Hack9 and Hacker9 are in English now!

I feel as though maybe this is old news, and in many respects it is, but BLACK BASTARD (what a goddamn name!) now has two games, Hack9 and Hacker9 listed for download from itch.io I think. That’s what I’m gonna link right here, and I might even bother to confirm that I’m linking the English versions:

Assuming that 英語版 means “English”:
Hack9 (English) (readme.txt)
Hacker9 (English) (readme.txt)

Also, for those who find the game frustratingly difficult I have created a hacked save file (As of 20200812 and probably prior to that this link is broken. I’ll work on getting that fixed. Very sorry.) (get it here [Thanks to OldCoder for the hosting]). It provides more in-game money than one could ever possibly need and starts you off having already purchased and used all of the HP and MP Booster items being sold by the vendor inside of the Battleship you start off in.

I’ll try to add some pictures here at some point, because this game is certainly easy on the eyes. Later I’ll link a few salient YouTube videos in English and Japanese. Edit: I never did this. So lame.

You may or may not recall Hack9 from roughly 10 years back. The readme.txt files I linked list the original release dates! Hacker9 is more recent. I get the sense that Hacker9 may have been released simultaneously in Japanese in English last year (2017).

Thanks to @creep, I know that this game first came to my awareness from this IndieGames Blog post from back in August 2008. To this day, this is still about the only discussion of this game that I’ve been able to find, and it looks as though a few of the commenting users may have some viable walkthrough fodder/strategies to impart, granted it’s interspersed with just the sort of woeful ignorance one would expect of the comment section of a video games blog.

I used to think it a bit strange that these games were represented as Cave Story mods, but looking at the readme.txt for Hack9, it appears that may be spot-on, as it clearly mentions Daisuke Amaya and Cave Story. The Hack9 readme.txt also mentions bullet physics and box2D, but it’s not entirely clear how much of a part the bullet physics play in any aspect of the games.

The use of Box2D is pretty obvious from the way items in the world go rotating and flipping all over the place when touched. It’s interesting to note from older videos of Hack9 on NicoNico that the game did not always use Box2D. At some point it is apparent that wahiko94 (aka BLACK BASTARD) must have back ported the Hacker9 engine to be the base engine for Hack9.

The translations appear to be relatively fresh. I think the Hack9 English translation is copyrighted for 2018 and Hacker9 with a copyright date of 2017 (copyright is, naturally, assigned to, “BRACK BASTARD” thereby perpetuating stereotypes persisting from the apparent inability of the Japanese language to differentiate ‘R’ and ‘L’ sounds). So, these seem to be fresh. I sure wasn’t able to find much of anything by searching these forums anyway.

Those details aside, the games are rather Metroidvania-esque. More specifically they feel a whole Hell of a lot like a blisteringly difficult variation on Cave Story. I have yet to compare the cave tile sets to see whether or not the author borrowed any actual art from CS. That said, the way the protagonist of the two Hack[er]9 games, whose name appears to be Snort (wow :3 what a name, yo), controls very similarly to Quote from Cave Story. The only definitive difference is that Snort seems to have a certain inertia when changing directions on the ground. Maybe Quote had that too? I haven’t played CS in forever, since it doesn’t look as though the old, free-to-download binary from Pixel’s site works on my copy of Windows 10 (or maybe any copy at all; either that or Pixel switched the download up with something he scrogged the graphics on).

Did I mention the difficulty of the Hack[er]9 games, because it is noteworthy? If you’re pondering trying to play these games on, say, a laptop keyboard, I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you: it’s not worth it. The game, particularly at the start, requires a rather rigorous grasp over the fundamentals of side-scrolling platforming if you want to prevail. Further challenges arise given that the only affordable weapon at the start is a weak, diminutive combat knife. Thus far, the strategy I have in mind for defeating the soldiers involves a lot of jumping around to dodge bullets from one side of a soldier to the other while swapping directions and ultimately hovering within knife range. I imagine this will lead to some tedious grinding, at least with Hack9, to acquire enough currency to afford the basic pistol. The upgrade path in Hacker9 is not yet clear to me since the vendor only seems to be carrying knives in his inventory at the start of the game.

I also can’t tell how one increases one’s max HP.

It’s also not especially clear what MP does. The flavor text of background objects suggest to me that perhaps MP is ammunition? These don’t look, at a glance, like games that would have any sort of “magic” type of system.

