Malaika Prehistoric Quest r2

by viejo_archivero on 10-11-2007, 11:06
Topic: Software
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Malaika Prehistoric Quest, a colorful and smooth platform game by Karoshi Corporation presented at the MSXdev'06 competition, has been updated. For its previously anticipated cartridge production, a second revised version has been built in order to fix some things and to include some suggested features. It has taken a lot of time from Karoshi, as partially all relevant parts of the code have been revised and even rewritten from scratch, but now this definitive version has been finished and it is ready for MSX fans around the world to download.

Although it would be impossible to name all changes and fixes that went into the game, here are some of the highlights of the more relevant add-ons and updates of the game:

  • Code optimized and even rewritten for this version in order to work smoothly at 60Hz.
  • Lots of adjustments on enemies, items positions and stage maps, in order to fix some glitches and get more balanced stages.
  • A continue option has been added in order to let you play on from the last stage you've been playing when you died.
  • Finishing a stage with more than 100 jewels was rewarded with 2000 points. Now, when doing this three times you'll obtain an extra life! This is of course a new reason to pick up as many jewels as you can and extend the game!
  • If you pick up a heart icon while your heart meter is already filled, you'll gain 1000 bonus points.
  • Slightly different ending for those who have finished the game without the continue feature.
  • New main logo graphics are shown when a Japanese MSX is detected.
  • Lots of clean-ups everywhere

The game is available online at Karoshi Corp. website. If you play it, like it and want to have it in cartridge format, presented with new plastic case, cartridge label, color manual, box and the whole package shrink-wrapped, you'll be pleased to know that Matra Automations is currently investing efforts to have the game ready as soon as possible in a Shockware format!

Relevant link: Malaika Prehistoric Quest RK711r2

Comments (23)

By cesco

Champion (453)

cesco's picture

10-11-2007, 11:35

Malaika is still an impressive platform game, at least for MSX1 standards. Unfortunately this new release still doesn't fix the difficulty of the game... jumping from a platform to another one is still really frustrating, since it still requires a perfect timing and quite often you will be supposed to place Malaika on the edge of a platform before jumping, if you want to be sure that she'll not die. You will realise soon that you are losing more lives by trying to jump from a platform to another one than because you were hitten by an enemy Sad

IMHO Malaika should be able to jump a little longer.

And an introduction could be nice also... just some text at the beginning of the game telling the story of Malaika and why she's running and jumping through all that platforms... something like "Once upon a time there was a cavemen girl, her boyfriend was kidnapped and blah blah blah..." Smile

By GhostwriterP

Champion (511)

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10-11-2007, 15:39

I agree on the platform issue.

By viejo_archivero

Paragon (1372)

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10-11-2007, 18:27

I'll try my best to get my next game to be more friendly/confortable for the final player. Thank you for your comments!

By Manuel

Ascended (15835)

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11-11-2007, 13:08

It's a great game, but indeed, especially in stage 1-2 it is very tricky to jump over those gaps. I often just run into the gap by accident...

How did you get the scrolling so übersmooth?

By viejo_archivero

Paragon (1372)

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11-11-2007, 20:21

manuel: It is all a matter of time the jump... jumps distances and platform colision tolerances are different each game you play: The Castle's jumps are different than Manic Miner's or The Maze of Galious' ones. So for me it is not that hard, it is all just about mastering how the game distances works (that's how most platformers work): for now I finish it with no continues and 9 lifes rest, although when I start playing it I use to fall down into pits too.

About the scroll it is just a trick. Every tile is predefined 8 times with its pattern definition 1 pixel scrolled in each time, so it is a matter of putting a different set of characters each 1 pixel of horizontal offset, and then go back to the first set but scrolling 1 real character to the whole stage. As all characters are defined 8 times in vram, you only need to transfer the name table.

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6285)

ARTRAG's picture

11-11-2007, 21:29

but in this way you can have only different 32 characters Sad
it shouldn't be critical update the tiles on fly are the sprite opponents
are quite simple and sparse ...
I remember dvik' s G&G demo on karoshi coping up to 100 tiles each
frame and moving bunches of zombies.

By viejo_archivero

Paragon (1372)

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11-11-2007, 22:04

In fact there are more tiles than 32 tiles. Please note that dvik's demo uses a mixed mode in order to have a single bank for ease the task of pattern redefinition, but Malaika, as it has been done on pure SCREEN2, it can use 3 banks (that is 32+32+32 tiles available). For example, at volcano stages, the lava and the rock under the magma tiles are just present at bank 3, clouds at world 1 are just at bank 1 and 2, and the sea at tropical island world and its waves are located just at the last bank. So Malaika stage tiles are bank-independant. That's why, for example, there can't be clouds at stage 1-1 bank 3... that's just because these tiles have been raplaced for the green grass Wink

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6285)

