Five years ago, a developer by the name of Linkandzelda embarked on a journey to create a Crystal remake for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. This game was a hack of Pokémon: Fire Red version which was released in 2004, but since then has been stripped to the point where the current features exceed that of the original game.
Pokémon: Liquid Crystal; the development diary
Development for Liquid Crystal actually begun without me for just over a year, before Linkandzelda appointed me the graphics artist and soon after, I became the co-owner due to the amount of time I spent making sure Liquid Crystal had an above-average visual appeal. However, that wasn’t so easy considering the fact we considered GameFreak competition, as much as they were originators.
GameFreak; at the time where Linkandzelda began development, were creating Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. These games ran on polygons, vectors and 256-color sprites and weren’t in the tiling format previously used, which meant presentation for Pokémon: Liquid Crystal had to be the absolute best. We just couldn’t afford to make an irrelevant and obsolete Pokémon game. We wanted a remake for Gold, Silver and Crystal as much as any fan did at the time, but Nintendo failed to comment on whether Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal remakes were planned, so we created something which the fans wanted. Soon after, we discovered HeartGold and SoulSilver would soon be released in 2009, but our initial remake was completed by then.
With a lot of fans preferring our remake to Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, we had big changes heading their way. In the summer of 2010, Liquid Crystal was made into an open-project; meaning developers could work on it freely with credits to us. At this point, we felt it was in the community’s hands to create a remake that they desired using our combined efforts. We soon closed this open-project and continued development by revamping graphics, features and music and then we released beta 3.1 last Christmas.
Beta 3.1, was single-handedly our best release and offered a brand new region to explore, graphics, slight story changes and leveling improvements. The release was so good, to the point where the previous two beta releases aren’t worth mentioning. The download count of beta 3.1 at the time of launch was around 15,000. We know for a fact that more recently 137,000 people have at least looked into what Liquid Crystal is and what it offers to fans of the franchise. With a lot of the community behind us, we found ourselves needing to achieve more to make the game more lengthy, enjoyable and worthwhile both to create and to play.
The original Crystal version offered 251 obtainable Pokémon to catch, two regions to explore and 16 badges to acquire. Pokémon: Liquid Crystal, however, offers three regions to explore, 20 badges to acquire, 386 Pokémon to obtain and the same story as the original but with extra twists and story plots.
Due to the magnitude of our remake, it has resulted in our development phase is a lot more structured, as most of us are working or are in University. Our team was created to break up the workload so we could dedicate more time into our other priorities.
In short, Magnius is in charge of the music implementation and is the man behind all the Crystal re-compositions and remixes found in Liquid Crystal – some of which can be found on his YouTube channel. Linkandzelda is the scripter, or programmer if you will. He is in charge of implementing features and compiling scripts which trigger events – examples of his work can be seen in every screenshot of Pokémon: Liquid Crystal. Jambo51 is behind the assembly and disassembly of the ROM. In other words, he works on routines that are either specific to hardware or other implementations; he also has a YouTube channel showcasing his work. As mentioned before, I’m in charge of the graphics which is also present in any screen shot, but a selection of my Microsoft Paint-drawn artwork can be seen below or on Flickr:
What’s next for us and Pokemon: Liquid Crystal?
Well, here’s where all of you Pokénerds come in; you see, we need feedback or opinions based on what we have done so far, so if you haven’t played the game, your best bet is to either Google "Pokémon: Liquid Crystal Beta 3.1", or tweet to me. We cannot profit from this project, nor will we infringe the Pokémon brand name by providing links to ROMs; it's against the terms and conditions of Gamasutra.
The point of this post was to give readers an insight into our progression as we are heading out of the beta phase and into the first release candidate. So without further ado, what would you like to see in this game? Please leave a comment below, or if you’re feeling intrigued enough, follow my Twitter or Linkandzelda’s. We need as much help as we can get, so don’t be afraid to get involved. Contacting us on our individual Twitter accounts gets issues resolved quicker as well.
Remember, if you have paid for Pokémon: Liquid Crystal in the past or are required to pay for it anywhere from this point on after reading this, you are being ripped off - this ROM hack is intended to be free of charge.