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📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0205, P0206
Commits:
3259190...327730f, 327730f...454c105
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous], Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ mima-th01+ danmaku-pattern+ rng+ performance+ palette+ glitch+ jank- konngara+ meta+

Oh look, it's another rather short and straightforward boss with a rather small number of bugs and quirks. Yup, contrary to the character's popularity, Mima's premiere is really not all that special in terms of code, and continues the trend established with 📝 Kikuri and 📝 SinGyoku. I've already covered 📝 the initial sprite-related bugs last November, so this post focuses on the main code of the fight itself. The overview:


And there aren't even any weird hitboxes this time. What is maybe special about Mima, however, is how there's something to cover about all of her patterns. Since this is TH01, it's won't surprise anyone that the rotating square patterns are one giant copy-pasta of unblitting, updating, and rendering code. At least ZUN placed the core polar→Cartesian transformation in a separate function for creating regular polygons with an arbitrary number of sides, which might hint toward some more varied shapes having been planned at one point?
5 of the 6 patterns even follow the exact same steps during square update frames:

  1. Calculate square corner coordinates
  2. Unblit the square
  3. Update the square angle and radius
  4. Use the square corner coordinates for spawning pellets or missiles
  5. Recalculate square corner coordinates
  6. Render the square

Notice something? Bullets are spawned before the corner coordinates are updated. That's why their initial positions seem to be a bit off – they are spawned exactly in the corners of the square, it's just that it's the square from 8 frames ago. :tannedcirno:

Mima's first pattern on Normal difficulty.

Once ZUN reached the final laser pattern though, he must have noticed that there's something wrong there… or maybe he just wanted to fire those lasers independently from the square unblit/update/render timer for a change. Spending an additional 16 bytes of the data segment for conveniently remembering the square corner coordinates across frames was definitely a decent investment.

Mima's laser pattern on Lunatic difficulty, now with correct laser spawn positions. If this pattern reminds you of the game crashing immediately when defeating Mima, 📝 check out the Elis blog post for the details behind this bug, and grab the bugfix patch from there.

When Mima isn't shooting bullets from the corners of a square or hopping across the playfield, she's raising flame pillars from the bottom of the playfield within very specifically calculated random ranges… which are then rendered at byte-aligned VRAM positions, while collision detection still uses their actual pixel position. Since I don't want to sound like a broken record all too much, I'll just direct you to 📝 Kikuri, where we've seen the exact same issue with the teardrop ripple sprites. The conclusions are identical as well.

Mima's flame pillar pattern. This video was recorded on a particularly unlucky seed that resulted in great disparities between a pillar's internal X coordinate and its byte-aligned on-screen appearance, leading to lots of right-shifted hitboxes.
Also note how the change from the meteor animation to the three-arm 🚫 casting sprite doesn't unblit the meteor, and leaves that job to any sprite that happens to fly over those pixels.

However, I'd say that the saddest part about this pattern is how choppy it is, with the circle/pillar entities updating and rendering at a meager 7 FPS. Why go that low on purpose when you can just make the game render ✨ smoothly ✨ instead?

So smooth it's almost uncanny.

The reason quickly becomes obvious: With TH01's lack of optimization, going for the full 56.4 FPS would have significantly slowed down the game on its intended 33 MHz CPUs, requiring more than cheap surface-level ASM optimization for a stable frame rate. That might very well have been ZUN's reason for only ever rendering one circle per frame to VRAM, and designing the pattern with these time offsets in mind. It's always been typical for PC-98 developers to target the lowest-spec models that could possibly still run a game, and implementing dynamic frame rates into such an engine-less game is nothing I would wish on anybody. And it's not like TH01 is particularly unique in its choppiness anyway; low frame rates are actually a rather typical part of the PC-98 game aesthetic.


The final piece of weirdness in this fight can be found in phase 1's hop pattern, and specifically its palette manipulation. Just from looking at the pattern code itself, each of the 4 hops is supposed to darken the hardware palette by subtracting #444 from every color. At the last hop, every color should have therefore been reduced to a pitch-black #000, leaving the player completely blind to the movement of the chasing pellets for 30 frames and making the pattern quite ghostly indeed. However, that's not what we see in the actual game:

Looking at the frame counter, it appears that something outside the pattern resets the palette every 40 frames. The only known constant with a value of 40 would be the invincibility frames after hitting a boss with the Orb, but we're not hitting Mima here… :thonk:
But as it turns out, that's exactly where the palette reset comes from: The hop animation darkens the hardware palette directly, while the 📝 infamous 12-parameter boss collision handler function unconditionally resets the hardware palette to the "default boss palette" every 40 frames, regardless of whether the boss was hit or not. I'd classify this as a bug: That function has no business doing periodic hardware palette resets outside the invincibility flash effect, and it completely defies common sense that it does.

That explains one unexpected palette change, but could this function possibly also explain the other infamous one, namely, the temporary green discoloration in the Konngara fight? That glitch comes down to how the game actually uses two global "default" palettes: a default boss palette for undoing the invincibility flash effect, and a default stage palette for returning the colors back to normal at the end of the bomb animation or when leaving the Pause menu. And sure enough, the stage palette is the one with the green color, while the boss palette contains the intended colors used throughout the fight. Sending the latter palette to the graphics chip every 40 frames is what corrects the discoloration, which would otherwise be permanent.

The green color comes from BOSS7_D1.GRP, the scrolling background of the entrance animation. That's what turns this into a clear bug: The stage palette is only set a single time in the entire fight, at the beginning of the entrance animation, to the palette of this image. Apart from consistency reasons, it doesn't even make sense to set the stage palette there, as you can't enter the Pause menu or bomb during a blocking animation function.
And just 3 lines of code later, ZUN loads BOSS8_A1.GRP, the main background image of the fight. Moving the stage palette assignment there would have easily prevented the discoloration.

But yeah, as you can tell, palette manipulation is complete jank in this game. Why differentiate between a stage and a boss palette to begin with? The blocking Pause menu function could have easily copied the original palette to a local variable before darkening it, and then restored it after closing the menu. It's not so easy for bombs as the intended palette could change between the start and end of the animation, but the code could have still been simplified a lot if there was just one global "default palette" variable instead of two. Heck, even the other bosses who manipulate their palettes correctly only do so because they manually synchronize the two after every change. The proper defense against bugs that result from wild mutation of global state is to get rid of global state, and not to put up safety nets hidden in the middle of existing effect code.

The easiest way of reproducing the green discoloration bug in the TH01 Konngara fight, timed to show the maximum amount of time the discoloration can possibly last.

In any case, that's Mima done! 7th PC-98 Touhou boss fully decompiled, 24 bosses remaining, and 59 functions left in all of TH01.


In other thrilling news, my call for secondary funding priorities in new TH01 contributions has given us three different priorities so far. This raises an interesting question though: Which of these contributions should I now put towards TH01 immediately, and which ones should I leave in the backlog for the time being? Since I've never liked deciding on priorities, let's turn this into a popularity contest instead: The contributions with the least popular secondary priorities will go towards TH01 first, giving the most popular priorities a higher chance to still be left over after TH01 is done. As of this delivery, we'd have the following popularity order:

  1. TH05 (1.67 pushes), from T0182
  2. Seihou (1 push), from T0184
  3. TH03 (0.67 pushes), from T0146

Which means that T0146 will be consumed for TH01 next, followed by T0184 and then T0182. I only assign transactions immediately before a delivery though, so you all still have the chance to change up these priorities before the next one.

Next up: The final boss of TH01 decompilation, YuugenMagan… if the current or newly incoming TH01 funds happen to be enough to cover the entire fight. If they don't turn out to be, I will have to pass the time with some Seihou work instead, missing the TH01 anniversary deadline as a result. Edit (2022-07-18): Thanks to Yanga for securing the funding for YuugenMagan after all! That fight will feature slightly more than half of all remaining code in TH01's REIIDEN.EXE and the single biggest function in all of PC-98 Touhou, let's go!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0193, P0194, P0195, P0196, P0197
Commits:
e1f3f9f...183d7a2, 183d7a2...5d93a50, 5d93a50...e18c53d, e18c53d...57c9ac5, 57c9ac5...48db0b7
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ elis+ mima-th01+ rng+ danmaku-pattern+ bug+ jank- glitch+ unused+ pc98+ blitting+ mod+ score+

With Elis, we've not only reached the midway point in TH01's boss code, but also a bunch of other milestones: Both REIIDEN.EXE and TH01 as a whole have crossed the 75% RE mark, and overall position independence has also finally cracked 80%!

And it got done in 4 pushes again? Yup, we're back to 📝 Konngara levels of redundancy and copy-pasta. This time, it didn't even stop at the big copy-pasted code blocks for the rift sprite and 256-pixel circle animations, with the words "redundant" and "unnecessary" ending up a total of 18 times in my source code comments.
But damn is this fight broken. As usual with TH01 bosses, let's start with a high-level overview:

This puts the earliest possible end of the fight at the first frame of phase 5. However, nothing prevents Elis' HP from reaching 0 before that point. You can nicely see this in 📝 debug mode: Wait until the HP bar has filled up to avoid heap corruption, hold ↵ Return to reduce her HP to 0, and watch how Elis still goes through a total of two patterns* and four teleport animations before accepting defeat.

But wait, heap corruption? Yup, there's a bug in the HP bar that already affected Konngara as well, and it isn't even just about the graphical glitches generated by negative HP:

Since Elis starts with 14 HP, which is an even number, this corruption is trivial to cause: Simply hold ↵ Return from the beginning of the fight, and the completion condition will never be true, as the HP and frame numbers run past the off-by-one meeting point.

Regular gameplay, however, entirely prevents this due to the fixed start positions of Reimu and the Orb, the Orb's fixed initial trajectory, and the 50 frames of delay until a bomb deals damage to a boss. These aspects make it impossible to hit Elis within the first 14 frames of phase 1, and ensure that her HP bar is always filled up completely. So ultimately, this bug ends up comparable in seriousness to the 📝 recursion / stack overflow bug in the memory info screen.


These wavy teleport animations point to a quite frustrating architectural issue in this fight. It's not even the fact that unblitting the yellow star sprites rips temporary holes into Elis' sprite; that's almost expected from TH01 at this point. Instead, it's all because of this unused frame of the animation:

An unused wave animation frame from TH01's BOSS5.BOS

With this sprite still being part of BOSS5.BOS, Girl-Elis has a total of 9 animation frames, 1 more than the 📝 8 per-entity sprites allowed by ZUN's architecture. The quick and easy solution would have been to simply bump the sprite array size by 1, but… nah, this would have added another 20 bytes to all 6 of the .BOS image slots. :zunpet: Instead, ZUN wrote the manual position synchronization code I mentioned in that 2020 blog post. Ironically, he then copy-pasted this snippet of code often enough that it ended up taking up more than 120 bytes in the Elis fight alone – with, you guessed it, some of those copies being redundant. Not to mention that just going from 8 to 9 sprites would have allowed ZUN to go down from 6 .BOS image slots to 3. That would have actually saved 420 bytes in addition to the manual synchronization trouble. Looking forward to SinGyoku, that's going to be fun again…


As for the fight itself, it doesn't take long until we reach its most janky danmaku pattern, right in phase 1:

The "pellets along circle" pattern on Lunatic, in its original version and with fanfiction fixes for everything that can potentially be interpreted as a bug.

