is a really crazy find.
On February 3rd, 2001, the Dreamcast warez release group released a rip version of the Sega Smash Pack. To the excitement of emulation fans, Echelon seemed to have figured out something very neat about the Smash Pack. The Smash Pack was designed around an emulator for the Genesis games. From the release notes:
- Yes, this pack is based off an emulator that Sega coded.
- The emulator requires a lot of tweaking to get games that are not
included on this pack to run correctly.
- If we have time for it, we will probably do this tweaking over
the next few days and release a menu system to launch your own
ROM's and burn them to a CD.
- For all of those wondering, the DC console that comes with this
pack (when you buy it!) DOES play MIL CD's / copies.
- You will all probably be wondering how to exit out of a game once
you start it, simply press A+B+X+Y simultaneously, then hit Start
to return back to the menu system.
- Regards to Uncle Sonic for his help, you know for what!
Now the last line is a bit confusing. Release groups give shout-outs to other groups and people in the scene all the time, but "Uncle Sonic" is a weird shout-out to make. Most people ignored it, of course, because they just wanted to burn their game and play.
And sure enough, two days later, Echelon excited the emulation scene and released something that would create both joy and massive controversy in the Dreamcast emulation and hobbyist programming scene over several years.
: _ ___ _________ - E C H E L O N - .::|
___ ________ _______ __ / ___ ________________ _________ _________
_____ \/ _/ / _/___ _____ \ /_/ _ \__\ _ \
_/ / _/ | / \_/ / // / _____ / / / //
// ____// |_// / // _____/ _/_/ // / / /
`- Proudly Presents:
Game.....: Sega Smash Pack ROM Loader (C) Echelon / Sega
Origin...: USA - NTSC - Filename.....: E-SMPKRL.ZIP
Released.: February 5th, 2001 - Format.......: -
Platform.: Sega Dreamcast (DC) - CD(s)........: -
CD1 Info.: - / - - Ripped.......: -
- --- Release Notes ------------------------------------------------>
As we said in our previous release of Sega Smash Pack Volume 1, we
were working on a simple menu system for an end-user to load his
own Sega Genesis ROMs. Well, here it is! This menu system allows you
to burn your own Sega Genesis ROMs onto a CD and have a nearly
perfect Sega Genesis Emulator (albeit sound). Please check out the
README.TXT file included in this ZIP for more information on how
to burn this and so on.
And so years went by. The original Smash Pack had been ripped and a special Smash Pack loader had been released; there was no reason for anyone with the equipment or know-how to revisit this GD-ROM. But what if someone did?
Lately az_bont and I have been dumping GD-ROMs and helping out with the TOSEC ISO project. TOSEC indexes checksums of known disc tracks for video game consoles, and when two people have dumped matching checksums, the game is verified and entered into a database for the purpose of preserving these game discs. This is very important because these GD-ROMs won't last forever and neither will the required equipment for dumping them.
So anyway, I dumped a copy of the Sega Smash Pack GD-ROM I had. When I opened the disc up with ISOBuster to check out the filesystem, I see what looks pretty normal for a Dreamcast game, but wait...
What the hell is a file named ECHELON.TXT doing on this disc?
Why... it's a message from the emulator's programmer to Echelon:
To whomever releases this pack..
Let me give you a few bits of info:
- I emulate a U.S. Genesis, including territory lock-out.
- ".sga" files are standard Genesis/Megadrive ".bin" files renamed.
- The emulator is looking for some parameters to be passed via Ginsu.
If you don't know what that is, you'll figure it out:
MDE_US.BIN ALTBEAST.SGA MODE2 SKIP0 SOUND0
MODE0 = standard, fastest video mode settings
MODE1 = slower, supports some extra features
MODE2 = slowest, includes window layers (used by some games)
MODE4 = same as MODE0 with background skewing
SKIP0 = no sprite skipping until maximum reached
SKIP1 = moderate sprite skipping, used to prevent major slowdown
SKIP2 = maximum sprites skipped
SOUND0 = standard sound emulation
SOUND1 = sound tempo increased
And don't forget to pay your respects to Uncle Sonic.
Sony just doesn't get it.
So who exactly is "Gary"? Why, the guy listed as the programmer of the project:
The message at the end is quite interesting. I did some research on Mr. Lake
Besides working for Killing Time for the 3DO in 1996, he worked on 6 games for Sega, of which the Smash Pack was his final game. He is also credited under "Special Thanks" for Acclaim's Dreamcast port of Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000. After that, he went to work on games for Universal, Vivendi, Midway, and EA. He is currently the Director of Technology at Capcom.
I don't exactly know how to interpret the guy's ending comment. I don't think Echelon understood it either, because I don't think that Gary Lake wanted to be called "Uncle Sonic," but rather he was making commentary on people respecting Sega vs. Sony. The Smash Pack was released on the same day that Sega announced the discontinuation of Dreamcast console production, though they continued to sell the system for quite a while after. So it's obvious Gary knew what was going on at Sega when the game was released to manufacturing. I tried to see if I can find some sort of online presence for Gary Lake, but I can't figure out any sort of way to get in touch besides sending a letter to Capcom USA with his name on it or paying $20 to get access to LinkedIn
to message him.
Anyway, this doesn't change the stance of this site's staff in distributing the Sega Smash Pack binaries. Regardless of the developer's opinion, the emulator is owned by Sega and as such, it is still illegal for us to distribute.