News Article

Talking Point: The Argument For And Against Retro Flash Carts

Posted by Damien McFerran

Preserving the past, or exploiting it?

As technology has advanced over the years, we've seen massive strides being taken in the realm of retro gaming, and one of the most important events to occur recently is the emergence of flash carts that allow gamers to potentially store every single game ever made for a single platform on an SD card and run them directly from a single cartridge.

A cottage industry has risen up around these devices, which are produced in small quantities and sold by a select few online stores around the globe. With prices which more often than not push into the hundreds of dollars, these bespoke carts are hardly what you could call a mass-produced item with massive market penetration — nor are they something which will appeal to the larger sector of video gamers. They are aimed at a very small number of players.

Even so, the purpose of such carts is obvious — to play ROMs on original hardware. Many of the ROMs which players will download and load onto these carts will be protected by copyright and will be available in some shape or form elsewhere, such as on the Wii U or 3DS Virtual Consoles. In that regard, these carts are clearly allowing individuals to play titles for free that they should actually be paying money for.

On the other hand, there are games out there that are not currently available in any form other than the original cartridge, and won't ever be available again for a number of reasons — the publisher going out of business or a licence expiring over the years — and these flash carts are a way of preserving such games.

While it's tempting to jump to conclusions either way on this thorny topic, it's probably more of a grey area than you at first think. With that in mind, we're making this Talking Point a little different, as in it will have actual talking. Digest the footage below and then let us know what you think by voting in the poll and leaving a comment. However, please remember to follow our Community Rules regarding the discussing of ROMs — please don't share links to ROMs or sites which actively distribute ROMs.

What is your opinion of retro flash carts? (290 votes)

I think they allow players to break the law and should be banned

11%

I think they are a vital way of preserving the history of our hobby

50%

I disagree with the distribution of ROMs, but agree that such devices are useful in certain situations

29%

I don't agree with them, but they're such a niche product that it's not worth taking action against them

5%

I don't have an opinion either way

6%

Please login to vote in this poll.

The devices featured in this video were supplied by Stone Age Gamer and Retro Towers.

Sponsored links by Taboola

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User Comments (98)

Findonovan95

#1

Findonovan95 said:

I guess they can be useful in certain situations. I used to pirate games but I stopped a long time ago when I started to get enough money to buy the games I wanted. I think these devices are a good way of preserving the history of our hobby though. It can really help to keep things alive in ther etro scene and maybe even introduce some of the younger audiences to the way games used to be. That's just my personal opinion though.

BigH88

#3

BigH88 said:

I don't know really. I'm fine if its a game that nobody can re release now and it's the only way we can play it. But other games like the marios, zeldas, and metroids shouldn't be pirated.

shibbyduckegg

#4

shibbyduckegg said:

I only ever pirate games I own but no longer work (i.e. Pokémon Gold because the save battery has died) or games no longer available to buy in such a way that the developer profits. As for that last condition, if the game becomes available on Virtual Console (i.e. Shantae), I buy it out of courtesy.

antdickensAdmin

#5

antdickens said:

It's a huge topic, I think in lots of ways if Nintendo was addressing the "itch" of these fans (myself included) with a better service for playing older games these kinds of devices wouldn't exist. The fact they exist is down to demand of fans wanting to relive all these old games with modern convenience. The best way for Nintendo tackle this would be to get more games on VC and much faster, obviously which isn't exactly easy.

If, like me, you spent £1000s on games the first time around, getting a flash-cart now isn't going to ruin Nintendo, if anything its going to make you a more loyal player long term.

unrandomsam

#7

unrandomsam said:

Someone is buying one of these and also buying lots of current games from the same company. (Or the VC versions) it is not a problem I don't think.

Reproduction cartridges are absolutely deplorable though.

I was thinking yesterday about the fact I have a fair amount of Megadrive games that I never play because I cannot save. (And the VC versions I am not happy with for different reasons like the filter that is applied to Wii ones or the Steam emulations just not being very good). I have a switchless modded Megadrive.

I am kind of interested in the Dreamcast one as well. (Think there is a way to mod the English voice into Shenmue 2). I have the disks for both of them.

