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Discussion about software development for the old-school Gameboys, ranging from the "Gray brick" to Gameboy Color
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#1 2021-12-02 02:22:57

New member
Registered: 2021-11-30
Posts: 1

Stance on game disassemblies

Hi all,

I've been reverse engineering some Sachen titles and should shortly have complete disassemblies for at least two titles, with more to follow depending on how lazy I am. These files are RGBDS compatible assembler files which assemble back into binaries identical to the ROMs I've based them on.

I was wondering firstly if there was any interest in these (the games are pretty niche\obscure), and secondly what the general process was for posting them on the internet given that the games still more than likely fall under copyright protection.

At present I'd be inclined to post them as-is, as I feel that given the games age, that fact that it's been decades since they were sold commercially, and Sachen has long since ceased to exist, the risks of legal issues would seem pretty low. There also seem to be a number of presumably unofficial disassembly projects around for titles released by more prominent/main-stream companies which seem to have escaped the wrath of the legal system.

Just to be clear, I am not seeking binding legal advice. I am just trying to work out where the community stands on this, as the retro gaming community in general has wide-ranging views, which are often strongly held. So rather than post links to them and potentially be ostracized, it seemed prudent to check first.




#2 2022-01-05 12:45:43

New member
Registered: 2021-12-25
Posts: 9

Re: Stance on game disassemblies

I'm new to Gameboy homebrew, but I can imagine one group that is very interested in reverse engineering GB roms: Analogue Pocket owners.

Until there's a jailbreak, the only way to load a rom directly from the Pocket's SD card is if it's in ".pocket" format. The only official software to export .pocket files is GB Studio, but people have been able to port some commercial GB roms to .pocket.

As a whole, the people who think games should be owned and played on original hardware are probably less than 1% of all people who play retro games. But they are the loudest, and often most defensive and many get upset at the mention of emulating. There's an argument that you're not getting the original experience and input lag. But, original experience might be an objective quality and input lag is a non-issue for most any retro system, nowadays.

The publishers aren't making any money on these old roms and, if they're trying to, like Nintendo, they're usually doing a piss-poor job of it and being extremely greedy about it. If you buy an original cartridge, you're not supporting the developers or publishers—whom many of whichay not even still be alive, just another collector. The cartridge will eventually die. Data is forever and essentially free, in this case.

I say go for it. Like you said, the company dissolved, so there may not actually be any concrete copyright held. It is essentially abandonware. This scene isn't a big enough target for lawyers, anyway.

Last edited by kfmush (2022-01-05 12:46:17)



#3 2022-01-05 20:11:46

Registered: 2021-02-18
Posts: 27

Re: Stance on game disassemblies

Given the activity regarding N64 de compilations (e.g. Mario64 and Zelda) and also given that there is a GB Zelda disassembly hosted on GitHub, I can see a certain interest and appreciation by the community.



#4 2022-01-07 23:43:08

Registered: 2008-02-22
Posts: 241

Re: Stance on game disassemblies

One way around the legal issue would be to just provide the tooling for creating a disassembly from a ROM file provided by the user. For example, mattcurrie's mgbdis allows you to provide a symbol file with labels for addresses, and a hint to the disassembler that a given portion of the file is for example code or data. This way, you are only providing metadata and not any copyrighted material, which means you should be relatively safe legally speaking.

That said, I wouldn't worry at all regarding posting disassemblies of Sachen games. I would also be personally interested in seeing these.

Blog: Gameboy Genius
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