Handheld Underground

Oppan Gangfeng style

posted by taizou @ 2022-02-20 02:09:39 Dumps

Vast Fame published games fairly directly in its native Taiwan, and so those releases can be seen as most closely reflecting what they wanted to put out into the world, with a string of (mostly) original titles issued for GBC under their own name, as well as a few more-infringing games released anonymously. However, although Taiwan certainly had a well-developed local game scene, the biggest market for Chinese-language releases was, of course, mainland China, and Vast Fame had to rely on local publishers and distributors to get their games out there.

While some of these distributors are not named, we know that by 2001 or earlier they had hooked up with Kong Feng Industries Limited (also known as Gangfeng, but the Kong Feng romanisation seems to be used most commonly by the company, so I'm going with that). This is a company probably best known for producing the "GB Boy" Game Boy clone systems, which they still make to this day, although they have long since exited the game-publishing business.

A magazine ad from 电子游戏软件 2001 issue 8 reveals that Kong Feng released Vast Fame's Shui Hu Shen Shou and Digimon Pocket in that year. Subsequent ads from 2002 issue 1 and 2002 issue 2 list further Vast Fame titles, alongside some Chinese translations of licensed games. Most of these releases used "Game GB Color" or simply "GB Color" branding.

Later releases came with "GB全彩中文" branding, later additionally identifying themselves with the Siddham script character 𑖦 (I bet your device can't display that). Although I don't believe these were openly credited to Kong Feng, they used the same PCBs, the same "SEA" back sticker, and the patent on their later shell design was registered to the same address that Kong Feng occupied at the time, so... you can draw your own conclusions there. However, under this line they seemed to move away from distributing Vast Fame games under their original titles, instead often rebranding them to latch onto big-name franchises, even when this was fairly incongrous with the game itself. (Eventually, they stopped publishing Vast Fame titles altogether and put out a string of low-quality RPGs developed by "Tian Cai Xiao Zi" using a hacked up version of VF's San Guo Zhi engine).

Now, while these cartridges were copy-protected, it turns out most of them didn't use the same protection found on Vast Fame's Taiwanese releases, but rather another variant on the well-understood type used by BBD and Hitek. So, after figuring that out I was able to emulate it pretty easily. It's supported in hhugboy 1.3.1+, named "Vast Fame secondary releases" in the "unlicensed compatibility mode" menu. In all cases I'm providing GBX and raw dumps, no deprotection hacks because they use the protection features in a non-trivial way.

(Incidentally the carts all have 32KB SRAM onboard and addressable, so I've specified that much in the GBX files, even though the games only seem to use 8)

Shu Ma Bao Long - Kou Dai Ban (數碼暴龍-口袋版)

Thanks to RocknRami for lending me this cart a long long time ago! The pic above is taken from her blog, because... if I ever took a picture when I borrowed it I sure as hell can't find it.

This is one of the earlier "Game GB Color" releases as seen in those magazine ads, released in 2001. The title translates to "Digimon Pocket Edition", although in English it's widely just known as "Digimon Pocket". Previously I dumped the same game via a Vast Fame multicart, but this version differs in a number of ways, which I'll get into later.

So this is an RPG based on Digimon, as you probably guessed. I believe this was Vast Fame's first RPG, with its Taiwanese release probably landing around 1999-2000. This was when Digimon was really hitting its stride as a multimedia phenomenon, with the Digimon Adventure anime starting its run worldwide and video games hitting various non-Nintendo platforms, of course leaving a Game Boy-sized open goal for unlicensed developers. I didn't play much of it when I dumped the multicart version previously, but since I was curious about the differences and have been getting into some bits of Digimon lately I decided to give it a bit more attention this time around and see what's what.

You start the game with a full team of 6 baby Digimon. Although they have levels, they don't gain experience by fighting; instead you earn crests through battle, which allow you to evolve one Digimon to any other Digimon of the next evolutionary stage, with each one having a fixed set of stats and moves. There are 134 total Digimon across all stages, with sprites which seem to be based on the designs used in "Digital Monster Ver. WonderSwan", which was released in March 1999, around the same time Digimon Adventure premiered in Japan. Characters from that anime appear as "gym leaders" (for want of a better term), but the setting and story doesn't seem to be based on it otherwise.