Then again, it might very well be that all of this was intended, or, most likely, just left in the game as a happy accident. The latter interpretation would explain why ZUN didn't just delete the rendering calls for the lower-right quarter of the circle, because seriously, how would you not spot that? The phase 3 patterns continue with more minor graphical glitches that aren't even worth talking about anymore.


And then Elis transforms into her bat form at the beginning of Phase 5, which displays some rather unique hitboxes. The one against the Orb is fine, but the one against player shots…

… uses the bat's X coordinate for both X and Y dimensions. :zunpet: In regular gameplay, it's not too bad as most of the bat patterns fire aimed pellets which typically don't allow you to move below her sprite to begin with. But if you ever tried destroying these pellets while standing near the middle of the playfield, now you know why that didn't work. This video also nicely points out how the bat, like any boss sprite, is only ever blitted at positions on the 8×1-pixel VRAM byte grid, while collision detection uses the actual pixel position.

The bat form patterns are all relatively simple, with little variation depending on the difficulty level, except for the "slow pellet spreads" pattern. This one is almost easiest to dodge on Lunatic, where the 5-spreads are not only always fired downwards, but also at the hardcoded narrow delta angle, leaving plenty of room for the player to move out of the way:

The "slow pellet spreads" pattern of Elis' bat form, on . Which version do you think is the easiest one?

Finally, we've got another potential timesave in the girl form's "safety circle" pattern:

After the circle spawned completely, you lose a life by moving outside it, but doing that immediately advances the pattern past the circle part. This part takes 200 frames, but the defeat animation only takes 82 frames, so you can save up to 118 frames there.

Final funny tidbit: As with all dynamic entities, this circle is only blitted to VRAM page 0 to allow easy unblitting. However, it's also kind of static, and there needs to be some way to keep the Orb, the player shots, and the pellets from ripping holes into it. So, ZUN just re-blits the circle every… 4 frames?! 🤪 The same is true for the Star of David and its surrounding circle, but there you at least get a flash animation to justify it. All the overlap is actually quite a good reason for not even attempting to 📝 mess with the hardware color palette instead.


And that's the 4th PC-98 Touhou boss decompiled, 27 to go… but wait, all these quirks, and I still got nothing about the one actual crash that can appear in regular gameplay? There has even been a recent video about it. The cause has to be in Elis' main function, after entering the defeat branch and before the blocking white-out animation. It can't be anywhere else other than in the 📝 central line blitting and unblitting function, called from 📝 that one broken laser reset+unblit function, because everything else in that branch looks fine… and I think we can rule out a crash in MDRV2's non-blocking fade-out call. That's going to need some extra research, and a 5th push added on top of this delivery.

Reproducing the crash was the whole challenge here. Even after moving Elis and Reimu to the exact positions seen in Pearl's video and setting Elis' HP to 0 on the exact same frame, everything ran fine for me. It's definitely no division by 0 this time, the function perfectly guards against that possibility. The line specified in the function's parameters is always clipped to the VRAM region as well, so we can also rule out illegal memory accesses here…

… or can we? Stepping through it all reminded me of how this function brings unblitting sloppiness to the next level: For each VRAM byte touched, ZUN actually unblits the 4 surrounding bytes, adding one byte to the left and two bytes to the right, and using a single 32-bit read and write per bitplane. So what happens if the function tries to unblit the topmost byte of VRAM, covering the pixel positions from (0, 0) to (7, 0) inclusive? The VRAM offset of 0x0000 is decremented to 0xFFFF to cover the one byte to the left, 4 bytes are written to this address, the CPU's internal offset overflows… and as it turns out, that is illegal even in Real Mode as of the 80286, and will raise a General Protection Fault. Which is… ignored by DOSBox-X, every Neko Project II version in common use, the CSCP emulators, SL9821, and T98-Next. Only Anex86 accurately emulates the behavior of real hardware here.

OK, but no laser fired by Elis ever reaches the top-left corner of the screen. How can such a fault even happen in practice? That's where the broken laser reset+unblit function comes in: Not only does it just flat out pass the wrong parameters to the line unblitting function – describing the line already traveled by the laser and stopping where the laser begins – but it also passes them wrongly, in the form of raw 32-bit fixed-point Q24.8 values, with no conversion other than a truncation to the signed 16-bit pixels expected by the function. What then follows is an attempt at interpolation and clipping to find a line segment between those garbage coordinates that actually falls within the boundaries of VRAM:

  1. right/bottom correspond to a laser's origin position, and left/top to the leftmost pixel of its moved-out top line. The bug therefore only occurs with lasers that stopped growing and have started moving.
  2. Moreover, it will only happen if either (left % 256) or (right % 256) is ≤ 127 and the other one of the two is ≥ 128. The typecast to signed 16-bit integers then turns the former into a large positive value and the latter into a large negative value, triggering the function's clipping code.
  3. The function then follows Bresenham's algorithm: left is ensured to be smaller than right by swapping the two values if necessary. If that happened, top and bottom are also swapped, regardless of their value – the algorithm does not care about their order.
  4. The slope in the X dimension is calculated using an integer division of ((bottom - top) / (right - left)). Both subtractions are done on signed 16-bit integers, and overflow accordingly.
  5. (-left × slope_x) is added to top, and left is set to 0.
  6. If both top and bottom are < 0 or ≥ 640, there's nothing to be unblitted. Otherwise, the final coordinates are clipped to the VRAM range of [(0, 0), (639, 399)].
  7. If the function got this far, the line to be unblitted is now very likely to reach from
    1. the top-left to the bottom-right corner, starting out at (0, 0) right away, or
    2. from the bottom-left corner to the top-right corner. In this case, you'd expect unblitting to end at (639, 0), but thanks to an off-by-one error, it actually ends at (640, -1), which is equivalent to (0, 0). Why add clipping to VRAM offset calculations when everything else is clipped already, right? :godzun:
Possible laser states that will cause the fault, with some debug output to help understand the cause, and any pellets removed for better readability. This can happen for all bosses that can potentially have shootout lasers on screen when being defeated, so it also applies to Mima. Fixing this is easier than understanding why it happens, but since y'all love reading this stuff…

tl;dr: TH01 has a high chance of freezing at a boss defeat sequence if there are diagonally moving lasers on screen, and if your PC-98 system raises a General Protection Fault on a 4-byte write to offset 0xFFFF, and if you don't run a TSR with an INT 0Dh handler that might handle this fault differently.

The easiest fix option would be to just remove the attempted laser unblitting entirely, but that would also have an impact on this game's… distinctive visual glitches, in addition to touching a whole lot of code bytes. If I ever get funded to work on a hypothetical TH01 Anniversary Edition that completely rearchitects the game to fix all these glitches, it would be appropriate there, but not for something that purports to be the original game.

(Sidenote to further hype up this Anniversary Edition idea for PC-98 hardware owners: With the amount of performance left on the table at every corner of this game, I'm pretty confident that we can get it to work decently on PC-98 models with just an 80286 CPU.)

Since we're in critical infrastructure territory once again, I went for the most conservative fix with the least impact on the binary: Simply changing any VRAM offsets >= 0xFFFD to 0x0000 to avoid the GPF, and leaving all other bugs in place. Sure, it's rather lazy and "incorrect"; the function still unblits a 32-pixel block there, but adding a special case for blitting 24 pixels would add way too much code. And seriously, it's not like anything happens in the 8 pixels between (24, 0) and (31, 0) inclusive during gameplay to begin with. To balance out the additional per-row if() branch, I inlined the VRAM page change I/O, saving two function calls and one memory write per unblitted row.

That means it's time for a new community_choice_fixes build, containing the new definitive bugfixed versions of these games: 2022-05-31-community-choice-fixes.zip Check the th01_critical_fixes branch for the modified TH01 code. It also contains a fix for the HP bar heap corruption in debug mode – simply changing the == comparison to <= is enough to avoid it, and negative HP will still create aesthetic glitch art.


Once again, I then was left with ½ of a push, which I finally filled with some FUUIN.EXE code, specifically the verdict screen. The most interesting part here is the player title calculation, which is quite sneaky: There are only 6 skill levels, but three groups of titles for each level, and the title you'll see is picked from a random group. It looks like this is the first time anyone has documented the calculation?
As for the levels, ZUN definitely didn't expect players to do particularly well. With a 1cc being the standard goal for completing a Touhou game, it's especially funny how TH01 expects you to continue a lot: The code has branches for up to 21 continues, and the on-screen table explicitly leaves room for 3 digits worth of continues per 5-stage scene. Heck, these counts are even stored in 32-bit long variables.

Next up: 📝 Finally finishing the long overdue Touhou Patch Center MediaWiki update work, while continuing with Kikuri in the meantime. Originally I wasn't sure about what to do between Elis and Seihou, but with Ember2528's surprise contribution last week, y'all have demonstrated more than enough interest in the idea of getting TH01 done sooner rather than later. And I agree – after all, we've got the 25th anniversary of its first public release coming up on August 15, and I might still manage to completely decompile this game by that point…

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0174, P0175, P0176, P0177, P0178, P0179, P0180, P0181
Commits:
27f901c...a0fe812, a0fe812...40ac9a7, 40ac9a7...c5dc45b, c5dc45b...5f0cabc, 5f0cabc...60621f8, 60621f8...9e5b344, 9e5b344...091f19f, 091f19f...313450f
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ sariel+ danmaku-pattern+ rng+ waste+ pc98+ blitting+ good-code+ glitch+ tcc+ unused+ jank-

Here we go, TH01 Sariel! This is the single biggest boss fight in all of PC-98 Touhou: If we include all custom effect code we previously decompiled, it amounts to a total of 10.31% of all code in TH01 (and 3.14% overall). These 8 pushes cover the final 8.10% (or 2.47% overall), and are likely to be the single biggest delivery this project will ever see. Considering that I only managed to decompile 6.00% across all games in 2021, 2022 is already off to a much better start!

So, how can Sariel's code be that large? Well, we've got:

In total, it's just under 3,000 lines of C++ code, containing a total of 8 definite ZUN bugs, 3 of them being subpixel/pixel confusions. That might not look all too bad if you compare it to the 📝 player control function's 8 bugs in 900 lines of code, but given that Konngara had 0… (Edit (2022-07-17): Konngara contains two bugs after all: A 📝 possible heap corruption in debug mode, and the infamous 📝 temporary green discoloration.) And no, the code doesn't make it obvious whether ZUN coded Konngara or Sariel first; there's just as much evidence for either.

