One of the things that got me into doing all
that stuff happened years ago: someone stole my digital camera. I
didn't have the money to buy a new one but still wanted to take
pictures. I still had an analog camera but the convenience of taking a
photo and being able to look at it immediately had grown on me, so
there was no way back. I did have a gameboy, though.
I had heard
there was a digital camera for the gameboy. So, I ended up buying one
of these and loved it instantly. You can take 30 pictures that have a
resolution of 128x112 pixels with black, white and two in between
shades of grey. It teaches you to see the world in an all new way.
even bought some more of them to be able to "switch films". Anyway,
there was one thing I was absolutely amazed of, but had no idea of how
to use it, which was having a live preview of everything you point it
at, on your gameboy screen.
My first idea was doing an animation film with a gameboy camera, that
would be brogrammed on an actual Gameboy cartridge, so you could view
it on a GB later. This would have involved some coding and I never had
the patience to learn that properly, so the idea went to the huge
"future projects"-pile in my head. Also I had learned about the Super
Gameboy in the meantime, which is a complete Gameboy System minus
screen plus some extra code so you can put it in your Super Nintendo to
play Gameboy Games on your TV. You can even replace the colors.
The Super Gameboy is so widely available, it turns up about 10 times at
every fleamarket I visit, because nobody uses it apart from some 8bit
I'm sure you get the picture.
So, The first software I used to test my bent SNES wasn't even a SNES
program. It's sill a major part of the System because being able to mix
in live footage and being able to scramble it like crazy rocks big
time. I've modded one of my GB cams so the Head with the lens now has a
cable coming from the main body, so I can wave it around or mount it on
a tripod. It also does a great job in producing psychedelic video
...well, I could go on and on, but it might be more interesting if I
went on to the other stuff I use.
The second thing I tried was some strange Cart called "fun'n games"
which caught my eye at a local fleamarket at that time. It's a
combination of a nice paint program that you can do great pictures with:
Also, there are two crappy games, a dressing puppet program called
"style" and a pretty neat sequencing program with fun samples of
unrecognizable instruments, animals, explosions and screaming people.
My girlfriend used to have a really good time with this one when she
came by to visit me in my studio. The problem was, that in order to get
a picture like the one above, I had to spend some time to paint it.
Time that I usually don't have while gigging, so I don't use it that
I bought some games, too, but most of them turned out a disappointment,
because games rely on you playing them. If you don't do that, you get
no movment. On the other Hand, scrambling the screen doesnt't make
playing games easier, so chances are you die pretty soon, have a new
sceen loaded that you didn't want to have loaded just right now, then
you have to go through some menu to go back to the Game, which doesn't
look the same anymore because you had some bends active while the
screen was loading and so on...
There's some exceptions, though. Well I guess there are more
exceptions, but I mostly use two games: Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. As we
all know, these are originally PC games that had to be ported to work
on the Super Nintendo. The ports of both games really suck; at least if
you're looking at them from a gamer's position. Wolfenstein is
completely cleaned of all the swastikas, Hitler doesn't have his small
mustache anymore, and his name is "staatsmeister" now. The nazis don't
bleed if you shoot them and the dogs have been replaced by giant rats.
DOOM isn't as hilarious as that, it's just bad. It looks shitty, the
controls are awkward and there's no way of saving.
Besides those quirks, these games are perfect for Visuals, because
they're totally predictable, have strong images and add extra depth to
the average 2D screens you know from Super Nintendos. Besides, I really
like the historical dimension of them, being the first "first person
shooters" ever. Especially because of all the babble about
"Killerspiele" and how they're responsible for some idiots to decide
suicide would be a lot more fun if some random people die as well.
Wolfenstein is also pretty easy to hack because all the wall textures
can be replaced easily with tile editing programs. I also hardcoded a
permanent "God Mode" in there, so I can roam around more freely without
being killed all the time.
And that is finally a nice transition for the last type of "footage" I
use. To be able to do things like changing wall textures in Wolf3D I
had to learn how to romhack. Well, sort of.
I had the small rant on romhackers on the SNES
page, so I'll spare you
that. There seems to be some kind of gap between software and hardware
hackers and I guess, since I'm mostly on the hardware side, I was kind
of confused by those peoples' mindset. Anyway, I started visiting
romhacking.net frequently and
gathered all the info I needed to be able
to change graphics in SNES programs. I had to find out a lot by trial
and error, but that's my approach to most things anyway, so it wasn't
that bad. While being there I eventually found several public domain
demo roms that some guys did for testing their coding abilities on a
certain hardware. You know, that demoscene thing.
Not only are these programs small and easy to handle, but they're also
usually done for one reason: visual effects to the max! I still feel a
little weird using those, because I'm not really sure if i'm actually
stealing their code or merely borrowing it. I usually don't use them in
their original form but e.g. exchange pictures or color palettes for my
own and stuff like that. I don't know what kind of License they are
published under, so I kinda decided it's OK to use them as footage for
my live shows but I'd never go as far as selling something that is
based on them. If someone from the demoscene reads this and has an
opinion on this, please contact me, I'm open on discussing that issue.
If you're not from any of those kind of scenes, you might have wondered
how it's possible to download files from the internet and then play
them on a SNES. Yeah, I wondered, too. Until I found these sites:
...and that's where I'm in business again, because on these sites there
are very nice tutorials on how to convert a Super Nintendo cartridge
PCB to take ordinary Eproms. The process is pretty easy if you have an
Eprom programmer and know how to solder. I was in the lucky position of
having both, so I went out of "normal" SNES games pretty soon,
exchanging them for a nice collection of carts with taped covers that
have Words on nobody else understands.