Well, similar as many other CPC freaks I didn't only write programs, I also tried to understand the programs of other CPC coders. Sometimes these other programs were the copy protection of a game...
For once cracking a copy protections was a proof of my skills, in particular the skill to disassemble a foreign program and remove the copy protection and replace it by a regular disc loader. The other reason was that I used to buy a lot of tape games and I was just fed up with the tedious loading times. So I either ported the whole game to a disc or I cracked at least the main program so that the individual levels still had to be loaded from tape, but at least the master program was loaded quickly from disc (e.g. R-Type, Altered Beast, The Real Ghostbusters,...). Often I also added a cheat mode (often called Poke or Trainer at these days) to the game and thus I had to be able to load the game with my own loading routine, so that the poke could be applied after the whole game was loaded.
Another reason for cracking games was to make my name famous. Just, it wasn't really my name...
That is for cracking games and ripping sounds from games I used a different name. At first I called myself "Ninja", but then a friend of mine discovered my secret identity and thus I changed my name to "Samurai" - I admit, that wasn't such a far fetched alternative.
As Samurai I cracked some 30 games, poked/ trained probably around 50 games (some of my own cracks, some of other peoples cracks) and ripped about 10 to 15 sounds from games. An incomplete list of my cracks, rips, pokes is at the end of this page.
As I've told you before, my brother owned an Amiga 500. Every now and then he got some new games from a friend and most of them had intros or splash screens of the cracker or group that removed the copy protection. I liked the idea of having my cracker name appear in front of the games I've cracked. Whenever I had the time I wrote a small or large intro to appear in front of one of the cracked games.
I didn't really have the time to write intros for all the cracks. After I've bought a big box of CPC games on sale from a German mail order service I didn't have the time to furnish any of my cracks with an intro. So sometimes I just had a "Trainer (Y/ N)" message appear or didn't give any indication of my involvement in this crack - remember, the main reason for cracking was having the game on disc load faster than on tape, not to distribute it among a lot of people...
Following is a list of the intros - big or small - I added to games I've cracked in no special order.
Batman the Caped Crusader
The main reason for cracking this game was that it was too hard and I wanted to train it, so that I finally could win it to see how it ends. The game was in two different parts in which you had to fight against the Penguin and the Joker - so I had to crack two different games. But once I've found out how to crack the one part it was no problem to crack the other.
As intro I used a small routine I had developed some time before: the original snow routine! This was actually the template to the snow falling routine I've released in 1992. For the latter I made some improvements, because in this original routine the snow flakes would land on any green or brown background objects, that is it would land on the outside of the trees and the grass, but it wouldn't land on the branches.
Also when there were a lot of snow flakes on the screen the program would get rather slow. So for the second version of this routine I've speed optimized the routines, so that I could have more snow flakes on the screen at the same time.
Besides that in the original routine the snow storm started with a few flakes that got more and more until the maximum of flakes was reached. In the new version the snow storm would get worse and better again over the time. It was a constant up and down of snow flakes falling which made the whole thing more believable.
Since I cracked Batman the Caped Crusader on Christmas Eve 1990 I thought that the snow routine would make a nice intro to the game.
Equinox really was a great game. It had an incredible good title song - a real ear candy. Also the graphics was nice and colorful. But the game was a little too hard, in my opinion. So a trainer was what I needed, thus I cracked it, trained it and created a rather small intro for it.
This intro had one of my first color bars in the background. It's flickering a lot and the horizontal size isn't correctly computed, so that the different colors mix all the time. Well I also had to start small...
Anyway while I was looking for a trainer I've found several different possibilites to make the game easier, e.g. unlimited energy and ammunition as well as completely removing all enemies - which made the game rather dull, though.
Masters of the Universe
I liked the game Masters of the Universe, because besides having neat graphics the programmer was able to pack a lot of different sub games into the memory without the having to reload. I was aa big fan of the movie and I was happy when I was able to get the game on tape. But yet another time the game was far too hard and after trying unsuccessfully to win it I cracked it, trained it and won it...
The intro is a little better than the one I made for Equinox. I've created my own font instead of using the system font, so that I could pack more text on the screen at the same time. Additional to that I had a scrollig text (using the system font) with a 7 colors cycle which I also used on some of the regular text on the screen. So this intro is quite colorful and annoying.
As for the trainer there is all you need to win the game, unlimited lives and energy.
