Ultimate Guide To Retro Gaming Flash Cards, Cartridges & Backup Devices

Guide-To-Retro-Gaming-Flash-CardsWhile retro games in their physical form are still incredibly desirable and our first port of call for gaming action, flash cartridges have begun paving the way for much quicker and easier access to the games we love. With countless options on offer at varying costs, RetroCollect has compiled the ultimate and comprehensive guide to flash cards, cartridges and backup devices.

If you’re yet to become familiar with the term ‘flash cartridges’ or even use one, then you’re in for a treat. These impressive devices often mimic an original game cartridge (or media) in shape, however, their on-board software is anything but a game. The code hidden within one of these devices usually grants access to an on-screen menu driven interface to which you can access a whole library of games.

For example, the more recent Everdrive cartridges for the Sega Mega Drive have a small slot on the top which allows you to insert a SD card filled with game ROMs. All of which can be selected and played as if that game was actually plugged into your console.

There are many additional advantages to using flash cartridges and backup devices today. For starters, the most obscure releases from abroad are simply a click away and ready to be played on the original hardware. These feature packed devices also offer access to the wonderful world of homebrew and ROM hacks, games and alterations to existing titles which have been created by talented individuals - including the ability to run the equivalent to Mega CD games on an unmodified Super Nintendo.

In short, flash cartridges will open up your systems to just about anything your retro gaming heart desires. But which consoles have such hardware at the ready and what might be the best choice for each system?

Read on and prepare to be educated...

Please note - this guide is intended for gamers looking to find a solution for enjoying homebrew software on retro gaming consoles, and a legal alternative for enjoying the games they already own. RetroCollect does not encourage piracy nor condone it in any shape or form, nor will it encourage downloading ROM files or the sharing of illegal software. While these devices can show a dark side, we write about them with the best intentions in mind. At the same time we hold no responsibility for any damage these third party devices may cause to your belongings.

Contents

Nintendo Systems

Sega Systems

Other Consoles

Home Computers


Nintendo NES / Famicom Flash Cartridges

Nintendo-NES-Flash-Cartridges

NES / Famicom Everdrive N8

Krikzz of Everdrive fame has finally released the ultimate solution to the Nintendo NES, similar to his creations for countless other consoles. The NES / Famicom Everdrive features a microSD card slot for loading ROMs from. As the Nintendo NES and Famicom use different types of cartridges, two versions of this device are available.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Good compatibility, save state functionality, can run Famicom Disk System games
  • Cons: None

Link: Buy Nintendo NES / Famicom Everdrive N8

Link: Find Nintendo NES / Famicom Everdrive N8 on eBay


Powerpak

The Powerpak is a Nintendo NES flash cartridge created by RetroZone. The cartridge reads Nintendo NES ROMs off a CompactFlash card. While not all games are currently compatible with the device, updates are often released to support more complicated mappers.

  • Storage: CompactFlash Cards
  • Pros: Only the currently available Nintendo NES flash cartridge to date
  • Cons: The device is very fussy as to which CompactFlash cards will work with it

Link: Buy Nintendo NES Powerpak

Link: Find Nintendo NES Powerpak on eBay


 

Super Nintendo (SNES) Flash Cartridges

Super-NES-Flash-Cartridges

SD2SNES

Although it might be the most expensive flash card on the market, the SD2SNES is by far the most feature packed device available to date. The SD2SNES is the only Super Nintendo flash cartridge which has the ability to play all the custom chip based games released back in the day - and much more. While the firmware update is yet to arrive, as it stands this will be the only flash cartridge out there capable of running Super FX games like Star Fox and Stunt Race FX.

The custom homemade MSU1 chip is also supported on the SD2SNES, which allows CD quality audio and full motion video playback on the Super Nintendo without any additional modification or hardware required. This introduces all new games to the Super Nintendo such as a homebrew port of the Laserdisc classic Road Avenger, and updates to games such as Zelda: A Link To The Past with orchestral soundtracks.

If it’s a Super Nintendo flash card you’re after and price is no concern, then look no further than the SD2SNES.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Insanely good compatibility, exclusive features, MSU1 functionality
  • Cons: Very expensive, firmware updates have been slow to arrive - Super FX functionality still in the works years later

Link: Buy SD2SNES

Link: Find SD2SNES on eBay


Super Everdrive

Krikzz’s Super Nintendo offering is most definitely one you don’t want to dismiss too quickly. Similar to his other flash cartridges, the Super Everdrive makes use of SD cards to access your library of Super Nintendo ROMs.

While the Super Everdrive doesn’t have the same compatibility as the SD2SNES with special cartridge chips - meaning the likes of the Super FX games (e.g. Starfox) and other special chip based games will not work - it does offer support for the DSP1 based games such as Super Mario Kart and Pilotwings.

It’s easy to use and has out of the box drag ‘n’ drop functionality. Perfect for someone looking for a bare bones basic, although powerful, Super Nintendo flash card.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Best priced Super Nintendo flash card available
  • Cons: No special chip support other than DSP-1

Link: Buy Super Everdrive

Link: Find Super Everdrive on eBay


Super UFO Pro 8

The Super UFO Pro 8 was China’s answer to the Super Everdrive. Having once been the experts on playing Super Nintendo ROMs via other means (thanks to their outdated Floppy Disk based devices of the 90s), you’d really expect their experience with these products to shine through.

