LINKS Ultimate crack set 1.0

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By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5300)

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20-04-2016, 23:45

Hello!

I'm proud to present to you LINKS Ultimate crack set 1.0 !!!

So what is this all about? LINKS network was combined online messaging & online gaming & software market for MSX that was run by Nippon Telenet in Japan late 80's, early 90's. Many of the games were same that were available also as cartridges or tape games, but some of the games were exclusively made for LINKS network... and has stayed a secret from us because of copy protection that was implemented to fight against piracy. Definitely the most interesting & rare items are the Konami's A1 Gran Prix and Konami's Midnight Rally (aka Network Rally)

Although I've not managed to get my hands on to those titles I've anyway now managed to make a complete toolset that can be used to get around the protections in case some day we find copies of those titles. For much more detailed information see the readme.txt file in the package.

So, what is this toolset then good for?

Well... ie. In this topic Piter Punk posted quite a few nice MSX gems from Links network.

Also this package that I got to my hands had quite a few interesting titles such as Network enabled versions of Konami Knightmare and Twinbee. Now you can also get to see these titles that are probably not made out of Japan many times in playable format... if ever before.

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By Louthrax

Prophet (2072)

Louthrax's picture

21-04-2016, 00:16

Running Naked in a Field of Flowers Running Naked in a Field of Flowers (well, rolling in pijamas in my MSX gaming room, it's a bit late and cold for now !).

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5300)

NYYRIKKI's picture

21-04-2016, 00:34

I forgot to say that today we had quite a nice testing meeting using REAL MSX and REAL LINKS cartridge Wink

By gdx

Prophet (2871)

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21-04-2016, 09:45

Nyyrikki, you have done a very good job, but is it possible to do the contrary?
It would be more practical to adapt the games to the NGA cartridge used. The goal is able to use the games from different sources with a single cartridge. We could even use an original NGA.

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5300)

NYYRIKKI's picture

21-04-2016, 12:07

gdx wrote:

Nyyrikki, you have done a very good job, but is it possible to do the contrary?
It would be more practical to adapt the games to the NGA cartridge used. The goal is able to use the games from different sources with a single cartridge. We could even use an original NGA.

As I explained in the readme.txt, you can use SETID program, if you want to use your original NGA. I agree that best would be just to remove the protection. This is not hard at all, but I've not come up with a reliable common solution that would work "every time". The problem is that the games are very rarely made out of single data blocks. There is usually a loader and then at least one data block that the loader loads. Problem is that all the data blocks start and size parameters are hidden inside the loader program or other programs in other data blocks.

By wimpie3

Master (250)

wimpie3's picture

21-04-2016, 12:22

I've just tried to run GUESSKEY.COM, but unfortunately this is a 16 bits application which doesn't work on my 64 bits Windows 10...

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5300)

NYYRIKKI's picture

21-04-2016, 12:37

wimpie3 wrote:

I've just tried to run GUESSKEY.COM, but unfortunately this is a 16 bits application which doesn't work on my 64 bits Windows 10...

No, it is 8bit application, not 16 or 32 or 64bit. Read the readme.txt !

By tfh

Paragon (1746)

tfh's picture

21-04-2016, 13:03

wimpie3 wrote:

I've just tried to run GUESSKEY.COM, but unfortunately this is a 16 bits application which doesn't work on my 64 bits Windows 10...

ROFL Smile Try msX-dos ;-)

By wimpie3

Master (250)

wimpie3's picture

21-04-2016, 13:06

Hehe, misread the readme file... working fine in MSX DOS now :-)

By gdx

Prophet (2871)

gdx's picture

22-04-2016, 00:14

NYYRIKKI wrote:

As I explained in the readme.txt, you can use SETID program, if you want to use your original NGA.

I know but it is more convenient if we can change games protection to run all games with the same ID.

NYYRIKKI wrote:

I agree that best would be just to remove the protection.

If the NGA cartridge can execute the unprotected games it's indeed the best solution.

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5300)

NYYRIKKI's picture

22-04-2016, 10:27

gdx wrote:
NYYRIKKI wrote:

I agree that best would be just to remove the protection.

If the NGA cartridge can execute the unprotected games it's indeed the best solution.

Yes, it is possible, you indicate if the program is protected or not in the header. ie. SETID and GETID are examples of unprotected programs. If you are interested to work on this issue, I can send you tool to decipher the content. After that you only need to patch the programs to skip the decipher routines. This is pretty straight forward as there are practically 3 options that the game might be using... Either they can use the same entry point that the LINKS internally uses, they can use the official entry point in jump table or they can embed the decipher routine to the program. It seems that LINKS provided example loader that is used pretty much "as is" in most of the games by only adjusting load addresses. This loader embeds the decipher routine to loader "main program root" and can be skipped by writing simple jump over it.

I didn't take this route as I was more interested in preserving the content in original format than creating new cracked versions. If there would have been some really interesting title among the files I got, I would have done this or other optional loader in a heart beat. How ever it seems that all of the titles have been already released in another format as well... and even better than general compatibility between LINKS cartridges... they don't require LINKS cartridge at all! (I consider THAT as "best solution")

Ok, I agree Knightmare and Twinbee are custom versions, but they don't add any value to players either because LINKS network has been down for decades.

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