Sonic Jam Level Maps

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by theyogwog, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. theyogwog

    theyogwog

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    Are there any full level maps of the "easy" mode versions of the classic Sonic games' levels that were accessible in the Saturn game, Sonic Jam? Or maybe a written list of all the changes between the different game modes? I'm just wanting to look at what was changed. Thanks.
     
  2. Shadow Hog

    Shadow Hog

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a ROM hack out there that ports the Easy/Normal level layouts to the original Genesis version of the game?

    ...and Easy is basically just Normal but with only one Act per Zone - often not the one with the boss in it.
     
  3. Hez

    Hez

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    There is. I have it if there isn't an upload of it.
     
  4. theyogwog

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    Oh yeah. There's one for Sonic 1 that's a hack of that game, and in the rom hack Sonic 3 Complete it apparently does that for Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, and Sonic 3 and Knuckles, right? It's nice to at least be able to explore within the game to see what changes there are. It would be nicer to be able to just look at a whole levels at once, like in the level maps here and on Sonic Zone 0. Is it a lot of work to make images like those? And how is it done?
     
  5. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    There's a hack but the preferred option would be to extract this data from the Sonic Jam disc. I don't know how that hack was made back in the day - it could have easily been made just by eye.


    Sonic Jam actually has three options; easy, "normal" and original. Original is a carbon copy of the Mega Drive games (or so we think), but normal features layout tweaks.

    IIRC the most obvious example of this is Hydrocity Act 2 in Sonic 3 - there are different places of springs and spikes when running from that... wall at the start. Easy removes the springs and has an easy-to-get extra life box. Normal moves the springs so that they're still an obstacle, but not a threat. Original has the springs positioned so that they send you in the wrong direction. That is to say, "normal" is easier than "original", but harder than "easy".


    On top of this, easy culls half the stages so that they're only an act each (and removes Wing Fortress Zone in Sonic 2 outright). I don't quite know how they made their choices, but there's certainly not a pattern to them.


    From memory:

    Sonic 1 typically uses act 1s, except for Labyrinth where it uses act 3, and final zone.

    Sonic 2 typically uses act 1s as well.

    Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles however usually go for act 2, including for Sandopolis where act 2 surely can't be easier than act 1. Exceptions are Angel Island and Lava Reef, and you do Hidden Palace and Sky Sanctuary.


    On top of this there's also a time attack mode and I can't genuinely remember if it replaces the extra life boxes. I get the feeling it doesn't because I remember questioning why I had lives. Worth checking out.



    Honestly Sonic Jam is always being overlooked, and yet I'm sure it fixed a ton of bugs that you don't see in later compliations.
     
  6. MainMemory

    MainMemory

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    I can't speak to Zone 0's maps, but the maps on here are made with SonED2 or increasingly SonLVL due to its greater object sprite support. If the level data can be extracted from Sonic Jam, and if it is in the same format as the original games, then creating a level map would be quite simple, depending on whether SonLVL has a full set of object definitions for the level in question.
     
  7. ICEknight

    ICEknight

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    I remember reading a while back that it is.

    I so wish there was a way to also port the rest of the in-game engine, with the first official implementation of the spindash in Sonic 1 (which is superior to M2's recent attempt).
     
  8. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    I'm curious to hear the technical nitty-gritty as to how it's better, if you're willing to type it out.
     
  9. Jayextee

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    I DONE MAKED GAMES.
    So I had a quick play through each of the single games on easy setting to give a definitive list; I missed S3&K because it's basically just going to combine S3/S&K's culls, right?

    Results:
    Green Hill Zone 1
    Marble Zone 1
    Spring Yard Zone 2
    Labyrinth Zone 3
    Star Light Zone 2
    Scrap Brain Zone 1
    Final Zone

    Emerald Hill Zone 2
    Chemical Plant Zone 1
    Aquatic Ruin Zone 1
    Casino Night Zone 1
    Hill Top Zone 1
    Mystic Cave Zone 1
    Oil Ocean Zone 2
    Metropolis Zone 1
    Sky Chase Zone
    Death Egg Zone

    Angel Island Zone 1
    Hydrocity Zone 2
    Marble Garden Zone 2
    Carnival Night Zone 2
    Ice Cap Zone 2
    Launch Base Zone 2

    Mushroom Hill Zone 1
    Flying Battery Zone 2
    Sandopolis Zone 2
    Lava Reef Zone 1
    Hidden Palace Zone
    Sky Sanctuary Zone
    Death Egg Zone 2
    (Didn't get all emeralds, but I presume there's The Doomsday Zone at the end?)
     