Apart from the impressive, albeit flaky (read: doesn’t work with every game) addition of save states on the original hardware (pause a game anywhere, turn off the device, resume play another time at exactly the same point) and the ability to backup games and saves from retail cartridges, the rest of the device feels somewhat unfinished. Unlike the Super Everdrive, additional software is required on your PC, an original Super Nintendo cartridge needs to be connected above before any games will load, and file names over 8 characters are shortened in the ROM loading menu.

A lot of talk, but no action.

  • Storage: SD cards
  • Pros: Save state functionality is great on the games it does work with
  • Cons: Horrible software requirement, awful menu system, unfulfilled promises

Link: Find Super UFO Pro 8 on eBay


SNES Powerpak

Given that the SNES Powerpak from the same team that brought you the NES Powerpak is twice the cost of other Super Nintendo flash cards, you’d expect a lot for your money. Sadly though the SNES Powerpak from RetroZone has been outclassed as of recent, but only due to the device’s growing age. Technology has moved on and the SNES Powerpak has not.

While the device handles Super Nintendo ROMs just as well as most SNES flash cards, the main drawback of the SNES Powerpak is its on-board menu system and software. ROMs and folders appear on-screen in the order you placed them onto the CompactFlash card, instead of alphabetically - making navigation to the game you want to play challenge. The device also requires empty save files to be created on the device beforehand for any games which may have save game functionality. While RetroZone do offer a downloadable empty save file for use, it is somewhat a daunting task having to create additional files for every single game you might play on a device advertised as being ‘drag and drop’.

On the plus side though, the SNES Powerpak does offers DSP-1 compatibility allowing the likes of Super Mario Kart and Pilotwings to run flawlessly.

  • Storage: CompactFlash cards
  • Pros: Does the job fine after initial setup, DSP-1 compatibility
  • Cons: Clunky software, lack of built-in save file creation

Link: Buy SNES Powerpak

Link: Find SNES Powerpak on eBay


NEO SNES / SFC Myth

Neoflash are very proactive team of hardware developers that have brought countless solutions to ROM loading devices and import adapters over the years. Unfortunately though, their chance to fill a huge gap in the market with their NEO range of flash cartridges, was met by a huge mistake several years ago. Simply put, Neoflash’s intention was to create a family of flash cards that all relied on the same storage solution - their existing Game Boy Advance flash cards.

Using clunky PC based software you’re supposed to load up your Super Nintendo ROMs onto the Game Boy Advance flash card, which would then plug into the top of the NEO SNES / SFC Myth cartridge. This also allowed you to use part of the cartridge for your Mega Drive ROMs (for use with the NEO MD Myth and NEO N64 Myth at the same time. While sounding great as an all-in-one solution on paper, the small capacity of these cartridges filled up pretty quick and you found yourself needing at least one card for each flash cartridge - which was expensive to say the least.

Given it is the one of the most expensive Super Nintendo flash cartridge on offer, you’d be better investing a little more and getting the ultimate SD2SNES.

  • Storage: Neoflash Game Boy Advance Flash Cards
  • Pros: Great if you have the other NEO Myth cards, near perfect compatibility
  • Cons: Expensive, clunky, outdated

Link: Buy NEO SNES / SFC Myth


Super Flash Card 64M

Before the days of SD card enabled flash cartridges, Tototek ruled the retro gaming world with their range of flash cartridges. These fabled devices featured enough space for four different games to be loaded onto the on-board memory, however, they had to be programmed on using a pre-historic parallel port - something that hasn’t been seen on PCs for a good decade.

Link: Super Flash Card 64M at Tototek


Floppy Disk based Devices - Super Wild Card, Super Pro Fighter etc

During the 90s, the Far East produced a plethora of devices which can only be described as primitive versions of the flash cartridges we use today. Most of these were large plug-in devices that featured an entire floppy disk drive within its casing. Game cartridges could be written onto floppy disk, with large games being split onto multiple disks.

Needless to say these devices are a pain to use today, however, hold plenty of nostalgia and allure due to their colourful (and criminal) past.

Link: Find Super Nintendo Floppy Disk Devices on eBay


 

Nintendo 64 Flash Cartridges

Nintendo-64-Flash-Cards

Everdrive 64

Yet again Krikzz has created one of the best solutions for getting our gaming fix on another system. The Everdrive 64 is his SD card enabled Nintendo 64 cartridge which features fantastic compatibility and an array of exclusive features.

The Everdrive 64 features an all important CIC boot emulator that emulates the CIC-6102 and CIC-7101. If you’re unsure on what this is, simply put it now brings the Everdrive 64 near perfect compatibility with every single game including even the more advanced N64 games such as Banjo Tooie.

As various Nintendo 64 games had their own different type of built in save game functionality (for example, SRAM, SRAM128Kbyte, EEPROM16k, EEPROM4k, FlashRam), the Everdrive 64 has been programmed to support all of these. The Everdrive 64 usually detects what type of save memory is required per ROM, however, with this much power comes responsibility - and the only downside to this device. After playing through a game and saving your progress, you must hit reset before powering off the console and allow the Everdrive 64 enough time to write your save data to the SD card. This has since been fixed in the newer third version of the cartridge, but at an added cost.

Also on board the Everdrive 64 is the unusual addition of emulator functionality. The Everdrive 64 has the ability to emulate Nintendo NES and Nintendo Game Boy games straight from the SD card via the Everdrive 64 menu. Additional files are required for this, but they’re only a few clicks away.

