In short, a flash cart is a video game cartridge that will allow you to play games (ROMs) on real hardware. In most cases, playing a game from a flash cart is identical to playing the actual game cart. Flash carts can vary in features between models, each with their own pros and cons. Flash carts exist for many popular retro consoles.
Most flash carts are extremely easy to use. All of the newer flash carts have the games stored on memory cards, such as SD or CF. It's as simple as this: Load some games onto a memory card, insert the memory card into the flash cart, put the flash cart into your console and play.
Older flash carts did not have removable storage. Instead, they had internal memory in which to store the games. They required a programmer to flash games to the cart's memory. You'd plug the programmer into your computer (usually with a parallel cable), plug the flash cart into the programmer, then use software to write the game(s) to the flash cart's internal memory. So the programmer can be thought of as a card reader, the kind you'd use for an SD card.
Flash cart developers are taking advantage of using removable media by having the cart load operating system or mapper files from the memory card. This way, updating to the latest version is super simple. Just download the new version, copy the file(s) to the memory card (usually overwriting the old files) and the update process is done. This is important because it gives us the ability to add features to the flash carts that weren't implemented at the time of purchase. A lot of flash cart developers also make it possible for the community to tweak the OS and firmware. Examples of this will be noted in the reviews. This can range from simple things like better looking or more intuitive menus, to added features such as the ability to play FDS games from a NES flash cart.
Since updating and adding features is possible, it can become confusing when trying to compare different models. You might read a review or comparison that was made before a major update that added important features. This write up that you're reading now will become out of date, although I'd like to try and keep it up to date as new updates and new flash carts come out. You should note the date an article or review was posted or last edited, and compare it against the date of the latest update for any particular flash cart. Even then, that doesn't guarantee accuracy of information.
What are the main benefits of a flash cart?
Flash carts have a lot of benefits. For the vast majority of us, the main attraction is being able to download ROMs and play them on real hardware instead of in an emulator. This alone has a lot of benefits. A lot of retro games are becoming expensive, too expensive for some people. A flash cart becomes a way for people to play games that they couldn't otherwise afford.
Or let's say you have deep pockets and can afford all of the expensive carts. You could use a flash cart to try out games before you purchase them. Or perhaps you just don't have the room for big collections. Or you have big collections at location X, and you don't want to transport them to location Y. Or you're just too lazy to physically switch carts.
Then there's fan translations, hacks and mods... there's an ever growing, endless list of them. A lot of great games never made it outside of Japan, but have since been translated by fans (thanks!). A flash cart can be worth it for these games alone. Then there's hacks and mods, games that have been altered in some way. This can range from simple tweaks or bug fixes to full revamped games. If you're curious about translations and hacks, check out ROMhacking.net to browse some patches or check out this Racketboy thread: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=40912
Then there's the development side to flash carts. There's people out there that like to program for retro consoles. Homebrew and whatnot. Flash carts can be a great tool for them (a way for them to test their code on real hardware).
Flash carts: Reviews
I'm going to attempt to write a sort of review for all flash carts that are currently in production and available for purchase. The point of the reviews are to more or less list the major pros and cons of each cart, in my opinion, so that some one could make an informed decision of which model to purchase.
I'm going to try and stay away from the tech heavy info, for the people that aren't tech-savvy, but it will be necessary to talk about some tech specs in some instances.
I'm not going to try and cover every square inch of every cart, but I will go into detail on the pros and cons I chose to list. I will give you my verdict on my top pick for each console, but you're still encouraged to investigate further.
As I've said, today's flash carts are easily updated. The information found in this write up will become outdated time and time again. I will try and keep it up to date, but I suggest you do your own homework in case the information here isn't accurate or up to date. You should at least check the date this write-up was posted or last edited, and compare that against the date of the last update for a flash cart.
I've included a link to the homepage for each flash cart so you can get more info there (and possibly updated info).
I'm going to list prices for each flash cart. The prices are, as far as I know, the cheapest they are available when buying new. All prices are in USD, and do not include any tax or shipping costs.
If any one has any thoughts to add, and questions, finds any outdated information or just anything that isn't correct, please let me know!
