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Marvel Land (Arcade)

From The Cutting Room Floor
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Title Screen

Marvel Land

Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Platform: Arcade (Namco System 2)
Released in JP: 1990


EnemyIcon.png This game has unused enemies.
ObjectIcon.png This game has unused objects.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
ItemsIcon.png This game has unused items.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.


Marvel Land is a platformer set in an amusement park. No, it's not the Avengers Campus. Geeze.

Debug Functions

In the US set, all of these functions work by default. In the Japanese set, however, dip switches 2, 4, and 7 are usually ignored. Put the following code in MAME's marvlandj.xml to enable those switches:

  <cheat desc="Enable Debug Dip Switches">
    <script state="run">
      <action>maincpu.mw@000FB0=0001</action>
    </script>
    <script state="off">
      <action>maincpu.mw@000FB0=0000</action>
    </script>
  </cheat>

Dip Switch 2 ($2000-1)

MarvelLandArcCPUMeter.png
Setting this dip switch will enable CPU meters. The game will write colored bars on the upper-left and upper-right sides of the screen, then attempt to erase them before the frame updates. The bars will be visible if either CPU is taxed hard enough.

Dip Switch 3 ($2000-2)

When set, the dip switch will mute the Namco C140 sound chip. The faulty audio CPU in the marvland set already mutes C140 output, so this only works in the Japanese set.

Dip Switch 4 ($2000-3)

Setting this dip switch will make the player invincible to enemies and their projectiles. Falling into a pit, running into spikes, or running out of time will still kill the player.

Dip Switch 5 ($2000-4)

When set, the game's action button switches from 1P/2P Button 1 to 1P/2P Button 2.

Dip Switch 6 ($2000-5)

In the US set, this dip switch will allow the player to start a 2 Player game on a single credit.

MarvelLandWorldSelectFull.png
In the Japanese set, if the World Select game option is set, this dip switch allows the player to start on any stage, not just the first stage in each world.

Dip Switch 7 ($2000-6)

When set, press and hold 1P Button 3 at any time to stop all game objects. This is not a true pause function - palettes will still cycle and the timer will still count down.

Press 2P Start to really pause the game, and press 2P Start again to resume play.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Unused Gameplay Features

Unused Objects

Put the following cheats in marvland and marvlandj to change the first two empty dust bins in World 1-1 with an unused object:

US Set (marvland) JP Set (marvlandj)
  <cheat desc="Object Modifier">
    <parameter>
      <item value="0x000A0000">Popcorn Cart</item>
      <item value="0x00300007">Chest (Hammer)</item>
      <item value="0x00590002">Dust Bin (Hammer)</item>
      <item value="0x005D0021">Spring Football</item>
    </parameter>
    <script state="run">
      <action>maincpu.md@21906=param</action>
      <action>maincpu.md@2191E=param</action>
    </script>
    <script state="off">
      <action>maincpu.md@21906=0x00590010</action>
      <action>maincpu.md@2191E=0x00590010</action>
    </script>
  </cheat>
  <cheat desc="Object Modifier">
    <parameter>
      <item value="0x00300007">Chest (Hammer)</item>
      <item value="0x00590002">Dust Bin (Hammer)</item>
      <item value="0x005D0021">Spring Football</item>
    </parameter>
    <script state="run">
      <action>slave.md@0FA78=param</action>
      <action>slave.md@0FAA0=param</action>
    </script>
    <script state="off">
      <action>slave.md@0FA78=0x00590010</action>
      <action>slave.md@0FAA0=0x00590010</action>
    </script>
  </cheat>

Popcorn Cart

MarvelLandArcPopcornCart.gif
This popcorn cart is only in the US set; the JP set removes all of its code.

MarvelLandArcObjectPopcorn.png
It moves back and forth in a very short path (16 pixels wide) and if the player bounces on the canopy, they'll be sprung into the sky.

Hammer

MarvelLandArcItemHammer.png
This cut power-up is partially coded in the US set, but most of that code that handles it was deleted in the JP set.

MarvelLandArcObjectHammer.png
Collecting the hammer will produce a garbage sprite that follows Paco around. This is likely supposed to be the hammer, but the graphics (Slots 54 and 55 in the object graphics ROM) were replaced at some point by Paco's hovering sprite and Princess Luxie's idle sprite. This also changes Paco's jumping and falling sprites to use the graphics in slots 46 to 48, which are part of Paco's walking animation in the final game.

Note that there's no way to actually swing the hammer. It's likely that the item was removed to keep the game's controls limited to the joystick and a single action button.

MarvelLandArcObjectHammer2.png
Collecting another hammer power-up will change Paco's walking animation to use frames 5A to 5D, which are comprised of an otherwise unused animation of Paco turning into a fireball. The hammer will use graphics in slot 5F, which are used by the "CHU" kissing sprite in the final game.