The flavor of the game that I’ve been able to absorb thus far gives the game a sort of Metal Gear Solid meets side-scrolling Metroidvania with a bit of Moe protagonist undertones. There’s clearly a story to both games, but I haven’t really absorbed much of either one outside of the background related with white text on a solid black background at the start of each game. I can say, definitively, that they appear to be distinct games with distinct storylines. Their relationship to each other beyond a shared set of NPCs, Snort, enemies, and large swathes of level designs and art assets is not clear to me in the slightest.

If I get hold of a game controller and some means of recording my screen I may attempt an English walkthrough or a nice, quiet, low-commentary (or no-commentary) Let’s Play. That said, if anyone with a more sonorous voice and/or the platformer skills to pay these bills wants to preempt me on this point then by all means, have at it. Just, y’know, try not to spend the whole time quoting your favorite memes or somesuch (though quoting these so-called “birb memes” is okay by me, just a little bit).

Anyway, let’s talk about these games because I’m pretty excited about this. I recently spent 4 months without the Internet, and during that time I got all hyped up for the release of Mother 4, only to discover that, in fact, it hadn’t been released at all. But now this is here, so life has meaning again, almost!

There are also such games as HEKATONCHEIR, Ghost9, Ghost92, Ghost93, Ghost94, Ghost94 2, and the forthcoming Ghost9 Solid. I have yet to mess with any of them at all, as they’re not translated and thus ultimately unknowable to me.

@loki wrote about Ghost94, which definitely seems to follow from the same series, whatever it is, in this blog post here.

I’ll just edit this if I can think of anything more I want to type here.


Are you sure these are two different games

Seems like it. I mean, they have different intro rooms, different enemies. Granted, there are lots of similar and shared assets between the two, but the paths through the game seem at a glance to be subtly different.

Granted, maybe they aren’t actually that distinct from each other, but there are definitely differences. Hacker9 has a different opening area and different characters tasking Snort. The introductory story segments upon starting a new game are entirely different, as they tell two different stories that don’t really seem to have anything but the faintest similarities. Even the levels that appear to be recycled between the two games, and these are definitely present, the challenges are quite different. I think Hacker9 has more weapons as well.

Hacker9 also appears to use Box2D physics, and has an expanded/annoying inventory system with all kinds of items to push around (some of which even boast a debatable gameplay value).

Yet to come is Ghost9 Solid (which may also go by the name Ghost94, which @loki wrote some about here), which looks to be a 2.5D take on the established storyline. Who knows whether that’ll be a gimmick or some serious business that takes advantage of the peculiarities of its chosen graphics format. From the video I have seen thus far though it looks as though it seems lamentably similar to a 3D engine for Super Mario World.

Nevertheless, I hold that Hack9 and Hacker9 are, indeed, two distinct games. If they weren’t then I dare say it’s a touch mysterious as to why the author would even bother.

Anywho, I will take a moment to compare the readme.txt files for both games though to see if there’s any indication as to what relationship the games have, outside of the obvious prequel/sequel relationship that I think they have. Hopefully I’ll know more after I get a controller here at the home and can really spend some time with these intriguing games.

looks neat either way

Yes, I am totally stoked that these games finally came out in English. I’d always had it on my bucket list to play them, but now that I actually have a hope in Hell of understanding them it feels like a less oppressive task to play through them.

Might as well get some useful information while I’m here. What the heck can I use to record my screen as I’m playing this game? My initial thought, which is informed more by ignorance than information, is that perhaps if I got a Twitch account I could use that and whatever perverse Javascript transcoder to record it. Ideally, a Linux-functional solution would be good, as I’m playing it on WINE atm. Alas, if WINE can’t interface with a Logitech game controller then I may have to switch it up to Windows 10 if I want my videos to be something more of 3 hours of me dying in the first areas of both games.

Seriously people, play these games with me! We could even make some sort of SBGC out of it, not that I have any idea how an SB game club works.

Hey @loki, do you have links to any of the Comiket trailers that show this game? Maybe they’ll contain stuff I haven’t seen already.

Frankly, I’d bet there’s stuff about this on Nico Nico Douga. Alas, I can’t remember my credentials for NND, nor do I have any idea how to write any of the titles for these games in Japanese anyway. Anyone more Japanese literate than I care to try to dig up some media about these games on there? If there was a complete Let’s Play or walkthrough anywhere, I’d imagine it’s on NND. That said, it’s probably worth searching for this game in Japanese on YouTube. Saw a lot of media in Japanese that I’d never seen before when I searched for the game in English just now.

nevermind, the below is not true at all in these versions

stuff that isn't trueBefore anything else, I just want to make a couple things clear about hack9 and it's immediate sequel hacker9:
  • hacker9 is a significantly better game than hack9, although I suppose it’s possible to prefer the lattter for various reasons. hacker9 just outright has better graphics and music, most interesting gameplay and more devious traps. It’s a more refined, mature project and even if you can’t bear to play much of the original hack9, you should really try and make some progress in hacker9.

