ROM Hack Ideas for a Shin Megami Tensei IV ROM Hack

Krustentier7

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I love Shin Megami Tensei IV, much more so than its direct follow-up Apocalypse; it's undeniable though that a lot of the smaller niggles in the original game were fixed with the sequel. In my mind a lot of these problems should be easily fixable via hacking, but since I have next to no knowledge in that field, I thought I should at least put this idea out there. I don't want to come off as entitled and like I expect people to take up this task now, I just thought it's an idea worth proposing and that talking about it might generate interest.

Ideas for fixes:

Portraits:

SMT IV was heavily criticized for its reliance on guest artists for a number of its demon designs. The designs themselves weren't terrible, but the style in which a lot of them were drawn made them look like pencil sketches. As a response to this backlash, Masayuki Doi, the game's main character designer, decided to redraw these designs in his own style, making for a much more cohesive experience. Out of all of the fixes I have in mind, this would probably be the simplest one to pull off; I imagine you'd only have to do replace the image files for the portraits in question with their respective counterparts in Apocalypse (every demon also has only one portrait each, unlike the human characters who have different images for different facial expressions.)

Examples:

Medusa

latest


latest

Merkabah
latest

latest

Lucifer: The Apocalypse drawing is an improvement, but I'm not really big on this sh*t-eating grin they gave him. Lucifer never struck me as a generic evil guy, so this could use an edit.
Lucifer_smt_4.png

SMT-IV-F-Lucifer.png

Potential Challenges: Unfortunately, not all of the demons drawn by guest artists reappear in Apocalypse, meaning they had no chance to be redrawn by Doi. The demons in question include the four Archangels and some of the one-off boss encounters. A lot of the latter ones don't actually clash with Doi's style very much, I honestly think designs like Kouga Saburo and Minotaur are legitimately great. For the Archangels it'd be very much possible to just use Kaneko's classic original designs instead, though I'm not really a fan of that idea since they look nothing like Merkabah and I don't think they really fit what SMT IV was going for; their somewhat grotesque appearance (despite a lot of elements that are normally considered aesthetically appealing) was kind of the point.

For what it's worth though, we can replace basically all of SMT IV'S most prominent demons with their Apocalypse counterparts, and that would already be a huge improvement in my book.

Interface/QOL tweaks, etc.:

Atlus games have been known for their great UIs as of late, but SMT IV had a few baffling oversights. There's no way to change the order of your skills (neither for Flynn or any of his demons), which was really aggravating to me and mercifully fixed in Apocalypse. Another strange omission was the manual fusion feature from past SMT games - you could only do a search and then select from the available potential fusion results. This wasn't really a critical feature, but removing it is really only a downgrade, which is why that was also brought back with the sequel.

One of my biggest gripes with Apocalypse is how exploration was neutered; I know a lot of people found SMT IV's world map to be confusing to navigate, but this was "fixed" way too much in the sequel with how it never stops holding your hand and explicitly showing you where to go and putting bridges everywhere so you don't get lost. Getting lost isn't a bad thing in my opinion, and I wouldn't want to ruin this aspect of SMT IV by adding objective markers and such. That said, I don't think I'd be against at least showing location names on the bottom screen map like in Apocalypse once you've actually been to that location for the first time.

Another thing that falls in the same category for me is having to unlock hard mode by beating the game once, whereas it's available from the start in Apocalypse. I've played through the eShop version a couple times now, but if I want to start a fresh save on Master Mode I'd have to wipe my original file. I own a physical copy that I could play instead, but on that one I don't have Master Mode unlocked. It's a huge annoyance for experienced players and very much worth fixing in my opinion.

In that same vein, another great feature would be an increase in save slots. SMT IV has only two (both the eShop and physical versions), whereas this number was bumped up to five with Apocalypse (one on the cart, four on the SD card.) I don't really know if this is possible via hacking, but it'd be worth investigating.

There might be other things worth fixing along those lines, but these are the most significant problems I can think of off the top of my head.

Game balance and battle system changes:

This is something I'm personally not too fussed about, but I know it's a huge deal to a lot of people. Pure magic builds have the potential to absolutely destroy this game, and while I kind of enjoy SMT IV's ridiculous and unpredictable difficulty curve myself, I can absolutely see how one would want to take another look at some of the numbers and stats in this game and tweak them slightly. Just like the art this is something that would have to be discussed in more detail if we can actually get a project like this off the ground, right now it's hard for me to say what would need changing and what would be better left alone.

I have to say that I'm not really fond of how Smirks were nerfed in Apocalypse, they were so insanely broken that they made the game a lot more unpredictable and exciting in my opinion. I do like the idea of giving certain skills bonus properties depending on whether or not Smirk is active, and this is yet another thing that could be folded back into SMT IV. While I did kind of miss how Hama and Mudo worked originally, I found myself using them much more often in the sequel, and it was very satisfying.