Don't think there is a SNES one that is good enough. (Super FX / SDD1 or SA-1 games). But getting Super Famicom carts isn't too bad. (I have a switchless modded SNES).

I don't like optical disks. Too easy to damage don't perform very well. (If there was a way to use one to run Saturn games with a Sega Titan Arcade board I think I would do that as well). I have the JPN Saturn version of X4 but no Saturn yet. (Came up at a no import duty price so I bought it).

There is another about 5 PAL Gamecube games that can be run at 60hz but only with a mod chip which does annoy me greatly. (But I have not done anything about it).

ogo79

#8

ogo79 said:

even though i have most of the desired carts of games that will probably never arrive on some sort of virtual console, i still support this even though i dont have the flash carts

EarthboundBenjy

#9

EarthboundBenjy said:

I have a cart like this for the purpose of playing Mother 3 in English. In almost every circumstance, though, I always try to get the original versions of games I play.

9th_Sage

#11

9th_Sage said:

Don't have time to watch the video right now, but here's my general opinion...

For me, flash carts are a convenience thing. In my case I'm talking about the one I have for Nintendo DS stuff (usable on my 3DS). For years I've been dumping out copies of my DS games and putting the boxes up in my closet...I've got a really tiny apartment here. I've also been doing the same thing with my GBA games (and since this flashcart also has a built-in CPU that can be used for say emulating the GBA, it means I can use them here too which is impossible without such a device on a 3DS).

That said, if a GBA game I like such as say Mother 3 (just as an example) were to appear on the virtual console, I'd buy it there to support the things I enjoy despite being able to play it also on the flashcart or the original cartridge (though in Japanese in that case).

I feel much the same way with other forms of emulation (and other console specific flash carts). I'm glad to support whoever it is that wants to re-release these older games, I use other (unsanctioned, shall I say) emulation for things that are unlikely to ever come out because of weird rights issues, or the original developer just not caring any more (like the SNES RPG Robotrek...good game, I think Squeenix perhaps owns it now, but they're never going to do anything with it on VC since it's not Final Fantasy)..

EarthboundBenjy

#12

EarthboundBenjy said:

@ogo79
Aren't aware of what, sorry? :/ I was under the impression that everyone on the internet who knows about Mother games also knew about the fan translation.

AlexOlneyStaff

#13

AlexOlney said:

I think @antdickens has it right. If Nintendo and other games companies offered more options for playing these old games it would reduce the amount these devices are used enormously.

I have mixed feelings about the matter overall, there are those who use these devices to play games they own but with more convenience, and then there are people who use these products to avoid paying for games. Former is good, latter is bad.

Gridatttack

#14

Gridatttack said:

Indeed. More variety on the VC would be nice. Really. The VC doesn't have much variety.

Thats another thing, I would mainly get a FlashCart to play ridiculous hard to find games, aswell as play all the awesome mods, say for example, SNES in this case, with the multitude of SMW hacks.

The n64 one should be the most useful, since the PC emulator cant run pretty much anything that isn't a popular game (I wanted to play mischief makers :< ) and considering the 64VC is just hurr durr.

SyntheticPerson

#15

SyntheticPerson said:

I think they are useful for the future. I have heard of some people having problems with their carts now that the internal battery is on the blink. In the future, when carts are mostly dead, these will be a saviour to people who like to play retro stuff (like me). I am paranoid about my PD and GE carts dying.

Also, some of the hacked stuff is brilliant. Petrie's Challenge, Super Mario Star Road, GoldenEye X, etc are all fabulous labours of love from fans, and playing them on native hardware is the best way to enjoy them.

That being said, I understand the nature of abusing roms to get games they wouldn't otherwise have. On native hardware, it probably isn't so much of an issue for developers (as no new stuff gets published) but it will affect virtual console sales. Well, for the handful of titles they bother to release....

Sforzando

#16

Sforzando said:

I was actually unaware that there were Retro flash carts until now. That is actually very cool.

The article states that people "should" be paying for these old games. I tend to disagree, especially titles as old as NES games! The original duration for a copyright (in the U.S.) was 14 years with the option to renew once for another 14 years. If this was still the case, a lot of NES games would be approaching public domain territory, even if the publisher had renewed. Publishers and developers deserve to make money off their games, but only for a certain amount of time.

