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📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0205, P0206
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 scroll background, and 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:
P0203, P0204
4568bf7...86cdf5f, 86cdf5f...0c682b5
💰 Funded by:
GhostRiderCog, [Anonymous], Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ meta+ gameplay+ card-flipping+ player+ shot+ mod+ rng- bomb+ waste+

Let's start right with the milestones:

So, how did this card-flipping stage obstacle delivery get so horribly delayed? With all the different layouts showcased in the 28 card-flipping stages, you'd expect this to be among the more stable and bug-free parts of the codebase. Heck, with all stage objects being placed on a 32×32-pixel grid, this is the first TH01-related blog post this year that doesn't have to describe an alignment-related unblitting glitch!

That alone doesn't mean that this code is free from quirky behavior though, and we have to look no further than the first few lines of the collision handling for round bumpers to already find a whole lot of that. Simplified, they do the following:

pixel_t delta_y_between_orb_and_bumper = (orb.top - bumper.top);
if(delta_y_between_orb_and_bumper <= 0) {
	orb.top = (bumper.top - 24);
} else {
	orb.top = (bumper.top + 24);

Immediately, you wonder why these assignments only exist for the Y coordinate. Sure, hitting a bumper from the left or right side should happen less often, but it's definitely possible. Is it really a good idea to warp the Orb to the top or bottom edge of a bumper regardless?
What's more important though: The fact that these immediate assignments exist at all. The game's regular Orb physics work by producing a Y velocity from the single force acting on the Orb and a gravity factor, and are completely independent of its current Y position. A bumper collision does also apply a new force onto the Orb further down in the code, but these assignments still bypass the physics system and are bound to have some knock-on effect on the Orb's movement.

To observe that effect, we just have to enter Stage 18 on the 地獄/Jigoku route, where it's particularly trivial to reproduce. At a 📝 horizontal velocity of ±4, these assignments are exactly what can cause the Orb to endlessly bounce between two bumpers. As rudimentary as the Orb's physics may be, just letting them do their work would have entirely prevented these loops:

The blue areas indicate the pixel-perfect* hitboxes of each bumper.

Now, you might be thinking that these Y assignments were just an attempt to prevent the Orb from colliding with the same bumper again on the next frame. After all, those 24 pixels exactly correspond to ⅓ of the height of a bumper's hitbox with an additional pixel added on top. However, the game already perfectly prevents repeated collisions by turning off collision testing with the same bumper for the next 7 frames after a collision. Thus, we can conclude that ZUN either explicitly coded bumper collision handling to facilitate these loops, or just didn't take out that code after inevitably discovering what it did. This is not janky code, it's not a glitch, it's not sarcasm from my end, and it's not the game's physics being bad.

But wait. Couldn't these assignments just be a remnant from a time in development before ZUN decided on the 7-frame delay on further collisions? Well, even that explanation stops holding water after the next few lines of code. Simplified, again:

pixel_t delta_x_between_orb_and_bumper = (orb.left - bumper.left);
if((orb.velocity.x == +4) && (delta_x_between_orb_and_bumper < 0)) {
	orb.velocity.x = -4;
} else if((orb.velocity.x == -4) && (delta_x_between_orb_and_bumper > 0)) {
	orb.velocity.x = +4;

What's important here is the part that's not in the code – namely, anything that handles X velocities of -8 or +8. In those cases, the Orb simply continues in the same horizontal direction. The manual Y assignment is the only part of the code that actually prevents a collision there, as the newly applied force is not guaranteed to be enough:

Forgetting to handle ⅖ of your discrete X velocity cases is simply not something you do by accident. So we might as well say that ZUN deliberately designed the game to behave exactly as it does in this regard.

Bumpers also come in vertical or horizontal bar shapes. Their collision handling also turns off further collision testing for the next 7 frames, and doesn't do any manual coordinate assignment. That's definitely a step up in cleanliness from round bumpers, but it doesn't seem to keep in mind that the player can fire a new shot every 4 frames when standing still. That makes it immediately obvious why this works:

The green numbers show the amount of frames since the last detected collision with the respective bumper bar, and indicate that collision testing with the bar below is currently disabled.

That's the most well-known case of reducing the Orb's horizontal velocity to 0 by exactly hitting it with shots in its center and then button-mashing it through a horizontal bar. This also works with vertical bars and yields even more interesting results there, but if we want to have any chance of understanding what happens there, we have to first go over some basics:

However, if that were everything the game did, kicking the Orb into a column of vertical bumper bars would lead them to behave more like a rope that the Orb can climb, as the initial collision with two hitboxes cancels out the intended sign change that reflects the Orb away from the bars:

This footage was recorded without the workaround I am about to describe. It does not reflect the behavior of the original game. You cannot do this in the original game.
While the visualization reveals small sections where three hitboxes overlap, the Orb can never actually collide with three of them at the same time, as those 3-hitbox regions are 2 pixels smaller than they would need to be to fit the Orb. That's exactly the difference between using < rather than <= in these hitbox comparisons.

