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Author Topic: NES/Famicom Multicarts  (Read 5109 times)

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Howard_Casto

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NES/Famicom Multicarts
« on: January 09, 2016, 11:23:13 pm »
So some vendors are starting to get in nes multicarts and apparently they don't suck.

It used to be they only sold famicom multi carts... that you would need to buy a 30 dollar adaptor to play.  That made them so costly that it kind of defeated the purpose... you were getting in the price range where it's just cheaper to buy a flash cart.  Now they are starting to do NES versions.

Found one that has all the rock mans (mega man), all the Marios, a few rare games, Castlevania, ect...  There aren't any repeats to my knowledge... it's legitimately 150 games.  It's only 16 bucks as well.  That's 74 dollars cheaper than the cheapest nes flash cart!

There are other ones as well, 198 in 1, 400 in 1, ect. but a lot of those have repeats... the 400 in 1 counts all it's hacks (for cheat codes) as games.  If you want to just try them all I believe there is a combo set where you can buy all 4 of the ones currently available for under 60 dollars.

Some of the auctions show pics of what is inside the shells.... it's the original famicom versions with a 72 pin adaptor stuck on the end.  So free adaptor for imports... bonus!  This also means you can buy multi-carts and bootlegs of famicom games, which are often much cheaper than their nes counterparts.

There are a few issues commonly associated with these carts... some of the Nintendo games have had their title screens altered to avoid copyright, some of the games are inexplicably the EU versions, ect.... For the price though it's pretty good from what I've been told.

I'm interested in hacking these but I'm unsure where to start.  Apparently people have examined the games and even though there are repeats, the 400 in 1 legitimately has room for 400 games.  It's be nice to load proper, unmutilated roms onto a couple of these.   The chips appear to be surface mount, which makes me think they would have to be programmed after they are installed by a serial connection.  Maybe there are pins on the pcb?

So anyway I was just curious if you guys are interested in them, or if you've bought any in the past, ect.

thomas_surles

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2016, 04:03:40 am »
I haven't tried one but that was a good read. It would be interesting if you could hack it with a programmer or something and pick which particular rom you want to load on it rather than being stuck with the pre sets. Like make it into a cart with just homebrew titles or your favorites list.

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2016, 04:47:29 am »
Yeah.  There's a bootlegs wiki on the net (not sure if I can link to it) and it goes into as much detail as possible in regards to the carts and their game lists and tech. 

I think the largest one ever made is only around 32mb, but that's a fifth of the NES library right there.  If you made a list of games that you like, I doubt it'd be much bigger than that.  What interests me is the fact that these multi-carts use solid state proms to store that games.  Not only is it much cheaper, but since that's that same type of storage real nes carts used, there isn't any of this dumping a rom from a sd card to prom nonsense.  So no waiting. 

I'm waiting for my xmas bills to come in so they can be taken care of, and then I'm going to order one and immediately rip it apart.  ;)

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2016, 07:08:35 am »
keep us posted. I'm interested in seeing what you can find. hopefully there isn't. a lot of tiny desoldering involved. I wish it could be as simple as dumping a chip on a programmer. I don't really what goes into programming a nes game on a cart, but they get them on there somehow right?

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2016, 11:48:57 pm »
Well they are really tiny chips, but obviously they had to be programmed somehow.  I'm hoping it's post-assembly.  There's one particular 150 in 1 variant I'm really interested in.  It allows for a full-color thumbnail of each game, which if you've ever used a text only game list, REALLY helps. 

I figure even if I manage to hack one, it's going to be really crude... like having to replace games with ones of the same size, ect.  That shouldn't be an issue though because some of the larger games are already on these carts. 

I'm also curious about expanding the audio.  Like I said, these carts are famicom with an adaptor, so the extra pins can be exposed and exploited.  I know the castlevania games have the extra audio processor right on the cart and you can just tap the pin and mix it in via standard rca connectors.  I'm fairly confident in at least pulling that off. 

