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I have always wanted to be able to leave the hero at the beginning of the game and take 4 custom characters out to play and beat the game with, probably a 4-of-a-kind type challenge run. Has anyone ever devised a cheat or hack to allow this?
There may be a more direct way of doing this, but if you have the patience to play through the entire game without saving once, then upon beating Zoma the save file will have the 'Erdrick' flag set and the Hero will become eligible to be stashed at Luisa's Place. In that manner, you can then take any four person party through the game as if it were a normal play through, as none of the bosses or quest items will have been marked as completed/obtained.
The catch to this is that the game is automatically saved when depositing the Merchant at New Town, which is typically required to obtain the Yellow Orb. I say typically, because there is a glitch that you can perform with the Dream Ruby that can allow you to obtain arbitrary items in your inventory, including the Yellow Orb.
Eight years ago now, another user pulled off this feat on an NES cart and was able to play through a true hero-less game. You can read through the overview of how he accomplished the feat in this topic:
^ That's awesome that you found that. I wanted to do the same, so I hacked in every quest item as needed, which allows one to skip the New Town sequence, but haven't done the research to isolate the hex code.