If you want to review a flash cart yourself, let me know and I'll post it here!
Please note the difference between Megabits and Megabytes: • Mb = Megabits • MB = MegaBytes • 1MB = 8Mb • 32Mb ROM will show up as 4MB on your PC
I think the only noteworthy thing about the NES, concerning flash carts, is that there's a LOT of different mappers for games. Flash carts have to find a way to support them all, which I'm sure isn't easy.
Pros: • Can play most NES and FC games • Can play FDS games • Multi region lockout chip • Built in Game Genie support • Features can be added via updates • Uses 100% brand new parts
Cons: • SRAM not automatic • Very simple menus • Requires adapter to be used on Famicom
For a while, I believe this was the only flash cart option for the NES. It's pretty standard by today's flash cart standards. You load the OS and some ROMs on a memory card, put the memory card in the PowerPak, put the PowerPak in your NES and play.
One HUGE benefit of this cart, in my opinion, is that it's made using ALL new parts. A lot of flash carts today, you need to rob the cart shell (and possibly other parts) from a real game. The PowerPak uses a brand new custom cart shell, as well as all brand new parts inside. No NES games are harmed in the creation of a PowerPak. The red semi-transparent shell also looks cool. : ) Why does this matter? Read my thoughts about preservation below this post.
I wont bother going into detail about game support. If you want to know, go to the PowerPak page on Retro Zone's site (linked above) and check out the supported mappers table. Check out this mapper list, the numbers in parenthesis are the numbers used on the compatibility table.
Since the OS/mapper files are stored on the memory card, they're easily updateable. Many updates have become available since it was released. The community has also created some of their own updates for the PowerPak.
From what I gather, Retro Zone hasn't updated the mappers in a while, but Loopy has. It has been said to use the latest mapper files from the Retro Zone site, then copy Loopy's latest mappers over it.
All the cons I can think of with this cart aren't HUGE, they more just annoyance than anything else.
The PowerPak uses CF (compact flash) card. CF cards and card readers are still readily available today, but just not as common as SD has become. Retro Zone claims that CF means faster loading than SD, sighting parallel versus serial interface, but we now have flash carts that use SD and load games just as fast if not faster. Some people find having to use CF cards annoying. I personally don't care.
The most annoying con: The way SRAM saves work. The PowerPak will not create save files for you automatically. You have to download a blank save file from Retro Zone and duplicate it in the saves folder on your CF card. Each game save that you want to use, you have to rename the save file the same exact name as your ROM. Doing so will have the save auto load with your ROM (instead of having to browse for it).
Some people like to dump the entire NES library on their memory card, and have save files for all the games that require them. That's a little tedious. I don't like to do this, I like to put ROMs on my cart as I play them, not 500 games all at once. So for me, having to manually add SRAM files is not a big deal.
What I don't like, however, is that SRAM is not written back to the CF card automatically! This is easily my least favorite part of the PowerPak. When you're playing a game that uses SRAM, before you shut the console off, you have to hold reset for 5 seconds then choose an option to backup the SRAM to the CF card. Failure to do this means your save file will not be backed up! The main reason I hate this is if you're playing a game for a few hours, saving every 10-20 minutes or something like that, and the power goes out or has a hiccup that causes your NES to lose power. On a normal cart with SRAM, you were saving every 10-20 minutes, so you lost a maximum of 20 minutes. With the PowerPak though, you lost the entire time you've been playing!
There's always the chance that you can shut off the console and forget to backup the SRAM, or the electric going out, but other than that, it's not a huge problem. Just an inconvenience.
The menus are VERY basic. Simple white text on a black background. But hey, you don't need flashy menus to play games. Nicer looking menus would be nice though.
ROMs are not auto sorted. When you browse to your ROMs folder on the flash cart, the games will just be in whatever order you put them on the card in. They are not sorted to alphabetical order. A fix is to download a sorting app. It's actually easy, it's just a small app that takes two seconds to sort your CF card. But it is an extra step that seems kind of annoying when other flash carts will auto sort games for you.
It might sound like I'm being very critical of the PowerPak, but I'm not. These cons are relatively minor. It DOES play your games (that it supports playing) and it does it well. I actually own the PowerPak myself, and I've enjoyed using it thoroughly.
