Handheld Underground

new dump: Super Donkey Kong 3!

posted by taizou @ 2017-07-31 00:51:47 Dumps

So quite a while back I posted a video of a game entitled Super Donkey Kong 5 by Makon. This was basically an attempt at porting 4 stages from Donkey Kong Country 3, with the typical bad colour palette found in most early Makon GBC games.

But it wasn't the original! Before that there was a mono version with a different stage order, simply titled "Super Donkey Kong 3" (the same name as the Japanese version of DKC3) and released on a single cart even more simply titled "Donkey Kong 3". Needless to say, this release was often overlooked (including by me) as being nothing more than a pirate copy of Donkey Kong Land 3, and has remained fairly elusive.

But! JP Ronny recently picked up a multicart containing this game, was cool enough to lend it to me, and I was able to extract it! So here we go:

It seems to have been built on Sonic 3D Blast 5 (even sharing its header name) and will run in any emulator that supports that game.

Download: Super Donkey Kong 3 (Unl) (Multicart Rip).zip


Update 2017-08-02: Emulator fixed version!

So the reason the raw dump doesn't work in many emulators is that Makon used a PRETTY clever variant on a common protection trick.

As a little background, the Game Boy ROM header contains some metadata, such as ROM size and cartridge type, which is never actually read by the console. A cartridge with incorrect values in these positions will run just fine on a Game Boy. However, emulators and copiers usually rely on the header to figure out how to handle a given ROM - meaning they will fail if these values are incorrect.

It was relatively common for unlicensed companies to set deliberately incorrect values in the header, providing a simple deterrent to casual piracy. But if you're able to dump such a cartridge, it's usually sufficient to fix the header values to allow it to work normally in emulators (as long as it has no other copy protection).

This game and Sonic 5 both have incorrect header values, and emulators that support them just override these values, so I assumed doing the same in the ROM would be a quick fix. And yet.. if I did that, it wouldn't boot. Which left me mystified for a good while. Maybe there was some code checking the header hadn't been tampered with?

But no - even sneakier than that - what Makon did here was actually place frequently-used EXECUTABLE CODE in the header position, meaning any attempt to fix the header would break the game entirely.

So in the end what I had to do was move that code elsewhere and replace all the references to it, allowing me to then update the header untrammelled, and giving you (finally) a .. somewhat more emulator-compatible bad Donkey Kong game. Enjoy!

Download: Super Donkey Kong 3 (Unl) (Multicart Rip) [Emu Fix].zip

Also: the multicart!

The cartridge this game was found on is titled "Matchless 23 in 1 (A)", and presumably was released sometime in 1998 shortly before the Game Boy Color (since it contains '98 release James Bond 007, but lacks any 'color' reference, which post-GBC multicarts nearly always have). It has 18 unique games, with the remaining 5 being repeats under different titles.

I was able to dump this too, but the mapper is unemulated, so it doesn't work beyond the menu (except Snoopy!)

Download: Matchless 23 in 1 A (Unl).zip

One interesting thing I was able to pull out of the multicart ROM, though, is a list of 208 titles for repeats, 128 of them unique; presumably this means variants of this cart with more-inflated game counts may have been produced, featuring such classics as BIG WOLF and OLD KARATEKA.



1posted by PocketBox3 @ 2017-08-03 18:28:16

So does this mean Makon's protection has been cracked and you can dump some of their other games? Or is this one different?

2posted by taizou @ 2017-08-04 10:15:51

This one is different but I'm makon progress on the others