While that would have been a fun gameplay mechanic on its own, it immediately breaks apart once you place two vertical bumper bars next to each other. Due to how these bumper bar hitboxes extend past their sprites, any two adjacent vertical bars will end up with the exact same hitbox in absolute screen coordinates. Stage 17 on the 魔界 /Makai route contains exactly such a layout:

The collision handlers of adjacent vertical bars always activate in the same frame, independently invert the Orb's X velocity, and therefore fully cancel out their intended effect on the Orb… if the game did not have the workaround I am about to describe. This cannot happen in the original game.

ZUN's workaround: Setting a "vertical bumper bar block flag" after any collision with such a bar, which simply disables any collision with any vertical bar for the next 7 frames. This quick hack made all vertical bars work as intended, and avoided the need for involving the Orb's X velocity in any kind of physics system. :zunpet:

Edit (2022-07-12): This flag only works around glitches that would be caused by simultaneously colliding with more than one vertical bar. The actual response to a bumper bar collision still remains unaffected, and is very naive:

These conditions are only correct if the Orb comes in at an angle roughly between 45° and 135° on either side of a bar. If it's anywhere close to 0° or 180°, this response will be incorrect, and send the Orb straight through the bar. Since the large hitboxes make this easily possible, you can still get the Orb to climb a vertical column, or glide along a horizontal row:

Here's the hitbox overlay for 地獄 /Jigoku Stage 19, and here's an updated version of the 📝 Orb physics debug mod that now also shows bumper bar collision frame numbers: 2022-07-10-TH01OrbPhysicsDebug.zip See the th01_orb_debug branch for the code. To use it, simply replace REIIDEN.EXE, and run the game in debug mode, via game d on the DOS prompt. If you encounter a gameplay situation that doesn't seem to be covered by this blog post, you can now verify it for yourself. Thanks to touhou-memories for bringing these issues to my attention! That definitely was a glaring omission from the initial version of this blog post.

With that clarified, we can now try mashing the Orb into these two vertical bars:

At first, that workaround doesn't seem to make a difference here. As we expect, the frame numbers now tell us that only one of the two bumper bars in a row activates, but we couldn't have told otherwise as the number of bars has no effect on newly applied Y velocity forces. On a closer look, the Orb's rise to the top of the playfield is in fact caused by that workaround though, combined with the unchanged top-to-bottom order of collision testing. As soon as any bumper bar completed its 7 collision delay frames, it resets the aforementioned flag, which already reactivates collision handling for any remaining vertical bumper bars during the same frame. Look out for frames with both a 7 and a 1: The 7 will always appear before the 1 in the row-major order. Whenever this happens, the current oscillation period is cut down from 7 to 6 frames – and because collision testing runs from top to bottom, this will always happen during the falling part. Depending on the Y velocity, the rising part may also be cut down to 6 frames from time to time, but that one at least has a chance to last for the full 7 frames. This difference adds those crucial extra frames of upward movement, which add up to send the Orb to the top. Without the flag, you'd always see the Orb oscillating between a fixed range of the bar column.
Finally, it's the "top of playfield" force that gradually slows down the Orb and makes sure it ultimately only moves at sub-pixel velocities, which have no visible effect. Because 📝 the regular effect of gravity is reset with each newly applied force, it's completely negated during most of the climb. This even holds true once the Orb reached the top: Since the Orb requires a negative force to repeatedly arrive up there and be bounced back, this force will stay active for the first 5 of the 7 collision frames and not move the Orb at all. Once gravity kicks in at the 5th frame and adds 1 to the Y velocity, it's already too late: The new velocity can't be larger than 0.5, and the Orb only has 1 or 2 frames before the flag reset causes it to be bounced back up to the top again.

Portals, on the other hand, turn out to be much simpler than the old description that ended up on Touhou Wiki in October 2005 might suggest. Everything about their teleportations is random: The destination portal, the exit force (as an integer between -9 and +9), as well as the exit X velocity, with each of the 📝 5 distinct horizontal velocities having an equal chance of being chosen. Of course, if the destination portal is next to the left or right edge of the playfield and it chooses to fire the Orb towards that edge, it immediately bounces off into the opposite direction, whereas the 0 velocity is always selected with a constant 20% probability.

The selection process for the destination portal involves a bit more than a single rand() call. The game bundles all obstacles in a single structure of dynamically allocated arrays, and only knows how many obstacles there are in total, not per type. Now, that alone wouldn't have much of an impact on random portal selection, as you could simply roll a random obstacle ID and try again if it's not a portal. But just to be extra cute, ZUN instead iterates over all obstacles, selects any non-entered portal with a chance of ¼, and just gives up if that dice roll wasn't successful after 16 loops over the whole array, defaulting to the entered portal in that case.
In all its silliness though, this works perfectly fine, and results in a chance of 0.7516(𝑛 - 1) for the Orb exiting out of the same portal it entered, with 𝑛 being the total number of portals in a stage. That's 1% for two portals, and 0.01% for three. Pretty decent for a random result you don't want to happen, but that hurts nobody if it does.

