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Messages - RetroProf

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There was a point where Working Designs were praised as gods, and any attempt to badmouth them was seen as contrarian. Now Working Designs is seen as a bunch of demons, and any attempt to defend their name is seen as contrarian. Which is the truth? I don't take issue with the idea of these patches, so much as I take issue with the intent of these patches and with a lot of the discussion in this thread. There is this overwhelming belief that Working Designs made a bunch of objective mistakes, but the proof is a bunch of opinions. "I don't like it" is never the same as "this is bad".

I continue to like Working Designs, their localisations (most "authentic" localisations these days are too dry, too wording, and just too long), some of their difficulty changes (Popful Mail was easy even when I played the original), and I respect that they brought over games which most publishers at the time would have ignored.

I wish they had localised more, a lot more. Since now it's left to fan-translators to mop up the forgotten gems.

I also like these patches, because now I'm old and don't have the time to grind for EXP. So it's cool to basically play them on the original easy mode. Especially since these patches are not removing or changing the localisations.

For the record: I personally really dislike "undub" projects. Waste of time reverting them back to Japanese. And whatever you may think of WD's work, the voice acting in their games was pretty much always fantastic. Popful Mail is still godamn hilarious.

Personal Projects / Re: Zelda II Redux
« on: May 03, 2018, 02:51:27 pm »
What do you mean by this?

Oh, don't worry about it. I wasn't focusing on the OP. My statement was based on reading various suggestions to add or subtract things, and I started getting this feeling that this Redux patch will end up being a chimera or random and possibly conflicting suggestions. A few suggestions by different posters made it seem to me as if some parts of the game would get harder. Based solely on what's been done in the OP, it actually so far sounds like precisely what I want (Palace Patch + easier). I'll be updating my flash cart after this post.

And thank you for doing this. :)

If you think this game is too hard, you should try The Battle Of Olympus. That's a game that would make you rage quit!  :laugh:

@RetroProf - What about the game comes across as hard for you?

I actually completed Battle of Olympus a couple years back on original hardware with passwords. Apart from the very last area and boss, I found it quite manageable. Even easy? Though I did use an older version of this patch which rebalanced the olives (the one I used rebalanced the olives, but did not have SRAM support):

If I recall correctly, you had infinite continues, which allowed you to respawn at the start of a tough area, allowing you learn the patterns quickly.

The two things I found difficult about the original Zelda II:
1) Returning to the starting area after losing a life. Now that is rage quit inducing.

2) Getting stun locked from so many enemies and projectiles. I have recollections of hitting one projectile, getting knocked back, and then hitting another one before I'd even had time to readjust myself or move out of the way. Notable examples being along the wooden walls with enemies at the top, and platforming outside over bridges/rock formations with bubbles floating up, and lava areas in dungeons. Link would rebound around like a pong brick.

I completed Zelda II, but on a Dreamcast with continuous use of quick saves. At times every second or two.

I liked the surreal dichotomy between overworld and side-dungeons, but the difficulty was brutal. I would never have bothered to play it as a kid with the original cartridge.

Personal Projects / Re: Zelda II Redux
« on: May 03, 2018, 04:38:59 am »
I've been meaning to replay Zelda II patched to make it less frustrating and more fair, so it's great to see this topic.

My previous plan had been to double patch Zelda II with Njosro's Palace Patch:

And also tog's Easy patch:

However, this new patch as described in this thread already includes the Palace Patch. So... What are the main difference's to Tog's Easy Patch? They seem similar, for example magic costing less and enemies requiring less hits.

However, I very much like ShadowOne333's improvement of no lost EXP - that was supremely annoying in the original. Plus there's some graphic improvements and save improvements.

But at the same time, there's a lot of talk here suggesting changes to make the game MORE difficult in some ways. Increasing HP for some enemies, or putting a boss rush in the final palace. I utterly despise boss rushes in games - they're boring. I've beaten those bosses already, I literally never, ever want to see them again. They're done, a closed chapter, forget about them.

Also reverting to the AWFUL levelling system of the FDS original. Dear god no!! SCD said it was easier in the FDS version, but it absolutely was not.
When you save and quit, all three levels are reduced to the lowest one you had of any of the three upgrades (for example, if you had Lv. 8 Attack, Lv. 5 Magic, and Lv. 3 Life, they would all be reset to Level 3). In the NES version, all levels are always retained between sessions.

