On his Twitter account Spanish MSX user Manuel Pazos announced that he noticed something strange while disassembling Contra, the 1989 platform classic released by Konami. Its coding style looked not like one would expect from Konami. but closely resembled that of Bit², known from games like Nyancle Racing, Quinpl and Famicle Parodic, but also utilities such as GraphSaurus and hardware like μ·PACK.

What followed was the discovery of a series of other games that were put to market by other companies of which the coding style had striking similarities with Bit² code, or as Manuel Pazos states: "The game has a similar structure, same texts offsets,similar routines,same variable RAM addresses. Coincidence?". So far Mon Mon Monster (Ga-Yume / HOT·B) and Tengoku Yoitoko (TAITO) have been added to the list of games that probably have been developed by Bit².

In an attempt to get an official statement, Manuel Pazos has sent a tweet to Konami requesting confirmation whether or not the MSX2 version of Contra was developed by Bit². Perhaps a few retweets could urge Konami to put some clarity to these interesting findings...

Relevant link: Manuel Pazos' tweet to Konami

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  • Contra,  Mon Mon Monster and Tengoku Yoitoko actually developed by Bit²?
  • Contra,  Mon Mon Monster and Tengoku Yoitoko actually developed by Bit²?

Comments (60)

By mars2000you

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12-04-2016, 15:36

I guess Konami will never answer ! LOL!

By Guillian

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12-04-2016, 16:03

Thanks Snout for posting the news!
Probably, Konami community manager have no idea about what I have asked. Also, in case they try to find the answer, I really doubt they will admit that Bit2 made Contra.

By snout

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12-04-2016, 16:16

I wonder what is (not) mentioned in the game credits. Can the names of developers there be linked to either of the companies?

By wimpie3

Master (247)

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12-04-2016, 16:19

I always have thought Contra 'felt' different. This might be actually true.

By Guillian

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12-04-2016, 16:31

snout wrote:

I wonder what is (not) mentioned in the game credits. Can the names of developers there be linked to either of the companies?

Contra has no credits. Why? ^^!
Ending

By mars2000you

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12-04-2016, 17:11

In the Famicom version, the staff is mentioned :

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/hzk/kommander/con1fend.html

STAFF

PROGRAMMERS
S. UMEZAKI
S. KISHIWADA
K. YAMASHITA
T. DANJYO
M. OGAWA
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS
T. UEYAMA
S. MURAKI
M. FUJIWARA
T. NISHIKAWA
C. OZAWA
SOUND CREATERS
H. MAEZAWA
K. SADA
SPECIAL THANKS TO
K. SHIMOIDE
N. SATO
AC CONTRA TEAM
DIRECTED BY
UMECHAN
S. KITAMOTO

By snout

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12-04-2016, 17:12

Neither does Mon Mon Monster, but it does feature a crying monster of Frankenstein.

By PAC

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12-04-2016, 17:23

I would even say that music style from Mon Mon Monster is very similar to Quinpl... oO

By snout

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12-04-2016, 17:31

Somehow I wonder about Mr. Ghost now...

By Guillian

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12-04-2016, 17:48

Checking some code parts (text printing, music player...) I found the same or almost the same code in:AshGuine, Famicle Parodic, Mon Mon Monster, Quinpl, Tengoku Yoitoko, Famicle Parodic 2, Kubikiri, Quinpl, Nyancle.

Any other ROM or DSK (at least the ones I have checked) uses that code.

In Bit2 games is expected to find same code chuncks, coding style, text encoding... but not in Mon Mon Monster, Tengoku Yoitoko and Contra.

By Louthrax

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12-04-2016, 18:18

So that's interesting!
Maybe that could be some "game-library" that those different companies were using? Kind of an MSX game-framework sold by Bit² (or someone else ?).

Quote:

Probably, Konami community manager have no idea about what I have asked.

Even if someone understands the question, I guess nobody working in Konami knows anything today... Or they would have to look back into almost 30 years old paper archives Smile

Talking about, I'm wondering if anybody from the MSX era is still involved or working for Konami today ??

