Andi’s Retro Game Reviews #1: The Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers for GBA

Dear readers and dear friends of retro videogaming!

Now for something totally different and maybe utterly unexpected: Since this blog is supposed about video games as well, yet I keep publishing post after post about cardboard games (tabletops, such as M:tG or my very own Elemental Clash) without a tiny sign of video games at all. This, my dear friends, is about to change…

…as I invite you to read my first in a series of reviews of Retro Video Games, some I would call hidden gems, for various older consoles, mostly handhelds I would say since I prefer handheld gaming over sitting before a big TV screen with a controller in hand. I will call the series, of which I cannot predict how many episodes I will be publishing over the course of time (maybe it will be a neverending journey into retro-gaming-nerdness! ūüėÄ ),

ANDI’S RETRO GAMING REVIEWS

or ARGR for short (that does sound like something a pirate would heartily utter).

We will start this off with something I started playing again quite recently and am massively enjoying, which has given the igniting spark pretty much for doing this new series of game reviews on this here my blog:

The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers for GBA (Gameboy Advance):

LotR TT Startup Screen

Startup Screen

When I think back to when the GBA was THE top notch handheld console of the time (man it must be ages since that), some of my fondest memories of a handheld I love to the very present day come from playing the second episode in a trilogy of games, which let you re-enact the adventurous stories and action of the three Lord of the Rings movies, which are, as I hope the better part of you knows, based on the fantastic and epic novels of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Gameboy Advance adaption of the movies/books turned out really great and engaging from what I remembered, and for one reason or another I found the second installment of the series on the GBA most appealing, hence the review of it here, and I have had hours and hours of fun and enjoyment playing the second game “The Two Towers” through several times with several characters, levelling them up, collecting rare items and unravelling the many hidden secrets. So yeah back then I played the original cartridge on the original device… Nowadays I have my “special” PSP that plays pretty much anything out there so I gave LotR – the Two Towers another try quite recently. And it has lost nothing of its appeal, charm and huge replayability value.

But for all of those unfamiliar with the game, let us begin at the beginning:

This game could be classified as an action RPG or hack and slay/slash game and comes closest to the Diablo I + II experience when it comes to the portable GBA. There may be one even closer to that experience, which I have fond memories and nostalgic feelings about, but I am aware of none better than LotR – The Two Towers so correct me if you know more than I do. To some the game will no doubt feel a bit dull because all you do is basically running around slaughering Orcs and other foul beasts with one out of 5 well-known characters of your choosing at the outset of the game:

Character Selection Screen

Character Selection Screen

At the outset, before you dive right into the action of beating down Sauron’s evil hordes one-by-one, you get to choose your character. The 5 are really really very different in how they play and the game is quite faithful to the novels and movies there. I always start out with Aragorn, who is a close-combat warrior and can learn a skill (each character has their very own set of unlockable active and passive skills – more on that later) to wield two mighty blades at once – my favorite play-style in games like that. The others are Legolas, who is a ranged attacker shooting arrows at distant enemies, then we have Gandalf who wields a staff AND a sword (how awesome is that!) and can learn a ton of devastating magical spells, or Frodo, who is kinda a stealthy character who is probably the hardest one to play the game through with since he is very weak physically. Lastly there is Eowyn. I don’t really get what her benefits in the game are… she just seems like a weaker version of Aragorn, a genuine warrior type of character. Maybe I should give her a real try some time and find out about her qualities! ūüėČ

Right after you selected your character, you are treated to something nobody would give a shit about but which blew my mind back then when the game was freshly released and I played it for the first time: An about 10 second long, highly pixelated video sequence of footage taken right out of the movie!!

Still from the Movie Sequence

Still from the Movie Sequence

Back in the days, that WAS something totally kickass and yeah, again, it really blew my mind seeing this on my tiny GBA screen.

Depending on which character you chose, you will start at different locations in the game and furthermore, each of the 5 characters has their very own storyline which is a huge plus for the game all in all as you pretty much get 5 quite different adventures packed into one cartridge. Oh did I say 5 characters?? I know for a fact that some secret stuff is going on in the game (and a quick google search would tell me all about it…) and that you somehow can unlock Gimlie as a 6th playable character. It must be true since on ocassion, you find axes which nobody but Gimlie could wield (equip). I figure it must have to do with finding all of the 8 different, iconic artifacts like the broken sword Narsil or Bilbo’s Map which are hidden throughout the game, and hidden very well I must say…

OK on to the graphics and gameplay:

As Aragorn, whom I choose when I started to play the game again recently, you start out upon leaving Rivendell and you’ll find yourself in a snowy landscape depicted in an isometric persepective, again quite faithful to the Diablo-style hack’n’slay gameplay I mentioned earlier.

