Friday, March 10, 2017

Chrono Trigger DS: Cheated in the Mirrors

Yeah, I gave up trying to get them to drop legitimately, and cheated them in.  If you've been around this blog for a while, what's coming up next will be of no surprise to you.  Here's a how-to on hacking them into your own game!  It's a bit long-winded, but hey, you're hacking.  Get used to it.

Tools necessary:
  • A cartridge of Chrono Trigger DS
  • A 3DS with A9LH and Luma3DS installed
  • TWLSaveTool (install through the TitleDB menu in FBI)
  • DeSmuME
  • A ROM of Chrono Trigger DS (Since you already have a cartridge, you can just use Decrypt9/Hourglass9 to dump it.  Select Gamecart Dumper, then Dump Cart (trim).)
1. Getting the save off of your CTDS cartridge:
  1. If you're doing this with a fresh cartridge of CTDS that doesn't have save data, you'll need to start the game once so that it will initialize its save data.  Once it's going through logos and whatnot, you can exit back to your 3DS' home menu.
  2. With your CTDS cartridge in your 3DS, start TWLSaveTool.  Don't remove your CTDS cartridge until after you finish this process.
  3. Press B to back up the save file, keeping the default name (CHRONO_T.0.sav).  It will end up in /TWLSaveTool/ on your SD card.
  4. When TWLSaveTool says it's done, press Start to exit it.
  5. Transfer CHRONO_T.0.sav from your SD card to your computer however you're used to transferring stuff to and from your SD card (microSD Management, an FTP server, SD card reader, whatever).
2. Importing the save data into DeSmuME:
  1. If this is your first time using DeSmuME, create two folders inside the folder you extracted it to.  Name one Roms, and name the other Battery.
  2. Put the ROM of Chrono Trigger DS into the Roms subdirectory, and put CHRONO_T.0.sav in the Battery subfolder.
  3. Start DeSmuME and load the ROM of CTDS.  Let it initialize save data and start going through logos and whatnot before continuing.
  4. In DeSmuME's menu, go to FileImport Backup Memory...
  5. Select CHRONO_T.0.sav and click Open.
  6. On the next dialog that appears, select EEPROM 512kbit.  Even if you have to use the manual selection dropdown.
  7. DeSmuME will reset and pause emulation, unpause the emulation.  If the game still says "Initializing Save Data", you selected the wrong save size, and need to do it correctly this time.  If it just goes straight to the logos, you're good to continue.
3. Cheating in the items:
  1. Get to Chrono Trigger's main menu and load your save.
  2. Go into your inventory, get to the Accessories page, and press Select to sort the items.  This will ensure that there are no empty spots in the middle of your accessories list.
  3. Pause the emulation.
  4. In DeSmuME's menu, go to ToolsView Memory.
  5. In the Address box, type in 02072ED4 and press Enter.  Your cursor will be placed at the beginning of the Accessories table in memory.
  6. Set View mode to Words, and check the Big Endian checkbox so bytes stay in the order in which they appear in RAM.  The inventory item structure happens to be four bytes long and properly aligned, so this makes it a lot easier to tell where one item ends and the next item begins.
  7. Depending on your game progress, there's going to be a different amount of data here.  Click the first set of four bytes that's all zeroes and make a note of its address (shown in the lower left corner).
  8. I'll use my addresses (plus two I'm making up for the sake of completeness, they correspond to the two mirrors I already had and therefore didn't need to cheat in) for the purpose of this example, while they should technically work for you and just generate a hole in your accessories list, you can use your own to avoid said hole.
  9. Add the following cheats using the Internal button: (select 4 bytes for all of them, and leave Freeze Value checked)

    AddressValueDescription
    0x02072F78471083Nu Arcana
    0x02072F7C77868Uranian Mirror
    0x02072F8077869Pontic Mirror
    0x02072F8477870Promethean Mirror
    0x02072F8877871Hadean Mirror
    0x02072F8C77872Aresian Mirror

