It wasn't long ago that we featured the SD2IEC for your C64, in which games could be played directly off an SD card without faffing about with loading real original games. Well what if I told you there was a device out there which enables the playing of pretty much every single Sega Mega Drive, Genesis, Sega Master System and 32X game through a single cart based SD in your Mega Drive! Welcome to the Mega Everdrive, a very interesting product sent to us by RetroTowers for review.
As per usual the first thing we look at is always the contents as that is what every new owner will see when they open the delivery package. As you can see below, what you'll receive is the Mega Everdrive with the casing made from a used Mega Drive game with the label replaced with a Mega Everdrive label. Inside the casing is the Mega Everdrive device with 128mbit (16mbyte) SDRAM. But that is pretty much all you'll get, which was a little disappointing as we would've liked an SD Card to come with the device and most importantly a manual. Although a RetroTowers business card was provided with a link to the website and you can buy an 8GB SD Card for £9.99 with the Mega Everdrive which we recommend.
On top of the Mega Everdrive is the all important USB connection for homebrew development and for the possibility of future features. A reset switch to reset the console back to the Mega Everdrive menu. Also the SD card interface with FAT / FAT16 / FAT32 support including SD cards up to 32GB.
Now before we begin with a good test of the product, let me just show you my retro collection that I hope will be put aside for safe keeping (if this product is as good as it looks). You'll probably notice my favourite game Fantastic Dizzy, but with every usage there's always a risk of damaging it or wearing out the contacts plus it's a slight annoyance swapping games if a friend wants to play something different, a big issue I'm sure for people with hundreds of games, including rare ones.
Putting the retro collection aside, the first thing we did before using the Mega Everdrive was getting the SD card ready. We downloaded the latest Operating System (OS) and created a folder on the SD card called MEGA with a MEGAOS.BIN inside the MEGA folder according to the instructions on the website. However we needed to look towards the internet for the latest ROMs. According to the developers of this product you can either use a Retrode 2 and rip the Genesis, or Mega Drive games onto a Computer and then copy the files to an SD card or download the ROMs from the internet and place them in their own neat directory.
I for example have already downloaded a pack and unpacked it to the SD card. As you can see each one is neatly listed for alphabetical game usage. Also in each listing are the game files which have been unpacked already. I didn't try zips but for reliability stick with ROMs such as the ones below.
We placed the SD card into the Mega Everdrive and then both into our Sega Mega Drive and turned it on. The cart fit very well and unlike another device we recently tested by a different company it was a perfect fit and looked the part. I especially liked how I could leave the cart in and replace the SD card when ever I needed.
So now all of that is out of the way, it was time to power up the console and check the provided menu which should hopefully make it a breeze to play all those lovely ROMs. As you can see below by listing the games previously in organised categories it really helps. It was simply a matter of scrolling to a system folder, for example Genesis and loading one of the ROMs.
Another neat menu which can be loaded by pressing the C button gives you more cool options such as Game Region, In-Game Menu, Cheats, Run CD and more. The option we liked best was the Load/Save State which is turned on with the option "In-Game Menu", but I'll get back to that in a minute.
Back to the game loading... My game of choice was always going to be Fantastic Dizzy, and sure enough, loading the Fantastic Dizzy .md ROM, it loaded up almost instantly. It took a matter of seconds to go from the menu screen to the game itself. That impressed me a lot, especially as it was just a matter of selecting a game in the menu listing and loading it took hardly any time at all.
Now remember I mentioned about the Load/Save States? With the Mega Everdrive you can save your position in the game anywhere you wanted and then come back to it later. So if I had enough of Dizzy, I would open up the option menu with Down+Start on the game pad, select save state, turn off the Mega Drive, come back to it tomorrow, select Start to load your previously played game and load the save state. It really is that simple! When it comes to great RPG titles or platformers you keep dying on, this is a huge benefit and an option Mega Driver owners will be drooling over, let alone all those lovely games on an SD card.
With all those positives said so far, could this device get any better, well yes! Pressing the little button on top of the Mega Everdrive resets your console back to the menu and from here we decided to play the next best thing. We could play Sega Master System games! That's right, not only can the Mega Everdrive play Sega Mega Drive games, but also the Master System, oh and also 32X titles but you need the original 32X device for that. Simply selecting a Master System game for example Paper Boy and it loaded instantly, just like before. Can you imagine not having to use all those original carts, never having to constantly open them up and risk damaging them as this can play them all!
You can even play most Homebrew releases and prototypes, here for example I was able to play a prototype version of Dragons Lair and once again, instant loading!
But finally we come to a point where we need to give it our final thoughts and as you can tell, we were impressed. It was a breeze to use with an easy to navigate menu and the brilliance of load/save states that enabled you to come back to game positions you never could with the originals. You can also play pretty much every compatible Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System and 32X (adapter) ROM with games loading instantly within a max of 2secs. I've already put my collection away!
For those of you who like to cheat, the menu has a cheats option which lets you type in Game Genie, or Pro Action Replay cheat codes.
Our only critiques; we would've liked a manual with the device, even if it's just a small bit of paper stating the options and instructions instead of re-visiting the website. Plus an included SD card, an included 2GB would've been a good teaser.
All in all, the Mega Everdrive is fantastic! It's time to put your collection away for protection and stick with the Mega Everdrive as it's a device that not only you, but your Mega Drive will be grateful for. What a fantastic Christmas present indeed.
Features from the Website:
- 128mbit (16mbyte) SDRAM.
- ROM sizes up to 80mbit (10mbyte)
- You can update the firmware through an SD card
- Standard SD and micro SD card are supported.
- FAT / FAT16 / FAT32 are supported.
- SD cards up to 32GB.
- Very fast loading times around 1-2 seconds
- USB port for homebrew development and for the possiblity of future features.
- In-game menu that allows you to access the Everdrive menu without leaving the chair.
- Save and load states.
- Regular game battery for backing up saves.
- CD RAM cart feature.
- Action replay and Game genie codes are supported
- CD bios loading
- Genesis, Mega-drive, Sega Master System, and 32X games are supported.
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