Handheld Underground

THE KING IS BACK

posted by taizou @ 2020-12-16 02:00:08 Dumps

The year is 2003. We've got three hours and twenty minutes to spare, a regrettably gigantic cinema Pepsi, and an appetite for a fantasy epic. Of course, there's only one thing that'll do...

It's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King! But wait: this doesn't look like the multi-Oscar-winning film, and it doesn't quite look like the multi-7/10-winning licensed GBA game either?

If you've been around here a while, you may already recognise this: it's the English version of Vast Fame's Mo Jie Qi Bing! That's right, the TRUE king has returned!

Yes!! It's not a Sintax game! It's a good game! A real game! A game that's not just a graphic swap of another game! A game with original music and graphics that's coherent and makes sense and isn't broken! This is SUCH a breath of fresh air.

From the title, we can probably assume this was released after the official Two Towers GBA game, but before the official Return of the King game, giving it a release window of somewhere between late 2002 and late 2003. Sadly, this meant it had a pretty short shelf life, and makes it super hard to find today, since it has the same title as the much more widespread (and widely-pirated) official game. The giveaway is that the cartridge and box use the Lord of the Rings logo from the earlier, book-licensed Fellowship of the Ring GBA game, coupled with imagery from The Two Towers posters.

It almost feels unfair to hold this up against Sintax's GBA games, because the difference is SO vast. But I'm gonna do it anyway. This is a game with five playable characters, each with unique upgradeable attacks and special moves, 8 distinct levels, most with two sub-levels, 8 unique bosses each with dialogue, a mini-boss, a raft stage, weather effects, cutscenes, tons of great music tracks... and most importantly, it's actually fun, and well made, and doesn't have any showstopping bugs. It's just on a completely different level.

All the playable characters have modified names from their LOTR equivalents - this is the same in the Chinese version and was deliberate, they didn't just mistranslate them. This seems slightly redundant if intended as a legal dodge, since the English version just straight up uses the "Lord of the Rings" title, and both versions are stuffed full of movie stills and promo shots. If it wasn't for that, it honestly could've passed as a separate (very loose) adaptation from the books, since the hand-drawn character illustrations and sprites don't much resemble their film counterparts either.

Now, I have to mention one thing here: they didn't build this game completely from scratch. The engine actually comes from the GBA game Kiki Kaikai Advance (aka Pocky & Rocky with Becky), and was apparently obtained legitimately by Vast Fame. But this is no simple reskin - almost everything has been completely redone and expanded. I would say it even looks better than the original, with more detailed, colourful graphics. Is it a bit jankier in places? I mean, yeah! But, you know, the pressures of this kind of under-the-table development inevitably means some corners have to be cut. They really didn't cut many corners at all, though, and even... added corners of their own, in places. Like the raft stage, which, interestingly, resembles something that existed in the SNES Pocky & Rocky, but never made it into the GBA sequel. So, it seems Vast Fame even paid a little homage to previous entries in the series that gave them their engine.

That's really the kind of care and attention that set them apart from their contemporaries. They were making, essentially, a black market product, destined to be sold cheaply and anonymously - they could easily have just phoned it in, jacked some sprites from the previous LOTR games, dropped them into Pocky & Rocky and sold it like that. No doubt they would've been paid the same. But they didn't! They made something which can more than hold its own against the GBA's licensed library. That's pretty remarkable.

As per all copy protected Vast Fame games, this will only work in mGBA, specifically v0.7.0 or later. Enjoy a decent game for once!

Download: The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King (Unl) (Eng).zip

19 Comments

Spider Kong

posted by taizou @ 2020-12-08 02:19:47 Dumps

So this might be my last batch of generic reskinned Sintax GBA platformers! Let's get these fuckers out the door!

Movie Version - Spider-Man 3

This is a fairly unusual one. I mean, not the game, that's exactly like all the others, obviously. What's unusual here is that Sintax directly recycled a title and artwork from one of their previous Game Boy Color games. Usually they'd at least change the number. Anyway, naturally, the two games are otherwise unrelated, and the Game Boy Color one is much more interesting.