By mars2000you

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12-04-2016, 18:25

They have recently lost Hideo Kojima, so it's really the end of an era ! Wink

By Guillian

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12-04-2016, 18:27

Yes, it could be some kind of "game library".
But it is really weird that Konami, having its own (and better) game-framework, used in all its other games (except Green Beret, of course), wanted to use a different one just for that game. I really doubt this case.
Also, why those "suspicious" games do not have credits? Are they trying to hide something?

By Louthrax

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12-04-2016, 18:59

It's true that Contra does not "feel" the same way as previous MSX 2 games, same for Nemesis 3 compared to Nemesis 1 & 2. Graphics & sounds are different (not as good in my opinion), looks like a whole different team was involved in latest Konami games.

Manuel, by the way, did you had a look at Space Manbow ? (late MSX2 Konami game too, even if not in screen 5...).

By snout

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12-04-2016, 19:43

A possibility could be that Konami already had the majority of their programmers work on other platforms than MSX, where more money was to be made, letting companies like Bit² do the MSX port? It's far from uncommon these days...

By Guillian

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12-04-2016, 20:37

Louthrax, I had a quick look at Space Manbow. It has not the basic structure of other Konami games (with a main dummy loop, and all game logic based on interrupt rutine). But probably because it needs a different aproach due to intensive VDP use (i.e.: screen split) But the rest coding style seems quite similar to other Konami games.

@snout: I agree. I also think that Konami was quite busy with games like Metal Gear 2, SD Snatcher, Space Manbow... So they requested Bit2 to do Contra.

By Louthrax

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12-04-2016, 22:40

Nemesis 3 also does not seem to have ending credits (just the word "FIN" in French, always asked why...).

By gdx

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13-04-2016, 01:15

The same coding style can be caused by the same development tool or same library.

By Metalion

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13-04-2016, 08:41

I lean towards being a game routines library shared among several developpers.
It does make some sense.

By Guillian

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13-04-2016, 09:39

Louthrax wrote:

Nemesis 3 also does not seem to have ending credits (just the word "FIN" in French, always asked why...).

I always thought that FIN was in Spanish. The onboard computer is named Gaudi (a famous spanish architect) (^^!)

The game library does not make sense in this case, as I explained.

By Grauw

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13-04-2016, 10:06

They could’ve just tried out the external library for one game, hoping it would reduce internal development cost maintaining their own library... But it’s all just guesses. Outsourcing also sounds possible, why not.

Interesting find regardless!

By wyrdwad

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13-04-2016, 10:47

I beat Tengoku Yoitoko not too long ago. I don't recall it having any credits either, though I'm not 100% sure on that (I wasn't really paying much attention to whether or not there were credits, though I feel like the ending went by really fast, which means there probably weren't).

Pretty great game, though! Easy, but a lot of fun.

-Tom

By Guillian

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13-04-2016, 10:48

@Grauw: I really doubt that Konami tried a different "game library" (there is no proof that such thing really existed) for developing Contra. That would mean changing all the development process they are used to used, in a time with a lot of work in big projects. For me, it would make sense to reuse all the rutines they already have developed, and use their own "frame work", well known for them.
Does it make sense to rewrite a routine for drawing the Konami logo? Why not reuse the one they have?
Also, why making it incompatible with Game Master 2 cheats (it can't patch the main game thread)?

I have examined several Konami games. They always use the same coding style, same routines for reading the keyboard and controls. They use similar structures for game objects. They compress the graphics in a similar way. Since Nemesis they use the same routine for calculating the trajectory of a shoot (not in Contra). This does not make sense.

By selios2000

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13-04-2016, 10:57

The Bit2 Code!

By seanyoung

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13-04-2016, 11:17

I remember disassembling bits of Contra years ago and thinking it looked completely different.

By Louthrax

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13-04-2016, 15:20

Guillian wrote:
Louthrax wrote:

Nemesis 3 also does not seem to have ending credits (just the word "FIN" in French, always asked why...).