    The Nu Arcana code is different from the rest because it will give you seven of them (one for each character, since it can be equipped by anyone).  You only need one of all the other items, so those codes only give you one.  You're welcome.
  10. Once you've got all the cheats entered (double-check that you've entered everything correctly!), click Save and unpause the emulation.  In the memory viewer, the data at those addresses should have changed.  If something didn't change due to a bad address, or changed to an incorrect value; fix what's wrong, then reset DeSmuME and reload your save.  The cheats are "sticky" due to our use of the Freeze Value option, and the areas of memory they affect will stay affected even after the cheats are disabled, so this is why you need to change them before resetting.
  11. Equip each of them on someone.  The mirrors are character-specific, but the Nu Arcana can be equipped on anyone.  In order for them to actually count for Item Encyclopedia completion, you need to equip them after hacking them in.  This is because you aren't obtaining them legitimately, so the game won't know to add them to the Item Encyclopedia until you equip them.  If you're doing this with a fresh cartridge that had no save data when you started, keep this in mind and do it later once you have all the characters recruited.
  12. Re-equip your normal accessories, or really any accessories as long as they're not one of the six items we just cheated in.  Otherwise, you'll end up with duplicates later.
  13. Save the game, and soft reset back to the main menu.  It's probably easier to use DeSmuME's reset than to press L+R+Start+Select to make the game soft reset.
  14. Select Extras, load your save, then select Item Encyclopedia.
  15. Select Accessories and scroll down, you'll eventually see all six of these annoyingly rare accessories are present in the list.
4. Getting the modified save back onto your cartridge:
  1. In DeSmuME's menu, go to FileExport Backup Memory....  Type CHRONO_T.1.sav for the file name, and save.  This way you still have a backup of the original (CHRONO_T.0.sav) should anything go wrong.
  2. Transfer your newly generated CHRONO_T.1.sav to /TWLSaveTool/ on your 3DS' SD card.
  3. On your 3DS, start up TWLSaveTool.  Use the d-pad to change the filename to CHRONO_T.1.sav, and press A to restore the save data.
  4. When TWLSaveTool says it's done, press Start to exit it.
  5. Start Chrono Trigger and inspect all the relevant menus to confirm that you have the mirrors and the Item Encyclopedia entries for them.  Obviously, if this was fresh save data, you won't have the Item Encyclopedia entries yet, so remember to come back and equip these things once you have everyone recruited.
  6. You're done!
For what it's worth, I did end up writing code so that I could make the table in this post.  HTML tables are something I loathe working with, so I wrote a quick and dirty PowerShell script to convert a .csv file with a header row to an HTML table.  The result of the script is what you see above, so yes, it works properly.  Go me!  Maybe at some point I'll clean up the code and post it.

Edit (2017-03-29): I'm aware that some of the mirrors can be equipped by two people, and that in all likelihood you shouldn't actually check Freeze Value in step 3.9.  I'll tweak the directions a bit once I've looked into things a bit more.  Hopefully the tweaks will involve additional cheats to just add the entries to your Item Encyclopedia, if I can find that region of memory.  It doesn't help that all the memory mapping efforts for Chrono Trigger have been for the SNES version.  I'll see what I can accomplish with DeSmuME's tools.

Edit (2017-04-13): After a bit of poking around, I've figured out how to use DeSmuME's tools more better.  Cheats will no longer be required, we can just edit the memory in-place and save as usual.  Also, I did some slight revisions to the steps in this update, including splitting up the steps into their overarching tasks to hopefully make the process easier to follow.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wegmans

Today, I did my usual "assist my mom with the weekly shopping" thing, but this time we thought we'd try doing so at the new Wegmans that opened here recently.  I was going to tweet my thoughts about The Whole Wegmans Experience™ from within the store, but I quickly realized that Twitter's pitiful 140-character maximum message length is not adequate to explain my thoughts.  So instead, I wrote this blog post that will get far less exposure, because even though I tweet links to my posts, millennials don't click links.  I can see all the engagement data, none of my traffic comes from Twitter.  It all comes from Google searches.

For the record, today's shopping trip was actually the third time I've been to this specific Wegmans, or any Wegmans, period.  The first two times I was there with my parents for geocaching events (essentially meet and greets) that they care about far more than I do.  On the second visit I perused their buffet and had a pretty nice dinner.  For the curious, it consisted of roasted red potatoes with various spices, something that basically amounted to jalapeño cornbread and was thankfully sugar-free, what was labelled as "garlicky greens" which was basically just kale and garlic, and cilantro lime chicken with salsa verde.

