Tomohiro Kawase might've been hired by Nintendo to put ROM headers into VC [Updated Dec. 1, 2018]

Nov 17, 2017
3,781
#1
Update (December 1, 2018):


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Update (October 12, 2018):


and Follow-up 3: https://www.resetera.com/posts/13741800/

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Update (October 10, 2018):

Follow-up 2: https://www.resetera.com/posts/13673051/

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Update (October 9, 2018):

See this post: https://www.resetera.com/posts/13593223/

Follow-up: https://www.resetera.com/posts/13620946/


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Source:

https://www.reddit.com/r/emulation/comments/9as2ii/did_nintendo_actually_download_roms_for_their/

Source of the controversy:

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/...o-download-a-mario-rom-and-sell-it-back-to-us

Source of references:


Apparently, someone did research on the subject where Nintendo was speculated to be reselling downloaded NES ROMs for the Virtual Console service. What that person found was a slew of rabbit hole, which led to the finding of Tomohiro Kawase, a once-freelancer who worked on NES emulators, before being hired by Nintendo to work on Animal Crossing, and may be the possible link of origins of the NES header notably found in Virtual Consoles, as reported by EuroGamer.

The header EuroGamer has reported on, is the same iNES header used in the referenced link.

Tomohiro Kawase was the sound engineer of iNES 0.7.

It's a plausibility, to say the least, but it's interesting enough to share here.
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
3,372
#8
I’m very curious to know how well their NES library is preserved. I wouldn’t doubt that the source code is lost for some titles and they had to rely on this type of reverse engineering.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,637
#9
I find it funny that people think Nintendo need to download a rom from the Internet to repackage their old games for the NES Classic.
Nintendo is the same company that have preserved the design documents for Super Mario Bros., they know perfectly that all the back catalogue games they have created in the last 35 years is a precious asset of the company.

The presence of iNes header in the roms was never a conclusive proof that Nintendo downloaded such roms from the Internet.
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
888
#10
https://www.reddit.com/r/emulation/comments/9as2ii/did_nintendo_actually_download_roms_for_their/

Original Post on Reddit said:
This is all I can offer, it's pure conjecture, but I do still find it a valid possibility regardless. It would be cool to get more information.
I think this is potentially much less than what it is being made out to be.

For those who might not be aware the header is 16 bytes long. It describes the size of the rom and what mappers are used, that's it. It originated from the emulation and rom sharing scene of the 90s and early 2000s.

https://wiki.nesdev.com/w/index.php/INES

It isn't some esoteric thing that only a small number of people understood, Marat Fayzullin first published details about the header on his site back in 1996. If you downloaded a nes rom from the Internet or someone shared one with you the chances were that it came with the header. From memory I think if you didn't have a header on your file it would still work at the time in emulators like Nesticle, but you might have had to specify what mapper it used if it didn't work straight away.

Tying it back to Kawase is a bit of a leap. Sure he could have been the guy that downloaded them, but it similarly could have been anyone else working on the project at the time.

Although it might be seen as a bit of a surprising thing for Nintendo to do, it was pretty common for emulator developers to take up work with hardware manufacturers and software developers. Aaron Giles worked on MAME and commercial Playstation Emulator VGS before going on to work for Microsoft on Windows and Hyper-V.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,246
#11
Yeah, the evidence that Nintendo actually downloaded the ROM from a piracy site has always been pretty circumstantial. Absent any other identifying characteristics, there's nothing to really say they didn't just reuse an existing header format.

People just generally don't discuss this possibility because this is usually only brought up when people are trying to make Nintendo look like hypocrites.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,115
#12
Yeah, the evidence that Nintendo actually downloaded the ROM from a piracy site has always been pretty circumstantial. Absent any other identifying characteristics, there's nothing to really say they didn't just reuse an existing header format.

People just generally don't discuss this possibility because this is usually only brought up when people are trying to make Nintendo look like hypocrites.
I felt the reason of the issue was that Nintendo didn’t preserve the source files of their own games. Game companies have done this before.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,660
Orlando, FL
#15
I felt the reason of the issue was that Nintendo didn’t preserve the source files of their own games. Game companies have done this before.
Sure, but we don't actually know that Nintendo lost anything. They could have had their own library of images, perfectly preserved, and then for the sake of Virtual Console and other projects packaged into a now well-documented format. We have no way of knowing one way or the other, and the possibility is really nothing more than an interesting footnote that's been blown way out of proportion.

The main reason why it's stupid is that people latched onto this hypothetical scenario when the much more heinous act was right in front of their faces and fully confirmed. Despite years of attempting to curtail emulators and their continued development, Nintendo themselves are profiting on these formats developed by enthusiasts while still actively taking measures that harm game preservation. That needs to be the real take away from this, not that Nintendo may have downloaded an image they already own.
 
Oct 29, 2017
1,881
#18
I really doubt that Nintendo hasn’t been archiving everything, based on what we know about them. They still have the physical, original design documents from the development of Super Mario Bros; they kept multiple versions of the ROM (alpha, beta and final) of the unreleased Starfox 2, they even went out of their way to make a master, final ROM of a game that they had no intention of ever releasing, that they made purely for archival purposes (and to keep for a rainy day).

