Thursday, January 7, 2021

We Have Secured Rockman EXE: Phantom of Network and Legend of Network

For more than a decade, Rockman EXE: Phantom of Network (2004) and Rockman EXE: Legend of Network (2006) have remained virtually lost to time. Not only were these games exclusive to Japan, but they could only be played on mobile phones. Very old, very *specific* "dumb phones" that -- to make this equation all the more sweeter -- had to be subscribed to the now-defunct i-Mode internet service. 

What's more, Phantom of Network and Legend of Network were discontinued some time ago. Even if you lived in Japan and somehow had one of those old phones, you can't just download these games willy-nilly. They're de-listed. Gone. There is no way to download them in the year 2021.

Despite all that, however, we have long searched for a phone that has either Phantom of Network or Legend of Network installed. The chances of finding a phone with both games installed? Hah. Don't ask. But we persisted! In the name of preservation, we persisted....

... aaaand after years of sifting and searching through old, battered Japanese phones -- years of failed negotiations -- we have, at long last, acquired BOTH Phantom of Network and Legend of Network! And now the real work begins...

 

First off, here's some footage of both freshly-acquired games running:


So yeah. That's them; safe and sound. But what comes next? 

Well, now it's a matter of safely extracting the games from their native hardware onto a modern day PC. That's not quite as easy at it sounds, unfortunately.

Because we are working with a very specific, outdated phone, it also requires very specific, outdated hardware for extraction. There will be a great deal of reverse engineering and testing as well... all necessary to (ideally) get these games emulated!

To that end, we need your help acquiring the necessary tech and tools to get these games on a PC. When that happens, we have every intention of not only researching and preserving Phantom of Network and Legend of Network. 

I must stress that the extraction method is not 100% guaranteed. There is a risk that we may not be able to get the game data off the phone. But we have the games in-hand, the right people for the job lined up and a will of steel to try to make it happen. 

This is the furthest our community has ever gotten to saving these games, people. Help where you can and... keep your fingers crossed!

UPDATE: Thanks for your support! We've got the hardware!

41 comments:

  1. Uh... how much is the goal?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good luck! it could be amazing to have the games working on PC!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is going to be nervewracking as all hell...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For real... If it was me, I'd probably spend at least twice the amount of time researching how to backup one of these phones as compared to the time I'd spend researching how to extract the game data from the filesystem. Hope the extraction crew has *nerves* of steel to go with that "will of steel" mentioned in the post.

      Delete
    2. Backup before anything is done is part of the process, yes. That is going to take a second dumb phone... and we've already got it.

      Delete
  4. Is the game extraction gonna be for sprite ripping?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. And for, God willing, getting it up for emulation so everyone can play.

      Delete
  5. Why no one tried to remake this and make a pc fan game port also that rockman dash 5 island?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Bless you people. You're doing great work. Here's to hoping for success!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, my God!!!
    The dream came true!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you guys, you keep alive this saga of Mega Man.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What happened to the new EXE game that you said was coming in 2020? Something is not right...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Development, like many video games in Capcom's portfolio, was impacted by the pandemic. You were supposed to have seen the game by now, which would have tied in with the Duel Masters mobile crossover and various EXE-related products from mid, late 2020. To my knowledge it remains in active development.

      The leaked Capcom release calander doesn't mention the game because the calendar did NOT include mobile games, collections or remasters.

      Delete
  10. If these do get extracted as planned then hopefully they can get translated at some point as well.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Amazing effort to preserve these games, and the goal to acquire the hardware has already been met! Thank you all involved in preserving this, and hopefully the extraction goes well!

    ReplyDelete
  12. So are these games up to the length and quality of the main Battle Network games or are they about as quality as old phone games tend to be?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There use to be game play of these games on youtube iirc or some other video site and the games looked very high quality for the time comparable to bn games

      Delete
  13. All that's missing from this nail-biting archeological quest is Protodude being chased by Reaverbots.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is the best news I never knew I wanted

    ReplyDelete
  15. will you be doing this with any other old rockman phone games?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully. It's a matter of finding phones with the games already installed on them.

      Delete
    2. It would be awesome if you guys could preserve more of these obscure titles. Perhaps you're already aware of all these games but these pages list, I think between both of them, hopefully all the old rockman phone games, if you're interested.

      http://web.archive.org/web/20130311084611/http://www.capcom.co.jp/keitai/topics02/topics02_index.html
      http://themechanicalmaniacs.com/articles/keitai.php

      I imagine Rockman X4 would be difficult to play on an old phone...

      Delete
    3. That's certainly a longterm goal. We have two big barriers: one, finding phones with these games pre-installed (sometimes sellers don't even list the games/apps they have on it. It's a crapshoot. And two, depending on how old the phone is, extracting the games. The former is probably the biggest hurdle. There ARE fans in Japan who do have these games on old phones... but, for very complicated reasons, do not want to share with us.

      Delete
    4. I understand. I think it's amazing that we may get to preserve these two games. I'm definitely excited.

      Maybe someday it would be cool if someone could preserve the Rockman EXE arcade games, too. And the Shooting Star Rockman tv game, if it isn't preserved somewhere...

      Delete
  16. I'm so glad to hear this. Everyone involved, you are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Will this be available for android as well?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll have to see how emulation ultimately works out. It *shouldn't* be a problem since they are, in essence, .jar files. But we gotta extract them first.

      Delete
    2. On my super old Verizon Env3 I had been able to dump the whole file system using a program called Bitpim. I managed to get Megaman Rush Marine off the phone but its a brew type whatever that is and not a .jar. I would try that program.

      Delete
  18. This is a pure proof that we need another MMBN game.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Does it also include the Battlers Tower "DLC" from PoN?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While this does not answer your question directly, I am not sure that Battler's Tower will be something that's actually that playable. From what I have read online the Battler's Tower is a separate app that is a pseudo-multiplayer mode for PoN. The way it works is that it reads your folder from PoN and sends that data to the multiplayer server which then "rolls the dice" and then tells you if you "won" or "lost" based on the server's RNG. Other than that, it seems to have a time attack mode for PoN bosses. However, without servers running to simulate the battles or store time attack scores, it seems like the Battler's Tower won't do a whole lot on its own. Not that it wouldn't be something neat to dump for posterity's sake, but it's not quite "DLC" for PoN in the traditional sense.

      Delete
  20. It'll be amazing getting to play these games if they're successfully dumped.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have been searching the rockman.exe zone every so often to see if I could find even a hint of someone translating these games. Protodude you are a godsend. thank you. you've given me some semblance of hope that I can finally play the BN/SF games in chronological order

    ReplyDelete
  22. Danger ahead guys, it seems that Capcom isn't happy about this game being preserved.
    There was a Japanese Rockman fan doing the exact same project (though only for Phantom of Network), which received a takedown notice and cancelled the project a few days ago.

    Source (Japanese): https://automaton-media.com/articles/newsjp/20210116-149277/
    (They also acknowledged ProtoDude's project)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I asumme that it runs on an specific version of Java Application for japanese cellphones, right?

    ReplyDelete
  24. I wish you all luck on managing to deliver these games to the public.

    ReplyDelete

Keep it friendly. Disparaging, belittling and derogatory comments are not permitted.