Today, we are featuring an interview from LuigiBlood. LuigiBlood has helped create the emulation for the Satellaview and the Nintendo 64DD! Both are add-ons that were only released in Japan.
Can you please introduce yourself to everyone.
Hello, my nickname is LuigiBlood, I’m almost 22 years old, and I’m French. I make videos, music, and I program stuff. Basically, everything I touch everything I like.
Video games are what I’m really passionate about, and I’m usually interested on what isn’t really popular. The best examples being the Satellaview and the 64DD, since I have done a lot for both.
You’ve been working on making 64DD games available to play via emulation (http://64dd.org/). Can you discuss how you became involved with that?
Basically, it’s been years that I wanted that. I’ve seen people promising to emulate 64DD, dump all the games…. but years later, nothing happened. Not to mention the apparent lack of documentation you can find about the 64DD hardware. So in a sense I kinda have a grudge against these people. After being angry at the fact that there’s still nothing about emulating 64DD, let alone dumps, in 2014, I decided to do something myself. I felt confident enough to do the task after my previous project which was the BS-X Project, Satellaview emulation. I didn’t know how N64 development worked, but I wanted to do it.
So I started using libdragon, an open source library for N64 development, to make a 64DD disk dumper. I wanted to do it quickly as it wasn’t a really great experience and I had the code only half-working for four months. So then I decided to use the official N64 development kit. It only took me about a week to write the dumper code, along with the help of marshallh, the developer behind 64drive and UltraHDMI, to save the dump to the SD card. Because we had the right people at the right time, on the very last day of 2014, every retail 64DD games was dumped. It was a good beginning. Eventually we found out that the Doshin addon disk was a bad dump after that. And then we got proper dumps of the Doshin addon and Super Mario 64 Disk Version, a Super Mario 64 demo port to 64DD. It was very cool.
Also because I didn’t know where to host them, I decided to host these dumps on the BS-X Project website space, which was eventually moved to 64dd.org.
What happened after that was rather surprising: Zoinkity ported all the 64DD games to N64 cartridge format. It was made for flashcarts at first, specifically 64drive because something had to support these ROMs at first. And then I tried to support these ROMs on Project64, which worked great, and then I added ROM Writing option so that everything works as it should be. However, no saving, I wanted to save that for the real 64DD emulation. And then MAME supported 64DD emulation, thanks to Happy_. I tried to port the code to CEN64, but I couldn’t make it work, I tried to port it to mupen64plus, same thing, and I was waiting for the right time to port it to Project64. And then I did it, thanks to Happy_, and now I know why my first attempt with CEN64 did not work right. Right now 64DD emulation works on MAME, CEN64 and Project64, and we’re thinking about a standard for saving 64DD content.
Oh and did I mention that I do not own a 64DD?
That’s very impressive! So the lack of proper emulation is what drove you to this project. Why is it so important for emulators of the N64DD and other systems so important to you?
Part of the motivation was being able to play Mario Artist. I love Mario Paint a lot, and I wanted to try its successor for a while, but there was just no way I could afford a NTSC N64 and a 64DD. That said, preserving 64DD is rather important, because 64DD disks are just magnetic disks, in other words huge floppy disks. And we know it can’t preserve data for that long.
I feel it is important to emulate such systems, especially the Satellaview and the 64DD, because they matter in Nintendo’s history of gaming, and gaming’s history in general. People mostly knows about Satellaview because of BS Zeldas, the remake and the new one made in A Link To The Past’s engine, and people knows about 64DD mostly for F-Zero X Expansion Kit, Ura Zelda and Mother 3, which I hope to eventually find. There’s lots of hidden stuff that should be found, and after all, they’re videogames, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to play those games.
Are there any games that you would like to preserve but have been unable to find?
Lately, Sound Fantasy for the Super NES has been something I’ve been looking for a while since the first videos of the 1993 prototype has been found. I have since released the ROM of that prototype, but I know the final version exists, and I want to find it so bad. To sum up Sound Fantasy, it’s the unreleased predecessor of Electroplankton: it shares a lot with Mario Paint, and in fact, it’s basically Mario Paint but heavily based on visual and sound interactions, something the designer Toshio Iwai has been doing for a long while. I really want to talk to this person and find the whereabouts of the final version, and maybe release a ROM of it?
In a way the games that came out for the N64DD feel very experimental due to games being able to load and save the entire game. What game made the best use of the 64DD in your opinion?
About a game that has made the best use of the 64DD… Mario Artist. But really, all of them. Not only it allows to save a lot of user-created content, but the content itself is compatible with other Mario Artist games. I can make a 2D drawing with Paint Studio, and import that drawing into Talent Studio or Polygon Studio, or perhaps take pictures on Talent Studio and import it back into Paint Studio or maybe make a 3D model on Polygon Studio and import it in Talent Studio. The compatibility between Mario Artist games is just astonishing. Add the fact you can export drawings to Sim City 64 and Doshin The Giant, or use the Capture Cartridge and plug anything that uses composite plugs, or upload your creations to the Internet with Mario Artist Communication Kit.
There was just a lot of potential, and Nintendo planned to do much more too! Mario Artist Sound Studio was in the works, and there was even a Mario Artist Game Maker planned. Nintendo clearly had a lot of potential with Mario Artist, wasted because the 64DD was just released way too late. I feel they should have ported those to the GameCube like a few 64DD games, as the Memory Cards works just as well for it.
And the irony, Mario Artist inspired Nintendo for the most part, Talent Studio inspired the Miis, and Polygon Studio contained microgames, which would end up being the idea for Wario Ware.
Why is it important to preserve games?
I think other people can say it much better than I do, but honestly I just like doing it. There’s just no reason to not experience the history of gaming, including the games that didn’t make it. There are tons of interesting games, to the point we just don’t know where to begin. We preserved a huge chunk of it.
Have you been in contact with any developers? If so, what did they think?
I’d love to, but I have never been really in contact with any developers in the game industry, but I doubt they’re against preserving games. I’d love to see their reactions though. But if some doesn’t want their games to be preserved, I wouldn’t listen at all to be frank.
Great is there anything else that you would like to talk about?
I still would like to talk about when preservation is really difficult to do. A lot of things is talked about but rarely when preservation can potentially fail really hard. I happen to work on Satellaview emulation with BS-X Project, and the thing is, preserving Satellaview games is really difficult. The idea was to buy Memory Packs, since that’s the storage for downloadable games are. The problem, it’s like playing lottery, you can sit on a gold mine or there can be nothing. Or you can have something cool, but it was overwritten by something else…usually RPG Maker content. Whenever you own a Satellaview Memory Pack, don’t do anything to it, even if it seems to have nothing in it.
The reason why I talk about this, is that we haven’t preserve a lot of the much more interesting Satellaview games. For example we’re missing parts of the BS Zelda remakes, BS Super Mario Collection as well…it’s just incredibly difficult to find. Any kind of help would be really great. I still want to give @kiddocabbusses (bsx.superfamicom.org) a shout out because his Satellaview preservation work is really cool.
About 64DD, I would like also to ask if you know anyone who owns blue 64DD disks, I would like to know. Blue disks are 64DD development disks, and the same kind of luck can happen like the Satellaview. Except it can be much more exciting to potentially own an alpha version of Mother 3 or perhaps Ura Zelda.
Please check out my work on BS-X Project, also 64DD.org, and I’m also very active on Twitter, so feel free to contact me there. I also upload all kinds of videos here.