Is there a benefit with flash carts over a regular multi-game cart?

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    • Is there a benefit with flash carts over a regular multi-game cart?

      Please can someone explain the benefits of flash carts like the Darksoft MVS multi or the CPS-2 multi over a regular multi-game cart?

      I'm not criticizing the approach. I think it is fantastic that Darksoft (and others) are creating ways for us to experience rare games on original hardware. I just don't understand why it is better to flash one game at a time into rom instead of having enough memory for all the games?

      In the 80's and early 90's, the cost of rom and other types of memory was high and most of the cheaper alternatives were slow but things are different now. There are a number of options for fast high speed storage. Those 161 in 1 MVS carts show how it is possible to make carts with a lot of games for very little money.

      It's unfortunate that someone decided to fill those MVS 161 in 1 carts with a bunch of bootlegs that nobody cares about and 20 too many King of Fighters versions but, it shows that it wouldn't be too hard or expensive for someone to create a multi-cart with every official Neo Geo game and another with every CPS2 game etc. I was kinda hoping that someone would have found a way to hack one of the 161 in 1 carts to replace bootlegs with the genuine missing titles like Fatal Fury Special and Art of Fighting 3.

      So, what is the reason for flashing one game at a time when the main purpose of these flash carts is to allow people to play the entire library of a platform on real hardware?

      Is there a limitation with the Neo Geo and CPS hardware that would prevent it ever being possible to load games straight from a hard drive or from RAM, or from a Network like the Naomi / Raspberry PI set-ups?
    • Legalities. Reputable people like the Darksoft team don't won't to be facing copyright infringement by distributing products with illegal content. China is a different story, they can pretty much pirate anything without consequence.

      One benefit of an SD card approach is the end user can load whatever they want, with the Chinese multi carts you're stuck with whatever they give you.
    • Zebra wrote:

      Is there a limitation with the Neo Geo and CPS hardware that would prevent it ever being possible to load games straight from a hard drive or from RAM, or from a Network like the Naomi / Raspberry PI set-ups?
      The limitation is the way in which the hardware loads the ROMs, my understanding is the CPS multi and MVS flashcart is effectively reprogramming ROMs on demand which the hardware would then read as per an original cart or romset. The comparison to the Naomi isn't really fair as the netboot feature is part of the naomi hardware (well netdimm), something in fact many would like to do away with and replace with a Naomi multicart (ahem darksoft).
    • Zebra wrote:

      Please can someone explain the benefits of flash carts like the Darksoft MVS multi or the CPS-2 multi over a regular multi-game cart?
      Darksoft MVS is capable of simulating every cartridge type, where as the 161 multi cart simply cannot. Not even in the same realm of comparison.

      I'm not aware of any other solution for CPS2.

      Zebra wrote:

      I just don't understand why it is better to flash one game at a time into rom instead of having enough memory for all the games?
      Compatible NOR Flash is actually rather expensive now-a-days

      Zebra wrote:

      There are a number of options for fast high speed storage. Those 161 in 1 MVS carts show how it is possible to make carts with a lot of games for very little money.
      Feel free to give some examples of acceptable options as well as how it would be engineered. The 161 neogeo carts are built using recycled Fujitsu SOP70 flash chips that were used in gambling machines, which are an obsolete part and no longer manufactured. We don't have the same options as Chinese manufactures who buy chips by the kilogram.

      As you have noted the 161 carts don't have the entire library with many duplicates, but it is not as simple as just 'adding the rom'. Many carts/games require specific logic and co-processors to be present to simulate the cartridge, which simple is not possible with the 161.

      Zebra wrote:

      So, what is the reason for flashing one game at a time when the main purpose of these flash carts is to allow people to play the entire library of a platform on real hardware?
      I cannot speak for Darksoft, but in my opinion it is just a function of design based on the collector scene. Most people here like their arcade machines to boot up like an original machine does, not to a menu asking you to select a game. But your question is a bit confusing as you're asking about the DS Neogeo and DS CPS2, which both function rather differently from each other.

