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  3. Debug/Demo Password

User Info: mike_the_red_mt

11 years ago#1
After a lot of Google searching, this board seems to be the only place where people are still actively looking at password cracking this game.

When I was a kid I owned a copy of The Guardian Legend, and as many know, the password feature was long and tedious and when copying down my password I would frequently be in a hurry (mostly from my mom rushing me out the door or coming down the steps to the basement where my gaming TV was when I was supposed to be doing my homework.).

Anyways, one day when my friends and I were playing, we were quite frustrated that we couldn't get our password from the previous day to work.

So I entered a ton of random letters and numbers and finally one worked.

It came to a screen that looked lot like the normal menu screen, except in the middle was a picture of the player ship flying, colored red.

On the outsides of the box were all the weapons with numbers and various stuff around the rest of the screen. I can't remember exactly what... It's probably been 15 years.

After trying to get the cursor to do what we wanted (I remember the cursor not functioning very well or something) we pressed start and began a level that looked like the first level.

I remember having the fully upgraded twin laser (the one that shoots sort of candy cane looking lasers from the tips of your wings straight forward.)

After about 30 seconds we were returned back to the initial menu-like screen. We couldn't exit out of it to begin playing the normal game. We all thought it was pretty awesome, but eventually we got tired of it and reset the game.


If there's a password cracker on this site, I'd like to know if he's heard of this. I've looked through a lot of gamefaq guides and TLG sites online and never seen any mention of it... It's always been that one video game secret that I knew about that no one else knew about.

But now I'd like to know how lucky I was exactly in entering that password. :)

There aren't different versions of the game, to my knowledge, so it should be in the code of any ROM out there, I think.

I'll be back to check on this thread, I really hope someone can tell me what I did all those years ago. :)

User Info: EchoNull

11 years ago#2
Just for reference/bump, I'd also be interested to hear if any of the deeper code-delvers have run in to this functionality.

User Info: FatRatKnight

11 years ago#3
Odd, I never heard of this debug menu thing turning up. If there is a debug mode somewhere accessible by password, it probably is by a special hard-coded password much like the shooter-only TGL mode.

Thing is, when I broke the password system to pieces, this was entirely through observation. I had made no attempt at disassembling the game, so I can't confirm anything. The normal password system gives incredible control, like being near invincible and have over 30000 CHIPS to use, as well as the ability to start in any room you feel like, and all you need to do is put in the password with the right stats... But this debug menu is something entirely new to me.

Now I'm plain curious. I'm going to take a look and see what I can come up with. Chances are, since I'm not familiar with disassembling NES code, I'll end up being of no help. But I can try anyway.
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User Info: Kuzeelar

11 years ago#4
I searched and debugged the rom for several hours and came up completely empty, except to confirm that the only hardcoded password in the game is "TGL". If true, you must have been extraordinarily lucky to have come across the screen; there is no other known report of it, though I've always suspected that this game has had a debug menu in it. It's very possible that the password you entered was not meant to even access it and that the game simply glitched into it somehow, but I hope that isn't the case.

If you could provide me with possibly some more specific detail, such as how you moved the cursor or what it looked like(?), the level that looked like the first level (did it have anything in it?) or try to remember small bits of the graphical layout of the debug screen, I might be able to trace something from there and try to look for it in the code. So far, the red plane in the center of the screen might be the best description, though I haven't been able to find any matches.

User Info: mike_the_red_mt

11 years ago#5
Wow, a response, I'm pleased.

So I sat down with paint and put together to the best of my memory, what the initial screen looked like.


Now, you could select weapons (but there were lots of duplicates?) but it was hard to get the cursor to move correctly, if I remember right.

Pressing random buttons started what looked more like the very last corridor (the one where you fight the monster that's green, orange then red.) only with the monsters from one of the green levels. (the one with the flying lobsters, if I recal).

I remember that the life bar was set to 0 (it was totally black). We were taking hits but it didn't do anything. Also, we couldn't fire the regular cannon- only the weapon we had selected.

The game played for maybe 30 seconds on this level then would just instantly go back to the original menu screen.

There was lots of garbage text on the sides too and it didn't work very well.

Hope that helps.

User Info: Kuzeelar

11 years ago#6
That is the best help you could have possibly have given me, especially because of the image.

The palette of the plane in the image (the "red" plane I take it) is very distinct to the game's final stage where you fight the game's final boss (only four palettes for sprites can be shared on screen at once, and the thus the plane has to share with the boss's unique palette set). The stage's obscenely short level data is situated in a slightly unorthodox place in the rom, away from other immediate levels, sandwiched between two sets of TSA background data for the first/last areas and the fish areas. The stage also lasts approximately 30 seconds before the boss appears. Based on countless hours of searching, however, I can't really connect the the stage to anything else unique other than when you complete it, the game ends.

Other described elements ( like the different enemies, the missing power bar and malfunctioning cannon, the glitched graphics, the poor functioning control of the cursor) lead me to believe it's just a random and very complicated glitch (this game is certainly known for them). The only thing that makes me think otherwise is the plane window, which has a graphical structure that I can't find in the rom (and Guardian Legend has a very difficult one to reverse engineer). The last ditch effort might be the sifting through the password system again.

User Info: mike_the_red_mt

11 years ago#7
Ah, I guess it was a very elaborate password gitch then...

Amazing. This game never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you very much!

I always wondered about it.

User Info: gamebalance

11 years ago#8
I really haven't saw anything like that.
Here what I can say is that when u enter outside of the map using password to get out of coordinates of standard map or if u use cheat tool. So what I say is that when u do that then the rectangle around the map appear soo. Here is screenshot.
The rectangle you drew around is exactly same. Note - it's not photoshop edit. The game has it.


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User Info: FatRatKnight

11 years ago#9
Hmm... There's nothing within the password itself that could jump one into the strange menu. However, it is known that the password system allows you to start anywhere in a 32 x 32 area.

Sure, the highest the X coordinate goes is 23, you say? I say passwords can reach places like X31. Through emulation, all reported attempts began and ended with empty, exitless rooms. On the actual console, it contained other stuff. Random, glitchy stuff, quite like when one heads north from X4 Y0.

If a type of debug menu can be reached at all, I'm willing to bet it's either through a "burp" in the processing of the password and failed to jump in the right spot in the code... Or the X coordinate happened to be 24 or greater, and by serious luck, it glitched into this menu.

Unfortunately, this is where emulation and console diverges. Again, emulation never gets anything exciting in X24 or eastward, yet the console ends up having a lovely mess. We can't savestate our way around there, sadly, unless we have some way of hijacking the console and screwing around with it while it's actively playing something.

... I guess it's too much to ask if any numbers can be remembered. Remember seeing any coordinates? Did the X have two digits? What were the digits? I've seen your picture, but I prefer to think of it more as an approximation.
Please be specific when titling topics. I want to know what it's about before I click it!
If there's spoilers involved, feel free to remain ambiguous!

User Info: DragonAtma

11 years ago#10
Outside the standard (0-23)x(0-23) sequence, the game is drawing info from values that are not intended to be the map, such as which note the game is on. As a result, (1) the edges do not line up, (2) the location of special rooms varies, (3) the tileset can even vary depending on when you go through a door, and (4) corridors go as high as corridor 127 (naturally, those past 23 ALSO go into nonstandard values and hence are bopth enemyless and inescapable).
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