The Journey Begins...

The Journey Begins…

Soon, that is after some paces into the wilderness, you will encoutner the first opponents, which are somewhat varied – at the beginning you only get pitchwork wielding Orcs as well as some Archer kind Orcs but as the game progresses you will encounter many more different enemies such as smaller Moria Orcs or Goblins and later on the much stronger Uruk-Hai Orc-Human crossbreeds as well as wolves and other non-Orc Creatures.

Pitchfork Orcs Attack

Pitchfork Orcs Attack

I said above that the game consists mainly of killing Orcs… which is true to some extent, however the rest of the gameplay makes for an engaging gaming experience (at least for fans of the Action Adventure genre) and offers a lot of replay value. Before I¬† got into what fleshes the simple Orc slaughterfest out to make for a greatly enjoyable game, I should mention that the graphics and especially the movement animations in LoTR – The Two Towers are really well done for a GBA game, confined to SUCH a small screen.

So yeah, you walk around, run into ugly Orcs and kill them. You have a Life Points meter (the red orb in the lower left corner) as well as a Magic Point meter in the lower right corner of the screen (MP will be consumed as you use Active Skills, such as Aragorns healing power, with which he starts the game). In between the two orbs you got another indicator, a green experience point meter. With every slain enemy, the experience meter will go up and once it reached its far end you will level up. And this is where the fun comes in. You can fully customize your character by means of distributing stat points upon level up as well as learn or improve active and/or passive skills by allocating skill points. Each character has their very own, very unique skills such as Aragorns Life Stealing Skill that regenerates some of his health when he damages or kills a foe. Frodo on the other hand can use the ring to sneak past enemies or improve his skills in finding more and more precious items and gems.

Active Skills on the left, Passive Skills on the right

Active Skills on the left, Passive Skills on the right

Gems are the currency in the game. Oh and speaking of items: There are tons and tons¬† of different items of all kinds such as weapons or protective gear or even amulets etc which are found in treasure chests or dropped by slain enemies. This way you can really customize and power up your hero to your heart’s content and this is what makes this game a gem for me!

Your inventory on the left and your current stats on the right

Your inventory on the left and your current stats on the right

Oh and about halfway into the game, when the mighty Uruk-Hai appear, you will start finding “rare” or “enchanted” or “premium” items or however you can call it. Their name will be written in green letters instead of white as per normal and they usually have some additional powers or effects such as weapons inflicting plus X fire damage or whatnot. You will need these once the Uruks appear, believe me. Oh and then there are the ultra rare items written in red letters. These are really hard to come by but have amazing powers as a matter of course and what is really cool, you can find and recognize items from the books and movies… I remember when one time my character found and wieleded Orcrist, the Orc Slayer which Gandalf finds in a dirty cave in “The Hobbit”!

One tiny detail I shan’t forget to mention: There is an “Orc-Kills” stat on your Status Screen (see above… I killed two when that screenshot was taken… how lame…) and you can actually check how many Orc lives you have taken on you adventure… In the end the number will be in the thousands if I remember correctly haha!!


Well folks that is it for my review of The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers for Gameboy Advance.

I hope you enjoyed my rather brief look into one of my old GBA favorites and hopefully you appreciate my effort to diversify the topics on here a wee bit. You can be looking forward to Episode 2 of Andi’s Retro Game Reviews already as I am playing and massively enjoying SHINING FORCE from the Game Gear, playing on my Nintendo 3DS (yes they sell old classics for cheap on their E-Shop) at the moment. So guess which game will be up next!

Until them I wish you happy gaming as always – be it analog or digital!! ūüėÄ

Yours,

Andi

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Presenting (Prehistoric) Pixelmon – The Deckbuilding Game

Dear readers and friends of dinosaurs, deckbuilding games and retro-pixel monsters alike!

