Flash Carts - Every Retro Gamer's Dream
By Mean Machines Staff - 08 Jul, 2014
Back in the early '90s, if you'd have told the average Mean Machines reader that one day they'd be able to fit every single SNES game onto a piece of plastic no bigger than a postage stamp and then plug it into a special cart, effectively granting them access to the entire SNES library instantly, they'd probably have laughed at you so hard that snot would have dribbled out of their noses. More than two decades ago, such talk would have rightly been deemed totally insane, but fast forward to 2014 and things are much, much different.
Flash carts are now a formidable weapon in the arsenal of every self-respecting retro gamer, as they not only allow you to play any game you like, but also permit the use of homebrew or unlicensed titles which can't normally be played on the original hardware. They also save you the bother of having to crack open your treasured games collection each and every time you feel like taking a trip down memory lane, and in that respect, it could be argued that they help preserve and maintain your precious haul from everyday wear and tear.
The first flash carts appeared a few years back and only supported the usual suspects -- the Mega Drive and SNES. However, as the market for these remarkable devices has grown, so too has the selection of compatible systems. We now have flash carts for the Game Gear, Master System, N64, Game Boy and even the PC Engine. All of these products work on the same basic principle - you download ROMs to an SD card (or Micro SD), slide it into the flash cart and slot it into your machine. An on-screen menu allows you to select the game you wish to load into the cart's RAM, and you're done. In some cases you need to download special software which has to remain in the root of the SD card, but many of the devices sold these days run perfectly straight out of the box.
Our friends at Retro Towers were kind enough to supply us with a selection of these carts for testing and review purposes, and we honestly can't remember how we ever coped without them. The SD2SNES example is particularly noteworthy - previous SNES flash carts had always struggled with those games which made use of special chips, such as the DSP-1 (Super Mario Kart) or Super FX (Star Fox, Stunt Race FX). The SD2SNES handles these games without issue, making it by far and away the best option for Nintendo fans.
The Everdrive GB is also a handy piece of tech, as it effectively allows you to carry around every Game Boy game ever made in your pocket. It also supports Game Boy Color titles, too - just think about how many games were released during the lifespan of the two systems, and that means you have access to a dizzying number of titles - all within easy reach when you have a flash cart. Those of you old enough to recall the headache of having to decide which GB carts to bring with you on a family holiday should appreciate the benefit of only needing one cart in the slot at all times.
The biggest sticking point with these devices - rampant piracy aside, of course - is obviously the price. Because they are made in such small numbers for a very select audience, the cost is high and that's unlikely to change over time. However, we certainly think the investment is worthwhile, especially if you want to play some of the rarer classic games from yesteryear. Some of the more collectable titles for the Mega Drive and SNES will cost you more than the price of a flash cart on their own.
If emulation isn't authentic enough for you then this really is the best route to take. These devices allow you to game on the original hardware and get that faithful experience. If you're interested in picking up one of these carts then give Retro Towers a visit - they carry the full range and you're very likely to find one for your favourite vintage system.
cantece de copii - 24 Aug 2014, 08:44 GMT
The biggest sticking point with these devices - rampant piracy aside, of course - is obviously the price. Because they are made in such small numbers for a very select audience, the cost is high and that's unlikely to change over time. However, we certainly think the investment is worthwhile, especially if you want to play some of the rarer classic games from yesteryear.