Knuckles' Ringstar (Chaotix) pre-1207 Prototype magazine scans

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Prototype, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. Prototype

    Prototype

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    I have a savestate with the alternate Time Attack screen if anyone wanted to mess around and figure it out. Retro's upload option doesn't seem to work on this filetype though.

    For the record, upon examining the savestate in Tile Layer Pro, you get the usual graphical text like 'SONIC CRACKERS S32X" etc. but nothing with "NUTS". Could be a compressed image or something, though why you'd need to compress something so basic eludes me.

    It just occurred to me after reading Pengi's post, that NUTS could have been a scrapped name for Ray. Think about it. Ray has a sunny disposition, is already named after sunshine, and is a squirrel.

    Could it have been a Japanese pun this entire time? NATSU being a play on both "Summer" and "Nuts".

    Given that they were trawling through the archives for old characters, could there have been an intent at some point between Crackers and Ringstar to revive both Ray AND Mighty for Chaotix? They would certainly fit if they wanted to replace both Sonic and Tails at some point. Seems odd that they'd pick Mighty and not even consider Ray.

    Though why that would result in "NAT" being used for Mighty, I don't know.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  2. Pengi

    Pengi

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    This definitely merits investigation.

    I was just thinking the same thing before I read this post. There's at least one piece of concept art with both characters on the same page, so maybe they accidentally used a name associated with the flying squirrel?

    Name mix-ups have happened before.

    In the Sonic's Friends concept art the parrot is labelled Max, but in the earlier Sonic the Hedgehog Band art the parrot is named Sharps and the monkey is named Max.
     
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  3. Prototype

    Prototype

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    That's a noteworthy point. There seemed to have been a scramble to finalize the characters once it was decided Sonic and Tails weren't going to be the stars (presumably since the game was really little more than a glorified tech demo), to the point that even during the later periods of development they still had no idea whether to capitalize on Knuckles, or start shilling Espio, so it wouldn't strike me as odd that they messed up the names.

    I think it's quite likely that you're correct in that it was just a name screw-up and they took the wrong name from the concept art sheet.

    In any case, the magazine screenshots earlier in the thread from a pre-1207 prototype specifically mention a playable Tails, and monitor sprites exist for Tails. The fact that they mention a playable Tails but don't have images of Tails on the character select screen would suggest that this pre-1207 build still had a functional Tails programmed in and selectable via the rudimentary stage select menus (possibly still as "*******"), but with clear intent to remove him as a playable character. Indeed there's an empty character slot in the 1207 builds and later, and presumably the same is true for this pre-1207 proto as it looks like there's an empty space to the left of Mighty. Whoever wrote the article probably wasn't aware of this and was just working off what they saw in gameplay.

    If Ray ever was considered, it was way before this point, and it was likely that they didn't want two Sonic clones in the game.

    EDIT: I've uploaded the alternate Time Attack menu savestate. This will only be active for 30 days from this posting. (https://easyupload.io/wyl3ko)

    I'm really not sure what triggers this alternate menu, since I can't seem to recreate it. It's a good thing that I saved the state before screwing around. Notably the "Amusement Park" (Speed Slider) level option is selectable, unlike this build's usual level select, as well as three Time Attack test levels.

    In case the above posts were missed by anyone, this is an open call to figure out what's going on with the screen, how/why it triggers, whether or not the Time Attack stats are a basic placeholder image (and if so, what format it's displayed in) or an alterable value display in a different format to the rest of the graphical data. Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  4. Dissent

    Dissent

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    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
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  5. Prototype

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    The main issue is getting the ROM to even function in this emulator. This is an issue with the ROM itself, not Gens KMod. I can load the savestate, but it freezes and is nonfunctional.

    So I don't really know how to do any further investigations on this front.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  6. Dissent

    Dissent

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    Aye, I wasn't implying it's playable, just that the VDP of your savestate could be viewed in some capacity.
     
  7. Prototype

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    True. You get pretty much the same visual if you open up the savestate in TLP, so I assume that's also the VDP data.

    Thanks.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    this is what KLF is about Wiki Sysop
    I'll keep the dream alive:

    https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:SegaPower_UK_68.pdf&page=33

    Sega Power was a strange read by this time in its life, but it's still quite happy to in block capitals that Chaotix is a single player game. And it is until it isn't.

    I'd rather not play through Isolated Island a bazillion times to check, but are any of our prototypes only single player when played normally? That is, without the debuggy level selects and what have you.


    Oh and "Batter The Wife" sounds like a fun Sonic character.
     
