Discussion of game backup, reproduction, burning, and ripping. Covers ROM backup, cartridge reproduction, optical disc ripping, burning, and storage. Focus on archival purposes and not deceptive selling.
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Jagosaurus
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by Jagosaurus Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:58 am

While I'm not certain, it is my understanding that the Doctor Retro device (maybe UFO also?) itself has onboard RAM where the game data is stored. I know in some homebrew communities, they start developing by dumping ROM/game data directly into the system RAM, but they're capped heavily in game size. This is when Jaguar homebrew have to move from BJL using system RAM dumping to cart/CD for example.

Depending on game(s) size you can store multiple games in the Dr Retro devices without having to load or swap floppies. You can even upgrade the RAM in some models to store more games or those large RPGs.

The onboard RAM was also a necessity as some games spanned more than 1 floppy disc so they're loaded up in pieces, being stored to the device RAM. This wouldn't be an issue with the models that support CDR due to the media size difference.

Again, this is all just my understanding of how it works. I don't own one.

I remember seeing images of people online playing N64 games off a CDR maybe around 2008 or so. That blew my mind!

Image of N64 CD set up:
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Beast! :shock:

Image of Floppy on Super Famicom:
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I've seen images of this with a parallel port supporting adding a CD ROM drive as well.

While I image these could get a little overwhelming with all the revisions, etc (similar to DS R4 rabbit hole)... Worth a nod in this thread discussing similar products that were likely inspired by these early efforts.

I own a SD2SNES. Love it. Wish it had FX support. Guess that exact chip us hard to replicate on original hardware, but not the case in emu?
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by Ziggy587 Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:44 am

nightrnr wrote:I wish that interest level was there for Street Fighter Alpha 2 on SD2SNES, but I've already talked of that before on another thread some time ago; again, no interest to those with the skill.


I kinda understand the lack of interest there though. The problem with SFA2 on the Sd2snes is that it's one of only two games that uses the S-DD1. One of those two games (Star Ocean) has been hacked to not require the S-DD1. The other game (SFA2) is available on other systems, and better ports to boot. So it is, at the very least, not a priority.

nightrnr wrote:I also like that it seems to write to system RAM, instead of Flash like the Everdrive, even if it does take a minute. Here's my quirk, if I'm just messing around with a few games (90% of my gaming), I feel like I'm burning the flash memory for no reason (100,000 write cycles is a lot, but it still bothers me).


I hear ya. I feel the same way. In reality that is a lot of writes, but there is still some part of me that feels like I'm killing it every time I flash a game. On my most used flash cart, total flashes is probably only a few hundred at best. And that's being generous, I mean, 100 flashes is quite a lot when you think about it. So I still have something like 99,800 flashes to go. It's really an insane amount of flashes before you kill it. But I agree with you, I don't like the feeling of knowing the amount of times I can use something is finite.

I try and make myself feel better by thinking about it like this: If I flash 10 games a day, EVERY DAY, it would take over 27 years to reach 100,000. Even if I flash it 25 times a day, it would still take about 11 years. Now I know there might be some times were I flash it 10 or 25 times (or more!) in a single sitting. But I mean, come on, there's no way I'm ever gonna flash it 10 times a day EVERY SINGLE DAY for 30 years! Me, personally, there's definitely times where weeks or months go by without using it once. That more than makes up for the times I might have flashed it 25 times in one sitting.

And if that still doesn't sounds like a lot... 10 flashes a day means 3650 flashes per year. On my most used flash cart, if I have 500 flashes since I've owned it that's a lot, and let's say I've only owned it for a year (it's actually longer than a year) that's only 500 flashes per year I would have done. At this rate, it would take me 200 years to reach 100,000! I've owned it longer than a year, and likely flashed it less than 500 times, so 200 years is an underestimate!

200 years? Psh! I'm 30 this year. So let's say I have 50 years left before I die. That means I can flash the cart 5 times a day, EVERY DAY, until the day I die. 5 times a day might seem too low, but really, there's no way I'm ever gonna flash it 5 times a day EVERY DAY for the next 50 years! At the actual rate I'm using it, I know it'll last me more than 200 years. Not to mention the 100,000 writes is what's guaranteed but not necessarily the real world limit. So I can really flash it carelessly.

And even if you DO want to flash it 5 times a day, EVERY DAY (you are an insane person) for the next 50 years... Don't worry, your SNES wont last that long anyway! It's guaranteed that some other component will fail in your SNES or the flash cart before you exceed 100,000 writes.


Jagosaurus wrote:Worth a nod in this thread discussing similar products that were likely inspired by these early efforts.


Yeah, it's not a bad idea to add them to this thread. A lot of people still aren't aware of these early "backup" devices. MJ actually had a recent video about them, referring to it as a weird device that can play games from floppy disk. I love you, MJ, but I had a little chuckle that the video was presenting such a device as if it were an unknown thing. So it might be worth adding a section for them just for history sake. From what I understand, they were a lot more popular in Europe and not so much in America. So it's something new to some people, but "yeah duh" to others. I guess the only real reason I've known about them for a while is because I like to get into the nuts and bolts of things, and I'll fall down a Google rabbit hole.