Today, while actually browsing the store and looking for things we needed, one thing became readily apparent.  Wegmans very heavily pushes their store brand products.  Their store brand products take up roughly half of all their shelf space, which is far more than in any other store I've ever been to.  The remaining shelf space contains a very small and specific selection of name-brand products.  This name-brand selection looks decent at first, but omits some surprising things such as Puffs facial tissues and Tai Pei frozen meals.

This wouldn't be a problem if Wegmans had an equivalent product for everything name-brand that they don't have on their shelves.  Except they don't, as previously suggested.  Or at least, not that we were able to find.  Which brings me to my next issue.

The store layout is very confusing.  Now, of course, it was our first time shopping there, so it's reasonable to have some level of confusion since neither of us knew where everything was.  However, the decisions they make with how they distribute products around their store only serve to confuse and mislead customers about the products they carry.  For example, you can find slightly different selections of peanut butter in at least two different places.  The regular, non-organic, non-overpriced skim milk is down at foot level, while the organic overpriced skim milk is right in front of your face.  Also, the Kefir that my mom drinks was in two different places, but the specific variety she wanted was only in one of those places.  Their hummus selection is fairly limited and again exists in multiple places, and they apparently haven't heard of taboule, or nuts that aren't for snacking.

Their staff are friendly and will assist you with finding products, yes, but that step could be avoided entirely if the store wasn't intentionally laid out in the most confusing manner possible.  They also tout their smartphone application, which apparently can help you find things, but if I have to use my phone to find a product in your store instead of the signage you have posted within it, there's a problem.

Wegmans is certainly an interesting store, and will be handy to have around just by virtue of it being a different store with a different selection of products, but it will by no means replace Giant as our regular store of choice.  It also happens to be farther away from our house by a significant margin, which is also a factor to consider, even though the decision was made entirely in the product selection.  I did discover two more brands of unsalted chips while I was there (one was corn chips and the other was potato chips), but I'm still in the same unfortunate situation of "every store that carries unsalted chips would require me to drive specifically to that store to get unsalted chips, which means I won't be doing so very often".  Aggravatingly, both brands are stocked at Giant, but Giant just doesn't carry the product™.  Also aggravating: Garden Fresh Gourmet's salsa is available at basically every store in the area, but their chips are only available at Kroger.

If you do shop at Wegmans regularly, it appears as though you will be going there for the Wegmans store brand because it's the only brand in which you can find a decent selection of products.  I dunno about you, but personally I wouldn't want to look in my pantry or fridge and see forty or fifty of the exact same brand logo staring back at me.  I'm all for getting a store brand if it fills a need and the quality is there, but I don't want to be a paying shill for a company.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sliding through Slot Car Rivals

Slot Car Rivals is definitely the most skill-based game of the third bundle, and that's saying something since all you do is hold a button and occasionally release and re-press it.  Manipulation potential is fairly low, so here come the gameplay tips.
  1. You absolutely want as many people as possible for this game.  After each race, the people you've StreetPassed will make you a new booster that you'll use for the next race, and having more people working on it means it'll have higher stats.  Make use of the Plaza Update 5.0's new "Send to Line" feature if you're at a convention or in Japan or something to make sure you've got ten, and if you just can't get to ten, top off with Play Coins.
  2. The stats of the boosters you get are dependent, somehow, on the properties of the Miis that make it.  All I've been able to notice so far is that short Miis affect its Speed stat, which is arguably the most important stat later on in the game.
  3. Speaking of later on in the game, as you progress, you'll notice that some of the objectives that you need to complete are "Finish in X seconds.".  These times get a lot more challenging to beat towards the end of the game, and it can be very frustrating to keep getting boosters that raise your Control or Performance when all you want is Speed.
  4. Getting Excellents on all the corners is your number one priority.  It's key to getting fast laps and fast completion times.  It should make sense, too, if you're not cornering as well as you could be, you're not going to be going very fast.  It should go without saying that crashing is to be avoided at all costs, though some corners are notoriously difficult to avoid crashing on, and the camera can exacerbate this, regardless of which setting you use.
  5. Make heavy use of the ability to practice a track before actually racing your rivals.  This will help you get the timing down on those speed boosts and corners.  If you're having trouble beating a time objective, do Ghost Races, otherwise, just turn laps on the track to learn it.
  6. Don't worry about the point requirements for each license level, there are far more points available.  You can always replay any track, any time you want, and get more points.  This effectively makes there be infinite points.  Once you beat the game, the post-game enables extra numbered license ranks for you to obtain, all the way up to S 99, as well as a "Random Track" selection that gives an experience bonus.
  7. There's honestly not much else I can say.  It's all in how well you've learned each track.  Since the actual vehicle you're using doesn't matter at all, I can't suggest anything track-specific.  The game suggests specific booster stats for specific tracks, but you have no control over what you're going to get, so I just ignore it and race whichever track I want.
I hope this post helps you leadfoots keep the pedal to the metal.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Monopolizing Market Crashers