ARTRAG's picture

12-11-2007, 00:03

you have 96 tiles limited to stay each group of 32 in its region
but do not waste time in moving the their data to vram
dvik has 100 tiles not limited in their position on the screen (thus
also vertical scroll is allowed) but he moves 800 bytes per frame at least...
both options are valid
only i would have expected more a.i. and enemies as in your case
the cpu can be almost entirely devoted to sprite management

By viejo_archivero

Paragon (1372)

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12-11-2007, 07:15

ARTRAG: more enemies were planned, but as I wanted to fix the game into a 32KB ROM, I had really no room for more, if you take in account the lenght of the stages and the amount of them (25 stages in 6 worlds). Not talking now about CPU time (the program must send +700 bytes each frame too), but ROM space. Anyway I hope you are not trying to compare dvik's efficient way of coding with mine Smile2...
cesco: the same goes for an introduction, not much space for that. You can read the instructions for you to get into the story Tongue

By Manuel

Ascended (15835)

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12-11-2007, 11:03

How about making an extended edition that does not have a 32kB limit?

By Huey

Prophet (2644)

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12-11-2007, 11:31

Wouldn't that reqiure introducing a mapper? That could make it tricky

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6285)

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12-11-2007, 11:34

Some big improvements could be:
1) multiple kinds of enemies with increased and differentiated AI: atm this is the weakest point in the game IMHO.
Having multiple kinds of enemies would increase the interest of the player, as the background, due to technical reasons, tends to be quite flat
Using some sprite multiplex routine you could use 2 colors per sprite also

2) scrolling in two directions (super mario allows you to left and right in the levels): so you can go back and get the bonuses you missed

3) parallax for clouds and sun, and generally speaking, for the sky (just do a slower scrolling for them)

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9777)

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12-11-2007, 12:35

It can be boring and frustrating to soup-up an old game, esp. when you're busy with the next game. I'd say: leave this game be, and perhaps the current engine could be used for a new game. Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

By viejo_archivero

Paragon (1372)

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12-11-2007, 13:20

manuel: <bigger than 32KB> Maliaka 2, perhaps? Smile. Nah, the game will stay as is.
ARTRAG: <improvements> This game won't be improved no more, as this is the final version. Super Mario Bros only scrolls to the left, but for an hypothetic sequel, I really want to make it scrollable in two directions, as long as add a parallax routine. And about the enemie's thing, I can live with the just 1 sprite for enemies restriction.
wolf: <r n f f> nah, I won't modify a thing from Malaika. It is good to read user's opinions, but I consider them for future games. Enough Malaika for me.

By LeandroCorreia

Paladin (944)

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12-11-2007, 18:42

IMHO, the main problem with Malaika refers exactly to this smooth scroll, a nice feature that made the game too slow. I´d rather play a game with faster scroll, even in an 8x8 fashion. It would not look ugly if sprites still moved smoothly (Magical Kid Wiz is a nice example of that).

Malaika has good graphics, a wonderful title screen, nice smooth scrolling and cool tricks to avoid MSX color limitations. But for me, gameplay is uh... boring. It takes a long time to cross its stages (scroll is slow) and when I die and have to go back to the beginning of the stage, it gets quite frustrating. From an user point of view, Malaika lacks the most important thing: Original and fluid gameplay. Otherwise, its a game that shines in the technical and artistical department in every way. Wink

By Manuel

Ascended (15835)

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12-11-2007, 19:21

Leandro: Magical Kid Wiz? I was more thinking about Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima (Champion Takahashi's Adventure Island, aka Wonderboy.)

By LeandroCorreia

Paladin (944)

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12-11-2007, 19:29

Adventure Island is a nice game, but its sprites also jump in 8x8 intervals. Anyway it also does not appear blocky simply because its scroll is very fast. Wink

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6285)

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12-11-2007, 20:53

Using Malalaika 's technology the scrolling can go at ANY speed.
You can even implement inertia !!! (Do yo u remember Theseus ?)
Making Malalaika run at 4 times its normal speed after having collected a
special item seems pretty simple to do...
As no tile redefinition is done, increasing the scroll speed does not affect
the CPU load

By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5417)

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18-11-2007, 16:40

About Theseus... What is inertia?

I always thought the Theseus scrolling was done by real-time defining the tiles.

By GhostwriterP

Champion (511)

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19-11-2007, 19:09

My guess, simply acceleration.

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6285)

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20-11-2007, 17:33

Scrolling with variable speed according to the acceleration/deceleration of the main character.

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6285)

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27-11-2007, 10:11

I see a new release, R3, published on 26/11/2007

Malaika Prehistoric Quest RK711r3

Any hint on what changed ?

By viejo_archivero

Paragon (1372)

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28-11-2007, 12:16

ARTRAG: that version is the one that will be inside the cartridge. It fixes a glitch in the scoreboard that appeared sometimes when the game was executed into a MSX1 at 60Hz. Apart from that fix, nothing has changed from the previous r2 version.