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CREATED JAN.10.2013
UPDATED FEB.10.2013
CREDITS
TEXT WRITTEN BY
MARTIN NIELSEN
ED64 PLUS
N64 RAM CART OUT OF CHINA
Straight out of the dodgy parts of Asia comes the ED64plus, a Nintendo 64 RAM cart which allows you to almost instantly play any Nintendo64 game you'd want to play, well with a few exceptions but I'll have more on that later.

It's already widely known that the ED64plus is based off an existing project called Everdrive64, made by an Ukrainian Igor Lebedenko (aka Krikzz), and that no sub-license has been acquired to produce this product. I won't gon into the debacle about right or wrong here, but instead just acknowledge that Igor is the mastermind here and if you wish to own the original device I would encourage you to go to his webshop and purchase one. The ED64plus boasts 512mbit of RAM which is the maximum size a N64 rom can be, roms are loaded off either a Secure Digital (SD/SDHC), MultiMediaCard (MMC) with a maximum size of 32gigabyte, which I bet should be more than enough to fulfill every need for N64 gaming. Aditionally ROMS can be loaded by using the built-in microUSB slot. One major flaw in the design of the ED64plus though is that the cart has to be removed from the N64 every time the SD card need to be removed, it would've been a smarter move to put it on the opposite side of teh microUSD slot.

What differs the ED64plus from the original product is that it doesn't require an original cartridge as donor before it works. Every Nintendo64 includes a so-called CIC chip which is a chip that prevents unofficial games from running. The original Everdrive64 requires that the CIC is ripped from an existing original cartridge and that it's soldered onto the ED64 PCB. The ED64plus on the other hand features a cartridge slot on top, which becomes visible by removing the top part of the cartridge. An original Nintendo64 cartridge can then be inserted and the CIC is then used.

CIC's are region specific, but given the fact that the ED64plus doesn't contain a CIC, but "borrows" it from the cart that piggybacks it, means the ED64plus will work on any region N64, you're able to change the CIC type simply by plugging in a cart with the desired type, now that's a nifty feature!

I bet the reason why none of the other flash carts out there makes use of piggybacking is that it would require a new cartridge case to be molded, instead they reuse the cartridge casing from the CIC donor cartridge. The maker of the ED64plus on the other hand had it mass-produced and therefore it was financially possible to create a new casing mold. The new casing is actually very well done and it doesn't feel like cheap.

And the new casing doesn't feel cheap at all, the ED64plus actually feels like a solid product. What does give it away as being a little on the unserious side is the crappy engrish writing on the backside of the cartridge.

As previously stated the ED64plus is based on the Everdrive64 by krikzz, or rather a complete rip off, firmware, menu and everything was reused from the original Everdrive. However the firmware in this ED64plus cart is version 1.16, but the original Everdrive's latest firmware revision is 1.15.

Beware though that the original Everdrive firmware probably can't be used with this device, but then again it doesn't really matter as it cannot be upgraded unless you go through a mess of an upgrade, why? because the ED64plus is based on the first version of the Everdrive64 and it required a JTAG to be soldered onto the PCB and then using some awful Altera software. There probably never will be another firmware upgrade for the ED64plus anyway, so nevermind all that.

USER INTERFACE
The menu used for ED64plus is the Everdrive v1.28 OS, it has since been updated for the original Everdrive to OS v1.29. I have tested Krikzz's OS update with the ED64plus and it works flawlessly, but make sure to rename "OS64.V64" to "OS64P.V64". It's also worth noting though that Krikzz OS will create a new folder called "ED64" where it will put savegames and such, but the OS "menu file" still needs to go into the "ED64P" folder as the firmware looks here for the menu binary.

The team responsible for the ED64plus may adapt OS v1.29 to their device in the future, but I wouldn't count on it. Also, I would be careful using any future updates right from Krikzz weksite as there have been talks of ED64plus detection, and precautions, in future OS updates.

In this review I will not be using Krikzz latest OS revision, which has some awesome updates, but instead "only" use the older revision that was altered by the team behind the ED64plus for the Ed64plus.

One of the features of the Everdrive OS is that the skin is customizable but sadly the 640x480 BMP file must be 16 bit color which I've had some problems creating, I'm probably just not bright enough but that's another story. Fortunately the ED64plus team has included a CD that not only included the manual but also a folder with various stuff for the ED64plus, such as the Neon64 NES emulator, USB loader software, but also a folder with various wallpaper for the OS, of which most seems to have been "borrowed" from the original Everdrive.