      Zebra wrote:

      Is there a limitation with the Neo Geo and CPS hardware that would prevent it ever being possible to load games straight from a hard drive or from RAM, or from a Network like the Naomi / Raspberry PI set-ups?
      For example with the NAOMI, it loads games from a single data bus / end point -- but if you compare that to NG or CPS2, there is a data bus for each cpu program, sound, sprite graphics, tile graphics, etc. They are each independent circuits, it would have to be designed to use a SRAM chip for each bus (super limited options on compatible parts for this now, even more expensive than nor flash)
    • brizzo wrote:

      Zebra wrote:

      Please can someone explain the benefits of flash carts like the Darksoft MVS multi or the CPS-2 multi over a regular multi-game cart?
      Darksoft MVS is capable of simulating every cartridge type, where as the 161 multi cart simply cannot. Not even in the same realm of comparison.
      I'm not aware of any other solution for CPS2.
      there is this Chinese monstrosity... 14 in 1 or something from memory
      xinglisoftware.en.made-in-chin…ina-Cps2-Arcade-Game.html
    • PascalP wrote:

      brizzo wrote:

      Zebra wrote:

      Please can someone explain the benefits of flash carts like the Darksoft MVS multi or the CPS-2 multi over a regular multi-game cart?
      Darksoft MVS is capable of simulating every cartridge type, where as the 161 multi cart simply cannot. Not even in the same realm of comparison.I'm not aware of any other solution for CPS2.
      there is this Chinese monstrosity... 14 in 1 or something from memoryxinglisoftware.en.made-in-chin…ina-Cps2-Arcade-Game.html
      What about this monstrosity ?
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    • I've got the CPS1 monstrosity, truth be told, it works great and has done for a few years now. Nice onscreen menu, instant loading, and a handful of non-hacked games that run flawlessly. It has its problems but represented great value for money to me, being able to play games that cost absurd money now.
    • I understand that the currently available multi carts are not as good because of poor game choices while the flash carts made by Darksoft and others allow users to use almost any game they want.

      The part I am asking about is the process of flashing one game at a time vs loading all the games on the SD card or hard drive into high speed memory at once.

      For example, I read about a multi game cart that loads all it's games into RAM when switched on. Kinda like how a PC loads from a hard drive to RAM. Neo Geo games were considered huge (in terms of memory) in their day but in today's terms, you could fit the entire library onto your average RAM stick.

      I guess I don't have a great understanding of how the Neo Geo multi carts change from one game to another. I thought that instead of flashing one at a time, the cart works more like a very large rom cart with enough space for all the games vs a flash cart where there is enough rom space for one game at a time. Is this not correct?

      Or, do the Chinese Neo Geo multi carts work more like the Darksoft product except without the user being able to change what's on the SD card?
    • Zebra wrote:

      do the Chinese Neo Geo multi carts work more like the Darksoft product except without the user being able to change what's on the SD card?
      Your understanding of how memory works in these systems is incorrect.

      SD card is storage, but images need to be transferred to work RAM for processing.
      This is why you have a loading time, where the image is moved.

      The 161 is essentially nothing but RAM (actually ROM because its not rewritable) to the Neo-Geo motherboard.
      Nothing needs to be expanded/loaded/moved into some kind of RAM work space, it's already 100% accessible/addressable to the CPU as-is.

      Darksoft could easily release a multi just like the 161, only that would not only be illegal but users wouldn't be able to load their own ROMs/patches/homebrew/etc.
      To me, it more important that we have SD storage to customize our ROMs, even IF that comes at the performance hit of expanding/loading the ROMs into RAM.
      The legality of selling blank SD based devices is just icing on the otherwise ban piracy cake. :)
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      The post was edited 4 times, last by jassin000 ().

    • I am not suggesting that flash carts be sold with pre-loaded content. We all understand the legal issues on this topic.

