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Personal Projects / Super Mario Bros 2j NES Restoration
« on: October 25, 2020, 04:38:01 pm »
Super Mario Bros 2j (aka The Lost Levels) was originally released on the Famicom Disk System (FDS), and was never given an official cartridge conversion. Even the Virtual Console re-releases are running off of a modified FDS BIOS. This can cause some issues when trying to load the game on some emulators, Everdrives, or the NES/SNES Classic Minis. So, a while ago, an NES conversion was made titled "Super Mario Bros 2 (Unl)" or "Super Mario Bros 2 (J) [p1]". This converted the FDS game to NES, but with a few catches.
1. Most evident, the title screen graphics are missing.
2. The final room where you rescue Peach is corrupt, so the player cannot progress to World 9.
3. There is no save data, so turning the system off prevents your progress from unlocking worlds A-D.
3.5. The combination of issues 2 & 3 make Worlds A-D completely inaccessible.

The patch below corrects the first of the 3 issues, restoring the title screen graphics to the rom. With this patch, you can freely play Worlds 1-8. If you die, your high score will show up on the title screen.

If anyone wants to tackle debugging the final room, it should make the cartridge fully playable.


Gaming Discussion / Mario Swimming in the Air
« on: September 13, 2020, 04:33:59 pm »
There is an officially licensed Mario game made by Hudsonsoft for Sharp computers called "Super Mario Bros. Special". There's a hack of SMB1 that ports the levels over, but one part of the game that never got ported was the new powerup. It was a wing, and for a limited time (like a starman) it would allow Mario to fly by swimming through the air. This powerup fascinates me, because it's so simple. I've been looking to see if any hackers have ported that powerup back to SMB1 or SMB2:LL, but I haven't found any yet. Has anyone found it?

PS: I know about the bootleg Super Mario Bros 4. That comes with "other" changes though.

Personal Projects / Final Fantasy IV - 3D Magic Lists (GBA & PSP)
« on: May 23, 2020, 10:01:40 pm »
A few weeks ago, I had the urge to play FFIV again for the first time since my childhood. I wanted to play the original game before I tried out any of the great hacks available on this website. I agonized over whether to play the 2D Complete Collection on the PSP or the 3D remake on PC, followed by the 3D remake of After Years (all of which I had acquired over the years). The 2D version had the right feel for the game, but I liked a lot of the additions that the 3D version made. But the 2D version had the Interlude chapter. But the 3D version had extra story scenes. But the 2D version let you add Yang, Cid, Palom, and Porom back into your party at the end. But the 3D version let you just add their abilities onto other characters with augments. And so on and so on.

Finally, I just decided to play until Cecil became a Paladin in both version, and then keep playing whichever one felt more natural. I landed on the PSP Complete Collection. To make the Complete Collection feel like the definitive version, I wanted to figure out how to expand Cecil's spell list to the 3D list, adding in Protect, Shell, and Raise to make him a much more versatile magic user in the end game. I thought it would be a quick project. I was wrong. Nobody had mapped any code in the PSP version. I knew the code was based off of the GBA version, so I dug out a rom of that and stared working backwards. I will be uploading my notes to the documents section so that everyone has access to it. Anyway, because I started with the GBA version, there was no reason to not make the same changes there too. So I am offering this mod for both the GBA and PSP versions. For the PSP version, the mod is for both the original game and the Interlude chapter.

This mod adds the additional white magic spells from the 3D version of the game back into the 2D version. It's not a 1:1 match though. The games have a different leveling progression system, so I have placed the spells at levels where they would make sense in the 2D version. The final magic lists are as follows (new spells marked with an asterix):

-=Cecil's White Magic=-
Lvl   Spell
0   Cure
3   Sight
8   Libra
10*   Protect
15   Cura
19   Teleport
22*   Shell
27   Esuna
30*   Life/Raise

Interlude: Cecil starts with all 9 spells.

