Laydock-2 enhancement patch

Laydock-2 enhancement patch

by ro on 22-04-2019, 09:20
Topic: MSX Revival
Languages:

Brazilian MRC user sd_snatcher, also known as FRS, has just released a patch to pimp up the MSX2+ game Laydock-2 Last Attack. It aims to improve the playability, performance, and balance the difficulty of the game between the one player and two player modes. An impressive list of changes makes this game worth replaying.

The MSX game company T&E soft released a few Laydock games, Laydock-2:last attack being one of them. This 1988 space shooter for MSX2+ is known to be very difficult. The FRS patch does not make the game easier, though.

The patch rewards skillful players that know how/when to balance the risks of playing offensive versus defensive, and who master the sub weapons available in the game. The docking power has a very important role in the game, so use it wisely. And yes, there's turbo and joyMega support now.

Here's the list of changes the patch makes:

  • New title screen. The original title screen was a hasty digitization. The MSX2+ trump card was to have thousands simultaneous of colors, something just unseen at that price range in 1988, and even less so on an 8-bit machine. But the title screen of this game was almost monochrome, full of artifacts and left a not so great impression.
  • Turbofixed the game. The turbo is automatically enabled on machines that have the CHGCPU routine on BIOS, and on Panasonic MSX2+ machines. Even the sample player will work at the correct rate, regardless of the CPU speed.
  • Optimized many of the game routines, so it runs quite a bit faster now even at 3.57MHz
  • Modified the sample player to play the samples at the PPI instead of the PSG. The samples were 1bit anyway, and this saved space for the new routines
  • Fixed a bug in the intro demo that caused the loading screen to be shown (and the respective sample to be played) only once every 256 loops of the demo
  • Implemented Double-buffering on the SAT (Sprite Attribute Table)
  • Fixed a bug that caused the shield meter to show an incorrect percentage
  • Fixed a race condition in the vertical scroll code that caused the sprites to jump on certain CPU speeds
  • Fixed a bug that made the Alpha weapon launch backwards in the horizontal stages
  • Bugfix: Bulldog didn't clear its explosion last sprite frame from the screen
  • The shield energy is now refilled at the beginning of each planet. This was implemented since the game allows you to start with a full shield at any stage you already played anyway.
  • Adjusted the power and speed of the weapons to match those of Super Laydock
  • To compensate for the stronger weapons, the shield now works differently:
    • It holds 20% less initial power
    • As a reward for careful players, the undocked ships now can recharge up to 8 units (50% of the max) per planet. It slowly recharges when the docking power is kept maxed out for at least 4 seconds
  • There's a new dotted gauge just below your shield gauge that show the amount of charging you still have left
  • The docking power also plays a rule at the fire rate of your projectile weapons. At the minimal level, your weapons have the original Laydock2 fire rate. At the maximum docking power, your weapons will match the fire rate of Super Laydock.
  • The docking power now discharges when taking hits even when the players are undocked. This will reflect in the ships fire rate (as explained before), and will also make docking harder, in a way to balance the difficulty between the single player and dual player modes.
  • All the weapons you have can be fired at any time now. Some weapons were blocked from firing under some conditions as a workaround for bugs they had. This caused a nightmare for the player since he selected weapons that sometime just wouldn't fire without any explanation. Those bugs were fixed, so the blocks could be removed.
  • The "Double" weapon now kills both airborne and ground enemies on vertical levels too
  • Implemented 3 button joystick/keyboard support. They select the next/previous weapon respectively:
    • Changed the SHIFT to N and M for the keyboard 2nd and 3rd buttons
    • On the MSX joystick, press the trigger-2 to select the next weapon, and the triggers 1 and 2 simultaneously to select the previous weapon
  • Added joyMega support: button-A = next weapon, button-C = previous weapon, START = pause
  • Implemented support for quick weapon changes on single-player mode. This allows the secondary weapon to be changed while the older is still on screen. This will also solves the bug where the Condor missile got stuck on bosses
  • Improved the Merry weapon: when no direction is selected, it will fire forward like Zanac's weapon-0
  • Adjusted the launch point of the "Double" weapon on horizontal stages, to match the place on the ship were it is launched on vertical stages. This also makes it more effective.
  • Replaced ESC with STOP to pause the game on the keyboard
  • Fixed a bug that allowed line interrupts to happen during disk I/O (it was a miracle that it didn't freeze very often)
  • Implemented frame skipping and dynamic vsync for a much smoother gaming experience. This also considerably reduced the tearing that happened in screen flashing and palette fading effects, and the glitches that happened on the sprites on the MSX Turbo-R at the top of the screen.
  • Enhanced the shield gauge to show when the shield power is over-boosted
  • Bug fix: Corrected the player 2 energy bar position, since it was misaligned
  • Fixed a bug that corrupted the fixed point damage under some occasions
  • Fixed a glitch that caused spurious sprites to be shown when the boss ship stage was being loaded

Relevant link: enhancement patch for the game Laydock-2.

