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Author Topic: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?  (Read 2666 times)

AnCapGamer

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How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« on: September 11, 2020, 01:05:11 am »
Me and a friend of mine have been working on this very carefully curated romset for our retropie setup for a couple years - we're trying to go for a set of Roms that are "comprehensive" instead of "complete" (the difference between the two being: if you graph the overall quality of any system's entire game library, you'll usually find that about 70% of the games made for any system would usually be rated 2-stars or less by most people - Barbie's Horse Adventures, for example - so, a Comprehensive set theoretically should include all games that are 3-stars and up, which still results in hundreds and hundreds of games per system, but eliminates the vast majority of the "bloat" that you experience if you just dump a complete ROM set into a system). This has been relatively easy to do with most systems, but we've come into a problem when it comes to the romhacking community and it's works:

We decided that when it came to Fan Translations, our filter criteria for inclusion would be "any game that's listed as 'fully playable'", the idea being that any game that's good enough to convince a group of people to do the entirety of the translation work from start to finish must be at least worthy of note enough to be included. However, when it comes to ROMHacks, we can't think of any criteria by which to separate the exceptional from the mundane.

Some ROMHacks are just crazy pieces of work - things like "Chrono Trigger: Flames of Eternity," "Zelda: Parallel Worlds," "Conker's High Rule Tail," or "Pier Solar and the Great Architects" are such incredibly high-quality pieces of work that they deserve to be treated as unique games in their own right and it's obvious we should include them - but for every one of these games there's 10 ROMHacks like "Harmony of Dissonance Sprite Color Fix", which are good and worth playing, but honestly just aren't in the same league. The real problem, though, is that there doesn't seem to be any sort of quality-reference mechanism in the romhacking community that doesn't involve spending endless hours trying out hundreds and hundreds of individual hacks manually.

How do I tell which ROMHacks I should definitely add to the " Oh yeah, I definitely want to play this someday" collection?

iridium_ionizer

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2020, 02:08:37 am »
You could search up ROM hacks and translations (under Sections on the left side of the main page) and then sort by downloads (descending), but then you might miss some hacks that haven't gained a reputation yet and you might curate some hacks that have since been superseded. 

Another method would be just going to the most popular games for each of the systems and looking at the Yes / No reviews for the most downloaded hacks for that particular game. You would probably notice a few top notch hacks for each game, but you might miss out on transformative hacks that make substandard games enjoyable (see Super Pitfall 30th Anniversary Edition).

A different approach would be to get others online to curate a list of hacks for you. Blue Television Games and other YouTube channels often will show gameplay videos of prominent (and sometimes obscure) hacks. You could read through a few threads on the RHDN forums or start your own thread. There are probably other websites that have curated lists of ROM hacks.

Of course your problem is not unique to you. Many players would not do a complete playthrough of a ROM hack if there are only minor changes made. A lot of people "roll their own" by applying multiple patches on top of each other to make their perfect blend, but that requires a certain amount of patience to discover which combinations are incompatible by playing them briefly.

I hope this helps. Best of luck.

Jorpho

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2020, 02:15:18 am »
Me and a friend of mine have been working on this very carefully curated romset for our retropie setup for a couple years
I strongly suspect that even if you cut out the "bloat", you will ultimately get bored or otherwise stop playing with this retropie long before you even touch a tiny fraction of this romset.  But that is perhaps a different question.

Quote
Some ROMHacks are just crazy pieces of work - things like "Chrono Trigger: Flames of Eternity," "Zelda: Parallel Worlds," "Conker's High Rule Tail," or "Pier Solar and the Great Architects" are such incredibly high-quality pieces of work that they deserve to be treated as unique games in their own right
Are you not aware that Pier Solar is a game that was coded from scratch? If you wish to compensate the developers, may I suggest purchasing the Steam port?

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How do I tell which ROMHacks I should definitely add to the " Oh yeah, I definitely want to play this someday" collection?
As you've noted, it is pretty obvious from the title sometimes.  Otherwise, if you wouldn't definitely be interested in the original game, wouldn't that generally remove hacks from consideration as well?
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nesrocks

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2020, 08:05:15 am »
Usually I go with google "best romhacks for # system" and look at people's responses to forum threads. This is a very subjective matter, so even if you try to be imparcial, in the end your list is going to be your list. I'm pretty sure original games that you consider 2 star tier other people would consider otherwise.
Also, no romset is ever complete as there's always something new cooking, so you're going to have to deal with the OCD of knowing that.

FAST6191

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2020, 08:27:00 am »
I am dubious of star ratings. Quite a few hidden gems get dropped because of tie ins. Most are still junk but not all that are good are recognised.

As far as sprite fix type things. I have had games I have rendered 1000x better because of a 2 minute to find cheat -- sometimes kicking a stupid mechanic in the head just does so much to improve an experience (another problem with star ratings as well -- how would I fix this is not something I encounter in most reviewers never mind the public at large. There are even a few ROM hackers and mod makers, lucky bastards, that don't have the "this is what I would have done" routine constantly executing in their head.).

