Table Files are files which are pretty much essential for any budding ROM hackers to get their heads round. Basically, in the code of a video game ROM, data is usually stored in hexadecimal format. This data, among many other things, is often used to relate to blocks of text (since there are blocks of text in almost every game, even if it is only the copyright text on the title screen). But with only 16 different hex values, and any number of characters to be displayed (for example: some games have a full lower case alphabet, a full upper case alphabet, full set of punctuation (including all those signs you have on your number keys on the keyboard), Spaces, a load of other random signs...). So clearly, using one hexadecimal character for each letter to be displayed will not work.

However, using two hex values together gives us a rang of \$00 - \$FF. If you can't work it out for yourself, in decimal, that's 256 values (\$00 is decimal 0, \$FF is decimal 255). And that's more than enough for any game - you could almost have ten complete alphabets with that system.

So when hacking a ROM, it's useful, to say the least, to know which two hex values mean which character. In fact, if you're doing any text replacement at all, it's essential.

So Table Files were created. They simply contain values that the game displays (such as A, B, C.... X, Y, Z, a, b, c... x, y, z) together with a hex value which represents them. Most games have the alphabet stored in ascending order, so if the hex for A is \$28, the hex fo B will be \$29, the hex for C will be \$2A, and so on.

But naturally, it often gets a lot more difficult. Sometimes, a hex value is used to store sets of two commonly used letters (such as "th" etc.). This is called DTE (stands for Dual Text Encryption) and can make building a Table File very hard. Most of the early Final Fantasy games used DTE. And that isn't the only advanced text storage routine. There is also dictionary compression - this uses a set of hex values (usually four) to represent a word. This can be illustrated in the Robotrek file below, where common names and words (like the character's name, and names of towns) have hex values of \$E000 to \$E3FFF.

Table files are saved as <game name>.TBL format files, but can be read and edited with any text editor.

The benefit of using table files is that if you have a compatible hex editor such as Thingy, when you open a ROM in the same directory as a table file of the same name, it will load that as well, and you will be able to search for text strings nice and easy. The Hex will appear on the left hand side, and the text which it translates to (translates using the Table File) will appear on the right. You can then edit either the raw hex or the text.

yerricde says "Some games, such as Lode Runner, GNOME vs KDE, and Tetanus On Drugs, don't need a table file because they use ASCII as their native character encoding. I'm pretty sure Mega Man 5 uses ASCII as well." - thanks for pointing this out.

Below is a table file for the SNES game Robotrek. I didn't make it myself, and I'm sorry that it's cut and paste, but it illustrates the points about dictionary compression etc. very well, so I'm using it. The table file was downloaded from Zophar's Domain, where it is in a database of Table Files. It was originally made by Niiru of Partial Translations. I assume that since they put the table file up for download on a popular emulation site they have no problem with me using it here. If they do, then please get in touch with me either here or by email (address is on my home node) and I'll remove it.

