Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Rockman EXE: Phantom of Network/Legend of Network Preservation Project Report

We have a sizeable progress update on the Rockman EXE: Phantom of Network and Rockman EXE: Legend of Network preservation project that began in January. A lot has happened between now and then; we're here to get you up to speed.

Read on for the full scoop... and how you can help!

 

From team member Kraze:


"The Rockman.EXE Phantom of Network and Legend of Network preservation team has made significant advances in understanding how to extract the games from the donor feature phone. All the money from January’s PayPal pool was used to fund purchases of research equipment and service fees. With our discoveries so far, there are many potential plans of action."

 

You can read about these discoveries from Kraze's detailed progress report. That document includes a breakdown on expenses and technical data reports, among other important topics. For those needing a quick summary, however, here's the basics:


"We found the feature phone’s schematics, which were used to establish a NAND chip pinout. The next step is to read the NAND chip, analyze the dump for file system structures, and analyze the file system. From there, we will try to ascertain a method to reverse-engineer the feature phone’s firmware. In doing so, we may be able to reach the game files and extract them off the device. 
Other possible methods of extraction, like decrypting game files from an SD card or unlocking more phone features with HyperSIM, are being researched. One of these approaches will ultimately be used on the donor feature phone to retrieve the EXE games. An emulator to play DoJa games (the platform the EXE games run on) is also being developed in conjunction with the project."

Team member RockmanCosmo adds, "If we've made this much progress since January, think about how far we'll be in another eight months. We aren't groping in the dark - there is a plan."

A brand-new PayPal pool has been set up to accumulate additional funding. These funds will be used to "advance the progress made on the NAND chip analysis and further research the other possible extraction methods." This will cover expenses needed to acquire additional phones and hardware, cables and adapters, service fees, shipping fees, and insurance. If you need more information, read Kraze's complete progress report.

UPDATE: Funding goal reached. Thank you for your continued support!

The preservation team are 100% committed to not only saving these games, but working toward a means to make them accessible for everyone.

And, again, all of this will take some time. It's not a simple as dragging a file or two from the phone onto a PC. Never was. But once research is complete and methods are fine-tuned, this will benefit the preservation of EVERY Japanese-exclusive docomo game, too. There's so much good that can come from this.

So if you can help and pitch in a bit - great! If not, you're patience and support is appreciated.

9 comments:

  1. Amazing job being done by this team. While these may not be the main points of the project, is there a potential for English patch and soundtrack rip down the line?

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    1. Once the game file has been extracted, those pursuits are 100% viable. I'd love to see an English patch so the game is more accessible to a larger audience. There are already some soundtrack rips online:
      https://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm12917379
      https://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm13676853

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  2. so, in theory, once they succeed at extracting THESE games, would this open the door to other japanese mobile games from around that era of time to also be extracted using the same process? If so, this could be huge in game preservation in general, not just megaman games.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah specially for Kingdom Hearts fans since even the phone games were canon.
      Theres also some canonical SMT games too.
      And in general this would benefit everyone if an emulator could be made to get them working.

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    2. For sure. This is completely uncharted territory and will pave the way for future feature phone preservation projects. The method used to extract this game could be applied to many other DoCoMo i-mode games. As we go, we're learning more and more about how these types of games work. That's universal knowledge and not limited to Mega Man, as you said.

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    3. I'm grateful for everyone that is involved in this preservation project.

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    4. Anon, if you mean Coded, it was remade for NDS. The V-Cast game isn't canon and has already been extracted.

      Those are the only cell phone games so it's weird you used plurals as though there was another canon cell phone game in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, let alone another cell phone game that hasn't been extracted.

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  3. i've never thought that a game like this would be preserved. absolutely beautiful work by the team - i'll look into donating when i can.

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