They even had the frickin’ Sky Skipper international version ROM! A game that has NEVER been released, or even leaked online at all!

And yet people seem to think that they wouldn’t have a ROM of Super Mario Bros to hand...
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
1,830
London, UK
#20
I really doubt that Nintendo hasn’t been archiving everything, based on what we know about them. They still have the physical, original design documents from the development of Super Mario bros; they kept multiple versions of the ROM (alpha, beta and final) of the unreleased Starfox 2, they even went out of their way to make a master, final ROM of a game that they had no intention of ever releasing, that they made purely for archival purposes (and to keep for a rainy day).

They even had the frickin’ Sky Skipper international version ROM! A game that has NEVER been released, or even leaked online at all!

And yet people seem to think that they wouldn’t have a ROM of Super Mario Bros to hand...
Didn’t the Sky Skipper international ROM come from Nintendo of America? They still have the original working arcade machine in their basement.
 

Amiibola

Banned
Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,255
#22
Well, Nintendo won't let me download the games I own from the internet, so they shouldn't be doing it either.
Uuuuuhhh what?

You understand that they are the owners of the original code, right?

They can do whatever they want, either dumping it themselves or getting it from a warez page, it's exactly the same

This is just antagonizing for the sake of it.
 

Amiibola

Banned
Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,255
#25
And stopping game preservation isn't?
I can still find full romsets within the first page of a google search.

If you ask me, this is getting blown out of proportion, the only pages affected have been the most popular ones, and some like emuparadise took down their downloads willingly before they got told anything
 
Last edited:
Oct 29, 2017
1,881
#30
Didn’t the Sky Skipper international ROM come from Nintendo of America? They still have the original working arcade machine in their basement.
It did, the ROM came from that very arcade machine in fact. Hardly something that they just downloaded from the internet.

NOA archive their own ROMS as well as NCL (and presumably NOE as well; stands to reason that it would be standard practice there if the other two braches do it). They had the Earthbound Beginnings ROM after all (in fact, it leaked from them to begin with). There's also evidence to suggest that the Zelda Master Quest ROM and the debug OoT ROM that was leaked came from NOA as well (NST to be exact).

There's also evidence to suggest that Nintendo is pretty good about keeping actual source code as well. Wind Waker HD was made from the original source code and wasn't reverse engineered. How do we know this? Because the parts of the game that were originally FMV cutscenes (made with the in-game engine and assets) were recreated with realtime, in-game code in the HD re-release. Something that would be impossible if the source code and files were lost.

Likewise, OoT 3D and MM 3D are built on top of the original N64 code (they're basically enhanced ports, using the original source code as a base; not that dissimilar to the Perfect Dark remaster on Xbox 360). Same goes for the 3D Classics series on 3DS. They are native ports, NOT emulation.

That being said, Nintendo have lost stuff before... There's evidence to suggest that Link's Awakening DX was made through reverse engineering a final release ROM of the original Link's Awakening, rather than going back to the old source code; implying that they lost the source code for the original B&W version of LA.
 
Last edited:
Oct 26, 2017
706
Videoland
#32
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on a Gamecube, unlocked by syncing a completed Metroid Fusion save file to the game using a link cable.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which lacks a header entirely, starting with the "*NINTENDO-HVC*" text that is normally used by the FDS bios to verify that it's a legit disk image, the NES emulation community didn't start using standardized headers for FDS games until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D lacks the standardized "FDS" header used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
 
Last edited:
Oct 28, 2017
3,513
texas
#34
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on your Gamecube or GBA.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
Pretty cool!
 
Oct 25, 2017
822
Florida
#35
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on your Gamecube or GBA.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
Excellent research, thank you! I’ll keep an eye out for your video series!
 
#37
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on a Gamecube, unlocked by syncing a completed Metroid Fusion save file to the game using a link cable.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
Thanks for the update! Absolutely fascinating read.
 
May 18, 2018
248
#38
What baffles me is that, given the advanced technology of the systems where the VC is available, Nintendo still uses 1:1 emulation, enabling jarring graphical glitches like the ones in the Megaman games.

Still, great find OP!
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,127
São Paulo
#39
That's awesome! AndreGX , I think you guys would love this story!

Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on a Gamecube, unlocked by syncing a completed Metroid Fusion save file to the game using a link cable.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,659
#42
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on a Gamecube, unlocked by syncing a completed Metroid Fusion save file to the game using a link cable.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
Very interesting. Do you know what the headers for VC FDS games are like?
 
Oct 26, 2017
706
Videoland
#43
Frank Cifaldi responsible for fake news :/
Just to get this out of the way in case it suddenly becomes a major news story in the gaming world, i'm actually not particularly angry at him, he's done a lot of genuine archival work dating all the way back to 2003 by preserving prototypes at Lost Levels, and he's one of the main inspirations for why i started doing this type of work myself.

