Knuckles' Clackers (Chaotix hack, v0.1a demo)

Discussion in 'Showroom' started by GenesisDoes, Oct 30, 2021.

  1. GenesisDoes

    GenesisDoes What Nintendont Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Knuckles' Clackers is the first major Knuckles Chaotix game mod for the poor, ill-fated, underrated Sega Genesis 32x addon. It is meant to be an unofficial fan-made sequel (like a "Sonic 5") to Knuckles' Chaotix for the 25th anniversary of the US release of the game (in May 2020).

    Its main focus is to create harder levels, less empty zones, and to create new content for the powerful Knuckles Chaotix game engine, as well as to implement proper loop chunk and pathswapping sections. (The original game had very empty zones with respect to placement of ring, badnik, gimmick, and other objects types compared to its predecessors.) Its other focus is to research and to document how the Chaotix engine works with a more annotated disassembly, and to tinker around with its Sega 32x engine features.
    • High-color Sega 32x sprite artwork
    • SMPS32x music with 4-channel PWM
    • Level data paging system for tiles, blocks, and chunks;
    • Near-entirety of Genesis VRAM available for level assets
    • Design levels with its 2 palettes lines each for both Plane A and Plane B FG/BG tilemap data

    The mod aims to be the first fully-fledged modification of the game, featuring:
    • New levels
      • Ports and edits of beta Techno Tower and Speed Slider Zones layouts and assets from Sonic Crackers
      • Other new zones
    • New music
    • New artwork
      • Genesis tilemaps, sprites
      • 32x sprite artwork
      • Genesis/32x palettes and palette cycling
      • Genesis animated level art
    • Assembly code edits where possible/necessary
    • Some restored/recreated Chaotix beta content

    • New Zones
      • Sonic Factory Zone (SFZ)
        • Based on Sonic Advance 3's transporter area
        • Replaces Tutorial Zone
    • Techno Tower Classic Zone (TTZC), Speed Slider Classic Zone (SSZC)
      • Ports of the beta Techno Tower and Speed Slider Zones and assets from Sonic Crackers to the Knuckles Chaotix game engine
    • 1st act is a port of the only level from each zone from Crackers (act 1), with finished object layouts and other minor edits.
    • Other acts (2-5) are original acts using the zone's chunks/and new assets
    • Robo Ruins Zone (RRZ, replaces AAZ)
    • [TBD] Zones, replacements for
      • Botanic Base Zone (BBZ)
      • Marina Madness Zone (MMZ)
      • Isolated Island Zone (IIZ)
      • World Entrance/Newtrogic High Zone (WE)
    • The other new zones contain original artwork and assets
    • New SMPS32x audio edits
      • Various conversions of music (6 FM+3 PSG+4 PWM channels)
        • Video game music (from MIDI and module files)
        • Hyperdimension Neptunia music
        • Other music
    • New PWM sample slots
    • Restored Crackers DAC samples
      • Backwards compatiblity for Crackers music ports)
    • New art
      • Genesis tilemaps, sprites
      • 32x sprite artwork
      • Genesis/32x palettes and palette cycling
      • Genesis animated level art
    • ASM edits
      • Basic ASM edits to get the new levels/mod to work
        • Modified Dynamic Level Events
        • Level Animated Art
        • Palette cycling
        • Etc.
    • Unrestricted Training mode time-of-day cheat
      • Undocumented cheat code, extended to all 4 Times of Day
      • Hold combinations of X,Y,Z buttons on a 6-button joypad to select a specific Time-of-Day in Training Menu, while in the Play Style submenu
      • Extended to allow forcing of morning (with Amazing Arena lit flag) and other lit variant times-of-day (via Z-button)
    • XYZ button bitfield
    • Edited Level Select/Debug code
      • $19950421 (Knuckles Chaotix Jap release date)
      • RGB 32x Vector3 values
        • 06 $0C $15
        • $01 $01 $01
    • Edited Amy Soundtest code
      • Amy now replaced with Neptune (from HyperDimension Neptunia)
      • $19940421 (Sega 32x US release date)
      • RGB 32x Vector3 values
        • $06 $0C $14
        • $01 $01 $01
    • New game features and game objects
      • Combi Breaker Monitor subtype
        • Temporarily removes the Combi tether system (until partner is called)
      • Properly working Sonic 2-styled loop and path swapper segments!

    Knuckles Clackers (v0.1a Demo, 10/29/21)

    Demo v0.1a is an early demo, with just Techno Tower Zones Acts 1-3 available, and gameplay progress limited to just those zones through the World Entrance. Sonic Factory Zone (for the Tutorial Zone in Isolated Island Zone) is also available. Most new music is available too.