The main thing to keep in mind when purchasing an Everdrive 64 is which region console you will be playing it on. The PAL Nintendo 64 will require the CIC-7101 version, where by the NTSC will require the CIC-6102 version.

  • Storage: SD cards
  • Pros: Amazing compatibility, emulation features, gamepak save support.
  • Cons: Cannot use the same cartridge on both a PAL and NTSC Nintendo 64, fiddly save game functionality

Link: Buy Everdrive 64 V3 Flash Cartridge

Link: Buy Everdrive 64 v2.5 Flash Cartridge

Link: Find Everdrive 64 Flash Cartridge on eBay


Retroactive 64drive

At twice the price of the Everdrive 64, the 64drive doesn’t seem to offer enough to justify such a hike in price, unless you’re a homebrew developer.

Where it differs from the Everdrive 64 is its combination of a CompactFlash and MicroSD card slot, allowing up to a maximum of 160gb of storage space. Given that the entire Nintendo 64 ROM set will only take up a fraction of this available space, there is little reason to even think about investing in such a large memory card for use on the 64drive.

Clearly created with homebrew developers in mind (fast USB connectivity and large storage space), those more interested in the gaming side of flash cards should look towards the cheaper option.

  • Storage: MicroSD and CompactFlash cards
  • Pros: Great compatibility, save game writing, storage space potential
  • Cons: Very expensive

Link: Buy 64drive


Neo Myth 64

Similar to the NEO SNES / SFC Myth above, Neoflash’s Nintendo 64 solution also relies on the same storage solution - Game Boy Advance flash cards. Given there are much simpler alternatives on offer for the same price or cheaper, avoid this outdated and overpriced solution.

  • Storage: Game Boy Advance Flash Cards
  • Pros: None
  • Cons: Outdated, overpriced, requires other Neoflash hardware to run

Link: Buy NEO 64 Myth


Doctor V64, Doctor V64 Jr and other dated discontinued devices

There are several other flash card alternatives for the Nintendo 64 which still offer just as much functionality as those above. While they do work a treat, the likes of the Doctor V64, Doctor V64 Jr, C64 and Z64 are outdated due to the primitive forms of media they rely on - Zip disks, CDs, parallel port transfers. Some of these, however, can be modified to run games from hard drives and/or CompactFlash cards, but the hassle usually isn’t worth it given the other options available requiring no modification whatsoever.

Link: Find Nintendo 64 Backup Devices on eBay


 

Nintendo Game Boy / Game Boy Color Flash Cartridges

Game-Boy-and-Color-Flash-Carts

Everdrive GB

Yet again Krikzz has arrived on the scene and created something incredible. The Everdrive GB, as it stands, is the definitive solution to enjoying Game Boy games on the go, thanks to the many features seen in his other flash cartridges. Allowing you to insert a MicroSD Card into the device, you’ll be able to store the entire library of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games on a single cartridge. Each and every game played will create its own save file too, allowing you to pick up where you left off on the next boot up.

And if that wasn’t enough already, the Everdrive GB is fully compatible with the Super Game Boy, allowing the chosen ROM files to display their colourful Super Nintendo borders too. This is then further enhanced by the addition of Game Genie code functionality too.

  • Storage: MicroSD Cards
  • Pros: Easy to use, Super Game Boy Compatibility, Unlimited Save Files
  • Cons: None

Link: Buy Everdrive GB Flash Cartridge

Link: Find Everdrive GB Flash Cartridge on eBay


USB GB Smart Card 64M

As of today the USB GB Smart Card 64M is looking rather dated. Using limited on-board memory space to store game ROMs, new alternatives which can read from removable storage media have since arrived. As it stands, on average you can fit around 20 different Game Boy and Game Boy Color games onto the device - which can be uploaded via a USB cable.

To make matters worse, the bundled software is rather flaky, and getting to the point where you can consider which games to write to it is tricky. The flash card’s drivers are incredibly fiddly to install and anyone running a 64-bit version of Windows is setting themselves up for a long and difficult journey. The other downside to the device though is its method of saving games. The USB GB Smart Card 64M uses the same battery back storage solution as seen on commercial Game Boy games, meaning it only has space for one save game. So if you planned to start out multiple Zelda adventures and Pokemon journeys on this single flash cartridge, you’re out of luck.

  • Storage: On-board memory (64Mbit)
  • Pros: Very cheap, USB based, menu driven
  • Cons: Awful software, driver installation is painful, only one save file at a time

Link: Buy USB GB Smart Card 64M

Link: Find USB GB Smart Card 64M on eBay


Drag ‘N Derp

Removing the need for bundled software and horrific drivers, the Drag ‘N Derp does exactly what it says on the tin. Simply connect the cartridge to your PC with a USB cable, it will appear as a removable drive, drop the Game Boy ROM you want (and .SAV file) onto the device, disconnect and go play. Simple.

Although offering the most straightforward and admirable form of writing ROMs to a Game Boy cartridge we’ve seen to date, the Drag ‘N Derp cartridge is limited to a single Game Boy ROM at any one time.

If you don’t mind connecting up and loading different ROMs on each time you want to play then the Drag ‘N Derp is for you. Those wanting a larger selection of games for long journeys and convenience will need to look elsewhere.

  • Storage: On-board memory (24MBit) for one game
  • Pros: Very easy to use
  • Cons: Expensive, lack of ability to store and run multiple games

Link: Buy Drag ‘N Derp


GB X Changer, Doctor GB and other outdated Game Boy Flash Cartridges

Game Boy piracy was a huge problem for Nintendo back in the 90s. Not only was the market flooded with bootleg games, but also countless flash cartridges and game copiers. The majority of these today still offer the same functionality as those from above, however, the means of getting software onto these devices once again requires the long lost parallel port and older operating systems.