I'm not such a great fan of strategy games since you need to have lots of time to accomplish something in a strategy game and you cannot just play it for 20 minutes and then do something else again. You first need to learn how to play it and then you always need some time to get back into it.
For Nether Earth I made an exception! In Nether Earth you have to build different types of robots to conquer an enemy territory. In order to build better robots you need to capture enemy factories that manufacture different robot parts. Of course your enemy tries to do the same with your factories...
This game wasn't really difficult. That is you could win it in 30 - 45 minutes depending on your skills. I cracked it anyway, because this was a game that I liked to run every now and then and just play for some time. I didn't even bother to look for a cheat mode, since I had almost no trouble winnig it without cheating.
The intro isn't a lot. It's just a fake TV test screen and then some text that fades in and out again using the three grey/ white colors of the CPC. Nothing worth to mention...
Today there are still some fans of this game around. There is actually a PC port of the game. You can download it here.
Nemesis the Warlock
I had read a lot about this game and I once played the C64 version of it, before I got the CPC version. The C64 game had an incredible tune by Rob Hubbard. The CPC version of that music wasn't as good as the C64 original, but it still was a great song. This alone was reason enough to transfer the game to disc so that I didn't need to wait for so long to be able to listen to this sound.
The game itself was funny in a brutal sort of way. That is you had to slay enemies and then climb on their dead bodies to reach higher platforms or the exit of the current screen. Unfortunately the collision detection wasn't very good, so sometimes when you walked across a bunch of dead bodies you just fell through them. This made the game rather hard if not impossible. Especially in one screen you had to build a bridge with bodies to cross a gap in the ground. Every time I tried that I fell into the gap due to the bad collision detection and lost the game (you only had one life).
This programming flaw cried out loud for a trainer! So after cracking it I also trained it and added al the cheats I was able to find, that is unlimited life-energy, ammunition and time (referred to as influence in this game).
I also ripped the sound out of the game, since I just couldn't get enough of it. I used this music for one of my first (unreleased) demo parts called "Jumping Text".
The intro for the Nemesis the Warlock crack is mostly text with an animated banner on the top of the screen. This banner either displayed a "Nemesis the Warlock" text or some mean looking eyes, which I ripped out of the title screen
of the CRL game "Wolfman".
This is a game I never really understood. It has smooth scrolling and lots of action, but somehow this game didn't make much sense. I was hoping to understand the game better once I had transferred it to disc and trained it. I found all cheats one ever needs for this game, that is unlimited time, energy and lives - but this didn't really help me to win the game. I still couldn't figure out what to do - reading the manual might have helped. But I already had other occupations to spend my time with, e.g. cracking other games.
Similar to the intros for Nemesis the Warlock and Masters of the Universe this Intro is also mainly text based. On the top of the screen I have another animated banner - I should have had that patented. I would be earning millions nowadays with all those annoying advertisement banners in the Internet - and the rest of the screen is occupied by the "Megatrainer" menu and instructions on how to move around in the menu and select the different options.
The Prodigy was a nice isometric view 3D game. You played an adult who had to protect a child and guide it through different rooms with various dangers. The graphics lacked colors since it was a regular Spectrum conversion with Mode 1 graphics. Also the game was a little slow.
I cracked it, because the protection wasn't very good and it just took little time to crack the game and convert it to disc. I also took the liberty of adding a short intro to the crack ;-)
For the intro I used the background of the Prodigy title screen and wrote a routine that zoomed text, so that it looked like the text was flying towards the screen. The routine was pretty simple. It was just able to double the size of the text without any steps in between and it was really slow, but that was enough for the intro in my opinion.
After all the text had flown by the real title screen was scrolled in line by line from the right in a sine wave and stopped to form the whole picture. This was also a little slow since I didn't yet knew much about speed optimization at that time.
Rambo First Blood Part Two
Rambo was one of the first couple of games I had bought. Even though the screen size was a little smaller on the CPC than on the C64 I liked the game a lot. Choice had made a really good conversion of the game. The sound was great, the graphics were good and the gameplay was fun. Unfortunately the game was a little too hard. I never managed to get farther as the second helicopter landing site. I desperately needed to have a cheat mode for that game to finally finish it. But to train it I first had to transfer it to disc.