These backup devices actually had a huge impact. All those ROMs on the Internet, this is where most of them originally came from. Any bad dump that you find probably came from these types of backup devices. It's why we had apps like SNESTool that can split and combine ROMs (split into 1.44MB, hmm, curious). It's why there's certain copy protections in some games, Earthbound being a notorious example.

Backup devices are why the hack for Star Ocean predates the flash carts that are capable of using it. The hack was originally intended for use on backup devices like this. This is a good example of needing to install extra RAM.

So yeah, I think it's worth adding just to follow the evolution of the whole thing. The Tototek flash carts (and others that function that way) are sort of the bridge between the older backup devices and modern flash carts. And actually, it might not be a bad idea for a front page article.
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by nightrnr Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:28 am

Thanks Ziggy, that does make me feel better.
Still, I think I would like a ram based rom reader for certain purposes and save the Everdrive for more dedicated playthroughs (especially since it stays in memory until you rewrite another game). I should just use and abuse the SD2SNES, but the price tag and possibility of further chip compatibility makes me want to save it for the day it lives up to its full potential.

Also, I'm weird, and apparently have good disposable income at present to be entertaining the idea of getting yet another flash cart. But I also am playing with the idea of using it as I would have if I bought a Retrofreak (make my own dedicated SNES collection from my physical carts; seems appealing to me for my SNES collection in particular).

As for SFA2, it's just a technical marvel, and even though there are better ports, I just love the novelty of having a kick-ass PS1 era fighter on an inferior system.
I still think that if this was Doom that used the compression chip that someone would have made it happen, and that game is on EVERYTHING. But FX seems like a greater possibility on SD2SNES than other unemulated chips, So maybe that's a future moot point.
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by Ziggy587 Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:05 am

Oh, I currently have three SNES flash carts, so don't feel like you have to justify anything! I got the Tototek cart pre Krikzz / Everdrive, so it was basically the only option at the time. Then I scored a used SNES PowerPak off someone here (can't remember who, but thanks again!). Then I finally coughed up the dough for a Sd2snes.

As for S-DD1, it WILL happen eventually. For the S2dsnes, it's on his "to-do" list. It's just not a priority due to the reasons I explained. And on the topic of Sd2snes updates, I just noticed he posted his plans for the next three updates...

Work in progress for v1.8: Cheat Menu, possibly ROM folder loading
Planned for v1.9: Skin support, USB support (dev feature to quickly send ROMs for testing)
Outlook for v1.10 / v2.0: Try and implement experimental save state, begin work on either SuperFX or SA1
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by nightrnr Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:08 am

Oooh, I am so stoked about future developments for SD2SNES FW!
Of course, it's probably a good ways out to SA-1 and/or FX compatibility, but I'm glad it's still in the workings.

Another couple questions on the Super UFO Pro 8;
In this link, someone speaks of copy protected games possibly causing harm to the system if played with unpatched roms. Any truth to that?
https://gbatemp.net/threads/snes-super- ... it.342701/

And here is a list of games with compatibility notes (for Wildcard, but it's supposed to be based on similar architecture):
http://ucon64.sourceforge.net/ucon64/SW ... bility.txt
So a game like Donkey Kong Country would have to be patched 1st to work, or have they worked around that for the Super UFO?
I also understand that Earthbound is a DRM headache late in the game when played on the wrong thing.

...and then there's the bricking while updating the FW issues, but I probably wouldn't even chance that.
Seems like an interesting flash cart for all the flak it gets. I just want to confirm what won't play on it correctly (besides special chip games).
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by Ziggy587 Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:28 am

nightrnr wrote:In this link, someone speaks of copy protected games possibly causing harm to the system if played with unpatched roms. Any truth to that?


No, that's bologna.

nightrnr wrote:And here is a list of games with compatibility notes (for Wildcard, but it's supposed to be based on similar architecture). So a game like Donkey Kong Country would have to be patched 1st to work, or have they worked around that for the Super UFO?


I don't know how accurate that list is for the Super UFO. And as far as I know, no one is bothering to compile such a list for the Super UFO since the general consensus seems to be, "If you have a problem with the Super UFO, use a Super ED or Sd2snes."

nightrnr wrote:I also understand that Earthbound is a DRM headache late in the game when played on the wrong thing.


I find Earthbound to be really interesting. So from what I understand, when backup devices like this were common back when the SNES was relevant, they would just make a generic SRAM size large enough to accommodate any game. So in reality, the SRAM size was larger than it needed to be for most games. So one copy protection scheme was the ROM checking the SRAM size. Pirates than would patch this check out of the ROM. Earthbound took it a step further. It had an additional check to see if the first check was defeated. If it was, you didn't get any piracy messages or anything. Instead, you got a shit ton more enemies throughout the game. Then, apparently, it will freeze during the last boss fight and delete all your save files.

nightrnr wrote:Seems like an interesting flash cart for all the flak it gets. I just want to confirm what won't play on it correctly (besides special chip games).


