Nah, I'm fine with adding more squishy tiles if it will save such a huge overhead (40 bytes, yikes). I already see places that I can make them and I'm planning around what's available and how many would need to be added. I think I might be able to make it work. That way we also don't have to have a compatibility patch.
I'm getting close in my playthrough to the point where the first item that should be thrown away, the Pass, is going to be checked, so I may take a break until I can take a peek at the code that removes those in the Restored WIP. Currently playtesting with the Bug Fix WIP. I updated the first post with current WIP bugs, and while I'm thinking about it, I may try to figure out where and why the shop interface graphics glitch is a thing. B Button Dash patch needs to be added to Restored, while I'm guessing the Mysidian Orbs Stat Refresh still needs to be added to both Bug Fix and Restored. Updated first post again.
UPDATE: A lot of spells could benefit from an "se" tile being added, but frankly the "e" at the end of Scrge (scourge) seems unnecessary. It's easy to infer from Scrg what the word is, and since most abbreviation relies on knowledge of the language and inference, not really anything else "scrg" could be other than "scourge". That'll save us a byte and a tile. I've got one extra reclaimed byte to work with, and about 7 spell names left, so the planning phase is looking promising. Removing the trailing "e" from a lot of spells (replacing the "se" with a new byte) actually works for shaving off a fifth tile, and there's only 2 spells that would use it after the "se" addition. Silence and Scourge. Changing them to Silenc and Scrg would eliminate the need for that byte and give us another to work with. Worrying too much about fitting as many letters of a word as possible as opposed to as many as necessary to convey what the word is, I think, was the downfall here. I'll take the latter approach.
UPDATE2: Only 2 spell names left, though I've run out of bytes to work with at the moment. I'm sure I can repurpose one, or just rename the two spells to get them down to 4. There's a lot of duplicate bytes that have a very slight difference in pixels that are ultimately not significant enough to justify a second byte, like Blind and Blink using their own version of "li" when they could probably just use Blizzard's "li".
UPDATE3: I have successfully repurposed bytes with minimal need for respriting tiles, with only 10 bytes needing to be redone... Almost. Looking at the tile size, "Ba" won't be possible as there's no way to fit those letters on one tile and have them be remotely readable, so I'll have to re-examine Basuna and Barrier.
UPDATE4: Finally looking at everything in YY-CHR, I can see the restrictions are the 8x8 sprites and readability. With a 4-width character standard for lowercase letters, it's very hard to cram two whole letters into a single sprite. I can see why he sprited portions of words the way he did, so it may be much easier to touch up a few things here and there and just concatenate spell names so there's as little need for re-spriting as possible.
UPDATE5: Spriting is going well, and there's only a few more spells (4 for the player) that need to be shortened, and I have plenty of free bytes to work with now. It's just a matter of finding what letters can be squished together without looking like a mess. Admittedly, "Blizzrd" is a bit rough, but it's still clear what it says and it fits in 4 tiles, so I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
FINAL UPDATE: Success! I've managed to trim all spell names down to 4 tiles, and I think that the sprites look quite nice as well! It's not quite as verbose as Chaos Rush's original sprites had been, but just like his it's still far more verbose than the NeoDemi patch which I believe stuck to 4 bytes, 4 characters, 4 tiles like the original US Final Fantasy I used. It's a good compromise, I think. I'll put the new patch into the queue as soon as I clean a few things up.
I found a minor bug in my translation where I accidentally inserted a "scroll to newline" in a few places, causing NPC text to scroll to a blank box before the "Ask, Learn, Items" interface shows up. I found and fixed in my WIP v2.1a patch the one where the woman who loves Josef says "Poor Nelly... I'll look after her. Josef would want that." But I know there's one, maybe two that came before that which I forgot to document. If you happen upon them in your playthrough, please make note of them.