A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a website called ToToTek selling all sorts of flash
carts for classic consoles. Back then I really didn't care enough to check any of them out as they were quite pricy, but just the other day I once
again stumpled upon ToToTek and finally decided to check out their SNES flash cart.
So here we are about a week after I purchased the cart it has finally arrived. I decided to go for EMS shipping as I didn't really want the thing to get
stuck (lost) somewhere on it's journey to my mailbox. The whole deal set me back US$98 which is a lot, hopefully the cartridge is worth it.
What I got for my US$98 (incl. shipping) was a couple of PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards), one being a Programmer and the other being the SNES Flash cart.
I actually also bought mine with a cartridge shell included and while I thought it was supposed to be some custom made casing, all I got was an incredibly
dirty old cartridge shell from a "Koutetsu no Kishi" game, oh damn.
The package included no cables or manual of any kind which seemed a little cheap and I honestly think that at least the loader should've been placed in a
protective plastic shell, also to make it more comfortable to use but maybe that's just me.
Out of the box the cartridge actually isn't working. As with any other Nintendo System except for the Gameboy, Nintendo have used a lockout system to prevent
unauthorized software from being used as well as dividing the market into sections and then also to prevent imports. Well this little Nintendo chip of course
isn't on the cartridge, but sadly no effort to make a chip that circumvents the lockout. ToToTek offers a japanese lockout chip for just US$5 but it's pretty
useless at least for me and my European SNES console.
Lets me first describe the Programmer module which basicly is nothing more than an SNES cart connector, an Xilinx XC95144XL and a couple of cable connectors,
both and USB and a Parallel port connector. I made my first mistake here thinking that the unit then would use a USB cable to connect it to a PC and program the
cart, but that wasn't exactly the truth. The Programmer is Parallel Port based and only uses the USB connector as a power supply. ToToTek warns that users must make
sure that the USB connection they're using runs no more than 5 Volts or it'll fry the flash cart, but who honestly checks that? come on!
Parallel means that the Programmer is incredibly slow, it takes just under 45 seconds to flash a 4mbit rom - that's 512kilobyte - and that's even using a turbo
option in the programming software. The Super Flash is an old product developed back in 2003/2004 which may be the reason why the linker uses a parallel cable
instead of full USB, but it's really a sad excuse for a programmer compared to current standards and a better programmer should've been made.
Also to be able to make the Programmer work you have to set your Parallel Port to EPP mode, most people have this set by default so it shouldn't be a problem. But
if your PC's Parallel Port is set to ECP or SPP mode the Programmer will not work, so you'll have to change it.
The software used to program the cartridge is called Super Flasher, the current version is V2.34 and actually isn't that current as the date on ToToTek's
website says 29 June 2004, talk about dedication.. no new software for over 3 years.
That's even with the fact in mind that the current software is quite unstable and goes totally nuts with an error message saying "Priviledged instruction" just
seconds after the program is launched and they just keep coming.
I don't know about you but I get quite annoyed when I have to press okay to a useless error
message because the software works and doesn't crash in between the error messages. Well fortunately the error messages doesn't appear while the flash cartridge
is being programmed. It has to be said to that I have managed to launch the program with out seeing the annoying error message.
Oh yeah I almost forgot that the Programmer also can be used to read data from SNES cartridges, should you want to back up your own cartridges for personal use
even though it's said to be illegal.
The flash cartridge comes in two variants, a 32mbit and a 64mbit version. I went for the 64mbit version as it can hold more games at once, though it was sad to see
that you can't exchange just one game on the cartridge if you have multiple games stored, if you add a new game everything on the cart is deleted. With the
extremely slow loader that surely must top the list of negatives.
The cartridge is said to be multi region and support both PAL and NTSC which is sort of true. Out of the box it supports absolutely nothing as you have to supply
the lockout chip yourself as stated earlier, or you can use a universal adapter, ToToTek even offers one for US$10, but again it's just a PCB and nothing else.
This way you can keep your lockout chip doner cart in one piece.
Well the cartridge also offers battery backed SRAM and it's easy to backup or restore using the Super Flasher software. Also most rom file formats are recognized,
even zipped SMC files, however rom files must not be in split in sections, but those are hard to find anyway.
All is not fine and dandy with the flash cart though and this one may possibly prevent some from buying a Super Flash cartridge. Well for quite obvious reasons the
cartridge doesn't include a SuperFX chip which means that games such as StarWing (StarFox), however I wonder if the SuperFX chip could've been emulated by the
cartridge in some way. But to be totally honest I don't think the missing SuperFX support is such a big loss.
Well I must say that the ToToTek SuperFlasher is quite nice eventhough it seriously needs a new USB cart reader, or maybe a better flash
cart as it only takes seconds to backup and cart while it takes what seem to be forever to flash a game to the flash cart.
Never the less it's a great cartridge and it works quite well, I just kinda wish the set had been completed with a nice plastic shell for
both the cartridge and the cart reader/writer as well as some CIC to circumvent the lockout instead of having to deal with that yourself
after having bought the set.
Team Neoflash is working on a new and supposedly much better SNES flash cart, but it may take some time before it's released, so until
then the ToToTek SuperFlasher is well worth the $100.