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FAQ

Note:
Some of the information provided on this page may be outdated, especially considering the recent developments around the Retrode2. Please check the corresponding Q&A page for slightly fresher answers. But now, once again, to the

FAQ:

  1. What does the Retrode do?
  2. Does it work with <name of game>?
  3. Does it work on my <machine>? Do I need extra software or drivers?
  4. Is it compatible with the Super Game Boy? The 32X? The Power Base Converter? The Master System Converter II? The MegaMaster? [...]
  5. Will you add support for other console systems?
  6. Can the Retrode write ROMs to cartridges so I can play them on my SNES/Genesis?
  7. Will I be able to use the savegame RAM on SNES cartridges?
  8. Where and how much?
  9. Are you sure THEY won’t mind?
  10. This is stupid. I get ROMs for free on Bittorrent (or whatever my favorite source for Russian porn happens to be).
  11. Great device. I will go at once, dump all my games and post them to (insert favorite Russian porn site).
  12. The ROM file in the video is called SUPER MARIOWORLD.smc, which can’t be true, so this is all a fake.
  13. Who are you?

Q: What does it do?

The Retrode is an adapter for *Super Nintendo / *Super Famicom and *SEGA Mega Drive / *Genesis games. It has connectors for game cartridges, and a USB-B port. When you connect a game cartridge with a PC through USB, the game data appears as if it were a USB drive with a ROM file on it. Yes, the Retrode can do battery-buffered savegames too. No, you cannot put new games on a non-writable cartridge. As a bonus feature, the Retrode has internal extension pins to which you can connect up to four *SNES or *NES gamepads.

Q: Does it work with <name of game>?

A: Probably. To find out more, please refer to the database of games to find out more. So far, I have found only one game title for each console (Contra III for SNES and Virtua Racing for Mega Drive) that I could not get to play.

Q: Does it work on my <machine>? Do I need extra software or drivers?

A: If the <machine> is (1) capable of running a *SNES and *Genesis emulator and (2) familiar with the USB Mass Storage standard, then most likely yes. You won’t need drivers, just an emulator. So far, I have not had any problems on a bunch of different systems (WinXP, MacOS, Linux), but some folks have even gotten it to run on a Wii.

Q: Is it compatible with the Super Game Boy? The 32X? The Power Base Converter? The Master System Converter II? The MegaMaster? [...]

A: Until further notice, not in a useful way. What you might get is some ROM portion of the extension device itself, such as the Game Boy border of the SGB. For anything more, the chances are ridiculously low (the number also known as “zero”), really.
Update: Actually, using the 32X adapters the Retrode has been found to read 32X carts, so woo-hoo there.

Q: Will you add support for other console systems?

A: The Retrode in its base specification supports only SNES and Genesis carts, but using simple passive plug-in adapters, other systems can be supported as well. Other users have (with my assistance) built adapters for TG-16 and Virtual Boy; also, I will be offering plug-ins for Atari 2600 and N64/GB* carts in the online store as soon as I manage to. These plug-ins will offer only basic ROM reading, though the wiring of the Game Boy port should in principle allow for SRAM reading and writing as well (subject to firmware support). I currently don’t have plans for any other systems such as NES or Master System.

Q: Can the Retrode write ROMs to cartridges so I can play them on my SNES/Genesis?

A: No. First of all, ROM stands for read-only memory which kind of implies that you cannot write to it. If this is what you want to do, there are other sources for EEPROM or flash cartridges out there. The Retrode is for people who own original console games and think it would be cool to plug them into an emulator.

Q: Will I be able to use the savegame RAM on SNES cartridges?

A: As far as the game itself supports it, you can load and save games from and to the cartridge. There are at least three scenarios where this is particularly useful: (1) You want to play a game on a bunch of different hosts, just by carrying the cartridge. (2) You want to back up your progress before a battery replacement. (3) You like the convenience of emulator savestates but you prefer to kill the final boss on your good old system.

Since the whole thing basically translates to “tampering with the data on the cartridge”, I will not accept liability for any damage to your precious savegames, and even to the game cartridge itself. It is your responsibility to take proper care of your data.

Q: Where and how much?

A: With the first batch sold out, there are now roughly 250 Retrodes released to the wild. A second production run is in preparation, with a projected retail price of EUR 65 (EU, incl. VAT) and USD 85 (non-EU, excl. VAT).

Q: Are you sure THEY won’t mind?

A: Well. It is well-known that some of the major players in the game industry are not too fond of the emulation scene, but legally there is not much they can do about it. This is not a device that will cause piracy, because all the titles have already been available on the net for 20 years anyway. This is a device that helps you, the retro gaming and emulation enthusiast, to preserve your investment in original video games, and to do so in a legal way. As someone who went out and paid good money for these games, it is your right to use them forever, even after all hardware has already died. Hence, courts pretty much all over the planet have ruled that you may make a backup copy of any piece of software you have purchased. On top of that, with the Retrode you can back up your precious savegames before the cartridge battery runs low, and who could possibly be against that. Which doesn’t mean THEY won’t sue me for distributing it. Join the legal discussion if you have an opinion.

Q: This is stupid. I get ROMs for free on Bittorrent (or whatever my favorite source for Russian porn happens to be).

A: Downloading ROMs of commercial/copyrighted games is illegal, period. Even so if you own the original game. Making a backup copy of an original game, or playing it directly from a cartridge, may be okay (unless you keep the ROM file and sell the cart, which is illegal). And yes, there is a difference between “acting legally” and “not getting caught”. If you don’t care, then this is not for you, and you are probably right, it is stupid. If you do care, however, here are some examples of German and US legislation.
Fun Fact: As of March 31, 2011, Google ranks this page 40th when searching for the terms “Russian Porn Site”. Considering the complete lack of Russian porn, I’d say that’s pretty good :)

Q: Great device. I will go at once, dump all my commercial carts and post the ROMs to (insert favorite Russian porn site here).

A: Actually, I’ve heard that a couple of times. You do know that I (or Ryan) know where you live, right? And you do know that I do not condone piracy of any sort. So if the prosecuting authorities come knocking at my door because some idiot posted a Retrode dump in a public place, I will be more than happy to collaborate with them. The Retrode is not made for illegal activities, period. If you decide otherwise, you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.

Q: The ROM file in the video is called SUPER MARIOWORLD.smc, which can’t be true, so this is all a fake.

A: First of all, not a question, and second, I’d invite you to do the research. It is true, and you’re wrong. By the way, now there is even a SUPER MARIOWORLD.srm :-)

Q: Who are you?

A: During daytime, I am an ordinary student who lives an unsuspicious life in southwestern Germany. As the night falls, however, I turn into a Geek God who builds atom bombs.