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Last Updated: 2020/12/29
Reverse Engineering
Let's see how things really work...
Directly Booting MWIII without MWII (Steam)
Tuesday, November 7, 2023

I'll be brief on this post. MWIII requires a prior launch of MWII to run. Since these games are coded specifically to not run via clicking their EXE files, a few extra steps are taken to force execution. I'll provide two ways: an automated batch file, and a manual way if you don't trust me. 😉

This is for the Steam version of the game. And it relies on a steam.exe to boot up the game in the end. Given this blog post was written before the final release of the game came out, I may have to edit it to account for multiplayer layer on.

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Elgato 4K60 S+: A Technical Look
Monday, November 7, 2022

Recently, I wanted to record some Nintendo Switch gameplay. Since the built-in 720p recording feature is garbage for anything other than immediate highlights, I figured I'd sink some money into a device that can capture a full 1080p feed and record it.

I looked at some options. A close friend of mine uses an Elgato HD60 S+ to record gameplay and stream it over Discord. So it was an appealing choice after seeing it in action. But I wanted to future-proof myself. So I decided to get the Elgato 4K60 S+. The appeal here is that it can act like the HD60 S+, but can handle 4K HDR. It also is capable of operating on its own via recording to an SD card. This makes it a very convenient choice if you want to record something without having a PC around. Also, I don't have a free PCIe slot for some of the other choices Elgato offers.

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Action Replay DS (Part 3): Breakdown with working hardware
Saturday, August 6, 2022

Well, I didn't really intend on this being 3 parts, but here we are. So if you haven't read the previous parts, you probably should. Here are some links:

  • Part 1 - White Screen Brick Recovery
  • Part 2 - Firmware Flashing

Following Part 2, I went from having a frozen white screen "brick" of an Action Replay DS cartridge to having a working cartridge, just like how things were in 2007. I now have full access to working hardware. And I am able to flash any kind of firmware I want onto a physical ARDS cartridge utilising a trick with CFW. So I think it's now time to go and finish off the remaining research on how the thing works.

In Part 1, a lot of the recovery steps taken were based on guesses and looking at bytes in a hex editor. While I'm sure a lot of that research and guessing was correct (as I was able to recover all of my old codes), it would be nice to simplify it all down and organise it. Documentation, I guess. So, where do we start?

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Action Replay DS (Part 2): Firmware Flashing
Sunday, July 10, 2022

Following Part 1, I felt like the research done was sufficient. And it really was. I was able to recover the data from my Action Replay DS by dumping the cartridge and taking a look at what's inside. I even wrote programs to aid in extracting the data. So what's next?

I just feel like we can do better than that. It didn't sit well with me that I was restricted by a means of not being able to test this with hardware, because I was missing some pieces of the puzzle. But I want this story to have a proper ending, so it's time to fix that cartridge and get it working again. Once it's working, testing it and getting accurate data for documentation and archival purposes sounds like a great next step. Also, I would like to figure out what actually went wrong with my cartridge which started this series of blog posts. So, let's jump in.

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Action Replay DS (Part 1): White Screen Brick Recovery
Monday, June 20, 2022

In 2007, I got a hold of an Action Replay DS cartridge. As a kid, I used it not only to cheat, but to experiment and play around with games I had physical copies of. Don't worry. I didn't cheat online. Aside from them wiping out my saves, it was a pretty fun time. The way the cartridge worked was cool. It had an additional NDS cartridge slot on top. You would put your game in there. Apply the cheats in the interface that boots up, and then boot the game. The cheats will be applied and you can play the game normally.

Unfortunately, a few years after owning one, I managed to make that cartridge unusable. I have no idea how it actually happened. When I boot it, I am presented with a white screen and nothing else. On top of that, I don't have the cable that would let me connect the cartridge to my PC. So I am kind of out of luck, right? Well, not really. Let's look into it.

Just a disclaimer, this blog post was typed progressively. I type as I figure out more things. So it won't just be a "this is this" and "that is that". So it might come across as disorganised. My apologies. But I do think it might be useful to some people to see how I come to some of the conclusions I do. And you see the journey I went across. It's a fun challenge to me. So know what you're getting into by reading this. My goals are to figure out how to salvage whatever data I could off the cartridge, and then figure out why the Action Replay DS froze in the first place.

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Star Force Wave Scanner In-Depth
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Recently, a group of friends wanted to replay the Mega Man Star Force series. The Japanese version of the first game has some accessories that you can purchase to enhance your stats. One in particular, the Wave Scanner, caught my attention. So, I bought two of them. What does it do though?

It's a cute little device that lets you swipe real life battle cards in. Every battle card has a barcode at the bottom of it, so this device has a barcode scanner embedded. Battle cards may be used for the minigames that are on the device. However, the feature that caught my eye was that it can connect to your Nintendo DS/DS Lite/DSi via microphone jack and send battle card data over that. Now that's pretty cool.

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Puyo Puyo Tetris's 50 replay limit... Shattered
Saturday, February 8, 2020

So recently I bought a game on Steam called Puyo Puyo Tetris. It's a crossover between... well... Puyo Puyo and Tetris! I've had a few good matches here and there with some friends and the game lets you save good matches as replays. With replays, you can go and rewatch gameplay at a later time. You can also slow down or speed up the gameplay as you wish when playing them back.

Okay that's a pretty useful feature right? Well it is useful until you hit the absurd 50 replay limit. For a PC port, I would've expected something like in Quake or Half-Life where the replays are stored in a separate file (and in an unlimited quantity), but unfortunately that isn't the case here. Nope, we're stuck with 50.

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Clara Nguyễn
Hi! I am a Vietnamese/Italian mix with a Master's Degree in Computer Science from UTK. I have been programming since I was 6 and love to write apps and tools to make people's lives easier. I also love to do photography and media production. Nice to meet you!
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