News Article

Hardware Review: Everdrive 64

Posted by Damien McFerran

One cartridge, infinite possibilities

They may not find much favour with purists, but flash carts are becoming increasingly popular these days. The rapid march of technology combined with the low cost of flash-based storage has generated a wide selection of different options, almost all of which are produced in limited quantities and to very crude quality standards.

It’s now the turn of the N64 to get the flash treatment, but the Everdrive 64 is anything but a cheap hack-job. We’ve had a review sample for a few days now and have been thoroughly putting it through its paces. The results are rather as you would expect from a gameplay perspective: this cart allows you to run ROM images on your N64, which means you could potentially have every single N64 game on one cartridge.

Before we go on, it would be remiss of us to talk about flash carts and ROMs without touching upon the sticky issue of piracy. We don’t condone piracy at Nintendo Life, and we feel that you should always choose a legal method of purchasing software, if one happens to be available. With several fantastic N64 titles already for sale on the Wii Virtual Console, there’s not really any excuse — apart from being a skinflint — for downloading them for free off the internet.

However, to dismiss these carts based purely on a dislike for ROM distribution is foolish. Like all physical media, original N64 cartridges have a limited lifespan, and flash carts like this could be instrumental in keeping gaming history alive in the next few decades.

The Everdrive 64 uses SD cards for storage, and can even commit your save game to memory. The cart’s interface is straightforward, and there’s no messing about with firmwares or any other files — you simply drop the ROMs into the correct location on the SD card, boot it up, select the game you want to load and you’re away.

With so many manufacturers of flash carts choosing to simply supply bare circuit boards, it’s refreshing to see that the Everdrive 64 supplied by Stone Age Gamer comes with such a comprehensive level of packaging. It’s supplied in a plastic case not entirely dissimilar to the old Genesis/Mega Drive cases. A professionally printed inlay is also present, and each case has a unique gold sticker which notes the serial number of the cart contained within.

The cartridge itself is taken from an old N64 game which has been gutted. The cart casing has been resprayed (you can pick from either Charcoal Grey or Cobalt) to make it look unique. The guys behind the Everdrive 64 state the colouring process is very effective, and judging from the strong smell of paint that hits you when you remove the shrink-wrapping, we’re inclined to agree.

Also in the box is a set of printed instructions, a couple of promotional stickers and an SD card, the size of which is dependent on the package you order). The SD card even has a custom-made glossy label telling you its size, which matches the sticker on the main cartridge itself. All in all, it looks great.

Such opulence comes at a high cost, however: prices start at an eye-watering $174.99, and if you opt for a larger capacity SD card then that rises even further. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from ordering the cheapest option and then purchasing a larger card from elsewhere. To be honest, it’s unlikely that you will need much more than an 8GB card.

Whatever your stance on the moral issues surrounding software on obsolete hardware, the Everdrive 64 is sure to strike a chord with retro collectors and players alike. The high price tag and limited production run mean that it’s almost certain to become a much sought-after item. One cart, many possibilities.

The Everdrive 64 is available now from Stone Age Gamer, who provided us with a unit for review purposes.

Editor's note: This has clearly stirred up a lot of reaction, so here's a quick note from our editorial director — and author of this piece — Damien McFerran.

The fact of the matter is that flash carts are becoming a massive part of retro gaming, and in the next few years you'll see them becoming even more important. These devices are going to be instrumental in keeping the history of gaming alive: once carts die, there's no way to legally purchase licensed games like Mickey's Speedway USA or Goldeneye. If the publishers aren't going to make efforts to preserve these titles, why shouldn't the fans?

Understand that we read all your comments and take what you have to say very seriously. Our moderators are doing a fantastic job of keeping the discussion on track and we'd like that dialogue to continue, as long as comments are sensible and thought through.

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User Comments (57)



SLiM said:

Sounds like a very expensive but great solution for those collectors who worry about losing their save game data due to batteries in old cartridges finally dying.