Some terminology before we start: Sariel's first form is separated into four phases, indicated by different background images, that cycle until Sariel's HP reach 0 and the second, single-phase form starts. The danmaku patterns within each phase are also on a cycle, and the game picks a random but limited number of patterns per phase before transitioning to the next one. The fight always starts at pattern 1 of phase 1 (the random purple lasers), and each new phase also starts at its respective first pattern.


Sariel's bugs already start at the graphics asset level, before any code gets to run. Some of the patterns include a wand raise animation, which is stored in BOSS6_2.BOS:

TH01 BOSS6_2.BOS
Umm… OK? The same sprite twice, just with slightly different colors? So how is the wand lowered again?

The "lowered wand" sprite is missing in this file simply because it's captured from the regular background image in VRAM, at the beginning of the fight and after every background transition. What I previously thought to be 📝 background storage code has therefore a different meaning in Sariel's case. Since this captured sprite is fully opaque, it will reset the entire 128×128 wand area… wait, 128×128, rather than 96×96? Yup, this lowered sprite is larger than necessary, wasting 1,967 bytes of conventional memory.
That still doesn't quite explain the second sprite in BOSS6_2.BOS though. Turns out that the black part is indeed meant to unblit the purple reflection (?) in the first sprite. But… that's not how you would correctly unblit that?

VRAM after blitting the first sprite of TH01's BOSS6_2.BOS VRAM after blitting the second sprite of TH01's BOSS6_2.BOS

The first sprite already eats up part of the red HUD line, and the second one additionally fails to recover the seal pixels underneath, leaving a nice little black hole and some stray purple pixels until the next background transition. :tannedcirno: Quite ironic given that both sprites do include the right part of the seal, which isn't even part of the animation.


Just like Konngara, Sariel continues the approach of using a single function per danmaku pattern or custom entity. While I appreciate that this allows all pattern- and entity-specific state to be scoped locally to that one function, it quickly gets ugly as soon as such a function has to do more than one thing.
The "bird function" is particularly awful here: It's just one if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} chain with different branches for the subfunction parameter, with zero shared code between any of these branches. It also uses 64-bit floating-point double as its subpixel type… and since it also takes four of those as parameters (y'know, just in case the "spawn new bird" subfunction is called), every call site has to also push four double values onto the stack. Thanks to Turbo C++ even using the FPU for pushing a 0.0 constant, we have already reached maximum floating-point decadence before even having seen a single danmaku pattern. Why decadence? Every possible spawn position and velocity in both bird patterns just uses pixel resolution, with no fractional component in sight. And there goes another 720 bytes of conventional memory.

Speaking about bird patterns, the red-bird one is where we find the first code-level ZUN bug: The spawn cross circle sprite suddenly disappears after it finished spawning all the bird eggs. How can we tell it's a bug? Because there is code to smoothly fly this sprite off the playfield, that code just suddenly forgets that the sprite's position is stored in Q12.4 subpixels, and treats it as raw screen pixels instead. :zunpet: As a result, the well-intentioned 640×400 screen-space clipping rectangle effectively shrinks to 38×23 pixels in the top-left corner of the screen. Which the sprite is always outside of, and thus never rendered again.
The intended animation is easily restored though:

Sariel's third pattern, and the first to spawn birds, in its original and fixed versions. Note that I somewhat fixed the bird hatch animation as well: ZUN's code never unblits any frame of animation there, and simply blits every new one on top of the previous one.

Also, did you know that birds actually have a quite unfair 14×38-pixel hitbox? Not that you'd ever collide with them in any of the patterns…

Another 3 of the 8 bugs can be found in the symmetric, interlaced spawn rays used in three of the patterns, and the 32×32 debris "sprites" shown at their endpoint, at the edge of the screen. You kinda have to commend ZUN's attention to detail here, and how he wrote a lot of code for those few rapidly animated pixels that you most likely don't even notice, especially with all the other wrong pixels resulting from rendering glitches. One of the bugs in the very final pattern of phase 4 even turns them into the vortex sprites from the second pattern in phase 1 during the first 5 frames of the first time the pattern is active, and I had to single-step the blitting calls to verify it.
It certainly was annoying how much time I spent making sense of these bugs, and all weird blitting offsets, for just a few pixels… Let's look at something more wholesome, shall we?


So far, we've only seen the PC-98 GRCG being used in RMW (read-modify-write) mode, which I previously 📝 explained in the context of TH01's red-white HP pattern. The second of its three modes, TCR (Tile Compare Read), affects VRAM reads rather than writes, and performs "color extraction" across all 4 bitplanes: Instead of returning raw 1bpp data from one plane, a VRAM read will instead return a bitmask, with a 1 bit at every pixel whose full 4-bit color exactly matches the color at that offset in the GRCG's tile register, and 0 everywhere else. Sariel uses this mode to make sure that the 2×2 particles and the wind effect are only blitted on top of "air color" pixels, with other parts of the background behaving like a mask. The algorithm:

  1. Set the GRCG to TCR mode, and all 8 tile register dots to the air color
  2. Read N bits from the target VRAM position to obtain an N-bit mask where all 1 bits indicate air color pixels at the respective position
  3. AND that mask with the alpha plane of the sprite to be drawn, shifted to the correct start bit within the 8-pixel VRAM byte
  4. Set the GRCG to RMW mode, and all 8 tile register dots to the color that should be drawn
  5. Write the previously obtained bitmask to the same position in VRAM

Quite clever how the extracted colors double as a secondary alpha plane, making for another well-earned good-code tag. The wind effect really doesn't deserve it, though:

As far as I can tell, ZUN didn't use TCR mode anywhere else in PC-98 Touhou. Tune in again later during a TH04 or TH05 push to learn about TDW, the final GRCG mode!


Speaking about the 2×2 particle systems, why do we need three of them? Their only observable difference lies in the way they move their particles:

  1. Up or down in a straight line (used in phases 4 and 2, respectively)
  2. Left or right in a straight line (used in the second form)
  3. Left and right in a sinusoidal motion (used in phase 3, the "dark orange" one)

Out of all possible formats ZUN could have used for storing the positions and velocities of individual particles, he chose a) 64-bit / double-precision floating-point, and b) raw screen pixels. Want to take a guess at which data type is used for which particle system?

If you picked double for 1) and 2), and raw screen pixels for 3), you are of course correct! :godzun: Not that I'm implying that it should have been the other way round – screen pixels would have perfectly fit all three systems use cases, as all 16-bit coordinates are extended to 32 bits for trigonometric calculations anyway. That's what, another 1.080 bytes of wasted conventional memory? And that's even calculated while keeping the current architecture, which allocates space for 3×30 particles as part of the game's global data, although only one of the three particle systems is active at any given time.

That's it for the first form, time to put on "Civilization of Magic"! Or "死なばもろとも"? Or "Theme of 地獄めくり"? Or whatever SYUGEN is supposed to mean…


… and the code of these final patterns comes out roughly as exciting as their in-game impact. With the big exception of the very final "swaying leaves" pattern: After 📝 Q4.4, 📝 Q28.4, 📝 Q24.8, and double variables, this pattern uses… decimal subpixels? Like, multiplying the number by 10, and using the decimal one's digit to represent the fractional part? Well, sure, if you really insist on moving the leaves in cleanly represented integer multiples of ⅒, which is infamously impossible in IEEE 754. Aside from aesthetic reasons, it only really combines less precision (10 possible fractions rather than the usual 16) with the inferior performance of having to use integer divisions and multiplications rather than simple bit shifts. And it's surely not because the leaf sprites needed an extended integer value range of [-3276, +3276], compared to Q12.4's [-2047, +2048]: They are clipped to 640×400 screen space anyway, and are removed as soon as they leave this area.

This pattern also contains the second bug in the "subpixel/pixel confusion hiding an entire animation" category, causing all of BOSS6GR4.GRC to effectively become unused:

The "swaying leaves" pattern. ZUN intended a splash animation to be shown once each leaf "spark" reaches the top of the playfield, which is never displayed in the original game.

At least their hitboxes are what you would expect, exactly covering the 30×30 pixels of Reimu's sprite. Both animation fixes are available on the th01_sariel_fixes branch.

After all that, Sariel's main function turned out fairly unspectacular, just putting everything together and adding some shake, transition, and color pulse effects with a bunch of unnecessary hardware palette changes. There is one reference to a missing BOSS6.GRP file during the first→second form transition, suggesting that Sariel originally had a separate "first form defeat" graphic, before it was replaced with just the shaking effect in the final game.
Speaking about the transition code, it is kind of funny how the… um, imperative and concrete nature of TH01 leads to these 2×24 lines of straight-line code. They kind of look like ZUN rattling off a laundry list of subsystems and raw variables to be reinitialized, making damn sure to not forget anything.


Whew! Second PC-98 Touhou boss completely decompiled, 29 to go, and they'll only get easier from here! 🎉 The next one in line, Elis, is somewhere between Konngara and Sariel as far as x86 instruction count is concerned, so that'll need to wait for some additional funding. Next up, therefore: Looking at a thing in TH03's main game code – really, I have little idea what it will be!

Now that the store is open again, also check out the 📝 updated RE progress overview I've posted together with this one. In addition to more RE, you can now also directly order a variety of mods; all of these are further explained in the order form itself.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0162, P0163, P0164
Commits:
81dd96e...24b3a0d, 24b3a0d...6d572b3, 6d572b3...7a0e5d8
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ player+ shot+ animation+ glitch+ waste+ jank- unused+

No technical obstacles for once! Just pure overcomplicated ZUN code. Unlike 📝 Konngara's main function, the main TH01 player function was every bit as difficult to decompile as you would expect from its size.

With TH01 using both separate left- and right-facing sprites for all of Reimu's moves and separate classes for Reimu's 32×32 and 48×* sprites, we're already off to a bad start. Sure, sprite mirroring is minimally more involved on PC-98, as the planar nature of VRAM requires the bits within an 8-pixel byte to also be mirrored, in addition to writing the sprite bytes from right to left. TH03 uses a 256-byte lookup table for this, generated at runtime by an infamous micro-optimized and undecompilable ASM algorithm. With TH01's existing architecture, ZUN would have then needed to write 3 additional blitting functions. But instead, he chose to waste a total of 26,112 bytes of memory on pre-mirrored sprites… :godzun:

Alright, but surely selecting those sprites from code is no big deal? Just store the direction Reimu is facing in, and then add some branches to the rendering code. And there is in fact a variable for Reimu's direction… during regular arrow-key movement, and another one while shooting and sliding, and a third as part of the special attack types, launched out of a slide.
Well, OK, technically, the last two are the same variable. But that's even worse, because it means that ZUN stores two distinct enums at the same place in memory: Shooting and sliding uses 1 for left, 2 for right, and 3 for the "invalid" direction of holding both, while the special attack types indicate the direction in their lowest bit, with 0 for right and 1 for left. I decompiled the latter as bitflags, but in ZUN's code, each of the 8 permutations is handled as a distinct type, with copy-pasted and adapted code… :zunpet: The interpretation of this two-enum "sub-mode" union variable is controlled by yet another "mode" variable… and unsurprisingly, two of the bugs in this function relate to the sub-mode variable being interpreted incorrectly.