Nevertheless they’re an interesting curio for retro game collectors.

Link: Find Game Boy Flash Cards on eBay


 

Nintendo Game Boy Advance Flash Cartridges

Game-Boy-Advance-Rewritable-Cartridges

EZ-Flash IV

Unfortunately, despite being a hugely popular handheld, the Game Boy Advance is yet to catch up with the rest of the gaming world when it comes to ‘modern’ flash cartridge solutions. The EZ-Flash IV is without the best cartridge on the market for the handheld, one equipped with a MicroSD Card slot, however, getting game ROMs to boot is a fiddly affair that leaves a lot to be desired.

Instead of being able to simply drag and drop your games of choice onto a MicroSD Card, each and every game must be patched through EZ-Flash software in order to run on the device. The software in question will do the job just fine, however, once on the flash cartridge you’ll find the names of each game are taken from the ROM’s header, rather than the filename. This in turn means some game names are blank, some conflict with each other, and others can display in Japanese characters too.

While we await a simple drag and drop solution, the EZ-Flash IV with its flaws is still the best Game Boy Advance flash cartridge around.

  • Storage: MicroSD Cards
  • Pros: Works with up to 32gb MicroSD Cards, Custom Menu Themes
  • Cons: Software needed to install games

Link: Buy EZ-Flash IV


Everdrive GBA

Given Krikzz has created a fantastic solution for the majority of consoles and handhelds, you’ll be surprised to know that the Game Boy Advance is yet to receive its very own Everdrive. That said, don’t lose hope - since finishing his last product Krikzz has revealed he is currently working on something for the Game Boy Advance.

More on this once it arrives!


 

Nintendo Virtual Boy Flash Cartridges

Nintendo-Virtual-Boy-USB-Programable-Cartridge

FlashBoy Plus

In 2007 the Nintendo Virtual Boy was finally given the flash card treatment it deserved. Richard Hutchinson released the FlashBoy cartridge, which was a reprogrammable Virtual Boy cartridge which featured enough space for a single game to be installed.

Since then the FlashBoy has evolved into the FlashBoy Plus, a newer edition of the cartridge which features battery backed save functionality. Progress on games such as 3-D Tetris, Galactic Pinball, SD Gundam Dimension War, Teleroboxer, Virtual Boy Wario Land and Virtual Fishing could now be saved to the FlashBoy and restored on every use.

Unfortunately though given that the device is being created sporadically by one individual, those hoping to get their hands on a Virtual Boy flash cartridge will need to keep a close eye on the FlashBoy forums. Any announcement of a new batch of FlashBoys will instantly be gobbled up by the ever prevalent and growing fan base for the Nintendo Virtual Boy. That said, they do appear on eBay from time to time...

Link: Nintendo Virtual Boy Flash Cartridge FlashBoy Forums

Link: Find Nintendo Virtual Boy Flash Cartridge Flash Boy on eBay


Nintendo Pokemon Mini Flash Cartridges

PokeCard 512 Rev2

Believe it or not but the incredibly tiny Pokemon Mini handheld has been gifted a flash card for its incredibly small library of 10 games. The device known as the PokeCard was created by an enthusiast of the system, which has since been expanded to allow multiple game ROMs at once and programming of the cartridge via USB.

Sadly though these cartridges are somewhat near impossible to secure as they are all made by hand by one Pokemon Mini fan. After announcing the arrival of these devices a few years back he has been inundated with requests for the cartridge, so much so that contacting him today for a device will probably go a miss.

Link: Pokemon Mini PokeCard Flash Cartridge


 

Sega Master System Flash Cartridges

Sega-Master-System-SD-Card-Cartridge

Master Everdrive

Once again the Ukrainian mastermind Krikzz has provided an all-in-one solution to enjoying Master System ROMs on the original hardware. The Master Everdrive is compatible with just about every title from the Master System library, allowing games as big as 8MBit to be loaded into memory.

Further adding to the features, the Master Everdrive can also boot up SG-1000 games on the Master System too, however, it is not compatible with SC-3000 ROMs. The only downside to the Master Everdrive is that some of the more obscure Korean ROMs struggle to load. Regardless, this is still the ultimate - and only - answer to flash cartridges on the Master System.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Compatible with nearly all games, SG-1000 functionality, works on Game Gear too with adapter
  • Cons: Some Korean games are incompatible

Link: Buy Master Everdrive Master System Flash Cartridge

Link: Find Master Everdrive Master System Flash Cartridge on eBay


 

Sega Mega Drive / Mega Drive 32X Flash Cartridges

Mega-Drive-Flash-Cards

Everdrive MD

Krikzz’s very first entry into the world of flash cartridges was the Everdrive MD. Built from the ground up for his favourite console, the Everdrive MD was a fantastic solution to enjoying the Mega Drive library on a single cartridge. This is made even better by the fact that the Everdrive MD can also boot up Master System and 32X games on the Mega Drive. Furthermore, the Everdrive MD is also capable of temporarily changing the BIOS on your Mega CD, allowing you to load imported game discs with ease.