Usagi-san said:

This "We’ve had a review sample for a few days now and have been thoroughly putting it through its paces" makes this "We don’t condone piracy at Nintendo Life" absolutely meaningless.



Shiryu said:

I really need to get on this. But the SNES and Megadrive versions first.



edhe said:

Is there anyway to legally own a piece of hardware like this?

Because you say piracy is illegal, but what legal methods can you use to use something like this. Would somehow converting the data on a cartridge I already own into rom data, then transferring it over to this magical device be the considered legal?

If so, what would I need for such a procedure?

And to those who would complain about this article, remember it had to go through an editor first, and he obviously gave it the green light.



theblackdragon said:

@Ryno: under no circumstances is it okay to discuss downloading ROMs from the internet here at Nintendo Life, and under normal circumstances we disallow discussion of ROMs entirely as it all too quickly winds up delving into piracy. However, for the purposes of this article and the archival of your own purchased software, it should be mentioned that dumping your own cartridges is a viable option for this device, which is why the limited lifespan of N64 cartridges was mentioned in the article.

edit: sorry edhe, i just wanted to make our stance perfectly clear to Ryno directly. If anyone else has any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch!



Morpheel said:

@edhe: Most sites have a reminder that say that you should only download roms of games you already own, for backup purposes. I'm not sure of how legal that is, though.



theblackdragon said:

@edhe: sorry, someone came into the shop and it took me longer to edit my comment than i thought it would.

@Morpheel: 'backup purposes' applies only to you dumping a ROM from your own cartridge and using said ROM for your own private purposes. Downloading a ROM from the internet is downloading someone else's backup copy, which they do not have permission to share and you do not have permission to download.



OldBoy said:

$175's pretty cheap for the whole of the N64 catalogue though. And the fact that you can play with the intended controller makes this a lot better than using a PC.Not interested but a cool bit of kit all the same.
we love you too :3 that said, chances are there's something going on behind the scenes if you see something odd happening on the forums. If ever you have any questions, as always, we invite you to get in touch directly so that we may explain. thank you! — TBD



BJQ1972 said:

@theblackdragon - I'm not sure about the legalities in the US, but it is very much a grey area whether making a back-up copy of a game cartridge you own is legal or not. It is possibly legal to make a back-up copy of software, but to do so by circumventing copy protection is not, I believe.

It seems that Nintendo Life is endorsing a product that could well be considered illegal in the UK.



Mayhem said:

BlackDragon is correct in what he says regarding making backups and legally being able to use them on cartridges such as this. Proving you haven't made the backup and instead just downloaded a ROM would be rather tricky to prove, so no one really bothers monitoring that, they just go after the whole ROM sites in general.



theblackdragon said:

@BJQ1972: it is indeed a gray area, and researching applicable laws in the country you call home would be imperative if this is a route you're considering for your personal collection.



Ryno said:

What do people use to dump roms from their original cartridges? The Retrode does SNES and Genesis, what about for the NES, N64, etc?



Hyperstar96 said:

I order mine a month ago and it STILL hasn't arrived. I'm starting to think it was a scam <_<



NintenDude97 said:

I can't believe Nintendolife allowed this to be posted. It's not like I'm against hacking or flashcarts or anything (please, we don't need to know what you've done, thanks — TBD) but it seems like even the mention of stuff like this gets removed from the forums. TBD really cracks down on homebrew, emulation, and stuffs. But hey, that's what GBATemp is for. If I'm gonna be a Nlifer, I'm gonna follow Nlife's rules.