Media browser (2)

  • Laydock-2 enhancement patch
  • Laydock-2 enhancement patch

Comments (22)

By KdL

Paragon (1169)

KdL's picture

22-04-2019, 16:20

(FRS) Note: Only after I finished the patch that I noticed that there's a different title screen if you boot the disk-2 of the game. I won't have time to remake that screen too, so if someone feels compelled to do that, just send me the finished image and I can include it on a newer version of the patch.

Wow thanks! I'm going to try it. Pls, someone make the new disk-2 image. Wink

By tfh

Paragon (1722)

tfh's picture

22-04-2019, 16:47

A nice patch indeed Smile

KdL wrote:

Pls, someone make the new disk-2 image. Wink

They are available on my site. You might need to hit Shift-F5 though to get the version with updated disks. Just hit the disk-icon in the WebMSX emulator to download them.

By ricbit

Champion (434)

ricbit's picture

22-04-2019, 16:47

That would be a good use case for screen 11, make the logo with RGB and everything else in YJK.

By KdL

Paragon (1169)

KdL's picture

22-04-2019, 18:28

tfh wrote:

A nice patch indeed Smile

KdL wrote:

Pls, someone make the new disk-2 image. Wink

They are available on my site. You might need to hit Shift-F5 though to get the version with updated disks. Just hit the disk-icon in the WebMSX emulator to download them.

Sorry, I meant the startup picture of the disk-2, not the disk image.
Please refer to the FRS note in my first post.

By tfh

Paragon (1722)

tfh's picture

22-04-2019, 18:50


Well, the image on the 2nd disk doesn't look that washed out, so... :)

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

22-04-2019, 19:02

Perhaps the hardest shot ever made....
Never passed the second area.. Crying

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2992)

sd_snatcher's picture

23-04-2019, 01:49

thank you for the newspost, ro! Big smile

Quote:

FRS released a Laydock-2 enhancement patch to make the game even more exiting!

More exiting? LOL!

Quote:

The FRS patch does not make the game easier, though.

Yes, and this deserves some backstage info. I really did want to make this game fun and a challenge, instead of just making it easy.

Since the original game was so hard, my first idea was to just give it more initial energy. But then the other weaknesses of the game became obvious. It just became boring. You just glided through the stages, without doing much, because the weapons were so weak that you were barely able to kill more than a bunch of enemies.

T&E Soft seems to have made the game hard to hide the fact that the weapon system was terrible. This forced you to just dodge the enemies, instead of shooting them like in other shmups. As I joked once, the original game deserved a whole new genre to describe it: "dodgem-up". Tongue

I played Super Laydock again to see what made that game so fun, while Laydock-2 was IMHO lifeless. It was clear after very few minutes of gaming that the weapons of Super Laydock were way more powerful. In that game, you felt like you were controlling a very powerful/capable ship, while in Laydock-2 it felt like they gave you a clunker with a pea shooter.

So, my 2nd attempt was to just upgrade the power of the weapons to match the equivalent of their power on Super Laydock. But surprisingly, the game also got boring, since there was no challenge. It was like starting Aleste-2 with your ship having all weapons at full power. Then it became obvious to me that a weapon power up similar to the one present in Aleste-2 was needed. Also all shmups have some sort of penalty when the player gets hit. Laydock-2 seemed to miss this too, so playing poorly only made you lose energy and that's it.

Then came the 3rd attempt. I decided to preserve the original idea of the game, that required skilful dodging, but instead of forcing it in a flat/oppressive manner during the whole game play, I implemented it as a reward system. The best the player avoids being shot, the higher the "docking power" will go. The higher the "docking power" is, more powerful your weapons become.

With the "docking power" maxed, your weapons have now the same destruction power as they had in Super Laydock. This affects both the speed and range of the weapons.

If you start to play poorly by taking too many risks, you get many hits, and your "docking power" will be reduced accordingly. When the "docking power" is zero, you'll be back at the miserable weapon power of the original Laydock-2.

This means now that tactics play an important role on playing this game. There are places where you can be more aggressive, and others where you need to be more cautious. It's up to you to find out where are those.

Oh, yes: and now you can change front/back in your secondary weapons list anytime. Actively use that as part of your tactics too. There are places in each stage where a specific weapon is more effective. In the original game, changing the secondary weapon was a PITA, since (a) if you passed the desired weapon, you had to circle through all the list again (and probably hit the ground while paying attention to that) and (b) you could only change to the next weapon after the current one had exited the screen. For the mines and some missiles, this took forever. (Tip: Now, you can go de-select/re-select the mines to force them to be fired again. This is very useful in some stages.)