Pros: • All the features of the PowerPak and more! • Supports save states • Auto SRAM backup (with the exception of FDS games) • Optional USB port for developers • Both NES and FC cart versions available
Con: • ???
The Everdrive N8 basically took all my minor complaints with the PowerPak and fixed them, then added even more features! As far as I know, the N8 is capable of everything the PowerPak can do, plus more.
The N8 uses SD cards, and can load games just as fast. SRAM is backed up automatically, no need to hold the rest button to back up saves to the memory card. The only exception is FDS games, which you still need to hold reset to back up save for.
I haven't done a side by side comparison of the mapper support for both the N8 and the PowerPak, but at a quick glance, they look to support more or less the same amount of mappers.
The N8 offers save state function on 28 of the mappers. To be fair, this ability was unofficially added to the PowerPak, though I think it's still limited compared to the N8.
The N8 can optionally have a USB port for developers. This means being able to check code on real hardware much faster and much easier. This is an important feature for a developer.
The N8 is available as both a NES and FC flash cart. The FC version uses brand new cart shells, available in several different colors. This is great since you don't have to steal the cart shell from a legit cart. It is unclear to me whether or not the NES version uses new shells, or stolen shells (does any one know?). Again, it's about preservation.
Outside of that, I'm not sure if there's anything more worth mentioning. Any one have any thoughts?
Which NES flash cart would I recommend?
That depends. If you're going to be buying one new, today, obviously the N8 is the better option. It has more features and costs less money. It's also available in NES or FC form, so either can be used without adapters.
The N8 didn't come out too long ago. You might be able to pick up a PowerPak used from some one looking to upgrade to the N8. If you can get the PowerPak used for less money than the N8 costs, than I see that as a perfectly fine option. The PowerPak is perfectly capable of playing games, you might not even care about the added features of the N8.
Some SNES carts contain a special enhancement chip or co-processor. Popular examples would be the GSU (aka Super FX) found in Star Fox and Yoshi's Island, the SA-1 found in Super Mario RPG, the DSP1 found in Super Mario Kart, or the S-DD1 found in Star Ocean. They are proprietary hardware, you can't buy them. For this reason, it's not easy implementing the ability to play such games on SNES flash carts. There are exceptions, however.
For some technical reasons, the DSP chip is able to be easily used with SNES flash carts. Either directly on board the cart, or through a piggyback fashion. It's because the DSP is the only enhancement chip that doesn't control access to the ROM data.
Some SNES flash carts were made before the cloned SNES lockout chip was created, but have since updated to it. If you're buying second hand, you might want to check to see what kind of lockout chip it has (if any). If you're buying new, don't worry, as far as I know all SNES flash carts now have the cloned lockout chip.
The limitations of the clone CIC: The clone CIC will allow you to boot a cart on any region consoles. However, some games have a region check in the ROM data that is separate from the lockout chip ("This game is not designed for..." message). These games can be patched to remove the region check. You only have to worry about this when trying to play NTSC-U/J games on a PAL consoles, or vise versa.
Pros: • Supports 48Mb size ROMs (largest officially released) • Now includes clone lockout chip, works in any region • Optionally supports DSP1 • Ability to read/write SRAM on retail carts • Ability to dump ROMs from retail carts
Cons: • Uses limited internal storage (64Mbits) for ROMs • Requires separate programmer to flash the cart • Programmer requires parallel port that supports EPP • Only holds one SRAM save at a time
This flash cart is not nearly as user friendly as newer SNES flash carts, but I feel like it can still be a good option. It now contains the clone CIC lockout chip, which all current SNES flash carts use, but that's just about all it shares with other SNES flash carts.
It's worth noting that the Super Flash Cart now includes the clone lockout chip that works in every region, but it didn't use to. If buying used, you may want to find out what lockout chip is installed on it. Older versions would include NTSC-U/J lockout chips only, and PAL users would have to install the lockout chip themselves, or otherwise use the T-connector (more details on the T-connector below).
The most obvious problem with this flash cart, by today's standards, is no removable storage. As already explained, newer flash carts use memory cards (like SD or CF) in which to store game ROMs. The Super Flash Cart does not. It has internal memory. You get 64Mb to store game ROMs, and that's all you ever have. This has two drawbacks.
