I like a lot of things about JRPGs, but you know what I really can't stand?
I wanna go on an adventure, see cool places, fight cool baddies, but do I have to fight fifty of the same low-level baddies before I can enter the next dungeon? JPRGs are notorious for this, and I hate it. It's not difficult, it adds nothing to the experience, it just makes you waste hours of your life. Check out that guy who reached level 99 in Final Fantasy VII without leaving the first room. Sure, it took him a year or two, but it's not difficult!
Anyway, being a ROM hacker, I decided to do something about it, and set to work hacking some better-known JRPGs so that you only need HALF the normal experience points to go to each level. The procedure is usually pretty simple: it's typical to find a table in the ROM with the points values of each level, and once you've found it (GameFAQs does help with this), it's just a matter of copying it into a spreadsheet, halving it, and putting it back again.
A more difficult hack is to change it so that you only need half the gold/money to buy everything in the game: if you reach level 20 in half the time, you may have half the money, and still need to go grinding for it. Generally you don't find a big table with every single buyable thing, so I'll generally only do this if it's a) doable, and b) necessary for balance.
I'll put a zip file with my current work so far at the bottom of this post, but here's what I've successfully done up to this point:
Final Fantasy (NES) - HalfXP. Just to be sure, I completed the whole game with my patch already, using the easiest (and most boring) combo of three Fighters and a Red Mage. I've completed FF1 a good few times, and I didn't notice it becoming too easy - though I certainly didn't feel the need to grind at any point.
Final Fantasy 3 (NES) - HalfXP. Not tested but it works.
Dragon Warrior (NES) - HalfXP & HalfGold. I'm in the middle of testing this. It was easy to halve the gold for buyable items because there's so few, and they're actually in a big table, though the cost of inns remains the same. I needed to make the change, though, because both XP and Gold are seriously stingy in this game, meaning a LOT of grinding is required.
Dragon Warrior 2 (NES) - HalfXP. Not tested but it works (I think). I found the XP table anyway, all three characters' tables are together in the ROM.
Phantasy Star (SMS) - HalfXP. Briefly tested (I've completed the game in the past). This game is brutal to you at the start - you can easily die from your very first battle - so although it lightens up as the game progresses, I think it will benefit from this change.
That's all so far, and in the zip file you'll find IPS files for all of those. Phantasy Star and DW1 have two patches: the former has a patch for the popular Japanese translation by SMS Power - just patch it on top of that. The latter has both HalfXP and HalfXP+HalfGold. I recommend the second option.
I've tried Dragon Warrior 3, but the system it uses is a bit strange: it's not immediately obvious where the game gets its XP lookup from. I've not even attempted Final Fantasy 2 because of its bizarre levelling system (select, cancel, select, cancel...), but I'm open to suggestions of how to fix it (unless someone has already 'fixed' it somehow).
No 16-bit JRPGs as of yet, of course, but you have to start somewhere, so naturally I started where I'm most comfortable, the NES. Anyone who knows me by now is aware I have a habit of getting into projects involving multiple games, then getting distracted by other things and drifting off...
Suggestions? Any games you'd really like to play but are put off by the XP system? Specifically this is for games that clearly have too much grinding, rather than just plain cheating. I might have a look at Phantasy Star 2 for my first 16-bit game (I played it quite far through in the past, but wouldn't mind going back to it with less grinding).
Here's the zip!