Lost Squaresoft game from 1985, 3156 Coro Coro, discovered and preserved

3156corocoro-1.jpg

An old Squaresoft title, long thought to have been canceled, has been found and preserved online for anyone who wants to play it. The game in question is 3156 Coro Coro, which was developed by Hiromichi Tanaka, who would go on to produce Square titles like Secret of Mana and Xenogears, for the PC-8800 series, a line of home computers released in Japan by Nacon in 1981.

Chris Kohler, writing for video game preservation website Gaming Alexandria, relays the story of how the game was found. The game's existence had been known for a long time, but it was usually listed as a canceled PC-88 game, until Kohler stumbled across a Japanese website that said it had been created for the October 1985 Program Olympics in LOGiN Magazine, a Japanese magazine that ran for a few years in the '80s before spinning off Famitsu.

It turned out, as part of its preservation work, Gaming Alexandria was uploading hi-res scans of LOGiN Magazine, and had archived that issue only a few weeks before. 3156 Coro Coro had, in fact, been released in this issue as a type-in program, meaning its entire source code was printed in the back of the magazine, and users would have to enter it all themselves and save it to a cassette tape if they wanted to play the game. 3156 Coro Coro was a particularly large game for the time at 40K of machine code. (Here is an example of one of the sixteen pages of hexadecimal code users were expected to input.)

All that effort isn't necessary in 2022, however. Gaming Alexandria founder Dustin Hubbard was able to cleanly extract the text from the scan, and even built a tape file format that's compatible with PC-88 emulators.

As for what 3156 Coro Coro actually is, it's a puzzle dice game, though it seems to have a larger emphasis on strategy over luck than most dice games. Players need to guide a die to a certain point on a grid in a certain number of moves. However, each space on the grid has several numbers on it, and the number on the bottom of the die cannot match the number on that square of the grid. So, if the square to your right has a 1, 3, and 5 on it, then you can only move to the right if that will make a 2, 4, or 6 face down. There are only three levels but Kohler says they are "pretty difficult" and he hasn't managed to beat the last one yet.

For a link to the tape image, instructions on how to get it running, and a recommendation for a PC-8800 emulator, you can check out the Gaming Alexandria article here.
 

hippy dave

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Don't think I have seen typed in hex before. Had plenty of Basic stuff to type out for vic20, C64 and whatnot but hex is new.
In my Amstrad CPC magazines, the type-in games were usually plain BASIC, but a lot of the type-in cheats would have multiple lines of hex like this (not multiple pages tho) as DATA statements, representing machine code which would load, patch and run the game. Plus the initial lines of BASIC to POKE said code into memory and CALL it, of course.
 

zupi

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I forgot games used to be distributed like this, it's so amazing

If I'm not mistaken quite a few games for European consoles were distributed like this
 

Dust2dust

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Don't think I have seen typed in hex before. Had plenty of Basic stuff to type out for vic20, C64 and whatnot but hex is new.
Plenty of machine language programs (mostly games) were printed in binary code, back in the days, in magazine like Compute or ANALOG computing (for the Atari). It was hellish to type in, but at least, they were providing checksums to verify what you typed was ok.
 

The Real Jdbye

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I could not imagine typing in 16 pages of hex by hand. Imagine getting a single letter wrong, and having to go through the entire thing multiple times in order to spot the problem. I wonder if anybody actually did that back in the day. I guess not, since everybody thought it was canceled.
 

Glyptofane

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I could not imagine typing in 16 pages of hex by hand. Imagine getting a single letter wrong, and having to go through the entire thing multiple times in order to spot the problem. I wonder if anybody actually did that back in the day. I guess not, since everybody thought it was canceled.
It took me a few tries just to get my Golden Sun data transferred to The Lost Age with that stupid password.
 

vincentx77

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I could not imagine typing in 16 pages of hex by hand. Imagine getting a single letter wrong, and having to go through the entire thing multiple times in order to spot the problem. I wonder if anybody actually did that back in the day. I guess not, since everybody thought it was canceled.

Each line of code actually has a checksum at the end, or at least it did on the C64. This way, the program you used to type in the code would know if you got the line wrong. It doesn't make the eyestrain of typing that in go away, but it takes some of the pressure off. I actually preferred those to BASIC programs because I knew I couldn't mess them up.
 
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nobody123456789

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You gotta love how somehow "making pirated copies of games" has somehow morphed "preservation". Not that the pirates are fooling anyone though.
The preservation argument is valid when a game (or part of one) is no longer making the developers money and is difficult, expensive or impossible to obtain legally. Take the 3DS eShop exclusive content for example.
 
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vincentx77

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Don't think I have seen typed in hex before. Had plenty of Basic stuff to type out for vic20, C64 and whatnot but hex is new.
In the US, Compute! Gazette and Ahoy! had both hex and and all numerical format for ML games that they published way back in the day. The first 'Digger' version in this video is an example of one.

 
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