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2016, 12:18:18 am »
if there is a size limit like what you are talking about, where it needs to be the same size. you might be able to pull this off with dummy files. I mean that's what they do with some of the console iso when they have to be the full dvd size.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 01:27:16 am by thomas_surles »

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 01:14:45 pm »
It shouldn't be an issue.  In general at least all nes games were the same size, until a better chip came out and then the max size was upped ect.....  The game logic doesn't care if extra bits contain garbage, or anything really. 

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2016, 04:43:01 am »
Just an update/clarification.  Even though there are pics of these with a pin adaptor in place, apparently that was older versions of the multicarts with crappier gamelists.  The newest version with the rock mans most likely doesn't come with an adaptor. 

pbj

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2016, 11:08:08 am »
Bust out the credit card, Howard.


Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2016, 12:46:20 am »
I had to get some stuff squared away first, but I ordered one just a few min ago.  I've noticed a few of the carts have a note in their description where they will fill custom orders with custom gamelists for bulk orders.  If hacking doesn't pan out, perhaps we could get them to make a blank cart with means for us to burn our own roms?

Btw off topic, but in regards to that other stuff I had to get squared away..... if you have an amazon store card (not a visa, the store card) I suggest you cancel that pos right now. 

[rant]
I signed up for it a year ago just to get a gift card and I finally decided to use it to separate some gifts for xmas (I'm the computer guy in the family so apparently I have to order everyone elses' stuff).  I went to check the card and it wouldn't let me log in.  Well it turns out the card wasn't activated... and yet it allowed me to charge around 200 bucks on it.  So I activated it, signed in and there wasn't a way to set a payment date...... Turns out you have to link with a bank account to pay it manually and if you want to send in a check, you have to write the company by hand and send in a check.  I finally found an option to send me a statement.... it never came....They send me an email today saying that they can't send me a statement because there isn't a balance.  Not true.... if I sign in I can clearly see the balance yet for due date and amount due it says "none n/a".  There's no way to contact them either other than writing a letter....in 2016.  Turns out they are trying to get me to NOT pay the balance because it's one of those deals where it's no interest for 12 months but if you don't pay the balance in full within that 12 months you have to pay a years worth of interest at a rate of 26 percent.  So I gave up and paid the balance via a check routing number.  I'm going to cancel the card next month.  I mean maybe I'm just too dumb to understand but it seemed extremely shadie compared to my chase amazon card which I can't say enough good things about.  [/rant]
« Last Edit: January 14, 2016, 12:48:20 am by Howard_Casto »

mike boss

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2016, 01:29:55 am »
I'd be very interested with a multi-cart at a great price with a great selection of games !

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2016, 04:47:26 pm »
Well with any luck mine will arrive by spring.  It's the only bad thing about ordering stuff from China. 

I've been researching them online in the meantime and I think getting the manufacturers to make us a custom cart might be the best bet.  It's not that I think it's impossible to hack them, it's just those traces look awfully small in the pictures.  Maybe we could do a kickstarter or something. 

Locke141

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2016, 07:11:01 am »
This sounds like fun. Keep us posted.

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2016, 06:37:36 pm »
Well I've been reading up on the concept of a nes multicart and it's rather fascinating.  It might be a bit above my pay grade, I could certainly use help on a few areas, but I don't think it would be that hard to make a custom one. 

The menu itself is the hardest thing, you've basically got to make a nes game, only it's just a menu.  There are a few open source examples floating around the interwebs though. 

Basically for the games themselves you split the rom into the program rom and graphic rom and add them, in order to rather large memory chips that are big enough to hold multiple carts.  You put the graphics and logic for the menu in the first slot.  The menu will do a soft reset and boot the selected rom, which reads relative memory positions instead of absolute ones, so the game thinks it's a regular cart. 

The only issue is the memory mapper chips (MMCs).  They are proprietary Nintendo chips and while you can mimic their function via a field programmable gate array (FPGA), you are beginning to blur the line between playing the game on a real NES and simulating components.  Also most multi-carts only support games that run on one particular MMC, or similar MMCs for that very reason.    There are lots of advantages though, namely cost and load time.  A multi-cart game loads instantly.... no need to dump it from a sd onto a chip.  Sure you can't fit a full library on a multi-cart, but they are so cheap you can buy 5 for the going rate of a flash cart with a case, which allows 800+ games.  So it's about the same difference if you are going for a full set. 

