Romhacking.net

Romhacking => Personal Projects => Topic started by: 4lorn on October 12, 2020, 03:07:57 PM

Title: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: 4lorn on October 12, 2020, 03:07:57 PM
Hello.

Konami has released (https://www.gog.com/game/konami_collectors_series_castlevania_contra) their Collector's Series through GOG on September 25, 2020 and it's been met with mixed criticism, to put it lightly.

Taken on its own, it's a nice grouping of some of the most defining games of the studio during the 8-bit era. But look beyond the surface and you'll find inconsistent files (the NES game Jackal is included but inaccessible in the program), a lackluster interface, problematic emulation and text issues still not fixed in the original games. Other problems, such as being locked at 640x480 resolution, a black screen when Alt-Tabbing which often forces players to quit the program and poor gamepad compatibility, are also present.

Not being a programmer I can't fix the technical issues. However, I did my best in other areas and am now sharing my work.

I've reworked the graphical interface, fixed several textual inconsistencies and typos in Simon's Quest and Dracula's Curse, and updated the manual. I also gathered a handful of old promotional material and commercials of the games, and took the liberty to create *.svg (Scalable Vector Graphics) files of the game's logos. As a "why the hell not?" bonus, I also made DVD box and disc templates for anyone who'd like to print these out in the event they'd want a physical release of this version.

I'd like to point out that while my work on the compilation itself is not extensive per se, it still involved editing the individual games' code to update the text, figuring out how the frontend stored images and then implement and test the changes. The improvements may not feel like they are very substantial but it took me close to a week to work them in - and if someone who's not a programmer could do it in a week, you have to wonder, other than erasing any trace of Nintendo from the games on display so they probably wouldn't have to pay them a dime, what Konami has been doing for the past 18 years, which is when they originally released this compilation.

The patch itself is provided separately from the optional content. Both can be downloaded from Google Drive. The patch can be downloaded from here (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PCVtiXjBO0uUlU2jgw3kItXeLDL5Zgji/view?usp=sharing) (Clickteam installer); the optional content can be found here (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1AxfWX2D9Y7lH_pmje3TtkPqQhAnY9YRo?usp=sharing).

None of the above excuses nor justifies the money being asked by Konami, but at least it makes it nicer to look at, I hope. Here are the main differences (original on the left, edits on the right):

(https://i.ibb.co/dbZ3sCF/1Title.png) (https://ibb.co/dbZ3sCF)  (https://i.ibb.co/yygZZhh/sample-1.png) (https://ibb.co/yygZZhh)
(https://i.ibb.co/8sJChbw/2Menu.png) (https://ibb.co/8sJChbw)  (https://i.ibb.co/6DknD24/sample-2.png) (https://ibb.co/6DknD24)
(https://i.ibb.co/3BGFf6R/3Game.png) (https://ibb.co/3BGFf6R)  (https://i.ibb.co/9pg8kFV/sample-3.png) (https://ibb.co/9pg8kFV)

If you encounter any bug or any other issue, please comment on this thread. If you can reproduce the error, please specify the steps required to do so; if you can provide screenshots, even better. You can also drop me a PM here.

Also here's what's actually changed in the games themselves (image because I'm a dummy using tables in forums):

(https://i.ibb.co/Y01Wztt/Untitled.png) (https://ibb.co/Y01Wztt)

I would have submitted this to RHDN but it's not accepting PC submissions at this time, it seems.


Title: Re: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: Vanya on October 12, 2020, 07:28:24 PM
It's a valiant effort, but I fear you'll get met with a lot of "just play these on a better emulator" sort of reactions.
For what it's worth things do look a bit better.
Title: Re: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: 4lorn on October 13, 2020, 07:49:32 AM
Quote from: Vanya on October 12, 2020, 07:28:24 PM
It's a valiant effort, but I fear you'll get met with a lot of "just play these on a better emulator" sort of reactions.
For what it's worth things do look a bit better.

Thanks. I just had some time to spare, being slightly bedridden at the moment after an accident, and what better way to show how lazy modern day Konami is?