What the hell? Why would any of us want to revert to this broken system? I intend to play on a FlashCart with real saving, not Quick Saves on an emu, which would negate this problem. I don't want to level my Attack to 8, switch off, only to see all that EXP wasted and reduced down to 1 or 3 or whatever the lowest is.

That system is TERRIBLE. It forces you to level every single thing up one at a time, at the same time, and it prevents you from switching the game off until all three are at the same level. You've got AML up to levels 8, 7, and 6? Well sorry, you can't switch off until you also level up M and L as well.

The FDS levelling system is pure hot garbage since it wastes untold quantities of hard fought for EXP. It's like a TAX on saving your game. Want to save? Pay the tax man all the EXP you gained.

That's the kind of insanity Working Designs would pull.


We also went from a reduced 5 hits for the bubbles up to 10, even though I personally would have been cool with just 1 hit (they're bubbles, they should pop easily). At least that's what I read when speed skimming through this thread, not sure if the 10 was actually implemented.

So now I'm conflicted. I do like this new patch, but it's starting to get weird, and complicated, and harder than the original game in some small ways?

What if I mixed all 3 patches together?

Should I just wait for a more final version of this patch?

I basically want the Palace Patch, plus the main game to be easier, more fair, actually winnable, but without any nonsense like "getting more EXP" and then rebalancing that with enemies who have more HP. I find this is the problem with pretty much every single improvement patch for all games. It starts leaning in one direction, so to rebalance that it goes in the opposite direction, and we end up with a weird mess which is frustrating.

I was fooling around in the directory of Drihoo, a Japan exclusive original Xbox game. And to my astonishment discovered the text is stored as plain text in TSC files. I opened one up in Notepad++, changed some words, uploaded to my Xbox, and it worked!

I'm kinda half tempted to do some translating. However, if I submit the TSC files with the new text, would these be accepted? There is other junk inside them too:

Code: [Select]

So in the above example, it's an NPC called "Bruce" and then below that is a bunch of Japanese text blocks.

Files range in size from 2kb to 128kb, and altogether weight in at around 500kb.

I would not want to do the work and then have the files rejected because I needed to go the long route of creating a patch file to patch these specific files.

I'm sure it's possible to read up on how to do that, but I'm really only interested in this because I can load the actual TSC files and just retype what I'm reading.

Thank you very much!  ;D

At the moment the cheats do indeed just hold the value at a specific number (setting it to zero disables run entirely).

I didn't know about button activating cheats - so that's not only interesting, but probably the easier route.

Cheers for the links to info and tools - something to work on this weekend.  :)

ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: Lufia-Patches by Artemis
« on: November 01, 2017, 01:37:05 pm »
I agree, that's why all I wanted was to fix the bugs, rather than change the difficulty of bosses. I basically want my first play through to be vanilla but without bugs (some of which crash the game and break save files, I've read).

I intend to play on my SNES Mini, which doesn't like PAL titles. Suppose I could NTSC/60Hz patch the PAL version...

Patched PAL version or bug-patched NTSC?

ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: Lufia-Patches by Artemis
« on: October 31, 2017, 04:27:36 am »
Apply Frue Lufia to a Headered ROM and you're done.  You only need that one.

Only Fure Lufia? great! Thank you very much - when I begin my playthrough that is the sole patch I will use. I appreciate it!  :thumbsup:

ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: Lufia-Patches by Artemis
« on: October 29, 2017, 03:28:32 am »
I'd like to start playing Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrels, but there seems to be so much fragmenting with regards to different patches.

What's the difference between the Frue Lufia patch, and the Fixxer Deluxe patch?

All I want is:
* All bugs removed
* Censorship removed
* Slightly cleaner/better translation

Nothing else. I have a very strong dislike for patches that increase difficulty above the retail release. People complain about Working Designs making games more difficult, and then you get patches that do the exact same thing. I don't see the point.

So for example the Fixxer Deluxe patch states:
Frue Gades (You now fight the strongest version of Gades in Shuman Tower and Fortress of Doom!)

