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Revolutionary: Support our Cyber Troopers

Mike Sylvester

Every Tuesday, Mike Sylvester brings you REVOLUTIONARY, a look at the wide world of Wii possibilities.

Long ago, there existed a magical place where children and teenagers dumped quarter after quarter into machines which housed the latest and greatest hardware for playing drool-worthy games that just weren't possible at home. This place was called Arcade. One day, a powerful consumer electronics manufacturer decided they wanted those quarters, a few hundred dollars on top of that, and a lifetime of your loyalty. With the mystical weapon called PlayStation, they drew the life force out of arcades and created their own mighty empire - in your home. Most memories of the arcade have evolved into legend, with a few of the old games brought home as ports. But capturing the full magnificent essence of most of those games has rarely been accomplished. Whether it's the scarcity of competitors whose pockets jingle with change as they wait their turn to play, the absence of custom-made control systems designed to fit each individual game, the inability to play ports that look exactly as they did in their arcade incarnations, or any number of other reasons, the arcade is nigh on impossible to rebuild in one's home. But that shouldn't stop you from trying.

Debuting in 1995, Sega's Cyber Troopers: Virtual On ran on the same Model 2 arcade hardware that powered Fighting Vipers and Dead or Alive. The arcade machine featured a unique way of controlling the in-game avatars, known as Virtuaroids. There were two joysticks parallel to each other and you used them to independently control the two sides of your character. Trying to explain how it works might induce a look of perplexity, but it's actually quite intuitive once you begin playing. Like FV and DOA, it was later ported the Sega Saturn home console, taking a notable hit in graphics department. Sega did, however, make a twin-stick controller for the port, which allowed the game to be played in the same way as in the arcade version.

Virtual On's arcade sequel, Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram, was developed for Sega's Model 3 hardware and later ported to the Dreamcast. There it also supported a custom twin stick arcade-style controller, and this time, thanks to the Dreamcast's performance being comparable to Model 3's, the graphics didn't suffer much.

We've talked before about how the Wiimote and/or Nunchuk could be held vertically and used like a joystick, and now's about the time to give it a shot. The PC port of Virtual On has a control mode that lets you try to play it like the arcade version, with separate control over both sides of your Virtuaroid. That works dreadfully when using the keyboard, but the feature's inclusion works to our advantage when emulating the keyboard in GlovePIE.

I've dreamt of playing Virtual On with my Wiimote and Nunchuk ever since I began writing scripts for GlovePIE. Long before I even got the game, I'd been working on the script with help from members of the forums. When I finally got the game, it was like a dream come true. The script had a few flaws, but I had the kinks worked out quickly, and within minutes, I was jumping and dashing and cutting down giant robots with my plasma sword with the biggest smile stretched across my face. The PS3 ain't got nothin' on this, my friends. This is living!

//Right weapon
If Wiimote.B
Key.C = True
Wiimote.LED4 = True
Key.C = False
Wiimote.LED4 = False
//Left weapon
If Nunchuk.Zbutton
Wiimote.LED1 = True
Key.D = True
Wiimote.LED1 = False
Key.D = False
If Wiimote.A
Key.E = True
Wiimote.Rumble = True
//Rumble feedback will be on while dashing
Wiimote.LED2 and Wiimote.LED3 = True //The two center LEDs will show us that we're dashing
Key.E = False
Wiimote.Rumble = False
Wiimote.LED2 and Wiimote.LED3 = False
Key.Space = Wiimote.Home

Although the GX, GY, and GZ functions are intended to be used for detecting acceleration forces, they can also be used to detect tilt. The pull of earth's gravity varies as you tilt the controller, so we can use it, in some cases, as a substitute for Roll or Pitch functions.

//Right stick
If Wiimote.GX < -.25
NumPad6 = True
var.debugR = "R-right"
Wiimote.LED4 = True
NumPad6 = False
Wiimote.LED4 = False

If Wiimote.GX > .25
NumPad4 = True
var.debugR = "R-left"
Wiimote.LED3 = True
NumPad4 = False
Wiimote.LED3 = False

We can use the LEDs as a visual indicator of what we're doing with the controllers, instead of just a novelty effect. We're only going to be setting it to show the left and right tilting of each controller, since it the LEDs are only arranged in that single dimension. We're also going to be creating variables which we'll later use to fit the same role, but in a different way.

Now we know this script does something

If Wiimote.GY > .25
NumPad8 = True
var.debugR = "R-forward"
NumPad8 = False

If Wiimote.GY < -.25
NumPad5 = True
var.debugR = "R-backward"
NumPad5 = False

//Left stick
If Nunchuk.GX < -.25
PageDown = True
var.debugL = "L-right"
Wiimote.LED2 = True
PageDown = False
Wiimote.LED2 = False

If Nunchuk.GX > .25
Delete = True
var.debugL = "L-left"
Wiimote.LED1 = True
Delete = False
Wiimote.LED1 = False

If Nunchuk.GY > .6
Home = True
var.debugL = "L-forward"
Home = False
If Nunchuk.GY < -.1
Key.End = True
var.debugL = "L-backward"
Key.End = False

Now we'll make use of those variables we created previously. With the debug command we can get a visual indication of what the controller is doing before the game we're scripting for is even running. Once we run the program, we should see in the debug box a description of what direction the controllers are being tilted toward.

debug = "Left Stick: "+var.debugL+", Right Stick: "+var.debugR

Now we have a complete script for Virtual On, but the game is pretty hard to find these days, and even harder to get running stably. Like so many classics, this series absolutely needs to make a comeback on our favorite waggle-riffic console.

You don't have to be good at a game to enjoy it

We're looking for suggestions and tips on what you want to know more about. What Wii-related features would you like to see us delve more deeply into or bring to the public eye? Drop a comment to tell us.

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