Hack Showcase: Crystalis QoL & Ungrind (NES) and Doom 32x Resurrection (Sega 32x)

Hack Showcases and RPG Hack Showcases are a series where I show off various game and rpg hacks. I try to stick with hacks that improve gameplay or add quality of life features, completely or partially change the plot and characters, along with additional content, dialogue, graphical and sound improvements. Non-rpgs I try to give a full run to, or at least enough for a solid review. Rpgs I will stick with titles that have enough changes in the beginning to show off, and when I can, show parts later in the games where more differences appear. There may be spoilers in the reviews and videos. Some of these I may stream fully in the future or play on my own. Reviews are open to later revisions due to bug and content updates or me playing them and finding anything new I wish to bring up.

Note: Seeing how I streamed both games together, I kept the gameplay video together along with this double review.

Crystalis QoL & Ungrind is a hack of Crystalis for the NES by Mentil. The aim of the hack is to reduce the time to grind for leveling and gathering gold, along with some other quality of life changes:

Changes:

  • Equipping orbs and bracelets is no longer necessary. Upon exiting the inventory screen, the respective Power will go into effect for your equipped sword.
  • Attempting to cast a spell with insufficient MP now leads to a single error beep and no interruption of gameplay, rather than a pause and a window opening up.
  • There is now an additional way to get Tornel to return home, that is a more reasonable prerequisite. In the God Slayer version of this patch, Stom now gives a hint to this instead of a red herring; a hint was also changed for how to progress at Mt. Sable to reflect a different stumbling block.
  • Dialog boxes should no longer cause screen wobbling on certain emulators (credit to steve_hacks for inspiration/vector). Running on Fceux/Mednafen is confirmed fixed, at least. If your emulator of choice (such as gnes) now has wobble or other issues when it didn’t before, use the respective anti_antiwobble IPS for your ROM version.
  • Fixed a bug preventing one from using level 3 charge attacks when current MP was exactly equal to their MP cost. Additionally, level 3 Bolt had its flashing toned down (it couldn’t be fully removed yet still display the associated graphics).
  • Fixed the Skeleton so that it now has paralysis immunity instead of poison, and shoots bones instead of webs. (I suspect someone typed in data from the line above in the spreadsheet (Blue Spider) here.)

Additionally, in the ungrind patches:

  • Most enemies had their gold and XP rewards increased to 200-300% of their original values, so almost no grinding should be required in order to progress or complete the game, if you defeat every enemy that crosses your path.
  • Several enemies had their damage nerfed to more-reasonable levels, and some damage sponges were adjusted so that they should no longer require more than ~6 hits to defeat (at expected levels/equipment). A few enemies had their elemental resistances modified.
  • Bosses had their level requirements lowered to 1, so there should be fewer cases of encountering a level gate. Note: despite this, late-game bosses have high defense that is insurmountable at too low a level, which isn’t fixable without substantially nerfing them (or some recoding effort that’d have broad balance implications). This precludes completing the game below approximately level 14.
  • Halved MP costs for level 3 charged sword attacks. They should be more useful relative to other spells now.

SO HOW IS IT? This hack is well done and actually makes the game go by faster since leveling and grinding for money will go faster, leaving you more time to explore and solve puzzles and fight the bosses. You can see the grind increase soon as you go in the first area to fight the slimes and tiger enemies and even the Windmill Cave! it’s pretty easy to get yourself overleveled for an area, but the bosses had their level requirements lowered, so you could plow through them. Late-game bosses have higher defense meaning you can’t damage them at a low level, so I think of that as a balance.

Having the orbs and bracelets instantly equipped depending on your sword saves time for equipping them when you have to switch swords around depending on enemy weaknesses and the gameplay not pausing when you are low on MP for magic is a big quality of life fix. Other fixes like the dialog boxes not bouncing around and the other fixes for plot quests helps.

As stated, there’s patches of this for Crystalis and the Japanese version God Slayer, which there were few things taken out of for the US version, save for some religious references! In all, this is a well made hack and provides some great fixes for this classic.

I GIVE CRYSTALIS QOL & UNGRIND 5 OUT OF 5 SWORDS!!


Doom 32x Resurrection was put together by the D32XR Team and aims to fix a lot of the issues with the Sega 32x port of Doom, as well as restoring missing levels from the Jaguar port. There’s a number of other changes from the recent versions, but here’s the major changes:

  • Multi-region, supports both PAL and NTSC.
  • Smoother yet faithful gameplay.
  • Splitscreen coop and deathmatch modes.
  • New title screen that resembles the Saturn and PlayStation versions.
  • Rendering has been spread across both SH2 processors for better speed.
  • User input is processed at 30FPS, while game logic runs at 15FPS.
  • Low (two pixel modes) 128×144, 128×160, 160×180 and high detail 224×128, 252×144 video modes.
  • FM Synth soundtrack courtesy of Spoony Bard.
  • Selecting between no music, VGM FM music, or playing music from attached Sega CD (requires Sega CD in addition to 32X).
  • Stereo panning for game sounds.
  • Save ram support – keeps track of finished levels, health, armor, weapons and ammo – eight save slots as well as an auto-save at the end of each level.
  • Includes levels that were omitted from the original release.
  • Restores sprite directions from the Jaguar version as well as in-fighting between monsters.
  • Level fixes courtesy of Wavy.
  • Spectres look the way they did in the original PC version.
  • Jaguar Doom HUD assets.
  • Three drawing modes: the regular sector based lighting (although it’s better than the original Doom 32X in that sprites also use this lighting, no more 100% bright sprites!), “potato” mode which doesn’t texture floors or ceilings for slightly better speed, or the original Doom fading light rendering (which is just a smidgen slower and looks a little muddy given the fifteen bit palette of the 32X).
  • ‘Always run’ option.
  • Anti-aliased automap.
  • Support for three-button and six-button pads, as well as the Sega mouse. You can choose how to map the primary three buttons in the menu.
  • Verified as working on Kega Fusion 3.64, a Model 2 Genesis + Model 2 CD + launch 32X, a CDX + 32X, with a NeoFlash NeoMyth MD and the V1 Mega EverDrive, and also with Mega EverDrive Pro.

SO HOW IS IT? I started this portion of the stream trying out the vanilla Doom for the 32x and it’s hot garbage (check the gameplay video when I started the Doom 32x portion). You can see the changes made with this hack right from the impressive title screen and when you choose your game. The game runs a lot smoother and sounds a lot better than the vanilla game. This hack is really a complete rebuild of vanilla Doom 32x and was much needed.

Trying out the different resolution settings may take some time, but the game still runs smooth as butter no matter the game resolution. Some graphics are still blocky and pixelly, but the original Doom was like that when you get closeup and personal with enemies. The save ram support for saving everything is a great addition too for the 24 levels. Doom 32x only has levels from the 1st 2 episodes of the original Doom, but they’re great ports.

Co-op split screen and deathmatch runs great too, with each the first player on the left side of the screen, and the 2nd on the right. Fight together the forces of Hell or play deathmatch and finish the level to go to the next one! Resolution and gameplay is still smooth in co-op mode too!

This is one the reason I play hacks, seeing if people will do complete and better rebuilds of badly designed games, and even good ones. Though Doom for 32x isn’t the best version, this hack makes it a lot more fun to play.

I GIVE DOOM 32X RESURRECTION 5 OUT OF 5 BFGS!!

GAMEPLAY VIDEO FOR BOTH GAMES:

LINKS:
https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/6450/ – Crystalis QoL & Ungrind
https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/6269/ – Doom 32x Resurrection

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