One, the obvious, is the limited size. SNES games can range from 4Mb to 48Mb (that's Megabits, not MegaBytes). So while it's big enough for the largest officially released games, it's not big enough to hold your entire game collection at once. You can hold a max of four games at once. That means any time you want to play a different game, you have to reflash the cart.
And two, since there's no removable media, there's no chance to easily update the cart. But don't worry, this cart is so limited in features that updates wont do you much.
You can load a maximum of four ROMs to the cart at once, as long as they don't exceed 64Mb in size. If you load just one ROM onto the cart, when you put the cart in your SNES and power it on it'll boot the game right away. If you put more than one ROM on the cart at a time, when you power it on you'll be presented with a menu to chose which game to load.
You're not only limited in the number of games you can store on the cart at once, you're also limited to holding just one SRAM file at a time. That sounds horrible, I know, but consider most of the time you're only going to have one ROM stored on the cart at a time, only being able to have one SRAM doesn't matter so much. So what do you do about the one SRAM limit? I'll tell you in just a bit.
A programmer is needed to flash the cart. It's really simple, though. Think of the flash cart as an SD card, and think of the programmer as the card reader you'd use for the SD card. The only real problem with the programmer is that it interfaces with your PC via a parallel port (needs to support EPP mode). Remember how you use to hook your printer up before USB? It was with the parallel port. Unless you have an old computer, chances are good that you don't have a parallel port. If you have a desktop, you could probably get an add-on card.
The programmer requires its own software in order to work. You use all the programmer's functions with the software. I know that the software works on XP, but I have no idea if it works on Vista, 7 or 8.
So this all sounds complicated, but it really isn't. Plug the programmer into your You can flash games to the cart, of course. Remember how I said you can only hold one SRAM save at a time? This is how you work around that. The programmer can read and write the SRAM on the flash cart. So, if you want to switch to another game, you can backup the SRAM and store it on your PC. You can also write the SRAM back to the flash cart.
What's more, you can use legit SNES carts with the programmer. You can dump ROM data (create your own ROMs from your carts). You can also read and write the SRAM on legit carts! This means you can back up your saves, and restore them if needed. You can change batteries without losing your saves, or just back them up in case. You can swap the SRAM between legit carts, the flash cart, and emulators! Although, emulator saves might need to be converted first. This has many benefits. If this is something that interests you, read my mini review of the Retrode below!
The Super Flash Cart can optionally support DSP1 games with the T-connector (sold separately).
Here's how it works: You plug the T-connector into your SNES, plug the Super Flash Cart on top of the T-Connector, then plug a legit cart that contains the DSP1 chip (but not SRAM) into the side of the T-Connector. The T-connector piggybacks the DSP1 for use with the flash cart.
This might seem... well... lame, clunky, etc. Who wants that monstrosity plugged into their SNES? Well, I can say one positive thing about it: You don't have to rob the DSP1 chip from a legit cart like you do with other SNES flash carts. Why does that matter? Read my thoughts about preservation below this post.
Note: The T-connector use to also be used for the lockout chip. The Super Flash Cart now has the cloned lockout chip that works on any region, so you no longer need to worry about that.
Pros: • Uses SD or MMC cards • Auto backup of SRAM • Supports Game Genie cheats, up to 8 lines • Cloned lockout chip, works in any region • Trusted Krikzz design and manufacturing • Supports DSP1 games (optional) • USB port for developers (optional)
Cons: • Simple menus • Requires DSP chip from legit SNES cart to add DSP support
Please note that this review will be for the Super Everdrive v2 (with v2.x OS versions). This is a physically upgraded version of the Super Everdrive v1 (with v1.x OS). For information of what was improved on the v2 cart versus the v1 cart, see here: http://krikzz.com/forum/index.php?topic=1137.0
The Super Everdrive is a huge improvement over the Super Flash Cart from Tototek. It is a perfect example of today's flash carts. You load the OS and games onto your SD card, put the SD card in the flash cart, put the flash cart in your SNES and play!
