InVerse, Darkdata, Vanya,
Thanks for the thoughts.
Right now I'm learning to use FCEUX's debugging features to track down data to make an easytype patch (the one I said I wouldn't do, but progress encourages me), which is also preparing me to use Dwedit's input to help me to mod the dialog text engine. I think it currently implements dual-tile loading so that English characters are padded from 8x8 to 8x16 (using a blank tile) to match the height of Chinese characters. I aim to make it single-tile load, so I can fit 3 or 4 lines into a window, but may cost my ability to load 16x16 icons from the Chinese tilespace. I only have a limited number of spare 8x8 tiles left to use, but the possibilities with the extended tilespace are enormous. This is gonna be a risky and tricky job. I need to find out if using 4-line dialog will corrupt the text engine in menus and battle, where I will need those 16x16 icons. With those icons I can either use the icons sampled above, or scrunched-text icons. I probably won't make a verdict until I've made those changes.
As far as Icons vs Scrunch vs Trunc goes, Icons is in the lead. Icons (16x16) vs Scrunch (24x16) both employ 16x16 icons which takes care of the display bug when a command appears over MaxHP. Trunc, the last resort, is if 4-line text works but ruins everything else, which I wouldn't settle for unless I was evil.
My imagination is starting to get ambitious, but first I have to see what I can do...