Over time the device has had a number of firmware updates and further compatibility improvements (EA games and others), however, in terms of pure power there’s a newer alternative that eclipses it - the Mega Everdrive. That said if all you’re looking for is a quick and cheap way of accessing a wealth of Mega Drive games from one place, the Everdrive MD is for you.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Compatible with nearly all games, Master System & 32X ROM functionality, Sega CD BIOS Options, Game Genie Cheat Codes
  • Cons: Slow ROM loading in comparison with the Mega Everdrive

Link: Buy Everdrive MD Mega Drive Flash Cartridge

Link: Find Everdrive MD Mega Drive Flash Cartridge on eBay


Mega Everdrive

As mentioned previously, flash cartridge maestro Krikzz has a fond place in his heart for the Sega Mega Drive. This is in turn saw the hardware tinkerer return to the 16-bit console to create an even more powerful flash cartridge that’s yet to be bettered.

The Mega Everdrive does everything the Everdrive MD can do, along with plenty more thanks to its overpowered (for the job) FPGA chip. Simply put, the prior 7MBit ROM size limit has been increased to 16MBit, games load within a second or two, save state functionality is introduced too, and the cartridge can be used as Mega CD Backup RAM cart too.

It might be a bit more expensive, but the Mega Everdrive is all you’ll ever need when it comes to 16-bit Sega flash cartridges.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Compatible with nearly all games, Master System & 32X ROM functionality, Sega CD BIOS Options, Game Genie Cheat Codes, Sega CD Backup RAM functionality, Save States, Quick Loading
  • Cons: None

Link: Buy Mega Everdrive Mega Drive Flash Cartridge


NEO Myth MD 3in1

Similar to the other Neoflash cartridges above, their Mega Drive solution also relies on the same storage solution - Game Boy Advance flash cards. While its dated storage solution leaves a lot to be desired, this is the only flash cartridge on the market that comes equipped with a YM2413 FM chip - allowing Master System ROMs to be played with FM Sound.

Unless the added music channel tempts you, avoid this outdated and overpriced solution.

  • Storage: Game Boy Advance Flash Cards
  • Pros: Sega Master System FM Sound Functionality, 32X Compatibility
  • Cons: Outdated, overpriced, requires other Neoflash hardware to run

Link: Buy NEO Myth MD 3 in 1


 

Sega Game Gear Flash Cartridges

Sega-Game-Gear-Flash-Cartridges

Everdrive GG

Built off the back of the Master Everdrive, the Game Gear’s flash cartridge is not only the ultimate solution to playing Sega’s portable library, but also Master System games on the go too. Equipped with a MicroSD card slot, the Everdrive GG is capable of housing every single Game Gear game ever released within.

  • Storage: MicroSD Cards
  • Pros: Fantastic Compatibility, Master System Compatibility
  • Cons: None

Link: Buy Everdrive GG Game Gear Flash Cartridge

Link: Find Everdrive GG Game Gear Flash Cartridge on eBay


Sega Saturn Optical Drive Replacements

Rhea

This oddly named hardware add-on for the Sega Saturn is set to make your discs obsolete. This credit card sized device completely replaces the console’s disc drive, and sends the information from game discs into the console’s memory. This in turn allows you to store a wide selection of games within the console, all of which load even faster from SD card.

While it does require some additional installation, and a small modification depending on which version motherboard your Saturn has, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better. The creator of this device has also created a disc drive emulator for the Sega Dreamcast too which is as equally as impressive.

Obtaining the Rhea, however, is a bit of a challenge. The creator is often flooded with requests for the device and often sold out. That said, keep an eye on the official website for further updates.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Perfect Compatibility, Fast Loading
  • Cons: Requires installation by opening up your console, no built-in menu software

Link: Buy Rhea (Sega Saturn Disc Drive Replacement)


Saroo

Around the same time the Rhea was announced, China also had an answer to loading backups of Sega Saturn games. Unlike the Rhea, the Saroo is a cartridge which slots into the back of the console - requiring no installation or modification.

As good as this sounds, the team behind the device have been missing in action since late 2014. Whether or not the device was discontinued or ever finished remains to be known.

Link: Saroo Official Website (Sega Saturn ISO Loading Cartridge)


 

Sega Dreamcast Optical Drive Replacements & Adapters

Sega-Dreamcast-Optical-Disc-Drive-Replacement

GDEmu

As mentioned above, the GDEmu is the equivalent to the Sega Saturn’s Rhea - a complete replacement for the Sega Dreamcast’s disc drive which can boot games from SD card. By simply opening up the console, disconnecting the disc drive and connecting the GDEmu to the orphaned cable, you’ll be able to access a wealth of classics without a disc in sight.

Out of the box the GDEmu’s approach to selecting which game you want to play is rather archaic. Games need to be placed on the SD card in individual folders named as numbers. By default the device will load the first numbered folder, and in order to move on to the next a button needs to be pressed on the GDEmu.

This fiddly approach has since been addressed with some homebrew software known as GDmenu. By placing this package as the first game in folder number one, a menu driven interface will appear on screen each time you boot the console - allowing you to choose any game from the list without needing to touch the device.

Once equipped with the correct software, there’s nothing that can rival the GDEmu. Having said that though, like the Rhea the creator is often inundated with requests for the device and more than likely sold out. Visit the official website often and you may be in luck.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Perfect Compatibility, Fast Loading
  • Cons: Requires installation by opening up your console, no built-in menu software

Link: Buy GDEmu (Sega Dreamcast Disc Drive Replacement)


Dreamcast SD Card Adapter

Before the GDEmu arrived on the scene, homebrew developers devised a way to load software onto the Sega Dreamcast using the serial port on the back. Although a breakthrough at the time, the serial port suffers from a very slow transfer rate and incompatibility issues. This is turn saw games needing to be modified, stripped of content, and patched to run from SD card via the device.