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2992)

sd_snatcher's picture

23-04-2019, 03:11

One more tip: it's now highly advisable to use autofire, just like it was on Super Laydock. Smile

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

23-04-2019, 20:21

sd_snatcher wrote:

One more tip: it's now highly advisable to use autofire, just like it was on Super Laydock. Smile

.....still the hardest game in the history.....AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Crying Crying Crying Crying Crying Crying Crying

By alexito

Champion (379)

alexito's picture

24-04-2019, 20:08

I don't know you guys but I start enjoy playing this patched version using BlueMSX at 50% of the Real Speed for me is more important to see the game details about sprites and background animation and this is achieve for me reducing the original speed I wonder if sd_snatcher can do smart patch for reducing the original speed but keep the BGM at real speed That will be awesome. What do you think?

Wink

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

25-04-2019, 12:37

alexito wrote:

I don't know you guys but I start enjoy playing this patched version using BlueMSX at 50% of the Real Speed for me is more important to see the game details about sprites and background animation and this is achieve for me reducing the original speed I wonder if sd_snatcher can do smart patch for reducing the original speed but keep the BGM at real speed That will be awesome. What do you think?

Wink

I use an MSX TurboR.
And today, after almost 30 years, i've finally beated the "blob" boss in stage 2...reached AREA 2!! Running Naked in a Field of Flowers Running Naked in a Field of Flowers LOL!

By alexito

Champion (379)

alexito's picture

25-04-2019, 19:47

@journey: LOL still at 50% speed I can't beat the second boss at AREA 1 Evil

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

26-04-2019, 13:59

alexito wrote:

@journey: LOL still at 50% speed I can't beat the second boss at AREA 1 Evil

LOL!
the aim of the second BOSS is to destroy all the little blobs, and not the "core" of the big blob!

By sinus

Expert (76)

sinus's picture

29-04-2019, 08:13

Thank you for all this, SD_snatcher, and for sharing your thoughts during the gaming improvement process. Laydock 2 belongs to the very few MSX2+ games ever produced around 1988, to me it had good visual/music qualities but you perfectly stated points that were spoiling the whole gaming experience. The game had to be fixed, and you did it in the year 2019! Congratulations and thanks!
Sinus

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

29-04-2019, 08:41

Ok....another problem...
how can I destroy the small cannons of the AREA 2 horizontal zone boss?
I've seen a YT video where the player use the "TORA" weapon....but i don't have the TORA... Crying

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2992)

sd_snatcher's picture

01-05-2019, 23:24

You have to play the level again until you get the Thora weapon. Whenever you don't have a certain weapon, it's because the game didn't like your performance and hold that prize. Smile

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

02-05-2019, 09:00

sd_snatcher wrote:

You have to play the level again until you get the Thora weapon. Whenever you don't have a certain weapon, it's because the game didn't like your performance and hold that prize. Smile

....Ok, PLEASE, release a ips patch to unlock all the weapons...this game is REALLY "STRONZO"....(it's a colorful Italian term to describe unfair behavior...) Evil Evil Evil Evil

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

04-05-2019, 11:33

TORA weapon...obtained!! Area 3 reached and beated!!....reached the (i Think) FINAL BOSS and....died.... Crying

But i'm happy!! Running Naked in a Field of Flowers Running Naked in a Field of Flowers Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2992)

sd_snatcher's picture

04-05-2019, 15:35

Congrats! As you can see, it's now possible to beat the game if you try again for some times. While it's still a hard game, IMHO its now easier than Aleste-1.

journey wrote:

....Ok, PLEASE, release a ips patch to unlock all the weapons...this game is REALLY "STRONZO"....(it's a colorful Italian term to describe unfair behavior...) Evil Evil Evil Evil

Hahahaha! But at least when you beat a stage, it's very rewarding, isn't it?

Tip: remember that you can save your game, load it afterwards and select the stage you'll start. That alone makes this game a lot easier than most shmups, since on all others you have to start from the beginning, and most of them have limited or no CONTINUEs.

By Ivan

Ascended (9070)

Ivan's picture

04-05-2019, 21:42

The title screen... wow! What a difference! (for good).

By journey

Champion (347)

journey's picture

05-05-2019, 12:05

sd_snatcher wrote:

Congrats! As you can see, it's now possible to beat the game if you try again for some times. While it's still a hard game, IMHO its now easier than Aleste-1.

journey wrote:

....Ok, PLEASE, release a ips patch to unlock all the weapons...this game is REALLY "STRONZO"....(it's a colorful Italian term to describe unfair behavior...) Evil Evil Evil Evil

Hahahaha! But at least when you beat a stage, it's very rewarding, isn't it?

Tip: remember that you can save your game, load it afterwards and select the stage you'll start. That alone makes this game a lot easier than most shmups, since on all others you have to start from the beginning, and most of them have limited or no CONTINUEs.

And finally.....GAME BEATEEEEEED!!!!

Reached level 88
Rank Lieutenant Colonel

After the credits, the game gave me a password, but...what to do with that password? no way to insert it... Question

By Sylvester

Champion (397)

Sylvester's picture

05-05-2019, 13:03