The Super Everdrive supports ROMs up to 56Mb in size. This is larger than the largest officially released SNES game (48Mb). So in short, it supports all SNES games (with the exception of those that use special enhancement chips).
Since the OS is loaded from the SD card, updates are possible and easy. Features can be added, bugs can be fixed, ect.
The Super Everdrive automatically handles SRAM saves. They're stored on the SD card, and don't require you to hold reset or anything.
The Super Everdrive v2 supports Game Genie codes. You can input up to 8 lines of code, which is 3 more lines than the actual SNES Game Genie!
The Super Everdrive can optional include a USB port for developers. This means much quicker loading of code for testing. This isn't something that's very useful to some one other than a developer, which is why it's an optional feature.
The menus are very simple and basic. However, they're perfectly functional and flashy looking menus aren't needed for your flash cart to work. It would be nice to have something nicer to look at, so I'll list this as a con, but it's not something that I would take points away from the cart for.
In order to support DSP1 games, you need to install a DSP1 chip on the Super Everdrive. This means you need to steal the DSP1 chip from an actual SNES game, putting it out of commission. If you plan to "borrow" the DSP chip from a cart in your own personal collection, which you can always restore, then I don't see a problem there. However, if you're buying the cart from some where that installs the DSP for you, there's a SNES cart out there that no longer works. I bet they throw it in the garbage. You can read my thoughts about game preservation below this post.
Speaking about preservation, these flash carts are produced without cart shells. Although you could use them with OUT a shell, it's not advised. You want the plastic shell for protection. The shells have to be stolen from real SNES carts.
Pros: • Supports ROMs up to 96Mb • Supports Game Genie codes • Cloned lockout chip, works in any region • Supports DSP1 games (*) • Uses 100% brand new parts (*)
Cons: • SRAM not automatic • Very basic menus, no recent updates • Files are not auto-sorted
You more or less get the same functionality from the SNES PowerPak that you would from the Super Everdrive. The major differences are: The Super Everdrive uses SD or MMC cards while the SNES PowerPak uses CF cards. The Super Everdrive supports 8 lines of Game Genie codes, the SNES PowerPak supports 5 lines. They both have simple menus, but I think the Super Everdrive's menus are easier to look at. The Super Everdrive supports a max ROM size of 56Mb, while the SNES PowerPak supports a max ROM size of 96Mb. The biggest difference, in my opinion, is that SRAM is handled automatically with the Super Everdrive while it's manual with the SNES PowerPak.
The SNES PowerPak works much the same as the Super Everdrive. You load the OS and ROMs onto the CF card, put the CF card in the PowerPak, put the PowerPak in your SNES and play. Because the OS files are stored on the CF card, they're easily updated.
The SNES PowerPak supports a modified version of Star Ocean: The largest officially released SNES game was 48Mb, but the SNES PowerPak supports a max ROM image of 96Mb. You might be thinking, "So, what does it matter then?" Well, the only real benefit you get from that right now is Star Ocean. This game was not released outside of Japan, but has since been translated by fans. However, the game uses the S-DD1 enhancement chip, which is not currently supported by any flash carts. But, there's a hack that decompresses all the graphics, removing the need for the S-DD1 and making it playable on the SNES PowerPak. However, since the graphics are decompressed, the ROM size becomes 96Mb (which is double the size of the largest officially released game). So it's only playable on a flash cart that can load a ROM as big as 96Mb.
Like the NES PowerPak, SRAM is not handled automatically. For each game that requires SRAM saves, you need to manually put an SRAM file on the CF card. You need to manually rename the file the same name as your ROM, so that it'll automatically load with the ROM. To back up the SRAM to the CF card, you need to hold reset on your SNES for 5 seconds to go back to the menus. I don't mind having to manually add the SRAM files to the card, although a lot of people find it very annoying. But I really don't like how they're not automatically backed up to the card. It gives you the possibility to accidentally not back up the save, and lose your progress.
The menus are very basic, similar to the NES PowerPak. I own the NES PowerPak, and wasn't bothered too much by the simplistic menus. However, for some reason I find them to be worse on the SNES PowerPak. The menus can just be hard to look at, like when browsing for games. There's also a limit to the amount of character displayed for each file, making navigating through your game list that much more difficult.
