Original Post

Is it possible to port games on the Virtual Boy? Is there any tools that can make that hapens? Not talking about create games, but port. I would gradly try to do it if some tools where avaliable. Personaly, i think that the the old Vectrex and the japanese WonderSwan (whit black and white screams) would provide some great games for us. Most of it are so so games, but there are some great gems between them.

Down here, the games list, see if you don’t agree whit me:

  • This topic was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by GDCES1984.
  • This topic was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by GDCES1984.
4 Replies

The idea that games can be “ported” to another system is a fairly modern concept. When video game systems started becoming more powerful (and especially when they began to share similar architecture to computers), the amount of work to “port” a game to a different system was sometimes worth the effort. However, things become more complicated when you start looking at the retro 16-bit and earlier systems.

The first thing to understand is that there is no easy “tool” to port games. Modern games are ported by rewriting the system-specific code, renderer, and hardware specific features for another piece of hardware. Even that generalises the work too much, it’s still a tremendous amount of work to do, but it’s in the realm of possibility. There isn’t an easy way to do this even on modern systems.

With older systems, the hardware is extremely limited, and games were designed specifically with a systems hardware in mind. On the surface, it looks like all these systems are the same. They’re monochrome, have similar buttons, play similar sounds, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The way the graphics are produced, how much space you have to store graphics in memory, how backgrounds and sprites work, how the audio hardware works and is played back, all of these things and more are for that one system. There comes a point where you’re no longer “porting” a game and are rewriting it from scratch, which is the next point I want to bring up.

In an ideal world, you have the source code and assets to a game, and maybe, with a lot of work, you’d be able to do something and turn it into something similar on a different system. But with these games, there’s no source code, and even if there was, it would very likely be in a CPU-specific assembly language. The best resource you have to understanding how a game works is using a debugger and disassembler, and, trust me, that’s not fun. You would probably have more success learning a foreign language from zero than disassembling a game to the point where you could understand it enough to reimplement it in its entirety. It has been done, by groups of very talented people for beloved games, but it’s not for the weak hearted. It’s in the realm of difficulty where, if you have to ask how to get started, you don’t have what it takes to do it.

But it gets crazier. Once you’ve disassembled, documented, and understood the game in its entirety, you need to write the entire game from scratch.

That’s right, you need to rewrite every instruction, or reimplement the entire game in a high level language, 100% from scratch.

At that point, you might be best off writing the game from scratch from what you see of it, creating a new engine, and putting recreated assets into a game, which would still take hundreds, if not thousands, of man hours.

The other option is attempting to write an emulator to play older games on more powerful systems, but that’s another can of worms, and in the end, what do you get out of it? Games for other systems were never designed for the VB. They don’t use 3D or depth in any way, and in a best-case scenario you would just have the same game but now it’s tinted red and being shone right into your eyes. If that’s the end goal, you can probably configure emulators to use a custom red palette and call it a day.

But, if you’re serious, and you want to “port” games, the tools are here, they always have been.

Cutter is an extremely powerful reverse engineering tool that can target a variety of different architectures, including the gameboy’s Z80 CPU and the WonderSwan (It uses an intel clone).
The Virtual Boy Development Page has a links and downloads to extremely high quality and well documented tools to start developing for the Virtual Boy.
Mednafen is an emulator that supports debugging of various consoles, including the Virtual Boy and WonderSwan. It’s probably the best emulator you’re going to find for this sort of work on these systems.
WSMan is the best public resource on how the WonderSwan works. There’s other documents in the works, but this’ll get you started.

My final thoughts are that, in the homebrew world, I think I’d rather see new and original concepts for these systems.

Yes, indeed “ported” games is a modern concept and older consoles used to had their own versions of games. But i would say that is not a new thing. Old Sega Genesis games where ported to Sega Master System and Game gear several times. Just whit downgrades. And it happened even in the 4-bit Generation era.
I know that is way diferent how those consoles worked. But the fact that these wonderswan (and oders) are monochome should make things much more compatible, whit much less incompatibilities to happens in the graphic area.