      If the Neo Geo multi carts work as you described then they are exactly what I thought. I.e. Very large rom (or equivalent) carts with all the games stored in high speed memory.

      Imagine one of the 161 in 1 carts sold blank with a method for users to add their own content and that these blank carts had enough high speed memory for the whole catalog for each platform so users could reduce or eliminate loading times when changing from one game to another.

      For some reason, I feel the need to repeat, I am not asking why Darksoft doesn't include content with his carts.

      I am only asking why the multi game flash carts load content from an SD card and have enough rom for one game instead of a large (blank) cart with enough high speed memory for all the games.
    • Zebra wrote:

      Imagine one of the 161 in 1 carts sold blank with a method for users to add their own content
      But that method would be a EPROM burner, and it wouldn't be easy for the average Joe to burn.

      If you are not the average Joe, and DO have access to EPROM burners...
      This supposed device is less interesting to you already, because you've had the ability to make conversions from cheaper MVS boards for years. ;)

      Source Code

      1. Game Name PROG Board CHA Board
      2. 3 Count Bout 4096 42G-2
      3. Aero Fighters 2 GSC 256
      4. Aero Fighters 3 BK1 256
      5. Aggressors: DK TOP 256B
      6. AlphaM2/ASO II: 42G 42G
      7. Andro Dunos 16 42G-1
      8. Art of Fighting 4096 42G-1
      9. Art of F2 GSC 256
      10. Art of F3 BK1 256
      11. Bang Bead BK1 FIO
      12. Baseball Stars EP 32
      13. Baseball S2 42G-1 42G-1
      14. Blazing Star BK1 512Y
      15. Blue's Journey 8M42 8M
      16. Breakers BK1 256B
      17. BreakersRevenge BK1 512Y
      18. Burning Fight 42G 42G
      19. Bust-A-Move/PB TOP 256
      20. Bust-A-MoveEX BK1 256
      21. Captain Tomaday BK1 256
      22. Chibi Quiz BK1 256
      23. Crossed Swords 42G-1 42G-1
      24. Cyber-Lip EP 32
      25. Double Dragon TOP 256
      26. Eight Man 42G-1 42G-1
      27. Fatal Fury 42G-1 42G-1
      28. Fatal Fury 2 G2 42G-1
      29. Fatal Fury S GSC 42G-3B
      30. Fatal Fury 3 BK1 256
      31. Fight Fever GSC 256B
      32. Flip Shot BK1 256
      33. Football Frenzy 42G-1 42G-1
      34. Galaxy Fight TOP 256
      35. Ganryu / Mus BK1 FIO
      36. Garou: MotW LBA FIO
      37. Ghost Lop GSC 256
      38. Ghost Pilots 8M42 8M
      39. Goal! BK1 256
      40. Gururin 16 256
      41. Irritating Maze BK1 512Y
      42. Kabuki Klash BK1 256
      43. KarnovFHD GSC 256
      44. King of F '94 TOP 256
      45. King of F '95 BK1 256
      46. King of F '96 BK1 256
      47. King of F '97 BK1 512Y
      48. King of F '98 SF1 512Y
      49. King of F '99 LBA FIO
      50. King of F 2000 LBA FIO
      51. King of F 2001 BK2 FIO REV1.0
      52. King of F 2002 BK2 FIO
      53. King of F 2003 BK3S FIO
      54. KotM 42G-1 42G-1
      55. KotM2 16 42G-1
      56. Kizuna Encount TOP 256
      57. Last Blade BK1 512Y
      58. Last Blade 2 BK1 512Y
      59. Last Resort 42G-1 42G-1
      60. League Bowling HERO 32
      61. Legend of SJ 42G-1 42G-1
      62. Magical Drop 2 BK1 256B
      63. Magical Drop 3 BK1 256
      64. Magician Lord EP 32
      65. Mahjong Manyuki 42G-COM 42G-1