These days, there are only two legit ways to get NES games: hunt them down online or use the Virtual Console. This can be costly for rare games such as Fire N Ice, an amazing prequel to Solomon's Key with Lode-Runner like elements, great music and graphics, and devilish block puzzles. Love this game.

http://www.amazon.com/Fire-N-Ice-Nintendo-entertainment-system/dp/B00004SVPM

This game is $95 used (at least on Amazon), and not available on the VC. No, I didn't get this game legitimately. And I don't recommend you do! It's great but not worth $95.

I wouldn't mind paying $5 for great NES games if the VC had an exhaustive library, but so many publishers have since gone out of business or simply don't care about their old NES properties, keeping many games unavailable. These games that are an important part of culture are continuously held under copyright, at best being monetized to line the publisher's pocket 20 years after their release, and at worse being unavailable in any digital format.

Free the games! Reform copyright!

I am starting to sound like a techdirt article.

BakaKnight

#17

BakaKnight said:

My only opinion about ROMs used for retro gaming is that while they are wrong, they also have little potential in damaging the industry and some hard to deny benefits. This not make them "right", just not a menace like the tries to have modern games avaiable in the same way, forcing for example Nintendo to keep making the 3DS more and more stable >.>;

A little point however... While people keep saying devellopers should offer more VC, couldn't be the opposite? That these ROMs are playing a role in having so little VC? Why devellopers should see as a good move to overflow the VC and similar things when the existence of these devices and lots of emulators online definitely makes VC much less remunerative than it could be? ^_^;;;

Dreamcaster-X

#19

Dreamcaster-X said:

I love them and have them for my Super Famicom, Genesis, & Nintendo 64. I also own tons of games for those systems as well but in cases where there are games that fetch upwards of $100 or more then NO I'm not going to "buy" them off of ebay where the market has been artificially inflated on some of these games. The game companies get ZERO profit from these old cartridges and a Flash cart lets you play tons of old games & imports that were never possible back in the days when these systems were popular. Not too mention that literally hundreds & hundreds of these games will NEVER see the light of day as re-releases due to licensing & other issues.

EarthboundBenjy

#20

EarthboundBenjy said:

@ogo79

...oh! It seems even I wasn't aware of what you were talking about. The cart I own is a GBA flash cart, on which I put the Mother 3 translated ROM. If I understand you correctly, there's actually a standalone repro cart? That's actually pretty cool, and I wouldn't mind owning one of them. :D

Hyperstar96

#21

Hyperstar96 said:

Computers and the Internet also allow people to break the law. Should they be banned, too? People are going to download ROMs for use in an emulator regardless of whether or not they own a flash cart, so flash carts aren't even a problem at all.

I think everyone here (who has half an idea of how the law should work) can agree that, at the very least, ROM distribution and downloading of new games (DS/Wii and later) is bad. Old games, however, are an entirely different story:

  • In the case of games that aren't on the Virtual Console, there's no way Nintendo can make a profit on them anymore, so who cares? Maybe they should actually try with the VC if they care so much <_<
  • As for games that are on the Virtual Console, as long as people don't use ROMs as as an excuse to not buy a new copy of a game, it's okay. Unfortunately, a lot of people do see it as an excuse, so this point may be moot.

I say ROMs (and by extension flash carts) of older games/systems are completely fine as long as they don't take sales from Nintendo. That means if you download a ROM, you should also buy a copy of the game on the Virtual Console (if such a version exists, otherwise do whatever you want... release more VC games already, Nintendo! It's been almost two years for Wii U alone!).

Sforzando

#22

Sforzando said:

@AlexOlney
When it comes to getting games that are unavailable or overly expensive to obtain legitimately, I don't see anything morally wrong with pirating games. Or music, for that matter. If a band posts a song on YouTube but not iTunes, I download it with no qualms, and if it's later released on iTunes I purchase it there.

This could also be extended to games unavailable in your region. If a publisher doesn't bring a game outside of Japan, for instance, then I'm not even considered a prospective buyer. If it's not worth it for them to make it available to me, why should I import it? This is a bit more morally questionable, but I will admit to using this logic on a few Japan-only DS games.