After copying it to disc I spend a lot of time on trying to find the correct memory address where the energy is being decreased. To find that I removed one "DEC A" command after the other from the assembled code of Rambo II, started the game and played it a little, to find out whether my energy still gets less or not.
Ironically while I was testing whether the current trainer had the expected effect I actually won the game without any trainer whatsoever. I still continued looking for the trainer and finally found the correct address that removed the energy loss routine and made Rambo invincible. Besides that I also found the possibility to remove all enemy soldiers or their shots - but playing without enemies isn't really fun, is it?
Anyway, the intro for this game is also just a regular text menu in which you could activate or deactive the different cheats and then run the game. Once I had won the game I played it another two or three times and then lost interest.
The same thing had happened to me when I tried to find a trainer for Kung Fu Master (you know, the game where you have to rescue your girl friend and have to fight your way through different floors of a mansion). I never found a trainer for it, but while I was looking for a way to cheat I managed to finish all five levels and actually rescued the woman. After that I didn't bother to continue looking for a cheat...
Tarzan was an interesting game by the way it was programmed. That is the screen was divided horizontally. While the upper part was the visible playing area the lower part was covered by a black field and was used as double buffer for the background graphics. It was an interesting technique that I had never seen before on the CPC and didn't see afterwards again.
I cracked the game because I sort of liked it. It was stupid and had bad graphics, but I was somehow fond of it. For the intro I wanted to do something special, so I wrote a storyboard and then made a short animation in which Tarzan comes flying into the picture hanging from a rope.
Then he defeats some dangerous jungle animals, that is he is being attacked by a tiger and he grabs him, stirs him in the air and then throws him on the ground like a bedside carpet. After that he picks up a snake that attacks him, opens it like an umbrella and then also drops it on the ground.
Finally he lets out his famous Tarzan scream. But suddenly this scream is answered by a similar sound. Tarzan wonders what that could be and screams again to listen to the echo again. Instead of an echo a big bull comes running into the screen and knocks him against a tree where Tarzan collapses. Then the bull screams and the story is over.
This story was rather cheesy, but at that time I found it funny and spend some hours on writing a program to perform this animation. I used the same double buffer trick as the original programer had used, so the screen size for this animation is the same as during the game. I ripped most of the background graphics from the game save for the tree and the rope.
I painted the animations for the animals and most of Tarzan myself (but I had first ripped some of the original Tarzan animation from the game). After this animaton there is a huge horizontal scrolling text with a bad color bar effect in the background. But my skills hadn't developed very far yet -a short time later I would learn about the correct timing of color bars and other hardware tricks.
All in all this is the biggest intro I had created for any of my cracks.
Tetris was THE game that made history in the 80's and 90's and still sells pretty good on all kinds of different devices, e.g. handheld games, cell phones,...
The original CPC version of Tetris was simple and funny, had bad graphics and a very good tune, but it was very addictive none the less. It was a pity that the CPC Tetris version didn't have all the nice background pictures that the PC version had. I cracked it to put it on a disc, so that I could load it faster.
What I like most about Tetris is that you can play it for a few minutes during a break and then go back to work. You don't have to learn all the different keys and options in the game, you don't need to manage how to control you character/ vehicle or space craft - you could just start, play a few games and stop any time you wanted to.
I cracked Tetris and put it on disc, so that I didn't need to waste half of my break time just to load the game. Later I also ripped the tune out of the game, because I liked that as well and I wanted to use it for one of my demos. Soundtrakker wasn't invented yet and the only way of getting a sound for your demo was to rip it from some game. I used the Tetris tune in my unreleased intro part for a planned Megademo that never came to be.
Dragon's Lair 2 Music Demo
Most of the other games I cracked and trained that are not worth to mention. I wanted to speed up the loading process for my own sake and I didn't release them. Probably a few friends of mine copied them when I didn't watch, but I didn't spread them deliberately.
One thing that is worth to mention is the Dragon's Lair 2 Music Demo. Even though the game magazines didn't really like the Dragon's Lair conversions for the home computers, these conversions obviously sold great, so that after Dragon's Lair Software Projects also created Dragon's Lair 2 - Escape from Singes Castle. I didn't own the first Dragon's Lair, because I once played it and didn't really like it. But after seeing and especiall hearing Dragon's Lair II on the C64 I wanted to own the CPC version, hoping that the sound and graphics was as good as on the C64 version.