The one tiny ZUN bug with portals is technically not even part of the newly decompiled code here. If Reimu gets hit while the Orb is being sent through a portal, the Orb is immediately kicked out of the portal it entered, no matter whether it already shows up inside the sprite of the destination portal. Neither of the two portal sprites is reset when this happens, leading to "two Orbs" being visible simultaneously. :tannedcirno::onricdennat:
This makes very little sense no matter how you look at it. The Orb doesn't receive a new velocity or force when this happens, so it will simply re-enter the same portal once the gameplay resumes on Reimu's next life:

And that's it! At least the turrets don't have anything notable to say about them 📝 that I haven't said before.

That left another ½ of a push over at the end. Way too much time to finish FUUIN.exe, way too little time to start with Mima… but the bomb animation fit perfectly in there. No secrets or bugs there, just a bunch of sprite animation code wasting at least another 82 bytes in the data segment. The special effect after the kuji-in sprites uses the same single-bitplane 32×32 square inversion effect seen at the end of Kikuri's and Sariel's entrance animation, except that it's a 3-stack of 16-rings moving at 6, 7, and 8 pixels per frame respectively. At these comparatively slow speeds, the byte alignment of each square adds some further noise to the discoloration pattern… if you even notice it below all the shaking and seizure-inducing hardware palette manipulation.
And yes, due to the very destructive nature of the effect, the game does in fact rely on it only being applied to VRAM page 0. While that will cause every moving sprite to tear holes into the inverted squares along its trajectory, keeping a clean playfield on VRAM page 1 is what allows all that pixel damage to be easily undone at the end of this 89-frame animation.

Next up: Mima! Let's hope that stage obstacles already were the most complex part remaining in TH01…

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0193, P0194, P0195, P0196, P0197
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 leave 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
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:

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:
P0158, P0159
bf7bb7e...c0c0ebc, c0c0ebc...e491cd7
💰 Funded by:
🏷 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:
P0153, P0154, P0155, P0156
624e0cb...d05c9ba, d05c9ba...031b526, 031b526...9ad578e, 9ad578e...4bc6405
💰 Funded by:
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ konngara+ danmaku-pattern+ waste+ rng-

📝 7 pushes to get Konngara done, according to my previous estimate? Well, how about being twice as fast, and getting the entire boss fight done in 3.5 pushes instead? So much copy-pasted code in there… without any flashy unused content, apart from four calculations with an unclear purpose. And the three strings "ANGEL", "OF", "DEATH", which were probably meant to be rendered using those giant upscaled font ROM glyphs that also display the STAGE # and HARRY UP strings? Those three strings are also part of Sariel's code, though.

On to the remaining 11 patterns then! Konngara's homing snakes, shown in the video above, are one of the more notorious parts of this battle. They occur in two patterns – one with two snakes and one with four – with all of the spawn, aim, update, and render code copy-pasted between the two. :zunpet: Three gameplay-related discoveries here:

This was followed by really weird aiming code for the "sprayed pellets from cup" pattern… which can only possibly have been done on purpose, but is sort of mitigated by the spraying motion anyway.
After a bunch of long if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} chains, which remain quite popular in certain corners of the game dev scene to this day, we've got the three sword slash patterns as the final notable ones. At first, it seemed as if ZUN just improvised those raw number constants involved in the pellet spawner's movement calculations to describe some sort of path that vaguely resembles the sword slash. But once I tried to express these numbers in terms of the slash animation's keyframes, it all worked out perfectly, and resulted in this:

Triangular path of the pellet spawner during Konngara's slash patterns

Yup, the spawner always takes an exact path along this triangle. Sometimes, I wonder whether I should just rush this project and don't bother about naming these repeated number literals. Then I gain insights like these, and it's all worth it.

Finally, we've got Konngara's main function, which coordinates the entire fight. Third-longest function in both TH01 and all of PC-98 Touhou, only behind some player-related stuff and YuugenMagan's gigantic main function… and it's even more of a copy-pasta, making it feel not nearly as long as it is. Key insights there:

Seriously, 📝 line drawing was much harder to decompile.

And that's it for Konngara! First boss with not a single piece of ASM left, 30 more to go! 🎉 But wait, what about the cause behind the temporary green discoloration after leaving the Pause menu? I expected to find something on that as well, but nope, it's nothing in Konngara's code segment. We'll probably only get to figure that out near the very end of TH01's decompilation, once we get to the one function that directly calls all of the boss-specific main functions in a switch statement.
Edit (2022-07-17): 📝 Only took until Mima.

So, Sariel next? With half of a push left, I did cover Sariel's first few initialization functions, but all the sprite unblitting and HUD manipulation will need some extra attention first. The first one of these functions is related to the HUD, the stage timer, and the HARRY UP mode, whose pellet pattern I've also decompiled now.

All of this brings us past 75% PI in all games, and TH01 to under 30,000 remaining ASM instructions, leaving TH03 as the now most expensive game to be completely decompiled. Looking forward to how much more TH01's code will fall apart if you just tap it lightly… Next up: The aforementioned helper functions related to HARRY UP, drawing the HUD, and unblitting the other bosses whose sprites are a bit more animated.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0130, P0131
6d69ea8...576def5, 576def5...dc9e3ee
💰 Funded by:
🏷 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)
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.