Progression is pretty simple. You travel from town to town fighting random inhabitants, gaining an evolution crest every 4 battles. Townspeople seem to cycle through a shared set of teams, and the later ones can totally wipe you out early in the game, but you can reset the cycle by leaving town. After evolving a couple of Digimon you'll be ready to take on the "gym leader" who will grant you access to the next town plus another crest for your trouble.

And that's really all there is to it; a number of other elements seem to be notably missing or unfinished. Even though there's no experience system, Digimon have a "0000/0000" meter in the stat screen, which seems to do nothing. There is a "monsters" count on the save screen, but it always remains at 000, and in any case there are no "wild" encounters nor any other way to obtain additional Digimon aside from evolving your starting six. There are also no items aside from the evolutionary crests. It's all pretty barebones and rough around the edges. It certainly shows that it was Vast Fame's first RPG, and I wouldn't be surprised if development had been rushed to catch the Digimon wave as early as possible, but at least it presumably provided some foundation for their later high-quality original works.

As for the differences to the multicart version: this release has a whole different (better) soundtrack, a few bugs are fixed, and its player character sprite is changed from Taichi to a generic cap-wearing kid. However, in both versions, Taichi appears on the title screen and Cap Kid appears as the player character's portrait. Apparently the Taiwanese single-cart release is identical to this one, in spite of its manual showing a Taichi sprite like the multicart version; this probably indicates the multicart version is an earlier build, similar to some of the other games on those carts. I'm still open to the possibility of an earlier Taiwanese print having a different revision, though; it has been sighted in the same "New GB Color" cart shells used for Vast Fame's very early releases (as well as certain hacks) and I don't think the contents of that particular version have been documented. There's also at least one English version, maybe two, but those have eluded me for a long-ass while.

Surprisingly, the ROM dump 1:1 matched a ROM that had been sitting under everyone's noses for years, inexplicably misnamed "Zelda Shi Kong Zhi Zhang (Encrypted) (Unl) [C]" in GoodGBX. So if you have that ROM, you can select the "Vast Fame secondary releases" mode in hhugboy and it will run just fine. But nevertheless I'm giving it a proper release with its proper name here.

Shu Ma Bao Long - Kou Dai Ban (Unl) (Chn) [C] [GBX].zip
Shu Ma Bao Long - Kou Dai Ban (Unl) (Chn) [C] [Raw].zip

(This cart has a DSHGGB-81 PCB and boots with a "DIGI." boot logo.)

Mo Jie Chuan Shuo (魔戒傳說)

Now we're getting into the GB全彩中文 releases, this presumably being one of the earlier ones, from 2002. Hey is this one of those Lords of the Rings I've heard so much about

Well... not really? It's actually E Mo Dao / E Mo Cheng 2, the Getsufuumaden/Castlevania hybrid, with the only apparent change being the title screen, plus the graphics for one of the intro scenes being corrupt (verified on real hardware). However in spite of that bug, the redone title screen is decent enough that I think the rework was done by Vast Fame themselves rather than being a post-hoc hack by someone else.

Vast Fame would revisit this theme later with a more comprehensive overhaul, currently dumped via a Li Cheng release, which adds a new properly LOTR-based opening cutscene, removes the map screen and makes the game totally linear instead.

Mo Jie Chuan Shuo (Unl) (Chn) [C] [GBX].zip
Mo Jie Chuan Shuo (Unl) (Chn) [C] [Raw].zip

(This cart has a DSHGGB-81 PCB and boots with a "TD-SOFT" boot logo, a strange one since that logo has also been seen in non-Vast Fame games.)

Mu Chang Wu Yu GB 6 (牧場物語GB6)

Another GB全彩中文 release. Unfortunately my copy has a low-quality reproduction label for some reason, but the original came with a gold seal that was applied to some of the mid-era carts under this line (they seemed to drop it when adopting a custom shell design for the Tian Cai Xiao Zi games).

Now we're REALLY in weird-rebrand territory. This game starts up with a series of nicely-drawn static graphics of Harvest Moon characters, and a new title screen to get you ready to enter a world of farming fun. Again, all of this appears to have been done by Vast Fame themselves; I don't know if it was their idea or done at Kong Feng's request, though.