  • hacker9 is a significantly different game than hack9, although this isn’t immediately apparent. I kind of want to leave this for others to discover, as I did, but I think people deserve fair warning. It’s all about item permanence and the save/death mechanics. In hack9, items are like old CRPG objects, which can exist in your inventory, a vendor inventory, temporarily in an enemy’s treasure drop or as a physical item chest to loot. And when you drop them, they ‘vanish’ like they would in an old CRPG. As for save/death, it’s exactly as you’re familiar with - you have a save slot, and when you die, it’s a game over, allowing you to load your save. hacker9 doesn’t work that way at all. There’s no game over - when you die, the game saves to the slot, you respawn back at the central hub, and anything you were carrying that wasn’t equipped will be dropped where you died. This can happen because all inventory items now have a physical presence, able to be dropped or picked up anywhere in the world, rolling down slopes or being blown about by explosives. The unanticipated consequence of this is that if you die from falling into a bottomless pit, all of those items also fall into that pit. Many items can be obtained from the infinitely respawning enemies, but not all of them. Such items are gone for good…or are they?

I have to rest but I’ll try and be back later to clear up a few things.

I can safely say that any items one accidentally drops in Hacker9 may or may not be lost forever, but near the save point is a storage chest where you can plunk important things down for long-term safe keeping. This is quite necessary as there are only a few item slots.

Something I have yet to figure out is how to get items “Appraised” in Hacker9. The vendor says he’ll do it, but I don’t see the option in the menu. Perhaps I am blind? If I am, then I’m doing a pretty bang-up job of posting for a blind fool.

One thing I noticed about Hacker9 and dying that I can’t recall whether or not I mentioned is that every time I died and went back to the first cave, there would be another soldier walking on the first raised platform next to the other soldier. This provided a rather bitter incentive against dying and just continuing from the save point, but it’s not yet clear to me whether or not this persists between executions of the application .exe file.

right, I forgot about the storage chest.

unless something has changed since I played the games a few years ago, appraisal is probably the item identification thing. In what I suspect is a nod to CRPGs like Wizardry, most items you pick up won’t have a clear name/description, but if you sell them to a vendor, you’ll get the proper name and info. Of course, you then may want to buy them back…

a good assimilation of pixels art style. i made stuff in it for a very brief time and this is good.

Posting to remind myself to play Hacker9

Anybody gotten far enough to start recording or writing a walkthrough yet?

I laid hands on my Logitech controller, but I have yet to see whether or not it will work via WINE on Ubuntu. Something came up a few hours before I got hold of it and has me bummed out severely, so I’m completely stalled out and just watching Forged in Fire on The History Channel today.

I finally managed to start playing hack9 English and it seems that it’s been revamped since whatever version I have on some USB stick somewhere. Items can now be dropped/picked up as loose items like in hacker9, making inventory management much less of a pain. ltem drop rate seems to have increased and level geometry has been tightened. Some screens, like FORT in the first area, have been completely redesign. HP and MP Boosts can now be found here and there instead of exclusively being bought. And I apparently found a secret area that wasn’t there before, which instakilled me by warping Snort into a wall? Crazy. Looks like it’ll take me a bit of time to get familiar with it again.

I feel a strange urge to add a drawing of Snort to my “To-Draw List.” Alas, I’m totally stalled out on art due to bullshit tragedies I cannot easily reconcile. Gotta break this hiatus and get back down to one of the only things that matter instead of scrolling through a bunch of shitty Tumblrs all day and wondering why nobody is on IRC during my prime insomniac hours in the early morning (Bellsomra, I miss you dreadfully).

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Finally got around to plugging in my controller and fired up Hack9 to see if it works with a controller in WINE on Ubuntu Bionic Badger. Not only does it work, it has made the whole thing tremendously easier for me to play! Thus far though I’ve still not managed to very far in 1F, but I did just replace my Kukri Knife (1 dmg) with the Dagger (2 dmg), which has made it significantly easier to dispatch soldiers and the relatively harmless fish floating around in the waters of the various caves.

