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New Music Discovered In Donkey Kong For Arcade 74

First time accepted submitter furrykef . writes Over 33 years have passed since Donkey Kong first hit arcades, but it still has new surprises. I was poking through the game in a debugger when I discovered that the game contains unused music and voice clips. One of the tunes would have been played when you rescued Pauline, and two others are suggestive of deleted cutscenes. In addition, Pauline was originally meant to speak. In one clip she says something unintelligible, but it may be "Hey!", "Nice!", or "Thanks!". The other is clearly a cry for help.
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New Music Discovered In Donkey Kong For Arcade

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  • Unused site (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2014 @11:31PM (#48174223)

    -- for immediate release

    Over 14 years have passed since Slashdot first hit the Web, but it still has new suprises. I was poking through the website when I discovered that the website contains an unused parallel site called "", every article having a beta and a non-beta version. Is this article supersymmetry? The website's design lets it look like like it is a cry for help in designing the page.

  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Friday October 17, 2014 @11:39PM (#48174261) Homepage like using a steam engine to power a car. It's clunky, inefficient, and outmoded.

    WHY??????? HTML5 can play audio directly.

    • HTML5 probably wasn't much of a thing when tcrf added the plugin, and I assume they just haven't gotten around to updating it yet. Plus they probably still want some compatibility with stone age browsers.
      • Also, I don't see anything about a Java plugin. In my browser it seems to be using JavaScript, not Java.
    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

      If you View Source, you'll see that they do, in fact, use an <audio> tag. They also have a JavaScript library that replaces it with an HTML GUI. I guess if it detects your browser is old enough to not support HTML5, it goes with a Java applet instead.

      So... update your browser?

      • Most likely ZorinLynx uses Safari or IExploder, as the files are encoded as ogg, and those two browsers are the only ones not supporting ogg.

        They can install a codec plugin though. [] []

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          Holy crap - someone is stil flogging that dead horse known as ogg? I thought it was 2014, not 2004!

          • Vorbis might be a dead horse (it isn't), but opus really is king. Its MTI codec for WebRTC not without reason.

          • by sound+vision ( 884283 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @07:44AM (#48175323) Journal
            Ogg Vorbis certainly isn't dead - development has slowed in the past 5-7 years, due to the codec reaching maturity, but it remains the best choice for an open audio codec in the transparent bit rate range (100 kb/s+).
            Recently, Opus has taken a clear advantage at lower bit rates and in applications that need ultra-low-latency encoding, like video conferencing. But there is really no excuse for these browsers not to include Vorbis support. From the point of view of someone needing to encode content, Vorbis has the additional advantage of being much more widely-supported vs. Opus, oversights in these minor browsers notwithstanding.
            • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

              And, bringing it right back around to video games, Ogg Vorbis is apparently used in a ton of video game engines. Something about it not requiring a license and being better at looping than MP3s. I'm unclear on the technical merits, but apparently there are still technical merits that make it a good choice for video games above and beyond the "no license fee" thing.

              I know that the Unreal Engine started using Vorbis a long time ago, and from their API docs [], it looks like they still do, along with Opus.

              • It's not just video games either, Vorbis support has had time to penetrate deeply in many places, where its not immediately obvious, or listed on the spec sheet. DVD players, car stereos, lots of 'MP3' players (once again excepting Apple, they typically push their proprietary stuff). Basically anywhere that someone needed audio compression and didn't want to shell out to Fraunhofer for a license.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      and neither work

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      But does it work with real audio files?

    • by machine321 ( 458769 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @11:26AM (#48175961)

      WHY??????? HTML5 can play audio directly.

      Duh, they didn't have HTML5 when Donkey Kong came out.

    • It doesn't use Java for me (no Java but I can play the sounds). Maybe you've done something to cause that.
  • There's a secret Yoko Ono tune on the buried ET cartridges.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I thought you said "treasure", not "weapon"

      • This business of replying to your own posts to take swipes at Yoko Ono is getting a bit old.

        The Beatles were going to split up no matter who the guys were married to.

        John's been dead for 30+ years.

        I think it's been enough time that you can move on, or at least back to your "OOP is madness" madness.

  • by Myria ( 562655 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @02:41AM (#48174687)

    As another example, in January 2013, I discovered a cheat code in the SNES RPG Breath of Fire 1 that allows you to create a save file at a few key locations in the story. This cheat code sat hidden for about 20 years, and it wasn't until I came along and reverse engineered the game that it showed up.