OldBoy said:

that is enough. i've already asked for someone in editorial capacity for comment. please stop — TBD



HiroshiYamauchi said:

I'm really surprised to see a article about a flash card on this site. Don't get me wrong, i'm not a kind of defender of morals and good manners, but is was unexpected.



tanookisuit said:

Initially this thing cost a good little bit less but Stoneage Gamer jacked up the price to stick it to consumers. We discussed this at nintendoage forums recently and it's a shame it was handled like this, but I guess if you can just get enough to pay the premium what's it matter right?



adzix said:

Am I the only one wondering how the card actually works, how the menu is, how fast the load times are, how it handles saving, if it's updateable, if you can use cheats, if there are any limitations and so on?
Somehow all it says is how the thing looks like and how well it's packaged.
Well that's pretty cool but not really a review



Ren said:

Very silly and arrogant the way this discussion is being handled here. Above is a review of a device that is so obviously used for playing roms that have been pirated. Of course the line is that "it's illegal but the device isn't" and IN THEORY you could back up the ancient library of hundreds of carts you have laying around that are oh-so-fragile that clearly you'd find a device to do that in case someone takes a sledge hammer to that priceless copy of mario64.
You've done a cursory review of the device and how many games it can play so easily and then snapped at people making any mention of pirated games!? If you have such a problem with the practice then take the article down, but these commenters don't work for N-life (most of them) so don't jump on people for talking about what the article is really about.

next thing we know you'll review predator drones and then jump on people for discussing covert assasinations because its illegal. they're only designed for peacekeeping, right? come on, n-life, you can't have your cake and eat it too. what arrogance.



theblackdragon said:

@Ren, et. al: I'd like to think I haven't been 'snapping' at people over anything, but if that's how I'm coming off here, I apologize. I'm as confused as everyone else when it comes to these things showing up on the main site, but I'm doing my best to be as fair as possible in terms of applying our own Rules to the comment thread, at least. I have to respect all the people I've warned and/or banned over the years, all the comments I've edited or deleted, and hand down the rules as fairly as I possibly can, even when faced with an article like this. This cannot, will not, and shall not be made into a no-holds-barred free-for-all 'hey where do you get your ROMs' piracy chat, no matter what we've all read into the article posted above this thread. as the Rules currently stand, that sort of thing absolutely, positively does not belong here at Nintendo Life, and I am within my rights as Community Administrator to make sure it does not happen.

believe me, I would love nothing more than to see this article having never been posted this morning, but site content is beyond my control. I've already made my feelings known behind the scenes. I've asked for outside comment, something to explain NL's official stance on this kind of thing, especially since the last Everdrive review (i think it was the Super Everdrive, the one for the SNES) had much sterner wording regarding piracy and ROMs, and even suggested the idea of dumping your own cartridges. no one's come out to say anything publicly yet, but I'm hoping something will happen soon. In the meantime, please — I'm the one handling this conversation, and I'm doing my best under incredibly conflicted circumstances.



Klapaucius said:

What I really want is something that can backup my savegames from my old N64 cartridges, possibly combined with a machine that can play N64 cartridges long after my N64 bites the dust. Anything like that around?



Sup said:

It does seem a bit strange. I mean, would an article regarding the pros and cons of an R4DS and other NDS/DSi flash-carts ever be allowed?



Odnetnin said:

Next time please put the price of the thing at the beginning of your article about piracy, so I don't start to think about getting one.



StarDust4Ever said:

They've already cloned NES, SNES, and Gen/ MD systems; do you think they will clone the N64 next? Since patents expire after 20 years, N64 clones will be coming up around the corner, depending on when exactly the patents were filed.

I own a PowerPak NES and I love it, but I'm not planning on buying flash carts for any of my other retro systems ATM.



Capt_N said:

@adamical ditto

These, to me, are just like all those game-save/savestate devices that used to be sold for consoles, like the SNes/MD/GBC/etc., as well as a multitude of "cheat" devices, such as Game Genie, & later GameShark. As a matter of fact, I would assume that this is sold in the same manner(, per (accordance to any) possible legal issues, that might arise). Of course, these kinds of items don't get Nintendo's seal. & you do have to be careful w/ them. I almost lost an N64, back in the day(I mean roughly 12 years ago), by means of GameShark: I had actually damaged my N64 console, to a point that it would not power-on/boot-up. I said a quick prayer, & it worked again. Oddly, my N64 never had that bizarre hiccup again.