Why must I have that in order to remove the bugs?

Can someone advise on what combination of patches I should use? I just want to play the definitive version, with gameplay as close to the original as possible, but without any added junk (glitches, harder difficulty, etc.).

Do I want the Frue patch? What's the difference to Fixxer Deluxe? Or should I just 60Hz patch the PAL version?

Skyblazer is one of my favourite SNES games. Hook was by the same developer, using what appears to be the same engine, so I've repeatedly tried to get into it. However, the character's movement is painfully slow compared to Skyblazer.

At first I thought the solution would be to swap in code from Skyblazer, assuming they were similar enough, but then I decided it's probably possible just to hack Hook to be faster. So I did that, and have almost cracked it.

I just need some help fixing it, and also an explanation (or link to reading material) on how to make an IPS patch that changes hex values.

When playing Hook:
The character seems to have 4 movement states:
1) Standing still
2) Walking slow
3) Jogging
4) Running

Only the running movement is anywhere near decent, the rest are slow as molasses. But to start running he needs to build momentum, meaning I suspect there's an internal value which counts up or down until it reaches a specified max/min value, whereupon your animation and movement speed end up "locked" into running mode.

My hope was to find this value and permanently set it to run, so that simply pushing the d-pad makes you run, just like in Skyblazer. I was using SNES9X's built-in cheat search to find this, by moving at various speeds (or standing still) and seeing what numbers changed.

The two main hex codes I've found are:

3000 F301 00?? (C0 or 80)
3000 F341 0002

Or to write them differently:
Adr: 0xF301 Val: ?? (192 or 128)
Adr: 0xF341 Val: 2

F341 relates to overall movement speed, including how fast the screen moves. Setting it to 2 is perfect. The character runs at a nice clip and the scrolls fast and everything feels much more like SKyblazer. Maybe it's a bit too fast, in which case 1 will suffice too. A value of "0" seems to be the stationary speed. Sadly with this activated, once you start running you can't stop - the character just keeps running until he hits a wall, and then just keeps running on the spot.

My concern is that this is directly tied to the fastest running speed, and rather than some kind of momentum counter, the game actually just changes this specific value. In which case a speed hack probably wouldn't work. Ideally I'd like the game's movement to function as if F341 was set to a value of 2, but with the ability to stop when needed - or at least have the run button "Y" automatically force it up to a value of 2 rather than the slow-asses build up that currently happens.


It gets confusing for me when we factor in F301. This appears to be the momentum counter. The standing hex value is C0, or 192 in decimal. At full pelt the hex value becomes 80 or 128 in decimal.

I had hoped that by locking this to a hex value of 80 this would permanently put him in run mode, but it actually seems to prevent him from running...? I tried screwing around with the F301 value, from 00 (0) up to FF (255), but anything outside the two preset values the game adjusts it to causes all kinds of weird crap to happen, including the screen flying violently in different directions.

Also address F321 seems to relate to the kind of animation cycle used (standing, walking, running etc).

I feel like I'm close, but maybe I'm way out of my depth here. I've tried viewing the memory dump in different states of movement, but too many things seem to change. However, the most noticeable events are around/between the F301 and F341 addresses.

Anyone have any ideas? Is this feasible? Are we on the brink of a patch that makes the game actually playable?

ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: Screenshots
« on: October 22, 2017, 03:20:51 pm »
Here is the hacks selection for Sega saturn:

Thank you very much! I see you've got quite a few patches - nice!  :thumbsup:

ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: Screenshots
« on: October 21, 2017, 09:19:25 am »
It is the individual hack, on the basis of which it is possible to remove the black borders in any game where they are present. But it may be that under black borders the image will not be rendered or you will see the garbage.

I searched the hacks section of the site, and your personal website, and I couldn't see it...

Did the hack to remove the borders for Shining the Holy Ark ever get released?

I've been on a Saturn binge thanks to the Working Designs hacks someone released, and was thinking of starting Shining the Holy Ark. But damn those borders. :(

Shadowrun (SNES)

Create a utility that expands the ROM and allows addition of dialogue responses to keywords which previously had no response.

