I am ecstatic to share that I was fortunate enough to be part of a historic moment. Tonight, at the Pink Gorilla Games store in Seattle's University District, a group of players became the first in history to play a 16-player game of Faceball 2000! Released in 1992, this game boy game was a conversion of MIDI Maze for Atari ST, a very early first-person shooter which supported 16 player link play, using the MIDI ports on the ST for linking the computers together. In 2005, the systems programmer for Faceball 2000, Robert Champagne, did an interview, in which he confirmed that just like MIDI Maze, Faceball 2000 for Game Boy was also given a 16 player mode! They had intended to ship the game with a custom link adapter to make it work, but never did, because Nintendo told them not to do it. Moreover, he stated that even in development, they never actually had 16 game boys to do it with, and so never fully confirmed it was possible (at the time, they got to 10 and figured that was enough without buying more hardware). However, he cleared the air and confirmed that they never took the 16-player mode out, and it was still present and (ostensibly) working in every sold copy of the game!
So, for almost 20 years, people have known about this feature, but have not found a confirmed way of doing it. Over the years, both myself and another team member have independently found that we could make this multiplayer mode work with daisy-chained GBA cables, but as you went higher in player count, the game would freeze and crash, failing to load. The problems ended up being not only unreliable link cables, and voltage creep on the link cables throwing off data signals, but also a software bug with the spawner, which made it impossible to actually start a game with 16 players.
Enter the team; Bob, who organized individuals with different talents, Alex, who built a more effective link cable harness, and solved the programming bug, and Sierra, who implemented the fixes, built and tested/improved the link harness, and created the final patched rom. With all this, a pile of game boys, and a group of 16 willing individuals, we tried several times before getting a working game of 16 players. Finally, real proof that Faceball 2000's long-sought after 16-player multiplayer actually worked! After that, the fun was real, as we finally played 16 players simultaneously on a game boy game! We were even lucky enough that, despite the finnicky nature of the game, the match was completed successfully without crashing! A friend of the group had the good fortune to become the first ever winner of a 16 player faceball game.
We were also very fortunate to have Robert Champagne present and part of the group playing the game, as well as other special guest Michael Park, a main team member behind MIDI Maze! It was an incredible experience and I was so glad to be able to be a part of it. One member of the group is working on a small video of sorts to commemorate the event, which I'll share when it is uploaded. I hope someday to play another 16 player game. It was truly amazing, especially after having known about this game personally for over a decade, and wondering if the legendary 16 player mode was really possible. Finally we have proof that it is! Truly amazing stuff.
My "home video" of our first test, simply showing the link adapter working, and showing that the 16-player mode is indeed functioning correctly:
The original interview with Robert Champagne in which he confirmed a 16-player mode existed:
Edited by koifish
Added links from comments