July 25th, 2022
Hello and welcome to WAW7-FM.
We have Alan, live from the newsroom.
I went to Round1 again. Despite the timing, with school being out and it being the weekend, it wasn't that busy. A lot of the games were down there, crane games were off, some ticket redemption games were taped away and opened... DDR and GuitarFreaks were both down but the maintainence employee was doing something with both of them.
KONAMI just announced DDR black cabinets and GITADORA gold cabinets!
Anyways... BREAKING NEWS! The Round1 had got some new games! I'd thought it would never happen! We got CHUNITHM, Tetote Connect, and Chrono Circle. Surprisingly, none of the existing games were removed. I thought they would have to give up something for new games, but thankfully, that isn't the case. It might be if Dance Around were to ever come here, which I doubt would ever happen.
CHUNITHM, if you don't know, is a game that uses a touch bar and sensors. It plays like most modern mobile phone rhythm games but plays way better. It's a pretty fun game, I thought I wouldn't like it that much. One minor issue I have is that, I'm guessing my Round1 did, was that the volume was so quiet. I had to lean into the machine to hear the game. I could use headphones, but mines are too big and it would be embarrassing to have them on.
My bigger issue isn't the songlist... it's the fact that US CHUNIHTM cabinets are offline only, meaning no saving user data! That also means that the song list is all that you get. The card readers are right there, but the game only allows guest play. I'm not giving CHUNITHM it's own score table here, it would be annoying to constantly take photos of my scores.
Tetote Connect was a recent release from Taito. It's a game where you dance with a virtual partner while tapping and sliding through notes. It was... very embarrassing to say the least. The cabinets were facing the public, so everyone could watch me play with the most ugliest models I've ever seen. A lot of the music was pretty lame too. I have nothing else to say, the game was pretty bad.
Finally... Chrono Circle by Andamiro. It was released around November in Japan and has you, not only tap notes, but also twist a ring around the screen and hit buttons on said ring. It was met with a lot of skepticism when it was first announced, mostly from people who thought the game was too bloated with mechanics. I was one of those people, I'd thought it would die out before leaving Japan.
I started to play it in fear, but later, I got it down. From what I played, the charts aren't full of doing everything at once, the game would make you tap notes or hit the ring buttons with the occasional turning of the ring. The game tries it's best to not confuse you that much. It's actually pretty fun. I would definitely play it again.
I got the AM.PASS for this game. Why is it $12? Twelve dollars for only two games. That's double than the other cards. It will forever be a mystery, but I don't really care.
A little off-topic, but I spent like 15 minutes in the customer service desk because the person working the booth didn't know what the hell an AM.PASS was. I felt kinda stupid saying things like "Oh, the card for Chrono Circle! The card for Pump It Up?". Someone came up and thought I was talking about a BanaPassport card. It's kinda funny.
The songlist is pretty good. I'm very happy with the fact that Hardcore TANO*C is moving to this game, I hope to see a lot of t+pazolite!
One thing I find funny I want to mention, I don't think my Round1 erased the previous store's information. The game website said I played at an "acade" in the Yamanashi Prefecture complete with the store's name. Sure, I guess.
IIDX review at 6, on the hour.
It appears that there is no e-amusement maintenance today, meaning a happy sky and not having to stand around waiting for maintenance to end. I played one set on the old cabinet before the weight of the keys killed me. They are extremely heavy. The lighting model's keys are way lighter. It was pretty evident on how my scores are on the lighting cabinet compared to the regular one. I really thought I would play better on the regular cabinet?
I passed 5th Dan with no sweat! I'm treading carefully here... I might be reaching my breaking point.
FOUR 10s were cleared. Very cool! I'm so cool. I'm too cool... My performances have rose my count to around eight 10 clears. An autograph session will be held at a future date. Here they are:
Last Century Melancholic is a FUTURE J-POP song. It doesn't sound like a song from CANNON BALLERS, it sounds like it came out in BISTROVER.
Purple Perplex is one of the new songs from CastHour. I'm so disappointed that barely any new songs use the new MSS gimmick, only 7! I like it. It's use for this song was very impactful.
