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June 19th, 2015 | Hacking, MOTHER 1, MOTHER 1+2

Chaos Rush recently posted on the Romhacking.Net forums about a color restoration patch for the MOTHER 1 side of MOTHER 1+2 on the GBA:


As some of you may know, a lot of GBA games have brightened, washed out colors in order to make it easier to see on an unlit GBA. This is a patch for *Mother 1+2* for GBA that restores the colors back to what they were on NES (just the Mother 1 side of the ROM, I have not bothered with the Mother 2 side and don’t have any plans to)

…except I’ve made several patches. Because there are no true NES colors because of the way it handles colors. To my knowledge, NES games don’t have any palette data, they just have ‘color assignments’ choosing from the NES’s 64 different color ‘slots’. But the way these colors appear can be different from one TV to another, whether it’s between NTSC and PAL, or RF/AV cables… so really there are no ‘true’ NES palettes. Which is why I made two patches, one patch using a supposedly ‘accurate’ NES palette I found on a NES dev forum, and another patch using the palette that Nintendo uses for NES Virtual Console games on Wii & Wii U (credit to SuperrSonic and Daxtsu from GBAtemp for ripping the VC palette).

When they ported Mother 1 to the GBA, they adapted the NES 64 color limit to it, and came up with their own unique color palette that was clearly optimized for the original model GBA and nothing else. Unfortunately that palette they used makes trees look neon-green on backlit displays.

There’s a lot more to read about this patch, so if you’d like to learn more or want to download the latest patch, head over here!


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13 Comments to MOTHER GBA Color Restoration Patch

game4brains said on Jun. 19, 2015

Woah, this is neat; hopefully we can combine this patch with the fan translation to optimize its presentation!

While I’m on the topic of restoration patches, I’ve seen hacks of the GBA ports of Final Fantasy IV and V that replace the low-quality GBA soundtrack & sound effects with the NES originals, so maybe we can do that for the GBA port of MOTHER 2, add in a color restoration patch for it, and we’ll get a significantly improved port. Combine this with the color restoration patch for MOTHER 1 and maybe restore its sound too (except the Mt. Itoi theme; that sounds WAY better on the GBA), and we can amend the more troublesome faults in MOTHER 1+2. 🙂

Anonymous said on Jun. 19, 2015

^I’ve been doing a lot of researching in learning how to hack GBA sound, but as of thus far I’m only really familiar with editing music using the existing soundfont in the ROM; the big thing here would be actually taking EB’s samples and somehow figuring out a way to insert them into the M1+2 ROM. I have a feeling that the whole process is a bit more complex than swapping one soundfont out for another.

Even if you did manage to get EB’s samples in M1+2, the GBA port only outputs mono sound and still uses a low sampling rate for sample playback.

game4brains said on Jun. 19, 2015

Well, that stinks. 🙁 I know that it’s possible to expand the size of a game’s ROM, but A: I don’t know how much that’d help on a technical standpoint, and B: it’d make it impossible to transfer the game to a GBA cart; the new ROM would have to be standalone.

I’d just like to see some version of MOTHER 1+2 that could overcome the GBA’s limitations, but for now, I at least have my pipe dream of an official MOTHER 1+2+3. :/

1 said on Jun. 20, 2015

Why are Wii U Virtual Console games so dark? They look terrible compared to the originals.

Anonymous said on Jun. 20, 2015

because Nintendo is now a mature company that embraces darker material.

AConcernedGamer said on Jun. 20, 2015

“Even if you did manage to get EB’s samples in M1+2, the GBA port only outputs mono sound and still uses a low sampling rate for sample playback.” -Anonymous

I’ll give you the “low sampling rate” part, but the Game Boy Advance has a TRS port for inserting headphones, and the Game Boy Advance SP has an accessory pluggable into the power port to add one. In addition, the Nintendo DS physically has 2 speakers, and GBA audio is output in stereo on them.

Anonymous said on Jun. 20, 2015

^GBA games are indeed capable of stereo sound (hell, even M3 uses lots of neat stereo effects, some of which I didn’t even know were possible on GBA hardware), but there are some GBA games that, for whatever reason, simply don’t use it, and MOTHER 2’s GBA port is one of them:

Zelda: Minish Cap
Mario Pinball Land
Mario Kart: Super Circuit (samples are mono only, 8-bit (PSG) channels use stereo oddly enough)
…and many others.

Even if you were to use headphones with the above titles, the games’ sound would still output in mono, because no stereo sound was ever programmed in. I’m not sure why, may have to do with conserving CPU usage or something (since the GBA, to my understanding, does most of its sound mixing via software rather than hardware.)

DJMankiewitz said on Jun. 22, 2015

That’s about right, the GBA in fact does ALL sound mixing in software, as the GBA doesn’t actually have a dedicated sound chip. In fact, neither did the N64. The Playstation is probably the last major console to have dedicated sound processing. It’s a concept that’s fallen pretty much entirely out of favor. Even on the PC, things like MIDI and EAX have basically lost all support (first MS dropped support for accelerated sound in newer versions of DirectX, then game designers stop bothering to support it).

Not playing the sound in stereo might actually save some processing power, this is true. However, I think it wouldn’t save enough to justify it. Rather, I think they were trying to save on development time. Their thinking might have been that most people are only ever going to hear from the system’s mono speaker, so why bother taking the time to implement stereo channels?

(Technically, the GBA does have sound acceleration in the Gameboy Color system-on-a-chip, but GBA games never used that. Further, the Gameboy micro doesn’t have the GBC chip at all.)

Another anon said on Jun. 22, 2015

The music in the aforementioned “restoration” hacks for the GBA Final Fantasy games is also in mono, for the record. In the patch notes the author dismisses this as unimportant because the GBA only has one speaker… but then goes on to suggest playing the patched games with headphones. Go figure.

Tonda Gossa said on Jun. 24, 2015

Wow.Anyways did Ninten basement music remix re-appear in MOTHER 1+2 GBA aka Hidden Track in caves or underground?

NichoMania said on Jun. 24, 2015

Anyone else like the neon trees. I know this sounds like that one guy commenting on something he can just as easily avoid patching by say, not doing it. But, am I the only one who liked the brighter colors for the game? Sure it isn’t the original color scheme, but I feel the new colors give a more cartoony aesthetic to the game. Still though, great work either way. If there’s a way to patch Mother 3’s soundtrack in HQ into the game, that would be phenomenal!

DCMC said on Jun. 25, 2015

hiSMS possess special realistic high defition graphics plug-in filter.

PK_Noose_Man said on Jun. 26, 2015

Of course WE get the worst one


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