In any case, here's also some additional info about the compilation. Graphics for the frontend are interlaced . They can be easily found with Tile Molester choosing the16bpp RGB (565) Codec and 2-Dimensional mode.

The ROMS can be found within the CC.exe program. Offsets for each:

Castlevania: Offset: 1E570 - 3E56F (Block Length: 20000)
Castlevania II: Offset: 3E570 - 7E56F (Block Length: 40000)
Castlevania III: Offset: 7E570 - DE56F (Block Length: 60000)
Contra: Offset: DE570 - FE56F (Block Length: 20000)
Jackal: Offset: FE580 - 11E57F (Block Length: 20000) *
Super C: Offset: 11E580 - 15E57F (Block Length: 40000)

*Actually Jackal has a header in the previous offset, FE570. Seems weird the only game with a header is the one that's inaccessible.

These can be extracted, edited and reinserted which is how I tested out changes to Simon's Quest and Dracula's Curse. You can run these through the more recent versions of Nestopia, Mesen and FCEUX; like any other NES ROM, you need to supply a header for the emulator (and remove it before injecting it back into CC.exe).

Additionally, I don't know what emulator Konami is using but through some trial and error it seems capable of running other NES games. My sample data isn't huge; I didn't test every single NES game. But here's what I did test:

The Legend of Zelda: won't run, tested both PRG1 and PRG0
Metroid: runs garbled, can't seem to get past main screen
Ikari warriors (revA): Glitchy but seems to run (has issues updating frames when scrolling)
Ganbare Goemon: doesn't run
Ghosts'n Goblins: seems to run fine, though does show some glitches in the intro
Megaman 1: seems to run just fine
Salamander: doesn't run
Alien Syndrome: doesn't run
Parodius Da!: doesn't run

Title: Re: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: RealGaea on October 13, 2020, 09:59:42 PM
If you can do a simple mod, placing "Probotector" and "Probotector II", I'll appreciate that.

I grew up with those tin robots.
Title: Re: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: Vanya on October 13, 2020, 11:13:43 PM
Quote from: 4lorn on October 13, 2020, 07:49:32 AM
Thanks. I just had some time to spare, being slightly bedridden at the moment after an accident, and what better way to show how lazy modern day Konami is?

No better way I can think of! :D
F**KONAMI!!




Adding more roms would be  pretty neat!
Title: Re: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: 4lorn on October 14, 2020, 05:23:12 AM
Quote from: RealGaea on October 13, 2020, 09:59:42 PM
If you can do a simple mod, placing "Probotector" and "Probotector II", I'll appreciate that.

I grew up with those tin robots.

I can try that :) Editing the artwork is simple but I have to test if the Probotector ROMS will work. They should, in theory. I'll let you know soon enough.

Quote from: Vanya on October 13, 2020, 11:13:43 PM
No better way I can think of! :D
F**KONAMI!!




Adding more roms would be  pretty neat!

So far, it seems you can replace ROMS as long as the new ones keep the same size - and the emulator can handle them. The problem is that I don't know what emulator they're using and what it's capable of. It handles some games fine, others not really.

It would take a programmer to actually add functionality to the frontend so that it could read additional ROMS, and select them from the frontend. That'd be nice...
Title: Re: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: Vanya on October 14, 2020, 08:53:42 AM
I suspect it's a proprietary app optimized for the ROMs it comes with.
Title: Re: Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra - Improvement Patch
Post by: 4lorn on October 14, 2020, 09:28:59 PM
@RealGaea: Here you go. (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HWUNCxS8tKZ2AYek70GTUp2WbXPB02vZ/view?usp=sharing) As the original, it's a Clickteam patch for the GOG.com version. Artwork, dates, game names and the game data has been changed. Took me longer than I expected because I had to redraw some of the graphics and adjust the interface accordingly. It's been a while since I've played the games; I tested them for a bit and they ran fine, but please give it a spin and let me know of any issues you encounter.

Quote from: Vanya on October 14, 2020, 08:53:42 AM
I suspect it's a proprietary app optimized for the ROMs it comes with.

That might be the case, yes. Too bad; it would be cute if it could run other Konami games like Parodius. That way the executable could be retooled for additional games and different compilations.