    Known Bugs/demo restrictions:
    • Emulator Compatibility with Modified Game (Kega Fusion)
      • To quote Stealth from the SonED2/ROMulan Chaotix project notes:
    • Gameplay
      • Gameplay progression restricted to only Techno Tower Classic Zone (Acts 1-3, Morning to Night)
      • Some Autodemos break/crash
    • Graphics issues
      • Sega/Gameover space BG temporarily disabled
      • Bad Ending tilemap broken
      • TTZ Classic parallax incomplete
        • Uses AAZ parallax
        • Research needed into how Chaotix parallax works
    • Audio issues
      • Some music slots NOPd out (Z80 bank mgmt)
      • Some music needs mastered before finalization
        • Volume control mixing
        • FM patches/channels and PSG channels for volume control
      • "Break out (XMVSF)" song incomplete
        • Channel synchronization
      • Invin song needs better volume mixing

    • Varion Icaria
      • Chaotix Disasm research
      • Technical information
      • Other assistance
      • Notes on how to expand to another 1MB ROM Data bank for 32x sprite data
    • Heran Bago
      • Lots of Chaotix research
      • Notes on GBA<->32x color conversion
    • JJFTails
      • Chaotix Stats Editor notes
      • Chaotix Art Format notes
    • Aurora Fields
      • MDMusicPlayer 1.1
        • Chaotix music to SMPS ASM
        • Sonic 1 to SMPS ASM
        • Z80 Type 2 basic driver information for Sonic Crackers
      • ChaotixCompressor
        • For handling Chaotix 32x sprite art compression
    • Flamewing (et. al.)
      • S3K SMPS2ASM, used as a base for Sonic 1 to KC SMPS2ASM conversion base script
      • Flamewing Sonic 3K driver, used for easier SMPS conversion
    • Oerg & Puto
      • XM3SMPS Oerg
      • XM4SMPS 4.1
    • ValleyBell
      • Utilities
        • MID2SMPS
        • SMPSPlay (Sonic 1 and Chaotix data)
        • MIDSplit
        • SMPSOpt
        • DPCM2PCM (PWM sample creation)
    • Technical information
      • Info on PWM features and coordination flags
        • Runtime PWM volume control
        • Runtime PWM channel panning control
      • Info on VGI->TFI instrument conversion
    • MarkeyJester
      • Sonic Crackers disassembly
        • Game
        • Z80 Sound Driver
    • AkumaYin
      • More Sonic Crackers disassembly, annotation and information
      • New Sonic Crackers technical findings
    • Andlabs
      • Initial Chaotix disassembly
      • Info on PWM sample table
      • Chaotix32XSideArtAndPaletteViewer
        • For researching 32x sprite artwork banks
        • Verification of 32x art edits
      • 32x Bitcycler art compression format notes
    • Stealth
      • Initial Chaotix SonED2 and ROMulan project files/scripts
      • KCPosFix.exe
      • objyadj.exe
      • fixheadr.exe
    • HiveBrain
      • HivePal utility (VDP palette searching)
    • Shiru
      • VGM Music Maker and command line utils
      • FM instrument creation/sampling
    • Various/misc people
      • Irfanview
      • JRepl.bat
        • Regex find & replace text batch scripts
    • bytepatch.exe
      • Binary file patcher tool for ASM opcode patching
    • fart.exe
      • Simpler find & replace text tool
    • filesize.bat
    • Riffstrip.exe
      • Remove RIFF header from wave files
      • For PWM sample data creation
    • Sox.exe
      • Command-line wave audio resampler/editor
      • For PWM sample data creation
    • EvalBat_vbs.vbs
      • Batch file helper for computing more complex mathematical expressions

    • Various people for video game asset rips and edits
      • Sonic the Hedgehog series
      • Other series
      • See hack's readme for full details
    • ValleyBell
      • Technical Notes on Chaotix PWM driver SMPS coordination flag features
        • PWM panning
        • PWM volume control
      • Written permission explicitly given to use instrument patches from Sonic 2 Recreation's Sonic Factory SMPS port
    • Jakob
    • Varion Icaria
    • ProjectFM
    • The public/Indie gamedev friends at the BitBridge Halloween Showcase 2021
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
    Mr_ESN, silvs64, rika_chou and 11 others like this.
  2. Angel X