Also, "rendering code"? This one big function basically consists of separate unblit→update→render code snippets for every state and direction Reimu can be in (moving, shooting, swinging, sliding, special-attacking, and bombing), pasted together into a tangled mess of nested if(…) statements. While a lot of the code is copy-pasted, there are still a number of inconsistencies that defeat the point of my usual refactoring treatment. After all, with a total of 85 conditional branches, anything more than I did would have just obscured the control flow too badly, making it even harder to understand what's going on.
In the end, I spotted a total of 8 bugs in this function, all of which leave Reimu invisible for one or more frames:

Thanks to the last one, Reimu's first swing animation frame is never actually rendered. So whenever someone complains about TH01 sprite flickering on an emulator: That emulator is accurate, it's the game that's poorly written. :tannedcirno:

And guess what, this function doesn't even contain everything you'd associate with per-frame player behavior. While it does handle Yin-Yang Orb repulsion as part of slides and special attacks, it does not handle the actual player/Orb collision that results in lives being lost. The funny thing about this: These two things are done in the same function… :onricdennat:

Therefore, the life loss animation is also part of another function. This is where we find the final glitch in this 3-push series: Before the 16-frame shake, this function only unblits a 32×32 area around Reimu's center point, even though it's possible to lose a life during the non-deflecting part of a 48×48-pixel animation. In that case, the extra pixels will just stay on screen during the shake. They are unblitted afterwards though, which suggests that ZUN was at least somewhat aware of the issue?
Finally, the chance to see the alternate life loss sprite Alternate TH01 life loss sprite is exactly ⅛.


As for any new insights into game mechanics… you know what? I'm just not going to write anything, and leave you with this flowchart instead. Here's the definitive guide on how to control Reimu in TH01 we've been waiting for 24 years:

(SVG download)

Pellets are deflected during all gray states. Not shown is the obvious "double-tap Z and X" transition from all non-(#1) states to the Bomb state, but that would have made this diagram even more unwieldy than it turned out. And yes, you can shoot twice as fast while moving left or right.

While I'm at it, here are two more animations from MIKO.PTN which aren't referenced by any code:

An unused animation from TH01's MIKO.PTNAn unused animation from TH01's MIKO.PTN

With that monster of a function taken care of, we've only got boss sprite animation as the final blocker of uninterrupted Sariel progress. Due to some unfavorable code layout in the Mima segment though, I'll need to spend a bit more time with some of the features used there. Next up: The missile bullets used in the Mima and YuugenMagan fights.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0158, P0159
Commits:
bf7bb7e...c0c0ebc, c0c0ebc...e491cd7
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ card-flipping+ rng+ score+ bomb+ animation+ jank- waste+

Of course, Sariel's potentially bloated and copy-pasted code is blocked by even more definitely bloated and copy-pasted code. It's TH01, what did you expect? :tannedcirno:

But even then, TH01's item code is on a new level of software architecture ridiculousness. First, ZUN uses distinct arrays for both types of items, with their own caps of 4 for bomb items, and 10 for point items. Since that obviously makes any type-related switch statement redundant, he also used distinct functions for both types, with copy-pasted boilerplate code. The main per-item update and render function is shared though… and takes every single accessed member of the item structure as its own reference parameter. Like, why, you have a structure, right there?! That's one way to really practice the C++ language concept of passing arbitrary structure fields by mutable reference… :zunpet:
To complete the unwarranted grand generic design of this function, it calls back into per-type collision detection, drop, and collect functions with another three reference parameters. Yeah, why use C++ virtual methods when you can also implement the effectively same polymorphism functionality by hand? Oh, and the coordinate clamping code in one of these callbacks could only possibly have come from nested min() and max() preprocessor macros. And that's how you extend such dead-simple functionality to 1¼ pushes…

Amidst all this jank, we've at least got a sensible item↔player hitbox this time, with 24 pixels around Reimu's center point to the left and right, and extending from 24 pixels above Reimu down to the bottom of the playfield. It absolutely didn't look like that from the initial naive decompilation though. Changing entity coordinates from left/top to center was one of the better lessons from TH01 that ZUN implemented in later games, it really makes collision detection code much more intuitive to grasp.


The card flip code is where we find out some slightly more interesting aspects about item drops in this game, and how they're controlled by a hidden cycle variable:

Then again, score players largely ignore point items anyway, as card combos simply have a much bigger effect on the score. With this, I should have RE'd all information necessary to construct a tool-assisted score run, though?
Edit: Turns out that 1) point items are becoming increasingly important in score runs, and 2) Pearl already did a TAS some months ago. Thanks to spaztron64 for the info!

The Orb↔card hitbox also makes perfect sense, with 24 pixels around the center point of a card in every direction.

The rest of the code confirms the card flip score formula documented on Touhou Wiki, as well as the way cards are flipped by bombs: During every of the 90 "damaging" frames of the 140-frame bomb animation, there is a 75% chance to flip the card at the [bomb_frame % total_card_count_in_stage] array index. Since stages can only have up to 50 cards 📝 thanks to a bug, even a 75% chance is high enough to typically flip most cards during a bomb. Each of these flips still only removes a single card HP, just like after a regular collision with the Orb.
Also, why are the card score popups rendered before the cards themselves? That's two needless frames of flicker during that 25-frame animation. Not all too noticeable, but still.


And that's over 50% of REIIDEN.EXE decompiled as well! Next up: More HUD update and rendering code… with a direct dependency on rank pellet speed modifications?

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0149, P0150, P0151, P0152
Commits:
e1a26bb...05e4c4a, 05e4c4a...768251d, 768251d...4d24ca5, 4d24ca5...81fc861
💰 Funded by:
Blue Bolt, Ember2528, -Tom-, [Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th04+ th05+ gameplay+ bullet+ animation+ score+ glitch+ jank- waste+ micro-optimization+ tcc+ uth05win+

…or maybe not that soon, as it would have only wasted time to untangle the bullet update commits from the rest of the progress. So, here's all the bullet spawning code in TH04 and TH05 instead. I hope you're ready for this, there's a lot to talk about!

(For the sake of readability, "bullets" in this blog post refers to the white 8×8 pellets and all 16×16 bullets loaded from MIKO16.BFT, nothing else.)


But first, what was going on 📝 in 2020? Spent 4 pushes on the basic types and constants back then, still ended up confusing a couple of things, and even getting some wrong. Like how TH05's "bullet slowdown" flag actually always prevents slowdown and fires bullets at a constant speed instead. :tannedcirno: Or how "random spread" is not the best term to describe that unused bullet group type in TH04.
Or that there are two distinct ways of clearing all bullets on screen, which deserve different names:

Mechanic #1: Clearing bullets for a custom amount of time, awarding 1000 points for all bullets alive on the first frame, and 100 points for all bullets spawned during the clear time.
Mechanic #2: Zapping bullets for a fixed 16 frames, awarding a semi-exponential and loudly announced Bonus!! for all bullets alive on the first frame, and preventing new bullets from being spawned during those 16 frames. In TH04 at least; thanks to a ZUN bug, zapping got reduced to 1 frame and no animation in TH05…

Bullets are zapped at the end of most midboss and boss phases, and cleared everywhere else – most notably, during bombs, when losing a life, or as rewards for extends or a maximized Dream bonus. The Bonus!! points awarded for zapping bullets are calculated iteratively, so it's not trivial to give an exact formula for these. For a small number 𝑛 of bullets, it would exactly be 5𝑛³ - 10𝑛² + 15𝑛 points – or, using uth05win's (correct) recursive definition, Bonus(𝑛) = Bonus(𝑛-1) + 15𝑛² - 5𝑛 + 10. However, one of the internal step variables is capped at a different number of points for each difficulty (and game), after which the points only increase linearly. Hence, "semi-exponential".


On to TH04's bullet spawn code then, because that one can at least be decompiled. And immediately, we have to deal with a pointless distinction between regular bullets, with either a decelerating or constant velocity, and special bullets, with preset velocity changes during their lifetime. That preset has to be set somewhere, so why have separate functions? In TH04, this separation continues even down to the lowest level of functions, where values are written into the global bullet array. TH05 merges those two functions into one, but then goes too far and uses self-modifying code to save a grand total of two local variables… Luckily, the rest of its actual code is identical to TH04.

Most of the complexity in bullet spawning comes from the (thankfully shared) helper function that calculates the velocities of the individual bullets within a group. Both games handle each group type via a large switch statement, which is where TH04 shows off another Turbo C++ 4.0 optimization: If the range of case values is too sparse to be meaningfully expressed in a jump table, it usually generates a linear search through a second value table. But with the -G command-line option, it instead generates branching code for a binary search through the set of cases. 𝑂(log 𝑛) as the worst case for a switch statement in a C++ compiler from 1994… that's so cool. But still, why are the values in TH04's group type enum all over the place to begin with? :onricdennat:
Unfortunately, this optimization is pretty rare in PC-98 Touhou. It only shows up here and in a few places in TH02, compared to at least 50 switch value tables.

In all of its micro-optimized pointlessness, TH05's undecompilable version at least fixes some of TH04's redundancy. While it's still not even optimal, it's at least a decently written piece of ASM… if you take the time to understand what's going on there, because it certainly took quite a bit of that to verify that all of the things which looked like bugs or quirks were in fact correct. And that's how the code for this function ended up with 35% comments and blank lines before I could confidently call it "reverse-engineered"…
Oh well, at least it finally fixes a correctness issue from TH01 and TH04, where an invalid bullet group type would fill all remaining slots in the bullet array with identical versions of the first bullet.

Something that both games also share in these functions is an over-reliance on globals for return values or other local state. The most ridiculous example here: Tuning the speed of a bullet based on rank actually mutates the global bullet template… which ZUN then works around by adding a wrapper function around both regular and special bullet spawning, which saves the base speed before executing that function, and restores it afterward. :zunpet: Add another set of wrappers to bypass that exact tuning, and you've expanded your nice 1-function interface to 4 functions. Oh, and did I mention that TH04 pointlessly duplicates the first set of wrapper functions for 3 of the 4 difficulties, which can't even be explained with "debugging reasons"? That's 10 functions then… and probably explains why I've procrastinated this feature for so long.

At this point, I also finally stopped decompiling ZUN's original ASM just for the sake of it. All these small TH05 functions would look horribly unidiomatic, are identical to their decompiled TH04 counterparts anyway, except for some unique constant… and, in the case of TH05's rank-based speed tuning function, actually become undecompilable as soon as we want to return a C++ class to preserve the semantic meaning of the return value. Mainly, this is because Turbo C++ does not allow register pseudo-variables like _AX or _AL to be cast into class types, even if their size matches. Decompiling that function would have therefore lowered the quality of the rest of the decompiled code, in exchange for the additional maintenance and compile-time cost of another translation unit. Not worth it – and for a TH05 port, you'd already have to decompile all the rest of the bullet spawning code anyway!