I'm just spit-balling here, maybe nothing will come from it, but I'm willing to explore our options as I'm not super fond of some of these flash carts.  They get the job done mind you, but a non-graphical list is kind of archaic. 

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2016, 03:56:12 pm »
So my cart finally came in.  I haven't tried it yet but I have taken it apart (yeah I'm weird, I know).  The build quality is rather impressive considering the low cost.  I inspected the board and there are some exposed traces but most of them I've already identified as those solder-point dip switches found on nes carts.... like the horizontal/vertical rom ordering dip, ect.....  I'll keep at it. 

pbj

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2016, 04:04:21 pm »
Pull the potato out of your pocket and snap a few pics.


Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2016, 09:23:28 pm »
I'm really bad at taking pics of pcbs, but I'll try here in a minute. 

So I tried the cart..... the first thing that becomes apparent is that I need a better upscaler.... my eyes are toast. 

The games all work fine though and the list is rather impressive.  Sure there are some oddball ones missing like the zeldas, punch out, kid Icarus and Metroid, but for the most part this is a list of all the best games on the system.  One oddity is that all of the river city ransom games are on there, by that I mean all those games that use the character sprites based on that manga.  Mind you most of them are good, but they aren't particularly popular here in the west and it takes up like 10-15 slots.  The little thumbnail system works pretty well... it looks like they allocated 4 sprites and 4 background tiles per game to make up a preview image, which is small, but it's enough in most cases.  I obviously haven't tried them all, but I tried some of the ones that would be likely to give issue.  Bayou Billy's wavy title screen still works.  The only two that I noticed having issues were oddly enough SMB 2 and SMB 3.  2 Plays it's music too fast.  I think it's the pal rom and with these carts pressing reset a few times often puts the game in pal mode.  SMB 3 doesn't have a title at the title screen.  I'm pretty sure every US household was issued a copy of smb 1-3 though, so no big deal. 

The boards look very similar to a small website that makes repro carts, so I'll throw some pics up and maybe we can figure out what is going on. 

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2016, 04:47:47 pm »
Well I tried for about a half an hour on a couple of cameras and I couldn't get a good pic.  I'd just scan it with my scanner, but there are sharp parts and I don't want scratches on the glass.  Anyway I'll try my best. 

The first pic is just so we are all on the same page in regards to what multicart I'm talking about.  I was actually surprised at the quality of the shell.  Aside from the red color it's identical to the official nes ones.  It even has the benzene warning on the back. 

The next two pics are the front and back respectively.  As you can see there are many contact points on both sides.... some are obviously for extra chips, some are dip switches and others... well I don't know. 

Since the pics aren't real great I'll take an afternoon and write the chip names on all the pics as well as any other text I can find. 
« Last Edit: January 30, 2016, 05:59:17 pm by Howard_Casto »

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2016, 06:21:30 pm »
Ok on the battery side the chip says:

HSRM20255LM10
F31M 271
Japan

The text in the upper left corner says "Pocket games" which seems to be the brand name of these boards.

As you can see there is what looks like a place to connect a chip as well as a few dip points.  The one on the right hand side of the battery is closed.  The one next to the chip looks like a solid blob in my cruddy pic, but it's actually 3, and the top two are closed together.  It's labeled "j8". 

---------------------------------------
The back of the pcb:

It says UNION at the top... it appears to be the pcb manufacturer.  The serial on the upper right reads: SMD157D-72  (72 most likely stands for 72 pin as there is a famicom version of this cart).  The large white text in the lower right says SMD151212. 

On the top left hand side there are solder points for what looks like a diode, a dip and another diode respectively labeled D1 R1 and D2.  Since it's labeled R1 maybe the dip is actually a spot for a resistor?

There is a blank spot for a chip on the left labeled  U6 and a chip labeled U9 below it. 