I am proud to announce yet another game project of mine and just as a disclaimer, this is low in my list of priorities and still I am far down the process of designing this and am actively working on getting this done later this year. Please have a look and be amazed:

– Andreas Propst Productions Prouldy Presents –

Pixelmon Banner

(Prehistoric) Pixelmon – The Deckbuilding Game will be a 2-5 player Deckbuilding Game on the lines of the revolutionary Dominion (game of the year 2009 if I am not mistakend) where players will tame, train and battle each other with a fighting team of various prehistoric pixel monsters (as seen in the above banner), all done in full, pixellated glory by yours truly!

How the idea of Pixelmon was born:

Sometimes it is funny how ideas are conceived. In the case of Pixelmon, two things occurred shortly one after the other by mere coincidence. Firstly, a while ago, I made a Pok√©mon Deckbuilding Game (DBG) for me and my younger sister Nora, who is a true Pok√©maniac, having played through all the video games time and time again. I wanted to recreate the Pok√©mon experience in a game, a Deckbuilding Game and this was when the raw version of what is now the Pixelmon game engine/system was designed and developed. Of course I had made the Pok√©mon DBG purely for personal home use but I did try to pitch the idea to Nintendo with the argument ¬†that “Pokemon=Awesome” + “DBGs = Awesome” would result in something totally √ľber-awesome. They did actually write back saying anything I’d send in would become sole property of the Pok√©mon Company / Nintendo so that was that pretty much and the game got burried for a while. It was not until a few months later that I tried my hand in doing Pok√©mon Gameboy Advance Rom Hacks (as seen previousyl on this blog) which lead to me realizing I was awesome (or so I was and am being told) at doing retro pixel art (sprites). After the first couple of these tiny artworks were done, and it was big fun for me doing those, I instantly thought back at the neglected Pok√©mon DBG. Well how perfect I thought… I can just make good use of my very-well received Prehistoric Pok√©mon sprites twice – once in the Rom hack and once by just using those graphics in a non-copyrighted retheme of the Pok√©mon DBG!! I was thrilled about the idea to have an awesome deckbuilding game featuring tons of prehistoric monsters all done in retro pixel graphics. Of course a new name had to be found and was found soon: Pixelmon. Perfect, isn’t? ūüėÄ #

And for all the sissies who will say Nintendo will sue my ass off: Digimon, Monster Rancher, Dinosaur King. That is just 3 examples of highly commercial and relatively successful blatant rip-offs of the original Pok√©mon concept (you know some kids going around having adventures with their monster companions, training them and having battles in order to be the best of ’em all, save the world or whatnot) and none of them had any troubles, and neither do I worry to get into legal troubles even the slightest bit. After all it is freaking PIXELMON… not Pok√©mon… ūüėÄ

How the game works (currently):

Here’s a brief summary of the actual gameplay as it currently stands. The following is based on the results of a recent playtesting session of the original Pok√©mon DBG (I do not have a dedicated Pixelmon prototype just now – working on it though!) which thought me so many lessons that I have a very clear idea about how the game is supposed to work in the end. Let’s have at it! So the aim of the game is to be the one with the most prizes…

Prize Card small

…after at least 8 turns (and turns are not exactly short in this game, so 8 turns will make for a game of a pleasant length, with my idea being 45 -60 mins). Basically what you do is tame, train and battle with your Monsters, whereby turn 1 – 5 are for taming and training only and in turns 6 -8 and beyond, the actual monster battling action will take place. I would be keeping track of turn count by means of an 8-sided dice being advanced accordingly.

So at the start of the game the playing field is set up, but I won’t go into detail on the setup – all you need to know that there will be a big stack of Pixelmon cards with 5 of them revealed at a time (the Pixelmon Offering), some smaller stacks with 3 cards revealed from each, which will be the Attack Stacks, one for each Element (the Elements will be Normal, Fire, Plant, Rock, Electro and Water) as well as the Item Shop deck, which will contain Items you can purchase over the course of the game. Before the game can begin, each player chooses a Starter Pixelmon from among 5 different ones at random.

Each Starter Pixelmon is associated with a Starter Deck consisting mostly of weak Attacks/Moves of 10 cards each. And this is the deckbuilding aspect in this. What you will try to do is “learn” new attacks by purchasing them from the various Attack Offerings and adding them to your Attack Deck, this strengthening and optimizing your deck over the course of the game.