Market Crashers is easily the shortest of the third bundle of games, and both the concept and gameplay are simple enough to reduce the amount of manipulation to basically nonexistent levels.  So instead, here's some gameplay tips.
  1. You absolutely want as many people as you can get for this game.  Having more analysts available will give you more accurate information about what each stock is going to do, both before trading and while trading.  Make use of the Plaza Update 5.0's new "Send to Line" feature if you're at a convention or in Japan or something to make sure you've got ten, and if you just can't get to ten, top off with Play Coins.
  2. The mantra to remember while trading is indeed "buy low, sell high".  It's the only way to actually make money.
  3. While you can do longer-term investments in this game, I don't recommend it.  Keep your portfolio empty between sessions and just do Day Trading.  The stocks fluctuate way too much for long-term investments to be worth anything at all.
  4. The ability to buy outside of Day Trading can still be useful though.  If your analysts say a stock's value is going to rise, you can get a bit of extra cash by having shares of multiple stocks purchased while you actively trade one company.  You can also buy some shares of the company you intend to trade during Day Trading, so that you have something to sell on that first peak.
  5. Buy the new products as they come out, but make sure to leave yourself enough money to continue trading stocks when doing so.
  6. Never ever sell the products.  Just keep them.  They still count towards your total assets, but they represent assets you can never lose, except voluntarily if you're absolutely strapped for cash and have no other choice.
  7. While the ultimate goal of this game is to become as rich as the guy they tell you about in the beginning, you get the second hat much, much earlier than that point.  If you don't really find this game to be fun, then keep in mind that it doesn't take very long to get the hat.
  8. Ace Trader can be difficult to obtain for a given company, as it doesn't seem to be dependent on a specific threshold that I've been able to notice.  All I can say is that if you do the "buy low, sell high" thing very aggressively, you stand a really good chance of getting Ace Trader.
  9. The more you trade a specific company's stock, the more of it you'll be able to buy or sell in one press of a button.  This amount is entirely company-specific, so if you neglect one, you'll be buying a smaller number of shares of it the next time you trade it.  This can actually be useful if you run low on money, since that smaller number of shares will cost you less.
  10. Don't ask me about the weird graph with the boxes and lines, I don't understand it either.  Just use the simpler one, it hasn't failed me yet.
I hope this post helps all of you aspiring investors make some money.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Marauding in Mii Trek

The exploration game of the third bundle, Mii Trek has plenty of secrets to uncover.  For instance, you don't actually need to explore everywhere or leave no stone unturned in order to complete the game.

The first thing you'll probably notice is that you can accomplish precisely nothing in this game by touching the touchscreen.  I don't know why this design choice was made, but we've all got to live with it.

The distance you get to cover is determined by the step counts of the Miis you StreetPass, however, there's a minimum of 500 steps.  Special Miis will give you a hefty 30000 steps to work with.  You absolutely want as many people as possible, to maximize the amount you'll be able to get done.  Make use of the Plaza Update 5.0's new "Send to Line" feature if you're at a convention or in Japan or something to make sure you've got ten, and if you just can't get to ten, top off with Play Coins.

