PS1/2 Modify Ape Escape PS1 voice packs

Codex0

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Hey everyone

Has anyone here had much luck with just hot-swapping STR files to swap voice packs between versions of a game?

I've been playing around with doing this with Ape Escape for PS1 as the EU/UK voices and the US ones differ, but the US version of the game runs much better. (I own both but prefer the UK voice acting)

I managed to swap the files and update the bin so it would boot (albeit with the forbidden ps1 boot screen lol) but the voices just disappeared opposed to changed.

I was probably a bit naive in hoping that hot-swapping the files would work lol.

Any thoughts?

I haven't got much experience with modding ps1 games / disks but am happy to try things, I'm a developer so I'm mainly just missing the domain knowledge for modding ps1 titles
 

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"I was probably a bit naive in hoping that hot-swapping the files would work"
Not really. It is the first thing I would try and works a lot of the time on any system where you have files to swap around like this; most times it does not work being when the other region lost information (Japanese voice acting being a a far more prominent thing/required thing for the Japanese player base than whatever team is localising something) or sometimes when an English only game for North America becomes multi5 or something when appearing in Europe. Coders are lazy by design and there is usually little benefit in rearranging file order, the respective calls, format and whatever else. It has happened before, though usually more when things are coming out of Japan and being independently localised to English twice (once for each region) and one put more effort in than the other.

That said now you get to try to understand more about the format, not necessarily how to decode it but how its archive might be arranged (think contents page of a book) and then trying to insert some things. As far as Ape Escape particularly then I doubt you will get more than a few "oh I remember that", and I don't think I have seen much of a hacking community around it.
It has happened before that audio quality was dropped for other regions to fit things, however I can't imagine that being the case here (CDs tending to have more than enough for voice effects compared to say a GBA cartridge) and tends to be more for highly voiced games with long monologues (and possibly multiple languages needing to fit). If that is the case then either it becomes a thing to mod the game to take it or mod the audio files to be in the respective required quality.

In the case where things are lost above then it can also be that things are backported; replace Japanese text script with whatever in Japanese version to keep Japanese audio/difficulty being the more common one here in general terms. Here I don't know what failings the PAL version might have had but it could also be a possibility to fix them instead. Curious that the PAL version is the lesser version as well; most of the time by the PS1 then PAL slowdown of years past was a thing of the past, and the delays to appear in Europe usually meant more bugs got fixed.
 

Codex0

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weird, I have a proper response but the forum doesn't want me to post it...

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

"I was probably a bit naive in hoping that hot-swapping the files would work"
Not really. It is the first thing I would try and works a lot of the time on any system where you have files to swap around like this; most times it does not work being when the other region lost information (Japanese voice acting being a a far more prominent thing/required thing for the Japanese player base than whatever team is localising something) or sometimes when an English only game for North America becomes multi5 or something when appearing in Europe. Coders are lazy by design and there is usually little benefit in rearranging file order, the respective calls, format and whatever else. It has happened before, though usually more when things are coming out of Japan and being independently localised to English twice (once for each region) and one put more effort in than the other.
hah well somewhat reassuring to know I wasn't completely mad in my attempt

Yeah I suppose it depends on how it packs the files during compilation and all that. Would be nice to not have to try decompile the binaries to change timings or calls, since that sounds like a huge task for someone unfamiliar with ps1 compilation lol.

"That said now you get to try to understand more about the format, not necessarily how to decode it but how its archive might be arranged (think contents page of a book) and then trying to insert some things. As far as Ape Escape particularly then I doubt you will get more than a few "oh I remember that", and I don't think I have seen much of a hacking community around it.
Interestingly I begun attempting to repack the disk by dropping in an empty textfile on the bin and resaving it that way, which failed to boot past the ps1 logo for all the tooling I tried _except_ poweriso. Poweriso managed to modify the bin without killing it, so that's neat.

With the text file on the disk it successfully booted, however, the boot logo has the forbidden ps1 logo described here: https://playstation.fandom.com/wiki/Forbidden_Image

I found that particularly interesting, in that it must have a md5 / hash somewhere of the expected disk contents. From here I attempted to just straight swap the STR files over from the PAL disk to the NTSC disk and see where that got me.

The game boots and runs fine, however, the voice packs did not work, weirdly some of the bg audio did.

Would be really cool to script the entire patch and chuck it up on github if I ever got it working (provided you have access to both disks etc).

It has happened before that audio quality was dropped for other regions to fit things, however I can't imagine that being the case here (CDs tending to have more than enough for voice effects compared to say a GBA cartridge) and tends to be more for highly voiced games with long monologues (and possibly multiple languages needing to fit). If that is the case then either it becomes a thing to mod the game to take it or mod the audio files to be in the respective required quality.

The quality of the audio itself I imagine is the same, heaps of room free on the disk (it's a surprisingly small game in terms of filesize). The speed of the audio could be an issue, for example, if you force NTSC timings on the PAL game you get super-fast audio (observed here:
)

In the case where things are lost above then it can also be that things are backported; replace Japanese text script with whatever in Japanese version to keep Japanese audio/difficulty being the more common one here in general terms. Here I don't know what failings the PAL version might have had but it could also be a possibility to fix them instead. Curious that the PAL version is the lesser version as well; most of the time by the PS1 then PAL slowdown of years past was a thing of the past, and the delays to appear in Europe usually meant more bugs got fixed.
Yeah, I've started reading a repository (https://github.com/apiraino/psx_tapper) and the tooling used there, I suppose I can try decompiling the titles, and observe the differences that way.

First step would be to decompile the game, recompile it, and see if it runs. After that start investigating the asset loading. I could also look at the decompiled differences between the two versions and probably port bug fixes from one to the other reasonably easily (famous last words) if I get to that point.

Is it really worth it for monkeys? Not really. Will I do it out of my nostalgia for UK VA with US performance? If I can, if no one else has better ideas haha
 
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