-=Rydia's White Magic=-
Lvl   Spell
3   Cure
4   Sight
7   Hold
9*   Confuse
11*   Esuna
14*   Cura
16*   Life/Raise

FF4 Advance Command Pointers -
FF4 Advance Spell List Data -
FF4 CC (PSP) Spell List Data -

FF4 Advance 3D Magic -
FF4 Complete Collection 3D Magic -

One other thing:
In digging through the PSP code, I found something surprising. The additional Ninjutsu spells from The After Years are all present and functional, aside from "Frost" (which is basically the White Fang item anyway). They are not finished though. In the 3D versions, Edge has 3 of the additional Ninjutsu spells, Gale, Tremor, and Frost. If anyone is interested in trying to get this dummied content working, I'm happy to share notes with you.

ROM Hacking Discussion / FF4 GBA & PSP - Editing Magic and Commands
« on: May 20, 2020, 11:49:43 pm »
Hello. I am looking to do a series of small hacks for Final Fantasy IV GBA and PSP that offer some compelling tweaks.

The first patch I'd like to release (for both versions) expands Cecil and Rydia's White Magic lists to include the additional spells that they learn in the 3D version (DS/iOS/Android/Steam). For Cecil, this expands his list from 6 spells to 9, adding Protect, Shell, and Raise (aka Life), and making him a bit more versatile towards the end of the game. For Rydia, this expands her list from 3 white magic spells to 7, adding in Confuse, Esuna, Cura, and Raise. If I can figure out how, I'd like to re-use some animations from enemy skills to create Edge's 3 additional Ninjutsu of Gale, Tremor, and Frost -- skills that don't currently exist in the game's code. That will be saved for version 2 though. Attached is the completed patch for GBA as a proof of concept.

The second patch I'd like to release expands the command list of a few characters. For example, Paladin Cecil will gain Gird/Brace so that he can up his defense and then cover other characters. Kain will gain Kick in addition to Jump so that he has a much-needed attack-all option. If possible, I'd like to give Child Rydia's white magic to Edward, and give Salve/Heal to someone else.

I have done quite a bit of research, and have found all of the data I'm looking for in the GBA rom. I've done some test edits, and my changes are working. For the PSP EBOOT.BIN, I'm having a bit more trouble. I'm new to PSP editing, and while editing the decrypted EBOOT in a hex editor is relatively simple, I don't know the first thing about re-encrypting the EBOOT to stick back into the ISO. (Actually compiling the iso is something I did with FFT: War of the Lions, so I know I can do that part when the time comes.) I've searched for a guide, but it appears to be one of those things where "if you know, you know, and if you don't, you shouldn't be touching it". Does anyone have experience, and would you be willing to (A) give me some pointers, or (B) re-encrypt my EBOOT?

I'm attaching my research notes for spell lists and command data. For spell lists, I've found all that I'm looking for, and am ready to make edits. For command data, I've found everything in the GBA version, but in the PSP version, I'm struggling to find the pointer table that tells the game which command list to read for each character. Any help is appreciated.

Here are my notes and the initial patch:

EDIT: Corrected Google Drive share settings so that you can actually view the link.  :P

May 22, 2020, 09:40:22 pm - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)
Hmm... so I ran a test today, and learned 3 things:
1. The EBOOT doesn't HAVE to be re-encrypted in order for the PSP to run it. It runs an un-encrypted EBOOT just fine. That's good for testing out the hack, but not so good for releasing a patch, since any patch I put out would be essentially distributing an entire rom. Still, it means I can test without having to worry about several extra steps, and that's great.

2. For the PSP version, the data for my magic lists is accurate, but the data for my command pointers is not. That data is an artifact from the GBA version, and is junk data. The good news is that gives me plenty of space for writing new magic lists.

3. The PSP version will accept ANYTHING as valid magic for a magic list. This includes item spells (Heal, Basuna, Mage Arrow), and even enemy spells. I haven't tested these in battle yet, but the fact that they're showing up in the menu is encouraging, and brings us one step closer to giving Edge his 3 new spells.

