Tutorial Remove the dark filter from Wii U GBA VC titles.

Vague Rant

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Introduction

Like other Virtual Console platforms, Nintendo's Game Boy Advance Virtual Console releases on the Wii U have reduced brightness. In the GBA's case, this is somewhat more defensible than with home consoles, as the original GBA model did display quite dimly.

Still, later in the handheld's lifespan, multiple successive frontlit and backlit models were released. Between the Game Boy Advance SP 001, SP 101, Game Boy Micro, Nintendo DS, DS Lite and even the Game Boy Player, the vast majority of ways to play GBA games don't involve a dim screen.

As such, many of us don't really have nostalgia for the dim old original GBA display and would prefer to see the vibrant graphics as they naturally appear on more modern screens. This thread is about doing that on the Wii U, so you can play your games with full brightness, or indeed change the brightness to any value you like.

Tutorial

  1. Download the command line tool MArchiveBatchTool, available for Windows and Linux. Extract the archive wherever feels right to you.
  2. Get the alldata.bin and alldata.psb.m files from the GBA VC title you're modifying. The obvious way to do this is to connect to your Wii U over FTP (using either ftpiiu_everywhere or WiiUFtpServer) and navigate to /usr/title/00050000/YourGame/content. Copy the two alldata files to the same place where you extracted MArchiveBatchTool.
  3. Open a command prompt or terminal window. If you're on Linux, I'll just assume you know how to do this. For Windows users, open the folder where you extracted MArchiveBatchTool in Windows Explorer and click inside the address bar. Delete the text in the address bar, replace it with just cmd, then press Enter. A command prompt window will open.
  4. At the command line/terminal prompt, enter the following command. If you're on Windows, you can copy and paste these commands, but note that several of them will need to be changed depending on what game you're modifying. If you're on Linux, remember to use forward slashes (/) instead of the backslashes (\) seen in the following commands.
    Code:
    MArchiveBatchTool archive extract alldata.psb.m --codec zlib --seed MX8wgGEJ2+M47 --keyLength 80
    This will extract the contents of your alldata.bin into a directory named alldata.psb.m_extracted.
  5. For the next few commands, you'll need a unique number for each GBA VC title. e.g. Drill Dozer USA is 1021, Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 USA is 0141, etc. In your file explorer, you can open the alldata.psb.m_extracted directory to see your game's unique number, as the name of the first directory underneath it. Remember to replace the #### marks in the next few commands with your number.
    Code:
    MArchiveBatchTool m unpack "alldata.psb.m_extracted\####\config\title_prof.psb.m" zlib MX8wgGEJ2+M47 80
    MArchiveBatchTool psb deserialize "alldata.psb.m_extracted\####\config\title_prof.psb"
  6. Back in your file explorer, browse to alldata.psb.m_extracted/####/config/ and open title_prof.psb.json in any standard text editor.
  7. Toward the beginning of that file, under "m2epi", locate where it says ...
    Code:
          "brightness": 0.75,
    ... and replace that value with ...
    Code:
          "brightness": 1,
    ... then save the file.
  8. Return to your command line window and enter the following two commands (again, replace the ####s):
    Code:
    MArchiveBatchTool psb serialize "alldata.psb.m_extracted\####\config\title_prof.psb.json"
    MArchiveBatchTool m pack "alldata.psb.m_extracted\####\config\title_prof.psb" zlib MX8wgGEJ2+M47 80
  9. You've just re-encrypted your modified config file, so delete your modified title_prof.psb.json now. Your final, encrypted config file is title_prof.psb.m; do not delete the wrong file!
  10. Back at the command line again, enter the following command:
    Code:
    MArchiveBatchTool archive build --codec zlib --seed MX8wgGEJ2+M47 --keyLength 80 alldata.psb.m_extracted alldata
  11. You now have your modified alldata.bin and alldata.psb.m. Upload these files back to your Wii U, replacing the original versions and exit from your Wii U FTP server.
And you're done! From here on out, you can just fire up your GBA VC title as you normally would and see it in full brightness.

Additional Notes

Not much else to say here, but what the hell.
  • Full/maximum brightness is 1, anything >1 just gives you 1 brightness. I didn't bother testing, but anything between 0 and 1 is probably an acceptable value.
  • M2 has used this same basic setup (alldata files) for ages and have continued to use it on later systems. Lucky for us! They have periodically changed their encryption seed, but they're pretty easy to find; just extract the main executable (and if appropriate, decompress it--on Wii U, you can do this with 0CBH0's wiiurpxtool) and search the file for a thing that looks exactly like a secret encryption key. strings -n 13 is a great start.
  • I know this tutorial is kind of a lot. @NicoAICP is interested in adding this feature to UWUVCI for GBA injections, so if you're patient you can just wait for that. Don't hassle them about it though, just be cool.
 
