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Author Topic: Best hex editor for ROM hacking  (Read 613 times)

RetroGameFan

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Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« on: September 22, 2017, 10:00:41 am »
I'm looking for a hex editor that is specifically geared towards ROMs and can do a variety of functions that other hex editors (i.e. Hex Workshop) cannot do as easily. I am specifically interested in the idea of hacking certain NES and Super NES ROMs, and I'm wondering if there's a hex editor out there that can detect the various aspects of any ROM (i.e. Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario All-Stars) and also detect which hex code(s) perform(s) a certain action in a certain way.

I'm a Windows user, and the hex editor that looks best to me (out of everything I've seen on ROMhacking.net) is something called "Goldfinger". That's my intuition, but I'm still pretty new to ROM hacking, so I would like a recommendation, if possible, of an effective, relatively easy to use, hex editor.

If you look particularly at hacks like these, http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/685/ and http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/3460/, I'm amazed at the feats accomplished with such hacks. In the first hack, one of Kirby's Adventure (NES), one hacker was able to allow Kirby to keep the UFO power-up; and in the second hack, one of Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! (also NES), the hacker specifically indicated the hex editor he (or she) used to restore unused dodging animations for certain boxers Little Mac fights.

To be honest, this almost looks like magic to me! So please let me know of the best hex editor out there that can do as I wish, if such a thing even exists (hopefully). Any recommendation will be greatly appreciated.

nesrocks

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2017, 10:51:29 am »
Use an emulator with debugging tools.
Fceux, mesen, ndx.

Psyklax

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2017, 11:20:52 am »
There is no magic hex editor that will make your life easier, you just need one that works, plus a good debugging emulator, like nesrocks said. If you look at the tools I use for my translations, you'll notice they're all very general. The more important thing is learning how your chosen platform works and using that knowledge.

RetroGameFan

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2017, 11:43:09 am »
OK, thanks guys! Those bits of advice might be enough for me in helping me get started. I figured I was missing something, and I know pretty much nothing about debugging, so that might be key in my cracking the code for ROM hacking. Maybe I should go to YouTube for tutorials about debugging and using a debugger.

nesrocks

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2017, 12:01:37 pm »
There's lots of reading to be done, that is true. The good news is that with every information you read you can make some progress and see results, so it is never dull.

http://www.romhacking.net/start/

RetroGameFan

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2017, 04:42:45 pm »
There's lots of reading to be done, that is true. The good news is that with every information you read you can make some progress and see results, so it is never dull.

http://www.romhacking.net/start/
Reading stuff can help to an extent with certain things, particularly things you're interested in, but the major problem here is that I'm more of a visual learner than anything else.

nesrocks

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2017, 04:44:35 pm »
Then start by hacking just graphics! Open any NES ROM on yy-chr and see if graphics show up (if they don't, they're compressed, choose another game). Next, read on some tutorial on how to edit palettes and you'll learn a bit about hex editing.

RetroGameFan

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2017, 04:52:17 pm »
Then start by hacking just graphics! Open any NES ROM on yy-chr and see if graphics show up (if they don't, they're compressed, choose another game). Next, read on some tutorial on how to edit palettes and you'll learn a bit about hex editing.
Hacking graphics seems simple enough, and if I use my skills and take my time, I could come up with something amazing. I was thinking more along the lines of learning how to use a debugger by means of YouTube tutorials.

FAST6191

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2017, 04:52:59 am »
You are far from the first person to float the idea of video learning for ROM hacking. The trouble is nobody has been able to suggest a format that will do it justice, and while not absolutely essential you can get far further more quickly if you can cram a bunch of text type things in your head. Two problems seem to be ROM hacking is 90% analysing, 10% doing (as opposed to something like machining which is where I look first for long form educational videos and absolutely benefits from good setup/analysis but is mostly doing) and to slow down and explain every step (assuming it is even coherent in the first place -- I will often jump between three or four tools and experience dozens of dead ends in figuring out how something works*) takes about 10 times as long.

Equally plenty of guides feature nice images.

*if I am pressed for time but wanting to help someone I will occasionally do a stream of consciousness type log of my pulling apart a game detailing what I have done and my failures along the way. Helps me get back up to speed should I return a month later but those that don't already know tend not to find it that useful.

Psyklax

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Re: Best hex editor for ROM hacking
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2017, 05:16:32 am »
Hacking graphics seems simple enough, and if I use my skills and take my time, I could come up with something amazing. I was thinking more along the lines of learning how to use a debugger by means of YouTube tutorials.

I floated the idea of doing them myself: I really would like to do ROM hacking tutorials, but sadly (or not) I have too much going on in real life to devote any time to it. :) One day maybe, one day...