There is also a very straightforward resource system involved which all revolves around the “Tamer Value” each card has, which acts as costs and also as currency at the same time in various stages of the game. I prefer to upload the full game rules once done on this here blog than explain in detail how all works, so I am asking for your understanding for not elaborating on the technical details here.

So each turn goes like this:

  1. Tame 
  2. Train
  3. Battle (only turns 6 and beyond!)

First players may “tame” monsters from the Pixelmon¬†Offering by discarding hand cards with tamer value equal to or higher than¬†the tamer value of the Pixelmon they want to tame to add that Pixelmon to their team (of course the stronger ones will have a higher tamer value than the weaker ones. You have to choose your team members wisely, as there is an “element wheel” involved as well, each Pixelmon belonging to one of the aforementioned elements and having a strength against one particular element and a weakness against another one. So assembling your fighting team of 3 Pixelmon is vital and you got to strive to get a well balaned fighting party together.

Here’s a sample Pixelmon card (just a preview, finished product may and will differ from this):

Sample Pixelmon Card

As you can see, each Pixelmon has indicators  for Level (left), Initiative (middle) andd Hit Points (right). Each Pixelmon starts at level 10 and you put a small red D6 on the HP indicator in the first row with the respective number on top, in the above case this Pixelmon would start out with 2 HP. Dice are moved down and the numbers on top of the dice would be advanced as the Pixelmon is trained / levelled up. In the top right corner we see the element of the Pixelmon and below that the strenght and weakness.

After all players pass during the Tame Phase, the game commences to the Train Phase.

During Training, players may do several of the following actions, until they do not have any more hand cards or until they decide to pass, whereby one player performs one action and then the next and then round the table until the starting player gets to do their next action and so on until all pass (There is no particular order in which these must be performed):

  • ¬†Level-Up a Pixelmon by discarding any 1 card. Advance the dice one row and adjust its value to the new HP. Each Pixelmon can be levelled-up only once per turn.
  • Learn a new Attack¬†by discarding a number of hand cards with tamer value higher than or equal to the tamer value of the Attack from the Offerings you want ot learn. Take your new Attack from the Offering and place it in your discard.

Here’s a sample Attack card for you: Sample Attack Card Upper left corner: Tamer Value, upper right corner: Element, lower right corner: Damage Value, lower left corner: Level Requirement to perform the Attack/Move.

  • Buy¬†any Item from the Item Shop deck by discarding cards with a combined tamer value higher than or equal the tamer value of the Item you want to purchase and put it aside face down. It may be used later or during battle.

Here’s a sample Item card for you:

Sample Item Card

The “X” stands for a still undeterminde Tamer Value (cost) of this item!

After all players pass, it is either the next turn and each player draws until they have 5 cards in hand OR it is on to Battle Phase.

As this article is dragging along far too long already I will not explain the details fo how battle works. What you should know is that all players are involved in the battle – everyone can attack everyone – and the “last man standing” (the remaining player when all others had their Pixelmon all knocked out) will receive a Prize Card. Furthermore Battle is like a game within the game where players attack in rounds ¬†always following the following structure:

  1. Draw: Draw until you hold 5 cards in hand.
  2. Attack: Spend an Attack card to launch an attack on any opponent Pixelmon by paying the energy cost of the Attack card. Each Pixelmon can perform one Attack per round and players get one attack at a time with all players round the table performing an attack until the starting player can perform the second attack and so forth. If all players spent all their attacks or decide to pass it is on to step 3.
  3. Discard/Energy: You can discard hand cards to your Energy Zone. This Energy will pay for the Attacks you will be performing in future attack steps.

As said Battle Phase is conducted like explained above until all but one player are out of the game. The latter receives a Prize card. Who has the most price cards after 8 turns is declared the winner! (If one or more players are tied for prizes at the end of turn 8, furhter turns and Battle Phases will be conducted until one player emerges victorious).

——————————————————————————-

Well, so much for my “brief” overview of the Pixelmon DBG gameplay! I will make sure to post the full games rules for all who want to know in detail how the game works on ¬†here as soon as I found time to type them up. I’d really could make good use of a clone these days ūüėõ

Let me close this rather lengthy introduction to the Pixelmon Deckbuilding Game with some visual impressions!

