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Spengler Cup: Davos 2023


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Insert development hell joke here. But the good thing about retro games is that you don't need to stick to a stringent release schedule.
I also guess I could have waited two more days to get to that "half a year to the day" mark, but here it is anyway.

In honour of the 100th anniversary of the oldest invitational hockey tournament still played today, although due to mostly war and pandemic reasons, six tournaments had to be cancelled over that time span, serendipitously making this the 94th tournament to be held, I would to present a "review" of:

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Quick history, as noted, the tournament was first held in Davos, Switzerland in 1923, and originally devised by Dr. Carl Spengler, mainly as a way to promote friendlier competition with clubs from German speaking regions who may have been ostracized within Europe due to that thing that happened in the previous decade. It is held between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve and according to the foundation charter, he wanted to offer nations that had previously been enemies the opportunity "to test their strength in peaceful battles and to take one another’s hand in friendship."
The tournament was held outdoors from 1923 until 1977 when its current home, the Eisstadion Davos, was built and where every tournament has been held since. Interestingly, that original outdoor rink still exists today right next door to the stadium, yet the organizers completely missed the opportunity to add a "Winter Classic" style outdoor game to the slate to commemorate the event.
Anyway, as for what did happen, fittingly the home side was able to break a twelve year drought, winning the tournament they host, and are now in a tie with other tournament favourite Team Canada for the most overall titles with 16.

On to the game. The art style in this one is a little different from typical Team 1920 games a it features a more "vintage computer" look with a much higher reliance on dithering than typical console games of the era. This becomes apparent right from the opening screens.
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As is the featuring of sponsors, which used to be much more visible than what you would see in a typical North American setting.

While the title screen shows the exterior of the unmistakable Eisstadion Davos, the main menu brings you inside where you see the iconic wooden beams that form the signature of the building. The title bars are a bit of a throwback to the previous font used by Davos and the colour player photos lean into some of the inconsistencies that are found within the photographic methods of the different European teams and leagues featured this time around.
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While not an official team photo, Josh Jooris was excited to meet his new team.

This being a North American release, the only North American based broadcaster at the games was TSN. Apparently host and play-by-play announcer Dustin Nielson showed up a bit early for his local co-host and colour commentator Doug Honegger so he could make the pre-game presentation solo.
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TSN's SportsCentre also presents the scores from around the sport. Foreshadowing some other events held at the same time.

The Player Cards mix a bit of old and new styles while main tournament sponsor UBS... [which apparently like many banks these days, is no longer an acronym, because having a city or country in your name is not good for multinational aspirations] ...gets a main sponsor presentation.
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Interesting note here. The Head Coaches get a nod in the team listing, but they aren't available for play, so don't worry about that 23 overall rating.

Of course there is an option to compete for the Spengler Cup. I'd recommend the one game playoff as it is more in line with the short tournament, but an extended Best-of-7 option is available as well. Due to the nature of a six team format, the method used to fit in to a normal four round playoff is to just give teams byes. Every team gets an option to go straight to the penultimate or just ultimate game, but you as the player will always start in the round of the bottom four. Some breakthroughs in the coding mean that matchups are quite varied, which is nice. Once in a game, line changes can be made so that every player is available for every position other than goalie. Players are listed numerically though because that is aesthetically pleasing.
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It would have been visually interesting if that trophy pedestal could continue all the way to the bottom of the screen, but fading out works too.

As that line now takes to the ice, we start to see some other changes to the usual format with the TSN branded game clock, the referee facing the correct direction [thanks. I can no longer unsee that @AdamCatalyst] and a wood coloured floor nonchalantly sitting off to the side there. Which prompts a closer look. Wood construction is very much the hallmark of Eisstadion Davos, so it had to be featured in the background here. Sadly the developer seems to have not been able to come to an agreement with another tournament sponsor, Skoda, so there is no car in the corner of the arena, just more seats.
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Main sponsor UBS's logo can also be seen here peaking out from it's normal place at center ice.

Skoda does get a feature on the game menu screen though. In the banner over the exits at the top of the arena stairs. Which are here in wood. Another sponsor, Swiss Air, get their usual spot behind the penalty boxes. And while they did not keep this feature up this past year, the penalty box bench give a nod to a feature used in previous years of replacing the penalty bench with a row of airline seats. It was an interesting feature, much like the old Swiss Milk sponsored jersey cow referee uniforms, that instigated a lot of talk on previous TSN broadcasts. No Hitsch mascot here, but he Zamboni driver decided to don a Davos jersey and helmet. Of note here is that while typical "Five and a game" penalties don't mesh well with the '94 coding, injuring a player will get you a double minor on those fancy seats.
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And there are those national teams again...