It's clear his claim was a genuine mistake that just so happened to be heavily spread around thanks to Nintendo's notoriously litigious stance on piracy sites, i'd imagine he was super busy working on founding the Game History Foundation and making projects at Digital Eclipse, leaving him without the time to verify this small claim out of an hour long talk.

Very interesting. Do you know what the headers for VC FDS games are like?
Unfortunately, no. vcromclaim is completely unable to extract FDS titles, and i can't find any info on if i could do it with the ones available on 3DS or Wii U.

Edit: i forgot that i could just open the extracted "00000001.app" file (Specifically, i went with Super Mario Bros 2.) in a hex editor and see the rom data through there, (Albeit without gaining proper access to the rom itself) and it turns out that it does indeed start with the same "*NINTENDO-HVC*" text that Clu Clu Land D has in Animal Crossing.
 
Last edited:
Oct 31, 2017
380
Andalusia
#44
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on a Gamecube, unlocked by syncing a completed Metroid Fusion save file to the game using a link cable.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
Thanks for this write up, very interesting.
 
Oct 25, 2017
11,648
Brazil
#46
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on a Gamecube, unlocked by syncing a completed Metroid Fusion save file to the game using a link cable.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
That's a great post.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,267
Nintendo Land
#49
Bumping because i decided to do some research of my own (I'm working on a video series about the history of the three console manufacturers attempts at backwards compatibility/emulation re-releases over the years.)

First off, calling Tomohiro Kawase the "Animal Crossing emulator" developer is a bit of an understatement. He (Alongside Hideaki Shimizu.) actually handled a lot of emulation projects for Nintendo. His first role at the company was making the "GB Tower" mode in Pokemon Stadium, which was effectively a Game Boy emulator that could run the 1st gen (2nd gen in Stadium 2/GS) mainline Pokemon games by inserting their carts into the transfer pak.

In fact, almost all of his work at Nintendo revolves around emulation.
Pretty much everything he's credited for involves it in some form, he's listed for "Connectivity Programming" in Metroid Prime (Which allowed you to play the NES Metroid on a Gamecube, unlocked by syncing a completed Metroid Fusion save file to the game using a link cable.) "engineering" on the Zelda Collector's Edition disc (Which was a compilation of NES and N64 games running on an emulator.) and even the "NES Emulator Programmer" on the E-reader.
(About 1:24 in if the timestamp doesn't work.)

So it's highly likely he was indeed hired for working on iNES.

As for the header situation, here's what i discovered.

The first thing i did was extract the Super Mario Bros ROM from Animal Crossing, a fairly easy task, as all the NES emulator content is conveniently stored in a single compressed file named "famicom.arc", which is then in turn stored as a bunch of ".szs" files. Using ARCtool and Uwizard in that order did the trick. Giving us a unnamed 41kb file.


(before and after extraction, note that the ".nes" was added myself to make sure it could run on an emulator, as noted, the file was completely unnamed when i extracted it.)
After verifying said unnamed file was indeed Super Mario Bros by using an NES emulator. I then acquired the Virtual Console version of Super Mario Bros. Thankfully, there's a tool known "vcromclaim" that completely automates the process of extracting VC titles, so i used that.

This worked, but there's one problem. The file size is incorrect! Super Mario Bros is a 41kb game, while my dump turned it into 320kb. Fortunately, fixing it was pretty easy, it turns out VCromclaim grabbed a bunch of text and data from the VC emulator and appended it to the end of the rom. After chopping that out, the file size was fixed to the correct size of 41kb.

and the result of doing a comparison after this?

Yep, the Virtual Console ROM does in fact originate from Animal Crossing. iNES header and all. In fact, all of the NES games in Animal Crossing have it, with the notable exception of Clu Clu Land D, which appears to use a completely custom "*NINTENDO-HVC*" header due to it being a Disk System title, which didn't start having standardized headers until around November 1998 with the release of the fwnes emulator. About 3 months after the release of Pokemon Stadium, Tomohiro Kawase's first project at Nintendo.

I feel like the most logical conclusion here is this.
  1. Nintendo discovers iNES and, rather than sending a C&D, hunts down one of the devs and hires him to help implement a Game Boy emulator into Pokemon Stadium (Not to be confused with the US/EU release of the game, which is actually a sequel in Japan), released in 1998.
  2. Animal Crossing starts development on the Nintendo 64DD, at some point the decision was made to add playable NES games to it. So the team brought Tomohiro on board due to his experience with the hardware.
  3. With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
and that's basically everything you need to know about the subject.
Wow this is really cool...

That's awesome! AndreGX , I think you guys would love this story!
...and this isn’t. Come on man, he clearly said he’s making his own video.
 
#50
With Tomohiro's help, the NES games are dumped internally for the game, most likely using the same tech the iNES team used, leading to the header issue. The fact that Clu Clu Land D uses a custom header instead of the standardized "FDS" one used by the emulation community at that point outright confirms they didn't "download the roms off the internet".
All interesting stuff, but this is indeed the big one. Be sure to create a thread when the video series is ready for public consumption.