Here some of the Pixelmon to be featured in the game:

Pokemon Prehistoric Samples

And here is what the Pokémon DBG proto testing looked like:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And here my overjoyed sister Nora after having won!!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Hope you liked my introduction to the Pixelmon Deckbuilding Game! As always, I will keep you up ot date!!

Game on!

Yours,

Andi

Andi the Pok√©mon Rom Hac…errrr Alterer!

Well I am surely a man of many talents but a few days ago I would not have dreamt what I am doing right now (well before and after finishing this post…).

Realizing the Rom-Hac…errrr Altering Community was less than helpful with making my Pokemon Fan Game “Pokemon Prehistoric” ¬†real I thought to myself “Heck, before they get anything done I had better look into this myself!!”

So always having been a self-made-man, I started reading some Rom Hac… errrr Altering tutorials which are to be found in great masses on the world-wide-web just the day before yesterday. I have always taught myself new stuff and am good at self-learning. This turned out true for Pokemon Rom Altering as well so I am really proud to present you what I achieved already, over the course of like two days.

Before I show you some actual images, I have to say that Pokemon Rom Altering is not as hard as I had imagined. There is a very active community and loads and loads of helpful advice and tutorials posted all over the internet. What makes it even more easy (you still need a brain cell or two to do all this mind you) is that there are seemingly countless utility programs which help you with a lot of things from changing Pokemon Sprites, the text in the games, the evolutions and attacks and much more. Matter of fact I have, on day 3 of my Pokemon Fan Game Creation adventure, about two dozen different tools (utility programs) in my Pokemon Prehistoric folder and most of the times one has to work in three or four of them at the same time, jumping back and forth so to say, to accomplish something.

All in all this has been a very rewarding experience for me. My sister loves me for doing that and the smile on her face when I present her some new results is simply worth the whole effort which doesn’t really server any purpose like making me money or whatever. I do it for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others, be it only my sister (for now!).

So I have kept you waiting far too long…

Here’s some of the things I accomplished and taught myself over the course of the last few days, illustrated by nice screenshots!

screenshot

Yes that is right, the title screen says “Pokemon Prehistoric” and displays one of my custom-made Pokemon. Still very raw!

screenshot 2

 

Changing the intro text (yes it is in German) was one of the harder parts as I had to use a Hex Editor (using hexadezimal codes) to get the text displayed the right way…

screenshot pokemon prehistoric

 

And the Professor greets you with one of my own Prehistoric Pokemon!!

screenshot 3

Changing the overworld (the world in which you walk around) is a piece of cake with the right tools (programs). That is one of the more intuitive and fun parts. I replaced the houses with caves. Yeah! Just like in the Flintstones!! ūüėÄ

screenshot 4

 

I also managed to change the starter Pokemon to my “homemade” ones. And yes the text needs to be changed. It still says “Charmander”.

screenshot 5

 

And this is what my Flaraptor looks like in the battle screen!

screenshot 6

And lastly we see Unihorn battling an Aerodactyl. For my first testing purposes I made it so that you can catch those in your hometown (well with a little luck!).

There’s something interesting I tried but which just wouldn’t want to work out. The fat guy in your hometown (I called it “Alpha Base”) gives you a Water Stone, a Fire Stone and a Thunder Stone. I actually got the script for that right and it works. Next you are supposed to catch a wild Aerodactyl in the tall grass right before your house. Once you got it I made it so you can evolve it with the Stones you got earlier. There are currently three forms as seen below:

Aerodactly Evolution Sprites

In theory, I set up everything right in the editing programs and when you give a Stone to the Aerodactyl, the evolution animation ¬†starts and the character even says “Huh?” as usual. After that nothing happens and you are back in the Pokemon Menu. Aerodactyl is still Aerodactyl. Something must be wrong and I can’t figure out what for Thor’s sake!! Well gotta turn to the community in search of answers.

Nevertheless I think I can be proud of what I achieved within a few days already and I am highly motivated to see what I will be able to do soon!

Gotta hack ’em all!

Yours,

Andi

 

 

 

More Pokemon Prehistoric Sprites

Hi everyone!

I kinda took a liking to making sprites for my Pokemon Rom Hacking project “Pokemon Prehistoric”, as it is both fun and challenging to make the best out of 64 x 64 pixels! So here are the latest, new sprites I made:

Ducky Evolutions Sprites

Ducky, Duckster and Paraduck are based on the duck-billed kind of dinosaurs, such as Anatosaurus and Parasaurolophus.