As for this article being posted, I'm not surprised. There have been similar articles here, none of which condone piracy, obviously. Besides, I may be incorrect about my assumptions, but even though this is a review site(& a good one, too), it's name alone implies it is also in the vein of being a fan-site. So ppl like me are more catered to, rather than a monotone review only "Game a is better than Game d", there are articles here about stuff in the fanbase, as well (as non-monotone reviews).

@StarDust There are already N64 clones out, & about.



hendie001 said:

every time i play an old game i hold my breath when turning it on, sucks that one day they won t be there : <



Mandoble said:

At least here you may have copies of what you already have, it doesnt matter if the copy has been made by another one, you simply need to have the original. Basically, as long as you have something (music, video, games, books) you may have back ups of them in any available media. This thread is becoming absurdly dramatic for what the original article describes, it is like avoiding to talk about mp3 players because many people will fill them up with pirated music.



Ren said:

point taken, sorry you have to deal with that. I personally don't really care to promote piracy or naysay it, I just don't like an odd double standard. It's too bad whoever wrote it didn't consider that it doesn't exactly fall in line with other n-life 'rules' when you're realistic about it.
It is certainly interesting to know about, I'll admit, but if it's a point of discussion than I'd love to hear about all the good and bad models of r4 cards and other flash carts.
I found a pretty awesome nes cart in a junk shop some years ago that looked like someone had hand made and put about 100 games on and printed a nice label at home for it. Theres a grey market for everything, I guess.



nick_gc said:

Limited life of Nintendo 64 cartridges? Pull the other one. NES games still work that are well over 25 years old. If you're bothered about save games then it'd be cheaper to learn how to replace the internal battery.



RebeccaGunn said:

Cartridges can kick the bucket easilly enough, if something blows in the circuit or whatever. This particular option for back-up is sound enough to me - technology ages and some people might not want to keep using old cartridges in order to keep collections pristine

The argument here is a bit strange mind, having a cartridge storage solution is nice, but the price is WAY more than the legit route of going out and purchasing a Wii and a raft of Nintendo Points (so Pirate types in the first place would balk at the cost).
I'm sorry, but we're not here to argue for or against piracy in general — TBD



ogo79 said:

ive never seen anyone have a cart that didnt work ever. all you have to do is
clean them properly, and or replace the battery if it has one. i dont think cart games just stop working because there old. if thats the case retro game stores jobs would be on the line. also, if this was the case, why have people spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on retro games? all my uncles atari games still work, thats older than not against this topic im just saying i clean all my games and they boot up everytime. if people were that afraid of retro games dying on them, ask someone who spent 500 plus on a copy of The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak why he or she did it. if its to resell
theyd better get rid of it soon because it may die out one day? nobody spends that kind of money on something that will break, cart games last longer than vehicles.



StoneAgeGamer said:

@tanookisuit The EverDrive64 Deluxe Edition was always $174.99. I don't jack up the price or rip anyone off. I don't think you realize how much work actually goes into making a Deluxe Edition.



ogo79 said:

i felt i should also add my above post has nothing to do with you in a negative manner, as ive bought products from you before, and i still have my SAG refrigerator magnet on my refrigerator!



StoneAgeGamer said:

@oldgamesonly No offense was taken. Honestly the responses to this article are pretty typical to what we see every time someone does a review or overview of one of the EverDrive flash carts. Two common things: Its a rip off / too expensive and its illegal. One is subjective and the other is not true (at least not in the U.S.).



theblackdragon said:

@StoneAgeGamer: while the 'rip-off' part is certainly in the eye of the potential buyer, remember that this is a UK-based site, and at least one type of flashcart has already been deemed illegal there. they're a very gray-area thing, no two ways about it. with that in mind, most of the discussion above was engendered by our own Community Rules and application thereof — if we didn't have this sort of gray-area thing listed under 'Unacceptable Content', I'm sure the discussion here would have gone down much differently. :3



StoneAgeGamer said:

@theblackdragon I am not privy to UK law. I am a U.S.-based business.

