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

1 Comments

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.

Colour:

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.

Mono:

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

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VAST FAME GBA EXPLOSION

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.)

14 Comments

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!]

38 Comments

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!

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