Trilobyte Evolution Sprites

These three are based on the prehistoric Trilobites, which were small, crustacean-like sea creatures. Of course they did not evolve into cocoons and then into some awesome Trilomight sea monster, but give me some artistic freedom here! ūüôā

Aerodactly Evolution Sprites

These three are evolution forms of the “official” Aerodactyl Pokemon. You see, from left to right, an electro- a water- and a fire-version of the well known prehistoric Pokemon as seen in the first Pokemon games and beyond. My idea is that in Pokemon Prehistoric you will be able to evolve Aerodactyl into different forms by giving it special stones, similar to what you can do with Eevee in the official games! Aerodarktyl (dark), Viridactyl (plant) and possibly some more ¬†evolutions will follow!

And here a few odd ones:

Ammoknight Sprite Elektrex SpriteDarkrex Sprite

Well I hope you like the latest Pokemon Prehistoric Sprites I made. I will surely post many more in the future! ūüėÄ

Project: POKéMON PREHISTORIC

Hello everyone!

While ago I posted about those obscure Pokemon Rom Hacks some sinister chinese data pirates had put on real, working GBA cartridges and actually sold them on the internet and shifty side-alley markets etc.

Ever since I played Pokemon Quartz, where the crafty creators of the hack had actually gone through the trouble of making up over 300 all new Pokemon, and I have to give them due credit and respect for accomplishing that, I thought… man, I could have done a so much better job on the Pokemon sprites (graphics). Seriously being able to discover and catch hundreds of Pokemon is great and all, but the actual sprites all look kinda awkward or downright crappy. So my artistic ambitions and creative curiosity were awkened and a plan was growing inside my head. Making up all kinds of creatures and monsters was and has always been one of my favorite things and back then when I was a kid and really into Pokemon I came up with countless “custom” pocket monsters. Well just a few days ago I decided to try to realize that plan that has been hatching within me and went to the source of pokemon hackery on the web – Whack a Hack!

Well what I want to do is this:

I will be offering to do the graphics for my very own Pokemon Rom Hack, which may or may not come to life if I find a skilled coder who would be able to handle the programming aspect. Well can’t be doing everything myself I guess so I posted in the forum on WaH. And indeed I already found a young hacker from Argentina who said he would be in for such a thing. I hope to find some more people to lend a hand when it comes to the actual coding.

Anyways here is my idea for the Pokemon Hack, my vision if I may call it that:

Pokemon Prehistoric Starters

 

Yeah your eyes don’t betray you: Pokemon Prehistoric!!

That’s rigth, a Pokemon Hack with Dino Pokemon! I thought if I am going to go through the trouble of creating and painting 300+ new Pokemon, they should better be awesome and what is more awesome than dinosaurs?! Dinosaurs are awesome. Pokemon are awesome. Dinosaur Pokemon should be double awesome, so I figured. So yeah, Pokemon Prehistoric will be featuring all new, prehistoric-themed Pokemon (not necessarily all dinosaurs but other prehistoric beasts as well, and not necessarily all based on real-life prehistoric animals). People who know me a bit should have realized that I simply love dinosaurs etc (just look at my soon-to-be-published game Biomechanic Dino Battles) so the theme for my planned Pokemon Hack fell into place quite naturally.

So  the next thing I did after drawing some Pokemon concepts like the one seen in the above teaser pic was figuring out how to make actual sprites for a GBA Pokemon Rom Hack. After briefly skimming through some tutorials I found on the web, I got out my trusty Wacom drawing tablet, fired up MS Paint and just got started.

Here the result of what is my very first dabbles in creating pixel art / retro-game sprites (depicting the three starters in Pokemon Prehistoric as well as their evolutions):

Unihorn Evolutions Sprites Sauropi Evolutions Sprites Flaraptor Evolutions Sprites

Well I hope you like those! I have to emphasize again that this is a first for me and everything is just one big learning process. All in all I must say I enjoyed making the above sprites greatly, I loved how placing dot for dot resulted in acutal monster graphics and I simply couldn’t get enough of doing these little pixel artworks.

So what happens next?

