Original Post

During the last coding competition a new member going by the nickname Red Metal joined planetvb. He planned to submit a VB port of Snatcher, a game that I had never heard of. After 7 post he stopped writing updates. Almost exactly one year ago someone else posted that Red Metal had passed away.

That post choked me up quite a bit. I had never talked to him but from his post I could tell that he was a very nice person. I felt like I missed my chance to get to know him. I tried to express that in a post but somehow my words felt meaningless to me.

It sparked an idea though… I could create a Snatcher port in his memory. So I started learning about the game and all the different versions. After playing it for a bit I came to the conclusion that it’s too complex. But somehow I couldn’t let the idea go.

One year and something like 200-300 hours of work later I have a first demo done. You can play up to the point where you leave for Alton Plaza. The Jordan Computer, inventory and shooting games are fully working. I had to skip the save feature and the video phone for now. To my knowledge it is furthers a homebrew Snatcher port has ever gotten.

Here are some features:
– Dynamic dialog system with alternating answers
– Dynamic inventory (Select button) that reacts to people in the room
– Every image has been converted to 3D
– PCM music and sound effects
– In game Jordan computer fully working
– Shooting games fully ported

Special Thanks go to:
– Bigmak and Minestorm for testing.
– Horvat for sharing his PCM code. In the end I wrote my own but it sure helped allot.
– Benjamin Stevens for testing and helping out with the transcripts.

I’m well aware that there are some imperfections in the game. I will continue polishing what is there and extending it until the game is fully completed. Even if it takes till the 25th vb anniversary.

I hope this is something Red Metal would have enjoyed playing.

Happy 20th anniversary everyone.

http://youtu.be/HbE8Zg908u4

99 Replies

Yes I remember Red Metals concept as well, and I actually wasn’t aware of his passing. I am amazed by the progress and dedication to complete his dream. This game will be one of the top games on VB for sure. Please tell me that it will be able to be sold in cartridge form when it’s released because having a click’n’play style game on VB has always been a great idea! πŸ™‚

Since the game has never been available in any other languages than Japanese and English, have you thought about a multilingual release? Would be awesome to play this in German. πŸ™‚

It’s nothing fancy, I will happily share my multilanguage code if this is of any help.

thunderstruck wrote:
There is actually one easteregg in the Jordan computer because I forgot to take it out.

Easteregg hunt, everybody! πŸ˜€

thunderstruck wrote:
The image conversion is a half automated process. The conversion to redscale vb images happens automatically, but I need to draw a depth map for the stereoscopic images. I got quite fast at drawing those with photoshop. My converter uses the depthmap to generate a stereo SBS image.

Really cool that you write your own specialized tools for all kind of purposes! I assume the converter still needs some post-processing in cases where the stereo conversion generates gaps? Or does some kind of magic algorithm fill up those missing pixels?

KR155E wrote:
Since the game has never been available in any other languages than Japanese and English, have you thought about a multilingual release? Would be awesome to play this in German. πŸ™‚

Most of the text is stored in a generic xml model right now. The same text exist in multiple xml files as a xml file represents one dialog tree. When exported to vb format it ends up in one giant header file without duplicates. Some text are hardcoded (like the dialog when the inventory is empty), others are stored in text files that are exported to vb files (like the computer text and the dialog in the shooting games). While a translation could be done by translating all of those sources, there is really allot of text in the game.

KR155E wrote:
Easteregg hunt, everybody! πŸ˜€

There might be even more.

KR155E wrote:
Really cool that you write your own specialized tools for all kind of purposes! I assume the converter still needs some post-processing in cases where the stereo conversion generates gaps? Or does some kind of magic algorithm fill up those missing pixels?

I really need to make a separate post about all the supporting tools and make an interest check. I use a free library that allows the conversion from 2D to 3D images using depth maps. A depth map is a black and white image that contains the information at which depth a particular object is. There is no post processing. You just define the maximum pixel displacement (which more or less defines the depth of the image) and the tool will create the SBS image.

Dreammary wrote:
I am amazed by the progress and dedication to complete his dream.

Red Metal was actually planning to make a different game. He wanted to create a port of the MSX version. While I decided to make a something in his memory, I’m not intending to fulfill his dream. You simply can not follow someone else’s dream.

Dreammary wrote:
Please tell me that it will be able to be sold in cartridge form when it’s released because having a click’n’play style game on VB has always been a great idea! πŸ™‚

Unless Konami legally allows me to sell their intellectual property I will not try to monetize this in any way.

Dreammary wrote:
Please tell me that it will be able to be sold in cartridge form when it’s released because having a click’n’play style game on VB has always been a great idea! πŸ™‚

Another issue with making it in cart form to sell…is it’s size.

Thunder has done an amazing job of making his demo fit on a flashboy. But, if you think of the length of the story…you can see that the final game will be huge.

32 mbit boards have been developed, but I would have to think that multiple carts would have to be made to fit this game on carts.

I’ve talked to Thunder and he expressed a keen interest in releasing the game in ‘parts’ that can be placed on the flashboy. This is great news, to truly experience the 3-d that thunder has put in this game..it needs to be played on hardware.

-Eric

The gillian-got-a-gun 3-d shot is one of my favorite ones so far..gun really pop’s out of the screen.

-Eric

If it’s possible to put this on one of the larger carts, I would LOVE to own this. There must be a way!

hawk1010 wrote:
If it’s possible to put this on one of the larger carts, I would LOVE to own this. There must be a way!

Well, the current demo still fits on a regular flashboy. Since I compressed the music and the images a bit there is still space left for more. We will see how far I can get with that.

Thanks to Minestorm I can actually test 4mb roms on hardware. However, as Eric stated, I intend to release the game in 2mb parts as well so that everyone can play it. I will have to see how I do the transition between roms.