Simply copy the desired wallpaper(s) onto the SD card, select the picture you want and press C-DOWN, the ED64plus will then ask you to verify that it's the wallpaper you want, and voila!

Another OS feature is that if you press C-UP the cartridge will load the latest ROM you've played, if it's still available that is.

USB LOADER
As stated earlier the ED64plus has a microUSB and also included is a little 75 centimeter microUSB to USB cable of not that great quality. Plugging in the cable into the ED64plus was a VERY tight fit, I was actually a little nervous that the microUSB slot would break because of the force needed.

Included on the CD that I mentioned earlier is also some Future Tech USB drivers for Linux, Mac and Windows. However my Windows 7 (64bit) automaticly found and installed the driver required.

Unfortunately the Loader software is DOS based, making it not that user friendly. Well to use the loader, power on your ED64plus (a SD card with the OS file must be present), now in DOS type loader64 followed by the complete path to the N64 rom file. It might be a good idea to have these in the same folder.

Another ting worth mention is that you probably shouldn't minimize the loader windows or use any other program while the n64 binary is being sent to the cart, doing so will slow down the transfer to an almost complete stop.

I think it's also worth mentioning here that the Loader is identical to the one made by Krikzz.

GAME COMPATIBILITY
Well since the ED64plus is basicly an Everdrive64 I don't really want to waste too much time with compatibility. But the problems I had in my review of the Everdrive64 (version 1) regarding incompatibility with Extreme-G and Snowboard Kids seems to have been ironed out, probably via an OS or firmware update.

Also Conker's Bad Fur Day runs on the ED64plus, another game I had problems with on the original Everdrive64. But again, this could've been resolved in a firmware/os update made after my review. Banjo Tooie, a game that previously wasn't playable due to piracy precautions made by Rareware, well thanks to LaC of Dextrose - yes the guy from the N64 heydays, a Banjo Tooie crack was made available in December 2012.

SAVING
If the game you play contains internal saving, the ED64plus will detect the save type for you. However in order for the ED64plus to make the save file, it is important to press RESET after having played a game, otherwise the save cannot be written to the SD card, meaning.... if you power off you'll loose your save, so be warned.

EMULATION

Just like the Everdrive64, the ED64plus is capable of playing NES ROMs. This is, again just like the Everdrive64, made possible thanks to the Neon64 emulator, which was created some years back by Halley's Comet Software. As a little service to PAL users, I can tell you that Neon64 version 1.2b has PAL mode properly implemented. However if it's not detected you can press C-UP on the title screen of the Neon64 and it'll switch to PAL mode.

The Neon64 is a well made NES emulator for the N64 and there's not really much else to say about the NES emulation other than it works, oh and NES SRAM saves to a Controller Pak (Neon64 feature).

I won't be going further into detail about the Neon64 as it has nothing to do with the development of the Everdrive64, but simply place the emulator in the root directory of the memory card and you're ready to play some NES games.

It's worth noting that the Neon64 emulator must be renamed to "emu.nes" and that it should be placed in the "ED64P" directory on the SD card.

Neon64 Version 1.2b is available here.

FINAL WORDS
Well it's pretty odd to review something that I've basicly already reviewed, but with that said I think the ED64plus had a lot of potential because of the looks. Had some actually innovation gone into the development instead of a plain rip off, the ED64plus probably could've given all competition a kick. I love the idea of piggybacking an original N64 cartridge, this means the ED64plus is universal, unlike any of the other carts available on the market.

Because it features the cartridge slot on top it would've been awesome if it could've been capable of dumping carts, there aren't really any easy way of dumping N64 games anymore, not counting the Retrode device, this would've been an awesome feature that sadly isn't possible with the Everdrive design used.

I honestly had expected to see a cartridge version of the SuperUFO N64 copier CD64, much like the Super UFO 8 SNES cart released a while back, so I was a little sad to see that it was nothing more than a copy of something else. With that said, the Everdrive64 is a great device so it's not that bad - if only they had licensed the device instead of just copying it.

Retailing for $99 (or less) you get a fully functional device "ready to go". The Everdrive64 also retails for $99, but that's a "bare board" version without lockout chip (CIC) and plastic shell. If you want both of those (CIC is required) then the total is $129... Question is what you prefer, the original or the universal copy... I'll leave that up to you to decide :-)

Thanks to SuperUFO for supplying a sample for review.

The official ED64plus website can be found here.

MENU DOWNLOAD ARCHIVE
Menu version 1.28 (??.??.2012)
  • Initial release
  • ADITIONAL
    SAMPLE PROVIDED BY