Last edited by Vague Rant,

XDeltaOne

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Pretty cool that you found that, which I wonder if there is also a file there that is responsible for the image format? :)
 

godreborn

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I had to redo the end part of it, because I left the json in the file. I deleted it and retransfered the compiled file several hours ago.
 

Tur7L3

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I personally never had issues with GBA on Wii U, I still think many games look amazing actually. But this is great for those people that couldn't with that slight darkness in the games. Now NES emulation tho, that's the shitty one
 

SuperrSonic

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@Vague Rant This will sound strange, but was Drill Dozer the first game you witnessed without the dark filter on Wii U VC? I think there is some historical value to knowing this. I always get a kick out of Secret Agent Barbie being the first agb_firm game to not have the brutal dimming.

It's cool to see the Wii U still gets some love. It's unfortunate that at this point there are still undumped VC games, right?

I don't have a Wii U but I've always wondered if they did any changes to the Sonic Advance roms. SA3 has visual glitches in every emulator I've tried but not on Wii U, now that's something.
 

Vague Rant

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@Vague Rant This will sound strange, but was Drill Dozer the first game you witnessed without the dark filter on Wii U VC? I think there is some historical value to knowing this. I always get a kick out of Secret Agent Barbie being the first agb_firm game to not have the brutal dimming.
Yep, Drill Dozer was the first game to get this treatment. When I started looking into this yesterday, Drill Dozer was the only GBA VC title I had. It's unique among GBA Virtual Console games in that it has rumble support (as the original GBA cart did), which was what actually interested me. Since the Wii U has RetroArch and the mGBA core, I personally don't really use GBA VC, but Drill Dozer was the exception, just because of the rumble feature.

This picture is the very first screenshot ever taken of a Wii U GBA VC with full brightness:
2021-10-13_16-35-33_WiiU_screenshot_TV_01CB0.jpg

Technically, this shot was taken with brightness set to 5, which is why I know it doesn't go above 1. It's not quite the same as the screenshot at the top of the original post; in this one, I was standing several pixels to the right and had an extra energy tank. Riveting stuff. I retook the screenshot after rebuilding with brightness set to 1 to confirm it was the same, and that's the bright shot you see in the first post.

While getting the process worked out, I also picked up Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 just to check what was different about the process with another title. Mario Advance 4 on Wii U is also unique, in that it includes all of the e-Reader levels from the original game, so that's why I chose it to be the second game tested. godreborn performing the process on Golden Sun is very likely the third game ever seen outside of Nintendo and M2 at full brightness, barring any lurkers who beat them to the punch.

It's cool to see the Wii U still gets some love. It's unfortunate that at this point there are still undumped VC games, right?

I don't have a Wii U but I've always wondered if they did any changes to the Sonic Advance roms. SA3 has visual glitches in every emulator I've tried but not on Wii U, now that's something.
I'm not sure if there's still undumped VC titles, but at least Sonic Advance 3 is dumped, and it is different from the original cartridge. No-Intro has details for "x381 - Sonic Advance 3 (Japan) (En,Ja,Fr,De,Es,It) (Virtual Console)". Whether that's photosensitivity-related changes as has been done in some other VC releases or actually something that affects emulation, I have no idea. It seems to be a bit mix and match which games were modified--the USA release of Drill Dozer, for example, is identical to the original cartridge dump.
 

godreborn

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Excellent tutorial for increase brightness on GBA Wii U VC games, @Vague Rant!!

I definitively need to try this.
Whatever app you used to extract kuru Kuru kururin yesterday might make it easier unless it can't recompile the m file. If you put the tool in program files (x86), remember to give users group full privileges or it will error.
 
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SaulFabre

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Whatever app you used to extract kuru Kuru kururin yesterday might make it easier unless it can't recompile the m file. If you put the tool in program files (x86), remember to give users group full privileges or it will error.
yeah but for extracting the GBA rom from my Wii U VC game i used wiiu-vc-extractor from wheatevo, here: https://github.com/wheatevo/wiiu-vc-extractor
 

godreborn

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I did this with my only other bought vc game. however, this second title, I didn't notice a difference. I could show you the before and after photos. it was set at brightness .75 (this is super mario advance 3: yoshi's island), but the before image looked very bright by default. I think there was a change with golden sun, but not this game for some reason.
 
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