      66. Mahjong Kyore EP 32
      67. Mahjong Minna 8MB 8M
      68. Master of Syo TOP 42G-3B
      69. Matrimelee BK2 FIO
      70. Metal Slug BK1 256
      71. Metal Slug 2 BK1 512Y
      72. Metal Slug X EOP 512Y
      73. Metal Slug 3 LBA FIO
      74. Metal Slug 4 BK2 FIO
      75. Metal Slug 5 BK3S FIO
      76. Money PuzzleE BK1 42G-3B
      77. Mutation Nation 42G-1 42G-1
      78. NAM 1975 NAM 32
      79. Neo Bomberman BK1 256
      80. Neo Driftout BK1 256B
      81. Neo Geo Cup '98 BK1 512Y
      82. Neo Mr. Do! BK1 42G-3B
      83. Neo Turf Master BK1 256B
      84. Nightmare itD BK1 FIO
      85. Ninja Combat EP 32
      86. Ninja Commando 42G-1 42G-1
      87. Ninja Master's BK1 256
      88. Over Top BK1 256
      89. Panic Bomber TOP 256
      90. Pochi & Nyaa BK2 FIO
      91. Pop 'N Bounce 4096 42G-3B
      92. Power Spikes 2 TOP 256
      93. Prehistoric I2 BK1 FIO
      94. Pulstar BK1 256
      95. Puzzled/Joy Kid EP 32
      96. Puzzle de Pon! 4096 42G-2
      97. Puzzle de Pon!R 4096 42G-2
      98. Quest of Jong GSC 256
      99. Quiz Daisousa 42G 42G
      100. Rage otD BK2 FIO
      101. Ragnagard BK1 256
      102. Real Bout Fatal Fury BK1 256
      103. Real Bout Fatal Fury Special BK1 256B
      104. Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 BK1 512Y
      105. Riding Hero HERO 32
      106. Robo Army 42G-1 42G-1
      107. Samurai Shodown GSC 42G-3
      108. Samurai Shodown 2 TOP 256
      109. Samurai Shodown 3: Blades of Blood BK1 256
      110. Samurai Shodown 4: Amakusa's Revenge BK1 256B
      111. Samurai Shodown 5 BK2-R FIO
      112. Samurai Shodown 5 Special BK2-S FIO
      113. Savage Reign 4096B 42G-3
      114. Sengoku 42G 42G
      115. Sengoku 2 4096 42G-2
      116. Sengoku 3 BK1 FIO
      117. Shock Troopers BK1 256
      118. Shock Troopers 2nd Squad BK1 512Y
      119. Soccer Brawl 42G-1 42G-1
      120. Spinmaster / Miracle Adventure GSC 256
      121. Stakes Winner BK1 42G-3B
      122. Stakes Winner 2 BK1 256
      123. Street Hoop / Dunk Dream GSC 256
      124. Strikers 1945 Plus BK1 FIO
      125. Super Baseball 2020 42G-1 42G-1
      126. Super Dodge Ball BK1 256B
      127. Super Sidekicks G2 42G-2
      128. Super Sidekicks 2 TOP 256
      129. Super Sidekicks 3 TOP 42G-3B
      130. Super Sidekicks 4: The Ultimate 11 BK1 256
      131. Super Spy, The 8MB 8M
      132. SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom BK3-R FIO
      133. Tecmo World Soccer '96 BK1 256B
      134. Thrash Rally 42G-COM 42G-1
      135. Top Hunter TOP 256B
      136. Top Player's Golf EP 32
      137. Twinkle Star Sprites BK1 256B
      138. Viewpoint G2 42G-1
      139. Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer BK1 42G-3B
      140. Waku Waku 7 BK1 256B
      141. Windjammers / Flying Power Disk 42G-1 42G-1
      142. World Heroes 16 42G-1
      143. World Heroes 2 4096B 42G-3
      144. World Heroes 2 Jet GSC 256
      145. World Heroes Perfect GSC 256
      146. Zed Blade / Operation Ragnarok GSC 256
      147. Zupapa! BK1 FIO
      Display All
      Darksoft: CPS3, CPS2, F3, MVS
      RGB: RECO v2, HAS v3
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      Frank_fjs: JAMMA Extender (Special Edition)

      The post was edited 1 time, last by jassin000 ().

