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Update the Game

Full VMU-Less Character Unlock (very useful, but you can skip this)

This is only for the USA version of MvC2. Do not do this for the Japanese version.

By default the USA version of MvC2 for Dreamcast requires a memory card (and lots of time!) to unlock all the characters. But since we're going to be burning a "new" copy of the game, we can skip that nonsense. You only need to do this if your mix doesn't already have the updated 1st_read.bin ... but it's a good idea to update it anyways just in case.

What we need to accomplish this is an updated 1st_read.bin. The minimum required version is included in the complete selfboot.zip package on the Downloads page. The Downloads page also has sweet updated versions of 1st_read.bin created by mountainmanjed adding stuff like unlocking everything by default without needing a memory card, fixing random stage select, adding alternate songs for the alternate stages, and expanding the game to support 16 palettes per character. So you probably want to grab one of the updated 1st_read bin ZIPs as well: each version includes all the files you need for that revision.

Now that you have the "fixed" files:
  • Go to the root directory of your extracted MvC2 CD.
  • Look for 1st_read.bin in that folder
  • Copy the folders from your 1st_read ZIP into that folder
Now your mix is game-ready.
Text Edits to Menus (cool, but you can skip this)

This is a power user option requiring hex editing the game files. Marvel vs Capcom 2 stores most of its strings (words) as hex data within the file 1st_read.bin . While you cannot edit this in a text editor (doing that would corrupt the file), you can edit those words within a hexadecimal editor. Editing this file incorrectly can cause your mix to glitch, so please skip this step if you're not confident in your skills.

In order to accomplish this, we need a binary/hex editor. We're going to use HxD for this.
  • Install HxD from their website or from the HxDSetup.zip (version contained in the selfboot.zip.
  • There will now be an entry for HxD in your Windows Start Menu - use that to open HxD.
  • Go to HxD's File : Open and point it to the 1st_read.bin in your extracted mix folder. Make sure you have a back-up copy of 1st_read.bin if you don't already.
  • You should now see a bunch of hex data in the center column and the ANSI equivalent on the right column. The right column is what we will be paying attention to and editing.
  • Let's start with "WINS". Use CTRL+F or the Search : Find menu option to find the string "WINS" within this file. You should see the format string "WINS %2d" at 0x1519ec in the file. That's a simple printf format string that the game uses to display the wins counter.
  • IMPORTANT: Note that this particular formatting string has four trailing zero bytes (00 00 00 00) at 0x1519f4 as seen in the center column. In order to edit data without breaking anything, we need to keep any changes within the area starting with the beginning of the current string and ending before the last trailing zero byte. A zero byte is a string terminator, so if you write over that you're going to break things. But you should generally be able to write over the non-terminal zero byte. That means that we could view the editable section here as "WINS_%2d___", which gives us a tiny bit of space. Not all strings will have that, so your options will be limited.
  • Don't replace filenames or anything that looks like a filename unless you want to break things. Don't edit anything other than strings unless you want to break things.
  • Because you're making hex edits, you really want to be sure to test your mix before burning: it's easy to make breaking errors when hex editing incorrectly.
  • One handy change to make is changing the name of the ISO itself: that's a great way to remember what any given mix has on it.
  • Save your changes when done.
You will note that only a small set of strings are editable in this file. This is because a chunk of the words on screen are actually stored as images: editing those would require an image editor.

"Partner" logo edit

Underneath the big logo, there is a space for your own custom logo, like this. Biggs put up a video tutorial here, which is an easier version of the old steps from here. Or you can use IP.BIN Creator, which is a stand-alone version of those steps.
Other files

You can read your IP.bin game data using IP.BIN 4 WIN, but it's not interesting.
The DPSS folder contains the VMU art.
The DPWWW file contains the browser interface.
The DPTEX files are PVR (PowerVR for the PowerVR2 DC/Naomi GPU)art files for online play. You can view and edit those with PVR Tool or the PVR plugin for Paint.NET, but they're not really interesting.
The SELTEX.bin files are compressed texture files. These contain the character sprites, portrait bars, and Character Select names.
The *VOI* files and se.bin are DTPK sound files containing voice samples.
The pl*_WIN files are the win screen portraits.
The pl*FAC files are the VS screen portraits.

Now on to the next step!