Was playing it today on my SNES Mini Classic, and I'd forgotten how many key words you get for dialogue, and how the majority yield the same "I don't know" reply from NPCs. In addition, how obtuse all the puzzles are. I actually tried to see if there was any clue that you should give the tired man an iced tea, and there is none. Players would only have done that out of frustration, by trying every item on everyone. I knew to do it because I had a guide back in the day.

Got me thinking, a cool hack would be a utility that allows additional proper responses to the majority of keywords. You'd simply need to find the pointer that directs the game to load up the generic response, and then have it go to a fresh body of text for that specific keyword used on that specific NPC.

You could end up doubling the game's script, allowing players to wallow in the Shadowrun's rich lore, and peppering in little clues to help new players.

Imagine just in the game's first area, the woman outside the club could mention hearing screams from the graveyard. The bartender could mention the tired man had tickets and likes ice tea. Various Shadowrunners when asked about firearms, or lone star, could mention the shady guy who sells grenades and the lone star badge, and they could give directions on finding him.

Plus all the flavour text you could add. Stuff to make the game world seem richer.

It's really unfortunate you don't like these

I never once said I didn't like them. I was mainly curious as to the author's motivation for wishing to revert everything, rather than cherry pick. I spent this afternoon applying every one of those patches (apart from LEB on PS1, because CBA on moving 2gigs of data for such small changes).

Anyway, thanks for giving these patches a spin. Hope you're enjoying the games despite any changes you don't like.

No, thank YOU for making them. Many years ago I had wondered if it were possible for someone to take the Exile 2 data and swap in the variables from the JPN version. In the end I put the English audio files in the JPN version, and it worked reasonably enough. Very cool to now have a playable version. I've also been meaning to play the Lunar games for the last 20 years. Now might finally be the time!

I had some trouble with the drag-n-drop method (Win XP), but got there in the end with command line patching. I should mention, some games' post-patch hashes did not match what was in the Readme for that game (ie: Exile 2), and for some reason both my Lunar games on Sega CD didn't match the pre-patch hash. However, everything booted fine after patching, and the changes seem to be in place.

Could I be looking at a random crash down the line?

Also, not sure if this is the patch for Magic Knight Rayearth, or my RHEA board screwing up, but I was playing it patched and on an SD card on actual Saturn. Right at the start, after you fall off that flying griffon thing, the game seemed to half-freeze. The voiceless dialogue boxes popped up, but after the text had run it just hanged there for ages. Like it was trying to find and load data but couldn't find it. I managed to get beyond this part and save, and reset the Saturn, and it worked fine again. I'm not sure if the unpatched version does this.

This is pretty cool.

I read the ReadMe files with the SCD/TCD games, and my emulation set-up is with ISO/MP3 on my Xbox.

The ReadMe states I need to put the audio files in WAV format with the ISO, and all of them get renamed, and then I need to use the accompanying CUE?

Is this to help people inexperienced with emulation? Because I just want to patch my ISO, rename it back to what it was, and then drop back in my original folder on my Xbox with my original CUE.

I'm assuming the patcher doesn't actually change the audio data, since it's simply altering numerical numbers in the game itself... Right?

If something was meaningfully altered for the US version and it's in my power to revert it, I'm doing it, regardless of whether I think it was for the better.

This is the same disturbing kind of hubris Working Designs had.

I don't want to criticise you, seeing as you're doing all the lifting here, and I'm enjoying these patches for free, but why take that attitude?

Why not cherry pick? Why not create the definitive or *best* version? Or create varied patches, maybe with a menu system, where players can choose what they want? Sort of like how Vampire: Bloodlines had options to vary a patch to the user's taste.

I mean, I basically don't understand your stoic determination to revert everything in your power, even if it's for the worse, while at the same time admitting there's a ton of stuff you can't revert.

I read through your notes with great fascination, and there's actually a few things I didn't like being reverted.

Now I'm wondering... Do I put up with crappy changes to get the few good, or do I revert even if it means losing good stuff...?

Regardless, I appreciate the work. For Exile II previously I'd played through the JPN release, switching in the English audio files. Nice to play it through properly.

ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: Secrets hidden in the ROM of Aurail
« on: September 21, 2013, 10:14:58 am »
Awesome. Those are the artist's co-workers.

