update may 2014 : firmware v9 still the latest out ( link at end of article)
This busy little green board (purchased at retrotowers) ,with sizeble chips and multiple sd slots ,lets you play all your sega megadrive games as rom files via an sd card(or microsd) on original Genesis[us] | Megadrive[uk/jap] hardware modded or foreign it cares not !, Why you would you want to do this you may ask?.. ‘but its expensive’ you say?! I know what your gonna say next ….
“.. I have an emulator on my mac/pc/insert [android phone model] why do i care”?
Well as some already know running cartridges on original hardware can be the only way [sometimes] to get the game to work or to hear it the way it used to sound due to issues in recreating the timings; the sheer nature of the custom chips inside the cartridges themselves giving devs headaces in obtaining the specs/info reason being some of them were very propriety making it hard or impossible to recreate them in software
So in the order of things when being emulated/programmed it can just be a tricky beast at the best of times and just doesn’t always feel right playing it that way -especially if your original hardware happens to still function and is sitting right there next to you! ? And lets not forget the sound ..
(being that around the time of the megadrive/snes release just around the corner compact discs would start to make their way into consoles too! the variety of fm tunes coming from your console would almost certainly be reduced/removed -it would all head towards full-on cd sound tracks .. bleh! )
Which for me is almost as important as is the actual function of the game at all , some of those Yuzo Koshiro tracks from Revenge of Shinobi /bareknuckles have some of the best heavy overdriven chiptune bass youll ever likely to hear thanks to that ym2612 chip ; [Yuzo] Some of his work was ahead of its time and would sit quite well within a nightclub today! Listen to a djset of his bareknuckles tracks!Sounds amazing even now!
Some emulators have made strides in accurate emulation whether it be for gfx alone or (I quite like using roberts emulators on my android phone -really nice scanlines too) even when it comes to the yamaha/sony sound chip but its not quite the same on certain games…
Using the MegaEverdrive (theres also the everdrive model similar idea (no instant saves)but this is the premium more expensive model -not a replacement as its still supported ) made by hand I understand by krikzz of http://krikzz.com/ ,it allows you to relive your childhood days with real hardware and none of the cart boxes stacked up as high as your ceiling!
One 8gb sd card ,which is pretty cheap these days, can hold all the sega mega games ever released and then some..(lets not forget 32x, mastersystem,, you could fit them on there too!It accepst up to 32gb cards so no problems with space! ) As long as you still have the hardware you could load up that 32x game of starwars arcade or virtual fighter!
Everdrive or MegaEverDrive ?
Everdrive doesnt have snapshot saves (but its more cost effective ) .MegaEverDrive does (not all games support it mind you) by pressing ‘Start’ + ‘Down’ on the gamepad during gameplay a pop up menu shows you some options : save state, load state, and back to menu. By choosing save state MegaEverDrive will take a snapshot of your exact position in game, allowing you to instantly resume much like how you would with an emulator ,in fact its one of main reasons to get one. So MegaEverDrive gets my vote even if its even pricier, heres but a few reasons why:
- firmware update without a jtag.(cables/programmer etc) meaning you can simply drop latest MEGAOS file in the MEGA folder on the sd card and done!
- in-game snapshots saves + regular saves : instantly save and resume just like an emulator! this feature alone is amazing. Resume that hard game of ghouls’n ghosts on its second run with out worrying about the clock -remember how hard that was!!
- fast usb for development : allows devs to send file over to run live on cart(no storage on sd though) + potential for netplay in the future
- works as a ram cart for MegacCd addon with titles that need it
- Supported game file types: *.gen, *.bin, *.sms, and *.32x.
- dual sd slot : micro sd is good for when you wish to hide the fact that its not a real cart , as using the other fullsize slot will definitely give it away! (reset button excused cant help that unless you want to go on a custom refit soldering mission-which i may just do!)
- Game Genie™ and Play-Action Replay™ codes MegaEverDrive supports it !!
In the faq later on in this mini review,You read about my issues running the machine with a psu which cant handle the current draw as some sd cards draw more current than other brands I since found ; Sandisk (good quality) almost never worked while transcend would sometimes allow megadrive load a menu/or game dir.
This in the end was due to the psu [powersupply]not being strong enough to cope in driving the machine and megacart (but was fine with original game cartridges?>?)
