23 July 2011

ReadySonic is released!

From the perspective of the average player, the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog titles are among the most solidly made and least glitchy games from the era. Playing them ad nauseum in my youth I found them to be virtually bugfree, and I certainly never encountered anything gamebreaking.

However, from the perspective of Sonic-hacking nerds with nothing better to do, the games contain bugs and other niggling flaws that can number in the hundreds. This doesn't reflect badly on Yuji Naka and his team - no programmer can truly squash every bug - but once you notice them they're hard to ignore.

As one of these nitpicking players, I always thought it would be cool to have a "fixed" version of the games. When released by Sega, they had tight deadlines and a fixed number of playtesters. But the intervening years have seen them combed through, inside and out, by scads of Sonic hackers the world 'round. Surely a hacker could, with this accumulated knowledge, make more nearly perfect versions?

Though I'm somewhat impulsive by nature, this idea was not quite enough to cause me to undertake such a project myself. But in combination with something else, it was enough to drive me to try.

That "something else" was playing a lot of Sonic hacks. Many of them are inspired and a great lot of fun. But they inevitably inherit the tiny flaws from their template games, which inflames my OCD. Some hackers go ahead and fix one or more of the bigger and well-documented bugs, but everyone can't be expected to squash the whole list in each hack they make.

Hence I had the idea for the "ReadySonic" project. Starting with Sonic 1, I would make hacked versions of each of the games that fixed every problem I knew about. Then I would release their disassemblies. Using the enormous power I wield in the community, I would then encourage all future hackers to use my disassemblies as the base for their projects instead of the plain vanilla versions of the games.

...Okay, so that last part is far-fetched. But I hoped that at least some people might benefit from the project, if only by looking at the code instead of outright using the whole thing for their hack.

To make a long story short, I ended up making a lot of progress with Sonic 1, but ultimately decided to abandon the project. Why? For one, I'm cynical enough to doubt anyone is going to use a disassembly they aren't already used to, regardless of the benefits. For another, I simply got too busy. The time I devote to Sonic projects would be much better spent on AeStHete, and I assume most would agree with me on that.

So I'm releasing the nearly-complete ReadySonic source for Sonic 1. For the download and a list of the mods and fixes I made, please visit the project's home page.

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