33 Years Later, Game Boy Title's 16-Player Mode Is Finally Unlocked 1
Image: @gamerave

Seasoned Game Boy fans will be aware of the title Faceball 2000. Originally released in 1991, it is based on the Atari ST title MIDI Maze, which used the computer's MIDI ports to daisy-chain systems together for 16-person local multiplayer games.

Ported to the Game Boy by its developer Xanth Software, Faceball 2000 was originally intended to have the same 16-player connectivity – but it was never featured in the original release, which was limited to either two players (via the Game Boy's link cable) or four (using the Four Player Adapter).

We're pleased to report that, 33 years after its original launch, Faceball 2000 can finally be played the way it was meant to be played. In a post on Video Game Sage, koifish documents the epic event, which took place at the Pink Gorilla Games store in Seattle's University District.

"In 2005, the systems programmer for Faceball 2000, Robert Champagne, did an interview in which he confirmed that just like MIDI Maze, Faceball 2000 for Game Boy was also given a 16-player mode," says koifish. "They had intended to ship the game with a custom link adapter to make it work, but never did, because Nintendo told them not to do it. Moreover, he stated that even in development, they never actually had 16 game boys to do it with, and so never fully confirmed it was possible... However, he cleared the air and confirmed that they never took the 16-player mode out, and it was still present and (ostensibly) working in every sold copy of the game!"

Koifish then goes on to explain that they and another team member have "independently found that we could make this multiplayer mode work with daisy-chained GBA cables," but increasing the player count to 16 would cause the game to crash. "The problems ended up being not only unreliable link cables, and voltage creep on the link cables throwing off data signals, but also a software bug with the spawner, which made it impossible to actually start a game with 16 players."

However, a solution was in sight; a more effective link cable harness was constructed by one member of the team, while another implemented fixes and created the final patched ROM.

With all of this amazing work done, the game could finally be played – with some special guests in attendance:

We were also very fortunate to have Robert Champagne present and part of the group playing the game, as well as other special guest Michael Park, a main team member behind MIDI Maze! It was an incredible experience and I was so glad to be able to be a part of it.

Koifish says that a video of the full event will be posted soon, but in the meantime, here's some proof-of-concept footage for you to gaze at:

Our friends over at Nintendo Life have reviewed Faceball 2000 on the Game Boy, saying:

Attempting a First Person Shooter on the original Game Boy hardware may sound like a crazy idea, but it works surprisingly well despite some annoying pop-up and the lack of detail in your surroundings. The Arena mode is incredibly replayable thanks to the variety of stages and the different types of match ups that Team Play allows for. Cyberscape mode may start off ridiculously easy but the game is hard to put down once the challenge increases. Overall Faceball 2000 is a basic but addictive FPS that should provide plenty of entertainment.

[source twitter.com]