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Need help getting started hacking 2600 games

Lauren Tyler

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I've been fascinated with hacking for the longest time, but all the programs I've seen are far too complicated to use.  Is there some kind of tutorial someone can point me to (or someone who'd be willing to assist me in learning?)


Have you had any luck with Hack-o-matic II yet? If you scroll down the screen after opening a bin/rom file, you'll eventually find the game graphics that you can change. Play around with that first. When you're ready, search through the forums for tutorials. Nukey and others here are very helpful but make sure you do some reading first. When you're ready, you can try the assembly tutorials, but it doesn't happen overnight. Anyways, that's how I got started.




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I followed the tutorial and learned how to hack the gun in Space Invaders into a smiley face (working on a few variations myself) but my biggest thing is learning how to figure out what each section represents.  Is there an easy way to learn how to figure it out?



That was the first thing I did also. Now just use Hack-O-Matic and use trial and error and see what you can do. Start out by just changing graphics untill you get the hang of it. You can eventually change just about anything with Hack-O-Matic alone. Using disassemblys is easier once you understand them.

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So basically using a little trial and error, eh? Is there a good emulator to use with it? I use Z26, but I wasn't sure if there was a preference among hackers.  Also, would it be a good idea to keep paper and pen(cil) handy to take notes of different addresses? ;)



I use z26 all the time. Making notes on where you find different things helps. It will save you a lot of time later on when you want to change something.

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The first thing I ever hacked was just the other day, changing the anchor-like sword in Adventure Plus into a more.. sword-like sword. The results are posted in the Adventure Plus thread. (The author of the hack approved, I think) :)


After that, I DL'd a the disassembly of the original Adventure, and I've been messing with it.


I've changed the color of the ground to black, the orientation and color of the keys (the white key is now blue, the black key is now red, and both of them are turned the other way), the shape and color of the sword (to a light grey/silver version of the same sword I made for Adventure Plus), changed the castles to match the keys (inside and out), made the two invisible mazes visible, changed Grundle into Rhindle (and turned everything he guards - key, magnet, bridge - red, to match), changed Rhindle into Disgruntle (the blue dragon from Indenture, to match the blue key he guards) and sped him up, slowed the bat to a crawl, changed the game select numbers to Roman numerals, made the Dot flash like the Chalice, removed a wall in the Black Maze so that you can get to the Dot without the bridge, and changed the Secret Message to "Altered by DarkStorm '05" (out of sheer vanity). :) I also changed the item placement code for Game 3 so that the gold key never appears inside any of the castles (and so the game isn't ever unwinnable), and played with turning off collision with walls (like the Adventure34 hack on this site), mostly to make it easier to explore the whole kingdom to see if my changes took.


There's no real gameplay changes (except for the changing of the speed of Rhindle/Disgruntle and the bat), and the changes I did make are extremely random, but it's a lot of fun to play around with. I think I'm going to play with making everything invisible next. :)


All right in the text file containing the assembly language program. It does help to know binary and hexadecimal (and how to convert one into the other).



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You can eventually change just about anything with Hack-O-Matic alone. Using disassemblys is easier once you understand them.



What all can you do with Hack-o-matic? I was under the impression that you could just change the sprites a bit with it... if there's more to it I'd love to know.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Just curious can you change the colors of sprites with hack o matic?  I've looked everywhere on how to do this without learning assembly code.  I do know a bit of binary and hexidecimal and the basic colors in hex and such.



You can change sprite/screen colors as well as sound and game variables using Hack-O-Matic. I have used Hack-O-Matic for all of my hacks.


Alien Menace is a hack of River Raid.

It is a complete overhaul of the River Raid gameplay with a lot of new elements added.




Solar Fox Remix is a hack of Solar Fox.

There are a few graphic changes, but the main draw here is the completely new board designs.




I recommend you play around with a game like Donkey Kong. The graphics are fairly easy to find and change as well as the color locations. Just compare the original Donkey Kong BIN with Xmas DPKong BIN using Hack-O-Matic and you can see the changes that were made. It all comes down to trial and error. After a while you'll know what to look for.


Donkey Kong




Xmas DPKong



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Thanks! I'm thinking of hacking the game Dark chambers. I'll check out Donkey Kong and match them up. Now in hex what are the colors represented as usually? Like that color chart from stella? Something along the lines as 2c, just a bit for each color? Which is kind of like Nintendo palette hacking.


Further more, (I swear I'm not asking you to do this for me.) How can I adjust the speed of the main character or is that gonna be trial and error. Is there a usuall hex address for the player speed and missile speeds?


That's all I'm asking for now.


EDIT: Awesome I just found the colors now! They were right above each sprite set! Thanks a million man. Now I just need to get a color table or something...


EDIT 2: just found the color chart: http://www.urchlay.com/stelladoc/v2/tia_colorchart.html


Now to find player/missile speeds. :cool:


EDIT 3: Just keeping you guys updated cuz I know there are noobs out there like me who think this is hopeless. I just found out how to change the entire palette I guess from pal to NTSC or something. Definitely could be useful.


EDIT 4: I found some of the stuff in it about assembly, but as I dread compiling, anybody know where the player hmove speed values are usually stored in hex? Or what's the hex values for the generic speeds?

Edited by Ringman
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