However, there's an unofficial upgrade for the SNES PowerPak that gives us MUCH better looking menus, and some other features. It requires you to not only update the OS files on the CF card, but also the boot ROM (which can now be done with just the CF card).
For any SNES PowerPak owner, I highly recommend upgrading to this custom firmware. The menus are MUCH better to look at. The font is easy reading, the menus can display more characters for each file name, the menus work more intuitively. There's a small amount of customizing you can do to the menus (a few different backgrounds to choose from, different cursors, etc). There's some other improvements as well, but the main attraction is better looking menus.
The creator of these new menus is also looking into automatic SRAM creation. From what I've read, it was unclear to me if he was looking into how to have the flash cart automatically create the SRAM file, automatically backup the SRAM file, or both. Like I've said, I don't mind so much having to manually add the SRAM file, but I hate not having it backed up automatically. That would be a great feature to add.
The SNES PowerPak does not automatically sort files. When browsing your games on the CF card using the PowerPak, they will not be alphabetized. This is very annoying, although there's a simple fix. You can get a very simple drive sorting app. They're easy to use. On your PC, you just launch the app and tell it to sort the CF card (or specify a folder, like your games folder since that's the only one you'll really care to have alphabetized), hit a button, and done! It takes all of a few seconds. Hoever, it IS an extra step, and having files sorted automatically would be more convenient.
*Like the Super Everdrive, the SNES PowerPak can support the DSP1 chip in the same way. When the SNES PowerPak was first released, you had the option whether or not to include the DSP1 chip preinstalled (if you chose not to include it, you could add it yourself if wanted). For a while now though, it is sold with the DSP1 chip preinstalled and you do not have an option not to include it. That's great that it can support DSP1 games, but the DSP1 chip has to be stolen from a real cart, making that cart no longer function. You can read my thoughts about game preservation below this post.
When the SNES PowerPak was first released, it did not include the cloned CIC lockout chip. So if you're buying second hand, you'll might want to ask if it has the clone CIC or not, and if it has the DSP1 installed or not.
With the exception of the DSP1 chip, the SNES PowerPak is made using 100% brand new parts. Most flash carts require you to, at the very least, steal the plastic cart shell from a real game cart. The SNES PowerPak, like the NES PowerPak, using a brand new cart shell. And it's a pretty cool looking semi-transparent red.
Pros: • Supports multiple enhancement chips • Mostly same features as other SNES flash carts • Auto region patching
Cons: • Most expensive SNES flash cart
The Sd2snes is by far the most powerful and advanced SNES flash cart to date. It has mostly the same features of other SNES flash carts, but it's main attraction is support for enhancement chips other than the DSP1. It currently supports the DSP1, DSP2, DSP3, DSP4, ST-010, Cx4, MSU1, and S-RTC. Support for more enhancement chips, and more features, are likely to be released. The creator seems to be actively working on it.
For most people, the most notably absent enhancement chip from the support list will be the GSU-1/2, better known as the Super FX chip. The long and short of it is this: The creator was working on adding GSU support but it was proving to be difficult. He decided to temporarily stall his work on the GSU, and focus on other things that are easier to implement.
The creator of the Sd2snes has made all the necessary info available and has invited the community to work on implementing features. We've seen unofficial updates from the community for other flash carts, we're likely to see them for the Sd2snes as well (if we haven't already - I haven't checked).
Currently, the Sd2snes does not support any cheat codes. Hopefully Game Genie and/or Action Replay code support will be added soon. It's on his "to-do" list. The Sd2snes was created by ikari_01, who is also still working on updating the software. He does not manufacture them, however. The Sd2snes is mostly manufactured by Krikzz, the same guy that makes the Everdrive flash carts.
The Sd2snes works much like the Super Everdrive and SNES PowerPak. The OS, games and saves are stored on an SD card. SRAM is handled automatically, with a few exceptions. It has the same clone lockout chip other SNES flash carts have.
The Sd2snes has auto region patching capabilities. As mentioned above, some games have a region check in the game's code which is separate from the lockout chip. This only becomes a problem when trying to play PAL games on an NTSC-U/J console or vise versa. These games can be hard patched to overcome this problem on other flash carts. The Sd2snes can auto patch these problem games for you.
