Need help starting in DS hacking/editing world

Discussion in 'NDS - ROM Hacking and Translations' started by freetard, Nov 11, 2007.

  1. freetard

    freetard Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    The title pretty much says it all. I'm new to the whole DS hacking/editing, in fact the entire game hacking/editing world and I'm currently trying to find a nice guide or some help in starting out.

    Essentially what I'm looking to do is gain skills which will enable me to edit text and some graphics (strictly 2D) in DS games.

    I've searched the forums but to no avail so I was hoping that perhaps some members could help me with the basics or alternatively direct me to some form of guide so I can learn myself.

    I did some reading around prior to this and have equipped myslef with "dslazy" and "Nitro Explorer" from this I assume that basically I extract the files I want to edit, edit the files, then reinsert/recompile said files back into the rom.

    My problem here is how does one go about editing these files, what tools will I need to use to edit them, what prior knowledge of skills would be useful (i.e. programming, graphic manipulation, hex editing, etc.) and what files would one target in order to edit text and graphics/pictures?

    Finally, although I could probably worry about this after I manage to get the basics down, if I were to edit a game how would I be able to make it into a patch so as to be able to apply it to a clean rom (ala PPF files)

    Thankyou for your time and assistance.
  2. shadow1w2

    shadow1w2 Still here.

    Mar 16, 2004
    United States
    Fisrt try classic game hacking. Then move up when the tools appear for the newer stuff.

    Get a Hex editor and theres some good graphic editors out there too, though I cant think of them right now.
    May help get ya started if you look around.

    There are some bits of how to hack audio and trimming tips on these forums but I dont think theres alot of data on general hacking.

    Pretty much hacking DS games text wise is all about hex editing like mad.
    Plus doing cool stuff like making sonic jump weird or something with some debug hunting. Wich may be easier with the current emulators but still hard as far as I know.

    So ya, get into Hex editing and remember your Hexidecimals.
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

    Other crazy cool hacks require lots of time and playing.
    So be patient and dont dedicate your life to it.

    Id suggest just doing hacks on NES games till ya get the swing of how things work real well or something.

    GBA games arent easy graphic hacking wise btw. Too many bits to tile.

    Anyway, good luck with that and let us know if you finish a cool hack that makes mario ride on yoshi in Mario 64 DS
  3. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    GBA and DS use the same 2d formats so tile editors should work for both although stuff like crystaltile2 is geared towards DS stuff by having support for the file system.
    I wrote up a guide to GBA/DS hacking a while back but it is unfinished at present (I have done the odd paragraph here and there though). Grab it here:

    As for actual patching, IPS does not tend to work as DS roms are usually over 16 megabytes and stuff tends to get shifted around in the roms. PPF has been used although I tend to favour xdelta (the different versions and issues with PPF cause many headaches) and some of the group made trainers use BSDiff, other hackers either make an app to do the job, a batch file using ndstool or their own custom format.
  4. deufeufeu

    deufeufeu GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Nov 21, 2005
    From my point of view, I'll say programming helps you a lot. Many games use different types of layout for graphics. You can make a direct replacement with a tile editor, but knowing exactly where lies the graphic you want to edit is really better.
    For patch, you will need at some point to make room for your stuff, so you'll have to write your own expander/repacker for the nds file. When you've done so, it's not really hard to make your own patcher. I've done so for the future releases of the FFTA2 translation patch, when the program will be good enough I'll make a source release of all this stuff.
  5. freetard

    freetard Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Hmm... Thankyou everyone for your help so far.

    I've been looking into some things suggested here and they've helped me move on. Hopefully with time and practice I'll be able to get good enough to start making patches for DS games.

    I'm actually interested in attempting to do a translation of a game myself, so deufeufeu any additional info or pointers in that regard would be greatly appreciated.

    Once again thanks to everyone who has posted in here ^^


    Just quickly have to give a special thanks to FAST6191 that PDF is very useful and is helping me to understand quite a lot more abot the ROM hacking world.

    The fact that it's aimed at GBA/DS hacking is quite nice too rather then sending me back to NES/SNES which is what every other guide I've read seems to do...