I always thought that FIN was in Spanish. The onboard computer is named Gaudi (a famous spanish architect) (^^!)

Aaaah, makes sense now! Didn't know Gaudi when playing it at the time, was just an ignorant teenage nerd (not that it has changed too much) Smile

By seanyoung

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13-04-2016, 16:53

"FiN" is used in older films to demarcate the end. It's not that odd.

The computer in Nemesis 3 is called "Gaudie" which is an alternate spelling of gaudy, not the architect Gaudí.

By Guillian

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13-04-2016, 17:37

Thanks for the info. My memory is not as good as I expected (^^!)

It seems someone at Konami (Kojima?) liked Gaudi. It was also used as the name of the computer in Snatcher (ガウディ, it is written in the same way in Nemesis 3), and in MGS4 (Otacon super computer is named GAUDI - ガウディ in japanese version)

Could it be a case of "broken english"? Like congraturations?
Could be Kojima related to Nemesis 3?

By Louthrax

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13-04-2016, 18:25

Or it could be another acronym-joke à la J.U.N.K.E.R. (like Global Artificial Unknown-Defect Intelligence Extended... just saying total crap here).

By Guillian

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13-04-2016, 18:36

I think that Kojima tries to find a name/word that he liked and then make the acronym.
JUNKER has no sense in the japanese version, but in the English version sounds a bit better (Judgement Uninfected Naked Kind and Execute Ranger in the Japanese version; Japanese Undercover Neuro Kinetic Elimination Ranger in the English version)
Anyway, can some phone Kojima and ask about all this? XD

By Randam

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13-04-2016, 19:21

IMHO credits or lack thereof doesn't make it more or less a konami game. There are tons of konami games without proper credits and not just the first ones: Goemon, F1 Spirit 3D, Gradius 1-3 (only Gradius 2 in the manual), Salamander etc.

I read somewhere a long time ago why it was common place for use of nicknames in credits or no credits being used at all in the (early) 80s:
- companies didn't want competitors to know who were working on games so they couldn't be headhunted
- in the beginning making computer games didn't have a good image for a job to others. So some people may have used nicknames to "hide" the fact.

Whether these reasons are true and to what extent I cannot say.

With regards to Kojima having something to do with Nemesis 3 or Contra? Not very likely, IIRC I read in some interview that MG2SS was mostly finished in 1989 and some people were therefore helping out with SD Snatcher. With 2 such big games not likely he was working on other games. Only game other than the well known games (and PA) he may be affiliated with is Pennant Race 1 or 2 (don't remember which). In the konami member team of one of these games Kojima is also mentioned.

By mars2000you

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13-04-2016, 19:36

Randam wrote:

I read somewhere a long time ago why it was common place for use of nicknames in credits or no credits being used at all in the (early) 80s:
- companies didn't want competitors to know who were working on games so they couldn't be headhunted
- in the beginning making computer games didn't have a good image for a job to others. So some people may have used nicknames to "hide" the fact.

Whether these reasons are true and to what extent I cannot say.

How can you explain that the credits are included in the Famicom version of Contra ? Because it was only available in Japan ?

By Randam

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13-04-2016, 20:07

I cannot explain for individual games why credits are included or not or with real or nicknames. There is just so much variation. The arcade version of Contra for instance has credits with nicknames. People also used multiple nicknames even on 1 platform, and some worked on multiple platforms. For instance Kuniyo Yamashita I have seen listed under something like 5 "names". And it's not just Konami who switched between real names and nicknames. Compile is also a good example of that.

Whether a game was only available in Japan.... I don't really know if that was a factor that played a role. Vampire Killer did have full credits (just no first names), but Castlevania had the weird one off nicknames which were some puns relating to old horror movies.

At one time I did a search to find out all the full credits for the msx versions of konami games; when doing this I saw how much they varied between versions and such. By combining a number of sources you could also get to know to whom some of the nicknames were referring.

By Guillian

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13-04-2016, 20:26

The lack of credits, indeed, is not too important. The main point is the coding style, routines used and other details I have explained.