If you want to use it, copy and paste into a text file, save as robotrek.tbl, and make sure your ROM is called robotrek.smc. Any compatible hex editor such as Thingy should detect it and use it.

```*cd
/cc

20=
21=!
23=#
24=\$
25=%
26=&
27=->
28=(
29=)
2A=*
2B=+
2C=,
2D=-
2E=.
2F=/
30=0
31=1
32=2
33=3
34=4
35=5
36=6
37=7
38=8
39=9
3A=:
3b=;
3C="l
3d==
3e="r
3F=?
40=
41=A
42=B
43=C
44=D
45=E
46=F
47=G
48=H
49=I
4A=J
4B=K
4C=L
4D=M
4E=N
4F=O
50=P
51=Q
52=R
53=S
54=T
55=U
56=V
57=W
58=X
59=Y
5A=Z
5B="l
5d="r

60=`
61=a
62=b
63=c
64=d
65=e
66=f
67=g
68=h
69=i
6A=j
6B=k
6C=l
6D=m
6E=n
6F=o
70=p
71=q
72=r
73=s
74=t
75=u
76=v
77=w
78=x
79=y
7A=z

c200=*Name*
c302=yell
c303=pink
c300=whit

d1=**

E000=Tetron
E001=Nagisa:
E002=Akihabara:
E003=Kotetsu:
E004=Mint:
E005=Dr.Einst:
E006=Kurogane:
E007=Carl:
E008=Soldier:
E009=Mayor:
E00A=Blackmore:
E00B=Rose:
E00C=Napoleon:
E00D=Gateau:
E00E=Tira:
E00F=Flavon:
E010=Polon:
E013=Igor:
E014=Count Prinky:
E015=Valet:
E016=Dr.G:
E017=Assistant A:
E018=Old Man:
E019=Chief:
E01A=Robot
E01B=Elder Baibai!
E01C=Robot
E01D=Robots

E300=the
E301=you
E302=have
E303=I`m
E304=The
E306=I`ll
E307=don`t
E308=and
E309=You
E30B=You`re
E30C=for
E30D=It`s
E30E=this
E30F=can`t
E310=with
E311=Mayor
E312=will
E313=you`re
E314=can
E315=that
E316=was
E317=Don`t
E318=has
E319=What
E31A=He`s
E31B=it`s
E31C=are
E31D=father
E31E=not
E31F=from
E320=come
E321=something
E322=but
E323=what
E324=This
E325=going
E326=get
E327=Mayor`s
E328=When
E329=want
E32A=Oh,
E32B=would
E32C=That`s
E32D=like
E32E=What
E32F=found
E330=take
E331=Hey,
E332=Akihabara`s
E334=Well,
E335=just
E336=But
E337=give
E338=Hacker
E339=little
E33A=some
E33B=know
E33C=been
E33D=talk
E33E=back
E33F=really
E341=he`s
E342=make
E343=when
E344=his
E345=There`s
E346=Hackers
E347=inventor
E348=There
E349=South
E34A=out
E34B=there
E34C=inventory`s
E34D=find
E34E=must
E34F=tell
E350=should
E351=What`s
E352=Come
E353=I`ve
E354=time
E355=great
E356=need
E357=children
E358=heard
E359=Stone
E35A=him
E35B=Just
E35C=People
E35D=good
E35E=see
E35F=shouldn`t
E360=trying
E361=mother
E362=That
E363=were
E364=Welcome
E365=looking
E366=nothing
E367=won`t
E368=they`re
E369=without
E36A=thought
E36B=Are
E36C=got
E36D=help
E36E=went
E36F=lost
E370=around
E371=all
E372=understand
E373=Maybe
E374=suspicious
E375=taking
E376=Scrap
E377=making
E378=one
E379=house
E37A=secretary,
E37B=change
E37C=Thank
E37D=young
E37E=came
E37F=Because
E380=Count`s
E381=meet
E382=kind
E383=combine
E384=worried
E385=show
E386=dangerous
E387=invention
E388=Why
E389=secretary
E38A=Invention
E38B=inventory
E38C=Let`s
E38D=still
E38E=might
E38F=We`re
E390=mouse
E391=looks
E392=she`s
E393=place
E394=could
E395=saved
E396=very
E397=master
E398=Surprise
E399=probably
E39A=gotten
E39B=Rococo
E39C=hard
E39D=remember
E39E=house.
E39F=happened
E3A0=who
E3A1=Month,
E3A2=Thanks
E3A3=Now
E3A4=long
E3A5=Get
E3A6=here
E3A7=now
E3A8=said
E3A9=They
E3AA=caused
E3AB=sure
E3AC=care
E3AE=straightened
E3AF=father`s
E3B0=things
E3B1=only
E3B2=anything
E3B3=you`ve
E3B4=You`ll
E3B5=interesting
E3B6=talking
E3B7=there`s
E3B8=forward
E3B9=use
E3BA=No,
E3BB=against
E3BC=did
E3BD=dog
E3BE=any
E3BF=First
E3C0=moved
E3C1=more
E3C2=Fever
E3C3=over
E3C4=Inventions
E3C5=lots
E3C6=look
E3C7=Could
E3C8=such
E3C9=than
E3CA=let`s
E3CB=their
E3CC=these
E3CD=real
E3CE=Where
E3CF=Especially
E3D0=Take
E3D2=where
E3D3=told
E3D4=Robot
E3D5=knows
E3D6=left
E3D7=Everything
E3D8=check
E3D9=seems
E3DA=keep
E3DB=they
E3DC=bring
E3DD=you.
E3DE=happy,
E3DF=health
E3E0=matter
E3E1=invent
E3E2=police
E3E3=Akihabara
E3E4=inventor,
E3E5=Everybody
E3E6=too
E3E7=people
E3E8=strong
E3E9=pretty
E3EA=increases
E3EB=island
E3EC=combining
E3ED=Did
E3EE=rearrange
E3EF=somewhere
E3F0=didn`t
E3F1=rumors
E3F2=before
E3F3=recovered
E3F4=that`s
E3F5=different
E3F6=her
E3F7=Nagisa
E3F8=looked
E3F9=Office
E3FA=You`ve
E3FB=way
E3FC=important
E3FD=Father`s
E3FE=invented
E3FF=Everyone ```