While this may be a good cheap alternative to the GDEmu, you do get what you pay for. As of late the SD card adapter has been rather tricky to locate, with the few still out there often appearing for sale via eBay.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Cheap
  • Cons: Outdated, poor compatibility, slow transfer rates

Link: Dreamcast SD Card Adapter


Dreamcast IDE Modification

If you’re low on funds, skilled with a soldering iron, and desperate to play Dreamcast games then read on. There is an incredibly complicated and tricky method for attaching hard drives to the console by soldering a female IDE connector to the console’s motherboard.

Given the difficulty and damage that can be done to your Dreamcast, we recommend going for one of the alternatives above. If you’re curious though, guides online explain the method rather well with what appears to be decent results.

Link: Dreamcast IDE Modification Guide


 

Other Consoles

Amstrad GX4000

Amstrad-GX4000-C4CPC-Flash-Card

C4CPC

Although the Amstrad GX4000 is often ignored for its low sales figures, poor design and lacklustre library, fans have since fought back and made the system relevant. The newly released C4CPC flash cartridge not only gives retro gamers the ability to play all the GX4000 games from flash cartridge, but converted Amstrad CPC games too.

While the selection of converted Amstrad CPC games is limited to what’s been patched by the community, new releases are arriving every day and making this a surefire way to enjoying the micro-computer without needing to unpack the keyboard-long system and accompanying monitor.

The C4CPC can be ordered through the CPCWiki forums. It’s worth noting too that it is highly recommended that you invest in a new power supply for your system if using the C4CPC. The one supplied for the console does not provide enough juice to both the flash cartridge and console, which has supposedly damaged some systems. Full details can be found within the device’s CPCWiki page.

  • Storage: MicroSD Cards
  • Pros: Fantastic compatibility, can run patched Amstrad CPC games
  • Cons: Bare board cartridge due to the small size of hucards

Link: C4CPC Flash Cartridge at CPCWiki


 

Atari 2600

Atari-2600-SD-Card-Flash-Cartridge

Harmony

Fans of Atari’s early gaming console will be pleased to know there’s an all-in-one solution at the ready. The recently revised Harmony cartridge is capable of playing just about every Atari 2600 game ever made.

The only thing to note with the Harmony cartridge is that you’ll not only need to flash firmware that matches your console’s region, but also ensure that your game ROMs match too. This can be rather tricky for PAL gamers, as locating the correct ROM files can be a pain.

  • Storage: SD or MicroSD Cards
  • Pros: Fantastic compatibility
  • Cons: Set-up required depending on your console’s region

Link: Buy Atari 2600 Harmony Flash Cartridge


Atari 5200

Atarimax Atari 5200 Ultimate SD

Very much like the Atari 2600’s Harmony flash cartridge, fans of the more recent Atari 5200 also have access to a definitive solution to quickfire gaming. Flash cartridge manufacturers Atarimax have released an updated version of their Atari 5200 Ultimate that runs from SD cards.

Boasting compatibility with all standard and bak-switched game ROMs, this menu-driven flash cartridge is yet to be bettered.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Fantastic compatibility
  • Cons: None

Link: Buy Atarimax Atari 5200 Ultimate SD


Atari Lynx

Mateos Atari Lynx Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 16 in 1

Fans of the Atari Lynx are finally in luck as there’s a flash cartridge available for the system. The Mateos Atari Lynx Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 16 in 1 can be written to with a USB linker, with space for up to sixteen different games. Although limited, there doesn’t seem to be any other Atari Lynx flash cartridge available elsewhere.

The most quirky aspect to this device is that the games have to be selected through twisting a dial on flash cartridge itself. An added bonus of the kit too is that the same creator has made Watara / Quickshot Supervision and Vectrex cartridges too, meaning you only need the one USB linker.

  • Storage: Rewritable Flash Memory
  • Pros: Only one of its kind, cheap and shared USB linker
  • Cons: Limited storage space, unusual game selection method

Link: Buy Mateos Atari Lynx Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 16 in 1


Colecovision

Colecovision Ultimate SD Cartridge

Identical in form to the aforementioned Atarimax Atari 5200 Ultimate SD, the Colecovision’s equivalent is something fans of the system don’t want to miss. The Colecovision Ultimate SD Cartridge offers compatibility with all standard 32K or less ROM images, along with more advanced titles such as Mario Bros with functionality for Mega-Cart Bank-switched ROM images up to 512kb.

And if that last sentence made sense to you, you’ll no doubt need to consider picking one of these up.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Fantastic compatibility
  • Cons: None

Link: Buy Colecovision Ultimate SD Cartridge


NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16

Turbo Everdrive

Surprise surprise, Krikzz is once again the forerunner when it comes to the TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine consoles. The Turbo Everdrive is exactly what you’d expect it to be, a microSD card enabled device that can load just about every hucard ever made into memory.

The device works on both American and Japanese consoles with ease, and the entire library of PC Engine software can be squished onto a tiny 128mb microSD card. And even better, the largest game ever made for the console works on the Turbo Everdrive too, Street Fighter II.