The only thing in there that was still somewhat worth being decompiled was the pre-spawn clipping and collision detection function. Due to what's probably a micro-optimization mistake, the TH05 version continues to spawn a bullet even if it was spawned on top of the player. This might sound like it has a different effect on gameplay… until you realize that the player got hit in this case and will either lose a life or deathbomb, both of which will cause all on-screen bullets to be cleared anyway. So it's at most a visual glitch.

But while we're at it, can we please stop talking about hitboxes? At least in the context of TH04 and TH05 bullets. The actual collision detection is described way better as a kill delta of 8×8 pixels between the center points of the player and a bullet. You can distribute these pixels to any combination of bullet and player "hitboxes" that make up 8×8. 4×4 around both the player and bullets? 1×1 for bullets, and 8×8 for the player? All equally valid… or perhaps none of them, once you keep in mind that other entity types might have different kill deltas. With that in mind, the concept of a "hitbox" turns into just a confusing abstraction.

The same is true for the 36×44 graze box delta. For some reason, this one is not exactly around the center of a bullet, but shifted to the right by 2 pixels. So, a bullet can be grazed up to 20 pixels right of the player, but only up to 16 pixels left of the player. uth05win also spotted this… and rotated the deltas clockwise by 90°?!


Which brings us to the bullet updates… for which I still had to research a decompilation workaround, because 📝 P0148 turned out to not help at all? Instead, the solution was to lie to the compiler about the true segment distance of the popup function and declare its signature far rather than near. This allowed ZUN to save that ridiculous overhead of 1 additional far function call/return per frame, and those precious 2 bytes in the BSS segment that he didn't have to spend on a segment value. 📝 Another function that didn't have just a single declaration in a common header file… really, 📝 how were these games even built???

The function itself is among the longer ones in both games. It especially stands out in the indentation department, with 7 levels at its most indented point – and that's the minimum of what's possible without goto. Only two more notable discoveries there:

  1. Bullets are the only entity affected by Slow Mode. If the number of bullets on screen is ≥ (24 + (difficulty * 8) + rank) in TH04, or (42 + (difficulty * 8)) in TH05, Slow Mode reduces the frame rate by 33%, by waiting for one additional VSync event every two frames.
    The code also reveals a second tier, with 50% slowdown for a slightly higher number of bullets, but that conditional branch can never be executed :zunpet:
  2. Bullets must have been grazed in a previous frame before they can be collided with. (Note how this does not apply to bullets that spawned on top of the player, as explained earlier!)

Whew… When did ReC98 turn into a full-on code review?! 😅 And after all this, we're still not done with TH04 and TH05 bullets, with all the special movement types still missing. That should be less than one push though, once we get to it. Next up: Back to TH01 and Konngara! Now have fun rewriting the Touhou Wiki Gameplay pages 😛

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0139
Commits:
864e864...d985811
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ kaja+ jank- bug+ contribution-ideas+

Technical debt, part 10… in which two of the PMD-related functions came with such complex ramifications that they required one full push after all, leaving no room for the additional decompilations I wanted to do. At least, this did end up being the final one, completing all SHARED segments for the time being.


The first one of these functions determines the BGM and sound effect modes, combining the resident type of the PMD driver with the Option menu setting. The TH04 and TH05 version is apparently coded quite smartly, as PC-98 Touhou only needs to distinguish "OPN- / PC-9801-26K-compatible sound sources handled by PMD.COM" from "everything else", since all other PMD varieties are OPNA- / PC-9801-86-compatible.
Therefore, I only documented those two results returned from PMD's AH=09h function. I'll leave a comprehensive, fully documented enum to interested contributors, since that would involve research into basically the entire history of the PC-9800 series, and even the clearly out-of-scope PC-88VA. After all, distinguishing between more versions of the PMD driver in the Option menu (and adding new sprites for them!) is strictly mod territory.


The honor of being the final decompiled function in any SHARED segment went to TH04's snd_load(). TH04 contains by far the sanest version of this function: Readable C code, no new ZUN bugs (and still missing file I/O error handling, of course)… but wait, what about that actual file read syscall, using the INT 21h, AH=3Fh DOS file read API? Reading up to a hardcoded number of bytes into PMD's or MMD's song or sound effect buffer, 20 KiB in TH02-TH04, 64 KiB in TH05… that's kind of weird. About time we looked closer into this. :thonk:

Turns out that no, KAJA's driver doesn't give you the full 64 KiB of one memory segment for these, as especially TH05's code might suggest to anyone unfamiliar with these drivers. :zunpet: Instead, you can customize the size of these buffers on its command line. In GAME.BAT, ZUN allocates 8 KiB for FM songs, 2 KiB for sound effects, and 12 KiB for MMD files in TH02… which means that the hardcoded sizes in snd_load() are completely wrong, no matter how you look at them. :onricdennat: Consequently, this read syscall will overflow PMD's or MMD's song or sound effect buffer if the given file is larger than the respective buffer size.
Now, ZUN could have simply hardcoded the sizes from GAME.BAT instead, and it would have been fine. As it also turns out though, PMD has an API function (AH=22h) to retrieve the actual buffer sizes, provided for exactly that purpose. There is little excuse not to use it, as it also gives you PMD's default sizes if you don't specify any yourself.
(Unless your build process enumerates all PMD files that are part of the game, and bakes the largest size into both snd_load() and GAME.BAT. That would even work with MMD, which doesn't have an equivalent for AH=22h.)

What'd be the consequence of loading a larger file then? Well, since we don't get a full segment, let's look at the theoretical limit first.
PMD prefers to keep both its driver code and the data buffers in a single memory segment. As a result, the limit for the combined size of the song, instrument, and sound effect buffer is determined by the amount of code in the driver itself. In PMD86 version 4.8o (bundled with TH04 and TH05) for example, the remaining size for these buffers is exactly 45,555 bytes. Being an actually good programmer who doesn't blindly trust user input, KAJA thankfully validates the sizes given via the /M, /V, and /E command-line options before letting the driver reside in memory, and shuts down with an error message if they exceed 40 KiB. Would have been even better if he calculated the exact size – even in the current PMD version 4.8s from January 2020, it's still a hardcoded value (see line 8581).
Either way: If the file is larger than this maximum, the concrete effect is down to the INT 21h, AH=3Fh implementation in the underlying DOS version. DOS 3.3 treats the destination address as linear and reads past the end of the segment, DOS 5.0 and DOSBox-X truncate the number of bytes to not exceed the remaining space in the segment, and maybe there's even a DOS that wraps around and ends up overwriting the PMD driver code. In any case: You will overwrite what's after the driver in memory – typically, the game .EXE and its master.lib functions.

It almost feels like a happy accident that this doesn't cause issues in the original games. The largest PMD file in any of the 4 games, the -86 version of 幽夢 ~ Inanimate Dream, takes up 8,099 bytes, just under the 8,192 byte limit for BGM. For modders, I'd really recommend implementing this properly, with PMD's AH=22h function and error handling, once position independence has been reached.

Whew, didn't think I'd be doing more research into KAJA's drivers during regular ReC98 development! That's probably been the final time though, as all involved functions are now decompiled, and I'm unlikely to iterate over them again.


And that's it! Repaid the biggest chunk of technical debt, time for some actual progress again. Next up: Reopening the store tomorrow, and waiting for new priorities. If we got nothing by Sunday, I'm going to put the pending [Anonymous] pushes towards some work on the website.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0134
Commits:
1d5db71...a6eed55
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th05+ blitting+ portability+ micro-optimization+ jank- tasm+ tcc+

Technical debt, part 5… and we only got TH05's stupidly optimized .PI functions this time?

As far as actual progress is concerned, that is. In maintenance news though, I was really hyped for the #include improvements I've mentioned in 📝 the last post. The result: A new x86real.h file, bundling all the declarations specific to the 16-bit x86 Real Mode in a smaller file than Turbo C++'s own DOS.H. After all, DOS is something else than the underlying CPU. And while it didn't speed up build times quite as much as I had hoped, it now clearly indicates the x86-specific parts of PC-98 Touhou code to future port authors.

After another couple of improvements to parameter declaration in ASM land, we get to TH05's .PI functions… and really, why did ZUN write all of them in ASM? Why (re)declare all the necessary structures and data in ASM land, when all these functions are merely one layer of abstraction above master.lib, which does all the actual work?
I get that ZUN might have wanted masked blitting to be faster, which is used for the fade-in effect seen during TH05's main menu animation and the ending artwork. But, uh… he knew how to modify master.lib. In fact, he did already modify the graph_pack_put_8() function used for rendering a single .PI image row, to ignore master.lib's VRAM clipping region. For this effect though, he first blits each row regularly to the invisible 400th row of VRAM, and then does an EGC-accelerated VRAM-to-VRAM blit of that row to its actual target position with the mask enabled. It would have been way more efficient to add another version of this function that takes a mask pattern. No amount of REP MOVSW is going to change the fact that two VRAM writes per line are slower than a single one. Not to mention that it doesn't justify writing every other .PI function in ASM to go along with it…
This is where we also find the most hilarious aspect about this: For most of ZUN's pointless micro-optimizations, you could have maybe made the argument that they do save some CPU cycles here and there, and therefore did something positive to the final, PC-98-exclusive result. But some of the hand-written ASM here doesn't even constitute a micro-optimization, because it's worse than what you would have got out of even Turbo C++ 4.0J with its 80386 optimization flags! :zunpet:

At least it was possible to "decompile" 6 out of the 10 functions here, making them easy to clean up for future modders and port authors. Could have been 7 functions if I also decided to "decompile" pi_free(), but all the C++ code is already surrounded by ASM, resulting in 2 ASM translation units and 2 C++ translation units. pi_free() would have needed a single translation unit by itself, which wasn't worth it, given that I would have had to spell out every single ASM instruction anyway.

void pascal pi_free(int slot)
{
	if(pi_buffers[slot]) {
		graph_pi_free(&pi_headers[slot], &pi_buffers[slot]);
		pi_buffers[slot] = NULL;
	}
}

There you go. What about this needed to be written in ASM?!?

The function calls between these small translation units even seemed to glitch out TASM and the linker in the end, leading to one CALL offset being weirdly shifted by 32 bytes. Usually, TLINK reports a fixup overflow error when this happens, but this time it didn't, for some reason? Mirroring the segment grouping in the affected translation unit did solve the problem, and I already knew this, but only thought of it after spending quite some RTFM time… during which I discovered the -lE switch, which enables TLINK to use the expanded dictionaries in Borland's .OBJ and .LIB files to speed up linking. That shaved off roughly another second from the build time of the complete ReC98 repository. The more you know… Binary blobs compiled with non-Borland tools would be the only reason not to use this flag.

