Using BNE2 for ROM analysis

(Followed up from back-story post.)

BNE2 can be a helpful reference utility for hacking on video game ROM files. It is, apparently, used somewhat frequently by the JRPG hacking community in Japan.

Unfortunately there isn’t much documentation in English for this utility that I could find. Hopefully this quick user-oriented howto will be helpful to some. This short guide will assume someone else has already dissected your ROM file and provided BNE2 files to work with…

To start off with, the BNE2 utility is kinda old and therefore not UTF8-enabled, so you’ll want to set your system locale to Japanese for Shift-JIS support. This can be done in the Control Panel regional settings. Alternatively,  you may use Microsoft’s AppLocale utility.

BNE2 will require the installation of the XTRM Runtime package, otherwise it won’t do anything when you try to run it.

Once that’s installed, download the BNE2 archive (link updated on 4/9/2020 due to Geocities Japan shutdown) and unpack it all to a location of your choice…

For my example, I’m using the Final Fantasy VI T-Edition ROM hack. The developer of the hack has kindly provided BNE2 files with his patch file…

Inside the “FF6 T-Edition” directory, there’s a huge bunch of .IDN and .INI files, which will be what BNE2 uses to give you a nice, friendly spreadsheet-like interface to the ROM space.

To get BNE2 to use that information, you’ll have to copy that entire directory to BNE2’s Settings directory…

Now, BNE2 will have all kinds of information about the ROM’s layout. To make sure it uses that information, let’s open BNE2…

BNE2 Main Window

To verify that it has loaded the settings, select “その他(O)” (Other) in the menu bar, then select “設定” (Settings) in the submenu that pops up…

BNE2 Settings Property Sheet

Bingo! So, all that’s left is to load our ROM using Ctrl+O or “ファイル(F)” (File) in the menu bar, then “開く (O)” (Open) in the pop up submenu.

If you choose the correct ROM file, you should see something like this…

BNE2 program in action

Hopefully this very short guide will be useful to others who may need BNE2 as a reference.

This post is based on a great, simple Japanese language guide.

Upcoming post: Using BNE2 for ROM analysis

I have been playing a super-extensive ROM hack of Final Fantasy VI, the T-Edition, by a gentleman named tsushiy, which is available here (Japanese only).

Things have been going smoothly for a while and I’m about 30 hours into the game. I’m now in the World of Ruin and now looking to take advantage of the item upgrades offered by the Dragon’s Neck Coliseum.

Normally you can easily find guides to the Coliseum on GameFAQs or Final Fantasy VI-specific fan sites. My quandary comes as a result of the many changes made by tsushiy. Aside from adding tons of items, tsushiy has also modified the stakes of the Coliseum. He has changed which monsters you face, the victor’s spoils, and even the behavior of the battles. So all those Coliseum guides are fairly useless for the T-Edition.

Luckily I got some sagely advice from Mato of fame, a thoroughly accomplished ROM hacker himself. Mato suggested using BNE files, included by tsushiy in the T-Edition package. These BNE files, when used by the BNE2 program, offer an analysis of the ROM data. That includes, among other things, the Coliseum information I needed.

Unfortunately, documentation on how to use BNE2 in English is hard to come by. So after tinkering and finally figuring it out, hopefully I can provide some help. I’ll be following up this post with a dedicated post about using BNE2, so that people who just need the information won’t have to sit through a rambling description of why I got into it.

UPDATE: The short howto has been posted.