  • Storage: MicroSD Cards
  • Pros: Fantastic compatibility, quick loading, on-board reset button
  • Cons: Bare board cartridge due to the small size of hucards

Link: Buy Turbo Everdrive (TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine Flash Cartridge)

Link: Buy Turbo Everdrive (TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine Flash Cartridge)


Panasonic 3DO

Panasonic 3DO USB Host

Over in the depths of Russia is an incredibly talented individual that refuses to let the Panasonic 3DO die out. Similar to the likes of the Dreamcast’s GDEmu, the Panasonic 3DO now has a USB stick driven alternative to the on-board disc drive.

Coming in a wide range of flavours for the different Panasonic 3DO systems out there, the Panasonic 3DO USB Host allows gamers to plug in any USB memory stick to the console to read games directly from. The USB Host emulates the 3DO’s disc drive perfectly, providing 100% perfect compatibility with every single game ever released for the multimedia platform.

As great as this is, the range of devices available are very expensive and difficult to source. Some of them require advanced installations (removing chips from the console’s motherboard), while others are solderless plug-and-play solutions. Either way, you’ll need to do some research at the link below should you be interested.

  • Storage: USB Memory Sticks
  • Pros: Perfect compatibility, quick loading, menu driven interface
  • Cons: Expensive, difficult installation on some models

Link: Buy Panasonic 3DO USB Host


 

Sony PlayStation 1

PlayStation-1-ISO-Loader-PSIO

PSIO

Believe it or not, a device is nearing release that can play Sony PlayStation discs from SD card. The upcoming PSIO slots into the parallel port of the older PlayStation models, and with a bit of modification to the motherboard can turn the 32-bit system into a powerhouse.

As of speaking the PSIO is in a beta testing phase, however, will soon become available.

Link: PSIO Official Website


SNK Neo Geo Pocket

Neo Geo Pocket Flashmasta

Although the Neo Geo Pocket may have one of the smallest gaming libraries around, its fan base is pretty loyal and dedicated to the device. This in turn has seen the arrival of the Neo Geo Flashmasta and linker - a rewritable flash cartridge with its own USB writer.

Unfortunately the creator behind this device recently discontinued the cartridge linker, meaning those wanting to pick one up will need to look for secondhand units. That said it was discontinued for a good reason - the creator believes he has devised a much better method of writing to the cartridge that will be included in a newer version that’s yet to be released.

Link: Neo Geo Pocket Flashmasta Official Website


Vectrex

VecMulti

The Vectrex may be one of the oldest consoles around, but nothing beats the crisp visuals it vector display offers. Fans of the system will be pleased to know a MicroSD card enabled flash cartridge is available for the Vectrex, however, it’s gone AWOL as of late.

The official website for the VecMulti has since disappeared, and there doesn’t seem to be an alternative retailer for it. There is an alternative on offer though…

Link: (Currently down) VecMulti Official Website


Vectrex 72-in-1 Multicart

For most of us, the Vectrex 72-in-1 cartridge will be more than enough to get your vector graphics fix. Coming pre-loaded with a wide selection of commercial games and homebrew releases, this is possibly the only legal multicartridge out there after the system’s library was put into the public domain in the mid-90s.

While official stock of the multicartridge is running low (and only available as a bare bones PCB), online retailers such as Retro Towers also have the device in stock.

Link: Vectrex 72-in-1 Multicart Official Website

Link: Vectrex 72-in-1 Multicart at Retro Towers


Mateos Vectrex Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 16 in 1

If the aforementioned Vectrex cartridges are not to your fancy, there’s one more option available. Up to sixteen different games can be written to the The Mateos Vectrex Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 16 in 1 through its accompanying USB linker.

The most quirky aspect to this device is that the games have to be selected through twisting a dial on flash cartridge itself. An added bonus of the kit too is that the same creator has made Watara / Quickshot Supervision and Atari Lynx cartridges too, meaning you only need the one USB linker.

  • Storage: Rewritable Flash Memory
  • Pros: Only one of its kind, cheap and shared USB linker
  • Cons: Limited storage space, unusual game selection method

Link: Buy Mateos Vectrex Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 16 in 1


Watara / Quickshot Supervision

Mateos Watara Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 8 in 1

The Supervision is an odd handheld, originally pitched as a cheaper alternative to the Game Boy. While it did exactly what it promised, the low quality releases for the system meant that it didn’t last long.

As of today those still feeling fond of the system can rest assured knowing there’s a flash cartridge available for the system. The Mateos Watara Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 8 in 1 can be written to with a USB linker, with space for up to eight different games. Although limited, this rewritable cartridge is the only of its kind available for the Supervision and incredibly cheap too. Once coupled with the required USB linker, you’ll be spending no more than 47 Euros including postage to get yours.

The most quirky aspect to this device is that the games have to be selected through twisting a dial on flash cartridge itself. An added bonus of the kit too is that the same creator has made Atari Lynx and Vectrex cartridges too, meaning you only need the one USB linker.

  • Storage: Rewritable Flash Memory
  • Pros: Only one of its kind, cheap and shared USB linker
  • Cons: Limited storage space, unusual game selection method

Link: Buy Mateos Watara Rewritable Multigame Cartridge 8 in 1


Wonderswan

Wonderswan Flashmasta

The team behind the Neo Geo Pocket Flashmasta are also working on a flash cartridge solution for the Bandai Wonderswan. As it stands the only rewritable cartridge out there to date is the elusive Wondermagic cartridge which saw a limited run in the Far East when the handheld was still being manufactured.

The Wonderswan Flashmasta is still very much in development, but updates are often posted on the official website.