Well all I can do is create graphics/sprites and maybe come up with some great storyline or whatnot. The future of the Pokemon Prehistoric project all depends on if I am able to gather a reliable team of coders/rom hackers who will handle the whole programming aspect. Again I may be able to do many things, but I can’t be good at everything so I really rely on external help / collaborators here. As I said I already found an enthusiastic young coder from Argentina but I cannot really tell if one guy will be able to handle everything I cannot do. So I am looking for more collaborators for the project, and am pretty confident to find help on Wack a Hack or elsewhere.

If you are a coder and into Pokemon rom hacking, please don’t hesitate and contact me at andreas.propst31@gmail.com!

Well that is in a nutshell the Pokemon Prehistoric project. I for one will do everything to make it real. It all depends on the enthusiasm and goodwill of some future project partners who are able to do what I can’t.

Will keep you updated!

Kind regards,

Andi

P.S.: Even if I don’t find any programmer willing to work for me, the graphics just beg for a card or boardgame. “Pixelmon” anyone?

 

Obscure Pokemon Hacks ON REAL GBA CARTRIDGES!

Hi everyone!

Since the tagline of this here blog states that it is supposed about video games as well, not only about tabletop/card game related nerddom, I wanted to show you something of the former category, which is kinda funny:

Look what I discovered on ebay:

Pokemon Hacks numbered

I knew there existed numerous Pokemon Rom Hacks which you could download and play on your computer or any other mobile device with a GBA Emulator but I was really astonished when I discovered those on ebay! I can still hardly believe it that such a thing even exists! Pokemon Rom Hacks on physical, officially looking Gameboy Advance cartridges, which work perfectly on the original console (which is my prefered way of playing old games)!! Despite the fact that I could just play all the Hacks, including the not-suited-for-kids due to foul language Pokemon spoof “Pokemon My Ass”, in which you are beating up people, solicite drugs and Brock looks like some gay guy in a latex suit, similar to Mr Slave in South Park, on my GBA flash cartridge, I was so exicted about these curious finds on ebay that I had to get them, as a curious addition to my retro-gaming collection. I just love odd, obscure stuff like that.

Let me tell you a bit more about each of these pokemon hacks I have on the “official” cartridges (I numbered them as you can see above. In general I have to say that the hacks I have played so far, and there exist quite a few, all include MAJOR changes such as different storylines, totally new maps and even new Pokemon especially made for the respective hack. So it is not just that they added some swear words like “shit” and “fuck” to the dialogues, as they have done, and as you won’t find in any official Pokemon games, which is a shame… Also please note that I have obviously not had the time to play through all of the above, and will most likely never do so as I got to waste my time with more important stuff these days. Still I have tried each long enough to give you an overview of what is new and characteristic to them. And a last disclaimer: Please know that the actual hackers who made the pokemon hacks are not in any way related to the people in China who put them on actual GBA cartridges. The latter are just pirates who grabbed the rom hacks from the internet and made them into cartridges, illegally selling them on the web or obscure markets. I even got ripped off on one of the games, Chaos Black, where they put an Alpha (unfinished) version on the cartridge and the game ends pretty early on when you are inside of Mount Moon, which is a shame as the Chaos Black hack is finished now and has a lot going on for it…

So here some infos on the individual hack on the cartridges seen in the photo above:

1: Pokemon Dark Cry:

The last of the 5 Pokemon Hacks I got in the mail ¬†just yesterday. I got this one from China and it came shrinkwrapped and brandnew in a pretty good looking GBA game box as you can see in the photo. I guess this is where these obscure original cartridge Pokemon rom hacks originate from, as China is probably the main source of pirated and plagiarized stuff. In the cardboard box was of course the official looking Pokemon Dark Cry cartrigde as well as a tiny booklet in which, hilariously, some of the many typos contained in the game were rectified! In the game itself, Mew must be playing a central roll as it is both on box and booklet and on the startup screen when you start playing the actual game. Now the biggest, most obvious changes they have made in Dark Cry, which seems to be a hack of Pokemon Fire Red or Leaf Green as the base rom, is that there is a brandnew, pretty good looking in-game map, meaning they changed the layout of the world completely. Secondly, they have somehow managed to get the generation 4 Pokemon into this GBA game and you can choose between the generation 4 starter pokemon which made their first appearance in Pokemon Diamond & Pearl on the Nintendo DS. I don’t know how they got the sprites implemented in this GBA hack but all looks pretty good. Funny side note: I have mentioned it before, but this is one of the hacks with the foul language. You won’t see a trainer saying “fucking Pokemon” in an original Nintendo game!

