News/Dreamcast Month Part 4 - Ecco the Dolphin

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Ecco dc jan 26 2000 0.png
Ecco dc feb 17 2000 0.png
Demul 2015-05-25 11-08-11-522.png
Quake 3 arena dc proto 0.png
Race simulation jun 5 2001 dc proto 0.png
NullDC Win32 Release-NoTrace 2015-05-24 21-07-40-113.png

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (Jan 26, 2000 prototype)
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (Feb 17, 2000 prototype)
MSR: Metropolis Street Racer (Oct 10, 2000 prototype)
Quake 3 Arena (Oct 26, 2000 prototype)
Racing Simulation 2: Monaco Grand Prix Online (Jun 5, 2001 prototype)
Vanishing Point (Oct 25, 2000 prototype)
The Next Tetris: On-Line Edition (Dec 4, 2000 prototype)

Discuss this release on the boards here!

To wrap up the last part of Dreamcast Month, we have some nice stuff to share with you today!

First up we have late prototypes of MSR: Metropolis Street Racer, Quake 3: Arena, Racing Simulation 2: Monaco Grand Prix Online, Vanishing Point, and The Next Tetris: Online Edition. For some reason, we can’t get Tetris to work in any emulator, but it doesn’t appear that there are any errors in the dump…

Aside from those, you may have noticed that there are two really nice Ecco 1 DC prototypes in the list too! Well I certainly have a lot of explaining to do…

First, let’s talk about the earliest build, the January one. This build is VERY different in comparison to what has been available before and after the build dates of the other prototypes. This prototype predates the earliest available prototype of Defender of the Future by over three months. It sports a completely different title screen, some very early area designs, multitudes of unrefined text, and even the beginnings of a difficulty selection that was eventually removed from the final. There is a debugger of some sorts activated (that contains the ability to at least list your player coordinates), as well as some kind of cheat menu for items and event flags when pressing certain button combinations in the Options menu. A level select can be accessed by selecting “Load Game” in the main menu, which will allow you to play most of the levels that are stored in the game (there are a few maps not listed that still exist as files on the disc, however).

I always had this disc among my lot, but unlike the other discs in my collection this is among the few prototypes I own for the Sega Dreamcast that refused to dump. Up until this point I have dumped all of my Sega Dreamcast prototypes with dcsdrip, which is the easiest and most accurate way to dump GD-R prototypes. However, this prototype has given me the most grief over the past few years, and is one of the reasons why Ecco Month didn’t really happen a few years ago..

I had wanted to move on to the other multitude of Ecco stuff that I wanted to preserve and release, but this prototype had been a huge thorn in the process of doing so. I eventually figured out that httpd-ack can dump GD-R prototypes by replacing bad sectors with the letter ‘Q’. By giving me an option to skip the bad sectors, I could at least create a complete dump of the prototype.

Upon dumping the prototype multiple times with this method, it became clear that each dump was giving me slightly different results every time. The prototype itself contains a total of five tracks, three data tracks and two .raw tracks (which contain no data). Track03.bin, despite taking up the majority of the GD-R, contains no data besides IP.BIN (the initial program) and error correction data. All of the game’s actual data is stored in Track05.bin. To my knowledge, no corruption is present in either Track01, Track02, and Track04. However, there are multiple instances of corruption in Track03, and unfortunately, Track05.

Evilhamwizard attempted to repair the bad sectors in one of the dump attempts that contained the least amount of corruption in track05.bin by using data from a later prototype (which thankfully matched the missing bits that became corrupt). The bad bytes were replaced with the correct ones, while adding a header for that given sector. However, the scramble data still remains corrupt, as we couldn’t figure out how to regenerate that data. In the releases’ archive, there’s a text file that describes which sector is corrupt in both track03 and track05. All reported bad sectors have been corrected in track05.bin, however there could be additional bad sectors that haven’t been reported due to corruption in the middle of another sector.

Thankfully, it appears that the contents of the game can be played through. Although it remains unknown if all the content can be played in its entirety. So if you experience any crashing or corruption while playing the game, make a note of it on our wiki!

Since our attempt at Ecco Month, we discovered another prototype of Ecco 1 in our collection that we previously didn’t know about. This prototype is dated just a month after the previous build, and contains many differences in comparison to everything that has come before and after it. Be sure to check this out as well!

We hope you have enjoyed Dreamcast Month. We'd like to thank dyer60 for donating some of his prototypes to us to release this past month. Keep an eye out for Laurent’s other Dreamcast releases throughout the year as well, as there are more Dreamcast prototypes in the horizon.

Until next time!