I have yet to use an Sd2snes in person, but judging from the YouTube video I've seen of it, the menus looks decent. Definitely a lot better than the archaic menus of the PowerPaks. Files are auto sorted, there's no need for a sorting app like with the PowerPaks.
Ramsis, the same guy that made CFW for the SNES PowerPak, has also tweaked the menus for the Sd2snes as well. However, he has not released anything yet. Here's a quote taken from him in September of 2013: "I fiddled around with the SD2SNES source a few months ago, and actually came up with a new menu design just for my own pleasure. But even though ikari_01 approved my efforts and asked me to help with a theme selector, I haven't had the time for that so far."
Hopefully ikari_01 and the community can add more features to Sd2snes and make it better than it already is. But as it stands now, the Sd2snes is a great flash cart.
Which SNES flash cart would I recommend?
So to sum it up:
Top pick: Sd2snes ($190)
Top budget pick: Super Everdrive ($79)
As always, it comes down to cost, features, and what suits you. So this isn't a straight forward question to answer.
If money is no problem, then go with the Sd2snes. It is simply the best SNES flash cart available right now. However, at $190, it's not for everyone. If you're unwilling or unable to spend that much, you still have great options.
If you're on a budget, if the limitations don't bother you, and if you have a parallel port that you can use for the programmer, then you might consider the Super Flash Cart from Tototek since you also get the added benefits of the programmer. However, consider that you'll be paying for shipping from China (unless perhaps buying used) and that the Super Everdrive is only $79 plus shipping from within the USA (depending where you buy it). Since the Super Flash Cart might end up costing just as much as the Super Everdrive, you'd have to consider that. If you don't care about the added benefits of the Super Flash Cart's programmer, then I suggest you get the Super Everdrive instead.
If you're on a budget, the limitations of the Super Flash Cart piss you off and/or you don't have a parallel port to use for its programmer, then your best choice is the Super Everdrive.
If you're interested in the added benefits of the Super Flash Cart's programmer but you don't have a parallel port, then check out my mini review of the Retrode!
Sadly, if buying new, I can't recommend the SNES PowerPak. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that the price doesn't make sense. At $145, you're MUCH better off spending the extra $45 for the Sd2snes. Since the only added benefit you get with the SNES PowerPak over the Super Everdrive is the ability to play the decompressed Star Ocean, and the Super Everdrive has many benefits over the SNES PowerPak, it doesn't make sense to spend the money on the SNES PowerPak. Either go with the Super Everdrive or the Sd2snes. At least, that's my opinion.
There's also the chance of buying used, though. For example, I was able to pick up a SNES PowerPak used for a little cheaper than the Super Everdrive costs, so I jumped on it. The person who sold it to me was looking to upgrade to the Sd2snes, and I was looking to upgrade from the Super Flash Cart. It was a win-win for the both of us. If buying used, then you'll just have to use your own judgment on the price versus the features the cart has versus the features you want.
• Max supported ROM size up to 8mbit (1mbyte) • SMS and SG-1000 games are supported • Supported standard sega mapper and codemasters mapper • Cart can be used on GameGear via Gear Master adapter • USB port for homebrew development (optional) • OS can be updated from SD or USB • Save ram data can be stored or loaded from SD card • SD/MMC cards support. • FAT16 support. 2GB max partition size • Supported SD/MMC size 2GB max • Flashed game will stay in memory after power off, no need to reflash game after each reset or power off
Review to come eventually. If you're willing to right a review for this flash cart, please let me know!
