Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rockman EXE 6: 5th Anniversary

Today is a wonderful day. November 23, 2010 marks the 5th Anniversary of the release of Rockman EXE 6 in Japan. Rockman EXE 6 - Dennoujuu Faltzer and Grega were officially released on November 23, 2005. This release marked the official end of the EXE series. It is also the first game that I actively followed since its announcement back in the summer of that year. I've quickly created a little graphic to commemorate this day, which can be clicked to bring up a larger version.

I've always considered EXE 6 to be the best game in the series. Maybe it's because I followed it till the very end, or because I actually decided to play it in Japanese to completion before it was released in the US. But there was a feeling of "newness" surrounding the game while it was announced. Suddenly most of the game's graphics had changed. It made the game seem to stand in a class of its own - EXE1-3, EXE4-5, and EXE6. The game felt more refined and truly ended the series on a high note. Finally, the unbalanced system of Light and Dark chips was gone. Players no longer have to beat the game before fighting stronger viruses; EX viruses were removed. The EX and SP system was established for boss chips which made Navi chips useful halfway through the game! Furthermore, the game boldly broke the norm and had a unique final boss for each version. The Graveyard area made a perfect addition to the game and its unfortunate that the entire area didn't make it to the US game. EXE 6 also pushed the limit by adding a boss from another series - Hakushaku from Boktai! The post-game extras had much more depth than the previous games. Then there is Bass BX. He is clearly one of the toughest bosses in the entire series. Compared to the fluffy stuff EXE 1 set up, Bass BX is a monster! For one attack to do 640 damage to 7 panels is absolutely insane no matter which way you look at it. And most importantly, chip attacks got stronger! Finally the player no longer had to struggle with weak, low power attacks which became evident farther into the game. The benefit of stronger attacks is that the game can play on a higher or faster level. I can't quite describe it but it makes the game much better than the rest.

However, there were some problems. Going back to the power issue, it could have interfered with Player-vs-Player battles. It encourages a power bias where strategy is no longer relevant and powerful attacks rule. That's not fair. Then there's that KillerEye electric glitch. Yeah, it's a glitch! There's no reason for a damaging panel to hit again after it has already caused damage. And I remember that Japanese version had another glitch that Tornado did 4x damage if it had a White Capsule and it hit on a grass panel. It was fixed in the US version. EXE 6 being the last game in the series, I was disappointed to find out that they failed to unite the two game versions as nicely as in EXE 4. EXE 4 was the best in terms of multiplayer. If you had a friend with the opposite game version, your game got almost twice as fun! By linking up, you were allowed to participate in Free Tournaments where your friend's game-specific Navis fought using their playstyle. You could even use Dark Chips freely in the toruneys. Also, next time you started the game, their Navis would appear in the main tournaments and it would be like playing the opposite version in one game cart! And at the end, it would be possible to encounter Navis in EVERY area of the Net. This would also make it possible to complete the Secret library and obtain the opposite-version Navis' chips yourself. It was amazing! I was disappointed to find out this was never carried on. Instead, the Navis became "reflections" of the opposite. A "this instead of that" case. It's a shame, really, because it was lots of fun.

But that didn't stop the fun. Shortly after the US game was released, I browsed the GameFAQs boards frequently. It was there that I encountered a member named "RaijinK" who was attempting to collect sprites of all the enemies in the EXE series. He realized that there was a missing Rare Virus in the WindBox family: RareFan. The then omnipotent game hacker, Terrence appeared and helped out RaijinK. He located the offset that edited a Catack in ACDC HP. RaijinK got what he wanted, but I followed along as well. A couple months later, I published the first Megaman Battle Network 6 Battle Hacking Guide. By then it was obvious that people like Terrence wouldn't appreciate such a discovery. Making custom battles for the best EXE game was any fan's dream! I can safely say that for the next 3 years, hacking the game was something every fan had to try because it was getting more out of the game. And it was a challenge.

For a while, many people had said the game was too easy. In fact, early screenshots reveal that the game would have actually been more difficult than it is right now. Looking back at my history with the game, I am aiming at giving the fans a challenge. I won't say much about this now, but you won't be disappointed. It's been 5 years. I think it's time we started playing the game again. I will shortly release my MMBN6 patch which I encourage people to play from the beginning. But for the true diehard fans, I encourage you all to wait patiently. I hope that within a week, we can all start playing Megaman Battle Network 6 again and relive the experience one more time. I've seen this "Pass the Playthrough" going around and I fully support it for replaying the game with my patch.

Thanks to everyone who has been there since the beginning. It's been a fun 5 years.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A few more EXE:OSS rips

Thanks to LuigiBlood for showing me how to use CrystalTile, I was able to start ripping from the overlay files in EXE:OSS. The overlays are a mess. They're cluttered and unorganized - like the rest of the game. I was still able to get some screenshots and ripped some of the new artwork that Capcom never formally released.

