It only took a record-breaking 1½ pushes to get SinGyoku done!
No 📝 entity synchronization code after
all! Since all of SinGyoku's sprites are 96×96 pixels, ZUN made the rather
smart decision of just using the sphere entity's position to render the
📝 flash and person entities – and their only
appearance is encapsulated in a single sphere→person→sphere transformation
Just like Kikuri, SinGyoku's code as a whole is not a complete
It's still exactly as buggy as Kikuri, with both of the ZUN bugs being
rendering glitches in a single function once again.
It also happens to come with a weird hitbox, …
… and some minor questionable and weird pieces of code.
SinGyoku's fight consists of 2 phases, with the first one corresponding
to the white part from 8 to 6 HP, and the second one to the rest of the HP
bar. The distinction between the red-white and red parts is purely visual,
and doesn't reflect anything about the boss script.
Both phases cycle between a pellet pattern and SinGyoku's sphere form
slamming itself into the player, followed by it slightly overshooting its
intended base Y position on its way back up.
Phase 1 only consists of the sphere form's half-circle spray pattern.
Technically, the phase can only end during that pattern, but adding
that one additional condition to allow it to end during the slam+return
"pattern" wouldn't have made a difference anyway. The code doesn't rule out
negative HP during the slam (have fun in debug mode), but the sum of
invincibility frames alone makes it impossible to hit SinGyoku 7 times
during a single slam in regular gameplay.
Phase 2 features two patterns for both the female and male forms
respectively, which are selected randomly.
This time, we're back to the Orb hitbox being a logical 49×49 pixels in
SinGyoku's center, and the shot hitbox being the weird one. What happens if
you want the shot hitbox to be both offset to the left a bit
and stretch the entire width of SinGyoku's sprite? You get a hitbox
that ends in mid-air, far away from the right edge of the sprite:
Since the female and male forms also use the sphere entity's coordinates,
they share the same hitbox.
Onto the rendering glitches then, which can – you guessed it – all be found
in the sphere form's slam movement:
ZUN unblits the delta area between the sphere's previous and current
position on every frame, but reblits the sphere itself on… only every second
For negative X velocities, ZUN made a typo and subtracted the Y velocity
from the right edge of the area to be unblitted, rather than adding the X
velocity. On a cursory look, this shouldn't affect the game all too
much due to the unblitting function's word alignment. Except when it does:
If the Y velocity is much smaller than the X one, the left edge of the
unblitted area can, on certain frames, easily align to a word address past
the previous right edge of the sphere. As a result, not a single sphere
pixel will actually be unblitted, and a small stripe of the sphere will be
left in VRAM for one frame, until the alignment has caught up with the
sphere's movement in the next one.
Due to the low contrast of the sphere against the background, you typically
don't notice these glitches, but the white invincibility flashing after a
hit really does draw attention to them. This time, all of these glitches
aren't even directly caused by ZUN having never learned about the
EGC's bit length register – if he just wrote correct code for SinGyoku, none
of this would have been an issue. Sigh… I wonder how many more glitches will
be caused by improper use of this one function in the last 18% of
There's even another bug here, with ZUN hardcoding a horizontal delta of 8
pixels rather than just passing the actual X velocity. Luckily, the maximum
movement speed is 6 pixels on Lunatic, and this would have only turned into
an additional observable glitch if the X velocity were to exceed 24 pixels.
But that just means it's the kind of bug that still drains RE attention to
prove that you can't actually observe it in-game under some
The 5 pellet patterns are all pretty straightforward, with nothing to talk
about. The code architecture during phase 2 does hint towards ZUN having had
more creative patterns in mind – especially for the male form, which uses
the transformation function's three pattern callback slots for three
repetitions of the same pellet group.
There is one more oddity to be found at the very end of the fight:
Right before the defeat white-out animation, the sphere form is explicitly
reblitted for no reason, on top of the form that was blitted to VRAM in the
previous frame, and regardless of which form is currently active. If
SinGyoku was meant to immediately transform back to the sphere form before
being defeated, why isn't the person form unblitted before then? Therefore,
the visibility of both forms is undeniably canon, and there is some
lore meaning to be found here…
In any case, that's SinGyoku done! 6th PC-98 Touhou boss fully
decompiled, 25 remaining.
