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  Interview with retrohead - founder of ds-scene.net
Posted by Jenna Haze on Wed, March 4th, 2009 at 23:46 - 9 Comments
Jenna Haze United States


Whats your name, age and where are you from?

I don't really want to say my real name but im 30 and im from Northern England



So when did you first get into gaming

Well i can't remember how old I was but it was when the intellivision was released, my dad bought one and we used to play it a bit. I got into gaming more when the ZX Spectrum came out though and have fond memories of buying games for 99p from the local DIY store of all places.

I also remember going to the horse races with my parents one day and I had placed a 50p bet on a white horse which came in first. We rushed to the local trade in store after and i bought Ikari Warriors for the Spectrum.

So nostalgic! cool

What was the first games console you owned?

Thats a tough one, the Intellivision was the first strictly games console but i was too young to appreciate it. I would have to say Sega Master System i think

Ahh the memories of Kung Fu Kid and finding the hidden bread in the wall on stage 3

I remember it well :lol:

Did you own a NES back then then? if not then what was the first Nintendo product you owned

First Nintendo console was the Super NES, no I never owned a NES for some reason and it wasn't until I had a Super NES that I even played on one. I used to play Super Mario Bros in the arcade a lot though and got my Mario fix in the form of Great Giana Sisters on the C64

What was the first handheld you owned and did you have many games for it

Atari Lynx, i used to love that handheld, I had a carry case that had like 20 slots for games in it, most of the slots were doubled up. Favorite games on it were probably Viking Child and Scrapyard Dog, oh and Road Blasters

Back in the heydays what was your favorite console, what i mean to ask is, were you a Sega fanboy or did you prefer Nintendo?

It was more a matter of which games were out at the time, I was forever trading in my Megadrive to get a SNES and vice versa. It wasn't until a good few years later I decided it was best to just keep both :)

Continuing to talk about Megadrive and SNES, care to name a few of your favs on each console

Hmm there are so many, I guess I could name my top 3 on each. Megadrive would have to be Shining Force 2, Castlevania New Generation and possibly Gunstar Heroes or Streets of Rage 2 I cant decide. SNES would have to be Super Mario World, Zelda and Castlevania IV which I am saying that just because of the memories I have. There are plenty I could put in my top games though.

Good choices.

Did you follow through with gaming after the 16bit era, if so what was the first console you owned from the 32bit systems?

Sega Saturn was my first 32bit console and still my favorite console to date, so many unheard of Japanese rare titles that never made it to western shores, I still play it now

A lot of that stuff is worth a fortune now, do you own any of the rare games?

for the Sega Saturn I have a few like Metal Slug (J), Street Fighter Alpha III (J), Radiant Silvergun (J), Castlevania Symphony of the Night (J) and Panzer Dragoon Saga (E). How can i not mention Shining Force III as well, I have all 3 parts but never managed to get hold of the premium disc

Speaking of Radiant Silvergun.....

Since your announcement of this project on ds-scene, many of your readers were excited to here about you making a DS version. We haven't heard anything for a while now and was wondering if you're still working on it?

I haven't done any major work on Radiant Silvergun DS in a while now. The engine had a few bugs that needed tweaking and since then I have been working on other projects hopping back onto RSDS to update the engine. It is something I hope to complete one day although you have to understand that it is an extremely ambitious project.

To answer the question though, yes I am still working on it and hope to release it one day.......

What is your programming / development background. Are there any other projects on other platforms you have been involved in?

I first tried programming on the ZX Spectrum but I struggled to get to grips with it and the only thing I managed to produce was a space invaders game where nothing would move, basically a static image on screen. This put me off for a few years and I didn't get back into trying it again until the DS. By this time I had coded the DS-Scene website and had more of a feeling for how code works.

Why did you choose to code for the DS above any other console?

Simply because it was the console I was into. I was also swayed by the abundance of documentation that was available for the PAlib library and although we are all aware that PAlib has some flaws, it's a great place to start.

What was the first thing you coded with PAlib

The first project I started was Radiant Silvergun DS, you can see a video of the first version here http://www.ds-scene.net/?s=viewtopic&nid=5417 but this has changed drastically since then

We heard you played a part in the development of AmplituDS, what was your involvement in that game?

