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Author Topic: So how do people find debug menus anyway?  (Read 4050 times)

SteveMartin

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So how do people find debug menus anyway?
« on: August 20, 2011, 11:43:20 pm »
I've been messing around with games trying to find unused stuff, mostly Playstation games. So far my only method is to use a cheating plugin to find the value that stores the area you're in and exhaust all the different numbers I can input with that to see if I come across any unused areas. I really want to be able to do more though. What's the general process for finding out if there's a hidden debug mode in a game? I just can't imagine what someone looks for in order to get the codes that would activate such a thing.
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Gil Galad

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Re: So how do people find debug menus anyway?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2011, 12:21:43 am »
Another way is to find text in a ROM that looks like it could be a debugger. Once you've found text, then you can disassemble the bank/file and examine the code. That could tell you what possible ways you could activate it.

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Jorpho

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Re: So how do people find debug menus anyway?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2011, 01:32:30 am »
In some cases the information is quietly disseminated by the developers and subsequently trickles its way down to the larger community.

But Mr. Gil Galad seems to have the right idea.  As I recall, the Kirby sprite from Earthbound's boot-up debug menu was utterly mystifying until someone figured it out.
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SteveMartin

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Re: So how do people find debug menus anyway?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2011, 07:25:23 am »
Well I have a file that stores all the text for the game plain with no compression. The game is Moon: Remix RPG Adventure for PSX btw. There's some text in the file(MOON.DAT) that appears to be unused in there. I don't suppose there's some way by just having that text to figure out where in the game it's used? That's probably very broad to ask, but if there's some kinda pointers someone can give for a noob here...

I actually showed one of the producers for the game and one of its artist an unused sprite I found today. Neither of them remember anything about it. I'm betting if I asked if they remember any debug menus they'd have no clue  :laugh:
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KingMike

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Re: So how do people find debug menus anyway?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2011, 01:41:31 pm »
Yep, someone finds some text and then is able to use that to reverse-engineer the code far enough.

I remember tracing the code in Contra Spirits (SFC Alien Wars), and coming to the conclusion the codes on GameFAQs don't work.
I tried tracing the 30 lives cheat and came to a dead end (no jumps to a piece of code, no branches when I disassembled the nearby code) so I assumed it was disabled in the release code.
No trace of the alleged sound test or level select (I'd guess if the data is still in the ROM, it'd be compressed tilemaps like the option screen probably is). But I doubt they'd be accessible. I traced the controller-access code on the title screen (where the submitter claims the codes should be entered) and found it only checks for the L+R+Select+Start soft-reset combination and then it filters the data only to the buttons that are normally used (Up, Down, Select and Start).
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SteveMartin

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Re: So how do people find debug menus anyway?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2011, 01:05:32 am »
Well, I can tell all of this tracing and what have you is beyond a simple translator like myself  :P I really want to uncover anymore unused things in this game though. I may have to offer a little bit of cash just to see if I can get someone to take time out to mess with a game thy probably would otherwise not care about, since I'm likely helpless on my own. If any PSX hackers who think they are capable of doing such a thing are present, lemme know. (I have no idea if posting such a thing is looked down upon on these parts :police:)
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gadesx

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Re: So how do people find debug menus anyway?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2011, 02:55:52 pm »
Well in some games that use a debug mode in a room, you can find the value searching
a code entering a room, and other, and searching for value is different, if you get the good code,
changing the value you can go to any room of the game, and with luck, the debug room.
I'd used these method for make some codes of "enemy in battle" type.