A Satellaview research blog.

Explaining BS-X “lockout” – why your Zelda pack won’t play anymore. (sorry dude.)

Ah, this dreaded screen.
Why so dreaded?
This screen says you got no data in your Memory Pack, that’s why.
Wait, what’s that? “I just HAD a game in this 5 minutes ago!”?
Unfortunately, a common realization people don’t tend to have have when purchasing Satellaview 8M Memory Packs that have game data in them is that many of the games are designed to expire. Callis lost the chance to play a Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce pack to this. Poor guy. 🙁

This post was more or less inspired by me talking about this a bit before in a DigitPress thread. Let me repeat a bit of what I said there, and then add some more to it from some additional research.

I’ll start off by repeating this; many Satellaview downloads are designed to expire.
Nintendo and St.GIGA had to think of -something- to prevent people from keeping free games forever; this system is probably one of the earliest examples of DRM in console gaming, and also among the most brutal.
The games expire through a method where, in the end, the data is “locked” in the memory pack, sitting there fully intact, yet being unable to be read.

What games are set to expire? A fairly high amount of them! If it was released at retail, expect any Satellaview download counterpart that doesn’t have any alterations to be expire-able. If it’s Kaizo Choujin Shubibinman Zero, same. If it’s a Soundlink title? Wait, those weren’t designed to boot up to begin with, so these games were already “locked” befroe you even got your hands on them.

What games don’t expire? For some reason, many Nintendo 1st Party downloads, like the BS Kirby no Omachahako line, Special Tee Shot, and special editions of their titles. Also, Squaresoft’s games.

“How” does a game expire? The BS-X checks the header for a value (xFD5) that states how many boot-ups the game has left; This amount seems to be between 1 (0x84) and 5 (0xFC) for every download that can expire (data that doesn’t expire have 0x00 in the header value). If it boots up a game, it’ll subtract from that value. When there’s nothing left (0x80)? The game is “locked”. The BS-X will refuse to read the game, acting as though it’s not even in the Memory Pack. Other data can theoretically be written over it. However, if you believe your data is valuable – which is likely the case – then you’ll probably want to know if you can do something about this.
A ROM Dump of an 8M Pack with “locked” data will allow you to see the contents – Emulators like SNESGT and SNES9Xpp XE will even bypass the lock and boot it up (BSNES, however, won’t – such is the downside of highly accurate emulation, needing to emulate the un-desirable parts.)
If you want a way to un-do the lock in the Memory Pack itself, though… well, good luck to you there. I got nothing to help you with.

New ROMs: Old ROMs; Same Difference.

Thanks to Callis yet again, here’s a set of new ROM releases.
Rather than go for “Strange” ROMs like I have done previously, this post will be dedicated to things one might find boring – or not. There’s still a chance there’s something in these I don’t see at first glance, after all.

Let me start with the one you’re least likely to play first. “Gambler Jiko Chuushinsha 2 – Dorapon Quest”.

Gambler Jiko Chuushinsha 2 – Dorapon Quest (BS) | 自己中心派2 ドラポンクエスト (BS)

I do not know much about the game in particular, but it’s based off a SFC cartridge release of some sort. It seems to be Mahjong game. Bummer.

Next up is a title a bit more easily accessible to an international audience.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling (BS) | スーパーファイヤープロレスリング (BS)

Super Fire Pro Wrestling is a game in the cult-import hit “Fire Pro Wrestling” line. The gameplay in this entry – once again a rerelease of the retail cart version – is similar to the NES game “Pro Wrestling”.

After that, we have…

Super Bomberman 2 (BS) | スーパーボンバーマン2 (BS)

Super Bomberman 2. This one should be fairly familiar for Bomberman fans. The Satellaview version does not seem to have anything particularly special about it, though, so the Caravan version would probably still be the rarest. [/nerd talk]

These three are all standard, limited-bootup, Satellaview downloads. Being quick rereleases of older titles, they are fairly easy to emulate. There may not even be any differences in coding…

Well, not the normal coding, anyway. The Satellaview had a different SRAM system, and games had to be modified to function with that. This can cause certain ROMs to have issues with emulators. Therefore, for the last two releases, I’d specifically recommend booting these with the BS-X ROM in SNESGT;

Super Nazo Puyo – Lulu no Luu (BS) | スーパーなぞぷよ ルルーのルー(BS)

Super Nazo Puyo, a psuedo-RPG/Puzzle game hybrid based off Compile’s arcade puzzle game line. Even though this is based off a standard retail release, an emulator like ZSNES would have problems with this ROM in spite of being able to play the original game normally.

Now, for my last release. This one is a bit more personal to me than the rest, because this is an 8M Pack I purchased myself, with my own money, to be dumped.
When I initially got it it appeared to be empty, but of course I knew (well, because the YJA auction description implied it) that it had some sort of data, so I sent it to Callis to dump.
He returned to me, this very ROM image.

ActRaiser (BS) | アクトレイザー(BS)

Strangely enough, I had people request me to find this bit of data before I actually did find it. As per the above entries, I do not suspect it to be any different from the retail (Japanese) version in terms of gameplay. However, Callis did tell me of emulation issues, so I once again expect SRAM code modification.

Hopefully anyone here can take the time to invest to try to dig into these ROMs a bit deeper? 🙂