Gaming Discussion / FF7 Advent Children Chronological Order - Help
« on: April 05, 2020, 05:37:43 pm »
I recently rewatched FF7 Advent Children Complete in preparation for playing the remake, and for whatever reason, it finally clicked with me why the story is so hard to follow. Up until the point where the team comes together to fight Bahamut (about halfway through), the story is not in chronological order, and keeps jumping around. For example, the first chronological scene of the movie should be Cloud finding Denzel outside the church in the slums, but that scene doesn't come until the almost halfway point. Now, I think there's room for a little bit of achronicity, since finding Denzel isn't a strong start to the movie, but I am thinking of doing a "romhack" of the film that re-arranges scene order.

The obvious way to do this is to find a rip and bring it into video editing software, but there are legality issues that seem to be a little stricter than the rules around retro romhacking. I'm wondering instead if anyone knows of a program that allows you to put in a retail DVD or BluRay disc and define a set of "jumps" to specific timestamps. I could see something like this being used for inserting deleted scenes into films. Does it exist?

Gaming Discussion / Zelda: The Ancient Stone Tablets
« on: December 03, 2019, 12:28:34 pm »
I'm putting this out there as a plug for those of you who don't know about Zelda: The Ancient Stone Tablets, an SNES BS-X game that has been restored by the BS Zelda Team:

This game is a direct sequel to A Link to the Past, taking place a couple of years later, and the work that the team has done to restore it is incredible. They've gone as far as recording 4 1-hour programs in English that mimic the feeling of playing it as an original broadcast. Personally, I'm playing it without the MSU patch, where the text of the broadcast is displayed in a caption bar at the bottom of the screen.

Not only is this an incredible act of digital preservation; the game is actually really fun. The latest version can't be posted here, because the team has released it as a full rom rather than a patch, but you can download it from their website.

ROM Hacking Discussion / The 10 Most Common Pixel Art Mistakes
« on: November 07, 2019, 03:34:07 pm »
I came across this Youtube video, and I think it should be required viewing for everyone who wants to do a graphics hack. There are years of wisdom in this 14-minute video.  :beer:

Gaming Discussion / In Defense of Sword of Mana
« on: July 02, 2019, 11:17:54 pm »
When the Collection of Mana came out, I didn't immediately jump to play Trials of Mana, since I had played it before. Instead, I was interested in the game I hadn't played yet, Final Fantasy Adventure. In reading about it though, I found that it had been remade a few times. The one that interested me was the GBA Sword of Mana. So I played through the Wendel Sanctuary on both FFA and SoM. Both games have their charm. FFA plays a lot more like a traditional 2D Zelda game, and has a snappiness to it that is refreshing. I can definitely see why it has its fans. However, I chose to finish the story on Sword of Mana.

I've been surprised lurking online that Sword of Mana is not well-liked. The game definitely has its warts, but what it has over FFA is something that hackers can't fix. It managed to re-imagine a "Final Fantasy" spinoff as a "Mana" game. Jumping between this and Trials of Mana, I FELT like I was playing games in the same series. I did not feel that jumping between ToM and FFA. That alone made it worth playing for me.

The game is far from perfect though. It is in great need of 3 hacks:
1. Color correction, now that we have backlit screens.
2. Gameplay rebalancing. (I personally would just do away with MP entirely.)
3. A 3rd Party Member hack that allows the Boy and the Girl to travel together for the majority of the game. This was the big one, as the game just keeps creating awkward situations for why you can't travel together.

I won't be the one to create these hacks, but I wanted to highlight what I think is an overlooked gem. It gets flak for being an unfaithful remake, but I personally think it did a great job of retrofitting an old game back into the franchise it spawned.

