Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Adventures in ASM II: Szechuan Sauce

tl;dr: I’ve made a NoCD crack for Si Chuan Sheng 2000. Download it here.

I’ve long been a fan of Shisen-shō, you know, the other mahjong solitaire game with the rectangular tile arrangement. Its slightly more complex rules probably doom it to always be the less-widespread of the two, but I think it’s much more fun when you have total knowledge of where all your tiles are (plus I’ve always been crap at finding things hidden in plain sight). So, when I first found out about Si Chuan Sheng 2000 through a series of uncommentated playthrough videos by Rubycored, I instantly knew I had to have it. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about – I presume the intersection of the “does not live in Taiwan” and “has never watched the playthrough” sets –, Si Chuan Sheng 2000 (or「四川省2000」in the original Chinese) is, I think, the only game I’ve ever seen that actually builds upon the original Shisen-shō that TAMTEX put out in 1989 as an excuse to see naked pixelated ladies by offering levels in the form of predetermined, carefully handcrafted puzzles. Developed and published by T-Time Tech & Art in Taiwan in 1998, a company that somehow not only still exists to this day but also still lists the game on their catalog, Si Chuan Sheng 2000 also features torch, dynamite and concrete blocks to spice up things and refresh the formula a bit (they work exactly as you’d expect). All in all it’s a very fun game, and indeed, not long after I first found out about the game, I managed to get my grubby hands on an ISO dump, which is now one of the pride pieces of my Internet Archive library.

The original Shisen-shō, released as
Match It outside Japan, isn’t an ancient
Chinese game from Sichuan, but rather a 1980s
pervert arcade game from Tokyo

Now, since I got the dump, I barely had any trouble installing and playing it, but I’m aware that my setup is anything but commonplace: I have winevdm installed, which means that the 16-bit installer stub ran normally on my 64-bit computer, and when the game turned out to have the age-old “insert CD to continue” DRM, I could just mount the image with WinCDEmu and play away. I could’ve just not cared and dealt with this annoyance every time I wanted to play, but DRM as a concept bothers me enough, and it getting in the way of me seamlessly playing the game whenever I want pushed me over the edge to do something about it. I found a really good YouTube tutorial that deals with patching CD DRM in Assembly and, much headdesking later, I managed to produce a working NoCD crack. I will spare you the details for two reasons: one, I didn’t have to do anything but extrapolate what the tutorial I linked explains in a much better way than I possibly could, and two, this was literally years ago, I’ve just procrastinated posting it online until now. The one thing I do remember that may be worth mentioning is that I found out that the only thing the game actually checks for is the existence of the SETUP.BMP splash file, so in theory you could burn it to a random CD-R full of other stuff and it’d still work, although why would you do that.

You can download the entire installation package with my crack here. I’ve also already substituted the 16-bit InstallShield setup stub with a 32-bit alternative made by AxXxB of the Old-Games.RU forums for your convenience, so that you don’t need to install winevdm just to install this one game.

If you’re from T-Time and you want to DMCA me for cracking and publishing your 25 year old game, please do! Show interest in your classic library! It’d cost you virtually nothing to rerelease your old games through virtual storefronts like GoG and I can’t be the only one who would definitely buy at least a couple of them! I’ll very gladly take the download link down if it means that we’ll be able to play this game and others like Jurassic Banqi legitimately again without having to scour Ruten and pay a fortune to proxy mailers!

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Adventures in ASM II: Szechuan Sauce

tl;dr: I’ve made a NoCD crack for Si Chuan Sheng 2000 . Download it here . I’ve long been a fan of Shisen-shō, you know, the other ...