I wouldn't really say I played a part in it's development but when I first played it I was impressed by it's quality so I contacted Sander Stolk to ask if he needed any help with bug testing etc.

I actually helped with some of the stage layouts and threw ideas at Sander begging him to implement them to increase the playability / lastability of the game. Since then we have become good friends and I pick his brain from time to time

Even now a few years after it's initial release, many people still believe AmplituDS to be one of the best examples of homebrew on the ds. Would you agree with that statement?

Yeah you will get no arguments from me there. He done a great job with it, I can't wait to see RTS4DS once it is finished and wish him and Violation Entertainment all the best with it

What are the other projects you are working on, or have worked on for the Nintendo DS ?

Shooting Watch DS (below) was the first homebrew I released which I recently updated, other than that I am working on a new platform game which I don't want to say too much about yet and of course RSDS is still being worked on slowly

Did anyone help you on a large scale for your projects or are they created entirely by yourself?

Well Triforce always helps me out by nagging me about certain gameplay aspects of my homebrew and helps out with graphics. Other than that I have a few trusted friends I send releases to to test for me. In relation to actual code though, Sander Stolk has helped me out a great deal in the past and I owe a lot of what I know to him. I remember one of my old mess about projects was playing with the idea of a remake of Nebulus for the DS, Sander helped me a lot at that stage and it was really when I started to get to grips with the code and started messing about with a few demos (below),

You mentioned that you're working on a anew platform game, would you be willing to tell us the name of the project or show us a screenshot?

I dunno about that XD

So what can we expect from this game, maybe if you compare it to something else we can at least get an idea of what sort of platformer it will be

What I can say is the engine is primarily based on Super Mario World but I plan to change the power up system and include more of an RPG style of find a certain item to be able to gain access to new, unexplored areas.

Sounds interesting, we can't wait for more info cool


Have you been working on anything else?

Not really. I started to recreate an old Handheld game that I used to play when I was a kid, BMX Flyer, but I didn't get much further than getting the background to scroll and pulling a wheelie. I asked someone that was making a Flash version of the game for some graphics to help me out with it but I havn't heard anything back. I doubt I will finish this or even do more work on it until I have completed the current 2 projects.

What do you think is your best coding achievement for the DS and why?

So far, I would say Take The Eggs is (below). I came across a few problems with it along the way and have had to use some strange techniques to squeeze everything in. The 4MB of DS RAM can cause major issues at times >.<

Have there been any other development problems that have been hard to overcome and how did you do this?

Hahaha yeah there have been quite a few

Care to elaborate further?

The hardest to overcome has constantly been with the music. Using MP3 instead of MOD files for example increases the amount of memory needed to play the music, this is when I used some of my so called "strange techniques" to overcome the problems, using memory I had allocated for 3D sprites to load large 2D sprites into for instance.

I would like to see some peoples faces if they were too look at the tangled web of code lol

Is this an problem when coding with palib?

I had a problem with the memory allocation function (malloc) so I had to use global buffer arrays to load my objects into. It is not really a problem with PAlib but more of a problem with malloc. malloc == the work of the devil

Have you ever considered coding with libnds

Sure have but there are some things I struggled to get my head around. I have a fairly nice sprite / bg / fat system which is like a PAlib hybrid which I use and I feel fairly comfortable with it at the moment. I also like having all the features of PAlib already in place although I have needed to do some extensive modification to some of the code over the years

What room for improvements do you see left for PALib as it is today?

PAlib is extremely bloated with lots of code that you may never use and this can be a problem when you are limited to space as every function and variable used uses memory. I would like to see perhaps a split version of PAlib where you can choose which parts you would like to install, although that's pretty unrealistic tbh XD

Which homebrew applications or games do you use yourself and which is your favorite?