So sandisks are the best generally and will work great you would just need to get uprated psu to make double sure it will last …anything over 1200ma and 9v+ selectors will do(and one which allows minus tip polarity!!! Its the one if not the only device in your house which probably needs it, everything else these days are positive tip )
I eventually arrived at this conclusion thanks to retrotowers Dan (who went above and beyond in customer service ,helping be deduce why my setup wasnt working) ; showed me his dir structure on his own sdcard which still didnt work on my setup but we now knew it wasnt the sd cards fault or either of our formatting techniques anymore ,so this was good news really.
What this meant was that it was almost certainly hardware based or should I say the hardware wasn’t liking the power draw.Whilst this was happening ,original game carts were running fine on an original psu with all 3 models (uk,uk region modded,jap) & were all exhibiting the same issues .
Dan sent back my MegaEverDrive cartridge promptly and I went out & bought a new psu.
Low and behold mega-drive booted the os menu and is now running thousands of games – really well..
So if you want good service I can safely say try buying your next gear from retrotowers .You wont be disappointed! Lets not forget if he couldnt get this one working i would be having to wait weeks possibly months for another MegaEverDrive as these handmade devices are few and far between!
Click on images below to jump straight to each product i bought :
..Couldn’t find my old screwdrivers, So I thought its time to buy these screw adapters to open my snes console and megadrive/cartridges(so you can insert the microsd and keep it looking as authentic as possible!) Reasonable prices too.
The cart also has a physical reset button on top on cart to go back to its internal menu where you can check build date, select new game/dir ,switch on ingame menu and many other things.Theres a red onboard LED which flashes when the os/sd is being used ,the build quality itself is really good . And has some print screening on it too so you know which side should go front ways when not in its cartridge housing, but with such tiny components on there too its probably best to buy it with a plastic cart or make one from one of your own cartridges!
All in all very simple and very well made. Cant wait to play some quackshot ,castle of illusion and sonic1 as well as revenge of shinobi and StreetsofRage series (with its badass tunes!) .
So go get a cheap megadrive from a local bootsale or ebay or gumtree buy one of these devices get a sd card (super cheap these days) and a screwdriver if you want to get inside (but its optional) and have true retro gaming fun I tell you now you’ll be still playing on it way longer than your did crysis 3 or cod blops2 for that matter :).. don’t forget its scart so you’ll need a tv/lcd with scart input at its rear..
Heres some specs:
Mega EverDrive flash cartridge for SEGA megadrive (genesis) with SD/MMC interface
- 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).
- 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.
- flashing colours on screen but no menu/life from the cart
– seems like also some sd cards draw more current than other brands! sandisk almost never worked while transcend would sometimes come on enough to maybe check about box or look into a dir (maybe not load games always
– but main thing here would be to ask yourself is it an original psu supply?do you think its still in good shape? Can you borrow another more powerfull psu fro msomeone?I guarantee its most probaly due to this if your not seeing megeeverdrive work but normal cartridges do..
- how to update os firmware?
- – you place the MEGAOS file into the MEGA folder on the microsd to update .. ill double check…or check manual it should be in there
- why the microsd or ext sd?
– only one card can be used at same time. standard sd will be mounted if OS file found on standard sd card, otherwise micro sd will be mounted -krikizz
current changelist or megaos
2)Fixed homebrew mapper (for Chilly Willy). Extension for SSF mapper allow to use whole 16Mbyte of memory as ROM or RAM
1) Extended SSF mapper for Chilly Willy. Instruction: krikzz.com/pub/support/mega-ed/dev/extended_ssf.txt
2) Minor bugfix
1)In-game menu stability was incrased. EA games pass crc checks, problems with six buttons joypad also was fixed
2)Reset to game option allow to use ingame reset, sms pause button still can be used for return no menu
3)File browser bugfix
4)sms mapper manual control was removed, now in works automatical
5)FPGA code was fully rewrited
1)FAT system bug was fixed. Older OS may not work properly in case if MacOS was used for SD card setup
1) bugfix. OSV3-V4 always trying to make save file, in case if ingame menu was enabled, even if save data is empty
2) audio player improvement.
1)Improved games compatibility
1)wav playback quality is improved
2)noise in menu was reduced
3)some new OS functions available for developers (edos lib v2 support)
4)added hardware DMA transfer from sd to DAC
5)gg code automatically turn off in case if destination address outside of cart memory rage
6)TFC music player
7)GYM music player. Only for ntsc systems. Files bigger than 3 mbyte may not work properly
8)save preview (actual only for snapshot save files)
9)fixed saves problem in Sonic and Knuckles & Sonic 3
1)supports dev lib
2)solved problem when system hangs while sms games startup or return from sms game to menu
3)hardware core was updated
4)FAT speed was increased