The most important universal game balance change I would like to see in SMT IV are skill affinities though. It was very easy for demons to become mere palette swaps of each other with how open and free-form the fusion system was, and Apocalypse wisely made it so that a skill's effectiveness varies dramatically from demon to demon; a Jack Frost wielding Agidyne like it's nothing was a thing of the past now, and it encouraged much more careful consideration of your demons' stats and available skills. Putting this system into SMT IV would improve the game massively in my opinion.

_____________

This is basically everything I would like to see changed in a potential SMT IV ROM Hack, though I'm sure I there's stuff I forgot about. I'd be happy to do whatever I can to help out in case there really are people with hacking skills interested in this idea, and of course I want to encourage even more suggestions and potential changes. Either way I'm happy I at least tried and got to put these ideas out there.
 
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I found this post as I was looking to see if anyone had replaced the Lucifer / Lillith / Medusa artwork in a hack of this already

I've been working on something like you describe for replacing the character art, and would have to say that the biggest challenge is the sprite sheets of demons that result in a sort of gif-like quality in battle / after fusion (medusa in particular has a lot of moving parts). Also there are several portraits for different purposes I guess, with the only difference being scaled resolution (256 vs 512 I guess for the in party art vs event - haven't tested enough to find out yet)

I've been slowly poking through the files in kuriimu and would say images / movies / text is fairly easy to change, whereas the balance and UI changes seem much harder to implement - I may be limiting myself by repacking as a CIA as opposed to using game patching, but I tend to have larger problems rebuilding with larger changes

This post is a little old, so sorry for the necro-post, but if you're still interested in swapping the art for the Doi portraits I can help point you in the right direction - my goal was simply to update medusa, and swap the Lucifer and Lillith stuff for older Kaneko stuffs, so it's parallel but not completely the same
 

AT-LOWDeSu

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I can't say i've got the skills for this yet, but it's definitely motivating. I'd love to test anything done for SMT IV, since it's one of my personal favorite games as well.
 
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I can't say i've got the skills for this yet, but it's definitely motivating. I'd love to test anything done for SMT IV, since it's one of my personal favorite games as well.

honestly, I'm not sure I have the skills either, but people on this site have made a bunch of tools that can help get around that. I've been using kuriimu and kukkii to poke through the files (kukkii for viewing the image files and kuriimu for the text for some events - a lot lot lot of trial and error) after using the hacking toolkit from asia81 to unpack a cia that I got from my 3ds using godmode9. You can search for both of these in this section if you're not familiar (make sure to grab version 9 of the hacking toolkit if you do, I can't get later versions to work)

I'm still looking at what all I can change, but if you're interested in testing, my first patch is attempting to change a few demon artworks to ones that are better (imo obviously) - any chance you have a save next to either the lilith or lucifer bossfight (law or neutral)? Do you have a physical or digital copy and/or are you familiar with using the gamepatching featue in luma?

I can also give you information about the romfs file structure that I've mapped so far if you want to make your own changes down the line
 

AT-LOWDeSu

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honestly, I'm not sure I have the skills either, but people on this site have made a bunch of tools that can help get around that. I've been using kuriimu and kukkii to poke through the files (kukkii for viewing the image files and kuriimu for the text for some events - a lot lot lot of trial and error) after using the hacking toolkit from asia81 to unpack a cia that I got from my 3ds using godmode9. You can search for both of these in this section if you're not familiar (make sure to grab version 9 of the hacking toolkit if you do, I can't get later versions to work)

I'm still looking at what all I can change, but if you're interested in testing, my first patch is attempting to change a few demon artworks to ones that are better (imo obviously) - any chance you have a save next to either the lilith or lucifer bossfight (law or neutral)? Do you have a physical or digital copy and/or are you familiar with using the gamepatching featue in luma?

I can also give you information about the romfs file structure that I've mapped so far if you want to make your own changes down the line

My only save is the beginning of a new game plus right now. But my stats are pretty good and I can power through until lilith or lucifer-- or use a save editor and literally just go op mode.

I'll have some extra free time around Tuesday and i'll look at all those programs you mentioned, and see what I can do. I'd really love to make an impact where I can.
 
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Okay, no worries - I can do the same, so I'll keep going for now.

Right now, I have all the portraits replaced and generally know how it fits together - 512 images are for when the demon talks to you and there are separate sets for bossfights and party demons (for example, lilith has 2 sets, centaur has 1 set and lucifer has 1 set + 1 for a scaled 2nd form even though he's not summonable) - all the mini face icons are from 2 images in the end, so those were super easy to update.

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

Sorry for double post but on mobile at work.

The sprite sheets need more trial and error, so I will be slowly updating these as I can test, so will finish the fusion animations for lilith / medusa tomorrow and upload a copy of the current files tomorrow night.

Next will be medusa, lilith then lucifer bossfights, then maybe replacing the movie file for the lucifer transformation.

Probably will update everything and do a bit of work on the movie, but I've done a first draft of it that I'll try and upload later.

I'm going to start a new thread as I think we're a bit out of the scope of the OP.
 
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