Download: Movie Version - Spider-Man 3 (Unl) (Eng) [YJ restored].zip

Donkey Kong 2

He has no style, he has no grace / This Kong is a fucking disgrace

Download: Donkey Kong 2 (Unl) (Eng) [YJ restored].zip

Harry Potter IV

Finally: the last ethical Harry Potter game! Step into the wizarding world(?) safe in the knowledge that JK Rowling isn't seeing a penny of royalties from this thing.

Download: Harry Potter IV (Unl) (Eng) [YJ restored].zip

Ha Li Bo Te IV (哈利波特IV)

Thanks to yy小龙虾 for this dump!

This is the Chinese version of the above game. Only the title screen seems to be different.

Download: Ha Li Bo Te IV (Unl) (Chi) [YJ restored].zip

4 Comments

hhugboy v1.3.0 release!!

posted by taizou @ 2020-10-29 22:27:52 hhugboy

Thanks almost entirely to the contributions of NewRisingSun, I have a pretty gigantic hhugboy update to release today!

It now supports Sachen MMC1, Sachen MMC2, Mani M161, Mani MMM01, Rocket Games and Wisdom Tree mappers! Wow! (there was some support for MMM01 previously but it was basically completely wrong and didn't work)

Also: you can now use bootstrap ROMs, several bugs have been fixed, and the default controls now make more sense.

Get it here!

6 Comments

It's not ogre yet

posted by taizou @ 2020-09-28 00:41:33 Dumps

after that brief respite, I'm back on the Sintax GBA train with...

Shrek Prezessin!!

(and no, nobody knows what "Prezessin" means, the best anyone can figure out is it's a misspelling of the German "Prinzessin")

This cart actually contains the Russian version of the game, titled "Шрек - мак-самосейка" (Shrek - mak-samoseyka). Lots of clashing graphics ripped from all over the place in this one. The Shrek sprite is from "Shrek: Hassle at the Castle", if you were wondering.

Download: Shrek Prezessin (Shrek - mak-samoseyka) (Unl) (Rus) [YJ restored].zip

Thanks to yy小龙虾, we also have a dump of the Chinese version, called "史瑞克 II - 虞美人" (Shi Rui Ke II - Yu Mei Ren). Despite the "II", nothing seems to be different apart from the title screen.

Download: Shi Rui Ke II - Yu Mei Ren (Unl) (Chn) [YJ restored].zip

6 Comments

Hrrrrnnggh Colonel, I'm trying to infringe copyright but I'm dummy thicc and the clap from my ass cheeks keeps alerting the lawyers

posted by taizou @ 2020-09-24 17:08:08 Dumps

Is everyone bored of Sintax GBA games yet? I know I am!!

Then, instead, let's look back a few years and one console generation... to when Sintax was good. Sort of.

Many thanks to NewRisingSun for providing this cart!

This is Matel Gear II, the English version of Hei Jing Zhuan Bei II, which I dumped a long time ago. And yes, in a practically unprecedented bout of consistency, it's spelled that way on both the label and title screen. It had also been listed by Sintax in some places as "Eraq War II", but I've never seen a cartridge under that title.

Basically, this is Metal Gear recast as a kind of beat 'em up with RPG elements. Absolutely zero stealth here. But it uses the same decent beat 'em up engine from Sintax's Three Kingdoms games, so it remains pretty fun.

As with most games on this engine, it has four playable characters, meaning all of your Metal Gear faves make an appearance:

It's been a while since I've released something for a non-advanced kind of Game Boy, so here's the drill ROM-wise:

Raw: Matel Gear II (Unl) (Eng) [C] [Raw].zip
GBX: Matel Gear II (Unl) (Eng) [C] [GBX].zip
Cracked: Matel Gear II (Unl) (Eng) [C] [Cracked].zip

8 Comments