By spacemoai1973

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14-04-2016, 00:11

Say this is best well suspicious. How much kilobytes of the same codding are we speaking about.?

By flyguille

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14-04-2016, 02:11

mars2000you wrote:
Randam wrote:

I read somewhere a long time ago why it was common place for use of nicknames in credits or no credits being used at all in the (early) 80s:
- companies didn't want competitors to know who were working on games so they couldn't be headhunted
- in the beginning making computer games didn't have a good image for a job to others. So some people may have used nicknames to "hide" the fact.

Whether these reasons are true and to what extent I cannot say.

How can you explain that the credits are included in the Famicom version of Contra ? Because it was only available in Japan ?

The lack of credits can be them run out of ROM memory.

By gdx

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14-04-2016, 07:46

Guillian wrote:

They always use the same coding style, same routines for reading the keyboard and controls. They use similar structures for game objects. They compress the graphics in a similar way. Since Nemesis they use the same routine for calculating the trajectory of a shoot (not in Contra).

As Green Beret, no need to look at the code to see that Contra was not programmed by the usual Konami's team.

By Guillian

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14-04-2016, 09:24

spacemoai1973 wrote:

Say this is best well suspicious. How much kilobytes of the same codding are we speaking about.?

I don't know the exact amount. Probably most of the ROM is different due to graphics, musics, maps, game logic, etc.
But the common routines and game structure is the same.

By SANDAR

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16-04-2016, 13:29

Back in the day, I was wondering if Contra had been made by the same team as Green Beret.
It felt so different from all the other Konami stuff. And not in a good way.

By Manuel

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16-04-2016, 14:02

That's odd. I had never heard of anyone saying that Contra is not "Konami" before and now suddenly many people say "it was already obvious"?
Why? I really liked the game. Nothing un-Konami about it...

By Grauw

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16-04-2016, 14:02

My thoughts Smile.

By snout

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16-04-2016, 15:58

It has always been a true Konami to me & I'm sure there was enough Konami QA involved (apart from the music and artwork already being Konami). Now had the switches between screens in Contra been more building up slowly as in Mon Mon Monster and Tengoku (which are very similar in that aspect), I'd agree.

By gdx

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17-04-2016, 15:04

Manuel wrote:

That's odd. I had never heard of anyone saying that Contra is not "Konami" before and now suddenly many people say "it was already obvious"?
Why? I really liked the game. Nothing un-Konami about it...

It's not new that people say the game is (relatively) poor. Even in Japan:

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/hzk/kommander/conmsxtop.html

"1989年5月26日、MSX2版『魂斗羅』が発売されたのである。" -> May 26 1989, the MSX2 edition of Contra was released.

"コナミMSX作品の中の数少ない失敗作" -> One of rare failures in the Konami MSX work.

By spacemoai1973

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17-04-2016, 21:47

I have never heard complaints before also. What strange!

By fondacio

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18-04-2016, 15:14

I do remember thinking when Contra/Gryzor came out that the game was a bit underwhelming. It seemed less polished than other Konami games and also inferior in terms of graphics and animations than MSX2 games being released by others at the time. The sprite of the main player looks ugly for example, and movements of the larger enemies in higher levels, such as trucks, also seems un-Konami-like, compared both to earlier MSX2 games such as Vampire Killer and Usas and later ones such as Space Manbow. The use of scale and perspective in the pseudo-3D stages also doesn't look like what Konami would do. The game font has never been used in any other Konami game. It looks as if Konami outsourced the coding of the main game to outsiders and touched up the graphics and added the music and the logo in-house and checked for playability, because there is nothing wrong with the game in that respect. It would be funny if both Green Beret (made in England, quite obviously but also confirmed) and Contra turned out to be the MSX ports that Konami outsourced, since they are similar types of games.

