Finally, it’s part two of the compression tutorial. Building on what we learned in the first one, we are going to look at some of the really useful and slightly more complex things you can do with the concept of compression. Today we’re going to talk about side-chain compression
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) had its 30th birthday on October 18th, so what better way to celebrate the occasion than playing some Metroid? Well, MTRD, to be exact:
I’ve gotta hand it to Rom hackers. I can’t imagine having the intelligence and drive to pick apart the code of an old video game and reassemble it into a newer game. It’s just mind-boggling to me that someone would take the time to do this as a hobby. I can only figure that they’re such hardcore programmers that it’s easy compared to whatever they do during the day (rocket science?! Actual Robot Master design?).
I’m certainly glad they do what they do though. If you’ve never heard of this, ROM hacks basically involve rewriting a game to add graphics, music, levels and enemies or modify the existing behavior of these things. Some hacks are simple, turning Super Mario into a girl or adding some differnet music. Some ROM hacks are like completely new games.
There’s a bunch of MegaMan II ROM hacks. My understanding is that they are legal since all they are is small patches of code changes that you apply to the ROM (how you get the ROM legally is your own business).
These are like alternate universe Megaman games that are much more challenging than the original. A lot of them feature graphic and music assets cobbled together from other NES games to create a new project. You might recognize something here or there from a game you played years ago. Here’s two of the best Megaman II Rom hacks. Have fun. These two require the Japanese Rockman II ROM to perform the patching. Patching the original rom is not hard, just follow our IPS patching tutorial to learn how to modify your legally-obtained backup copy of the original ROM.
Rockman No Constancy
Rockman No Constnacy is a massive tribute to the 8-bit and 16-bit era Megaman games. This game features meticulously redesigned levels that emulate parts of Megaman X and other later titles. To play the first level of Megaman X in glorious 8-bit is just a surreal experience. The level of detail put into this game is amazing. It’s hard to believe it’s a legit 8-bit game since it has some of the best graphics I’ve seen on the NES. If it wasn’t running on an emulator and my GameKing I’d think there was some sort of graphical cheating involved.
This game is HARD too. I’m ashamed to admit I only got as far as the level where you fight all the Robot Masters a second time. I have been unable to best them all. That’s just on Normal mode too. In hard mode, you don’t get the ‘reflex’ time when Megaman takes a hit and flashes for a moment. Nope, you can get hit over and over again, which means any robot master can take you out in about 2 seconds. I give up.
The music comes from Ikari Warrios and a bunch of other classic NES games. The quality level of this hack is just mind blowing. It’s my #1 recommendation.
Rockman Deus Ex Machina
Rockman Deus Ex Machina is not quite as pretty as Rockman No Constnancy, but it has some of the most insane level designs I’ve ever seen. Any time you approach a pit that looks like a simple jump, you’ll be surprised by something unexpected, a bird swoops down, a monster flies out of the pit right as you jump. I seriously wanted to cry after a few attempts. You can shoot 4 bullets in this version, which only slightly tips the scales in your favor. Another cool thing is the fact that there are lots of branches through many of the levels. You’d be hardpressed to beat this game witout using save states though. That’s just the way it is.
There’s a bunch of other ROM hacks of varying quality out there, but these two are the ones I’d recommend. Make sure you follow the patching directions. It’s really very simple if you follow the directions. Enjoy!