Rampage by USAO! Super cool song. I want more of his music in BEMANI, but he's from HARDCORE TANO*C, who'd focus on WACCA and now Chrono Circle after this song, so it's probably not for a while.
Stepper is a song from Dancerush Stardom, one of the few handful of BEMANI games I have but don't play because I'm too embarrassed to. The music from the game is phenomenal. Game is too scary though, especially since the cabinet is literally in front of the entrance. Everybody in the mall can see me!
Some new 9s were cleared. It seems to be alright but... oops!
There appears to be a crash at HURRY HURRY street. Some idiot took a picture of their high score and had their finger block the camera. For now, the best solution is to go through めでてぇ street.
As it appears that the same idiot got an AA on it too.
I played a bit of DrumMania. It's actually been a while since I played, last time being in March. I played a 4.70, which is a bit higher than what I normally play... and I handled it pretty well! This A I got was a higher score than what I got on the song previously. Am I getting better by doing nothing?
Next up, the pop'n music Lively roundup. We have Alan on the scene.
For this month, our new bonus song is Hell? or Heaven? from the console release of pop'n music 9. These songs are known to be very difficult, as it's literally just classical music. The EX and Hyper charts have low note counts but are rated above my skill range. The only one I can confidently play is the Normal chart. I played it in one of my streams.
For context of the text I type after the timestamp, my PC was very slow and things were taking forever to load. An update fixed it though.
I played it! It's actually pretty hard because the BPM is slow as hell! I did pass it, but I didn't get an A on it, so I'll try again. I might practice for the Hyper chart. It's a level 45 chart, which is one level higher than the highest level I passed!
The song is kinda funny to play through, it's so obviously made as a MIDI originally. I can 100% tell that it's being played with the default Windows soundfont. I just start thinking about Toontown Online when playing it, as Toontown's music is all MIDI, and as such, also uses the default Windows soundfont.
The month's pop'n quest is MARS WAR 3. The song sucks.
Oh yeah, I forgot about BMS. Look at this play I did. I forgot BMS existed. I should probably get back into it... I have a few hundred songs from packs I downloaded a while ago. A lot of the songs are pretty hard though. It's looks like people who play BMS can probably pass a level 12 chart in IIDX with one hand.
Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post, this has been Alan from WAW7-FM.
The package from May still has not arrived. I bought one thing since the last post though. I got a new soundtrack. It's not anything BEMANI related, it's for a certain rhythm game on the Sega Dreamcast...
This album didn't actually cost 7500 yen.
The soundtrack to COOL COOL TOON! I wanted this ever since COOL COOL TOON went under my radar 2 years ago. There was only low-quality rips online and I wanted to rip it in higher quality. It was on sale on a reseller site for a while, so I put down $30 to buy it. It came safely and it's in almost pristine condition! The booklet contains lyrics for the songs, but no credits for each song. It's weird.
The only issue with the album is that it doesn't contain all the songs from the game. In COOL COOL TOON, you can play as Spica or Amp. The difference between the characters is that some songs are exclusive to that character. Some of Spica's songs are not in the soundtrack, it's a shame because some of the songs are good!
This late-game song isn't avaliable in the soundtrack.
COOL COOL TOON isn't noticed by SNK that much anymore. I know Kamio+'s song got a remix in a delisted SNK rhythm game, but that's about it. The remix wasn't even released on a soundtrack, all that exists is a real low-quality game rips. I wish this soundtrack got a rerelease with the missing songs, but I doubt SNK would even glance at the COOL COOL games. Oh well.
I've been thinking of expanding my game collection for a while now. I stopped for a period of time around 2021, I was more interested in buying CDs rather than games. I've been thinking of getting a Sega system. I got every Nintendo console, enough Sony consoles, and other consoles cost a stupid amount. Sega consoles are expensive, but not too much. They're usually below $100 on eBay and maybe less on Mercari or Offerup.
I was thinking of a Sega Saturn. I wanted one for a while now. I planned on installing a modchip, the main modchip for it requires only a few wires to be soldered. The prices for the Saturn is rather dumb on eBay, so maybe I could get one from Yahoo Auctions. Buy it now prices might be a little bit much and participating in auctions has me worried of losing last minute.