The rips are on Sprites INC. If I have some spare time, I will be able to rip more screens. You know, the stuff that's actually new. The animation on the right is the updated 256x192 Jack-In animation. Unfortunately, it still suffers the problems of compressed graphics in 2000-era Game Boy Advance games: they're really low quality.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shiny bevels in Inkscape

For months, I have been pondering on the technique used to create the shiny beveled edges found in several official Megaman logos. For a while my guesses skewed to pixel-based bevel effects in Photoshop. Finally, I've realized how this effect was done, in vector. It's a little time-consuming, but fun.

Here is an exaggerated example done in Inkscape.

It can actually be done in Adobe Illustrator along with Inkscape. I just downloaded Illustrator, but I accidentally got CS3 which is clunky and illogical compared to CS4. Both programs have their advantage when doing this. In Inkscape and Illustrator, CS4 in particular, the gradient can be moved around freely. In Illustrator, blending modes can be used as opposed to Inkscape which only supports blending modes in layers. A blending mode will make the effect shinier and applicable to any background. However, Illustrator isn't so great at clipping. At least I haven't had an easy time applying some. Plus, it doesn't support gradient strokes, but that can be solved easily. Inkscape can generate the line segments faster than Illustrator as far as I know. I'll gladly write a tutorial on this soon since it has bugged me for so long. Then maybe the technique can be improved upon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Megaman 20th Logo

Remember Megaman's 20th Anniversary? It seems like a very long time ago and Capcom USA made some impressive-looking graphics to download. They include bookcovers, posters, and wallpapers. The later was rather low-res. The print materials, on the other hand, were high-quality PDFs. One of them happened to have the Megaman 20th logo. Regular readers of the blog will know how I love to snoop around Capcom's materials. It's inspiring.

Anyways, the logo happened to be in vector and fully layered. Score! Now I get to see how they made it, despite the fact I already made a vector version myself. I'm starting to realize that their work isn't as precise as it's made to be. In my version, I made sure to be very precise and have it look PERFECT at all sizes. Capcom's is messy and overdrawn. Maybe it's the designer's preference, but I prefer to work clean.

For example, the hair color is one layer and the stroke is another. It's a full fill though meaning it isn't classified as a stroke, but a shape. That makes sense because now it can be customized and I would have done that anyways. Looking at the mid-blue color, it doesn't fill up the area it's supposed to. I was obsessed with getting the shape to fit perfectly under the stroke. The same thing goes for the light-blue and the eye fill. They didn't care. The pointed edge on the side of Megaman's face is one of the poorest drawing I've seen come from Capcom. It's just horrible. And the mouth might seem simple, but it's actually overstroked containing 3 layers. Why couldn't it just be one?
Moving on to the text. I think I may have done the purple stroke incorrectly. They seem round. Looking closely, I was correct about the word "MEGAMAN" being written in Helvetica. The "20" seems like an original font. The "th" seems like another, less common font, that I didn't use. Back to blunders - the wavy line design was executed poorly. Based on the layers, they made the yellow stroke, made a separate purple stroke and put it in the back. However, it isn't even the same color as the back. Furthermore, the stroke wasn't even needed. As is seen in how the 2 cuts into the 0, a stroke was used to subtract from the 0 shape. I think they may have forgotten, but at least it can't be seen from far away.

That's enough of my critique. Seeing this, I would love to have the 15th version as well. It's too bad the old Capcom Megaman site will never be seen again...

You can download a PDF of the logo from the link below.


There is a PNG version in this post as well. The PDF is to use any part of the logo with a vector-editing program.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A few more rips

I've gotten around to ripping a few more mugshots from EXE:OSS. I developed a technique that extracts the sprite data from a memory dump quickly.

All the rips were posted in the Sprites INC topic.

Now if only the game's custom LZ77 compression could be deciphered, more sprites could be ripped much faster. Not to mention that translation project could finally, you know, start.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Megaman Star Force 3 playing cards

One of the projects I had required making believable playing cards. This means it must read like a card and have the features of a playing card. I had fun with the project and made cards for King, Queen, and Jack. A backside was also required. And since this project was due today, there is a 0% chance of anyone copying me for their assignment this quarter.

They're fairly accurate and I would have made more if the rest of the set didn't get so confusing. Now who am I going to put on the numbered cards? I'd rather leave this project as it is. Besides, the assignment asked for one card.

In other news, today is the first day of November. I realize October was relatively uneventful and there was little I could have done about that. This month is going to be more exciting. I am hoping to release my patch sometime this month. Progress is picking up again and the only thing slowing me down is the time I have free and amount of hacks. Also, the Megaman Battle Network Official Complete Works is releasing on Thanksgiving week. I'm hoping to buy it so I can observe it myself. Additionally, that week will mark the 5 year anniversary of EXE6. The Japanese version of Battle Network 6 released Thanksgiving week in Japan in 2005. I can still remember the day when all the hype was building. It was the first BN game I played in Japanese to completion. I'm hoping to do something special when that time comes so keep checking for any hints I may drop.