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Benn Venn's Elcheapo Sd Flash Cartridge V1.5 (www.nesworld.com)
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VERSION 1.13
APRIL 17 2017

BENN VENN'S ELCHEAPO SD FLASH CARTRIDGE V1.5
FLASH CARTING ON A BUDGET
For the first time in years I'm back at reviewing Flash Cartridges, there's a lot of these around by now too. But this one is a little different, it's not out of China and it doesn't cost a fortune, in fact this may be the cheapest non-Chinese cartridge out there. At the time of writing they are sold out though and I do not know if they're when/if they're available again in the future. I bought mine ovver a year ago but never got around to writing about it, until now.

It is designed "down under" in Australia by Benn Venn, that's a person not a company in case you wondered, and the name of the cartridge is ElCheapo SD. I bought what I believe is version 1.5, at least that is what the label says, and if I remember correctly - version 1.6 was just around the corner back then. I paid US$40 including a 1GB SD Flash cart, which by the way was delivered in wonderful matching green colors too. Shipping was a far from "whopping" US$5. The current price is US$30 without the 1GB Flash cart.

In my oppinion that is an incredibly good price for a gameboy flash cartridge, but please note that the cart also comes with some limitations. While it's compatible with both the original "classic" DMG Gameboy and the Gameboy Color, there's a maximum to the size of game ROMs and Savegames it can host, that being a 1 MegaByte game ROM and 128 Kilobytes save, it's probably gibberish to most, but it means that this cart will run any old DMG Gameboy game, but some Gameboy Color games will not work with this cart. I mostly bought this cartridge with old DMG Gameboy games in mind, so the limitations have not given me any headaches.

When the ElCheapo boots you are presented with a very green splash screen, green seems to be the theme here, letting you know that you actually did insert the ElCheapoSD cartridge, in case you forgot. Unfortunately navigation from here on becomes a little tedious, unless you have the ElCheapo FAQ at hand, and the splash screen would probably have been to better use explaining how to use the ting.

But here's a quick run down. Buttons A, B, UP, DOWN, LEFT or RIGHT will boot the ROM currently flashed to memory.

SELECT opens an SRAM (SAVE) menu to load or save savegames to the SD cartridge. Also it seems like a savegame must be loaded prior to loading the game ROM to memory, I could be wrong though.

Finally START will load the Game ROM menu. ROMs can be in subfolders or the root of the SD cartridge, it doesn't really matter except that having every game in the root directory may be a bit messy, I won't point fingers at you for doing so though. For faster scrolling LEFT or RIGHT buttons can be used. Pick the ROM you'd like to flash and press the A button. Once it has been flashed, it takes a few seconds that actually seems like forever, the ElCheapoSD will return to the splash screen. It is then up to you to decide what to do next (hint: play the game maybe?).

Now the real reason why I dug out this "old" Benn Venn ElCheapo cart is that I noticed Super Mario Land 2 had been colorized in a fan "hack", there is actually an older hack in existance, but this "2017" version looks far better and is also known as "Super Mario Land 2 DX" by the way.

Super Mario Land 2 is a bit special to me as it was my first ever Gameboy game I bought back in the day and to this day it probably still stands as my favourite DMG Gameboy game. So being able to play it in color is really a dream come true :-)

After a bit of help from an old Gameboy dumper tool (the Smartboy) I was able to dump my old Super Mario Land 2 cartridge, which even still contained my decades old saved game, amazing!

Please note that a program such as Lunar IPS is required to patch the original Super Mario Land 2 game, which by the way needs to be version 1.0 of the game at the time of writing this article. The patching is pretty straight forward, simply pick the patch file, next the rom that needs to be patched (Super Mario Land 2 version 1.0 would be your choice), however note that Lunar IPS doesn't create a backup of the original file, so remember to do that yourself.

Well aside from the slightly tedious button "combinations" to enter the various menus, the ElCheapoSD actually is an amazing cart especially considering its price, but again - please note that I have only tested it with old DMG Gameboy games and not Gameboy Color games, which is where you may run into trouble. If you'd like to run GBC games it would probably be safer to go with the newer ElCheapoSD version 1.9 which allows bigger game ROMs to be loaded.

On a side note, I used this cart in my "backlight" modded DMG Gameboy, and it caused slight "blinking" (screen going darker, then lighter in color, or greyscale actually) - but it works. Oh and it looks like the Super Mario Land 2 hack detects old DMG Gameboys :-)

BennVenn's shop can be found here.

Please note that this "review" in no way was "sponsored" by BennVenn, no review cartridge as given to me and I never asked for one either.