SD2SNES - Is this the best SD based device for your SNES? [ BIG Hardware Review ]
Throughout the years we have been trying to feature as many SD based devices as we could, for a multitude of systems such as the Amstrad, C64, NES and the even the Sega Mega Drive. It was also thanks to Retro Towers that we were able to do a full review of the Everdrive N8 and even the Mega Everdrive, which enabled us to play thousands of game roms through an SD card based device. But there is one system we haven't yet featured and that's the SNES, at least until now. As thanks again to Retro Towers we have the very latest SD2SNES here for a hardware review.
This rather bright and in your face red coloured SD2SNES developed and designed by KRIKzz, was sent to us in neat packaging and as you can see it stands out as a SNES cart but with the all important SD card interface at the top. It did not however feature a manual in the packaging, but unlike most SD carts of this type reviewed in the past, there is a clear list of instructions to get you going available through the main website.
Now before I put the SD2SNES through my personal testing phase, lets talk about the features. The SD2SNES has full support for SD, SDHC and SDXC cards (up to 64GB SD cards), extremely fast rom loading time at 9MB second, real time clock support, supports roms up to 128mbit, a Super CIC key which allows you to use on any region console, no annoying messages saying " this game pak is not designed for...", and an unusually large number of SNES cartridges included enhancement chips such as BS-X, DSP1 / 1b, DSP2, DSP3, DSP4, ST-010, Cx4, MSU1 and even S-RTC which will allow you to play many games that the super everdrive and super ufo cannot. Basically if you try to play a game that needs this enhancement chip and it's not supported via the above, there's a high chance it will not work.
Moving on with the review, as was the case with the other hardware devices sent by Retro Towers there is no point having an SD Card in if it doesn't have any games to play. Thankfully the website gave us clear instructions of how to set the main folder up, including any firmware to be flashed. In terms of the games, I made a single rom folder with all the sub directories inside. Basically games were listed as folders A - Z, so if I wanted to play Zelda, I'd simply have to scroll to the Z folder and launch Zelda.
Upon powering up your console, you are usually greeted with two folders, the SD2SNES main folder and your rom folder. As for reference in the above screenshot you can see all the directories listed in the rather nice UI display. It actually looks far better than the Everdrive N8 we reviewed some time ago and works straight away. No faffing about with this awesome bit of kit so far!
Before delving in to game play, I decided to check out the menu options and to see what sort of configurations could be made, if needed. To be honest the only options of interest as I'm not sure what most of the settings do ( no manual! ) was the SuperCIC and in game setting. Which according to the main website SuperCIC acts as a multi-region CIC, enabling CIC protected cartridges (S-DD1, SA1) of any region to work properly, which also includes being able to set 50 or 60hz. In terms of in game settings, you can have the option of being able to reset back to SD2SNES using specific buttons L/R/START/X and the option to run all region games via the auto region patch.
So to put this beasty to the test, I picked a number of games that actually used the enhancement chips and sure enough for the most part many of them worked. F1ROCII - Race of Champions which uses ST010 and that worked brilliantly, as well as Top Gear 3000, which used the DSP-4 enhancement. Sufficed to say I had a blast playing these two games, they loaded up VERY quickly from menu to game using the SD2SNES and sounded awesome. Oh and the reset buttons worked a treat, but I have heard of people having to hold the main reset button down instead to get back to the main UI menu.
Next up it was time to play a few games that needed to be region patched, so to pick one I went for the very good game Castlevania: Dracula X, which is a port of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Sadly however this didn't work as well as I expected, upon launching the game I was greeted with this rather annoying screen below, which took some time to get right.
It didn't matter what setting the SD2SNES was set to, 50 or 60HZ, SuperCIC on or off, auto region patching on, I would still keep getting that screen. Thankfully a number of hard resets and the region patching worked and the game loaded up fine... Well it did until I tried again and the same screen popped up.
Putting aside that little annoyance I went over to two of my personal favourites. Games that I could share with a friend or ahem, a girlfriend. It was none other than the brilliant Bomberman and Zelda, two games I have been wanting to play for years, but due to the high cost of each SNES original game, that was out of the question. At least with this device, I could play it with no worries about spending all that money on just one game and no worries about a bashed box!
Both games worked perfectly and I could play for hours with two games I had during my teenage years. But there was one thing I wanted to try seeing as I was reading conflicting reports over the SD2SNES being able to do Save states. I decided to see if the game would save without physically saving to a slot in game. No, I couldn't get it to do a save state. I tried all the reset options I've read in the forums, and with every standard reset it went back to the start of the game. Which for me is a shame, as with the Everdrive N8 on the NES you could load a save state from any point of the game using a specific button set up. But hey at least the SD2SNES remembers all the games I've been playing!
With that out of the way, it was time to test some games that needed enhancements that were not listed as compatible on the KRIKzz website. Sure enough games such as Star Fox / Starwing and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island which used the SuperFX didn't work (just a black screen), nor did Kirby’s Dream Land 3 which used the SA-1 enhancement. Although there has been hints of support for these in the future, if that is at all possible with what I've read on the forums.
So it comes down to this, what do I think of the SD2SNES both positive and negative? I personally think it's an incredible bit of kit that every owner of a SNES should have if you want the best in being able to play SNES based games, especially those that need enhancement chips. It was also incredibly easy to set up, supports extremely fast loading and even auto region patching which makes it far better than the older cheaper Everdrives that are on the market now.
For my less than positive thoughts, I did find the SD2SNES to be a bit of a let down when it comes to some of the games tried with auto region patching, as it didn't always work. I also couldn't get instant save states to work during game play, but then this might've been forum chatter and not helped by a lack of a manual. Furthermore it was a shame that Super FX isn't supported yet in the current firmware I tried as I would've loved to be able to play Star Fox. It also isn't the cheapest option for retro gamers at £149+, but then if you factor in how much original games cost and what the SD2SNES supports, that overrides that cost factor!
In all I'd still recommend everyone who has a SNES to buy one, it has nearly all the bells and whistles to fully support SNES game loading and if you ask anyone that has one, they would never get rid of it it's that good!
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