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Topics - Vague Rant

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ROM Hacking Discussion / Patching Shantae to force GBA or GBC modes.
« on: August 02, 2013, 03:59:33 pm »
Shantae is one of those GBC games that detects if it's running on a GBA, brightens the palette some and gives the player a small bonus, similar to the Oracle games. That earlier thread mentions patches to force those two into GBA mode, but a quick search didn't find similar for Shantae, so I quickly worked one up.

My solution may be a little inelegant, but my hacking ability could charitably be described as amateurish, so be happy it works at all. Since the GBA sets register B to 01, I just stepped through code in BGB until it got its first mention:

Code: [Select]
ROM0:397B CB 20        sla b
On the GBC, this does nothing (B is 00, 2*B is also 00), but on the GBA, register B is now set to 02. Let's make these more uniform:

Code: [Select]
ROM0:397B 06 02        ld b,02
Now, that line just stores 02 to register B, so from there on in, you're in GBA mode, regardless of what hardware you're running.

But maybe you want the alternative: the richer, darker GBC mode on your fancy GBA. Keeping in mind that this will make the bonus impossible to obtain, it's just as simple:

Code: [Select]
ROM0:397B 06 00        ld b,00
For comparison, here's GBA mode "on a GBC" (left) and GBC mode "on a GBA" (right).

If none of this means anything to you, all you need to do is go to 397B in your Shantae ROM with a hex editor and replace "CB 20" with either "06 02" (force GBA mode) or "06 00" (force GBC mode).

Hopefully, this is of use to someone.

Newcomer's Board / Finding and disabling overlays on Virtual Console.
« on: June 29, 2013, 07:00:22 am »
After translating the menu for the Virtual Console release of Starblade, I was interested to see what other System 22 titles were available on Wii. This led me to Cyber Sled, a dual-stick, arena-based combat sim. Translating the menu was about as simple as it was for Starblade:

I then came upon a problem, however, in that Cyber Sled includes a large amount of Japanese text in-game. I thought I'd investigate the original arcade ROM and compare the differences between the Japanese and World releases, but then discovered that the Japanese game was in English all along:

As such, I have to assume the Wii version in fact added the Japanese. Next step, compare the differences between the original arcade versions and the ROM bundled on Wii ... except that they seem to have very little in common. Perhaps one, the other or both are encrypted? I don't know.

What I do know is that the ROM provided on Wii is (slightly less than) 3MB larger than the original arcade version. At least part of this is a save state: the Wii version launches right into the title screen, skipping the self-tests and such. However, I also began to suspect that some of this extra data might be overlays that drop Japanese text over the actual in-game English. Here's why:

This is roughly the same shot as the above, but this time on the Wii. Note the pathetically half-hearted black backgrounds on the Japanese text, which I've come to assume is there because Namco are literally "covering up" the English text with these Japanese overlays.

Purely as an experiment, I tried lopping off a large chunk from the end of the ROM, which I thought looked like graphics. I did manage to get the save state loading to fail, so the game launched into its usual arcade self-tests, which was kind of cool. It didn't really get me any closer to playing in English, though.

As you may be able to guess from my methods, my hacking ability could be described as amateurish at best. I have no real, practical ideas about how to progress from here. I don't even really have a good reason to believe the overlays I'm looking for are bundled into the ROM; there just doesn't really seem to be anything else big enough to contain them.

I understand this is a pretty niche area, so I'm not expecting any hands-on help, but if anyone has any ideas on how I might find what I'm looking for (or even if my guesswork sounds plausible), they'd be greatly appreciated.

ROM Hacking Discussion / North American SNES button color hacks?
« on: June 11, 2013, 09:21:40 am »
I'm Australian-born and most accustomed to the Japanese/European SNES coloring (blue, green, red, yellow) rather than the North American (lavender, purple). Nowadays I usually play US-NTSC games because nobody wants to play games in slow-mo, but then I'm disappointed any time that region's drab, uniform buttons appear. I mean no offense to people who like them, but I'd prefer not to encounter them.

Because of this, I occasionally wonder if anyone's ever gone to the fairly pointless effort of replacing them with their more colorful counterparts. I did find the Super Mario RPG: PAL Version hack which seems to do this, but it also makes a number of other changes that went beyond what I was looking for, so I decided to see if I could replicate those minor changes myself, as the game's battle menus are a great candidate for de-borifying.  Fortunately, the palettes remained static in location between the Japanese and North American ROMs, so I was able to replace them reasonably easily by working from giangurgolo's doc_palettes.txt.

If anyone wants to make the same changes:

Menu Button Palette (255256-25526F)
Code: [Select]
FF 7F 0C 00 36 16 3A 27 48 26 E3 11 07 49 63 44 00 20 3F 29 DB 1C A6 04 C1 08
Bowyer Fight Button Palette (255C6A-255C83)
Code: [Select]
FF 7F 0C 00 52 4A 29 25 48 26 E3 11 07 49 63 44 00 20 3F 29 DB 1C D1 00 C1 08

(Technically this is a shot from the Japanese game, but I promise it works. I just didn't feel like getting to the Bowyer fight for a screen cap.)

I haven't bothered uploading the patch to the database because it's such a small and derivative change, not to mention one that was already achieved elsewhere. I can put it up if anyone really wants it in patch form, otherwise it's easy enough to do manually.

Anyway, I'm curious if anyone has done this with any other games. Off the top of my head, there's the instructional screens in Super Mario All-Stars (+ World), the key config screens in Pocky & Rocky 1 and 2 and the tutorial in the latter, and the controller settings icon in Yoshi's Island (but not the actual controller settings screen, so ... what?). I don't exactly have an exhaustive list, though, so I'm sure that there are plenty more. From a quick search, it looks like another title with an in-game SNES controller is Battle Clash, the Super Scope game.

Just to clarify, I'm fully aware that this is a trivial concern. Obviously the controllers aren't seen often even in games where they do appear and it's clearly not a dealbreaker. I just think it's nice to see the Super Famicom/PAL SNES design restored where possible.

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