I also want a Game Gear. It's not something I would've thought I wanted, but I do. Looking into it though, I'm afraid. Game Gears are 30 years old at this point and are known to have some aging issues. The capacitors on the machine could blow out, the screen could die, and so many other issues. I'm not confident enough in my soldering abilties to repair a Game Gear in any capacity. The screen is literally soldered onto the board!
Not to mention, I actually have a hard time finding Game Gears. There's not a lot in Yahoo Auctions and Mercari has a few broken ones. Maybe they're doing me a favor?
Right after thinking of the negatives of the Game Gear, I'm like "If the Game Gear is going to have so many issues, I might aswell just get a Master System!" ...and then I realized... I could just get a Master System! The Game Gear is basically just a portable Master System. Of course, playing Game Gear games on a system would be impossible, but most Game Gear games got ported to Master System in Europe and Brazil.
Apparently, Master System games aren't entirely region locked. European games run fine on an American Master System, with a minority not working due to NTSC and PAL framerate differences. Japanese games don't work due to the cartridges using the older SG-1000 cartridge design, which have a different amount of connection pins. Sega Mark III systems along with Japanese Master Systems go for a lot in Yahoo Auction. It's not that expensive in other sites. Have I found the first system that costs less in domestic sites rather than Yahoo Auctions?
I also want to try getting some of those Brazil-exclusive games, but I don't know where to get them. I don't see them in eBay at all and I have 0 clue of a Brazilian auction site or similar. I could just cheap out and create reproduction cards, which sounds fun, but at the same time, I would have to buy chips and chip programmers.
Now the bigger issue with the Sega Master System is that I can already play all the games!! I have an Everdrive-MD flash cart from 2014 or so, it can play Master System games on a Genesis without the need of a Power Base Converter. I don't know though, I really do want to own a Master System.
I'll think about it...
Goodwill! I went to Goodwill twice in the past few weeks. Goodwill did kinda fall off, pretty sure I made that clear before. Nevertheless, they had a bunch of cassettes lying around. I checked it out and it was pretty standard, a lot of classical music with a few foreign stuff. There was some blanks, but they contained, what I assume, bootlegged concert audio? No clue.
On a later trip, I found an iDog for $1.99. It's some toy from the mid-2000s that was popular for whatever reason. After unscrewing the battery case, I saw a pair of batteries. I thought the toy was done for, but nah, it didn't explode. Just to be sure, I force-fed the dog with some contact cleaner and it worked.
I initally thought there was no speaker for anything outside of the dog's sound effects, but there is a speaker for the audio! It wasn't outputting anything when I had a set of speakers connected to my audio splitter. The speaker quality is comparable to my Sony SRS-P7 speakers, which is not good.
Probably just a display piece from now on.
That same trip, I found a PS2 EyeToy. It's a camera! Some games had special features or required the camera. I bought it because why not? It was the same price as the iDog. I tested it out with one of those EyeToy minigame compilations, and it was rather funny. I got multiple minigames to play itself by having the camera face the TV screen. I was pretty impressed with the quality of the camera, it's better than all the webcams I have. I should install it to my PC.
I did a little experiment in the past month. I was installing various DLC for DanceDanceRevolution Ultramix. The DLC was rather big, it doesn't look to be a simple unlock file, so I looked a bit into it. All DLC files are raw and seperate, and better yet, are all in pretty common file formats. I wanted to make some custom DLC.
The files in the DLC are either Xbox metadata or standard files. The SP10.list file is a standard text file listing all the songs in the pack by their 4-character ID.
This is the files inside a song folder, this one being HACK by Komaba. As you can tell, some of these files are already recognized by Windows. The hack_bk and hack_th file are used for the background and banner respectively. The CSV file is a text file that directs the background videos to display. The SIF file is all the song's metadata. The XST files are all Xbox ADPCM files without the RIFF header, used for the song's preview and ingame music. Lastly, the SSQ file. This contains the song's chart data and can be obtained from ripping other CS games.
This photo has the basic things modified.
A Stupid Barber is one of my favorite DDR songs. It's not in any of the Xbox games or their DLC song packs. The song was only in the PS2 CS games until being added to arcades well after the Xbox DDR games. Getting it back was rather easy.
