Hack of the Sega Fish Life to be played on emulator and Dreamcast console


The goal of a release is to make it accessible to everyone in optimal conditions. People want to try it out even for a few seconds. It's no fun otherwise!


The original Sega Fish Life dump (bios, flash and game) did not allow to be played without owning this UFO. We had to work around this problem to make it available to as many people as possible. We did it by patching the ISO. Otherwise, this release would only interest the preservation community without addressing the main interested parties, the gamers.

A few years ago, I was able to work on the Sega Fish Life release and preservation project led by the Bolo Museum. If I was mainly in charge of dumping the game and making the link between the team and the museum, my friends were able to hack the whole thing so that the game could run on an emulator and a Dreamcast console.


Fish Life is a set of aquarium simulators developed by SEGA in 2000.




Five editions were made in GD-Rom format, each presenting a different part of the marine life. The console (HKS-0300), similar to a Dreamcast, includes a touch screen and a microphone.

By placing your finger on the touch screen, the fish will follow you according to their desires of the moment. By touching one of these deep-sea creatures, one will learn more about them, such as their species, habits and habitats. Sega Fish Life was meant to be educational.


The microphone allows you to talk to the fish to make them dance, feed them or change their emotions (boredom, fear etc)




These 2 features, the most interesting ones, are only available with the real console. With a little work, it would be possible to recreate the touch mechanism and port it to KOS for future use in Homebrew.


By pressing "Down" of the cross key and "B", a Debug Menu opens. This screen allows you to change the sound settings, color and listen to the music and sound effects of the game.

The bios is the usual bootROM v1.01d. The flash memory is different though. It is not 128 KB but 256 KB, divided in two identical halves of 128 KB. The game, at the beginning of its execution, reads the flash memory, which is not very common, at least for licensed games. The game checks that the name/code of the machine stored in the flash is correct. On Dreamcast, we find "Dreamcast", here as it is a special console, the name is "Fish Life". A quick fix bypassing this check was enough to make the GDI image start on any Dreamcast.

I guess you want to try it, don't you?


  • The "Patched GDI Image" works on emulator and with GDEMU. When launching the game via Dreamshell, it remains frozen on a black screen. The software is very limited to play without having the real hardware, you can just move in the aquarium.

Detailed analysis of japanese-cake with modified GDI download link (hack):

https://blog.japanese-cake.io/index.php/2020/05/11/catching-up-part-2-fish-n-chips/


  • The members of the Bolo Museum have done a lot of research about it. They have documented the Sega Fish Life as much as possible (voice commands, hardware and software specificity, history etc.).


Original release by the Bolo Museum without the hack:

https://segafish.museebolo.ch/


Acknowledgement:

-At SiZiOUS, FamilyGuy and japanese-cake, we had a lot of fun working on it.

-To the Bolo Museum for giving us early access to the game to patch it.