Were there just 2 images?

Anyway, if you want more inside info, buy my book.  ;D

Well, I'll post more as I find it. I can't hack this stuff myself, so I'll ask here publicly. I've got more nice things in the pipeline.

ROM Hacking Discussion / Secrets hidden in the ROM of Aurail
« on: September 20, 2013, 11:05:35 pm »
I did a search, and found no topics on this.

I haven't checked this myself, but I've got an inside source that if you check the graphics ROM in Aurail (arcade), you will find some really cool hidden artwork.

There's supposedly a large unused space.

If you find it, post screens, because I'd love to use it in my book in the chapter discussing it. Full credit will go to whoever provides it.

More secrets as I discover them!  ;D

Gaming Discussion / Re: Szczepaniak's Japanese gaming book
« on: August 29, 2013, 04:32:05 pm »
I want to ask him if he read the book, and how he managed to push through all of it.

I think the PE book to game adaptation that took place is a master class example in how to turn something slow, turgid and excruciatingly boring, into something expertly paced and wildly thrilling.

Seriously, how do you get a game so good, out of a book so mind bogglingly awful?

Gaming Discussion / Re: Szczepaniak's Japanese gaming book
« on: August 29, 2013, 05:07:59 am »
What a deeply puzzling line.  Like saying Harrison Ford is best known for his work on American Graffiti.

Is it? The book is about the Untold History. Mr Tokita has been interviewed on FF4 extensively, and Parasite Eve, and other mainstream games.

I've only seen some interview material on L-A-L, which is a shame, because he mentioned it was his first game in full control, so it's special to him. I also like it because of its experimental nature. So I want to spend time discussing this. Plus his role as artist on Square's Tom Sawyer game, and his adaptation of the Parasite Eve novel.

I might not even mention the words Final and Fantasy in the interview. It's all about the cognitio enigmatica.

Gaming Discussion / Re: Szczepaniak's Japanese gaming book
« on: June 24, 2013, 09:21:06 am »
Really? I'd have assumed the number of people who like Japanese games would be absolutely massive. I mean, didn't every single one of us play a classic 8-bit or 16-bit console game at some point in our lives?

Anyway, thanks for the bump.

Yuzo Koshiro is now onboard, and I am right now in the process of organising a Platinum tier by a Japanese artist. Keep your eyes peeled on the updates.

Gaming Discussion / Re: Szczepaniak's Japanese gaming book
« on: June 04, 2013, 06:42:40 am »
I was actually going to ask a mod today if I can start a topic. I'm pleased to see one here already.

I've confirmed Takashi Tokita, the main man behind Live-A-Live, which should be good. I've been promised quite a few introductions to people, though I don't feel comfortable mentioning their names when they're not definite yet (two are from popular RPG series, one involving tanks, the other demons).

One interesting aspect, which I hope the fan-translation community will approve of, is bringing up the subject of fan-translations. I spoke briefly with Gideon Zhi about this (simply because I had his email and know his work dovetails with some of my interviews - but I'm happy to discuss it with anyone in the community).

I'm wondering to what extent Japanese developers know of fan-translators in the west. We've all read the public statements of groups, such as those behind Policenauts and Mother 3, who approached the respective publishers in the hope of negotiating some kind of official deal to use the translation patches, and were shot down without even a second thought. And we know that XSeed has officially licensed the work of fan-translators for commercial releases.

Where appropriate, and as delicately as possible, I'd like to discuss this topic with developers. For example one of my key interviewees, who I am very excited to speak with, was behind the Lennus games (aka: Paladin's Quest). Although he doesn't have the rights to Lennus II, I'm curious as to what he thinks of the fact that fans spent 10 years bringing a patch to fruition.

Of course some of my interviewees do hold positions of authority, so I'd like to ask if they're open to the idea.

Because let's be honest, it's good for the translators, it's good for the fans, it's good for the publishers. It's good for everyone, isn't it? Re-releases of classic games are big business, surely it makes sense to discuss the possibility of fan-translators and publishers working together?

This isn't a guarantee of anything - it's quite possible many won't want to comment on the subject at all.

Failing that, there's going to be some really fun recollections in the book.

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