The SSQ file had to be retrieved from the DDR PS2 CS games. The games store their data the same way as Katamari does it, one big giant file. Luckily, there's tools to extract everything from these games. Ultramix's SSQ files have no differences from Extreme's SSQ files, so it was easy as drag and drop.
Next is what's also important: the music! As I said, XST files are Xbox ADPCM files with their RIFF header removed. Xbox ADPCM files are Microsoft's WAV codec that uses a modified version of the IMA ADPCM codec. I just have to make the song file and the song preview and drop it in the DLC.
Ok! We got everything! Time to play the game...
The game thinks it's corrupted. What is going on? Well, we forgot to deal with the metadata for the DLC itself, something the Xbox wants.
The culprit is the ContentMeta.xbx file. This is a file that lists all the files inside the DLC, including table of contents, filename, file size, and everything else. It's some sort of anti-tampering thing. If the files don't match the ContentMeta file, then the game will not accept the DLC.
I tried hexediting the file, but it got too confusing. I remembered that, back in the day, Halo 2 players used to make custom DLC and ran into this issue too. They got around it by using a tool in the Xbox SDK called the Xbox Live Authorization Submission Tool, or XLast. This tool is for developers to construct files and services for Xbox Live in their game.
Some games had bundles that included DLC to install without a valid connection or subscription to Xbox Live. For those purposes, Microsoft included a function to build the DLC to install from a disc, including a valid metadata file. All I needed was this metadata file.
Afterwards, the game detects it... and accepts it.
Don't forget Jam & Marmalade, a crossover from beatmania III.
There are also tools to convert SM data to SSQ data.
A cool feature that the DDRUM games have is that, all DLC from previous games can be used in the next game and so on. So all DDRUM1 songs can be played in DDRUM2, UM3, and UM4. I went to see if this was the case. The answer I got was dissapointing. It doesn't appear if the DLC ID is unique and not for a pre-existing DLC song pack. In UM4, all DLC is on the disc. As such, loading the custom DLC will either unlock legit song pack data or hang the game. (Remember this, we'll come back to this later.)
I didn't do this mod in DDRUM1 because UM1's song metadata is different in that it's not human readable. The song title and artist are easily modifiable, but the rest of the required information need a hex editor instead of a text editor. Despite this, most of the values are pretty easy to pinpoint. There's also an additional song wheel graphic that needs to be changed as the song's text information (title, subtitle, and artist) isn't rendered on the fly like the other games.
You don't need multiple songs to make DLC. You could make DLC that adds one song, it makes it more easier to manage songs and save space. It's neat. Song data usually isn't more than 6MB in total. I'm not sure if there's limits in the game, but I wouldn't be surprised. The only limit I know of, is that the Xbox's file system can only support 4,096 files per directory, so the Xbox can only have 4,096 pieces of DLC per title. I don't think DDR has that many songs!
One thing I kinda hope for is that some custom DLC for the Ultramix games be hosted on Insignia, that one Xbox Live revival project that's been in development for what seems like forever. I have had great interest in it. They haven't been entirely clear if they would host custom DLC at all though. I'll see if I could document this stuff more throughly on this site later on.
Anyhow, if you still have that DDRUM4 hint, it is possible to unlock all the DLC from the previous games without having to shell out around 452MB of storage space. The size of an entire game's DLC is bigger than ripped soundtracks! Yes, ALL DLC from the previous games are also on disc. This DLC is only 16KB in size, it only contains a master list and empty folders which tell the game to unlock the songs.
Here is a link to a CDX installer. (Only 5MB!) Simply copy the installer to a CD or your HDD and run it. Due to how these installers work, you must have played DDRUM4 before launching the installer. You will also need to not have Song Pack 16 installed, as due to how DDRUM4 detects DLC, the DLC must occupy either ID 10 or 11.
This DLC unlock key trick only works for DDRUM4. Something similar cannot be done with UM3 or UM2. While those games do have older DLC data stored on their discs, they lack any sort of music data.
I'm checking to see if I could also screw with custom DLC in other Xbox titles, but most Xbox titles merely unlock content on the disc. That's no fun! A lot of the DLC that isn't on-disc content are mostly just skins. Lame...