Due to having a limited distance that you can possibly cover in each play session, that changes wildly between play sessions, this game can take a while.  It's a toss-up between this and Feed Mii as to which is actually longer.

Whenever going into a new area, your first priority is finding the Ancient Compass.  This will give you an arrow that always points at the red X that marks the location of the chest containing the artifact you're looking for.  The Ancient Compass can be found in one of the backpacks in the area, so go to them before anything else.  If you end up at a chest, just choose to not open it.  The game's nice like that.

Next priority is getting all of the backpacks.  Among other things, backpacks can contain Tranquilizer Darts, which are necessary to pacify various wild beasts you'll come across.  If you're out of them, a couple of the Miis in your party will get scared off and you won't be able to explore as far in this session.  Since most of the animal locations are marked on the map, just try your best to avoid them in order to conserve darts.

Another item you can get from the backpacks is a vial of water.  It can either be stagnant water, which makes your steps count down faster, or water from the fountain of youth, which makes your steps count down slower.  It's a 50/50 shot, and I always take it.  There's always more StreetPasses and Play Coins to be had, so why not?

Next priority is the camera icons.  At these locations, a shadow will pass by.  Press A when it's in the middle of the screen to take a picture.  Hopefully, if you're lucky, you'll get a picture you haven't already gotten before.  I tried to go for completionism here, but I ended up giving up in favor of just getting through the game.  The RNG on the pictures is almost as frustratingly bad as Ultimate Angler's RNG.

Occasionally you'll encounter an obstacle that requires a specific input to pass.  Some of these are labelled on the map, others aren't.  Pay attention to the top screen, as it tells you what to press.  Doing it right means you lose no steps or explorers in the process.  Get it wrong and you get penalized.

Once you've gotten all the backpacks and pictures, head to the red X that the Ancient Compass is pointing to and get your artifact.  Congratulations, the rest of the steps you had for that session are effectively wasted.  But next time, you get to explore an entirely new area!

I hope this post helps all you intrepid explorers out there have fulfilling expeditions!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

NOPE-ing out of Ninja Launcher

Ninja Launcher is definitely the turd of the bunch in the third bundle of StreetPass Plaza games, and while manipulation potential is as low as the game's average session length, there are some gameplay tips to be had.

I'll keep this quick, you know, like a ninja:
  1. You absolutely want as many people as possible.  The number of people you have is directly related to your result attack power, as well as the amount of time you have to set up your powerups.  Make use of the Plaza Update 5.0's new "Send to Line" feature if you're at a convention or in Japan or something to make sure you've got ten, and if you just can't get to ten, top off with Play Coins.
  2. Do a test shot immediately.  Sometimes one or two of the Miis will start out very close to the correct position, or even already in the correct position.  This will label them so you know where you need to turn your attention to first.
  3. Don't do test shots too often.  The clock still ticks down during the test shot.
  4. Get everything to silver stars before concentrating on gold stars.  This will keep your scroll combo up and ensure you get the critical strike at the end, which doubles your attack power.
  5. You only have to clear Novice difficulty once.  You get the Fox Hat at that point.  If you dislike the game as much as I dislike the game, you're done with it at this point and you never have to touch it again.
  6. You can move a bunch of Miis at the same time, as the one you're currently moving will push any others it comes into contact with.  This comes in handy if all of their items are around the same altitude.
  7. If you can momentarily divert your attention to the lower screen, you can switch to a Mii that's several Miis away much faster than by pressing L or R repeatedly.  Since you have so little time to work with, you need all the speed you can get.
Hope this helps you grind this one out so you can get your hat and never touch it ever again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Finagling Feed Mii

My second favorite of the third bundle of StreetPass Plaza games, Feed Mii has some possible manipulation and useful things you can do to make the game easier.

You want as many Miis as possible for this game.  Make use of the Plaza Update 5.0's new "Send to Line" feature if you're at a convention or in Japan or something to make sure you've got ten, and if you just can't get to ten, top off with Play Coins.

Also, a word to the wise:  If you've hacked your StreetPass Mii to make it a Special Mii, you'll need to switch it to another Mii that isn't a Special Mii before starting this game.  It will crash if your StreetPass Mii is a Special Mii.