MarvelLandArcPacoHammerSwing.gifMarvelLandArcPacoHammerJump.pngMarvelLandArcHammerSprites.png
There are a few hammer graphics left in the ROM, including an animation of Paco swinging, unique jumping sprites, and various hammers (including silver and gold versions) that aren't refrenced in any of the game's code.

Football

MarvelLandArcFootball.png MarvelLandArcFootballSpin.gif
A football (The ovoid kind, not the spheroid kind) on a spring, much like the large iron balls and bullets on springs that appear in the final game.

MarvelLandArcObjectFootball.png
Pushing the ball and then letting go will send it bouncing to the left or right. It's not very useful; the arc of its bounce is so high that it will likely go over enemies it's supposed to be hitting.

Unused Floats

MarvelLandArcUnusedFloat1.gif MarvelLandArcUnusedFloat2.gif

There are two unused floats in the game. The first is from a currently unknown Namco game -- possibly Babel no Tou -- while the second isn't from a game, it's an advertisement for the Japanese adaption of the musical wikipedia:Starlight Express which Namco sponsored in the late 80s.

Place the following codes in marvland.xml / marvlandj.xml to replace the Grodba tank with one of the unused floats:

US Set (marvland) JP Set (marvlandj)
  <cheat desc="Unused Floats">
    <parameter>
      <item value="0x0040">Float 1</item>
      <item value="0x0047">Float 2</item>
    </parameter>
    <script state="run">
      <action>slave.mw@06456=param</action>
    </script>
    <script state="off">
      <action>slave.mw@06456=0x004A</action>
    </script>
  </cheat>
  <cheat desc="Unused Floats">
    <parameter>
      <item value="0x0040">Float 1</item>
      <item value="0x0047">Float 2</item>
    </parameter>
    <script state="run">
      <action>slave.mw@06BA8=param</action>
    </script>
    <script state="off">
      <action>slave.mw@06BA8=0x004A</action>
    </script>
  </cheat>

MarvelLandArcFloatGame.png
The floats are fully functional and have collision and everything, so it's not clear why they were cut.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Unused Graphics

MarvelLandArcPacoFireball.gif
An animation of Paco transforming into a fireball. This is Paco's walking animation once he gets two hammer power-ups, but it's questionable as to whether that was intended or if the fireball frames overwrote something else.

MarvelLandArcTridentStarUnused.png
Paco collects three trident stars in the game: One red, one green, and one purple. There are HUD graphics for 7 stars, the unused ones being white, dark blue, yellow, and cyan.

MarvelLandArcGems.png
Boring ol' gems. These might have been the original bonus items before they were replaced by theme park food.

MarvelLandArcItemFootball.png MarvelLandArcItem2X.png
Two power-up icons that have no associated code. The first is a football, and might be related to the unused football-on-a-spring detailed previously. The second is probably a bonus multiplier.

MarvelLandARC-CastleStart.png MarvelLandARC-CastleSign.png
The castle that appears at the beginning of each world has a sign that reads "MARVEL LAND". This sign is actually a sprite that sits on top of the background graphic. But what's underneath it?

MarvelLandARC-NamcoLand.png
It's "NAMCO LAND"! This would explain the numerous Namco references that appear throughout the park, such as the receptionist robot from Namco's headquarters that greets the player at the start of each stage, as well as the Namco-themed electric light parade.

MarvelLandArcBlimp.gif
An unused blimp that would appear in the sky as a decorative object, with what looks like Kissy and/or Takky from Alien Sector on the side.

Used Alt
MarvelLandArcDustBin.png MarvelLandArcDustBinAlt.png

There are two unused designs for the dust bins found throughout Worlds 1 to 3. It seems that each world would have its own dust bin design; the blue and brown bins fit well with the more aquatic World 2 and the confection-themed World 3.

MarvelLandArcUnusedDefeated.png
Nine enemies have unused "stomped" animations. The six seen here are designed to be used as rides or platforms, so the player can't defeat them by jumping on them...

MarvelLandArcUnusedDefeated2.png
...and these two, the green Pirawani and Medusa Head, can't be jumped on at all. These probably would have been used if the hammer was properly implemented.

MarvelLandArcUnusedDefeated3.png
This enemy, the Pyon Mogle, accidentally uses Yari Mogle's animation instead of its own.

MarvelLandArcSuperMogle.gif MarvelLandArcSuperMogleUp.gif MarvelLandArcSuperMogleDown.gif MarvelLandArcSuperMogleDead.png
An unused Superman-inspired Mogle! No code, unfortunately, just these idling, flying, and defeated animations.