I was not being hyperbolic, or otherwise covering extremely unusual cases, with the cheats but step it up one more and look at something like the DS dpad hacks to allow games devs used touchscreen on to play on dpad. Indeed if sticking with Castlevania then their DS efforts had touchscreen nonsense removed rather nicely.

This also says nothing of savestates (if you have never loaded a save to play a level, or loaded a save and passed off to a friend to see how they play a given section then you are either a liar or welcome for the suggestion), and I suppose randomisers and boss rush are also a variation on this theme but by that point you are probably back in hacking country, even if by design a randomiser is... random. Similar thing for stuff like strategy game user made maps.

Stick with (re)translations and total conversions, maybe peppering in some proper bugfixes, if you want, however you risk missing out on some very special things if you do.

AnCapGamer

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2020, 10:42:10 am »
I strongly suspect that even if you cut out the "bloat", you will ultimately get bored or otherwise stop playing with this retropie long before you even touch a tiny fraction of this romset.  But that is perhaps a different question.

This is absolutely true, but not in the way you're describing - the current romset at the moment covers 19 systems and has a total count of 5,797 games- what will happen is we will both die of old age long before we ever finish playing all the good ones that we want to play. The current " favorites/to-play" list is 376 games long.

Our goal is endless, and ever-expanding, and we know that - but that's okay, because just the act of working on it is enjoyable in a sense.

Are you not aware that Pier Solar is a game that was coded from scratch? If you wish to compensate the developers, may I suggest purchasing the Steam port?

Yes we are aware, and we already have purchased both the Steam port AND the PS3 version (back when it was available). I should have made it more clear in my description that I knew Pier Solar was a from-scratch game, but what's more important to me is that it is a truly standout game, regardless of whether it is from-scratch or just a heavy mod.



September 11, 2020, 10:46:18 am - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)
You could search up ROM hacks and translations (under Sections on the left side of the main page) and then sort by downloads (descending), but then you might miss some hacks that haven't gained a reputation yet and you might curate some hacks that have since been superseded.

This is actually the best advice so far in this entire thread.

We're not going to get it perfect no matter what we do - our target is ephemeral and ever-changing, we're always going to be working on it, and there's always going to be stuff that we missed and stuff that we probably kept but should have eliminated. Our goal is just to do the best we can - which is still pretty considerable if we really put our minds to it.

blipform

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2020, 01:03:07 pm »
All I could suggest is to keep asking around every 3-6 months. You'll keep fishing out lots of different, new opinions. And everyone else will keep asking the same thing also on top. :)


Like I've pulled up a few threads
https://old.reddit.com/r/nes/comments/8xea4x/what_are_the_best_nes_game_hacks/
https://old.reddit.com/r/emulation/comments/8nw1vp/a_rom_hack_best_of_list/
https://gbatemp.net/threads/list-of-the-best-rom-hacks.87680/
https://www.pcmag.com/news/10-classic-video-game-hacks-everyone-should-play
(- insert infinite number of threads -)


There's so many masterpiece hacks that I'm likely never going to play or get around to or even learn about. :(

Of which I haven't even tried the 3 hacks you mentioned on OP. And the 1 homebrew.

Jorpho

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2020, 07:33:15 pm »
but that's okay, because just the act of working on it is enjoyable in a sense.
Well, I mean, if you find that to be amusing, but you find sorting through romhacks to be frustrating, then maybe ... don't do that? Or just try playing the games instead? :huh:
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AnCapGamer

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2020, 01:04:57 pm »
Well, I mean, if you find that to be amusing, but you find sorting through romhacks to be frustrating, then maybe ... don't do that? Or just try playing the games instead? :huh:

It's not that it's frustrating... It's just chronologically unfeasible. Attempting to try out every ROMHacks by hand would essentially amount to a full-time job plus overtime, even if I only spent a few minutes on each one. And with more coming out every week, I would never catch up. I simply don't have that kind of time.

Jorpho

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2020, 02:07:19 pm »
By "try playing the games", I mean playing the games you already have instead of looking for challenging new ways to accumulate even more games that you probably won't play either.  And yes, I should certainly take my own advice.  I'll shut up now.
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AnCapGamer

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2020, 07:26:49 pm »
By "try playing the games", I mean playing the games you already have instead of looking for challenging new ways to accumulate even more games that you probably won't play either.  And yes, I should certainly take my own advice.  I'll shut up now.

BUT I MUST COLLECT AND ARCHIVE ALL OF THE AWESOME!!!

Kurt91

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Re: How do I tell the incredible romhacks from the basic ones?
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2020, 12:21:15 am »
What I would do is go to the RetroAchievements site and look up each console that you've got on your list. A handful of hacks actually have achievement lists. Considering that somebody had to not just play the whole thing, but replay sections over and over while looking for the exact bit to track to create a working achievement, and repeat the process until a full achievement list was completed, the games either have to be good, or the person making the list is a freaking insane masochist of some sort.

Then again, considering some of the standard games on the list, that might be the case. Even so, there's a difference between "This console needs a full achievement list for every commercial game, so I'll sacrifice my sanity to complete the crappy ones" and "This unofficial hack is really damned good and maybe creating a list for it will get more people to try it and existing players to get more enjoyment out of it before finishing and putting it down for the next one."