No FUUIN.EXE code rounding out the last push for a change, as
the 📝 remaining missile code has been
waiting in front of SinGyoku for a while. It already looked bad in November,
but the angle-based sprite selection function definitely takes the cake when
it comes to unnecessary and decadent floating-point abuse in this game.
The algorithm itself is very trivial: Even with
📝 .PTN requiring an additional quarter parameter to access 16×16 sprites,
it's essentially just one bit shift, one addition, and one binary
AND. For whatever reason though, ZUN casts the 8-bit missile
angle into a 64-bit double, which turns the following explicit
comparisons (!) against all possible 4 + 16 boundary angles (!!)
into FPU operations. Even with naive and readable
division and modulo operations, and the whole existence of this function not
playing well with Turbo C++ 4.0J's terrible code generation at all, this
could have been 3 lines of code and 35 un-inlined constant-time
instructions. Instead, we've got this 207-instruction monster… but hey, at
least it works. 🤷
The remaining time then went to YuugenMagan's initialization code, which
allowed me to immediately remove more declarations from ASM land, but more
on that once we get to the rest of that boss fight.
That leaves 76 functions until we're done with TH01! Next up: Card-flipping
OK, TH01 missile bullets. Can we maybe have a well-behaved entity type,
without any weirdness? Just once?
Ehh, kinda. Apart from another 150 bytes wasted on unused structure members,
this code is indeed more on the low end in terms of overall jank. It does
become very obvious why dodging these missiles in the YuugenMagan, Mima, and
Elis fights feels so awful though: An unfair 46×46 pixel hitbox around
Reimu's center pixel, combined with the comeback of
📝 interlaced rendering, this time in every
stage. ZUN probably did this because missiles are the only 16×16 sprite in
TH01 that is blitted to unaligned X positions, which effectively ends up
touching a 32×16 area of VRAM per sprite.
But even if we assume VRAM writes to be the bottleneck here, it would
have been totally possible to render every missile in every frame at roughly
the same amount of CPU time that the original game uses for interlaced
Note that all missile sprites only use two colors, white and green.
Instead of naively going with the usual four bitplanes, extract the
pixels drawn in each of the two used colors into their own bitplanes.
master.lib calls this the "tiny format".
Use the GRCG to draw these two bitplanes in the intended white and green
colors, halving the amount of VRAM writes compared to the original
(Not using the .PTN format would have also avoided the inconsistency of
storing the missile sprites in boss-specific sprite slots.)
That's an optimization that would have significantly benefitted the game, in
contrast to all of the fake ones
introduced in later games. Then again, this optimization is
actually something that the later games do, and it might have in fact been
necessary to achieve their higher bullet counts without significant
After some effectively unused Mima sprite effect code that is so broken that
it's impossible to make sense out of it, we get to the final feature I
wanted to cover for all bosses in parallel before returning to Sariel: The
separate sprite background storage for moving or animated boss sprites in
the Mima, Elis, and Sariel fights. But, uh… why is this necessary to begin
with? Doesn't TH01 already reserve the other VRAM page for backgrounds?
Well, these sprites are quite big, and ZUN didn't want to blit them from
main memory on every frame. After all, TH01 and TH02 had a minimum required
clock speed of 33 MHz, half of the speed required for the later three games.
So, he simply blitted these boss sprites to both VRAM pages, leading
the usual unblitting calls to only remove the other sprites on top of the
boss. However, these bosses themselves want to move across the screen…
and this makes it necessary to save the stage background behind them
in some other way.
Enter .PTN, and its functions to capture a 16×16 or 32×32 square from VRAM
into a sprite slot. No problem with that approach in theory, as the size of
all these bigger sprites is a multiple of 32×32; splitting a larger sprite
into these smaller 32×32 chunks makes the code look just a little bit clumsy
(and, of course, slower).
