Mods, hacks and fan-translations

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Some people are not satisfied with how their favorite game looks and plays like. So, they resort to altering this game to mold it in the game they wish it has been. This practice is known as modding, or hacking, or romhacking. It's prevalent in PC games, but it's also done for console and handheld games.

How to apply mods[edit]

Main page: Apply ROM hacks and translations‎

Types of mods[edit]

  • Mods that alter the game files
  • Mods that are included in the ISO/ROM
  • They exist within hardware constraints

If you're looking for enhancements that are outside what the hardware can achieve (high-resolution sprite/texture replacement) then check this page: Texture packs or 60FPS patches


Games released only in foreign countries (like Japan) often have enthusiasts translating them to their language. After they whip up a translation on some script dump text document they extracted or transcripted from the game, they insert it back in the game.


  • Text
  • Font
  • Graphics (title screen and in-game graphics with text)
  • Programming (in case game has no variable width text)


Anti-piracy fix[edit]

GBA and DS games don't take too kindly to flashcards. If it's not a black screen at start-up, then some roadblock would be implemented by developers to trigger in-game and render all progress impossible. Region-locked games have it even worse, especially import ones. They could use some alteration to the ROM image so that the programming check doesn't go off.


  • Programming


This could be as easy as changing some bytes in a header, or programming-out region locking as well as fixing how the game displays (for example, PS1 games display way off with only a superficial region change done).


  • Terranigma (SNES): NTSC version patch (changes region, removes region locking programming)

Intro screens[edit]

Some warez groups for distributing ROMs like to add lengthy unskippable intros with rotating rainbow text and crappy messages, that appear before the game begins executing. Unfortunately, this practice is still going on with some newly released games.

They sometimes include trainers, that is hardcoded cheat codes for invincibility, infinite HP and so on.


  • Programming (repointing initial part of executable code from game to intro screen)
  • Lots of Homebrew stuff, depending on the author

Balance mods[edit]

Mostly done for RPGs with an obscenely high encounter rate, games with a lot of grinding, or inconsistent enemy difficulty. There's also rebalancing mods for games that suffer from some bosses being bullet sponges, and absurd prices (like the dreaded triforce quest in WW) leading to padding or unnecessary frustration.

Many Android games have their microtransactions nulled by giving the player infinite money or removing cool-down timers.


  • Stat values
  • Programming (not often)


Restoring cut content[edit]

Sometimes stuff gets cut from the game before it's released because developers ran short on time. Sometimes stuff gets censored because some offended people can't stand it existing, this can range from soccer moms in the nineties yelling "think of the children" while calling for censorship of M-rated games to people wanting games they see as potentially problematic banned today (GTA V being banned in Australian for "sexual violence"). Many companies self-censor based on what they think the majority of their international market may respond negatively to due to cultural differences or regional sensibilities (increasing the a character's age to prevent underage sexualization in countries with a different age of consent). It may also happen because it simply would be too costly to license. This sort of stuff often has some people rallying to restore it to the game using whatever little remnants remain.


  • Text
  • Graphics
  • Pointers to enable access to these otherwise inaccessible places
  • Potentially other things too


Stuff getting scrapped before release:

Stuff getting removed from localizations:

Stuff getting modded to be more offensive:

  • Nudity mods


It's often swapping sound files from the English version with ones from the Japanese version, provided they use the same format (which they sometimes don't, and the need for a more throughout hacking).

It's really popular, but frowned upon by hacking sites usually hosting content, since any patches would contain copyrighted data for voice performance of Japanese voice actors. That's why you find these undub things directly pre-patched to ISOs on ROM site.


  • Sound data
  • FMVs

Sprite/model swaps[edit]

Ever wanted to play M.C. Kids (a genuinely fun game) but couldn't due to the game starring the unbearably repulsive hideous satanic abomination that is Ronald McDonald? Wanted to play as a dick / Mara in the original Super Mario Bros? Wanted to play as Zelda in the Legend of Zelda? All of this and more is possible (and has indeed been done) by the modders replacing the original 2D sprites or 3D models with the ones of their liking.


  • Graphics


Level/quest hacks[edit]

When you take it one step further in changing how the game plays by modifying maps and levels. You could also alter the programming to create new gameplay mechanics (FLUDD in Mario 64 DS, Paint Gun in Portal) to accommodate the new level design and you might end up with a whole new game, Chinese-bootleg-style!

Some RPG mods take it one step further and alter storylines and quests left and right, adding enemies and so on.


  • Level data
  • Graphics (occasionally)
  • 3D model of level


Asset enhancement hacks[edit]

GBA games suffered from games having brightened palettes (to compensate for the lack of back-lighting on the early models), and terrible sound quality. SNES games even had muffled sound samples and Mega Drive games have questionable palette choices. Not to mention some FMVs in PS1 games being very low-quality for cost concerns, or having artifacts due to the shoddy implementation of hard subs, compared to cleaner versions of the same FMV on other platforms.

Some modders just went and fixed this up, by editing the files containing the sub-par assets to include a higher-quality version, though the replacements are still usually abiding by the hardware constraints. If you're looking for HD graphics you might want to check for emulator-based solutions enhancing the game on the go without actually altering the internal files.


Scrubbing the game of garbage data[edit]

See the page: Save disk space for ISOs (removing padding)

Built-in mod editor and manager for emulators[edit]

The ability to edit various mods such as graphical mods in realtime using an built-in editor for emulators.

See Also[edit]