But... Vast Fame never really made a Harvest Moon game, nor anything that would really fit the "agricultural RPG" theme at all. So what's the underlying game here? Why, sci-fi monster-collecting RPG, Shi Kong Xing Shou, of course! Yeah, why not! Maybe they were trying to do Innocent Life before Innocent Life. (does anyone even remember Innocent Life anymore? it just got left to die on the PSP while Rune Factory got 50 sequels and even outlasted its developer smh)

Mu Chang Wu Yu GB 6 (Unl) (Chn) [C] [GBX].zip
Mu Chang Wu Yu GB 6 (Unl) (Chn) [C] [Raw].zip

(This cart also has a DSHGGB-81 PCB and boots with a "DIGI." boot logo)

Digimon Sapphire

And finally! This is NOT a mainland release, but rather one of the rare few international English versions of Vast Fame games. It happens to use the same mapper as the above carts, despite having a totally different PCB and having been published by the "New Game Color Advance" company.

And this is not a rebrand either - it's basically an original Digimon strategy RPG, albeit based heavily on Vast Fame's previous original game Sheng Shou Wu Yu. It also received a rare Taiwanese release plus a mainland one under the GB全彩中文 line, which probably explains it using the same mapper here.

As usual for Vast Fame English games, the text is extremely badly translated, but just about comprehensible if you pay attention. Also the music is surprisingly messy here, with some tracks having channels out of sync, and music playing in weird locations like the Sheng Shou Wu Yu title theme playing in battle. Clearly it didn't have the same care and attention put into it that Sheng Shou itself did. But at least that solid foundation means it's got more going on than Digimon Pocket did.

You've probably noticed the cart calls this one "Digimon Saphire", but since the title screen has the correct spelling I'm going to be generous and not preserve their mistake in a ROM filename forever. You're welcome, label designer from 20 years ago.

Digimon Sapphire (Unl) (Eng) [C] [GBX].zip (GBX footer updated 22/02/2022 - new file CRC32 11B4BDE1)
Digimon Sapphire (Unl) (Eng) [C] [Raw].zip

(This cart has a BC-R1616T3P PCB and does not boot with a custom logo, despite having a "DIGI." logo at the usual spot in ROM)

13 Comments

Comments

1posted by Superfish @ 2022-02-20 04:24:10

Nice Work!

2posted by sanqui @ 2022-02-20 21:40:57

yoooo these are so good!! rock on taizou!

3posted by taizou @ 2022-02-21 00:53:01

hey glad you like them!

small update: i've added info to the post about the PCB types and custom boot logos found in each cart. I only realised today that Digimon Sapphire doesn't actually display its custom boot logo on the real cart, despite this mapper being set up to always emulate one. OK it's probably not *that* important in the scheme of things, but I might add a flag in the GBX footer for this mapper to denote the different PCB types since there is at least one apparent difference in behaviour here.

4posted by taizou @ 2022-02-21 23:23:20

ok now i realise it DOES matter because Sapphire doesn't actually load when the logo swap is used, ie if you have a GBC bootstrap rom in the same dir as hhugboy & load that game it will hang on the logo screen.... sometimes (the bootstrap detection & logo swapping behaviour is also kinda buggy)
working on a new emu version and gbx rom revision to fix all that...

5posted by taizou @ 2022-02-22 09:29:19

i have further realised that Sapphire not loading with the logo swap and all the buggy behaviour i mentioned in the previous comment was mostly a result of a stupid mistake i made when implementing this mapper SO updating Sapphire's GBX file isn't as critical as fixing the emulator... but i'm still gonna do both for accuracy's sake

6posted by taizou @ 2022-02-22 13:12:07

all done, the Sapphire GBX ROM in this post has been updated & i've released a new version of hhugboy - see https://hhug.me/?post=111

7posted by Smedis2 @ 2022-02-22 17:27:13

RECIEVE DIE

8posted by Wonder @ 2022-03-06 01:57:26

Good Game Shu Ma Bao Long ^_^

9posted by Shu Dao @ 2022-03-06 02:01:40

WOW News Games Bootleg 😁

10posted by Shu Dao @ 2022-03-06 02:08:31

Muy Chang Su Yu GB 6, Digimon Saphire, No Jie Chang Shou And Shu Ma Bao Long- Kou Dai Han It's Bootleg

11posted by Chole ❤💙💚💛💜 @ 2022-03-07 20:00:03

New Version Of hhugboy Its See Https://hhug.me/?post111, Nice 👱

12posted by Dog ZX 🐶 @ 2022-03-07 23:25:53

Oh Yeah, New Version of hhugboy, Nice 🐕

13posted by taizou @ 2022-05-05 21:09:25

If I'd done this post now I would've called it Ya Boy Kongfeng