MarvelLandArcMogleTrio.gif MarvelLandArcMogleTrioDead.png
Another enemy with no associated code is this Mogle trio...or is that a quartet?

Early Final
MarvelLandArcArrowsEarly.png MarvelLandArcArrowsFinal.png

There are unused, red-and-yellow bordered arrows in the object graphics ROM. These were replaced by the blue and yellow arrows, which blend in better with the background.

MarvelLandArcFurnitureK&B.png
Assorted unused decorations for boss stages. The guy in the portrait is the titular king from King & Balloon (Balloon not pictured.)

MarvelLandArcButtonHiku.png
A button that says "Hiku", which in the context of the game would mean "pull". This would appear in the tug-of-war boss battles -- similar buttons appear on the bottom of the screen in the game's rock-paper-scissors boss battles -- but the player and boss's power meters take up so much space that there's nowhere to put it.

MarvelLandArcOniWalk.gif
The oni have walking animations, but in the final game they always appear in their storm clouds.

MarvelLandArcPrincessWorried.gif
An unused worried animation for Princess Luxie. This could have been used when the castle starts to collapse in World 4-4, but both Paco and the Princess use their larger sprites during that scene.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Region Flag

Both the US set and JP sets have a substantial amount of differences, most of which are due to code differences in the main and sub CPUs. Some, however, are controlled by a region flag that's set at the start of the game. This flag is set to 00 in the JP set, 01 in the US set.

Put these cheats in marvland.xml and marvlandj.xml respectively to alter the game's region flag:

   <cheat desc="Set Region to JP">
    <script state="run">
      <action>maincpu.pw@40B738=0x0000</action>
    </script>
    <script state="off">
      <action>maincpu.pw@40B738=0x0001</action>
    </script>
  </cheat>
  <cheat desc="Set Region to US">
    <script state="run">
      <action>maincpu.pw@40AF08=0x0001</action>
    </script>
    <script state="off">
      <action>maincpu.pw@40AF08=0x0000</action>
    </script>
  </cheat>

The region flag has the following effects:

  • Toggles the export warning screen.
  • Changes the amount of HP that the players' avatars have. If set to US, avatars will always have 2 HP. If set to Japan, avatars will always have 3 HP (marvland); or, they'll have 3 HP on difficulty ranks A and B, and 2 HP on ranks C and D (marvlandj).
  • In the Japan set, changes the name of the easiest difficulty option. This is "EASY" if set to Japan, and "DIGEST" if set to US. Interestingly, "DIGEST" is used in all versions of the Sega port.

MarvelLandArcDifficultyUS.png

In the US set, setting the region to Japan instead enables the difficulty options, which pop up after the stage select instead of before. The "NORMAL" difficulty is instead called "HARD", and is only partially implemented - see the Version Differences section for more details.
  • In the US set only, setting the region to Japan will enable the player to select the normally unavailable World 4 stages in the Round Select. All worlds are available by default in the Japan set.
JP US
World 1-1 117⅓ Seconds 74⅔ Seconds
World 1-2 117⅓ Seconds 85⅓ Seconds
World 1-4 170⅔ Seconds 96 Seconds
World 2-1 117⅓ Seconds 101⅓ Seconds
World 2-2 202⅔ Seconds 112 Seconds
World 2-4 117⅓ Seconds 96 Seconds
World 2-5 202⅔ Seconds 138⅔ Seconds
World 3-4 245⅓ Seconds 234⅔ Seconds
  • Changes the amount of time that players have to complete certain stages, all but one of which are in the first half of the game.
(Source: Original TCRF research)

Version Differences

As you've probably gathered by now, the US set, marvland, has some significant differences from the JP set, marvlandj. In fact, the US set seems to be from earlier in development, possibly a location test or other prototype, though the true nature of this set is still unclear at the time of writing.

Service Mode

US Set (marvland) JP Set (marvlandj)
MarvelLandArcGameOptionsUS.png MarvelLandArcGameOptionsJP.png
  • The US set has a "Life" setting, which is used in other Namco System 1 & 2 games to control how many hit points the player starts with. Since the player always dies in one hit in this game, the option does nothing, and it was thus deleted from the JP set.
  • The "Round Skip" option that enables the stage select was renamed to "World Select" in the JP set.
US Set (marvland) JP Set (marvlandj)
MarvelLandArcSoundTestUS.png MarvelLandArcSoundTestJP.png
  • While the JP set uses the standard sound test found in other Namco System 2 games, the US set uses a much more technical sound test that displays all the sound channels and any relevant sound flags.
  • In the US set, trying to access the color bars screen will soft-lock the game. All of the other tests are in the game though, and match the tests in the JP set.