• Multi Region support (USA/JPN/EUR) (does not include 32X) • Supports up to 31 games (Genesis and 32X) • 40M big game size support • Cheat codes support • SRAM supports 4 different games with 256K save • Battery backup SRAM, can transfer to/from computer • Support different format rom file (.SMD, .BIN, MGD2 format) • EPP parallel port required • Software required to use programmer
• Supports 99% of games from SEGA library • SEGA Master System Games supported • SEGA 32X games supported (requires 32X) • CD-BIOS Loading function • Hardware MegaKey • 7Mbyte max ROM size • Return to menu after reset • High compatibility with Chinese clone systems • SRAM auto backup on SD card • Supported SD/MMC up to 32GB • FAT16 and FAT32 are supported • Game Genie cheat codes • Simple menu
In reference to the new "v3" versus older versions: "New version of cartridge has better compatibility with Chinese clones, improved user interface, cartridge hardware was improved as well. New cartridge allows to go back to the menu after reset, the cart can play multi game ROMs. EverDrive-MD V3 loads the OS directly from SD card at each startup, instead of flashing OS to internal flash memory, it allows to avoid possible damage to the cart during an OS update."
Review to come eventually. If you're willing to right a review for this flash cart, please let me know!
• 128Mbit (16Mbyte) SDRAM. • 80Mbit (10Mbyte) max ROM size! • Firmware update through SD card • Standard SD and micro SD card slots • FAT / FAT16 / FAT32 are supported • SD cards up to 32GB. • Instant loading (1-2 sec) • Built in audio playback (WAV, GYM, TFC) • USB port for homebrew development and for future features. • In-game menu that allows access back to menu system without leaving the sofa. • Snapshot Saves • Regular game battery back-up saves • Genesis, Mega-drive, Sega Master System, and 32X games supported • Hardware MEGAKEY • CD BIOS loading • CD RAM cart feature • Cheats feature - Game Genie and Play-Action Replay format supported. • Built in audio playback. Currently WAV only is supported, but some other formats may be supported in future.
This flash cart works very similar to the way other Tototek flash carts work. One notable difference is that the programmer is built into the flash cart (which is usually a separate piece of hardware). Until a review is written for this cart, I suggest reading my review (above) for the Super Flash Cart from Tototek, since they work in the same way.
Review to come eventually. If you're willing to right a review for this flash cart, please let me know!
• Max supported ROM size up to 8mbit (1mbyte) • GameGear and SMS games are supported • Supported standard sega mapper and codemasters mapper • USB port for homebrew development (optional) • OS can be updated from SD or USB • Save RAM data can be stored or loaded from SD card • Micro SD cards support (FAT16 support, 2GB max partition size) • Flashed game will stay in memory after power off (no need to reflash game after each reset or power off
Review to come eventually. If you're willing to right a review for this flash cart, please let me know!
Do you know of any flash carts that I'm missing? I know I haven't covered GB/GBC/GBA flash carts yet, but I'm not really big on GB so I'm not sure what's available out there. Please let me know of any flash carts I'm missing!
Flash carts I don't care about: Anything that's old and massively outdated while there's newer and better flash carts available. And since they're so old, they're usually hard to even find anymore. Or any Chinese knockoffs, unless you feel it's worth mentioning.
If you'd like to write a review for a flash cart that I don't yet have a review for, please let me know! Reviews don't have to be large, I'm really only looking for the major pros and cons for each cart.
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Last edited by Ziggy587 on Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:22 pm, edited 17 times in total.
The Retrode is a fantastic little device that enables you to do some pretty cool things. In short, it interfaces video game carts and controllers with your computer via USB. No drivers are required.
The Retrode comes with a SNES/SFC and a Sega Genesis/MegaDrive cart slot, as well as two controller ports for both the SNES/SFC and Genesis/MegaDrive. There's also the ability to use plug in adapters to support more consoles.
The Retrode works similar to the way you'd use an SD card and card reader with your computer. You plug a cart into the Retrode, and plug the Retrode into your computer. The Retrode will show up under "My Computer" in Windows OS. Browse to the Retrode directory, and you'll find the ROM for whatever game cart is inserted. If the game uses saves, you'll also find the save file.
The Retrode will allow you to use your original carts and controllers with emulators, but my favorite part about it is just the fact that you can have access to the ROM and SRAM on a cart. You can use the Retrode to copy the ROM from a cart to your computer, as well as read and write the SRAM on a cart. This means you can back up the saves from your carts, and restore them if need be! You can swap saves to/from a friend's cart. You could even transfer the save you were using in an emulator to a cart.
Want to know more about the Retrode? Visit Retrode.org!
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Last edited by Ziggy587 on Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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