  10. LocalH

    LocalH

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    It'd have to be done by disassembling the Saturn code and porting it to the MD. Am I mistaken in thinking that it was discovered the the games were ported in such a way tat the Saturn code was "pseudo-68k"? Where, basically, the game logic is running natively on one of the SH-2s, but still used the registers as basically a direc mapping to the 68k registers? Not sure how the game handles video, whether there is a simulated VDP or if the graphic code was refactored for the Satrun VDPs.
     
  11. Tiddles

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    Not quite, actually, although your summary of the difficulty order is correct.
    • Original S3: backwards pointing spring
    • Original S3&K: backwards pointing spring replaced with 1up, added spikes somewhere you'll never hit them
    • Jam Normal: As S3&K, with added forward springs so you barely have to spindash up any of the slopes
    • Jam Easy: As Jam Normal, but with most of the floors removed after the 1up so you can fall through faster, and all the breakable walls removed so there is no need to spindash at all.

    Removing breakable walls is a particular trait of easy mode, at least in S3&K, such that you can get reasonably far in the game without spindashing at all. Launch Base ruins it because of those pillars that need a spindash, some of which need to exist to provide a water funnel to travel along. IIRC, I tested easy mode in S3C with Knuckles with the spindash disabled, and he only gets stuck right at the end of LBZ2, where he can't get enough speed to break the pillar and get to his boss.

    Anyway, yes, S3C includes them, and they were painstakingly extracted from the Jam files with very few modifications. You are overestimating my dedication if you think I would have done them by eye! There are little differences all over the place. The main ones I remember are that there are a few rings at the start of and during the DEZ boss act, and after the ball launcher boss in LBZ, on both normal and easy, and easy has some extra floors, particularly at the bottom of one of the long ICZ2 water pits, and some extra floating rocks where the non-miniboss drops you onto lava in LRZ1.

    I did make a few changes in S3C for practical reasons. There's this spring in LBZ2 easy that stops you from taking a harder route through a water pipe while giving you easy access to the faster route around it, which just wouldn't appear on MD until I moved it a pixel to one side - possibly too many objects at the same X coordinate; the aforementioned ice floor was done with sprites on Saturn, which caused severe sprite limit issues on MD, so I replaced it with some chunks and moved a spring vertically to fit; and some fixes for things like double-placed rings and monitors were applied to all sets of object layouts. But by and large, they are accurate.

    Some other facts about the modes (which I hope are facts and not things I've misremembered):

    • As I recall, S1 Easy only offers three chaos emeralds. However, even though S3&K loses almost half of its acts, you can still collect all chaos and super emeralds as normal - but doing it in one sweep without going back to a clear save would be a bit of a task (particularly if you've put it on easy mode because that's your actual skill level). In S3C, I changed this so that easy mode caps out with chaos emeralds, like S3 or S&K alone.
    • The periodic special stage speedups don't happen on easy or normal mode - it always stays at the starting speed.
    • Zones where act 1 is played have a straight S1/2-style jump-cut to the next zone afterwards. The act transition system makes this change a bit more of a departure than just changing the level order in S1/2, and probably explains why act 2 is favoured in most cases, as you'd only have to change the level target in the exit transition object.
    • You can use the level select to access the otherwise inaccessible acts in easy mode, in which case you get the normal mode layout - there are no "lost" easy mode layouts unfortunately, at least for S3&K, although I think MHZ2 may have had a very slightly different ring layout for some reason.
    • On easy mode, bosses only take three hits, except for the odd one that takes four. More on that below...

    I keep hearing Jam being bandied about as some forgotten great fixed version, and I'd be really interested to know the basis for that, because it's not my impression at all. Here are some fairly easily encountered issues:

    • The glowing spheres bonus stage's rings all tend to disappear soon after starting the stage for some reason.
    • Those three hit bosses are all programmed lazily. This causes glitches with the SSZ redux of the MTZ boss, since some numbnuts reduced him to having three eggs instead of two - so the last one is still attached when he dies, and then attaches itself to other objects throughout the level to ruin your day; the final DEZ emerald-holding boss can be defeated before he flies to the right, which stops the game from continuing; and the FBZ boss has a weird looking behaviour change on arrival in all modes so that he can't be killed too early on easy and break forward motion as in DEZ.
    • The debug super monitor garbles Sonic's graphics
    • In the Japanese version, the falling snow always stays after the end of ICZ1, causing all the same problems as if you'd glitched it that way on MD by skipping the boss (mostly objects glitching out, including the act 2 ending tally, which stops the game moving on).
    • GOOD GRIEF, the sound effects. Don't give me that nonsense about them having been remastered - it sounds more like the sound data was played back with the wrong driver to record them or something. They sound incontestably dire, and the lack of change to the S1/2 versions, and the inclusion of the correct effects in S&K Collection, suggests that this is indeed a mistake, however it came about.
    • And oh yeah, since the music is streamed from static files too (and since this was the olden days), there are no fade-ins or outs, and sneakers speedups and 1ups cause music restarts.