As there was some space available, this game comes with a bonus Two-for-One Holiday Special pre-installed DLC if you will, in that the other Boxing Day to [just after] New Year's tournament, the World U20 Hockey Tournament, or as simply known in North America as the World Juniors, is available to play as well.
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The caveat being that while you can play as the ten Juniour teams, the branding will still be Spengler related because the game doesn't support multiple... everything presentation related. Someone else will just need to take the teams out and make that game.

Wrapping up, what's a good score... One and a half hat tricks out of a Zamboni. Hope you enjoy.

Updated version

 

Spengler Cup - Davos 2023 v1.2 CAN.bin

and the localized Swiss Edition.
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Spengler Cup - Davos 2023 v1.2 SUI.bin

 

Edited by von Ozbourne
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Wow. I love all the thoughtful details you put into your releases. I'm glad you wrote so much to explain the intent. Gives me an even better appreciation when I play it.

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Really great work!! I enjoy this rom and appreciate your hard work for that.  Keep up the good work.  There is a strong sense of realism in your rom aside the U20 tournament that doesn't have its center ice but let's pretend the U20 tournament is in Switzerland and then the game is perfect!!! Thank you again so much for this rom von Ozbourne!!!

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Alright, sorry folks but I noticed a couple small things that slipped under the radar, so despite the protracted development, I ended up updating it.

Spengler Cup - Davos 2023 v1.1.bin

But, as a bonus, I liked the idea of a "local" version as well and also switched the presentation from Canada's TSN to Switzerland's SRF Sport network. The rebrand just brings in the new network sponsor logos and TSN host Dustin Nielson steps aside for SRF [or RTS in French] host Steve Roth.

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Spengler Cup - Davos 2023 SUI.bin

Update added to the main post as well.

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It's crazy how one can put in an utterly insane amount of work and review, but then the moment you release it to the public, oversights just magically appear as plain as day. I imagine it has to do with how we look at things differently when we've shifted mental modes. But I have no idea. 

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I guess I can understand how it happens. As the type who will occasionally miss the forest for staring so closely as to completely encompass my entire field of view with a single leaf fallen on the ground.

I also notice how this happens in writing sometimes. I'll get tripped up on a typo or misplaced word in print and wonder how that survived the editing process. But then I realize that this thing happens to me ail the tome when typing out same thong and you do nut sea any rad squiggly lines udder any wards on the scream so you just assume that yo spilled everything correctly. Than your brain fails you buy skinning over it and fulling on the blanks on a way were you don't oven realize whit you air mussing up.

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Hello, love the Rom, but I noticed that on the score board for Frölunda it’s FRO and not FHC. When I saw FRO I was like “something looks weird.” I had to double verify with my Swedish Best friend. Unless they do things different for the Spengler Cup, the initials should be FHC.

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10 hours ago, l o f i - poutine said:

Hello, love the Rom, but I noticed that on the score board for Frölunda it’s FRO and not FHC. When I saw FRO I was like “something looks weird.” I had to double verify with my Swedish Best friend. Unless they do things different for the Spengler Cup, the initials should be FHC.

Oh? This is interesting. Actually now you have me thinking that I may need to switch this for the Suisse version. Could probably also check to see if there are any abbreviation differences used for the other teams while I'm at it. Although the thing is, I can't say for certain what they did in on European broadcasts because those were annoyingly difficult to look up, but those abbreviations were borrowed directly from the TSN broadcast.

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56 minutes ago, von Ozbourne said:

Oh? This is interesting. Actually now you have me thinking that I may need to switch this for the Suisse version. Could probably also check to see if there are any abbreviation differences used for the other teams while I'm at it. Although the thing is, I can't say for certain what they did in on European broadcasts because those were annoyingly difficult to look up, but those abbreviations were borrowed directly from the TSN broadcast.

If it’s borrowed from TSN, then that should be fine. It was just weird seeing the abbreviation be different, I just thought I’d bring it up.

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I actually found a big bug when playing as KalPa and line changes are enabled. If you attempt to edit the rosters before the game, an error will pop up and freeze the screen. I swept through all the teams with this workflow and found no issues. This seems to only happen to Kalpa and you have line changes turned on. When you have them turned off, no issue. Here is a screenie of the error.