So, even more slowdown with this 5th dedicated push, since we've still only repaid 41% of the technical debt in the SHARED segment so far. Next up: Part 6, which hopefully manages to decompile the FM and SSG channel animations in TH05's Music Room, and hopefully ends up being the final one of the slow ones.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0130, P0131
Commits:
6d69ea8...576def5, 576def5...dc9e3ee
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98+ blitting+ good-code+ jank- gameplay+ boss+ rng+

50% hype! 🎉 But as usual for TH01, even that final set of functions shared between all bosses had to consume two pushes rather than one…

First up, in the ongoing series "Things that TH01 draws to the PC-98 graphics layer that really should have been drawn to the text layer instead": The boss HP bar. Oh well, using the graphics layer at least made it possible to have this half-red, half-white pattern for the middle section.
This one pattern is drawn by making surprisingly good use of the GRCG. So far, we've only seen it used for fast monochrome drawing:

// Setting up fast drawing using color #9 (1001 in binary)
grcg_setmode(GC_RMW);
outportb(0x7E, 0xFF); // Plane 0: (B): (********)
outportb(0x7E, 0x00); // Plane 1: (R): (        )
outportb(0x7E, 0x00); // Plane 2: (G): (        )
outportb(0x7E, 0xFF); // Plane 3: (E): (********)

// Write a checkerboard pattern (* * * * ) in color #9 to the top-left corner,
// with transparent blanks. Requires only 1 VRAM write to a single bitplane:
// The GRCG automatically writes to the correct bitplanes, as specified above
*(uint8_t *)(MK_FP(0xA800, 0)) = 0xAA;

But since this is actually an 8-pixel tile register, we can set any 8-pixel pattern for any bitplane. This way, we can get different colors for every one of the 8 pixels, with still just a single VRAM write of the alpha mask to a single bitplane:

grcg_setmode(GC_RMW); //  Final color: (A7A7A7A7)
outportb(0x7E, 0x55); // Plane 0: (B): ( * * * *)
outportb(0x7E, 0xFF); // Plane 1: (R): (********)
outportb(0x7E, 0x55); // Plane 2: (G): ( * * * *)
outportb(0x7E, 0xAA); // Plane 3: (E): (* * * * )

And I thought TH01 only suffered the drawbacks of PC-98 hardware, making so little use of its actual features that it's perhaps not fair to even call it "a PC-98 game"… Still, I'd say that "bad PC-98 port of an idea" describes it best.

However, after that tiny flash of brilliance, the surrounding HP rendering code goes right back to being the typical sort of confusing TH01 jank. There's only a single function for the three distinct jobs of

with magic numbers to select between all of these.

VRAM of course also means that the backgrounds behind the individual hit points have to be stored, so that they can be unblitted later as the boss is losing HP. That's no big deal though, right? Just allocate some memory, copy what's initially in VRAM, then blit it back later using your foundational set of blitting funct– oh, wait, TH01 doesn't have this sort of thing, right :tannedcirno: The closest thing, 📝 once again, are the .PTN functions. And so, the game ends up handling these 8×16 background sprites with 16×16 wrappers around functions for 32×32 sprites. :zunpet: That's quite the recipe for confusion, especially since ZUN preferred copy-pasting the necessary ridiculous arithmetic expressions for calculating positions, .PTN sprite IDs, and the ID of the 16×16 quarter inside the 32×32 sprite, instead of just writing simple helper functions. He did manage to make the result mostly bug-free this time around, though! (Edit (2022-05-31): Nope, there's a 📝 potential heap corruption after all, which can be triggered in some fights in debug mode.) There's one minor hit point discoloration bug if the red-white or white sections start at an odd number of hit points, but that's never the case for any of the original 7 bosses.
The remaining sloppiness is ultimately inconsequential as well: The game always backs up twice the number of hit point backgrounds, and thus uses twice the amount of memory actually required. Also, this self-restriction of only unblitting 16×16 pixels at a time requires any remaining odd hit point at the last position to, of course, be rendered again :onricdennat:


After stumbling over the weakest imaginable random number generator, we finally arrive at the shared boss↔orb collision handling function, the final blocker among the final blockers. This function takes a whopping 12 parameters, 3 of them being references to int values, some of which are duplicated for every one of the 7 bosses, with no generic boss struct anywhere. 📝 Previously, I speculated that YuugenMagan might have been the first boss to be programmed for TH01. With all these variables though, there is some new evidence that SinGyoku might have been the first one after all: It's the only boss to use its own HP and phase frame variables, with the other bosses sharing the same two globals.

While this function only handles the response to a boss↔orb collision, it still does way too much to describe it briefly. Took me quite a while to frame it in terms of invincibility (which is the main impact of all of this that can be observed in gameplay code). That made at least some sort of sense, considering the other usages of the variables passed as references to that function. Turns out that YuugenMagan, Kikuri, and Elis abuse what's meant to be the "invincibility frame" variable as a frame counter for some of their animations 🙄
Oh well, the game at least doesn't call the collision handling function during those, so "invincibility frame" is technically still a correct variable name there.


And that's it! We're finally ready to start with Konngara, in 2021. I've been waiting quite a while for this, as all this high-level boss code is very likely to speed up TH01 progress quite a bit. Next up though: Closing out 2020 with more of the technical debt in the other games.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0123
Commits:
4406c3d...72dfa09
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ file-format+ player+ animation+ blitting+ waste+ jank-

Done with the .BOS format, at last! While there's still quite a bunch of undecompiled non-format blitting code left, this was in fact the final piece of graphics format loading code in TH01.

📝 Continuing the trend from three pushes ago, we've got yet another class, this time for the 48×48 and 48×32 sprites used in Reimu's gohei, slide, and kick animations. The only reason these had to use the .BOS format at all is simply because Reimu's regular sprites are 32×32, and are therefore loaded from 📝 .PTN files.
Yes, this makes no sense, because why would you split animations for the same character across two file formats and two APIs, just because of a sprite size difference? This necessity for switching blitting APIs might also explain why Reimu vanishes for a few frames at the beginning and the end of the gohei swing animation, but more on that once we get to the high-level rendering code.

Now that we've decompiled all the .BOS implementations in TH01, here's an overview of all of them, together with .PTN to show that there really was no reason for not using the .BOS API for all of Reimu's sprites:

CBossEntity CBossAnim CPlayerAnim ptn_* (32×32)
Format .BOS .BOS .BOS .PTN
Hitbox
Byte-aligned blitting
Byte-aligned unblitting
Unaligned blitting Single-line and wave only
Precise unblitting
Per-file sprite limit 8 8 32 64
Pixels blitted at once 16 16 8 32

And even that last property could simply be handled by branching based on the sprite width, and wouldn't be a reason for switching formats. But well, it just wouldn't be TH01 without all that redundant bloat though, would it?

The basic loading, freeing, and blitting code was yet another variation on the other .BOS code we've seen before. So this should have caused just as little trouble as the CBossAnim code… except that CPlayerAnim did add one slightly difficult function to the mix, which led to it requiring almost a full push after all. Similar to 📝 the unblitting code for moving lasers we've seen in the last push, ZUN tries to minimize the amount of VRAM writes when unblitting Reimu's slide animations. Technically, it's only necessary to restore the pixels that Reimu traveled by, plus the ones that wouldn't be redrawn by the new animation frame at the new X position.
The theoretically arbitrary distance between the two sprites is, of course, modeled by a fixed-size buffer on the stack :onricdennat:, coming with the further assumption that the sprite surely hasn't moved by more than 1 horizontal VRAM byte compared to the last frame. Which, of course, results in glitches if that's not the case, leaving little Reimu parts in VRAM if the slide speed ever exceeded 8 pixels per frame. :tannedcirno: (Which it never does, being hardcoded to 6 pixels, but still.). As it also turns out, all those bit masking operations easily lead to incredibly sloppy C code. Which compiles into incredibly terrible ASM, which in turn might end up wasting way more CPU time than the final VRAM write optimization would have gained? Then again, in-depth profiling is way beyond the scope of this project at this point.

Next up: The TH04 main menu, and some more technical debt.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0122
Commits:
164591f...4406c3d
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ blitting+ waste+ jank- gameplay+ laser+

This time around, laser is 📝 actually not difficult, with TH01's shootout laser class being simple enough to nicely fit into a single push. All other stationary lasers (as used by YuugenMagan, for example) don't even use a class, and are simply treated as regular lines with collision detection.

But of course, the shootout lasers also come with the typical share of TH01 jank we've all come to expect by now. This time, it already starts with the hardcoded sprite data:

TH01 shootout laser 'sprites'

A shootout laser can have a width from 1 to 8 pixels, so ZUN stored a separate 16×1 sprite with a line for each possible width (left-to-right). Then, he shifted all of these sprites 1 pixel to the right for all of the 8 possible start positions within a planar VRAM byte (top-to-bottom). Because… doing that bit shift programmatically is way too expensive, so let's pre-shift at compile time, and use 16× the memory per sprite? :tannedcirno:

Since a bunch of other sprite sheets need to be pre-shifted as well (this is the 5th one we've found so far), our sprite converter has a feature to automatically generate those pre-shifted variations. This way, we can abstract away that implementation detail and leave modders with .BMP files that still only contain a single version of each sprite. But, uh…, wait, in this sprite sheet, the second row for 1-pixel lasers is accidentally shifted right by one more pixel that it should have been?! Which means that

  1. we can't use the auto-preshift feature here, and have to store this weird-looking (and quite frankly, completely unnecessary) sprite sheet in its entirety
  2. ZUN did, at least during TH01's development, not have a sprite converter, and directly hardcoded these dot patterns in the C++ code :zunpet:

The waste continues with the class itself. 69 bytes, with 22 bytes outright unused, and 11 not really necessary. As for actual innovations though, we've got 📝 another 32-bit fixed-point type, this time actually using 8 bits for the fractional part. Therefore, the ray position is tracked to the 1/256th of a pixel, using the full precision of master.lib's 8-bit sin() and cos() lookup tables.
Unblitting is also remarkably efficient: It's only done once the laser stopped extending and started moving, and only for the exact pixels at the start of the ray that the laser traveled by in a single frame. If only the ray part was also rendered as efficiently – it's fully blitted every frame, right next to the collision detection for each row of the ray.


With a public interface of two functions (spawn, and update / collide / unblit / render), that's superficially all there is to lasers in this game. There's another (apparently inlined) function though, to both reset and, uh, "fully unblit" all lasers at the end of every boss fight… except that it fails hilariously at doing the latter, and ends up effectively unblitting random 32-pixel line segments, due to ZUN confusing both the coordinates and the parameter types for the line unblitting function. :zunpet:
A while ago, I was asked about this crash that tends to happen when defeating Elis. And while you can clearly see the random unblitted line segments that are missing from the sprites, I don't quite think we've found the cause for the crash, since the 📝 line unblitting function used there does clip its coordinates to the VRAM range.

Next up: The final piece of image format code in TH01, covering Reimu's sprites!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0120, P0121
Commits:
453dd3c...3c008b6, 3c008b6...5c42fcd
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98+ blitting+ waste+ jank- boss+ mima-th01+

Back to TH01, and its boss sprite format… with a separate class for storing animations that only differs minutely from the 📝 regular boss entity class I covered last time? Decompiling this class was almost free, and the main reason why the first of these pushes ended up looking pretty huge.

