Episode 122a – Rom Hacking and Retro Gaming

Welcome to Episode 122a

Main Topic

  • yes it is i the boy – who am i even

    -son of unclemarc

    -stevens type kid

    -longtime mathematics enjoyer

    -“pro” gamer


a quick personal history

    -first talk about how i got into older games

    -wii virtual console, snes emulator in 3rd grade (messing around with lunar magic, despite not knowing how to use it)

    -got into gba in grade 6

    -got into fe in grade 8, fell out a bit, got back into it in junior year

    -got into hacking in freshman year of college


retro gaming

    -old games are cool, but good luck finding the carts and consoles

    -if you’re not japanese there goes a lot of games

    -solve these problems with emulation- play classic games, translate foreign games, etc.

    -pretty much every system you can think of has emulators developed

    -of note here is also the ability to play hacks


what the hell is a romhack

    -take a game that you enjoy, and use your numerous powers to turn it into something new

    -graphics, sounds, level design, mechanics- the whole nine yards

    -why do you hack? for fun, to learn about old stuff, to show off to people

    -it’s like making a game, but you kinda have to be purely passion driven (no profit for you)


what do ya need, anyway

    -a rom, obviously (yeah sure i totally dumped one myself)

    -patience and perseverance

    -whatever hacking tools exist for the game you wish to tackle

    -god there’s so many of them

    -game specific tools (ex. lunar magic, febuilder)


    -debugging emulators (ex. no$gba)

    -graphical tools (ex. usenti, paint if you hate yourself)

    -sound stuff (usually working with midis, either custom made, downloaded, or ripped from other games)


decomp vs. binary

    -binary hacking is more straightforward to setup (usually)

    -decompilations/buildfiles allow much more freedom

    -buildfiles also give you powerful version control

    -if you screw up, bug fixing is far more merciful

    -binary has you burning edits into your rom- scary!


i just told you buildfiles are rad but anyway use binary hacking

    -that all being said, binary hacking tools are probably the best way to start

    -the simplicity allows you to acquaint yourself with the nitty gritty

    -gonna be honest, i started with very little knowledge on the specifics

    -never thought i’d casually pick up hexadecimal


you don’t even have to do it all yourself

    -lots of hacking communities have tons of resources

    -graphical/musical assets for the artistically unable

    -engine hacks so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel adding cool shit

    -documentation on the inner workings of a game


but sometimes you gotta

    -gba assembly haunts my dreams

    -thankfully, other options exist

    -pokemon decomps use C, CHAX is a somewhat recent thing in fe

    -with the gui methods, you can do a ton of stuff without ever touching asm

    -just gotta be clever and maybe rub an elbow or two


screw it, fe hacking scene history

    -nightmare (good old csv editing), various general use gba tools

    -apparently hackers used to map in ms paint

    -feditor is a nightmare hellscape

    -despite this, we still had hacks

    -shoutout to the last promise, made by a highschooler with the equivalent of rusty sponges


    the golden age begins

    -event assembler- insert data with a powerful and versatile tool

    -buildfiles insert most of their data through EA

    -in march 2017, skillsystem dropped- a revolution in the hacking scene to turn fe8 into a game as feature rich as modern entries

    -emblem magic- an all in one gui hacking tool dropped in august 2017

    -then febuilder dropped in september 2017 and kinda overshadowed it

    -an aside on pokemon romhacking making you download like 80 things

    -builder is a gift from a god known as 7743- easy to use UI with a ton of features and some underrated debugging power

    -skillsys got ported to builder early on, and it has a ton of ui to complement it

    -ever since, we’ve had tons more hacks

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Intro and Outro music credit: Tri Tachyon, Digital MK 2

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