Gameplay

US Set (marvland) JP Set (marvlandj)
MarvelLandArcDifficultyUS.png MarvelLandArcDifficultyJP.png
  • The ranks in the US set are "Easy" and "Hard". There are two copies of these strings in the game ROM and which copy is used depends on the game's region flag. In the JP set, the "Hard" rank is replaced by "Normal", and, as mentioned above, if the game's region is set to US, the "Easy" rank changes to "Digest".
  • In the JP set, the "Easy/Digest" mode is an abbreviated playthrough of the game. The game goes through all of World 1, then World 2-1, World 2-3, and finally World 4-4. Only in the "Normal" setting does the player go through all of the game's stages.
In the US set, the "Easy" mode is the game's default difficulty setting and is a complete playthrough of the game.

MarvelLandArcHardBonus.png

  • The "Hard" difficulty in the US set is mostly unfinished, only featuring one difference from the "Easy" difficulty: The player gets a bonus at the end of each stage that's equal to 20% of the time or special bonus of that stage. This bonus can even end in non-zero numbers.
US Set (marvland) JP Set (marvlandj)
MarvelLandArcWorldMapUS.png MarvelLandArcWorldMapJP.png
  • The World Map's background color is black in the US set, while in the JP set it's a shade of teal.

MarvelLandArcInstructions.png

  • In the JP set, the first time the player collects an avatar power-up, Bunny will appear on-screen to tell the player how it works.
US Set (marvland)
MarvelLandArcBossFight1US.png MarvelLandArcBossFight2US.png
JP Set (marvlandj)
MarvelLandArcBossFight1JP.png MarvelLandArcBossFight2JP.png
  • The boss fights in Worlds 1 and 4 have different mechanics between versions:
  • In the US set, the player has to look at the slot in the bottom-center of the screen. If it lands on the player's face, the player must hit 1P/2P Button 1 to score a point; otherwise, the round ends in a tie. If it lands on the boss's face, the player must hit any direction on the joystick to make the round draw in a tie; otherwise, the boss will score a point.
  • The JP set has similar mechanics, but the player and the boss play Rock-paper-scissors instead. If the player wins, they must hit 1P/2P Button 1 to score a point, and if they lose, they must hit any direction on their joystick to keep the boss from scoring a point. If both slots are the same, the round doesn't count and the slots start rolling again.

Items & Objects

US JP
Soda 500 300
Hot Dog 700 1,000
French Fries 1,000 700
Ice Cream 3,000 500
  • All of the bonus items have different point values between versions. The Soda is worth 200 fewer points in the JP set, the value of the Hot Dog and French Fries swapped, and the Ice Cream coin dropped from an impressive 3,000 points to a paltry 500.

MarvelLandArcLItemUS.png

  • The "Lucky" power-up isn't placed in any of the stages in the US set. Instead of extending your avatar count or giving you a point bonus, as it does in the JP set, the Lucky power-up will turn all nearby enemies into hot dogs.
  • The Joker power-up that removes all of the player's avatars doesn't exist in the US set.
  • The green version of the Captain Mogle enemies that appear in the JP set are coded in the US set, but aren't placed in any of the stages.
  • The Mecha-Mogle enemies don't spawn Mini-Mogles in the US set.

Stage Differences

Hmmm...
To do:
Needs a lot of work - map rips mostly.

Bonus Stages

  • The US set uses the standard overworld stage music, while the JP set uses a unique track here.
  • To match the new non-looping music track, the amount of time on the clock went from 18.13 seconds in the US set to 21.87 seconds in the JP set.

World 1-3

  • The player has 117.33 seconds in the US set, 71.47 seconds in the JP set.

World 2-3

  • The player has 117.33 seconds in the US set, 80 seconds in the JP set.

World 3-4

  • The strawberries buried in the ground can't be interacted with in the US set. In the JP set, if the player ducks over the strawberries, they can collect them for 3,000 points each.

World 4-1

MarvelLandArcWorld41Glitch.png

  • There's a hard section near the end of the stage where the player has to run and jump across widely-spaced falling logs. If the player gets to the end of this section and dies, they'll respawn at an invalid checkpoint and die, then keep respawning until they run out of lives.

World 4-2

  • There's a jump in the lava pit section at the end of the stage that's impossible to make in the US set. Completing the stage is impossible without cheating.

World 4-5

  • The screen doesn't shake in the US set.
  • The player is supposed to jump off the swinging boat ride and up through a large pit at the end of a stage. This hasn't been coded yet in the US set, so clearing the stage is impossible.

Ending

  • The game ends after World 3-4 in the US set.

MarvelLandArcEndingINT.png

  • The game's ending and credits have yet to be programmed in the US set. This single screen of text is the only indication that the game has ended.
(Source: Original TCRF research)