But somewhere during the development of Mima's fight, ZUN apparently forgot
that those sprite backgrounds existed. And once Mima's 🚫 casting sprite is
blitted on top of her regular sprite, using just regular sprite
transparency, she ends up with her infamous third arm:
Ironically, there's an unused code path in Mima's unblit function where ZUN
assumes a height of 48 pixels for Mima's animation sprites rather than the
actual 64. This leads to even clumsier .PTN function calls for the bottom
128×16 pixels… Failing to unblit the bottom 16 pixels would have also
yielded that third arm, although it wouldn't have looked as natural. Still
wouldn't say that it was intentional; maybe this casting sprite was just
added pretty late in the game's development?
So, mission accomplished, Sariel unblocked… at 2¼ pushes. That's quite some time left for some smaller stage initialization
code, which bundles a bunch of random function calls in places where they
logically really don't belong. The stage opening animation then adds a bunch
of VRAM inter-page copies that are not only redundant but can't even be
understood without knowing the hidden internal state of the last VRAM page
accessed by previous ZUN code…
In better news though: Turbo C++ 4.0 really doesn't seem to have any
complexity limit on inlining arithmetic expressions, as long as they only
operate on compile-time constants. That's how we get macro-free,
compile-time Shift-JIS to JIS X 0208 conversion of the individual code
points in the 東方★靈異伝 string, in a compiler from 1994. As long as you
don't store any intermediate results in variables, that is…
But wait, there's more! With still ¼ of a push left, I also went for the
boss defeat animation, which includes the route selection after the SinGyoku
As in all other instances, the 2× scaled font is accomplished by first
rendering the text at regular 1× resolution to the other, invisible VRAM
page, and then scaled from there to the visible one. However, the route
selection is unique in that its scaled text is both drawn transparently on
top of the stage background (not onto a black one), and can also change
colors depending on the selection. It would have been no problem to unblit
and reblit the text by rendering the 1× version to a position on the
invisible VRAM page that isn't covered by the 2× version on the visible one,
but ZUN (needlessly) clears the invisible page before rendering any text.
Instead, he assigned a separate VRAM color for both
the 魔界 and 地獄 options, and only changed the palette value for
these colors to white or gray, depending on the correct selection. This is
another one of the
📝 rare cases where TH01 demonstrates good use of PC-98 hardware,
as the 魔界へ and 地獄へ strings don't need to be reblitted during the selection process, only the Orb "cursor" does.
Then, why does this still not count as good-code? When
changing palette colors, you kinda need to be aware of everything
else that can possibly be on screen, which colors are used there, and which
aren't and can therefore be used for such an effect without affecting other
sprites. In this case, well… hover over the image below, and notice how
Reimu's hair and the bomb sprites in the HUD light up when Makai is
This push did end on a high note though, with the generic, non-SinGyoku
version of the defeat animation being an easily parametrizable copy. And
that's how you decompile another 2.58% of TH01 in just slightly over three
Now, we're not only ready to decompile Sariel, but also Kikuri, Elis, and
SinGyoku without needing any more detours into non-boss code. Thanks to the
current TH01 funding subscriptions, I can plan to cover most, if not all, of
Sariel in a single push series, but the currently 3 pending pushes probably
won't suffice for Sariel's 8.10% of all remaining code in TH01. We've got
quite a lot of not specifically TH01-related funds in the backlog to pass
the time though.
Due to recent developments, it actually makes quite a lot of sense to take a
break from TH01: spaztron64 has
managed what every Touhou download site so far has failed to do: Bundling
all 5 game onto a single .HDI together with pre-configured PC-98
emulators and a nice boot menu, and hosting the resulting package on a
proper website. While this first release is already quite good (and much
better than my attempt from 2014), there is still a bit of room for
improvement to be gained from specific ReC98 research. Next up,
Researching how TH04 and TH05 use EMS memory, together with the cause
behind TH04's crash in Stage 5 when playing as Reimu without an EMS driver
reverse-engineering TH03's score data file format
(YUME.NEM), which hopefully also comes with a way of building a
file that unlocks all characters without any high scores.