I bought Dragon's Lair II on disc and liked it a lot! The CPC music sounded even better than the C64 music (in my opinion) and I really hated it that with all the action and the mayhem on the screen you (the player) didn't have the time to enjoy the music. Also often the level ended and it sounded like the music wasn't done yet. So at some point I thought, why not try to rip the music out of the game?
Having the idea was simple, but carrying it out was anything but that. Dragon's Lair II consisted of eight levels that were loaded individually from the disc. The music was always contained in these seperate files and thus I had to disassemble each file individually, find the music data and playing routine and then stuff it into the Dragon's Lair main program, so that you could select any of the eight different sound with an according number key.
Ripping the music data from these eight levels took a couple of days. Stuffing it all in one program took some more time, since I had to write a routine that scanned the keyboard for pressed keys without using system calls - system calls were restricted, because the Dragon's Lair main program disabled interrupts and system calls. Since I hadn't ever done a key scanning routine using direct port in and out commands this took quite some time to achieve, but finally I managed to create a key scanning routine and was able to implement it into the program.
Unfortunately this scanning routine took some calculation time and as soon as the routine starts the mode split on the title screen gets out of sync and a part of the Mode 1 scroll text is in Mode 0. But I was happy with the program as it was and thus didn't really bother this little flaw.
Following is a list of all the games that I've cracked or trained or from which I had ripped the sound or added an intro to. This list is probably incomplete, but I don't remember the other games I cracked or trained.
Title cracked trained sound ripped Intro Doomdarks Revenge yes no no no Masters of the Universe yes yes no yes Nemesis the Warlock yes yes yes yes Dragons Lair 2 no yes yes Text only Mission Omega no yes no no Silworm no no yes no Starstrike II yes yes no no Tarzan Yes Yes No Yes Batman the Caped Crusader Yes Yes No Yes Feud Yes Yes No No Altered Beast Part No No No Batman Yes Yes No No Nether Earth Yes No No Yes Netherworld Yes Yes No Yes The Prodigy Yes Yes No yes SDI Yes Yes No No Dizzy Yes No No No Head over Heels Yes No No No Italian Supercar Yes No No No Emotion Yes Yes No No The Rocky Horror Show Yes Yes No No Equinox Yes Yes No Yes Frost Byte Yes Yes No No Knight Type Yes No No No Cavemania Yes Yes No No Treasure Island Dizzy Yes No No No Fantasy World Dizzy Yes No No No Glass Yes No No No Kentilla Yes No No No Glider Rider Yes No No No Blade Runner Yes No No No Cybernoid Yes Yes No No Salamander Yes Yes No No Tetris Yes No Yes Yes Killapede No Yes No No Warlock Yes No No No Zed No Yes No No Defenders of the Earth Yes Yes No No Hong Kong Phooey Yes No No No Top Cat Yes No No No The Real Ghostbusters Yes No No No Starglider Yes Yes No No Rambo First Blood Part 2 Yes Yes No yes
Iron Maiden and Samurai Intro (1989)
Before I became a demo and game programmer I wanted to become famous by cracking games and distributing them with my name attached to them. Together with a friend of mine I wanted to form a cracking team. Since he was a big fan of the rock group "Iron Maiden" he chose this name as his cracker alias.
At first I called myself "Ninja", but when one of my friends had figured out that this "Ninja", who always put small BASIC intros in front of all the games that I had on my discs, has to be me I changed my alias into "Samurai". This friend of mine (he called himself "Phantom") also found out what my new alias was, but at that time I didn't care anymore.
Well "Iron Maiden" wasn't much of a programmer. He was more a player and supplier of software. So it was up to me to crack games and program intros to demonstrate that we had cracked the copy protection. So I wrote this intro, which was meant to be the introduction for our first cracked game.
The Intro is just a stupid scroller with our aliases painted in the center of the screen. But at that time in my career this was quite an achievement! I still used mostly system calls to define colors and set the mode, but all in all I was really happy with that (nowadays crappy) little program.
Since I still had some time left I also included a little joke: when the user didn't press the Space bar to continue the CPC would show a Amiga like "Guru Meditation" message and then have the screen flash like crazy. I found the "press left mouse button" part of the message especially funny since the CPC didn't have a mouse.
In the end "Iron Maiden" and I never cracked a game together. (I cracked some later, but that's a different story). So this Iron Maiden and Samurai Intro was never released. But it's still noteworthy as being my first intro ever!