Can flashcarts really help the retro video game market?

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Initially published on April 19th 2018 on Steemit

Source: iPhone, Tigerfog

You’re probably asking yourself how a flashcart can be a good thing for the retro video game market when it’s possible to load games into these cartridges and play them on original hardware without paying for the original copies. This may seem odd but even though I own a few flashcarts myself, I noticed this has led me to buy more games. Here’s my take on the subject.

Some will prefer to play on the real console

Super Mario Land 2 Color Version – Gameboy Color
Source: iPhone, Tigerfog

Half the fun of playing video games comes from actually inserting the game cartridge or disc into the console, turning it on and watching the title screen while holding the original controller in your hands.

It’s true that with very little effort, it’s easy to download a game and just play it on an emulator and I believe that’s what a lot of people did when they were younger with loads of free time but not as much money. If that’s the case, how is this helping the video game market? It’s simply by allowing people to try out games before purchasing them during this day and age where it’s next to impossible to rent games out of a rental store let alone find one that actually lets you rent 20-year-old games.

While there will always be people unwilling to pay for games they can find online for free, there will also be people wanting the real official game carts to get the genuine gaming experience. Besides, some games aren’t 100% playable on either an emulator or with a flashcart like Lagrange Point on Famicom where the sound is imperfect because of the VRC7 soundchip or Super Mario RPG on SNES which isn’t playable on any flashcart because none of them support the SA1 chip.

It’s convenient for collectors with truckloads of games

Pokémon Émeraude (Resolute Version) – Gameboy Advance
Source: iPhone, Tigerfog

Just because people have a humongous game collection doesn’t mean they take pleasure in spending hours going through their big shelves trying to locate the game they want to play. It may be possible some of them actually buy less games so they’ll spend less time going through their collection. Also, having a CIB (complete in box) collection will only cause them to spend more time than necessary opening the box, taking the game out, inserting it into the console and turning it on. Having their collection in one flashcart will greatly reduce the time spent looking for games they want to play. It may also encourage collectors to buy more games and back them up into the flashcart for later use.

It allows you to try out game hacks

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (with gothic artwork instead of anime) – Nintendo DS
Source: iPhone, Tigerfog

Many creative people on the Internet have modified existing games to turn them into alternate versions and there’s even a market for physical copies of these reproduction carts. Unfortunately, some of these games have to be sacrified in order to create newer products. Even if there’s a way to create reproduction carts using only brand-new material like a blank PCB (printed circuit board), some games require special chips that aren’t sold in stores (e.g. the SDD-1 chip for Street Fighter Alpha 2 on SNES) so the only way to make your own reproduction cart is to replace the original EEPROM chip on the game PCB with the one with the hack in it thus destroying the original game. That’s why flashcarts allow people who aren’t interested in having physical copies of game hacks to enjoy them knowing no game was sacrificed for it.

It allows you to play import games in your own language

Metroid – Famicom Disk System
Akumajou Densetsu / Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse – Famicom
Ranma 1/2 Chougi Ranbu-hen / Ranma 1/2 Hard Battle II – Super Famicom
Source: iPhone, Tigerfog

This follows the same reasoning as the one from the previous section with game hack but here, it simply applies to translated games.

Not all flashcarts are recommended

Mega Everdrive X7 (v2)
Superufo Pro 8
Source: iPhone, Tigerfog

Unfortunately, there are some flashcarts that can damage or even destroy your console in a long run because of a design flaw on the PCB by the manufacturer. In my case, I only learned about this long after I received a Superufo Pro 8 for the SNES and bought a Mega Everdrive X7 (v2) for the Genesis/Megadrive. I’ve since stopped using them and it’s a shame since the Superufo Pro 8 allowed me to backup my SNES or Super Famicom games and the Mega Everdrive X7 was the most advanced model by its creator, Krikzz.

For more details concerning the damage some flashcarts can do to your console, check out this article by René from db-electronics.

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