Monday, January 12, 2015

Dezaemon (FC) Game Guide

Dezaemon (FC)
Beginner's Guide

by nesmaster14

Dezaemon is a Famicom game released in 1991 by Athena Co. LTD.  It only saw a release in Japan, so it's largely unknown to western audiences.  Dezaemon is the first in a series of "Shoot 'em up construction kits", and is a solid effort for the limited 8-bit console.  Perhaps one problem hindering its broader appeal is the lack of English documentation, which can be essential in mastering this relatively intricate game.

Dezaemon features a full graphics and sound editor, as well as the ability to save via battery back-up.  Dezaemon uses a special SXROM mapper for saving, which as of current, has issues on emulators and flash devices (the game will run, but saving via SRAM does not work).

Update - I've made a patch which fixes that issue, available here:
Dezaemon SRAM Fix

 If you're armed with an original copy or just running on emulator, without further ado, let's dive into Dezaemon on Famicom:

Dezaemon Navigation/Interface

Here is an English translation of the Dezaemon Main Menu:
Image Map

Dezaemon Menus Explained:

[1] Gameplay menu:

Self explanatory!  

3 options -
 "Game Play" - Play the game you created
"Edit Mode" - Edit the game you created
"Sample Game" - Play the sample game built-in to the cartridge.

[2] Ship/Bullets/Power-ups menu:
The ship design area with the built-in sample game sprites loaded.

Here is where the creation starts, the editor interface! The editors are largely the same throughout, but each have a few different parts.   This one, specifically, for the Ship/Bullets/Power-ups sprites.

Controls -
- "GET" - gets the selection.  This is how you GET a color to use, GET a sprite, as well as draw on the canvas.
- "PUT" - puts the selection. After you draw something, you can PUT it into the tile selector (press A in the tile area you choose).  Think of this like the PASTE command on Windows.
START - this will exit the screen without saving (skips the exit/save dialogue).  *Make sure to save before pressing the start button if you've just created something new!

The Interface
It's composed of 4 areas:
Drawing Area (draw the sprite)
The editor consists of a 16x16 pixel canvas/drawing area, this is where you draw your sprites.

Tile Selector Area (select the sprite)
To the far right of the drawing area is the tile selector, this is where the sprites you made are placed.  *note - for this menu, the spots are reserved for certain sprites, for example "CHR [1]" is for the ship sprites only, etc..

1) Ship Sprite (with 3 animations)
2-4) Ship Bullets (each with 3 levels of power)
5) Shield (3 levels of power)
6-7) Power-ups (6 total)
8) Boss/Enemy Bullets
9) Explosions

Command Area (manipulate the sprite)
Arrows - move sprite around in canvas.  Double Arrows flip the sprite, horizontally or vertically, respectively.
Rotating Arrows - rotates the sprite 90 degrees.
"P" - fill canvas with selected color.
"A" -  animate sprite
"LOAD" - loads your previously saved designs
"S/LD" - Sample LoaD, loads the built-in sample game designs (great for reference!)
"EXIT" - exits the editor
"CLS" - CLear Screen, clears the drawing area.

Palette Area (choose sprite colors)
 This is where you choose the colors for your designs.  There are 2 palettes, each consisting of 4 colors (1 is transparent).  The up/down arrows cycle through the palette colors.

[3] Level/Enemy Design menu (the bulk of the game):
Now you've got your main ship/bullets/power-ups done, it's time to make a level with enemies!

Pictured below is the Level Editor menu for Level 1.  There are 3 different levels you can make.  To make Level 2, or 3, you select them from the main menu under Level Design.  This is where you'll spend most of your time, the meat and potatoes of the game if you will.

Here is a translation of the Level Editor:

1) Choose the palette/colors for your enemies.

2) Design a small 16x16 enemy
4 different enemies, each with 4 frames of animation.
Notice that now on the enemy design screen there is a new section below the sprites. This is the enemy attributes portion.

