Nintendo DS

My Nintendo DS work

I have been playing around with the ROM files of Nintendo DS games ever since I bought one (a black DS Lite from WHSmiths) and ‘accidentally’ acquired an R4 cartridge for it not long afterwards.

There are plenty of tools out there which will let you look through and extract the files from within an NDS ROM, but the one I used the most was NDS Explorer v2.

NDS Explorer v2

Once you had opened an NDS ROM inside the tool, you would see two panes of information available. The first (on the left below) showed you the general information about the ROM, the second would show you all of the files within – as well as givng you an option to extract it all into a folder.


(In this example, I’ve opened up the game ‘Jewel Master – Cradle of Athena’)

However, the file extraction option did have some limitations. The main one was that you could extract 1 file, from the ROM or you had to extract *every* file in the ROM. There was no in-between option. Quite often, I would have to extract everything then delete 90% of the unwanted files afterwards.

Things that I’ve found

Music hacking on the Nintendo DS

This has been moved to a separate sub-page, so click here.

Text-based things I’ve found

The following are just some examples of what I’ve found under my NDS magnifying glass:

a) In the 1000 Crosswords game, all of the completed crossword layouts and the clues are stored as plain text files. One for the solution and another for the clues.

b) In another crosswords-themed game – CrossworDS – the clues and answers are stored in a single text file for each of the languages supported by the game.

c) All of the possible answers available for Countdown are included as CSV files – including separate ones for the profanity-checking side of things.

d) A lot of NDS games were created using the scripting language Lua. A selection of these games didn’t encrypt/protect the Lua script files inside the ROM, so they are all there and can be opened using any Notepad equivalent. Some of the titles are: Chocolatier, Wedding Dash and WinX BelieviX.

e) The game Princess Maker 4 DS – Special Edition (JP) has the full C source code to the game inside the ROM.

Note: I didn’t discover this last one, but it was mentioned in passing on the GBA ROM Hacking forum.

f) The Are You Smarter Than A 10 Year Old (aka Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader in the US) games have all of the questions and answers stored as a plain text file inside the ROM.

For those cases where the data is stored as plain text or CSV, I converted the content into Excel worksheets, then into PDF files to make them a bit more presentable.

You can find a few of the above on this page now. For obvious reasons re: IP, I’m not going to be uploading the LUA or C files as mentioned above. Extract them yourself 🙂

Other things I’ve found

In the screenshots at the top of the page, I was looking through the files that were contained inside the game ‘Jewel Master – Cradle of Athena’. Whilst this did have a folder called ‘Levels’ there weren’t any easy text answers to extract, however, there were the level layouts stored in .PNG format.

So, if you had the inkling, you could extract all of the .PNG files, stitch them together into a larger single image and add that as a hint to any gaming website out there.