Author Topic: Questions regarding ROM dumping, save files, special chip games, other consoles.  (Read 10338 times)

Offline layzee

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I consider myself both as a (non-casual) gamer and as a relatively hardcore Japanese-region game collector and I am considering buying a Retrode device. However, first I would like some clarification on the features of this hardware and to determine whether it is suitable for my needs.

1. Perfect 1:1 ROM Dumping: There is a ROM dumping group called No-Intro that makes it its philosophy of dumping (transferring data from the cart to the PC) 1:1 (perfect copy) ROMs. What this means is that for every game that get its contents transferred from the cart to a PC, that digital file (the game ROM) will always have a specific CRC hash value. For example, if two people in two different countries dumped Tales of Phantasia using different carts with Retrode2 (or any other device), assuming both the devices and the dumping method was proper, both of the resulting files should be exactly the same* and have the same CRC-32 value to prove this fact: e9946b84.

Is the Retrode2 capable of 1:1 ROM dumping?

*The exception to this (and where the hardcore game collecting comes in) is if one of the Tales of Phantasia carts is considered a revision (e.g. a bug-fix release by the developer) and therefore would naturally have a different CRC value. These revisions are usually called v1.0 (original release) and v1.1, v1.2 etc... (subsequent releases), and they are usually identified by the existence of an "A" or "B" etched on the back label of the cart. They can also be referred to as "Revision A" (first re-release) and "Revision B" (second re-release) ROMs. Regardless, the same principle applies: the Revision A game cart should always have the same CRC value as other Revision A games carts when made digital.

2. Save File Backup and/or Restore: The Retrode2 is currently marketed as a device that lets you play your real game carts on a PC. That's fine but I personally prefer to play them on a real console and a nice, large television. However, the Retrode2 does have a function that interests me: Backup of the cart's save file (SRM). Touched on by the FAQ, apparently this can be done I assume, by creating a single digital file of the save onto a PC.

If, in the future, one of my game cart's erases its own save file (due to dead battery etc...), would it be possible to restore the backed up save by inserting it back into the cart?

3. Compatibility with games with special chips: This was also briefly mentioned on the FAQ but I would also like some further clarifications.

In regards to ROM dumping (point 1 above), how is the compatibility with games with special chips?
In regards to save file backup/restore (point 2 above), how is the compatibility with games with special chips?
How is the compatibility with standard games (without special chips) overall? 100% or close to 100%?

Here's a brief list of games with special chips as examples:

CX-4
Rockman X2 (Mega Man X2)
Rockman X3 (Mega Man X3)

DSP-1/1B
Super Mario Kart

SA-1
Hoshi no Kirby Super Deluxe (Kirby Super Star)
Hoshi no Kirby 3  (Kirby's Dream Land 3)
Marvelous: Mouhitotsu no Takarajima
Super Mario RPG

S-DD1
Star Ocean
Street Fighter Zero 2 (Street Fighter Alpha 2)

SPC7110
Tengai Makyou (Far East of Eden)

Super FX GSU-2
Star Fox (Star Wing)
Super Mario: Yoshi Island (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island)


4. Compatibility for other console carts: What is the likelihood of the Retrode2 being upgraded or having some kind of add-on adapters for carts from other consoles? Here is a list of other consoles I am interested in:

Bandai WonderSwan
Bandai WonderSwan Color
Nintendo 64
Nintendo Famicom (AKA NES)
Nintendo Famicom Disk System
Nintendo Game Boy
Nintendo Game Boy Color
Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Sega Game Gear
Sega Mark III (AKA Master System)
SNK NeoGeo Pocket Colour

To sum up, I am willing to buy a Retrode2 simply to use it as an external memory card for all of my retro game carts (point 2 above). I consider my save files (and the hours of gameplay I put in them) more valuable than the games themselves. However, when the Retrode2 is reading, writing, or re-writing data (point 1 above), I need to know whether it does so properly, so that the save files on the cart don't get corrupted.

Thanks for any help.

Offline Matthias_H

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1. If the Retrode can dump a cartridges, you will get an exact copy - what else would you expect? I usually tell from the emulators' built-in checksum test.

2. Yes, you can write saves back to the cartridge. You may want to take a look at my prehistoric "snega2usb" video for some evidence (starting at 6:00): I take a cart, play a little, then plug it back into the console, and my latest progress has been preserved.

3. You may want to check out the compatibility list on retrode.org. If a title is listed in there, it has been tested successfully. There are a bunch of DSP1 and Super-FX games in the list, and I've successfully tested the SRAM functionality for Mario Kart and Yoshi's Island myself. I can tell you for sure that SA-1 does not work; and I know people have reported trouble with the Mega Man X series. Any reports about success or failure for those special chips are greatly appreciated!

4. Later this year, there will be plug-in adapters for N64, Game Boy, and Master System carts. SRAM saves are currently only supported for the non-advance Game Boys.

Please understand that I cannot promise that you won't lose SRAM data using the Retrode. In my experience, it is extremely unlikely. But then, after all, those carts are about 20 years old and there's simply no guarantee they won't spontaneously lose their memory - it's simply a risk that comes with using them.
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Offline Ryan

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Glad to hear this. The first thing that entered my mind when seeing retrode video #6 courtesy TheAwesomer was whether I'd be able to dump my own games using it.

Offline layzee

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Thanks for your reply. I hope to purchase a Retrode2 in the near future.

2. Yes, you can write saves back to the cartridge. You may want to take a look at my prehistoric "snega2usb" video for some evidence (starting at 6:00): I take a cart, play a little, then plug it back into the console, and my latest progress has been preserved.

Based on that video, I can say it meets my expectations as far as save file inter-transferability go, thanks.

3. You may want to check out the compatibility list on retrode.org. If a title is listed in there, it has been tested successfully. There are a bunch of DSP1 and Super-FX games in the list, and I've successfully tested the SRAM functionality for Mario Kart and Yoshi's Island myself. I can tell you for sure that SA-1 does not work; and I know people have reported trouble with the Mega Man X series. Any reports about success or failure for those special chips are greatly appreciated!

I don't mind the Rockman X series not working (they use passwords instead of save files) but it's a little disappointing to hear that there is a lack of compatibility with save files for SA-1 games like Star Ocean and Super Mario RPG.

I'm not an engineer or electrician (electronician?), but in layman's terms, what is the main barrier stopping the SA-1 chip from working with the Retrode2? Is it firmware (software) based, requiring more research and/or reverse engineering or is it hardware based?

What's the future outlook for the Retrode2 regarding compatibility with SA-1 games?

4. Later this year, there will be plug-in adapters for N64, Game Boy, and Master System carts. SRAM saves are currently only supported for the non-advance Game Boys.

Cool, I look forward to more progress in this area.
« Last Edit: 10/Jan/2012 11:59:03 AM by layzee »

Offline Muzer

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I believe (don't quote me) that it'd have to be a HW solution for the SA-1. The reason being is that the SA-1 chip has a lockout antifeature, whereby it checks for the presence of the lockout chip in the console and doesn't allow access to the ROM if it is not found or there are timing errors.

Offline Matthias_H

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The SA-1 definitely requires a CIC to be present, which the Retrode doesn't (and will never) have. I played around with a retrofit attempt a while ago, but to no avail yet. My last desperate guess is that it could have to do with the weird combination of clock signals (frequency ratio 1:6) that the SA-1 expects. I hope to find some more time for it later this year.
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Offline CritAnime

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Would the switchless SNES mod work with something like this?

http://mmmonkey.co.uk/console/nintendo/cic/cic.htm

BTW HI lol.