Gaming Discussion / Cross-Platform Linked GBA Games
« on: June 28, 2019, 10:19:46 am »
I'm not looking to make this happen, but I'm wondering if anyone has ever tried to tackle the GBA games that could either have content unlocked or unlock content in other games by being linked up. The 2 applications I can think of this happening are:
1. GCN/GBA Link Cable -
2. DS/GBA game in the same DS System -

I think for some games, the unlocked content is already within the code, and the GBA game just unlocks it. For other games though, like Megaman ZX, I'm wondering if the code is there, or if it's actually loading the code off of the GBA game.

Gaming Discussion / Next Generation's Romhacking
« on: May 03, 2019, 09:29:18 pm »
I had a thought today as I saw yet another interesting-looking mobile game, then passed on it because of its free-to-play, pay-to-win gameplay. I bet that next generation's emulation is going to be preserving mobile games they played as kids that no longer run on current hardware. And I bet their romhacking is going to be removing the free-to-play mechanics and hosting servers for events.

What do you think?

Personal Projects / Final Fantasy Tactics: Emergence (PSP)
« on: April 15, 2019, 06:49:53 pm »

It feels odd starting up a project page on this 2 years after "Final Fantasy Tactics: Emergence" was first finished, but better late than never. In this past week, I've revisited this project to fix a few persistent bugs, like the notorious "Bow-Wielding Monks". I've also fixed about a dozen other things. You can find the patch here:
EDIT: Submission approved. Hack has been posted.

This forum post is for tracking any other bugs you find, or for suggestions you want to see.

To celebrate v1.1 being completed, I've also ported a TINY portion of this hack to PSX, called "Dark Knight Ramza". This micro-patch allows Ramza to learn "Dark Sword" and "Night Sword" by being hit by them. It also makes the recurring enemy Rofel into a Dark Knight to increase your chances of learning the skills. You can find that here:

Happy playing!

ROM Hacking Discussion / Megaman X Object Placement
« on: March 08, 2019, 05:52:51 pm »
In the past year, we've figured out a lot of stuff about Megaman X1-3 on the SNES. One thing we haven't found yet is object placement. This includes health, 1-ups, heart tanks, subtanks, armor capsules, etc. I would love to update my MMX Capsule Remix hack to a true remix that changes the location of the collectable items in the game. I'd be changing at least 50% of the locations. One poignant example would be placing the Hadoken Capsule on the ledge in Boomer Kuwanger's stage where the heart tank currently is.Does anyone have any ideas on how to find this information?

March 15, 2019, 11:05:14 am - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)
Had a conversation with Justin3009 on this one. Long and short, it's possible, but way too complicated to make it worthwhile.

ROM Hacking Discussion / Megaman X Buster Upgrade
« on: April 02, 2017, 06:34:27 pm »
Hi there. I'm working on a small hack to Megaman X that affects the way capsules are found. The Dash Boots are now skippable, and none of the other equipment requires the dash boots to obtain. The purpose of this hack is 2-fold:
1. For normal players, to allow them to change up their route through the game, trying new combinations of armors and powerups. There is no longer a need to do Chill Penguin first!
2. For hardcore players/speedrunners, to allow them to do an armor-free speedrun.

I've accomplished the first part of my hack with just a level editor. All 4 equipment capsules can be reached with precise jumps and wall kicks. However, there are 2 more things I'd like to add before releasing the patch. Unfortunately, both require a rom map, which does not exist anywhere I can find for Megaman X.
1. Zero's Buster - After you fight Vile, the game does a check to see if you've obtained the arm upgrade or not, then plays one of two versions of the cutscene. (One where Zero gives you the upgrade, and the other where he doesn't). I want to remove this check and always play the scene where he doesn't upgrade you. This is probably a 1-byte change. Does anyone know where this is in the Rom?
2. Sigma Final Form - Only 2 things damage Sigma in his final form: the Rolling Shield (2 pts damage) and an upgraded X-Buster at charge level 3 (1 pt damage). I would like to change this so that the X-Buster charge level 2 does 1 pt damage, and level 3 2 pts. This would allow a speed runner to do a buster-only no upgrade run. Any idea where this damage table is located?

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