Well, i was startting to give up… You sounded like something impossible. But then you came whit the “other option”!
I Had a Virtual boy until a few Years a go. I solded and i regret to this day. To the point that i never forget it. I will buy one now and pay those prices. And believe-me, they are really hy for me here in my country because of the actual currency. Something like 4, 5 times what you would pay. I want to do that, i can do it and i will. But to so, i need more. I loved the system and aways bothered me to think what could had been. How much fun could we hadded whit this. But you know… Why did i sel it? Because there are so few games. I was so used to them. If we want to have fun whit this toy like we always thinked that we could had, we have to move ouselves. I’am a guy who love old games and emulators and love modern games as whell. Seing older platforms and see the homebrew scene of each one of them, i can tell you that we are way behind. Consoles like Dreamcast, Jaguar, Super Nintendo, Genesis, Master System, Nes and even older ones like the 2600, colecovision or the awesome Vectrex. Man, the Vectress homebrew scene… If we stop to talk about that we would take some time. I’ts fantastic. I know that we have some valuabe man arround here. But what difers us from them? Whell, much of those consoles exemples that i gave are considered failures, but none of them sold so little than VB. Maybe Vectrex, not sure. We are so few… What maide-me want to come back is those news about that link cable, a few new fantastic games and that awesome HyperFlash32 cartrige. Fantastic work. You see? I saw these news and now i’,m here talking to you. But we need more people trying to doing some more. It can’t be in the hands of so few. And we must organize if we want more content. I realy want to play more sports games, more platforming, fighting or racing games on my VB. Maybe a beat em up too, dont know…

So, i do igree whit you. A lot. I actually knew that i could’nt do a game from nothing. And i think that all new games would be fantastic. Much more than just ported ones. But i think that port games can be done and, if there are tools and if they are possible to be learnded to anyone normal and whell intended, why not try to do something myself, if i want so much? My idea is just give to us all more options to use our VBs. That is something that i felt that i could try to do. We need more games if we awant to preserve Virtual Boy. And we cant ignore possiblities if we have so litle options to play. The “port” idea came from those Hyper Fight and VB Racing games that i discover that exist recently. Come on. I dont have to say what game Hyper Fight is. VB Racing is Out Run from Genesis/Mega Drive. So it can be done. And that Out Run version is prety beatifull whit all the deep profundity that VB can give to our eyes.

And why i want to do that? Because is a contribuition. Because, some how, this can estimulate the comunity. Can estimulate more people to came. Serious indie developers to look to our efforts to VB and release something here too. More programers that love VB out there to do something. It’s a start!!! Come on. How man games you have seeing made or release in the past 25 yars? I don’t know nothing now, but i’m close to my vacation and will have a lot of time. I will start to learn and i’m realy passionate.

And i think this can be done if more people organize and help. Some guys to make the serious programing stuff. Someone to help whit artistic stuff. Someone to translate japanese. Someone to capture and eddit screams….

You gave all the start information that i need. Hope that is someone reading this and enjoy this idea. It would be nice have companion!

  • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by GDCES1984.
  • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by GDCES1984.

Yes, indeed “ported” games is a modern concept and older games used to had their own versions of games. But i would say that is not a new thing. Old Sega Genesis games where ported to Sega Master System and Game gear several times. Just whit downgrades. And it happened even in the 4-bit Generation era.

My point is that these games are not ported. They are 100% written from scratch; I doubt any of the code in these code bases are shared because the architecture is different. The graphics and audio, too, were all remade for these sorts of games.

And i think this can be done if more people organize and help. Some guys to make the serious programing stuff. Someone to help whit artistic stuff. Someone to translate japanese. Someone to capture and eddit screams….
You gave all the start information that i need. Hope that is someone reading this and enjoy this idea. It would be nice have companion!

I don’t mean to be mean, but I don’t think you will get anyone who will do any of this work for free. The amount of work is in the thousands of hours, and none of it is easy. It would cost thousands of dollars a month to pay someone to do the equivalent amount of work if they were employed. If you are serious about this, the best thing I could recommend is trying to make a small game on the Virtual Boy yourself and see from there if it’s something you want to do. Go into it expecting to have to do everything, all the programming, all the graphics, and all the music yourself. In the end, you might come out with something you enjoy doing, or you might realise it’s not for you.

  • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Kresna.

I’m no expert. But i easily could show some exemples from the brazilian exclusive market sega games and its lates 90’s releases…

I know. You talked nicely. Don’t worry. But i desagree whit you. In fact, new released games made from knowhere you may be rigth. But thats not the idea rigth know. I’ts the final goal. The pro stuff. I can tell you that a lot of people make things excencially for passion. Homebrew scenes is basically that. Do you have heard of Mugen Games? No Mugen game is charged. It’s basically mount games using this tool that uses 2d sprites from fighting games. No one charges for thoose and fantastic games where made. Just because. Just for fun.

Course that is not easy and i can’t garantee that i will suceed. The doutb is even more if i actually do this alone. I’ts an idea that is given and will ramain here. Don’t know even that i will be alive tomorrow. The sugestion you gave will work fine and i apreciated. Will start will basic stuff to learn. Maybe in a couple of years i show up here to show some nice material to get help in a game! Thanks!

  • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by GDCES1984.

 

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