And indeed, I got to end my vacation with a lot of image format and
blitting code, covering the final two formats, .GRC and .BOS. .GRC was
nothing noteworthy – one function for loading, one function for
byte-aligned blitting, and one function for freeing memory. That's it –
not even a unblitting function for this one. .BOS, on the other hand…
…has no generic (read: single/sane) implementation, and is only
implemented as methods of some boss entity class. And then again for
Sariel's dress and wand animations, and then again for Reimu's
animations, both of which weren't even part of these 4 pushes. Looking
forward to decompiling essentially the same algorithms all over again… And
that's how TH01 became the largest and most bloated PC-98 Touhou game. So
yeah, still not done with image formats, even at 44% RE.
This means I also had to reverse-engineer that "boss entity" class… yeah,
what else to call something a boss can have multiple of, that may or may
not be part of a larger boss sprite, may or may not be animated, and that
may or may not have an orb hitbox?
All bosses except for Kikuri share the same 5 global instances of this
class. Since renaming all these variables in ASM land is tedious anyway, I
went the extra mile and directly defined separate, meaningful names for
the entities of all bosses. These also now document the natural order in
which the bosses will ultimately be decompiled. So, unless a backer
requests anything else, this order will be:
(code for regular card-flipping stages)
As everyone kind of expects from TH01 by now, this class reveals yet
another… um, unique and quirky piece of code architecture. In
addition to the position and hitbox members you'd expect from a class like
this, the game also stores the .BOS metadata – width, height, animation
frame count, and 📝 bitplane pointer slot
number – inside the same class. But if each of those still corresponds to
one individual on-screen sprite, how can YuugenMagan have 5 eye sprites,
or Kikuri have more than one soul and tear sprite? By duplicating that
metadata, of course! And copying it from one entity to another
At this point, I feel like I even have to congratulate the game for not
actually loading YuugenMagan's eye sprites 5 times. But then again, 53,760
bytes of waste would have definitely been noticeable in the DOS days.
Makes much more sense to waste that amount of space on an unused C++
exception handler, and a bunch of redundant, unoptimized blitting
(Thinking about it, YuugenMagan fits this entire system perfectly. And
together with its position in the game's code – last to be decompiled
means first on the linker command line – we might speculate that
YuugenMagan was the first boss to be programmed for TH01?)
So if a boss wants to use sprites with different sizes, there's no way
around using another entity. And that's why Girl-Elis and Bat-Elis are two
distinct entities internally, and have to manually sync their position.
Except that there's also a third one for Attacking-Girl-Elis,
because Girl-Elis has 9 frames of animation in total, and the global .BOS
bitplane pointers are divided into 4 slots of only 8 images each.
Same for SinGyoku, who is split into a sphere entity, a
person entity, and a… white flash entity for all three forms,
all at the same resolution. Or Konngara's facial expressions, which also
require two entities just for themselves.
And once you decompile all this code, you notice just how much of it the
game didn't even use. 13 of the 50 bytes of the boss entity class are
outright unused, and 10 bytes are used for a movement clamping and lock
system that would have been nice if ZUN also used it outside of
Kikuri's soul sprites. Instead, all other bosses ignore this system
completely, and just
the X/Y coordinates of the boss entities directly.
As for the rendering functions, 5 out of 10 are unused. And while those
definitely make up less than half of the code, I still must have
spent at least 1 of those 4 pushes on effectively unused functionality.
Only one of these functions lends itself to some speculation. For Elis'
entrance animation, the class provides functions for wavy blitting and
unblitting, which use a separate X coordinate for every line of the
sprite. But there's also an unused and sort of broken one for unblitting
two overlapping wavy sprites, located at the same Y coordinate. This might
indicate that Elis could originally split herself into two sprites,
similar to TH04 Stage 6 Yuuka? Or it might just have been some other kind
of animation effect, who knows.
After over 3 months of TH01 progress though, it's finally time to look at
other games, to cover the rest of the crowdfunding backlog. Next up: Going
back to TH05, and getting rid of those last PI false positives. And since
I can potentially spend the next 7 weeks on almost full-time ReC98 work,
I've also re-opened the store until October!