Plug-in Preparations

Me, developing SMS plug-in
PCB Layout

There are times in life when you can only sit and wait. Not here, not now. In the time that the plastic cases are taking to arrive, I figured I might as well do something useful, and started to look into plug-ins some more.

Thanks to our old friend [JonY] (who already brought us the Virtual Boy adapter), I have on my desk a mess of wires (albeit nicely numbered) that will soon become a plug-in for Sega Master System games! In fact, all the SMS games in my collection are already reading correctly. Since the ROM header doesn’t contain a game title, the filename is always generic ("TmrSega.sms"). I am currently fine-tuning the size and memory mapper detection, and so I’m fairly positive that support for the plug-in will already be included in the Retrode 2 factory firmware. The plug-in is also compatible to the Retrode 1 with a firmware update. As always, the wiring and layout will be released into the public domain, so expect to find schematics and board layout soon on the plug-in page.

As if that weren’t enough, the firmware now also supports [ponrev]’s Neo Geo Pocket plug-in including full auto-detection (game title and ROM size). Does anyone know where to get NGP cart connectors in large quantities (200+pcs)?

Pre-assembled SMS plug-ins will most likely become available in time for the Retrode 2 release. I’m also working hard to source a batch of GBA connectors to provide another run of GBx/N64 plug-ins along with that. Pre-orderers of the Retrode 2 can have plug-ins added to their open orders at no additional shipping cost (details to be announced). In the meantime, feel free to check out my latest videos (after the break) for a preview of the Retrode 2 and its new fancy case, as well as a demonstration of my abundant bossa-nova chops.

29 comments to Plug-in Preparations

  • Data Protection

    Will the Retrode support the following classic consoles in the near future: PC Engine/TurboGraf-X/Super Graf-X (all are hucard systems), Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo MVS, N64, GB, GBC, GBA, Nintendo DS, Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System carts, Sega Master System cards (looks like hucards)?–>These are great future plans for the Retrode to allow us to play our original carts in various consoles on the PC plus having the ability to preserve our game saves. Most of these classic console platforms do have working emulators for the PC.

    • > Will the Retrode support the following classic consoles in the near future:
      All of them, like, next week? No way. Some, over the next few years? Yes.

      Generally speaking, for a given system, if there is documentation on the cartridge pinout somewhere, and you can find a supplier for the slot connectors, chances are high that there will be a Retrode plug-in some day. Finding the connectors, as it turns out, is by far the trickiest part. Slots salvaged from used eBay consoles may work for one-off prototypes, but we can’t design a product around them.

  • Damien

    “Since the ROM header doesn’t contain a game title, the filename is always generic (”TmrSega.sms”)”

    So there is no way for the system to recognise the game? I wish we could do some magic here (like CRC32 and already available databases). I like the game recognition as it allows for automatisation of (japanese) game translation via softpatching.

    • No problem technically. I could include checksum and product code into the filename, and a program running on the host would look them up in a database and rename the file on the Retrode. Integrating the database into the device is out of the question (memory limitations).

      • Damien

        If you can make it so the filename includes what you say then there is no problem, each game would have a unique filename which is good enough. It doesn’t have to be intelligible ;)

  • Oliver Wright


    Are there possibilities to play HuCards or CD games playable on NEC consoles with this device?. Thank you.


    • For HuCards, there is a pinout on the plug-in page. Note that the order of the data lines may have to be reversed for Japanese titles, but I hope to fix that in a future firmware update. For CD games, you’re probably out of luck.

    • Damien

      For CD games you might want to use your CD/DVD drive. For Sega Mega-CD, NEC Super-CD², PS1 and Saturn there is no copy protection so you can read them directly on your pc and use the right emulator.

  • auroreon

    My primary use for my Retrode will be to backup my cartridge save files. As you know, cartridge batteries only last so long before they die and you lose your save, also cartridges can be lost, damaged or (as I have experienced several times) just wipe your save for apparent reason.

    Because of this I need a way to backup my saves so that I don’t lose them if anything happens to my cartridges and the Retrode seems to be perfect for the job.

    I do need to be able to backup more than just SNES saves though, I need to be able to backup and restore savegames for SNES, N64, GB, GBC and GBA.
    I also need to backup a few saves for the few games on NES that have battery backed saves, but I am aware that creating a NES plugin would be a huge amount of work and is unlikely.

    So my question is… are there plugins that can backup and restore saves for those consoles? And will they be available through your shop or will I have to build them myself?

    • I do plan to support N64 (EEPROM) and GBx saves at some point, but it has a fairly low priority on my agenda. Also, note that due to the multitude of different mapping mechanisms it can take years until a decent level of compatibility is reached.

      • auroreon

        Its nice to know that it is something you plan to add some day, the Retrode will still be extremely useful for backing up my SNES saves.

        Thanks for all the excellent work you have done so far with the Retrode, I’m really looking forward to getting one.

  • zerothis

    As I understand it, the Game Gear is a repackaged Master System, but with a few incompatibilities. This does not prevent Master System game being played on a Game Gear (conversions devices exists and are just a pin-to-pin adapters). However, Game Gear games are not compatible with Master Systems (due to the aforementioned incompatibilities)? But if the goal is gaining access to data, would a simple Game Gear pin-to-pin adapter in the SMS adapter allow the retrode to read Game Gear carts? Would it make sense to have a combined SMS+GG adapter for the retrode.

    • The SMS plug-in will come with extra pins for people who want to salvage the connector from their broken GG’s (they seem to break a lot) and build a combined adapter.

  • Jesse Vaitkus

    Always amazing.

  • Alex

    Great work so far, can’t wait to get mine! Will the N64/GBx plugin support saves?

    • The wires should all be there for the hardware to (theoretically) support SRAM and EEPROM on the N64 slot, and SRAM on the GBx. However, this won’t be of much use until the firmware knows how to talk to the carts. Sorry to disappoint you for now – but this sort of fancy extra stuff for plug-ins is ranked fairly low on my priority list; I think it’s way more important for the core feature set to work smoothly.

      • andwhyisit

        Don’t forget MBC3 support. :D

        • Have to check that again. According to my faint and unreliable memory, MBC3 was already working at some point.

          • Ah no, right. MBC3 and MBC5 require this weird clock signal that may require you to cut and re-route one of the connections on the plug-in. Thanks for reminding me of that one – I will add the wire to the N64/GBx plug-in layout and see if I can get it to work. Instructions to follow.

        • Good news – MBC3 and MBC5 seem to work. You’ll have to re-route a wire on the plug-in, then a firmware update should do the trick. The new run of plug-ins will have the wire right by default.

      • Alex

        Ah, well as long as the wires are there, at least it leaves the possibility open further down the road. I agree though that the core features are more important! Thanks!

  • All of this looks fantastic! Great work on everything. Any news on preorders being reopened? Really looking forward to get my hands on the final product.

  • Justin

    Oh man i can’t wait. the retrode looks awesome!!!!!!!