The reviews in the Netherlands were also lukewarm. It is true that MSX Computer Magazine was quite positive, but Harry van Horen had a tendency to be a bit inconsistent in his assessments (maybe because he also reviewed games on other platforms and was also working for Homesoft; Contra was the last Konami cartridge imported by them in the Netherlands). He did comment on the lack of typical "Konami humour" in Contra in later reviews. The MSX-Gids was more critical and so where some other reviewers. Space Manbow, Solid Snake and SD Snatcher were later described as a comeback of sorts for Konami because for a while it seemed that they were being outcoded by the likes of T&E Soft, Micro Cabin and Falcom.

So yes, I think we can say that Contra, albeit a decent game, has been seen as inferior to other Konami MSX games from the beginning. This discovery therefore makes perfect sense.

By ren

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18-04-2016, 15:55

I also find the underpass & homicide censor stages rather laggy.. Konami could have done a better job? + All the plain, uncoloured projectiles, explosions & power-ups can be considered to be somewhat lame/underwhelming?

(Cool find btw! Wink)

By spacemoai1973

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18-04-2016, 23:42

Thank you for the review review fondacio Cool

By SANDAR

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19-04-2016, 00:53

"it seemed that they were being outcoded by the likes of T&E Soft, Micro Cabin and Falcom"

You make it sound like that's a bad thing. These were my favorite developers for the MSX.

By fondacio

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19-04-2016, 19:39

Oh, I don't think it is bad at all. But there were Konami fanboys who were disappointed that Konami didn't seem able to rule MSX2 the way they did MSX1. Mind you, when Contra came out it was only the second MSX2 game by Konami with an SCC after the MSX2 version of King's Valley II, which never came out officially in Europe anyway. So after Contra they had something to prove. And then Space Manbow came out.

By the way, I forgot to include Compile before.

By syn

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21-04-2016, 09:45

I never thought it was a bad game, we had many hours of fun playing contra, I loved it! Though in memories things tend to be betterSmile

By jlemos

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21-04-2016, 15:41

Very interesting.

Could that be coincidence?

Maybe!!!!

The code is totally equal in screenshots!

Smile

By spacemoai1973

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21-04-2016, 20:45

The ammount of code in the screenshots is minimal. Going off on the screenshots alone is not proof. This why I asked for more info.

By jlemos

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22-04-2016, 00:23

That seems as some antivirus that find lines of a code in a program and they accuse that the same is with virus.

It is not the best analogy, but we have to take into account that is very difficult of that to happen still more than they are two different companies!

Best regards,

Julio Lemos~

Smile

By Imanok

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22-04-2016, 09:13

jlemos wrote:

It is not the best analogy, but we have to take into account that is very difficult of that to happen still more than they are two different companies!

And don't forget we are are talking about programs made in assembly, not about programs using standard libraries made in a high level language

By Guillian

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22-04-2016, 09:19

Writting the same (non trivial) pieces of code, in the same order and using the same RAM addresses is almost impossible. Usually, the easiest explanation is the right one: the same person/company made them.

Anyway, the screenshots are just part of the news. As I explained, there are enough evidences to prove that Konami did not made Contra, and that Bit2 made games for other companies.

By The_Engineer

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22-04-2016, 15:32

Great find!
Manuel/Guillian, did you already receive a response from Konami to your tweet? Wink

By spacemoai1973

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22-04-2016, 15:56

Until now this proves little. The code in the screenshots is not non-trivial and the ram adresses you talk about are unreadable red stains on my screen. what analyse have you done.? I'm watching out for more info as "Believe me"

By Guillian

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22-04-2016, 16:09

@The_Engineer: Thanks! No, I have not received a response (and probably I'll not XD)

@spacemoai1973: Just read the news, my explanations in this thread and check the link for better quality image. No need to repeat all the information again.

By Grauw

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22-04-2016, 16:29

spacemoai1973: You could also do some disassembling and research to confirm for yourself. Smile

Can’t hurt to have an independent confirmation.

By jlemos

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22-04-2016, 18:17

Imanok wrote:

And don't forget we are are talking about programs made in assembly, not about programs using standard libraries made in a high level language

I know!

But this it's very interesting in my opinion.

Smile