    • Zebra wrote:

      For example, I read about a multi game cart that loads all it's games into RAM when switched on. Kinda like how a PC loads from a hard drive to RAM. Neo Geo games were considered huge (in terms of memory) in their day but in today's terms, you could fit the entire library onto your average RAM stick.
      Let's apply the NEOGEO to your example here. "Why can't we use common DDR RAM?! It's fast and cheap!"

      You need to understand how the NG hardware works, given its 20 years old. I'm not an expert on NG, but my understanding is that an average cartridge has 5 separate data buses; P, V, C, S, M. This is why there are so many connections on the cartridge. Each bus would require its own separate RAM chip, controller, bus arbitrator, and programming/loading interface. The cost of hardware would not be practical. Keep in mind when you describe a stick of ram as cheap, it is just bare memory chips on a pcb, not the rest of the circuit required to function (ie; motherboard).

      Zebra wrote:

      If the Neo Geo multi carts work as you described then they are exactly what I thought. I.e. Very large rom (or equivalent) carts with all the games stored in high speed memory.

      Imagine one of the 161 in 1 carts sold blank with a method for users to add their own content and that these blank carts had enough high speed memory for the whole catalog for each platform so users could reduce or eliminate loading times when changing from one game to another.
      As mentioned in my last post, the 161 cart uses recycled Fujitsu flash chips (1gigabit or 128megabytes each).

      3 for P (384MB)
      5 for V (640MB)
      16 for C (2GB)
      1 for S
      1 for M

      Modern available part for 1gbit parallel nor flash, SL29GL01 is approx $12 USD each, and takes approx 280 seconds to erase. So we're looking at over $300 USD cost in parts just for NOR flash to store the crap list included with 161, and a programming cycle somewhere around 40-50 minutes to update. The entire NG library is much larger than this.

      Zebra wrote:

      I am only asking why the multi game flash carts load content from an SD card and have enough rom for one game instead of a large (blank) cart with enough high speed memory for all the games.
      So above I mention that 1gbit nor flash parts take a huge amount of time to erase, where as there are specialty NOR flash that is still manufactured with high speed erase times (under 1 second), but they are not available in large capacities.

      Parallel NOR flash is becoming an obsolete technology. Parallel means a wire connected for each address and data line (ie; 48 or 56 wire connections per chip). Modern system designs use 2 or 4 wires (ie; I2C or SPI) interfaces instead of a parallel connection.
    • Zebra wrote:

      It's unfortunate that someone decided to fill those MVS 161 in 1 carts with a bunch of bootlegs that nobody cares about and 20 too many King of Fighters versions but, it shows that it wouldn't be too hard or expensive for someone to create a multi-cart with every official Neo Geo game
      That's not a lapse in judgement it's an intentional "feature" to inflate the game list.

      most of those bootlegs and clone games share the game graphics files

      So lets say one of the KOF games is 64MB in size and 4MB is the game code while the remaining 60MB are the sprites, music and other "assets". You then have a bootleg version of that same game that uses the same asset data. So for that bootleg all you need to do is include the extra 4MB for the different game code and then point to the 60MB of asset data that's already on the cart from another game.

      The result is that you can now say that your cart has 2 games instead of 1 and it only cost you a small amount of memory. Do this with 5 more bootlegs of the same game and you've still only added another 20MB of data but now you've got 7 games and it still isn't taking up as much space as 2 unique games.

      Those bootlegs are just a marketing gimmic to sell a new cart with a larger number X-in-1 when really they've just cleverly re-arranged the data to shove additional variants of the same games on there.

      But this goes to the next issue. The game data that are on these Chinese carts are sliced and diced and modified to work on their cheap cart hardware. It's impossible to know what's been done to them but it's not always the original game code and the cart hardware doesn't always work the same as the original cart hardware did.