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  9. Prototype

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    The earliest prototype we have (1207) has options for Scenario Game 1P and Scenario Game 2P, which boot you straight into the first level. This is without the debug selects. They both technically start as single player endeavors until you reach the point where you gain access to the second character. At this point, the combi-ring is activated and if playing in the 2P scenario, the second character (Espio) is controllable by player 2.

    Weird thing is, if this is a pre-1207 build in Sega Power, they must have deactivated the functionality of the large Attraction Select TV screen between it and 1207, as the 1207 build has the room available, but the screen is non-functional. It also says "Heavy" on the title card instead of "Heaby".

    Could be that whatever build they sent out to the magazines were tightened up in some places and not others, specifically for review purposes. The individual development builds could have been worked on separately and compiled into a functional whole later.

    I love how the review just doesn't hold back about how shitty this game is though. Like they're having more fun coming up with random Echidna factoids than the video game itself.

    Personally I think "Liquidize The Dog" is a fantastic concept for a video game character.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  10. Robjoe

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    Regarding "NUTS", I believe I've heard before that Heavy and Bomb were originally named Nuts and Bolts, which does fit in with them being "Eggman's chief mechanics". I don't think there's any relation to Mighty; "Nat/Nuts" might just be a coincidence.

    Interesting stuff otherwise. I don't think I've ever heard of Nat the Armadillo, and I definitely wasn't aware of a magazine mentioning Tails (after the addition of Mighty, no less!) I doubt he was intended to stay after Sonic was cut, but this sheds a small day of light on exactly when he was removed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
  11. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    this is what KLF is about Wiki Sysop
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  12. Adamis

    Adamis

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    Lammy and "Fafnir"
    Oh wow, I had that issue back in the day.
     
  13. Prototype

    Prototype

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    So, bit of a thread bump. Having posted on the forum again, I'm keen to try dig some more through this ROM and figure out if I can shed some light on this alternate Time Attack screen.

    However, it always was a pain to try get it to trigger, especially given that I don't know what triggers it other than completely random chance.

    I posted a savestate of the screen in the link quoted above, but as stated it was only active for 30 days since the initial post.

    Did anyone happen to download the Savestate when I originally posted it? Anyone still got it? It would save endless rebooting and Start-button mashing.

    The laptop I was using at the time of the original post is dead, and with it, my data.

    Much appreciated if anyone can help me out here. I'm still baffled as to what triggers this damn menu.
     
  14. Dissent

    Dissent

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    See attached.
     

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  15. Prototype

    Prototype

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    You are glorious, sir. Thank you.
     
  16. Prototype

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    So, I've been dicking around with savestate editors as best I can, to try figure this whole NUTS thing out. Messed around with the tilemap data, and while the names don't exist in proper text, I think it's confirmed that they just exist on that screen as tilemap data.

    Scanning the 1207 ROM with a Hex editor, I found the location of the data.

    At "0xB222", you can see the beginning of the "NUTS" string. That is; "00, 2E, 00, 35, 00, 34, 00, 33"

    The first byte 00 seems to alter which way the tile is flipped, with the secondary byte indicating the alphanumeric character displayed.

    Thus;

    2E = N
    35 = U
    34 = T
    33 = S

    The next 3 bytes are all 00's, but at 0xB22D you find the alternate non-text tile map data for the name "VECTOR"

    36 = V
    25 = E
    23 = C
    34 = T
    2F = O
    32 = R

    There doesn't appear to be any other similarly-styled name data in this area of the ROM, and simply appears to be a general tilemap for the entire screen, as the surrounding area features similar data for the strings "1st, 2nd, 3rd" etc.

    They occur only once in the ROM itself, suggesting that the screen is just pointing to the same string of data multiple times. The savestate however, contains multiple copies as expected.

    At the very least, perhaps this data or it's area might clue in some of the more experienced programmers as to how the alternate screen decides to appear in the first place. I'm really not sure.

    I didn't scan all the other protos, but it seems like these tilemap parts still exist in the next couple of revisions, but is gone by the final game.

    There's also a chance I'm getting my terminology wrong here, but I think you get the jist.

    I realize that this kind of deviates from the initial purpose of the thread (that is, the magazine pre-release scans), and is kind of a tangent, but I don't really want to hijack Black Squirrel's thread and shit it up with my findings when I have a perfectly good thread on the front page.

    And just to wrap up my findings, the text and selector appear on "Scroll A Lo", with the Level names appearing on "Scroll B Lo". Since it's a Genesis savestate editor, I presume it doesn't parse 32x data properly, and can only assume that the level icons themselves only exist on the 32x side of things, hence why they don't appear. But fun fact, the numbers on the Time Attack stages are separate from the icons themselves.

    SCROLL A.png SCROLL B.png
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
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