I only really use a couple of homebrew regularly on my DS, AmplituDS and Nitrotracker other than these none really

What do you think of the DS homebrew scene as it is today

A lot of people start to make games and get all excited once they have a few sprites moving around the screen. I think the problem is more that people release information on their projects far too early then encounter problems and give up


Most of the homebrew ends up being pretty disappointing though unfortunately and they look a lot better than they actually play

What do you think of the new dsi and do you plan on buying one when it releases in Europe?

Initial thoughts are nothing special, i would like to have one simply because my DS Lite is on its last legs due to the abuse it gets from me testing homebrew, I won't be going out of my way to get one though.

Well, here at DS-Scene we would like to thank you for your work on the DS do you have any last thoughts to say to your readers?

All I can say is, thanks to everyone who visits DS-Scene for their continued support and we hope to be bringing up to date news for a long time yet. A big thanks to everyone that downloads my homebrew as well as that is what makes it all worth it, seeing people enjoying what I do.

As a small thank-you I would like to announce a few hints / tips and cheats for my homebrw games.

Shooting Watch

On the main menu screen press UP,DOWN,UP,DOWN,LEFT,RIGHT,LEFT,RIGHT,A,B,A,B then Start. You will hear a noise and your coins will be set to 10,000. Don't use this if you have over 10,000 coins ;)

Take The Eggs!

Once you have the strong golden invincible powerup, if you are struggling for points then hold a direction and press to drop your fried eggs as fast as you can to rack up the points a bit. Of course it is better to try to attack the enemies as they give you 50 points but you can easily gain 100-150 points from the fried eggs technique.

I would like to personally thank retrohead for taking time out to chat with me for this interview

Information and Download Links:

A history of DS-Scene
Take the Eggs DS
Shooting Watch DS

 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
djiin Mexico

  Thu, March 5th, 2009 at 06:30
cool =)   I didn't know retrohead created ds-scene hehe
I agree, most homebrew looks nice but... won't play as nice. I'm currently developing some projects but are in diapers, not even worth to mention, so I thin this is what you mean, if I was making a thread with screenshots saying I have HomebrewGame -.001a and I'm working on it hehe ;P

anyways, thanks to retrohead and all the staff involved with this amazing place, DS-Scene. It's been something in my life, and I'm not kidding =)

Best regards!

 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
dikvanniekak Canada

  Thu, March 5th, 2009 at 09:20
a tip of the hat to retrohead - this is a fantastic website and my favourite source for news on homebrew
 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
DieForIt Belgium

  Thu, March 5th, 2009 at 16:49
Very nice to see a review of the founder of DS-Scene. You did a good job to made this site with your mate Triforce ;) You are just da uber!
 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
Dark Knight ez Netherlands

  Thu, March 5th, 2009 at 21:59
I still think Nubulus DS was pretty damn cool in a technical, DS hardware using aspect sort of way.
Also, the interview showed stuff I didn't know about. :O Was a nice read. :)
 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
dattson United States

  Fri, March 6th, 2009 at 03:02
Thanks Retro for starting such a great community.
I wait for Radiant Silver Gun. One of the best games ever!
Take your time. Get it right. And if you need a play tester....I'm down to help.
 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
three14 United States

  Fri, March 6th, 2009 at 15:35
retrohead's a great guy. He helped me for ages with coding on the DS, especially for my still unfinished app, "Positron". He's always been there to help. I haven't given up on Positron (so your effort won't be for naught), real life's just been rough lately and I don't even have a build environment set up since my much needed reinstall. But anyway, I hope to start again on it soon. Thanks for everything man.

 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
retrohead United Kingdom

  Fri, March 6th, 2009 at 18:12
Hey three14, I always wondered what happened to that. Your ears must have been burning at some point because I was talking with DarkEz about your developments and we were wondering what had happened to them. Glad to hear you will be working on them again soon, I hope you don't have as many problems as we had last time setting up the environment again :ras:

Gimme a shout if you need help with anything. ;)
 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
SCHUMI-4-EVA South Africa

  Fri, March 6th, 2009 at 21:02
W00T go retro  :D
How ya doing mate?
 » Comment on: Interview with retrohead
NavadeHo Netherlands

  Sun, March 8th, 2009 at 05:22
TL;DR :lol:

Impressive, seriously :-O

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