There's other devices out there that will accomplish the same things as the Super UFO, the only real reason to get the Super UFO is if you're on a budget. If you wanna take some wear and tear off your Sd2snes I would just get a better flash cart like a Super ED. If you wanna be able to dump your own ROMs and SRAM, get a Retrode (other devices exist as well). And a Pro Action Replay will allow you to use cheat codes with games with extra pins. Are there any other features of the Super UFO not covered above?
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by nightrnr Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:29 pm

Okay, so Earthbound should be fine, as you get to specify your SRAM size (8k in this game) at time of copy.

Not sure what other features that are noteworthy. I don't think my cheap Mario RPG theory will work, but I still want to try it (Jpn cart with US rom using same PCB releases).
The save state option is not very compatible, but I wonder if it works on FF3/6 (I want to do a "break the game" play sometime)?

Last ? on the SUP8: is there a difference to the black or white model? I think I might seek one out for the right price, but the black model seem more affordable. I am fine using my other flash cart options, I just find it interesting. Sometimes "limitation" actually makes something more appealing to me (for instance, I get a lot of use out of my Gameboy Movie Player cart for twitch 8-bit gaming). But again, for the right price. I would only put a select amount of games on it, I think.

So what about this "InviteSNES" cart?
http://ramfactory.com/products.php?INVI ... qpg6kmnt62
It says it plays the two CX4 games, but only has the middle pins:
Looks to be flashed based, but I've been curious about it for a while and never hear anything about it.
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by Ziggy587 Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:13 pm

I know I've seen that one before.

http://forums.nesdev.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=8461

Cx4 maybe, but I doubt it supports Super FX.
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by nightrnr Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:48 pm

Oh, I am certain that is doesn't support FX. Odd that there is no DSP though, as I thought that was an easier thing to work around (unless there is an installable option for an actual DSP chip like the ED, but I doubt it.

I still would take an ED or SD2SNES over it though.
The SUP8 just seems different enough to make me want to try it out.

Again, I'm the guy who gets some fun and satisfaction out of GameBoy Movie players and GBA Super cCrds. Limited and not recommended by most peoples standards, but can still do a lot. Combined with my EZflashVI, I'm not even sure if I need a GBA Everdrive (even if I do want one someday).

I've been finding out more and more, it's the limited focus that makes things fun (for me anyways; especially when you like to see a little of what everything has to offer). This may not be true if you can only have one flash option, but that's not the boat I'm in at present.
Yes, I do have a (possibly irrational) fear of things breaking, but that's why I like having options. And if I can do a lot of my messing around with a device I know is no big loss if it does break, I feel a lot better about it.

But even with the SD2SNES, I start to wonder things. Like how well does it emulate the CX4 chip (I know it runs at a different clock speed, and it varies on the FW version)? How does that affect the gameplay as opposed to the real thing (even if very little)? I may want the SUP8 to have the (hopefully) true experience using my SFC Rock Man X3 cart as a passthrough chip.

In any case, I find this discourse of value, and I do thank you guys for your thoughts.

I'll have to decide whether a retrode is in my future. Part of the appeal (of SUP8 and Retrofreak) is just putting a game hear and there directly on the system, easy and at my leisure. Even the 8 character limit doesn't bother me much with the SUP8, but the encrypted roms of the Retrofreak does (as stated on that other thread). With the retrode, it will come down to if I feel the need for the N64, SMS, and GBx attachments. N64 would be handy, as I can't seem to find a way to make the English patch for Sin and Punishment work (a clean copy might).
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Re: [GUIDE/INFO] for Flash Carts, Retrode, repros, and more!

by Tanooki Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:11 am

Ziggy587 wrote:Work in progress for v1.8: Cheat Menu, possibly ROM folder loading
Planned for v1.9: Skin support, USB support (dev feature to quickly send ROMs for testing)
Outlook for v1.10 / v2.0: Try and implement experimental save state, begin work on either SuperFX or SA1


That list has been up there since 2011 if I remember right and still people today still post on that thread and speculate while others question why lame skins and cheats are more important than the FX or SA1(obviously they're infinitely easier to add though.)

In the end still the SD2SNES seems overly expensive to me offering up just MMX2 and 3, and if you care about hacks the MSU patches for some popular games. That one dumb to-do list going back 6 years has increasingly when I'm reminded of it ends up feeling like a troll post hanging peoples wishes on the future to sell another kit. I'd think if there was some real care and veracity put into it by the community someone would have made some visible (even if broken beyond playability) progress after this long.

It's why I gave up on that clowning and got a Super Everdrive v2 with DSP installed. I really loathe MMX2 and X3 so the SD2SNES is useless to me so it was the right choice. Anything SA1 or FX they will never end up supporting I want I have owned the carts for since the 90s other than a couple really cheap FX games and if I got back into SFC imports that 3rd Parodius game.
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