Just a curious detail, but there’s a switch on the back of this controller that toggles between “X” and “D.” For my first test I had the controller set to “D.” I believe that this switch toggles between a newer and older DirectX input standard for computer game controllers, those being DirectInput and XInput. Ergo I tested DirectInput, the older standard. Based on the Log.txt file generated after I ran the game, it looks as though the creator used DX11 to make the game. The log file even reports both XInput and DirectInput .dll file support, though I can’t read it all since a good portion of it is in Japanese. Ultimately, this makes sense that both would be supported since Hack9 came out in 2008, early in the lifecycle of the XBox 360, which is the console that brought XInput into the world.

One thing I have noticed is that in the config menu there is an interactive picture of a controller that shows which button presses should map to which actions. That said, there is something slightly incongruous about the information conveyed therein, but I have yet to determine just what it is.

I’ll test it on the other setting later, just for the sake of being thorough.

Gotta say, the graphics for the meat slices do not look that much like meat slices to me, unless you like your meat metallic gray with a bright green dot on them.

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So what’s the item-drop-on-death mechanic people are talking about? Does it start after you make it a certain way into the game? I haven’t seen it happening for me at all so far, though I’ve never made it to a save point beyond the first one.

Me neither.

Maybe that was based on an older build?

I mean, to be perfectly frank it sounds like a bullshit, game-breaking mechanic. “Oh, you needed that key you had on you before you fell into a spike pit? Just take a dive and go get it if you can, SUCKER”!

That’s bullshit game design. Even Half-Quake wouldn’t break itself in such a fashion.

Oh okay. I thought I had fucked up or had a bad build of the game or something.
But then again everything I’ve done in this game so far has made me question if I’m going the right way or if things are working as intended.

I’ve made it pretty far into the cave system without finding a save area or a way back out and Im starting to question if I didnt miss something.
Especially since you need to fall through a hidden gap in the floor to get past part of it.

yeah, sorry about that. I played a bit of hacker9 and realized it switched to the save/game over method as hack9 and I think the later games as well. I meant to redact my post earlier but I forgot.

It obviously baffled and frustrated me at first, but I eventually came to respect the original hacker9 save system, although the game works just fine without it. It simply added a new layer or two of risk and reward to various things, and I’ll probably write a post about how significantly it shifted certain aspects of the game flow. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t make the game unwinnable unless you really went out of your way to do so, it’s not really a lock-and-key kind of game. Also I guess I’ll go ahead and ‘spoil’ that there’s a New Game+ which lets you carry over certain things and in the process restore everything possibly lost. And if you’re sufficiently curious, there’s a clever way to force an early rebirth…

well, whatever. If I remember correctly (and I may not), there is only the one save point in hacker9, at the Inn. Everywhere else, you’re going to have to be cautious. That includes being wary of the possibility of those hidden pits, which are indeed the right direction. You need to go through the center left door in that room (Pithell?) to get to Presser, and that leads to the second half or so of the first area. The door in the middle of Presser leads to Bathroom, where you have to talk to an NPC (although you need a gun in your inventory to continue the plot). After that you explore further through the area, fight a weird little boss battle and get to the main objective of the game, which allows you to start unlocking new areas.

Oh yeah, past Presser the traps are going to be even more devious. Get used to temporarily dropping your inventory items so when you see a suspicious pile of items (read: any), you can jump into them while pressing down and grab up any explosives before they go off. Or just restore if you think something you might’ve wanted was blown up/knocked into a pit.

Near the end of the first area, after seeing an odd cutscene involving several characters dressed as maids, you’ll find a large room that winds around clockwise and has a large pit in the middle that kills you if you fall in it (I think it’s supposed to be a trash chute or something). In the upper left of that room is the first time you run into an enemy that looks like a dancing geisha, and while I can’t remember what level it is, one of her drops is the best long-range weapon you can get for a while, a tricky grenade launcher that takes some getting used to but has an excellent cost:damage ratio.

okay, as for hack9 - it’s not really worth buying the P99 or whatever in the store, because the stationary sniping PGA soldiers drop the level 2 gun (the AK I think). Also one of the modifications to the game since I played it is the removal of some of the progress-obstructing boxes that require a gun to destroy, so you can get by without one for a while. You’re going to want to grab an RPG though, either dropped from a tank or bought when you get to the second area. That’s when you start running into genuinely mobile heavy artillery.
For the most part, don’t worry about other drops in the first area.