This game is probably the longest of the bunch.  Either it or Mii Trek.  Here, the heroes will go through both Find Mii 1 and Find Mii 2 before you get your hat, and while Find Mii 1 is relatively short, Find Mii 2 is much longer.

The ingredients you get are dependent on the shirt colors of the Miis you receive.  It is entirely possible for the Miis you receive to request a dish for which you don't have all the ingredients.  Because of this, if you have the recipe, you should always check it before you start cooking, to make sure you've got everything.  When this happens, you want to change the recipe.  This will lower the quality of the dish to three stars, but you will be guaranteed to have the ingredients for the new recipe.  Also, the review in the Legendary Herald will say "Why'd they change my order?" when you change the recipe.  If you have all the ingredients, there's absolutely no reason to change the recipe.

If the Miis request something you don't have the recipe for, search for the name of the dish on Google.  Not even joking here.  All of the dishes in this game are real dishes, just with the recipes simplified.  Looking it up should give you a good idea of what to select.  Also, if it seems like it would make sense, add Onion.  Onion is in a lot of the recipes in this game.  In fact, there's only one recipe in the game that will fail if you include it, and that's Flan.

If you have multiple systems and a lot of patience, you can make Miis with all the various shirt colors and StreetPass them all over one by one to have full control of the ingredients you receive, but this is incredibly tedious and takes a very long time.  It's generally a lot faster to just throw Play Coins at the game, or find a nice comfortable place to sit at a convention that's near a high-traffic area and cook for the other attendees as the StreetPasses roll in.

When exiting the game, or before dumping your next load of Play Coins into it, go into the Fridge (press X on the main menu) and make sure your fridge contains five unique ingredients.  This will give you the best possible chance of having an ingredient that the Miis don't give you.

Next up, and possibly the best thing you can do for yourself, is to use this Google spreadsheet and a ton of play coins (I hope you've got homebrew... The Nintendo 3DS Sound entrypoint, called soundhax, is free and easy to set up; then after dropping the homebrew starter kit on your SD card, just grab and use MrCheeze's play coin setter!  Alternatively, if you have JKSM, you can select Extras from the main menu to get Play Coins) to completely fill out your recipe book using the Culinary Research mode.  Doing this will mean you'll always have the complete recipe available to check when playing the game, which is incredibly useful since the ingredients for things aren't always obvious.  Going completionist and getting everything Jumbo is completely optional, but if you do it, you can toggle the picture of any given complete dish back and forth between the Artisan and Jumbo versions when looking at it in the Recipe Book.  Every recipe that gives four stars or more can be made Jumbo, which happens to be the vast majority of them, so you have a fair amount of work ahead of you should you be a completionist like me.

There is one issue you'll encounter in filling out your recipe book, namely, some of the recipes require the exact same set of ingredients.  When you encounter this, inspect the two recipes in the spreadsheet carefully.  In the case of Flan and Egg Tarts, there is an additional ingredient that will work with one recipe but cause the other to fail.  Well, in Culinary Research mode, you can't fail, so adding that extra ingredient will force the game to cough up the recipe you're going for.  This luxury isn't available with Onion Rings and Onion Bread, though, so it's just a crapshoot as to which one it'll give you.  All I can say is to keep trying until it gives in.  You don't have to worry about this when cooking a request, as the game will always give you the requested dish if you combine the correct ingredients.

Last but not least, to make sure you get optimum progress, you'll want to make Jumbo versions of dishes whenever possible.  This is very simple to do, just add one extra of any ingredient that's required for the recipe.  For instance, let's say the Miis request Chicken Curry, which requires Chicken, Rice, Potato, and Onion, and for simplicity's sake, you've got all the ingredients.  Adding all four required ingredients and then one additional Chicken, Rice, Potato, or Onion will make it Jumbo.  Jumbo dishes allow the Miis to deal more damage or explore farther, and will decrease the number of meals you'll have to make to get through the game.

I hope this post helps you out.  This game is really fun, but I can see the intended method of trial and error getting frustrating quickly, unless you enjoy trial and error in your video games.