Author Topic: Problems with dumping (working) roms from my GBA carts  (Read 4013 times)

Offline MartiusR

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Problems with dumping (working) roms from my GBA carts
« on: 05/Dec/2015 11:21:10 PM »
Since it's my first post on this forum - hello everybody!

I'm the owner of Retrode 2 and all official plugins. However, I've experienced difficulties with dumping working roms from some of my GBA cartridges (and surprisingly, all of them are Sonic games :P)

Just one important thing - I've tried with changing voltage and Forcesize parameter for 16, none of these helped me.

In case of Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 - I can dump roms from both, but they doesn't work in any emulator. And I've tried three, so it's definitelly not fault of emulators. Especially since these roms are "working" in excactly the same way - I don't see game, screen is mess with some letters and nothing more etc. And the same thing is with Sonic Battle.

BUT - I've got one more cartridge, but with two games (Sonic Pinball and Sonic Battle - the one I've mentioned previously is the "single game" cart), it's official release, not any pirated "set". So, after dumping rom and launching it I see the selection screen, but I can't launch any of these games, it's just resetting or freezing (depending on emulator). Guys from DragonBox told me that it's because Retrode is dumping only "selector" rom, but not the roms of the both games. But I can't believe that it's not possible to dump it properly, after all, there are in internet working roms of these packs/medleys. Is it possible in case of Retrode with GBA Plugin?

Many thanks for help!

(by the way - I've got almost the newest firmware. Almost - because I didn't install the one from 5th December 2015, mentioned on the main page - but I'm assuming that it wouldn't help, because there are mostly fixes/improvements for other platforms than GBA.)
« Last Edit: 05/Dec/2015 11:28:29 PM by MartiusR »

Offline KingMike

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Re: Problems with dumping (working) roms from my GBA carts
« Reply #1 on: 08/Jan/2016 10:59:57 PM »
It doesn't sound like Retrode is able to detect GBA ROM sizes very well. Have you confirmed it is dumping the right size?
I know with Genesis and SNES you can edit the config file to force the right size (manually entering the ROM size, if you know it). Can you do it with GBA as well?

Offline Ness and Sonic

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Re: Problems with dumping (working) roms from my GBA carts
« Reply #2 on: 20/Jan/2016 08:06:29 AM »
Yes, I've done it myself for a few games. I'd also suggest switching the voltage to 3.3v as another measure since some games can be picky about that. I think Sonic Battle was one of them.
Some times modern video game characters chase older ones. Some times older video game characters just say the wrong thing.

Offline ssokolow

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Re: Problems with dumping (working) roms from my GBA carts
« Reply #3 on: 09/Feb/2016 01:21:48 AM »
Also, another tip: The Retrode 2 doesn't like counterfeit GBA carts. I learned that when I got lazy about double-checking an in-province eBay purchase.

Everything still works fine and I got my money back, but that counterfeit cart wouldn't even show a generic BIN file in the Retrode while GBA-dumping homebrew on a Nintendo DS dumps it as a 32MiB ROM. (...which does boot in an emulator but I never tested if it plays without crashing)

I thought that knowledge might be useful as something for others to learn from.

For those unfamiliar with identifying counterfeit carts, here are the tells for a GBA cart:

  • Go to Mobygames and check if the label is correct (this'll save you a lot of time if a picture is available there)
  • Does the AGB-xxxx-xxx part number on the label match what the game claims to be?
  • Are the rating mark, "Licensed by Nintendo" or "Nintendo" mark, and Seal of Quality present, in the right places, and the right size and shape?
  • Is the label straight and well-centered on the cartridge, with a glossy finish and edges cleanly cut from the larger sheet it was printed onto?

  • Are the contacts gold-plated?
  • Counterfeits often have a small vent in the protective plastic barrier just above the middle of the edge-card contacts.

  • Is the part number on the back of the shell AGB-002? (eg. AGB-004 is a Japanese GBA charger)
  • Compare the font for the back of the shell to a known-good cartridge. Some counterfeits do use AGB-002 but then have the Nintendo logo and the rest of the text too thin.
  • Is the cartridge held together by a tri-wing screw?
  • Counterfeits sometimes cover up their use of non-tri-wing screws with a scary warranty sticker. Nintendo trusted tri-wing screws to be enough.

If you've got a tri-wing screwdriver, you can also play it safe by opening the cartridge up and examining the PCB. Remove the tri-wing screw and then the front of the case can slide down and lift out using a mechanism similar to how you'd unmount a power bar you hung on the wall:
  • Genuine cartridges will open easily once the screw is removed. Fakes may have a large chip blocking the sliding mechanism.
  • Genuine cartridges will store the games on mask ROM (basically, each game's ROM is a custom part and changing even a single bit requires a new photolithography mask, so the setup costs are through the roof).
  • A genuine cartridge will have "Nintendo" silk-screened above the edge-card contacts. Fakes generally lack it or use the wrong font.
  • Only fakes will have chips with all labelling erased or with labels stuck onto them.
  • Check the save method on DAT-o-Matic. If it's not SRAM, then a battery is a guaranteed indication of a counterfeit because it means that the game itself is stored on battery-backed RAM to save money.
  • Genuine SRAM cartridges will use many different colours of insulating rings on their batteries (red, blue, etc.) while fakes seem to all use yellow.

...and, if you're really feeling lucky and want to risk sticking it into your Nintendo DS, the fakes are often the wrong regional version (eg. EU version with a US sticker) and, if dumped via DS homebrew, generally dump to something that DAT-o-Matic has never seen, even if you manually trim the dump file to the sizes it expects for the various versions.

(If anyone wants them, I can also point you to guides on how to identify fake original Gameboy carts, Nintendo DS carts and/or fakes of rare SNES carts.)
« Last Edit: 09/Feb/2016 01:24:24 AM by ssokolow »