    Link to it: click me []. Sorry for the quality; it is a really difficult thing to record when your only recording device is an iPad and there was nobody home at the time. Not to mention how hard it is to do that controller sequence and record with only two hands.

    • Yes, but everyone has heard of Donkey Kong. Nobody has ever heard of that obscure title you just mentioned.
    • by ildon ( 413912 )

      You could also just describe the controller sequence here in text rather than link to it in a Youtube video.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @03:16AM (#48174761) Homepage Journal

    Congratulation !
    If you analyse
    Difficult this program,
    We would
    Teach you

    • Sorry to nitpick, but MIDI has nothing to do with this. Game music (other than on computers like PCs and Macs) was rarely ever stored as MIDI until the 32-bit era.
    • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @05:56AM (#48175091)

      By putting the caps like that, you make it look like they thought each of those was a sentence.

      Here's direct from the binary (c_5k_b.bin). It uses byte aligned 8 bit ASCII, which is not super common back then, but it was the actual standard. (and still is!)
      This is UNIQUE, however- the REST of the file uses binary 0x00 (null) to map to numeral zero, up to 0x09 for numeral 9, then 0x0A for A, 0x10 for G, etc. That means that unlike all the other text in the game, this was rendered in ASCII, in another language, and burned to the ROM just so that maybe some hacker, somewhere, would answer their call- or at least feel cool.

      It is most properly rendered:


      The string begins with a null character. It has two spaces after "ANALYSE" and "THIS", and four spaces after the telephone 2141, and three spaces after the 304 and the "SYSTEM DESIGN". The entirety of it is exactly 160 bytes. There are no line feeds or other characters.

      So, no, they did NOT type:

      "If you analyse
      Difficult this program,"

      This represents around 1% of their total space on their final shipped product. 1% of their product to put this call in a foreign language to hackers across the world. Granted, Donkey Kong has a bit of spare space in the ROM, but... still.

      • The real question is: Why would there be a message from "Ikegami Co." when Donkey Kong was clearly made by Nintendo?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by furrykef . ( 3880941 )
          Because it wasn't made by Nintendo -- at least, it wasn't programmed by them. Ikegami did most if not all of the programming for the game. But Nintendo designed and distributed the game. This became a sticky issue when Nintendo used this code as the basis for Donkey Kong Jr. without consulting Ikegami. Ikegami claimed copyright infringement and sued. They settled out of court, but it's possible that Ikegami still owns the rights to the code. This doesn't apply to the NES version or other ports, because the
        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          Because they wrote the program, of course.

      • Well, did you phone the number?
      • by ildon ( 413912 )

        The entirety of it is exactly 160 bytes.

        Just slightly too long to be a tweet.

  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @03:17AM (#48174763) Homepage Journal
    Carl Mueller, Jr. discovered these when he reverse engineered Donkey Kong a few years ago. He implemented them in his clone for the Intellivision, [] also. I believe he had had blog posts about these, but I can't find them.
  • Seriously, this is fucking metal. Aces link.

    The Pauline scream is great, and the lost melodies are amazing. A lost section of Nintendo history? What a prize. A view into the hearts of those inspired to make an amazing game, a secret buried all these years. Impressive.

    Though much older (and not part of this story), the long lost line hidden from Ikegami:


    Made chills go through my spine. Hacker ethos full charge, mothafuggas!

    I had ne

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @06:31AM (#48175159)

    Donkey Kong uses discrete analog components for its sound and its hardware is documented both through the schematics and the MAME driver implementation of said discrete sound.

    • by furrykef . ( 3880941 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @07:27AM (#48175277)
      Actually, very little of the game's sound output uses the discrete logic. It's used for Mario walking, Mario jumping, and the boom sound used at various points (when Mario gets hit, DK pounds his chest, etc.). That's it. Everything else uses an i8035. The i8035 is a standard Intel microcontroller with no native sound capabilities; it only runs a program (in this case a 4K ROM). They hooked up one of its output pins to a DAC, and the music and other sound effects are generated through that DAC. It was in the middle of playing around with the i8035 code in the debugger, trying to reverse engineer the code, that I wound up making it play one of the unused tunes and discovered the game's hidden content. Some of MAME's documentation was immensely useful in giving me a starting point for my disassembly, but that's all it did.
  • I feel like Sheldon invited for a spaghetti and hot dogs...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Big Bang Theory is blackface for nerds. If you make a joke about that shitty show here, you should be banned for life.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.