The large chip to the left is labeled U3 and reads:
MXIC 81325
29GL256EHMC-90Q
3P060800
TAIWAN

The square chip in the center is labeled U1 and reads:

SMD132
2015.11.18

 The solder pads (for a dip) to the left of that chip are labeled 5/6K.  The one below and to the right is labeled H/V (the rom order dip).  The rest of the dip pads on this side of the pcb are unlabeled.

As for the rest of the chips on this side, they are frikkin small and I'm an old man so cut me some slack.  Once I find my magnifying glass I'll add them. 







Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2016, 02:16:41 am »
Well I knew it was a good idea to look at the inside of the cart before I started playing.  I've spent all day playing Little Samson.  That game is surprisingly good considering it's rarity (a rare nes game usually equates to a crappy nes game). 

So anyway, after looking over the cart, the traces are just too darn small to even think of replacing the chips, ect.  I'm thinking that the best route might be to contact the manufacturer directly and see about getting a blank cart made that we can program with an Arduino or something.  I know the language barrier is going to make that hard though. 

Anybody want to help me out phrasing a message?

pbj

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2016, 12:49:11 pm »
I had been really hoping this thing would have USB headers on the board. 

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2016, 02:54:32 pm »
Well there are some contact points on the back, but without a spec sheet I'm not exactly sure how I could figure out their function. 

They offer to make custom runs so I've got to think that there is a way to program them. 

mike boss

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2016, 11:15:54 am »
Hey Howard,

as is, just ordering that cart online, you think it's worth it ?
I'm really craving retro game play as of late and wanted to go out today and pick up a RetroN1 ($30 locally).
I was hoping a cart like this would work.

Thanks

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2016, 12:43:23 pm »
For 15 bucks... sure it's worth it.  Just keep one thing in mind.  The games it seems to give top billing, the Rockman games, are in Japanese.  So if you want to read the dialog in the games (not much of it) you are SOL.   There doesn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason as to which ones are Japanese either, although most have English text. 

Oh something I ran across last night.... the most horrible port of Altered Beast is included in the cart.  Gameplay wise it's pretty perfect, but there is next to no sound and the sprites are so small that only the top half of the screen is used.  It looks like ports of Toki and possibly Bonk are on there as well.  I haven't had time to try them all. 

mike boss

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2016, 10:36:36 pm »
$15 ? WOW !

I saw these for $60 or so, I gotta find your source!
I'm in Canada, so it will be a little more, but from $15 to $60 is a HUGE leap.

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2016, 10:23:40 pm »
I also noticed they're selling single game cartridges for $20.  Pcb looks almost identical to yours...

 :dunno

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2016, 02:02:26 pm »
I placed my order, I'm excited for this to come in.
Should be any day now I suspect.
Looking forward to having some retro fun.

Its motivated me to source out other multicarts or EverDrive type devices.

Super excited ! Thanks again Howard

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #27 on: April 11, 2016, 01:15:53 pm »

This mult-cart FINALLY came in on Friday.
I've been too busy to pop it into the Retron.
(yep, for simplicity I went out and bought one!) 
This week I hope to partake in some 8 bit goodness. 

I'd actually like to build a collection and get a few of these, I'm sure I'll get a ton of repeat games, but for the price they can't be beat.

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2016, 12:37:17 pm »
Just joined to add my experience.

I recently bought a Mega Man 6 in 1 multi-cart and had a chance to test it today.

The circuit is the SMD157D-72 with the UNION label obverse Pocket Games reverse.

Everything looks in good order and with that I tested it. First I ran it on a clone system, specifically the Tri-Star Super 8 piggy-back system that goes on a Super Nintendo. Notably, MM2, 3, & 6 all failed to work or locked up very early on. MM1 & 2 had sound issues and was rather garbled.

I then go to my original Toaster NES and the issues with MM2, 3, & 6 go away and everything runs/loads. However, the music in 1 & 2 still sounds poor and as such I opened the cart up to see if there are any issues. Everything looks clean and proper even upon close inspection so it may be the romset that was initially used, or the mapper set.

I've consulted with the seller and am awaiting to hear back and once I do I'll see if this is an isolated problem or a widespread issue.

