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Microvaders for Atari Lynx


Songbird
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Thanks! I've really been getting into writing Lynx music for the past year or two, including Centipede, A Bug's Trip, Growing Ties, Unnamed, and Sky Raider. This one for Microvaders is a 2-channel track, and uses the same music player which I originally created for Centipede. I recently added the non-repeating intro feature, which gives me a lot more flexibility on jumping to a short tune for a single playthrough, then resuming the main looping tune.

 

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ROM hacking; it's the only way to fly. :D That means I have no original source for the game.

 

First I debugged the hidden game in Lexis until I could figure out how to make it boot directly instead of entering the secret code. Then I dumped RAM to a file and ran a 6502 disassembler on it. Next step is to look for common Lynx hardware labels such as joypad read or Suzy go for sprite painting. Then I have to reverse engineer the logic to understand how the enemies move, when collision detection happens, how to track number of lives or shot speed, etc. The process is pretty similar to what I documented in the Raiders of the Lost ROM blog series, except this time I don't have any reference source. And all the code I am patching into the game to add features is 100% assembly. I could do it in C, but I wanted the tightest code possible since I have limited RAM to make changes.

 

Somehow it is extremely satisfying to my brain to take these old ROMs, patch in new features, and make the game whole. It's kind of like restoring an antique or heirloom, I suppose.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Wow, this is far better.
The old style was in par with Lexis, but has this "mini game" feeling (probably due to the fact the small area was easily noticeable).
The new background makes it way more appealing.

 

And I guess on a real Lynx, with the Tate mode, it must be very good.

 

Damn, I guess now I can't wait to get it :D

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1 hour ago, Songbird said:

OK, to make up for my faux pas yesterday, here's a little sneak peek for you. Show of hands, who likes the new art style? :D 

 

image.png.b5ea07ead6ec862e4d44c4168a935e3e.png

 

Many thanks to anderlex for contributing the new graphics & palette!

Holy crow! Amazing work @agradeneu
 

It would be nice if “Lexis Mode” were an easter egg that could be unlocked for old time’s sake, though :)

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1 hour ago, jgkspsx said:

It would be nice if “Lexis Mode” were an easter egg that could be unlocked for old time’s sake, though :)

Well, you can always play it in Lexis if you want to see the original game. ;)

 

In theory I could keep the old background art and palette around for fun, but in reality I am overwriting those parts of ROM with the new graphics plus I am changing the behavior of the game (size of the playfield, location of the score text, etc.). So it's not just a simple single-background swap to make it "Lexis Mode" at this point. But I'll keep it mind!

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12 minutes ago, Songbird said:

I am overwriting those parts of ROM with the new graphics plus I am changing the behavior of the game (size of the playfield, location of the score text, etc.).

I'm over Lexis Mode now.  Look forward to your continued progress and thanks for the sneak peek.

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That depends on when I quit adding features. :D Hoping for a 2022 Q4 release. I want to add a couple of new enemies (which also means new enemy behaviors, not just a graphics change), balance the gameplay so it has a gradual difficulty ramp, and some "polish" items like creating a real title screen, saving high score to EEPROM, etc.

 

I'll post a new video sometime in the next few weeks to showcase the new art design in action. Stay tuned!

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