Link: Wonderswan Flashmasta Official Website


 

Home Computers

Atari 400/800/XL/XE


BBC Micro


Coleco Adam


Commodore 64


Commodore Amiga


Commodore Vic 20


Dragon 32


MSX 1 / 2


Sega SC-3000


ZX Spectrum


 

Multiple Home Computers via Disk Drive Emulation

Amiga-Gotek-USB-Floppy-Disk-Drive

Several decades ago floppy disks were the standard format for games on home computers. As time has gone on, the floppy disk format has not only been faced with degradation, but also becoming nothing more than the ‘save icon’ with today’s generation. Nevertheless modern alternatives which mimic real disk drives are now available.


HxC2001

The incredibly versatile and oddly named HxC2001 is a direct replacement for just about any floppy disk drive. By simply hijacking a system’s floppy disk cable, the device can pretend to be a connected disk drive loading floppy images from SD card. The device also have a built-in display to show which image is currently present in memory, along with hardware buttons to switch between what’s available.

With a wide range of compatible computers and devices (and musical keyboards too), the HxC2001 is an incredible multi-system solution to floppy disk loading. Furthermore, some of the compatible systems have menu-interfaces at the ready, allowing you to choose your desired game images through the computer itself.

Compatible Systems:

  • Acorn A3000
  • Acorn BBC
  • ACT/Apricot
  • Amstrad CPC6128/CPC6128+
  • Atari ST
  • CamputerLynx
  • Commodore 64 + 1581
  • Commodore Amiga (500/600/1000/1200)
  • Dragon 32/64
  • FM Towns II
  • Kaypro 4-84
  • MS-DOS PC
  • MSX2
  • NEC PC-6601/PC6601SR
  • NEC PC88
  • Oric+MicroDisk
  • RML 380Z/480Z
  • Robotron KC 85/X
  • Sam Coupé
  • Sharp x68000
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3
  • Super Nintendo (Super Wildcard DX-SWC3201)
  • Thomson TO8D MO5 + CD90-640
  • TI99/4A
  • TRS-80

The HxC2001 can be found in a wide range of shapes and sizes to help fit inside your computer of choice. Furthermore it can be bought in a variety of places, all of which the HxC2001 website has listed.

  • Storage: SD Cards
  • Pros: Incredible multi-system compatibility
  • Cons: Same load times as a floppy disk, fiddly to use if software isn’t available for your system of choice

Link: HxC2001 Official Website


Gotek USB Floppy Emulator

Similar to the HxC2001, the Gotek USB Floppy Emulator is a direct replacement for floppy disk drives. While it may not have the same support or confirmed cross-system compatibility as the HxC2001, it has since become a strong choice for Commodore Amiga owners following its recent firmware release.

There doesn’t seem to be an official website for the Gotek USB Floppy Emulator, however further information is dotted around various blogs. With this in mind too, it seems that the best place to get the device from is eBay.

  • Storage: USB Memory Sticks
  • Pros: Slim design fits into an Amiga perfectly
  • Cons: Same load times as a floppy disk, lacks the support the HxC2001 has

Link: Find Gotek USB Floppy Emulator on eBay

 

Have We Missed Something?

As comprehensive as this guide may be, there are always new devices hitting the market. Be sure to let us know in the comments below if we're missing a flash cartridge or equivalent.


Last updated: 24th October 2015


Last Updated ( 24 October 2015 )  

Cauterize

Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

Other recent articles:

Comments 

(Link to this comment) T Moleman 2015-10-24 21:53
This is a great guide, thanks for taking the time to create it.
(Link to this comment) Anthony817 2015-10-25 06:19
You listed some pretty obscure ones I had no idea about even. I will reference this page for years to come when building up my retro system collection!

You did miss one of the ODE's for the Dreamcast though, and that was the USB-GDrom Controller. I am sure it must have just been a mistake as your site has posted about them before in the past. Anyways thanks for the extremely detailed write up!

http://www.retrocollect.com/News/usb-gdrom-controller-sega-dreamcast-gets-another-disc-drive-replacement-allowing-up-to-2tb-of-game-storage.html

Edit: Also there is a MUCH cheaper place that sells the SD adapters for the Dreamcast. The ones on eBay all want $30-$40 for them and charge a lot for shipping on top of that price.

The one here is only $14.

http://dc-sd.com/p/1/dreamcast-sd-adapter-dreamcast-sd-cardreader
(Link to this comment) Harmik 2015-10-25 06:23
Thanks for this please keep up to date if you can.

There will be some new Intellivision ones soon.

I wish someone would do one for the NeoGeo AES.
(Link to this comment) Hero30 2015-10-25 20:26
Excellent! Thanks for taking the time to research and put out this guide. Will be referring to it often!
(Link to this comment) Andreas21504 2015-10-30 12:05
A good read, thx for the info guys :-)
(Link to this comment) boneymic 2015-11-05 09:08
Great to know there are so many equipments for Retro Games
(Link to this comment) StarshipUK 2015-11-15 02:08
There are a few more mentioned at the Atari Age forums that have not been listed here, as well as being an active thread discussing upcoming devices:
http://atariage.com/forums/topic/127752-flashcart-and-multicart-list-all-systems/
(Link to this comment) Bethlemos 2016-09-08 16:31
Hey there,

you should include the DSTWO plus which features GBA, SNES, DS and even 3DS games...
(Link to this comment) Sato 2018-06-26 09:42
This is still a great guide, but should probably be updated to include the new Ez-Flash GBA carts as well as the Everdrive GBA line.
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