Oh, one more thing. Near the end of area one, you’ll meet a goofy jumping guy above some spikes. In the previous version I played, they had a slow projectile that was pretty easy to avoid. It’s been revised to a faster missile in this release, and while you can sneak under on your way through left-to-right, you’re almost guaranteed to take a 10-damage-missile-to-the-face on the way back again, and maybe one or two more as you get your bearings. So it’d be good to have 20+ max HP and maybe a Repair healing item (there’s one in an area a bit after you meet the enemy)

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Interesting clarification, creep.

I’ve been looking on NicoNico a bit to see if I can find any decent Let’s Plays or walkthrough videos. Thus far I’m mostly just confused though.

URGH! Hack9 is frustrating the living shit out of me.

Some things I’ve learned, aside from the utter dearth of save points and some distinctly unfair hallways that fundamentally force one to take damage–such as the drop through a two-block sized hole that has a moving, damaging, one block box shifting between the two open spaces of the hole–I’m also deeply irritated to learn that some of the weapon drops appear completely at random.

Two weapons I obtained prior to dying ignominiously were the pineapple, which is a grenade; and the iron-something, which was a relatively shit pistol with feeble range. The iron-doohickey was dropped by the guard at the bottom of that shaft with the unfair, moving damage block at the top.

I sort of wonder if the drop of the pineapple was intended to be used against the guards standing next to the two proxy servers that are visible in that bullshit drop shaft with the damaging blocks and the iron-whatever gun I only got once. Neither server is directly accessible due to some annoying blocks that likely can only be shot through but not passed through.

Honestly, even then, there are destructible but stationary versions of the damage blocks in front of those guards.

Suffice to say, I feel as though I should be trying to farm more meat slices, but it’s not substantially clear that such a thing is even possible. Enemies that would normally drop them seem to stop after a while. I hope the number of healing items isn’t too limited. If they are then I may just end up watching the playthroughs I found on Nico Nico Douga.

It also occurs to me that somewhere or other there should be a pistol called the P99 (ostensibly a Walther?) but the item shop guy in the Battleship doesn’t sell it at the moment.

Did I mention the NND videos I’ve found? Allow me to link some:
Hack9, Part1 (Really windy-sounding lady narrating the Let’s Play)
Weird video showing pictures of various weapons, items, and enemies. Can anyone translate this?
More complete Part1 of a some 20-odd part Hack9 playthrough video set, complete with obnoxious NND-style scrolling titles. (note: may be the same as the first video, as it has that same entirely too breathy lady talking over the action of the game).

Since the last link is clearly part of a series, I’ll make another post listing all the videos for this walkthrough in sequence, that I might spare others some effort.

On the plus side, these playthroughs are likely to be spoiler-free for those like me who can’t understand a damn single letter of written Japanese. On the other hand, it’s irritating as shit that I can’t just watch a playthrough in English to learn what actually happens in the story. That reminds me, does anyone have any recommendation for software to record my playthroughs?

This is tremendously frustrating to me that I went to all the trouble of obtaining this game only to discover that I fucking SUCK at it even with a controller. Still, got further with the controller than I would have otherwise.

Edit: Okay, at this point I’ve identified three or so distinct NND uploaders of walkthroughs. One is the series that has little Touhou-looking characters talking, these being the ones I described as breathy, which is funny because they’re probably computerized, and computers don’t breathe. Nevertheless, one thing I find utterly charming with this streamer is that the voice never gains inflection, yet the heads clearly exhibit emotions. The two best ones are when the streamer’s frustration peaks and the head starts warping around on the screen from spot to spot, usually accompanied by an atonal, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”! The other one, a noise that amuses me greatly, is that the head will emit an, “AWOOOOOOOOOOO”! Howling of this sort generally accompanies a great victory over a boss. This player shows the most skill of all the streamers, as this person is playing through with a whole 1HP and 1MP! It’s utter absurdity! The player also racks up a pretty big mess of money that never appears to be spent (because ultimately, playing with 1HP, the only truly useful item is Raw Skill B3 ). The noteworthy flaw is that this streamer is still, ostensibly, streaming (unless he or she gave up; no way I’d ever know since such an announcement would have been made in Japanese, which is meaningless to my eyes and ears). I hope to see whether or not it’s even possible to finish Hack9 without taking a hit.

Some of the later enemies are interesting, but I can’t help thinking that BLACK BASTARD maybe didn’t understand some of the finer points of what made Cave Story’s gameplay so effective.

The other two streamers are less remarkable. Both are male, but one of them is somewhat more dynamic. He has a couple of amusing sound effects interspersed into his arrangements, the most memorable demarcating the successful dispatching of, yes, a boss.

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