2: Pokemon Quartz:

This is probably the most original of all the Pokemon hacks I have seen so far, as they went through the trouble of creating, as far as I know, over 300 all new Pokemon with everything like proper new sprites for battles and in the menu. While there are some funny ones among them, like Plug-Oink, the Electro-Pig-Pokemon which can form chains with others of its kind by plugging the plug in which its tail ends into the snout of another Plug-Oink which looks like a socket for that plug, I must say that the Pokemon sprites look quite awkward and not too well executed for my taste. Well I will give them credit however for creating a truckload of all new Pokemon especially for the hack. I think I would have done a better job on the Pokemon but still, they have my respect for making such an unique and original hack. With the 300 new Pokemon being the most obvious novelty in Pokemon Quartz, they have changed the story to something totally new as well and all the world map is new and different from the official games as well. I must say the fact that there are more than 300 new Pokemon to discover, catch and train motivates me somewhat to actually keep playing this one! All in all if you want to try a great Pokemon hack, I would recommend this one.

3: Pokemon Chaos Black:

This would be another great Pokemon hack to play. Only problem with the one I got myself on a cartridge: As mentioned before they just pirated an Alpha version of the hack so when you get to Mount Moon and get one of the fossils, you are stuck as rocks are blocking your way. On the web I read that this was an early version of the Chaos Black hack and they put that on the cartridge. I was a bit pissed as I had enjoyed this one until the game ended so early on. There are some all new Pokemon, with much better sprites than the Quartz ones and a new story and world map as well. However there is hope, not that I am desperate about it, as the creator of Pokemon Chaos Black has released a finished version of the hack which can be downloaded and played via emulator on the computer or any console that emulates GBA games. I have access to both a GPX WIZ which plays GBA nicely and to an original GBA with a flash cartride so I will be able to play the finished version of Chaos Black on the original console eventually. If I find the time to that is – I am surely curious about the new Pokemon as the ones I have seen so far are pretty cool. I suspect that “Mewthree” will make an appearance sometime in the game as it is on the cartrigde and can be seen on the startup screen as well.

4: Pokemon Naranja:

This is another excellent Pokemon hack which does not shine by introducing a bunch of new Pokemon, but by appealing new world graphics, and a totally new story which may be familiar to those who watched the (early) Pokemon animated series on TV back then. Pokemon Naranja (the hackers are Spanish and this just means “Orange”) retells the story of Ash’s and Misty’s adventures on the Orange Islands, as seen on TV, or you play through that story to be more accurate. The differences start right before the actual game begins, as you can choose either to play as Ash, with his trusty Pikachu, or Misty (I don’t know which one is her starter Pokemon). As I said the story is totally differnet from the original games and the map was totally changed to recreate the Orange Islands area. You arrive on the Orange Islands with a zeppelin and have to fight Tracy who gives you a Lapras if you defeat him which you have to train so it learns Surfer in order to proceed in the game and travel from island to island. While there are no new Pokemon, the wild Pokemon you find on the islands all have a different color than their normal counterparts. I think this is the most unique Pokemon hack I have when it comes to plot, story and world map. If you don’t mind some bits of Spanish the makers forgot to translate I can only recommend this one.

5: Pokemon Crystal Shards:

Well about this one I cannot say much. I have not tried this hack as it sounds like it was the least original and hence exciting of the five I have. It is just a “port” of the Gameboy Color Crystal Version for the Gameboy Advance. There are GBA versions of Gold and Silver known as “Shiny Gold” and “Shiny Silver”, which came even before the re-release of those on the Nintendo DS in the form of Heart Gold and Soul Silver. So I am guessing Crystal Shards will be something similar, just the Crystal Version “transferred/translated” to the GBA system.

OK that is all I can tell you about my curious, somewhat funny find from the murky depths of the world wide web. If you are curiosu about these and the other Pokemon rom hacks in existance, I recommed to google for them or, if you want to see what they look like, to look them up on youtube. There are plenty more Pokemon hacks and more are being made as we speak, some of which I have on my handheld consoles. If you are into Pokemon and Pokemon games in particular and have access to a device with a GBA emulator I can wholeheartedly recommend you try some of those, as, some more and some less, they provide a fresh, new Pokemon adventure and are good alternatives to the original games.

Well done, hackers!