April 7th, 2017
I never thought I’d own a $750 Virtual Boy (VB) game. Hyper Fighting is one of the coveted Virtual Boy homebrew games. They go for anywhere between $600 and $1200 on eBay. It’s also the largest Virtual Boy game sitting on a 32Mbit cartridge. That’s four times bigger than any officially released game and two times bigger than most homebrew games.
Hyper Fighting is a port of Street Fighter to the Virtual Boy done under a veil of secrecy by Mr. Anon over at Planet Virtual Boy. The development was paid for by PlanetVB member Benjamin Stevens, the game developed on PlantVB members M.K.’s Fighting Engine software by Mr. Anon, and then the complete-in-box (CIB) game was made and sent to Benjamin. What also happened was that additional copies were sent to others without Benjamin’s knowledge. Anywhere from 20 to 50 were made. It’s also one of the few VB games that can use a link cable in a 2-player versus mode, assuming you can find another person with a Virtual Boy. Unfortunately the link cable was never released and needs to be custom made. You’ll also need to be able to afford two copies of Hyper Fighting. One day I’ll build a professional link cable and offer it to people who are interested since the PlanetVB link cable project seems to be dead.
So what was the first thing I did to my $750 VB game? Take it apart. Actually I took it apart before I even plugged it in for the first time. That probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do but luckily it still works.
Here are some more shots of the cartridge taken apart. You can see that they had to grid away some of the cartridge to get the battery to fit properly. The design also has a dual 16Mbit flash memory configuration where the highest address line will select one chip or the other. This also means they had to split the ROM into an upper 16Mbit and lower 16Mbit file.
Interesting enough is that over at AtariAge, the member photo for Richard Hutchinson is a 32Mbit Virtual Boy cart that looks identical to the Hyper Fighting cartridge except the PCB is purple. That name should ring a bell because Richard is the developer of the Virtual Boy Flash Boy. Flash Boy is the re-programmable cartridge that allows all the homebrew games to be played on a single cart. See the member photo of Richard H. at AtariAge below.
You also can find articles showing the reproduction run of Bound High using a red PCB done by Richard Hutchinson that looks very similar to his AtariAge photo and the Hyper Fighting PCB design, except it’s a single 16Mbit flash instead of two. However the battery and SRAM chip are identically placed even with the same resistor and cap placement on the smaller chip in the center.
I would wager that Mr. Anon is Richard Hutchinson because Benjamin mentioned, in his story about Hyper Fighting on PlanetVB, that Mr. Anon made his own cartridge. But it’s possible that Richard was subcontracted to the do the PCB design. It’s also possible that M.K. is Mr. Anon given that Benjamin’s story says Mr. Anon had a copy of the then unreleased Fighting Engine. Another possibility is that Mr. Anon is a team of PlanetVB members. We may never find out but luckily we still have what may be the best available game for the Virtual Boy.
Here are some photos of the box art that I took. The box art was done by Vincent at UncleTusk. UncleTusk has a long history of doing the box and manuals for homebrew Virtual Boy games as well as reproductions of prototypes like Bound High.
Here’s a scene from the full ROM.
A scene at the end when you beat M. Bison for the first time. Taken directly from my Virtual Boy instead of an emulator.