This will be the best homebrew on VB, hands down nothing can compete. I’m sorry but a fighter (Hyper Fighting) game has nothing on a full adventure click’n’play.
Three parts is a cool idea, but if it was possible to own a full cart of a three parts even if limited supply it would be amazing.

This is what I meant (the green circle in the attached image), that part is not present in the original image, so the converter must have some kind of algorithm to fill in missing pixels. So cool, I am looking forward to read about your tools when you get around to write about them, thunder.

VBmills wrote:
Thunder you made the news at retro collect.

http://www.retrocollect.com/News/konamis-cult-classic-snatcher-ported-to-nintendo-virtual-boy.html

Plus a few dozen other sites following the retrocollect post. πŸ™‚

thunderstruck wrote:
Well, the current demo still fits on a regular flashboy. Since I compressed the music and the images a bit there is still space left for more. We will see how far I can get with that.

What kind of compression did you use? I recently talked about image compression with jorgeche and we came to the conclusive guess that it’s not practical on the VB. I’d love to hear how you managed to compress your images. πŸ™‚

thunderstruck wrote:
I intend to release the game in 2mb parts as well so that everyone can play it. I will have to see how I do the transition between roms.

That’s a great thing to do. You could release the parts one by one, each one when it’s done, like an episodic release. Since the FlashBoy Plus’ SRAM is not touched by the flasher, each part can simply pick up the savegame of the previous part and continue from there.

Attachments:

KR155E wrote:
What kind of compression did you use? I recently talked about image compression with jorgeche and we came to the conclusive guess that it’s not practical on the VB. I’d love to hear how you managed to compress your images. πŸ™‚

I use a very simple compression for the music. Basically, repeating values are only stored once and are followed by counter that tells me how often to repeat the value. There’s a bit more to it but that’s the core. It saves 10 – 40% of space. The sound effects usually have the higher compression rates.

The images are a bit tricky as the dialogs are tool generated. To save space I check which images are almost the same (like mika with her eyes open and closed). I then store a main image and sub-images (e.g. only mikas eyes). This makes it difficult to control the amount of chars needed in the char memory as a main image may have many sub-images (harries room for example). So I decided to not store bgmaps and manipulate the charmem directly. Thereby I know exactly how many chars are stored there and the bgmap can simply be generated in code. However, the absence of bgmaps leads to lots of data as the chars are stored for every (sub)-image independent from each other. So what I do is I create one giant charset that contains all the chars for all the images but every char only once. I then create a map (basically like a bgmap) that tells me which char goes where.

So technically I don’t compress the images. I just use them in way that saves space and gives me control at the same time.

In theory I could compress the images the same way I do with the music. However, the sub images make this a bit complicated as I have to access the main image when switching from on sub to another. Basically I need to revert the chars that came with the old sub and write the chars that come with the new one in one loop. Handling compression at the same time would make this slow again. There is not enough wram left to store the uncompressed main image in memory.

I find this version of Snatcher by far the best for two reasons. For one it’s 3d for another since it’s red it allows the user to create the color. The colors in Snatcher the cd game are quite dated but this version the player after a long period of time the player starts to see modern colors. I am wondering are there any plans for battery back up? In closing It just seems that the homebrew is getting better and better. You really cannot call these two last games homebrew at all it’s more like something far greater some kind of hybrid.

  • This reply was modified 9 years, 2 months ago by Morintari.

thunderstruck wrote:
I use a free library that allows the conversion from 2D to 3D images using depth maps.

I’m looking forward to getting more info on that. I tried to find it, to no avail…

I hope I can find the time to try this demo, soon. Does anyone here in North America want to become an apprentice VB display repair technician? (he said, only half-jokingly) πŸ˜‰

RunnerPack wrote:
Does anyone here in North America want to become an apprentice VB display repair technician? (he said, only half-jokingly) πŸ˜‰

I would love to intern under you. =)

RunnerPack wrote:

thunderstruck wrote:
I use a free library that allows the conversion from 2D to 3D images using depth maps.

I’m looking forward to getting more info on that. I tried to find it, to no avail…

It is this one: http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/257340/Creating-D-Image-from-DepthMap

There is sample project that you can use to try things out. The lib itself is very easy to use. As I said before, I have the best results when the original image is double the size of the target image.

Here is a video that explains how to draw depth maps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVSf22VT1t4

If there’s an interest I could polish my current tool to be usable by everyone. It already does the redscale, size scaling and charset conversion. It’s just a bit Snatcher specific right now.

Gonintendo.com posted this today.

http://www.gonintendo.com/s/251354-random-time-fans-work-on-porting-snatcher-to-virtual-boy

Always love to see other sites like gonintendo.com spread the good news about this project.

Unfortunately all the posters on the topic are saying a lot of hatred for VB. πŸ™

don’t worry about that because gonintendo.com is known for having a bunch of immature trolls just posting negative comments since they got nothing better to do.

ANYWAYS, guess who else picked up on the story and is still on the front page?

http://kotaku.com/snatcher-now-on-virtual-boy-1698873665

tetris911 wrote:
don’t worry about that because gonintendo.com is known for having a bunch of immature trolls just posting negative comments since they got nothing better to do.

Yeah, that’s putting it mildly. I post there every once in awhile, but I steer clear mostly due to the blind “N” loyalty. If this was an unreleased “N” translation and was being released on the 3DS or WiiU Virtual Console, they would have been all over it.

The VB by nature has a very limited fan base, so of course the standard person playing games today is not going to be interested, but at least so called “N” fans should be happy to see a game like this getting made.

The VB could have had a much different life if games like this had come out originally, or if the great “N” hadn’t thrown in the towel so soon after release.

 

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