      To your original question of Whats the benefit? The Benefit is that carts like the MultiMVS and CPS2 Multi are designed to run the original unmodified game code (complete with encryption), and the multi cart simulates the original cartridge hardware as authentically as possible. So not only are you able to run exactly the games that you want, but those games are using the original and unmodified game code and the delivery of the game code to the main board is as close to the way the original carts worked as possible.

      for those of us buying these carts, the additional cost of Darksoft Multi carts over the Chinese Xin1 carts are worth it for being able to run the original games on as close to original hardware as possible as opposed Chinese hacked and often buggy games that we can't change out.
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    • If true, that is certainly a meaningful benefit with the Darksoft MVS cart. I didn't know that the games on the 161 in 1 carts used modified code that does not play the same as the original. For me, that would defeat the purpose of going to the trouble of playing on original hardware as the Neo Geo is so well emulated in Groovymame.

      My understanding from watching the reviews is that (aside from the bootlegs), the games on the 161 carts played the same as the original because they were running on original hardware.

      What sort of differences are we talking about with the modified code?

      I used to have a super magicom and a double game doctor for my SNES and Genesis when I was a kid so I could copy carts onto 3.5" floppy disks. Each game took 2 minutes to load but once loaded, they played like the original. I am guessing that modern SD cards transfer data a lot faster. How long does it take to flash a new game with the Darksoft Neo Geo MVS cart and the CPS2 one?
    • It's all about choice.

      A " All in one cart " will never make everyone happy! ( why can't i add this, play this )

      The end user likes to add remove games. ( less hacks more puzzle etc )
      Multi cart xxx in 1 are great ( and the hacks ) but always miss that one game.

      You pay your money, you play the games.
      10p on the glass means i'm next!
    • For me the 161 in 1 was missing a lot of the games i actually used to play in the arcades and i wanted those games again.

      Missing for me was Ninja Combat, Windjammers, World Heroes Perfect, King of the Monsters 2, Fatal Fury special and a few others

      None of the carts have all the games, and no single cart had the combination i wanted
    • Flain wrote:

      None of the carts have all the games, and no single cart had the combination i wanted
      I felt the same way, and also even when the games I wanted to play had been included they were buggy beta versions.
      Garou crashes on the 161 if you perform certain specials/combos because they used some beta/bootleg ROM.
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      Frank_fjs: JAMMA Extender (Special Edition)
    • Where did Ram Carts come into the question?

      Flash Carts: a Cart where the game is stored in a Flash Chip ( I would put all of MVS,CP2, TatioF3 Multicarts here ) , these can be used for user code & development testing :)
      MultiCart: Chinese carts that have normally basterdized copies of games crammed into it giving you 161-1, etc style cart, technically violating copyright laws as distributing game code.
      Ram Carts: So, these are actually PRETTY old.... been around for awhile, Z64, Doctor64 are examples of these , Netdimm also falls into this category, game code is loaded into a Ram stick and game is played.

      now... you could probbaly make a "Ram" cart for CPS2/MVS etc, however, like mentioned before, you would need a arbitrator for each bus, then talking to a master "memory" device.. but if two buses need memory at the same time ( not to say 3 buses ) your going to have some massive bottle necks, so in the end , its cheaper to just stick with flash chips, put the made CPU on hold/reset, disable bus access from the main board, reflash the chips, and then release control back to the main board.
    • Frank_fjs wrote:

      I've got the CPS1 monstrosity, truth be told, it works great and has done for a few years now. Nice onscreen menu, instant loading, and a handful of non-hacked games that run flawlessly. It has its problems but represented great value for money to me, being able to play games that cost absurd money now.
      I have the CPS2 version (18-in-1) and my experience with it mirrors that above. Solid game list (there are only a couple that I miss, and a couple I could do without.) There isn’t a paralyzingly number of titles to parse through, and for someone with only a single cab, it’s a quick and easy way to jump in a play a few different titles for 45mins without messing around with the hardware.