Cheats for the PAL version of Quake on the Sega Saturn

Friday, 25th November 2016

I recently picked up a Sega Saturn and a copy of the technical marvel that is Quake for it.

Sega Saturn console, controller and copy of the game 'Quake'


The Saturn is not renowned for being a particularly capable 3D machine and so the fact that Quake runs at all is quite remarkable, let alone as well as it does in Lobotomy Software's version. Rather than port the Quake engine to the Saturn the game uses the SlaveDriver engine, and includes conversions of 28 of the original 32 levels with some minor tweaks to improve performance. It certainly captures the atmosphere of Quake far more faithfully than most console ports of DOOM did to that game, leaving the sound and music intact and retaining the gritty aesthetic of Quake's software renderer.

Screenshot of Quake's first level on the Sega Saturn


Unfortunately, I'm not very good at it. Even though I could probably complete the PC version's first level in my sleep these days it took me three shameful attempts on the easiest difficulty level to get through it on the Saturn. The controls are somewhat awkward (for example, to aim up you need to hold X and press down on the d-pad) and so I thought that a cheat code or two might help me along until I'd got to grips with the game's controls.

I found a list of cheats on a newsgroup from the game's developer but most of them did not work with my copy of the game, and the few codes that did do something ended up performing the function of a different cheat. For example, invicibility ("Paul Mode") is toggled by highlighting "Customize Controls" then entering RLXYZRLXYZ, but on my copy of the game that toggled "Jevons-Control Mode" instead. These codes matched the ones on various cheat database sites across the Internet, so I was a bit puzzled until I found a forum post with a couple of codes that did work. This is an incomplete set, and it's clear that the PAL version of the game has different cheats to the NTSC-U version. Other sites either mentioned that the PAL version doesn't have cheats at all, or is missing most of them due to being an older version of the engine.

One thing stuck out to me, though - all NTSC-U cheat codes follow the same basic formula of highlighting a particular menu item under "Options", entering a ten button sequence using only the X, Y, Z, R and L buttons, and then seeing a confirmation message on the screen. I assumed that the PAL version would do something similar, and that some table of cheat codes and messages could be found in the executable. I popped the game CD into my PC CD drive and copied the executable file to the hard disk so I could examine it in a hex editor.

Screenshot of hex editor showing cheat message strings


The first thing I did was search for "Jevons-Control" which identified it at the top of a list of other cheat-related messages such as "All weapons added" or "Nail Tracers On" which made me hopeful that the other cheat codes were present in the PAL version of the game. Some cheats in the NTSC-U version (such as those relating to rain or cluster bombs) didn't seem to have an equivalent message in the list of strings here so these were presumably missing in the PAL version, but at least I knew I was on the right track.

At this point, I had two button sequences that I knew worked - RLXYZRLXYZ and LRLLZYXZYX. I hoped that these codes might be found in the game's executable, but of course didn't know how they'd be represented. At first I assumed each code would be a ten byte sequence, with one value for 'R', one value for 'L', another for 'X' and so on and so forth. As the two known cheats repeated buttons (for example, LRLLZYXZYX has L three times) it would be possible to see if a particular sequence of bytes followed the same pattern as the cheat code (for example, with LRLLZYXZYX the first, third and fourth bytes would need to all have the same value to represent 'L', and that value could not appear anywhere else in the ten byte sequence). With that in mind I wrote a program that scanned through the entire binary from start to finish, checking to see if either of the two codes could be found. Neither could, so I changed the program to instead assume that each button's value would be stored as a sixteen-bit word. Still no luck, but as the Saturn is a 32-bit system I again increased the size of each button in the sequence to try 32-bit integers and found two matches for the two codes.

Console program that matched button sequences


Not only were both sequences found, but both used the same values for the buttons (e.g. L is 0x00000008 in both sequences) and both were near each other in the binary. This seemed like the place to look, so I put the lower address value into the hex editor to see if there were other sequences nearby.

Screenshot of hex editor showing cheat button sequences


Now that I knew where the cheat codes were and how to map each value to a button name I could work through the binary, check to see if each sequence of ten 32-bit integers all matched known button values and if so output the sequence. This gave me three additional sequences for a total of five.

Console program that matched button sequences



Now I could take those five sequences, try them in the game and match them to the known NTSC-U sequences. Most of the cheat codes sequences are used more than once, changing behaviour depending on which menu item was highlighted when they were entered. Comparing the effect of certain codes in the PAL version against what the NTSC-U version was known to do produces the following table:

NTSC-U PAL
RRLRXYZXYZ RLXYZRLXYZ
RLXYZRLXYZ LRLLZYXZYX
RXLZLRYLRY XYZLRXYZRL
RYLYXYZXYZ YYZYYZLRLR
RZLXYLRYLR ZZLZZRXYXY

I'm not sure why the PAL version uses different cheat code sequences, but it is an earlier version of the game and they are also quite a bit easier to enter on the console so maybe it was decided that players needed to work harder to take advantage of their cheat codes. There are a few other NTSC-U cheat code sequences that don't match up with the PAL version, but these are for cheats that seem to be missing equivalent strings (such as the previously mentioned rain or cluster bomb cheats) so I reckon they were not yet added to the PAL version.

Screenshot of Quake Wrestling


For the sake of completeness, here is a list of cheats that work in the PAL version of Quake. All need to be entered by pausing the game, highlighting a particular item in the Options menu and then entering the cheat code as quickly as you can. Some cheats also require you to stand in a particular place in a map or to have collected certain items first; these are noted where appropriate.

Name Menu Cheat
Paul Mode (Invincibility) Customize Controls LRLLZYXZYX
All Weapons Customize Controls XYZLRXYZRL
Full Health Customize Controls YYZYYZLRLR
All Runes
Stand in the area where the first rune can be picked up in "The House of Cthon".
Customize Controls ZZLZZRXYXY
Jevons-Control Mode (3D Control Pad) Customize Controls RLXYZRLXYZ
Level Select
You must either have all four runes or be standing on the right hand side of the flat part of the bridge over the lava in the "Entrance" level.
Reset to Defaults RLXYZRLXYZ
Restart Level Reset to Defaults LRLLZYXZYX
Normal Difficulty Music Volume RLXYZRLXYZ
Easy Difficulty Music Volume LRLLZYXZYX
Hard Difficulty Music Volume XYZLRXYZRL
Show Credits
Stand on the right hand side of the bridge under the round stained glass window in "Castle of the Damned".
Stereo RLXYZRLXYZ
Show Special Credits
Stand in the secret underwater cave containing the Megahealth and Nails in "Gloom Keep".
Stereo LRLLZYXZYX
Quake Wrestling
Stand either at the Quad Damage in the secret area opened by jumping into the overhead light in "The Sewage System" or in the suspended cage half way through "The Tower of Despair".
Stereo XYZLRXYZRL
Zero-G Mode Lookspring RLXYZRLXYZ
Monster Attack Auto Targeting RLXYZRLXYZ
Nail Tracers Auto Targeting LRLLZYXZYX

If there are still people out there struggling through the PAL version of Quake on the Sega Saturn, maybe these cheat codes will come in handy!

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