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opa
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Multicarts: any worth grabbing?

by opa Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:44 am

Have any of y'all messed with the multicarts that come out of China? I've seen a lot that are usually titled something like "100 games-in-1." I want to try dumping a GBA one just to see if it can be done. Anybody collect these or have any thoughts to share?
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Ziggy587
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Re: Multicarts: any worth grabbing?

by Ziggy587 Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:29 pm

A lot of these carts improperly use 3.3v flash memory and other 3.3v ICs (most retro consoles supply 5v to the cart slot) and should not be used for this reason.

https://db-electronics.ca/2017/07/05/the-dangers-of-3-3v-flash-in-retro-consoles/ wrote:What Damage Can Be Caused?

Prolonged use of components outside of their specified tolerances inevitably leads to failure. On the console side, the stress is excessive current output on digital outputs when driving a logic high. On the cartridge side, the stress is excessive heat dissipation due to conduction of the clamping diodes. I have already heard from several friends that their NES consoles have died most likely due to their admittedly heavy use of cheap multicarts. These are particularly bad. I would avoid these like the plague. I suspect poorly designed Everdrives will require more time before we start seeing failures.


Relevant thread: https://forums.nesdev.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=17289
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Re: Multicarts: any worth grabbing?

by opa Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:22 pm

Thanks for the info/links. I didn't know they could harm consoles. I'm just wanting to test rom dumping so I don't plan on playing them on the consoles either way.
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Anapan
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Re: Multicarts: any worth grabbing?

by Anapan Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:03 pm

Usually those multicarts are just a bunch of small China/HK region GBA games (Licenced and non) and/or NES roms wrapped in the freeware NES emulator for GBA PocketNES by Loopy and Dwedit.
Generally those multicarts don't allow saving and often have buggy unfinished/badly programmed unlicenced games based on IP's where better official games (Digimon, Harry Potter, Pokemon etc) already existed.
AFAIK, most of the impressive known unlicenced GBA games that are usually included on those carts have already been dumped, tho check through the bootleg games wiki for a list of undumped ones if you wish to try your hand at it (At least I think I remember that site keeping a list...). There's definitely a list of known GBA multicarts there. One site I found a lot of great dumps at is Handheld Underground. There's a bunch of info there in the blog on how they got them, and modifications to make them run on other hardware/emulators, and links to a bunch of other resources on the subject at the bottom of the side bar.
In general, I'd say unless you want to collect them for novelty factor, or whatever, you can easily make your own hand-picked selection on a cheap GBA flashcart with better quality and compatibility without messing with those cheap blobtop buggy multicarts.
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Re: Multicarts: any worth grabbing?

by Ziggy587 Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:36 pm

There's non-bootleg (legal) carts out there right now that are also poor design.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D8 ... UTF8&psc=1

I was disappointed with this Double Dragon release as it wouldn't boot on my authentic SNES, as is a common complaint in the reviews. Also in the reviews are some pics of the PCB. You can see clearly it is a 3v flash chip. It has a voltage regulator, which is good, but then it only has resistors for the data and address lines (read the article I posted above from db electronics for more info on this).

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BR ... UTF8&psc=1

This above game I own and it works fine. However, it uses the same exact PCB as the above Double Dragon cart.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0777 ... merReviews

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I own the above Joe and Mac cart, and Retro Bit has a few of this type of multi cart. My guess is they all use the same PCB. This also uses a 3v flash memory, no level shifters or resistors, but it appears to have a voltage regulator. The Altera is a programmable logic chip that can handle 3.3v and 5v, but I don't know if it works as a level shifter. From the datasheet, "The output drivers of all MAX 7000A devices can be set for 2.5 V or 3.3 V, and all input pins are 2.5-V, 3.3-V, and 5.0-V tolerant." So maybe?
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Re: Multicarts: any worth grabbing?

by opa Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:16 pm

Anapan - thanks for the links.

ziggy - I heard about the double dragon cart. Was there ever any resolution on that? Also, what about the old unlicensed carts like the Tengen NES games? Do they have the same voltage issues?
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Re: Multicarts: any worth grabbing?

by Ziggy587 Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:00 am

Without checking, I'm sure Tengen carts all use 5v ICs. See, 5v components were standard back when Tengen was manufacturing those carts. These days, 3.3v is common. 5v is still around, but very limited with what is available. For this reason, you're pretty much forced to use 3.3v components in a lot of cases. Which is fine, but there's wrong and right ways of using it.

As for the Double Dragon cart, I never looked into it. I've just noticed that there's more reviews on Amazon that say their cart was DOA.
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