[Vendorname and link removed per Rule 5 -- Scott]
« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 04:25:58 pm by PL1 »

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2016, 02:44:40 pm »
I had some issues with sound, but resetting it a few times made it go away.  You'll have to ask the vendor, but I believe resetting X number of times switches from ntsc to pal. 

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #30 on: April 15, 2016, 04:35:21 pm »
So how soon until someone starts taking the single game PCBs and selling them on E-bay as originals?  Those hipsters will never know the difference.

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #31 on: April 15, 2016, 07:54:50 pm »
We are probably still a ways off on that.  They are selling these multi-carts for 15-20 bucks a pop and for the majority of the nes library, the originals don't cost that much.  I mean sure if you buy them on eBay or Amazon......

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #32 on: April 16, 2016, 03:18:02 pm »
I saw some sellers selling custom individual games, you pick the game and the shell color and for $15/20 your set.
I actually sent a message to a couple sellers looking to get a custom ROM set.
I'd love Kid Icarus, Punch Out, Super Spike V-Ball, and 8 Eyes. I don't recall seeing those specific titles on any multicart.

If the price is good I'd simply review the entire US ROM set and make my selections. Even if I need to order 10 pcs I'd consider it.
Trying to sell the others locally via Kijiji, etc.

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #33 on: April 16, 2016, 06:25:01 pm »
Well what I mean is most of the expensive nes carts run on the same mapper on a very inexpensive game.  It's still cheaper to take a real game, desolder the chips and put in new ones. 

Also most of the high-end collectors know what they are looking for and won't even buy a cart without taking it apart first.

mike boss

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #34 on: April 17, 2016, 12:42:15 am »
I wish the manufacturer would make a set. Carts 1 thru 4 (or more if needed) and simply split up the complete US library. To me that would be ideal. Outside of that I'm waiting on pricing for a custom cart.

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #35 on: April 17, 2016, 03:00:08 am »
I've been looking into that.  I think a lot of the reason is the fact that they haven't figured out all of the carts yet.  Do you wonder why Castlevania 3 isn't on the cart but 1 and 2 are?  It's because 3 uses a rather rare mapper and custom sound chip.  There are a sizeable chunk of games that do odd stuff like that, making it impossible to get them running on the hardware they are using now. 

I think they could do half the library though... maybe two thirds. 

pbj

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #36 on: April 17, 2016, 10:09:28 am »
If I win the lottery I'm gonna buy every copy of Castlevania 3 and burn it so I never have to hear about it again.


mike boss

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #37 on: April 24, 2016, 02:31:13 pm »
All in all I like this cart.
For the money you can not go wrong. (IMHO)
I'd actually like to get a few others to be honest, even if I got a ton of duplicate games if they offered 2 or 3 titles I wanted I would not be opposed. I looked into the 400-in-1 and was disappointed in the games list.

I went through the NES US releases and made a list of my favorites, sadly certain "gems" that I wanted were not included.

I'm not versed in the technical side of these, but I wonder why big titles like Punch-Out or Battletoads, Kid Icarus & Metal Gear are missing.

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #38 on: April 24, 2016, 06:38:59 pm »
It's probably a lot of reasons, but some of it probably has to do with different regions having different tastes.  Mike Tyson's Punch-out was made specifically for the west.  Even when it down-graded to regular Punch-Out I don't think it sold well in Asia.  Battletoads was a western property.  The pc engine was quite popular in Japan and the rest of Asia and the NES version of Metal Gear is actually a horribly butchered port.  I mean they even changed the story significantly.  As for some of the classics like Kid Icarus, Metroid and ect... I honestly don't know. 

mike boss

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Re: NES/Famicom Multicarts
« Reply #39 on: April 24, 2016, 08:37:34 pm »
Odd I guess!  ???

I still say I'd like to see a set of carts containing what they could of the complete US library.
I think that would be super cool.

I'm actually looking into getting some of the SD cart options. The Sega Genesis one is quite reasonable, the SNES & N64 substantially more.
Being in Canada with a weal dollar I'll wait a lil bit.

  
 

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