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INTERVIEW
Jeff Kulczycki


Jeff Kulczycki takes good things and makes them even better!
He has altered many coin-op favorites such as Dragon's Lair,
and recently offered four new levels to the original Donkey Kong
that would make DK creator Shigeru Miyamoto blush with pride!


Title Screen
New Intro
Kong is Back!

MT> When your not hacking old coin-ops, you live as an electrical engineer. What does a typical day in your career entail?
NB> I design automotive electronics which is quite a bit different than the old school hardware that I deal with in my hobby.
Automotive electronics is a challenging career that requires developing and testing hardware and software to meet the supplier’s needs.

MT> You started collecting full-size coin-op machines w/ both Dragon's Lair machines, Space Ace and then Burgertime.
How many cabinets do you currently have in your possession?
NB> I currently have over 20 games and cabinets in various states. Most of the games are in my basement and I have a couple in the garage. I probably have more project games than I can handle right now but I keep telling myself that I get around to fixing them someday.

MT> Your first project was to "enhance" the original Dragon's Lair. What features did you add? Did you fix any bugs?
NB> Dave Hallock and I worked on Dragon’s Lair Enhancement. We created a new flow to the game by ordering the rooms and fixing some minor bugs. It was an exciting project that really required us to dive deep into the game and understand its inner-workings. You can read about it at http://www.dragons-lair-project.com/tech/enhancements/dle21.asp.

MT> So you create code listings by disassembling the binary images of a particular game. Then what?
What are the steps taken to hack an arcade classic?
NB> Once I’ve created a disassembled listing using the binary images, I will comb through the code and comment it. This can take a long time depending on what types of changes I want to make. After the code is commented and understood then it’s a matter of making the change and reassembling the code to try it out.

MT> Did you ever fear that you wouldn't be able to decipher the code listings?
NB> Yes. Looking back I remember how hard it was to start making sense of the code listings. These days I can recognize things pretty easily but back then it was all new. I knew the code should have routines to read the joystick and keep track of the score and such, but I had no idea what they looked like or where I could find them.

New Intermission 1
New Intermission 2

MT> Please tell us about the falling pie sprite that you located within the original Donkey Kong.
NB> You can find the sprite hidden in the graphics ROMs of the game. It shows a pie sprite tilted to one side and spilling out. It was included with the game but was never used. I used this sprite as an inspiration for The Mixer level.

MT> Donkey Kong 2: Jumpman Returns took you approximately 3 1/2 years to complete. Care to guess how many actual man hours you clocked in the process?
NB> I can’t really say. As with most projects I would start and stop on it over the years. Some times I would work on it hard and heavy and other times I wouldn’t look at it for weeks. I never really had a timeline that I was trying to follow. It was just a “casual” project for me. The hardest part is keeping with it and finishing it.


MT> What Donkey Kong 2: Jumpman Returns levels did you work on that you abandoned or left on the drawing table?
NB> An early version of the game included a level called The Crane. It used several elevator sprites in a row to simulate a girder being raised and lowered. It wasn’t much fun to play and the crane itself took up a lot of gameplay area. Ultimately it was dropped and some of the elements were used in The Incinerator level.

MT> How do you react to those fanatics that do not approve of you altering an original programmers work?
NB> Most Donkey Kong fans are excited to see something new for their favorite game. Hopefully the others that don’t approve will still take the opportunity to check it out. I tried to make the levels have the same “feel” as the original game.

MT> How do you feel the original Donkey Kong creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, would comment on your new Donkey Kong level layouts?
NB> I don’t know but it would be nice to have him play them and hear what he has to say. I often wonder what the game would have been like had there been more levels.

MT> We waited 26 years for a sequel, so perhaps part 3 will emerge in 2033. Perhaps??
NB> I do enjoy making levels but I’ll probably take a break for a while!

MT> Okay, we all agree that Donkey Kong 2: Jumpman Returns is fantastic! How does one go about getting to play it?
NB> I hope to have it available soon. Check out the RomHack website often for updates and details.

 

Okay, we know that your excited to actually see the new levels,
so here they are in all their glory!





The Foundry

 




The Incinerator





The Mixer

 



The Refinery


Good Deal Games would like to thank Jeff for returning us to the happier times of discovery
reminding us of the first time we all saw the original Donkey Kong, and for bringing us back again!


Visit Jeff's RomHack to learn more about his current projects.


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