    Angel X Well-Known Member Member

    Sep 15, 2017
    It seems absurd to me that no one has commented.
    We are talking about a complex Chaotix rom hack, the first ever.
    Anyway, I think the 32x was so underestimated, as a child I would have liked to see a Sonic 4 in that console, with that music and those colors ...
    It would have been a dream!
    I especially wish I could have seen more complete Chaotix hacks, and here it is!
    I know it's a demo, but I have high expectations for this project, great job guys:D
  3. D.A. Garden

    D.A. Garden Sonic CD's Sound Test Member

    Aug 6, 2009
    This looks really cool. I like the fact that you've taken such an obscure title and modified it in this way. Having working loop-de-loops in Chaotix is just crazy, but it looks like it's always been there.
    I will say though, that some of the music ports have questionable instrument choices that make the song a little difficult to listen to. Also, while your loop-de-loops work, they don't consider the change in perspective you would expect, where one of the paths is in front of the other, and so you loop from a path in front to a path behind. I understand that might not be possible, but it's a little weird seeing an enclosed 360 degree circle like that.

    I'll also note that I haven't downloaded the hack yet (as I refuse to click random mediafire links) and I'm just going by the screenshots and previous material posted, but from what I've seen so far, it looks promising.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
    ProjectFM and TheInvisibleSun like this.
  4. TheInvisibleSun

    TheInvisibleSun Visible Member

    Jul 2, 2013
    Buffalo, NY, USA
    I was going to mention the Mediafire thing before, but I forgot; do you mind mirroring the file here or something? I'm not a huge fan of Mediafire myself either.
  5. EpsilionDubwool

    EpsilionDubwool The noob next door Member

    Aug 7, 2019
    To those who want the hack, I downloaded the ROM myself and uploaded it here. Just a tip to anyone who considers sending links to ROM hacks, I recommend uploading it here, Google Drive or OneDrive.

    As for the hack, from a technical standpoint, it's very impressive to see someone making a Chaotix hack. And it's charming to see a lost zone from a prototype of the game showing its light. The art is ported well alongside some custom art in the sound test.

    My only gripe is the music. It sounds fine with a few songs however I feel like some instruments don't sound as clear, the songs don't sound clear or the DACs are in the way. Some songs sound alright but if you understand which songs I'm referring to, then you should hopefully find a way to tweak them to the best you can.

    So far, a promising hack and something that I should check out when a new update comes by. I do hope more people get a chance to hack Chaotix, it's an annoying game but it's technically interesting once we get the chance to dig deep into the code.

    Attached Files:

    Crimson Neo, JGamer2151 and ProjectFM like this.
  6. JGamer2151

    JGamer2151 Active Member Member

    Dec 1, 2020
    Apologies for bumping this thread, I just wanted to get my overall thoughts of this hack out there since it was just sitting in the back of my head for months now. As one of the first extensive ROM hacks of Knuckles Chaotix, I have to say that I am really impressed with the new additions to the game (especially with the reintroduction of the loop system, which surprised me) as well as several other extras that I have notice throughout this hack. On a side note, I had the chance to test this out for myself on real hardware and it worked like a charm!

    However, there is one thing within this hack that needs to be improved, and that is the music. As a close listener when it comes to hearing Genesis/Mega Drive compositions, I feel like some of these music tracks in the demo are just a bit off or just did not sound right to me at least when listening to some of these compositions (especially when it comes to the SA3 Sonic Factory music port).

    Other than that, this hack looks pretty promising to me, and I look forward into this project in the future!

    Oh, and one last thing before I go, this is my last post that I will make as a Trialist. I will be put into Prospect for an undetermined amount of time since making this post. I hope to return here soon when the time comes! Bye!
    GenesisDoes likes this.
  7. GenesisDoes

    GenesisDoes What Nintendont Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Pittsburgh, PA
    The hack demo was recently showcased by Razor & Zenon in a quick playthrough :).

    I made a particular effort to make sure it does work on real hardware via regular tests on my setup (EDMD v3, NTSC Sega Model 2 Sega Genesis+VA0 32x), considering 32x emulation is flaky and hardware quirks. Apparently Chaotix has a memory limit to the size of 32x sprites that can be pre-loaded into DRAM work memory. On Gens, the emulator application itself would crash if the limit was broken; on real hardware the 32x machine would crash and couldn't be soft reset.

    Some of the music is demo/WIP, considering the ROM hack was a little rushed in terms of getting it ready for the Halloween Expo I showcased it at, and I need to tweak some instruments and note data. Same with creating new artwork for the perspective changes of loops so it's not a 360 degree circle. Things to improve and work on in the next builds.
    JGamer2151 and D.A. Garden like this.