Next up were the remaining shape drawing functions from the code segment that started with the .GRC functions. P0105 already started these with the (surprisingly sanely implemented) 8×8 diamond, star, and… uh, snowflake (?) sprites , prominently seen in the Konngara, Elis, and Sariel fights, respectively. Now, we've also got:

The weirdness becomes obvious with just a single screenshot:

TH01 invincibility sprite weirdness

First, we've got the obvious issue of the sprites not being clipped at the right edge of VRAM, with the rightmost pixels in each row of the sprite extending to the beginning of the next row. Well, that's just what you get if you insist on writing unique low-level blitting code for the majority of the individual sprites in the game… 🤷
More importantly though, the sprite sheet looks like this: So how do we even get these fully filled red diamonds?

Well, turns out that the sprites are never consistently unblitted during their 8 frames of animation. There is a function that looks like it unblits the sprite… except that it starts with by enabling the GRCG and… reading from the first bitplane on the background page? If this was the EGC, such a read would fill some internal registers with the contents of all 4 bitplanes, which can then subsequently be blitted to all 4 bitplanes of any VRAM page with a single memory write. But with the GRCG in RMW mode, reads do nothing special, and simply copy the memory contents of one bitplane to the read destination. Maybe ZUN thought that setting the RMW color to red also sets some internal 4-plane mask register to match that color? :zunpet:
Instead, the rather random pixels read from the first bitplane are then used as a mask for a second blit of the same red sprite. Effectively, this only really "unblits" the invincibility pixels that are drawn on top of Reimu's sprite. Since Reimu is drawn first, the invincibility sprites are overwritten anyway. But due to the palette color layout of Reimu's sprite, its pixels end up fully masking away any invincibility sprite pixels in that second blit, leaving VRAM untouched as a result. Anywhere else though, this animation quickly turns into the union of all animation frames.

Then again, if that 16-dot-aligned rectangular unblitting function is all you know about the EGC, and you can't be bothered to write a perfect unblitter for 8×8 sprites, it becomes obvious why you wouldn't want to use it:

Because Reimu would barely be visible under all that flicker. In comparison, those fully filled diamonds actually look pretty good.


After all that, the remaining time wouldn't have been enough for the next few essential classes, so I closed out the push with three more VRAM effects instead:


And with that, ReC98, as a whole, is not only ⅓ done, but I've also fully caught up with the feature backlog for the first time in the history of this crowdfunding! Time to go into maintenance mode then, while we wait for the next pushes to be funded. Got a huge backlog of tiny maintenance issues to address at a leisurely pace, and of course there's also the 📝 16-bit build system waiting to be finished.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0111, P0112
Commits:
8b5c146...4ef4c9e, 4ef4c9e...e447a2d
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous], Blue Bolt
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th04+ th05+ gameplay+ player+ bomb+ boss+ ex-alice+ animation+ glitch+ jank-

Only one newly ordered push since I've reopened the store? Great, that's all the justification I needed for the extended maintenance delay that was part of these two pushes 😛

Having to write comments to explain whether coordinates are relative to the top-left corner of the screen or the top-left corner of the playfield has finally become old. So, I introduced distinct types for all the coordinate systems we typically encounter, applying them to all code decompiled so far. Note how the planar nature of PC-98 VRAM meant that X and Y coordinates also had to be different from each other. On the X side, there's mainly the distinction between the [0; 640] screen space and the corresponding [0; 80] VRAM byte space. On the Y side, we also have the [0; 400] screen space, but the visible area of VRAM might be limited to [0; 200] when running in the PC-98's line-doubled 640×200 mode. A VRAM Y coordinate also always implies an added offset for vertical scrolling.
During all of the code reconstruction, these types can only have a documenting purpose. Turning them into anything more than just typedefs to int, in order to define conversion operators between them, simply won't recompile into identical binaries. Modding and porting projects, however, now have a nice foundation for doing just that, and can entirely lift coordinate system transformations into the type system, without having to proofread all the meaningless int declarations themselves.


So, what was left in terms of memory references? EX-Alice's fire waves were our final unknown entity that can collide with the player. Decently implemented, with little to say about them.

That left the bomb animation structures as the one big remaining PI blocker. They started out nice and simple in TH04, with a small 6-byte star animation structure used for both Reimu and Marisa. TH05, however, gave each character her own animation… and what the hell is going on with Reimu's blue stars there? Nope, not going to figure this out on ASM level.

A decompilation first required some more bomb-related variables to be named though. Since this was part of a generic RE push, it made sense to do this in all 5 games… which then led to nice PI gains in anything but TH05. :tannedcirno: Most notably, we now got the "pulling all items to player" flag in TH04 and TH05, which is actually separate from bombing. The obvious cheat mod is left as an exercise to the reader.


So, TH05 bomb animations. Just like the 📝 custom entity types of this game, all 4 characters share the same memory, with the superficially same 10-byte structure.
But let's just look at the very first field. Seen from a low level, it's a simple struct { int x, y; } pos, storing the current position of the character-specific bomb animation entity. But all 4 characters use this field differently:

Therefore, I decompiled it as 4 separate structures once again, bundled into an union of arrays.

As for Reimu… yup, that's some pointer arithmetic straight out of Jigoku* for setting and updating the positions of the falling star trails. :zunpet: While that certainly required several comments to wrap my head around the current array positions, the one "bug" in all this arithmetic luckily has no effect on the game.
There is a small glitch with the growing circles, though. They are spawned at the end of the loop, with their position taken from the star pointer… but after that pointer has already been incremented. On the last loop iteration, this leads to an out-of-bounds structure access, with the position taken from some unknown EX-Alice data, which is 0 during most of the game. If you look at the animation, you can easily spot these bugged circles, consistently growing from the top-left corner (0, 0) of the playfield:


After all that, there was barely enough remaining time to filter out and label the final few memory references. But now, TH05's MAIN.EXE is technically position-independent! 🎉 -Tom- is going to work on a pretty extensive demo of this unprecedented level of efficient Touhou game modding. For a more impactful effect of both the 100% PI mark and that demo, I'll be delaying the push covering the remaining false positives in that binary until that demo is done. I've accumulated a pretty huge backlog of minor maintenance issues by now…
Next up though: The first part of the long-awaited build system improvements. I've finally come up with a way of sanely accelerating the 32-bit build part on most setups you could possibly want to build ReC98 on, without making the building experience worse for the other few setups.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0103, P0104
Commits:
b60f38d...05c0028, 05c0028...3622eb6
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ hud+ file-format+ jank- waste+

It's vacation time! Which, for ReC98, means "relaxing by looking at something boring and uninteresting that we'll ultimately have to cover anyway"… like the TH01 HUD.

📝 As noted earlier, all the score, card combo, stage, and time numbers are drawn into VRAM. Which turns TH01's HUD rendering from the trivial, gaiji-assisted text RAM writes we see in later games to something that, once again, requires blitting and unblitting steps. For some reason though, everything on there is blitted to both VRAM pages? And that's why the HUD chose to allocate a bunch of .PTN sprite slots to store the background behind all "animated" elements at the beginning of a 4-stage scene or boss battle… separately for every affected 16×16 area. (Looking forward to the completely unnecessary code in the Sariel fight that updates these slots after the backgrounds were animated!) And without any separation into helper functions, we end up with the same blitting calls separately copy-pasted for every single HUD element. That's why something as seemingly trivial as this isn't even done after 2 pushes, as we're still missing the stage timer.

Thankfully, the .PTN function signatures come with none of ZUN's little inconsistencies, so I was able to mostly reduce this copy-pasta to a bunch of small inline functions and macros. Those interfaces still remain a bit annoying, though. As a 32×32 format, .PTN merely supports 16×16 sprites with a separate bunch of functions that take an additional quarter parameter from 0 to 3, to select one of the 4 16×16 quarters in a such a sprite…


For life and bomb counts, there was no way around VRAM though, since ZUN wanted to use more than a single color for those. This is where we find at least somewhat of a mildly interesting quirk in all of this: Any life counts greater than the intended 6 will wrap into new rows, with the bombs in the second row overlapping those excess lives. With the way the rest of the HUD rendering works, that wrapping code code had to be explicitly written… which means that ZUN did in fact accomodate (his own?) cheating there.

TH01 life wrapping

Now, I promised image formats, and in the middle of this copy-pasta, we did get one… sort of. MASK.GRF, the red HUD background, is entirely handled with two small bespoke functions… and that's all the code we have for this format. Basically, it's a variation on the 📝 .GRZ format we've seen earlier. It uses the exact same RLE algorithm, but only has a single byte stream for both RLE commands and pixel data… as you would expect from an RLE format.

.GRF actually stores 4 separately encoded RLE streams, which suggests that it was intended for full 16-color images. Unfortunately, MASK.GRF only contains 4 copies of the same HUD background :zunpet:, so no unused beta data for us there. The only thing we could derive from 4 identical bitplanes would be that the background was originally meant to be drawn using color #15, rather than the red seen in the final game. Color #15 is a stage-specific background color that would have made the HUD blend in quite nicely – in the YuugenMagan fight, it's the changing color of the in the background, for example. But really, with no generic implementation of this format, that's all just speculation.

Oh, and in case you were looking for a rip of that image:

TH01 HUD background (MASK.GRF)

So yeah, more of the usual TH01 code, with the usual small quirks, but nothing all too horrible – as expected. Next up: The image formats that didn't make it into this push.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0099, P0100, P0101, P0102
Commits:
1799d67...1b25830, 1b25830...ceb81db, ceb81db...c11a956, c11a956...b60f38d
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ bullet+ jank- contribution-ideas+ bug+ boss+ elis+ kikuri+ sariel+ konngara+

Well, make that three days. Trying to figure out all the details behind the sprite flickering was absolutely dreadful…
It started out easy enough, though. Unsurprisingly, TH01 had a quite limited pellet system compared to TH04 and TH05:

As expected from TH01, the code comes with its fair share of smaller, insignificant ZUN bugs and oversights. As you would also expect though, the sprite flickering points to the biggest and most consequential flaw in all of this.


Apparently, it started with ZUN getting the impression that it's only possible to use the PC-98 EGC for fast blitting of all 4 bitplanes in one CPU instruction if you blit 16 horizontal pixels (= 2 bytes) at a time. Consequently, he only wrote one function for EGC-accelerated sprite unblitting, which can only operate on a "grid" of 16×1 tiles in VRAM. But wait, pellets are not only just 8×8, but can also be placed at any unaligned X position…

… yet the game still insists on using this 16-dot-aligned function to unblit pellets, forcing itself into using a super sloppy 16×8 rectangle for the job. 🤦 ZUN then tried to mitigate the resulting flickering in two hilarious ways that just make it worse:

  1. An… "interlaced rendering" mode? This one's activated for all Stage 15 and 20 fights, and separates pellets into two halves that are rendered on alternating frames. Collision detection with the Yin-Yang Orb and the player is only done for the visible half, but collision detection with player shots is still done for all pellets every frame, as are motion updates – so that pellets don't end up moving half as fast as they should.
    So yeah, your eyes weren't deceiving you. The game does effectively drop its perceived frame rate in the Elis, Kikuri, Sariel, and Konngara fights, and it does so deliberately.
  2. 📝 Just like player shots, pellets are also unblitted, moved, and rendered in a single function. Thanks to the 16×8 rectangle, there's now the (completely unnecessary) possibility of accidentally unblitting parts of a sprite that was previously drawn into the 8 pixels right of a pellet. And this is where ZUN went full :tannedcirno: and went "oh, I know, let's test the entire 16 pixels, and in case we got an entity there, we simply make the pellet invisible for this frame! Then we don't even have to unblit it later!" :zunpet:

    Except that this is only done for the first 3 elements of the player shot array…?! Which don't even necessarily have to contain the 3 shots fired last. It's not done for the player sprite, the Orb, or, heck, other pellets that come earlier in the pellet array. (At least we avoided going 𝑂(𝑛²) there?)

