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Super Pitfall NES (improvements)

Started by nesrocks, April 24, 2016, 01:53:23 PM

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John Enigma

Quote from: nesrocks on May 17, 2016, 01:13:44 AM
So, I have toyed around with changing Harry's design. I think I like this one. I tried to give him an identity by providing some rad mullets.

Nice. You finally got rid of his Mario-like look, and gave him a younger look. He almost looks like the Pitfall Harry from the US cover of Super Pitfall:


That new look for Pitfall Harry looks a lot better then "Pitfall Mario". All I say would make it perfect would to try to make his shirt look like the short sleeved, possibly buttoned down shirt he has on the game box. You dont need to do that though, if you dont want to or something.


Ooh, I love it! I especially love how he looks like he's blushing all the time. He's simply adorable!


Fantastic job on both the title screen and Harry's new sprite!
I agree about the sleeves. Maybe try making the whole shirt a single color, too?


I agree too that having the in-game character more closely resemble the official art is better. But I think a compromise has to be made, because changing the shirt style may introduce some readability problems. It's pretty funcional as it is because having a separate color for the hand, arm and torso is a clear way to define shapes and separate these important sections of the character without having to resort to the use of outlines. This is something of which importance becomes most apparent during animations. Having clear "points of interest" in the image helps the brain to more rapidly identify what has moved where between frames. This is one point where the original game has flaws in. The canteen in Harry's belt sometimes gets in the way of keeping the hand animation clear to the eye because it looks like his hand in some frames.
That being said, I will explore more and see if the advantages in improving his concept overshadow the animation problems.

By the way, I have decided to release only two patches: the bugfixes and the complete hack. It really is better like this.

I will not address the following issues because they are out of my skillset, but it would be great if someone could:
- buggy d-pad controls: when harry is ducking, if you spin the d-pad around he will not get up even if you are no longer pressing "down". He will only get up if no directions are pressed for at least one frame. To solve this, he should only ever be ducking if only "down" is being pressed. If any other direction is being pressed, that other direction should have priority. The same goes for when you're walking and "right + up" is pressed ("left + up" does not cause a problem for some reason). He will stop walking but this should not be the case as "right" and "left" should always have priority over "up" and "down".
- buggy sprite system. I think that the game reuses too many RAM addresses for everything and that generates artifacts. It would be good if someone could clean this up.
- unnecessarily processor intensive sound routines. I believe the game adds extra useless delays just to wait for the sound to come out. I have changed this amount of loops for testing and as I lower it, more channels are muted or get their sounds cropped. Maybe this artificial waiting can be skipped without affecting the sounds. The game runs A LOT smoother when I set the loop to $01 instead of its original $2F.
- repetitive main theme song.

Good news though, I've managed to understand a bit more of the crystal balls routine and have finally made the last piece of missing hidden items always visible! Now I can have all items remain visible in the entire game, which I intend to do for the full hack. I have also tested patching my hack with the mmc3 hack and it does not seem to have caused any side effects.

Also, current and new look:


Quote from: nesrocks on May 18, 2016, 05:06:56 PM
Also, current and new look:

Wow! That Pitfall Harry sprite is awesome! Great job! :thumbsup: By the way, is the music being changed or at least worked on a little? The original song sounds like one note being badly raised and lowered over and over again. It could use some extra notes, better background music, and more instruments playing the theme, that is, if you plan on keeping the same song.


Quote from: Da_GPer on May 19, 2016, 02:34:18 AM
Wow! That Pitfall Harry sprite is awesome! Great job! :thumbsup: By the way, is the music being changed or at least worked on a little? The original song sounds like one note being badly raised and lowered over and over again. It could use some extra notes, better background music, and more instruments playing the theme, that is, if you plan on keeping the same song.
Thanks! About the song, I wish. Its programming is too complicated for me. I'm just an artist who likes to code from time to time. If someone did it I'd be happy to include and give credit.


The new sprite looks great! Very well done so far. It really gives him his own character.

On the subject of the sound and music, it sounds to me like the best thing to do is just rewrite the sound engine completely.
If you don't think you can handle it yourself, then at least try to make sure to document everything you have discovered about the ROM so it'll be more likely for someone else to come in and try tackling it. The same goes for the other bits and pieces you noted. The more notes the better.


This project has my full support! Super Pitfall (as it was released) is one of those games that really bothers me as a prime example of a great idea ruined by abysmal execution. I played it for a few hours last night to get a feel for it and felt really depressed because I knew that, under the awful programming, irritating music, and bad design decisions, that there is a good game struggling to get out. I would love to see that good game realized!

I'm really liking the new Harry sprites and title screen! Far superior to the original. I will be watching this project with great interest! :thumbsup:


I have been working non-stop on the hack. There were a few bugs (some caused by myself) that I was fixing. But since then, I've done so much I can't even tell what I've posted here and what I haven't. I've done fixes and tweaks, I've mapped even more of the game and I've done more graphics.

So, here are some images: (yes I have retouched the title screen again)

The niece happily jumps in place when she's cured.
Vines are now nice lines instead of blob chains.

There is a lot to be improved still in terms of graphics. I have rearranged all background tiles so I can work more easily (as shown on the screenshots bellow). You can see there's lots of free space there. Some graphics I haven't touched yet / are experimental.

Left: original
Right: new graphics and rearranged tiles (unused/duplicate tiles removed)


Dude, this looks a million times better than the original. I've never played the original because it didn't look very appealing but I will def give this a try once you're done.
Cigarettes, ice-cream, figurines of the Virgin Mary...


Thanks! That's what I'm doing this for, under this ugly shell there's a good game. Since I'm removing the unfair game design choices I recommend first timers to play without FAQs. And for veterans I will make a fun new adventure.

Something I'm working on right now:


You're not going to fix how the water surface changes color when it goes through a dirt tile? (That's probably not possible under NES limitations so I'd just remove the water surface tiles from that area and replace them with the dirt around them.)


I always thought that gave a nice "transparency" effect, but by popular opinion I can adjust the map so water doesn't have to go over non-water tiles.


Aww! You took off the scorpion from the title screen! I like the scorpion it's a nice throwback to the originals.
Anyway, the title screen itself looks even nicer! Well done.

I agree about the overlapping water tiles. Without having them be a sprite that can actually overlap the ground tiles, you might as well avoid using them how the original did. Doesn't look "clean".


I'm not sure I'm done with that sprite on the title screen. I mean, I'm not using a menu anymore, so there's no need for a cursor. It could be used to make the title screen richer by adding a graphic with a different palette on top of it, but I couldn't think of anything so far. Also, It's the only sprite I have there as I don't know how to add more.

How about this for the water?


That looks a lot better, actually.


I agree. That's not a bad compromise. I hadn't thought of that.


To nesrocks: The underwater rocks looks good, but it also looks a little transparent. Maybe filling in the blue part may help a little. By the way, I love the car and the new sprite for the niece. What about Quickclaw the lion?

To Vanya: I dont remember the title screen having a scorpion on it. Are you sure your thinking of the right game?


I had changed Harry's sprite to the scorpion and he had liked it, which is why he said that when I changed it back to Harry hehe. But it's not final anyway.

About the water: I can't do that because what I did there was simply assign an existing palette to an existing tile. What can be done is keep it like that or just make the rocks shorter so they don't touch the water. I don't think there's enough room in the objects list for that room to split that water surface into two objects (it's originally one long water surface).

I'm still going to make the new graphics for quickclaw.