Thanks for posting that article. Although I obviously disagree with the ruling I understand the moderators concern. I do understand Nintendo's concern over flash carts for systems that are still in production though. We would never release such a flash cart. We are only interested in long abandoned systems.

If this article must be removed, so be it. If it is I will contact Damien and have him return the EverDrive64.



theblackdragon said:

@StoneAgeGamer: I have no control over site content, and Damien is one of the site directors. I'm sure if the article was going to be taken down, it would have happened already, lol. I understand you're in the US (and so am I), but what I was attempting to explain was why the conversation here turned so quickly to talk of 'illegal'. With the situation as it is, it's not fair to paint our userbase with the same brush as that of other sites (which may not actually have the same confusion going on and still rush to the same argument).



StoneAgeGamer said:

@theblackdragon Obviously you could say I am biased (not you, but in general), but I don't see this as painting the NintendoLife user base as anything negative. People who don't like flash carts won't use them, those who do may be interested in this article. To me this site is about providing Nintendo related news along with the community. This article was about a N64 flash cart with no actual information on how to use the device illegally. I guess I personally don't see the issue. I am not just saying this because I provided the product. If this were a competing flash cart or another "gray market" (as you called it) device my opinion would obviously be the same.

Really in the end, if you do not like the content any site provides then the best way to show that is by voicing your concern and if you feel you did not get the result you desired from the people who run the site then the next best course of protest is to stop supporting the site by no longer visiting it. I hope this site does not lose viewers because of, what I consider a pretty mundane article. I wouldn't even call it a review (which I personally was hoping for).

There are plenty of people and sites that are just as reputable and respected as NintendoLife that have reviewed flash carts. Maybe I am seeing things through Stone Age Gamer-colored glasses or maybe things like this just don't bother me like it may others.

Thanks for the conversasion theblackdragon, not often do you experience actual respectful dialog on the internet. If the community is truly against such articles as this I would suggest contacting NintendoLife and letting them know.



Rensch said:

If you have an original copy, but just want all your games ready to use on a single cartridge, I'd say: why not?



StarDust4Ever said:

@Capt_N: If there are N64 cloned hardware in existance, i'd certainly like to know of it. It is common knowledge that many of the pirate famiclones aka SuperJoy III came in the shape of a fake N64 controller.

I simply stated that an N64 hardware clone would be cool. They've already done it for the 8- and 16-bit systems. The N64 had a much beefier processor (over 25x faster clock speed of SNES), so a simple all-on-one-chip solution probably wouldn't cut the mustard, but i'm not saying it can't be done, though at this time, an ARM processor with a software emulator and an appropriate graphics chipset would probably be cheaper to manufacture than true N64 cloned hardware. N64s are also cheaper and easier to come by than SNES/NES consoles, so the demand is probably lower. Give them time...



Hyperstar96 said:

Disregard my previous comment; my ED64 just came in on Saturday and it is GREAT. Works like a charm! So far I've tried 3 different ROMs on it and they all worked flawlessly and loaded very quickly.

In order to store your save data to the SD card, you must hit reset on your N64 (not the off switch), let the Everdrive OS load up again, and THEN you can turn it off. Make sure you do that!



DamnataAnimus said:

Really I don't see why people are getting bent out of shape about this article.

please be respectful to your fellow users — TBD



Odnetnin said:

@DamnataAnimus The problem people are having being that it's against the NLife Community Rules to talk about piracy-related stuffz. It's not that they're against the article itself, necessarily, but how it seemingly contradicts the site's policy for users.

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