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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Monkey Island 2 LeChuck's Revenge - Roland MT32 Falcon ScummVM-LITE Alpha - Atari ST [048] PlayThru

So here is a treat!  Here is 'Monkey Island 2 LeChuck's Revenge' running on an alpha release of a modified version of ScummVM (based on the version 0.6.0) called ScummVM-Lite, running on a stock Atari Falcon030 (Motorola 68030 CPU running at 16MHz) with 14 Megs of RAM.  This port is being done by Anders Granlund; his website can be found here -> 

While the focus of this capture is Monkey Island 2 (MI2), which is also the focus of this software port to the ST, this alpha build of ScummVM-Lite can also run 'Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis' and 'Day of the Tentacle' due to the compatibility of the SCUMM adventure language and engine.  Based on how well these three games work, it might be possible to include the original 'Secret of Monkey Island' in the future as another playable game.  The Atari ST received a port of this title, but that port did not include the MT32 support that was included with the PC version, which is pretty crazy considering the ST had MIDI built in while a PC at the time needed the proper add on cards to achieve the same functionality.

This longplay of MI2 is not tightly put together.  I have not played MI2 the whole way through for a very long time, so playing through the game is sometimes quite clumsy.  And I totally forgot how to deal with a puzzle in LeChuck's Fortress and struggled there for a bit.  I left all of the content in this capture to showcase how well this alpha is already working on the hardware.  I do not really plan on talking about the game itself here. Mainly I am going to talk about the awesome achievements of this port so far!
The goal of this software project is to get Monkey Island 2 running on a stock Atari ST equipped with 4 Megs of RAM. In order to run on an ST, the on-screen colors need to be reduced to a total of 16 colors, from a palette of 512 colors. You can see the results of the color reduction algorithm so far in this video, which is not too bad at all.   
Besides addressing the color pallette issue, another issue the programmer had to resolve is how to deal with the sound on the ST.  The programmer took a few approaches to this issue.  The easiest method, which is used in this longplay, is to use the ST's native MIDI ports and play the music included in the original PC version of the game.  This is what I used to play the music in the game in this video, and it works quite well since there is almost no overhead to the Atari using this method.  The other method currently setup to deal with music, for those that do not have a MIDI device, is to use the ST's YM2149 sound chip, and convert music on the fly to play through the chip.  The main challenge with this method of playback is the YM2149 is limited to 3 sound channels at once, and the music in Monkey Island 2 is usually playing on more channels than that.  I plan on posting a video of the intro of MI2 in the future with the YM music playing in place of the MIDI music. 

More on the ScummVM-Lite package itself:  This alpha release includes a binary for each of the three games that it currently supports.  This binary needs to be placed in the directory on a mass storage device with the PC version of the game to be played.  For 'Fate of Atlantis' and 'Day of the Tentacle', the large audio files included with these games must not be compressed.  When the program is started on the ST, the user is presented with a menu to select how to playback the music.  The choices are 'Off', 'Atari YM' (discussed above), 'General MIDI', and 'Roland MT32'.  The other option before loading the game is to select a device to playback 'Speech & SFX'. Once these selections are made, the game loads up just like it did on numerous platforms when released just about 29 years ago. 
Save points:  While I have not yet tested all of the functionality, ScummVM-Lite appears to support save points.  It also supports the pause game feature available in ScummVM with a press of the spacebar, which pauses both gameplay and music.  I used the pause game feature a few times in this capture.
Music:  With the use of native MIDI on the Falcon, and the natively-supported MT32 MIDI music built into the game, the music support is spot on.  I feel that there are possibly a couple of points the music was not playing and it should have been, but that could have been an issue in the original game, and not an issue of this port at all.
Graphics: While there are places the reduced colors make the game a little more challenging, for the most part the game is very playable as is. 

It might be possible for this port to be modified to detect the Atari Falcon hardware and run the game with the original color palette, similar to how the official ScummVM port can run on 68060 equipped Falcon's with the original colors intact.  While this support would not be any help to an ST, STe, or TT, maybe some sort of support can be included in the future to support a few of the video card expansions available to these systems. 
Performance: For the most part, the performance on the Falcon is really good.  There is occasionally some lag in mouse movement or response, but nothing too bad.  Everything loads quickly and movements work decently well.  For alpha software, the performance is excellent!

MI2 will be a welcomed addition when it is running on a stock Atari ST. I plan on trying a complete playthrough of 'Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis' with the MT32 on the Falcon with this alpha software package, if I can find the time.  I am not sure if I will dare 'Day of the Tentacle' just yet, I think that might need to wait for a later release with more optimizations, at least on the Falcon.

Overall, ScummVM-Lite works really well with Monkey Island 2 on a stock Atari Falcon.  I do hope development continues and that the goal of getting this title to run on an 8 Mhz Atari ST is achieved! 

You can follow the development of ScummVM-Lite here ->

Capture info - 
This video was captured on May 1 & 2, 2020. 
Game was played on an Atari Falcon, TOS 4.04, 14MB, connected to an OSSC 1.6 (processing the video in Line2x mode), with the output being captured by a Startech USB3HDCAP. 
Video was edited with Shotcut.

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