystal II (Unlicensed, English) [Fixed].zip

There was another one with boats in it as well but it only differs from a previous dump in the title screen and a few backgrounds and I didn't manage to hack out the protection in time. maybe later!


Mega Drive dump!! Super Tank War

posted by taizou @ 2014-12-11 00:04:06 Dumps

Okay so this is a tiiiny bit out of the usual scope of this site here, since it's not technically a handheld game, but... there are certainly handheld versions of the console this game is for, even if it wasn't designed that way originally, so it almost counts. And this is has kind of become my de facto ROM-dumping blog anyway, it's just that until now I've only had Game Boy stuff to post. so here's a thing:

it's Super Tank War, a pretty rare Mega Drive (or Genesis if you're American) game by Gamtec. As with many unlicensed Mega Drive games, it's quite rare - literally the only copy I've ever seen documented anywhere is the one I own, and recorded this video from. It's also pretty much a Battle City clone, which is not an entirely surprising thing for them to have made, considering the popularity of Battle City and its hacks in Taiwan and other Famiclone-heavy markets, not to mention the fact that Gamtec had already made such a clone for the NES, variously known as either "King Tank" or "Super City Tank".

The actual ROM is 256KB, but at that size (in current emulators at least) the music and most of the sound effects don't play; something similar was recently found to be afflicting Link Dragon, and the solution simply appears to be doubling up the ROM to 512KB. Presumably this is some kind of unemulated quirk of the Gamtec mapper, and it's doing something like mirroring 00000-3FFFF at 40000-7FFFF and reading the music from the latter.. for some reason (my knowledge of Mega Drive stuff is pretty much zero, as may be apparent, so I'm not really sure why they would do this, or if that even makes sense in MD terms). But anyway I'm releasing both the 256KB ROM as the proper dump and a 512KB as a hack to get the music working, similar to what I do with raw and fixed dumps of Game Boy games.

Dumped by chôkai from my cart - also special thanks to Raistlin for arranging things.

raw dump: Super Tank War (Unlicensed) [Raw Dump].zip
512k version/sound fix: Super Tank War (Unlicensed) [Sound Fix].zip


li cheng extravaganza ~ part 5

posted by taizou @ 2014-09-25 20:55:01 Dumps

here we go again! more Li Cheng stuff and, in my opinion, probably the best set so far (mostly because of one particular game)

Mo Jie 3 - Bu Wanme De Shijie 魔戒3-不完美的世界 (CBA089)

This is a sort-of Lord of the Rings game by Vast Fame based on their previously dumped Emo Dao, except reconfigured to be entirely linear, with the map screen cut out. This also means there are no shops (despite enemies still dropping money) and no items, although you are granted a weapon upgrade for the final boss.

Also I poked around in the ROM a bit and there seems to be a title screen and intro text for an English version, "Fellowship of the Rings"; I've never seen this version, but hey maybe it's out there. Or maybe there's some way to enable it in this ROM!

raw: Mo Jie 3 - Bu Wanme De Shijie (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA089) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Mo Jie 3 - Bu Wanme De Shijie (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA089) [Fixed].zip

Luoke Ren DX6 洛克人DX6 (CBA091)

THIS is what I'm talking about. It's ZOOK HERO Z hell yeah 🎉🎊🌠🐯

if you aren't familiar with this one, it's Vast Fame's very first platform game, the first in their "Zook" series of Mega Man (X) clones (the second being the more widely known Zook Hero 2/Rockman DX3), the first game to rip off Mega Man 5's sound engine (which Vast Fame basically made their own), and generally just a really good game with great music and you should totally play it.

raw: Luoke Ren DX6 (Unlicensed, Japanese) (CBA091) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Luoke Ren DX6 (Unlicensed, Japanese) (CBA091) [Fixed].zip

Shuma Baobei DX6 数码宝贝DX6 (CBA097)

Some kind of RPG, heavily based on Digimon Adventure 02: D-1 Tamers for the WonderSwan Color, and developed by the same SKOB-affiliated team as Mingzhu Koudai Guaishou 2/Digimon D4. This is one of their later efforts and seems to be much better than their earlier stuff, although I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing in it.

interesting(?) aside: all of the characters' names appear to have been changed, either to dodge copyright or because the developers were just fucking around; Ryo and Taichi have become 榮恩 (Ron) and 哈利 (Harry) respectively, but I'm not sure of the origins of the rest.

raw: Shuma Baobei DX6 (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA097) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Shuma Baobei DX6 (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA097) [Fixed].zip

Shi Mian Maifu - Fengyun Pian 十面埋伏-风云篇 (CBA147)

And finally! This is another instalment in the "Shi Mian Maifu" RPG series by Tian Cai Xiao Zi (maybe?), using Vast Fame's San Guo Zhi engine and music from Telefang. I have no idea how they got their hands on the engine, and it's nowhere near as good as Vast Fame's own games, but maybe you could get some enjoyment out of this if you know Chinese.

Thanks to Shazam for supplying the cart!

raw: Shi Mian Maifu - Fengyun Pian (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA147) [Raw Dump].zip
fixed: Shi Mian Maifu - Fengyun Pian (Unlicensed, Chinese) (CBA147) [Fixed].zip

..so that wraps up the planned five-part Li Cheng ExtravaXingXing™ BUT of course that's not the end of Li Cheng. they could never be contained within a mere five parts. so stick around and maybe at some indeterminate point in the future i'll have some more of this stuff!