    Actually, and I'm only realizing this now as I type this blog post: This test is done even if the shots at those array elements aren't active. So, pellets tend to be made invisible based on comparisons with garbage data. :onricdennat:

    And then you notice that the player shot unblit​/​move​/​render function is actually only ever called from the pellet unblit​/​move​/​render function on the one global instance of the player shot manager class, after pellets were unblitted. So, we end up with a sequence of

    Pellet unblit → Pellet move → Shot unblit → Shot move → Shot render → Pellet render

    which means that we can't ever unblit a previously rendered shot with a pellet. Sure, as terrible as this one function call is from a software architecture perspective, it was enough to fix this issue. Yet we don't even get the intended positive effect, and walk away with pellets that are made temporarily invisible for no reason at all. So, uh, maybe it all just was an attempt at increasing the ramerate on lower spec PC-98 models?

Yup, that's it, we've found the most stupid piece of code in this game, period. It'll be hard to top this.


I'm confident that it's possible to turn TH01 into a well-written, fluid PC-98 game, with no flickering, and no perceived lag, once it's position-independent. With some more in-depth knowledge and documentation on the EGC (remember, there's still 📝 this one TH03 push waiting to be funded), you might even be able to continue using that piece of blitter hardware. And no, you certainly won't need ASM micro-optimizations – just a bit of knowledge about which optimizations Turbo C++ does on its own, and what you'd have to improve in your own code. It'd be very hard to write worse code than what you find in TH01 itself.

(Godbolt for Turbo C++ 4.0J when? Seriously though, that would 📝 also be a great project for outside contributors!)


Oh well. In contrast to TH04 and TH05, where 4 pushes only covered all the involved data types, they were enough to completely cover all of the pellet code in TH01. Everything's already decompiled, and we never have to look at it again. 😌 And with that, TH01 has also gone from by far the least RE'd to the most RE'd game within ReC98, in just half a year! 🎉
Still, that was enough TH01 game logic for a while. :tannedcirno: Next up: Making up for the delay with some more relaxing and easy pieces of TH01 code, that hopefully make just a bit more sense than all this garbage. More image formats, mainly.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0096, P0097, P0098
Commits:
8ddb778...8283c5e, 8283c5e...600f036, 600f036...ad06748
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ file-format+ pc98+ blitting+ gameplay+ player+ shot+ jank- mod+ tcc+

So, let's finally look at some TH01 gameplay structures! The obvious choices here are player shots and pellets, which are conveniently located in the last code segment. Covering these would therefore also help in transferring some first bits of data in REIIDEN.EXE from ASM land to C land. (Splitting the data segment would still be quite annoying.) Player shots are immediately at the beginning…

…but wait, these are drawn as transparent sprites loaded from .PTN files. Guess we first have to spend a push on 📝 Part 2 of this format.
Hm, 4 functions for alpha-masked blitting and unblitting of both 16×16 and 32×32 .PTN sprites that align the X coordinate to a multiple of 8 (remember, the PC-98 uses a planar VRAM memory layout, where 8 pixels correspond to a byte), but only one function that supports unaligned blitting to any X coordinate, and only for 16×16 sprites? Which is only called twice? And doesn't come with a corresponding unblitting function? :thonk:

Yeah, "unblitting". TH01 isn't double-buffered, and uses the PC-98's second VRAM page exclusively to store a stage's background and static sprites. Since the PC-98 has no hardware sprites, all you can do is write pixels into VRAM, and any animated sprite needs to be manually removed from VRAM at the beginning of each frame. Not using double-buffering theoretically allows TH01 to simply copy back all 128 KB of VRAM once per frame to do this. :tannedcirno: But that would be pretty wasteful, so TH01 just looks at all animated sprites, and selectively copies only their occupied pixels from the second to the first VRAM page.


Alright, player shot class methods… oh, wait, the collision functions directly act on the Yin-Yang Orb, so we first have to spend a push on that one. And that's where the impression we got from the .PTN functions is confirmed: The orb is, in fact, only ever displayed at byte-aligned X coordinates, divisible by 8. It's only thanks to the constant spinning that its movement appears at least somewhat smooth.
This is purely a rendering issue; internally, its position is tracked at pixel precision. Sadly, smooth orb rendering at any unaligned X coordinate wouldn't be that trivial of a mod, because well, the necessary functions for unaligned blitting and unblitting of 32×32 sprites don't exist in TH01's code. Then again, there's so much potential for optimization in this code, so it might be very possible to squeeze those additional two functions into the same C++ translation unit, even without position independence…

More importantly though, this was the right time to decompile the core functions controlling the orb physics – probably the highlight in these three pushes for most people.
Well, "physics". The X velocity is restricted to the 5 discrete states of -8, -4, 0, 4, and 8, and gravity is applied by simply adding 1 to the Y velocity every 5 frames :zunpet: No wonder that this can easily lead to situations in which the orb infinitely bounces from the ground.
At least fangame authors now have a reference of how ZUN did it originally, because really, this bad approximation of physics had to have been written that way on purpose. But hey, it uses 64-bit floating-point variables! :onricdennat:

…sometimes at least, and quite randomly. This was also where I had to learn about Turbo C++'s floating-point code generation, and how rigorously it defines the order of instructions when mixing double and float variables in arithmetic or conditional expressions. This meant that I could only get ZUN's original instruction order by using literal constants instead of variables, which is impossible right now without somehow splitting the data segment. In the end, I had to resort to spelling out ⅔ of one function, and one conditional branch of another, in inline ASM. 😕 If ZUN had just written 16.0 instead of 16.0f there, I would have saved quite some hours of my life trying to decompile this correctly…

To sort of make up for the slowdown in progress, here's the TH01 orb physics debug mod I made to properly understand them. Edit (2022-07-12): This mod is outdated, 📝 the current version is here! 2020-06-13-TH01OrbPhysicsDebug.zip To use it, simply replace REIIDEN.EXE, and run the game in debug mode, via game d on the DOS prompt.
Its code might also serve as an example of how to achieve this sort of thing without position independence.

Screenshot of the TH01 orb physics debug mod

Alright, now it's time for player shots though. Yeah, sure, they don't move horizontally, so it's not too bad that those are also always rendered at byte-aligned positions. But, uh… why does this code only use the 16×16 alpha-masked unblitting function for decaying shots, and just sloppily unblits an entire 16×16 square everywhere else?

The worst part though: Unblitting, moving, and rendering player shots is done in a single function, in that order. And that's exactly where TH01's sprite flickering comes from. Since different types of sprites are free to overlap each other, you'd have to first unblit all types, then move all types, and then render all types, as done in later PC-98 Touhou games. If you do these three steps per-type instead, you will unblit sprites of other types that have been rendered before… and therefore end up with flicker.
Oh, and finally, ZUN also added an additional sloppy 16×16 square unblit call if a shot collides with a pellet or a boss, for some guaranteed flicker. Sigh.


And that's ⅓ of all ZUN code in TH01 decompiled! Next up: Pellets!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0092, P0093, P0094
Commits:
29c5a73...4403308, 4403308...0e73029, 0e73029...57a8487
💰 Funded by:
Yanga, Ember2528
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ file-format+ menu+ score+ jank- waste+

Three pushes to decompile the TH01 high score menu… because it's completely terrible, and needlessly complicated in pretty much every aspect:

In the end, I just gave up with my usual redundancy reduction efforts for this one. Anyone wanting to change TH01's high score name entering code would be better off just rewriting the entire thing properly.

And that's all of the shared code in TH01! Both OP.EXE and FUUIN.EXE are now only missing the actual main menu and ending code, respectively. Next up, though: The long awaited TH01 PI push. Which will not only deliver 100% PI for OP.EXE and FUUIN.EXE, but also probably quite some gains in REIIDEN.EXE. With now over 30% of the game decompiled, it's about time we get to look at some gameplay code!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0063
Commits:
034ae4b...8dbb450
💰 Funded by:
-Tom-
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th04+ th05+ file-format+ score+ waste+ jank-

Almost!

Just like most of the time, it was more sensible to cover GENSOU.SCR, the last structure missing in TH05's OP.EXE, everywhere it's used, rather than just rushing out OP.EXE position independence. I did have to look into all of the functions to fully RE it after all, and to find out whether the unused fields actually are unused. The only thing that kept this push from yielding even more above-average progress was the sheer inconsistency in how the games implemented the operations on this PC-98 equivalent of score*.dat:

Technically though, TH05's OP.EXE is position-independent now, and the rest are (should be? :tannedcirno:) merely false positives. However, TH04's is still missing another structure, in addition to its false positives. So, let's wait with the big announcement until the next push… which will also come with a demo video of what will be possible then.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0031, P0032, P0033
Commits:
dea40ad...9f764fa, 9f764fa...e6294c2, e6294c2...6cdd229
💰 Funded by:
zorg
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th04+ th05+ file-format+ hud+ score+ tasm+ tcc+ micro-optimization+ jank-

The glacial pace continues, with TH05's unnecessarily, inappropriately micro-optimized, and hence, un-decompilable code for rendering the current and high score, as well as the enemy health / dream / power bars. While the latter might still pass as well-written ASM, the former goes to such ridiculous levels that it ends up being technically buggy. If you enjoy quality ZUN code, it's definitely worth a read.

In TH05, this all still is at the end of code segment #1, but in TH04, the same code lies all over the same segment. And since I really wanted to move that code into its final form now, I finally did the research into decompiling from anywhere else in a segment.

Turns out we actually can! It's kinda annoying, though: After splitting the segment after the function we want to decompile, we then need to group the two new segments back together into one "virtual segment" matching the original one. But since all ASM in ReC98 heavily relies on being assembled in MASM mode, we then start to suffer from MASM's group addressing quirk. Which then forces us to manually prefix every single function call

with the group name. It's stupidly boring busywork, because of all the function calls you mustn't prefix. Special tooling might make this easier, but I don't have it, and I'm not getting crowdfunded for it.

So while you now definitely can request any specific thing in any of the 5 games to be decompiled right now, it will take slightly longer, and cost slightly more.
(Except for that one big segment in TH04, of course.)

Only one function away from the TH05 shot type control functions now!