    The only visible improvements I've seen come as natural side effects of being ported to a better CPU and VDP, I.e. reduced slowdowns and sprite flickering, and do not suggest any practical improvements to the base engine. So I'm really interested to know if there is some genuinely clever stuff in there, other than poking at level layouts and hit counts - the spindash is the only addition I've heard of that suggests intelligent alterations to the original code. There's still some good stuff, like time attack for 1P levels and the consecutive Special Stage challenge, but that's not really anything to do with the engine - the game itself has had pretty much zero visible change to accommodate them.

    IIRC, the Zone Zero maps were derived from Mercury's Sonic Extractor and a lot of touching up to deal with water and various other things that aren't easy to map out programmatically. Not sure if there are still downloads somewhere, but it works from savestates, and since S3C mostly follows the same memory map, it should be possible to at least map our rendition of the Jam layouts that way - which as I say, are identical other than the minor tweaks mentioned, and possibly some other minor necessary bits I've forgotten. Unfortunately, I don't have the raw extracted data any more, as I did all that stuff before I made friends with source control. Pulling it off the disc is not too problematic, but you do have to split one big long file using pointers from another, IIRC. I think the format for the S1/2 levels in Jam is a bit simpler.
     
  12. Shadow Hog

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    I recall my copy sort of breaks this big ramp in Lava Reef Zone 2, too. Like, there's a few tiles that are plainly wrong (including a few that are totally transparent when it's supposed to be completely opaque), and the special routine that lets the characters smoothly go through it doesn't trigger. I think the latter one might be a problem of my copy, but the graphical glitch appears to be more than just me.
     
  13. ICEknight

    ICEknight

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    You can get hit by badniks while doing it.

    EDIT: Also, did this happen on the Saturn?
     
  14. LordOfSquad

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    Heh.

    You probably knew this but M2 had access to Sonic Jam's source code while they were doing 3D Sonic, so they could use Jam's implementation of the spin dash, but they "[didn't] get it". Had to go ask Yuji Naka himself for help. At least they did better than the college interns who did Sonic Genesis. :specialed:
     
  15. DigitalDuck

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    This is also possible in the original game; it's just a lot easier with the lower hit count.
     
  16. Fred

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    Also, the frequency modulation used to increase the pitch of the revving sound isn't capped, so it eventually overflows and plays a disturbingly low note. I'm not kidding.
     
  17. theyogwog

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    Here's from Sonic Extractor's help page:

    IMPORTANT NOTE: As of version 1.2, before moving on to the Layout Page, you will be prompted to choose between the original Sonic 3 alone object layout, or the modified Sonic 3 & Knuckles object layout (only for the 6 zones common between the two games, of course).� When Sonic & Knuckles is locked on to Sonic 3, many of the objects have their positions revised. When you are met with the confirmation prompt, press �Yes� for the Sonic & Knuckles object layouts, or �No� for the unrevised Sonic 3 object layout. These object layouts can be selected irrespective of the game the savestate is from. Object layout data is NOT stored in Sonic 3 or Sonic 3 & Knuckles savestates � Sonic Extractor has the object layouts built-in. Therefore, if you load a savestate you made with Sonic 3, the object layout will still be the modified Sonic 3 & Knuckles version if you do not specify otherwise.

    So I don't think it will work, unfortunately.
     
  18. Tiddles

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    True enough, but I think it's worth qualifying what "a lot" means: it's a real speedrun skills thing to do with the original hit count, requiring Sonic and Tails to both get in on the act, as best I can tell, whereas it's trivial to do it with the easy mode hit count.

    You're right, of course. You can tell I haven't thought it through when I forget that the object lists are in the ROM.

    One oddity I forgot to mention is Sonic 3's level select code, which can be entered on the title screen in Jam. This is also true in the 3C betas, and the code works that way if uncommented in S3&K, which makes me wonder if Jam S3A is based on a post-release build - this somehow seems more likely to me than someone having fixed that one thing manually. I don't think it shares its engine code with S3&K though, as in S&K Collection and S3C.
     
  19. muteKi

    muteKi

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    As another note for things Jam gets terribly wrong, you forgot the error in the palette in Act 1 of Lava Reef. It's pretty egregious. (I think some of the background layering effects area bit hosed too?)
     
  20. Black Squirrel

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    It would be nice to see proper documentation and comparisons for the wiki. Or any documentation. Something.