My colorizations of monochrome Game Boy games

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kkzero
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My colorizations of monochrome Game Boy games

Post by kkzero »

Note: Please try to avoid requesting me to colorize specific games.

If you've seen anything by me out in the wild, chances are it was related to my work in converting monochrome GB games to colorized GBC games.

While I've had a fascination with the 8-bit GB line for much of my life, I started getting into colorizing games in 2021, when my friend Specialagentape showed me what he was doing with the first Donkey Kong Land. Up until that point, I was the one doing all his heavy-duty hacking/RE stuff for his hacking projects, so seeing him suddenly take on a project bigger than anything I had done by myself was very motivating to me to try making one myself.

Kirby's Pinball Land DX

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My first colorization was of Kirby's Pinball Land, a simple, minimally-scrolling game that I quite admired as a kid. After testing the waters with some basic asm injection and a batch script I lifted from something I did for Metroid II, I began to continue research and code-writing to the game, spending almost a month getting all the colors in and getting a workable product. Releasing this very shortly after Agent Ape's hack led to significantly increased hype for Game Boy colorizations. I ended up giving this one a bit of an update down the line. Since then, despite one visual issue that's tricky to address with the way my code is, and plenty of room for color improvement in general, I haven't really touched this one.

Faceball 2000 DX

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My next colorization, right after Pinball Land, was for...something only I really like. I've always been fascinated by the mere concept of an arena shooter on the Game Boy from 1991, so I felt like with my newly-developed skills I could give it some touch. My main focus for this project was rewriting the framebuffer update code to rely on extra features provided by the GBC, in order to further speed up framerates, but the way I did this caused graphical corruption on real hardware that wasn't a GBA SP. Baffled me pretty hard, didn't have a clue why it was that way until long after, so I just released two versions--one with this modified renderer, and one with the original routine. The rest of the process was pretty straightforward, hijacking the few background changes there are (fun fact: this game doesn't use sprites/OAM at all) and colorizing those. Like the previous one, there's room for improvement. I've tried my hand at fixing the frame corruption stuff, but it requires more meticulous RE-ing that I haven't been able to sit myself down for.

After this, I didn't really make much that could be released. I fiddled with some other games here and there, but didn't really set myself on a smooth path.

King James Bible DX

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Until April Fools' Day 2022, when I decided to make a quick one that I thought would be absolutely hilarious. I gave Wisdom Tree's King James Bible a little dash of coloring, though nothing too complex since the game is on an unlicensed mapper that works differently from official ones. It sure did get some laughs upon release.

Then it was back to not much from this side of me for a while. However, later that year, I did reexamine some old stuff and make sense out of it, going down the rabbit-hole of producing the biggest project I've ever done.

Kirby's Dream Land 2 DX

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As if the hype generated by my prerelease screenshots wasn't enough, this one hit big time. Of course, it was one of the most anticipated choices in the scene. Because of that, I made sure to go very thorough on it, not just fully colorizing all the assets, but also adding extra details, like buttery-smooth fades, an animated rainbow palette effect, the BG dim during powerups like in many other games in the series, and a settings menu with some visual tweaks and the ability to disable the Animal Friends' BGMs. Despite there being some crash bugs at launch, and me needing to service things in the first few days/weeks, it did well, to say the least. Though being the biggest thing I've ever done, it also took a lot out of me in the months following release.

Some games I've wanted to colorize

Kirby's Block Ball - A natural way to follow up on Pinball Land, and a good opportunity to expose more people to this game's bangin' soundtrack. I attempted this one once, but that fizzled out, and I've tried technical research on it since, but haven't gotten a codebase really going.
Lunar Chase / X - Another choice influenced by previous work, specifically Faceball. Though I'm not sure I can apply much to the speed other than the basic 2x CPU mode to this one, I feel like it could make it just a bit more bearable.
Kid Icarus: Of Myths And Monsters - Might be a generous service to KI fans, the actual graphics aren't even that far off from the NES game.
Bubble Ghost - This game is really cute! Could make a decent alternative to the computer versions.
Altered Space - It's like Solstice but portable, and not many fans of that game seem to know of it. Giving it some color might lay more eyes onto it.
Chikyū Kaihō Gun ZAS - This one's already visually impressive for the DMG, relying on the motion blur of actual hardware to flicker two BGs to simulate a parallax effect. Color could only help things from here.

Games I've wanted to colorize but not anymore

Kirby's Dream Land 1 - I was initially planning to apply what I got out of Dream Land 2 to this game, but honestly I can't stomach the more visceral takes about the one that already exists anymore, so it's just not my priority anymore. Also it seems like toruzz, the one behind the Mario Land colorizations, is already recolorizing this one as part of a tutorial, anyway.
Trip World - I've always had a soft spot for this obscure gem, with Yakopoo being part of the inspiration for my bunny awakening. Back in April, though, it was revealed that an official colorization of this game had been commissioned by LRG to toruzz. Shocked me a bit at first, but then realized I didn't have to sell my soul again after finishing Dream Land 2. I think this is the best thing that could've happened to our scrunkly boy Yakopoo (well, aside from the fact that the release has been delayed like 3 times already).

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Re: My colorizations of monochrome Game Boy games

Post by Jess »

These all look really good!! I should try out that Kirbys Dream Land 2 DX sometime

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Re: My colorizations of monochrome Game Boy games

Post by Sharb »

Yooo this is insanely cool I love this kind of stuff.

it hits really close to my heart since the gameboy colour was actually one of my first consoles so it means a lot to see people like you breathing new light into it with these colour adaptations.

Also I really appreciate the extra effort you guys went to with actually giving the game a palette by making it look properly through out, I've seen too many colourized hacks that just add some shades of colour without a coherent colour theme

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Re: My colorizations of monochrome Game Boy games

Post by DrgnBeauty »

ohh, this is really impressive stuff! that dream land 2 colorization looks amazing, and i've always had a soft spot for pinball land so im glad to see that game getting some love

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Re: My colorizations of monochrome Game Boy games

Post by kkzero »

Not too too much going on with these lately but here's a look at one of my favorite little details I added for Dream Land 2 many months back.

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As a way of utilizing the GBC's color hardware just a bit more, I added this color cycling effect to the health bar palette at 1 HP unit left, similar to some other games in the series. It's on by default in the hack but can be disabled by pressing B in the new settings menu.

Unlike the whole scene fades, which generate the fade-in/fade-out tables on the fly, these color cycles are hardcoded in and out, as they're small enough that they can just be yanked from ROM when needed.

There really was no real reason for me to go out of my way and implement these. I just really really like smooth color animation.

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