Enemy Attributes
This is where you can adjust the attacks/hit-points/ and other attributes of the enemies.  Here is what the abbreviations mean:

ANM - Animation frames (4 = show all 4 frames, 1 = still object)
SCR - Score (points received for defeating enemy)
HAD - (Hit-points, higher = tougher enemy)
SPD - Speed of enemy (4= idle, 1= fast)
MOV - Movement pattern of enemy (16 options, see chart below for patterns)
FIR - Fire pattern of enemy (16 options, see chart below for patterns)
FNP - Amount of bullets enemy fires quickly (255 = bullet hell!)

3) Design a medium/miniboss 32x32 enemy 
4 tiles (2x2) which composes 1 medium-sized/mini-boss enemy. No animation.

Same navigation as above, but bigger sprite.

4)  Design a large/boss 48x48 enemy
9 tiles (3x3) which composes 1 large-sized/boss enemy.  No animation

Same as above but with the biggest sprite.

Chart of Enemy Movement and Attack Patterns
As mentioned above, the enemies' movement and fire patterns are adjusted using the MOV/FIR attributes.  
*Note - Large/Medium enemies have a different movement pattern table than Small enemies.  All enemies use the same FIR attribute table though.
(click image for full size)

5) Draw the scenery objects for your level
16 tiles to create whatever scenery you like.

6)  Place the scenery objects into your level
Here is where you place the scenery objects you created. 
  • The objects are laid out at the bottom of the screen.  Simply click and place them into your level using the B button. 
  •  The arrows scroll the map up/down.
  •  The top arrows scrolls in large increments, the bottom arrows scrolls in small increments

7) Design the layout of the enemies for your level

Here is where you place the enemies you created into your level.
(works just like scenery editor above)

* Helpful tip * - You can use a turbo controller to speed up the tile placing/erasing process.

8) Select the music for this stage
(Choose one of 3 songs)
9) Exit the editor to main menu

[4]  Title Design menu:

Here is where you make the title screen for your game!  It consists of a 7x2 tile area, or 112x32 pixels.

[5] Credits Design menu:

Here is where you make the credits.  8 characters limit.  Navigate using the arrows.  "B" button places the letter, "A" button erases the letter.

[6] Level Test
This is where you can play-test through a level that you made.   You can select between levels 1,2 and 3.  This is great for debugging. 

[7] Music Composer

Last but not least, the music composer!

This is actually a fairly decent music making machine, pre-Mario Paint.  It includes a DPCM drum kit as well as tone and tempo control.

BGM - Selects the background music
1 = Level 1 music
2 = Level 2 music
3 = Level 3 music
4 = Boss Theme music
5 = Credits Screen music
6 = Title Screen music

TEMPO - Selects the tempo
33 different levels, from 20BPM all the way to 900BPM

ToneA - Tone for Square 1 channel (24 options)
ToneB - Tone for Square 2 channel (24 options)

Music Notes - (left to right)
Notes: Half note, Quarter note, Dotted Quarter note, Eighth note, Dotted Eighth note, Sixteenth note.  
Rests: Half rest, Quarter rest, Eighth rest, Dotted Eighth rest, Sixteenth rest
On the far right of the Rests is the Sharp.

Playback (green buttons) - (left to right)
Playback single frame
Stop playing
Play entire song

Bar Editor - 12 measures, divided into 4 instruments:
A> Tone A
B> Tone B
C> Triangle (bass tones)
D> Drum kit

Musical Staff - This is where you place the notes (3 octaves).

If you've skimmed through the entire guide you should have a pretty good understanding of Dezaemon, now the only thing that limits you is your imagination. Enjoy!

It'd be cool to  see what people can make with this fun kit. Feel free to share pics, videos, saves, etc. of your creations!  
New for 2017: The FC Dezaemon Fans forum! A fan community designed for sharing and discussing all things related to Dezaemon on FC.  Any questions, comments, or you want to share your creation, head over to the forums!