IMG_1965.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

Okay. First off, nice set up. Reminded me of how disappointed I was when my parents opted to have an e-recycling service pick up their last remaining CRT rather than letting me know to drive home to get it. But as luck would have it, less than a year later, some friends had an old CRT in their kids' room and I mentioned offhand that would be great for introducing them to retro games. They responded that they were actually going to get a new TV later that month and were going to hand-me-down their current flat screen to the kids' room. I immediately told them, hey, if you want to save the dumping fee, I'll buy it off you. They didn't take my money, but three weeks later, I was playing Duckhunt for the first time in fifteen years. It was glorious.

Back on the topic of the error om that CRT screen though, I just noticed that it is an easy fix that somehow slipped through the "QA department". Issue was that I copied the lineup card from each teams' last game. As best I could. Some teams ended up using more than 25 different players in their three games, so I gave preference to players who played more games or got more points when it came to shaving down the rosters to fit in the game. Issue with that was that meant having a couple players in the final game not making the final cut. This actually only affected Ambri-Piotta and KalPa, but while I made a hybrid lineup on HCAP, I forgot to fill one space on KalPa's third line. Doesn't crash when you just play, but you do end up playing short handed when you send the Checking line out. I'm guessing it just crashes on entering the Line Editor from trying to parse the nonexistent Left Winger.

Thanks for the heads up.

Original post is updated with the fixed version.
Again.

edit: Oh yeah. I also switched the Swiss version to reflect the more local abbreviations of Frolunda [FHC] and Davos [HCD].
The rest seemed to be fine, or I just couldn't find a good example. [other than HC-AP which has one too many characters]

Edited by von Ozbourne
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4 hours ago, von Ozbourne said:

Okay. First off, nice set up. Reminded me of how disappointed I was when my parents opted to have an e-recycling service pick up their last remaining CRT rather than letting me know to drive home to get it. But as luck would have it, less than a year later, some friends had an old CRT in their kids' room and I mentioned offhand that would be great for introducing them to retro games. They responded that they were actually going to get a new TV later that month and were going to hand-me-down their current flat screen to the kids' room. I immediately told them, hey, if you want to save the dumping fee, I'll buy it off you. They didn't take my money, but three weeks later, I was playing Duckhunt for the first time in fifteen years. It was glorious.

Back on the topic of the error om that CRT screen though, I just noticed that it is an easy fix that somehow slipped through the "QA department". Issue was that I copied the lineup card from each teams' last game. As best I could. Some teams ended up using more than 25 different players in their three games, so I gave preference to players who played more games or got more points when it came to shaving down the rosters to fit in the game. Issue with that was that meant having a couple players in the final game not making the final cut. This actually only affected Ambri-Piotta and KalPa, but while I made a hybrid lineup on HCAP, I forgot to fill one space on KalPa's third line. Doesn't crash when you just play, but you do end up playing short handed when you send the Checking line out. I'm guessing it just crashes on entering the Line Editor from trying to parse the nonexistent Left Winger.

Thanks for the heads up.

Original post is updated with the fixed version.
Again.

edit: Oh yeah. I also switched the Swiss version to reflect the more local abbreviations of Frolunda [FHC] and Davos [HCD].
The rest seemed to be fine, or I just couldn't find a good example. [other than HC-AP which has one too many characters]

Thank you for the quick turn around. I figured it had something to do with the hex code for the rosters. I am a QA tech at my job so this is a big part of what I do. I wish there was better testing tools I could utilize for nhl94 roms, but you can only do so much with software limitations. 
 

thank you for the kind words about my crt. My sister and I had an old crt with a vcr in it, but the screen shorted out. The one that I currently use was a bday present from my wife where she fb marketplaced it from one town over. The dvd player sometimes plays dvd’s but I mainly use it for my sega setup. 
 

You are one of my favorite rom hackers on this forum, and I am always excited when you put out a new project. Keep up the great work!

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Thanks for the kind words.

I have to say that the silly thing with testing ROMs is that you do run into that issue where some glitches pop up and you might not notice them for a few versions. And then after those get figured out, a new one might show up as a result of the "fix".

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44 minutes ago, von Ozbourne said:

Thanks for the kind words.

I have to say that the silly thing with testing ROMs is that you do run into that issue where some glitches pop up and you might not notice them for a few versions. And then after those get figured out, a new one might show up as a result of the "fix".

Good ole regression

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