Captain_Gonru

#24

Captain_Gonru said:

The only legit use would be for games that the owners have given permission to be distributed for free. ANY other use is piracy, plain and simple.

Gerbwmu

#25

Gerbwmu said:

I don't like the idea of bootleg copies of games (movies or music for that matter) but at the same time i have copies of all my music saved so if somebody is using it to preserve what they already own I don't have a problem with that. I just wonder what percentage of people are doing that compared to the people who are using it to pirate games.

Geonjaha

#26

Geonjaha said:

My view on the matter is that if there isn't any legitimate way to purchase a certain game anymore (e.g. right now anything from before the Wii/DS in terms of Nintendo software), then its fine. If they're available on, say, the Virtual Console, then that's a different matter. If you think the Virtual Console price is over the top then buy it second hand.

Honestly though as long as the game in question is more than 2 generations old (pre-DS/Wii right now) then I can understand using other methods to play it. The problem is that Nintendo's Virtual Console service is overpriced for what it offers. They could offer something to actually entice people to pay a couple of pounds for an old game, but instead they offer a poorer service than emulators, or even their own 20+ year old hardware! Seriously Nintendo, the GBC had different palette choices for GB games, why cant the 3DS implement such a simple feature? That's just one thing that could be done, but Nintendo seems adamant into putting as little effort into the service as possible.

sleepinglion

#27

sleepinglion said:

I have flash carts for all of my retro systems to back up my original and aging collection... yet I still wind up buying all of my favorites when (and IF) the Virtual Console service gets around to hosting them. Storage space is limited where I live. Having a flash cart in my NES with my entire library saves tons of room and nothing replaces the tactile experience of original controllers. I find the flash carts invaluable. Like anything, abuse is going to happen. Some folks will check out CDs and movies from the library and copy them. Lots of people will just listen or view and then return. It's human nature to follow and break the rules. This doesn't mean flash carts are wrong and should not be made available. As Nintendo sees no value in re-releasing legacy consoles or physical games, this is a handy option for enthusiasts.

Kaze_Memaryu

#28

Kaze_Memaryu said:

I'm not using flashcarts at all, for a simple reason: it's super-easy to exchange the batteries in cartridges. So the only use I see in flashcarts is to play games that are rare enough to fetch more than the launch price, because it's already hard to pay full-price for old games, but paying even more than that is too much to ask of anyone besides avid collectors.

Nazo_no_Hikari

#29

Nazo_no_Hikari said:

I don't have flash carts, and the only time I get roms is when I make a back up of them. Nothing else. (Because if I upload them, I'm screwed. Simple, even downloading ROM of an game you own is still illegal. It's only legal when you make your own backup of your game. :/)

The_Ninja

#30

The_Ninja said:

Isn't it completely legal if Nintendo, nor the creator of the game isn't gaining any profit from it?
Which means you can download any game that isn't on the VC, right? I'm fine with people owning retro flash cards as long as they do that.

Vriess

#31

Vriess said:

The argument against downloading ROMs would be a quite a bit stronger if Nintendo released a lot more VC games, but since they don't... I would prefer to buy Bayou Billy and Solar Jetman, Goonies 2, Kung Fu, Gremlins 2 etc. on the Wii U, but since I can't ...

Sforzando

#32

Sforzando said:

Legal does not always equal moral.

Laws are created by politicians, who are flawed humans with their own incentives. One incentive being the extremely rich copyright lobbyists.

Remember when slavery was legal? It stayed legal for so long in the U.S. because rich people relied on it to make more money, and didn't want it to go away.

Sound familiar?

(Of course, the IP industry, while corrupt and old-fashioned, is not as heinous as a slave-owner.)

Nazo_no_Hikari

#33

Nazo_no_Hikari said:

Also, I got an another question. Does a flash cart make your Rom of a game you owned? I'm asking this because I've never owned an retro flash cart before. Not even in my life.

Sforzando

#34

Sforzando said:

On the DS, you can dump your own DS ROMs over WiFi, using the DS Backup Tool. I did this to 90% of my DS games. And it is probably legal.

I don't think you can backup games with a retro cart, though. No WiFi. Although I think there is hardware you can find online to make your own backups for your retro flashcart.

WiiLovePeace

#35

WiiLovePeace said:

I got nothing to say on the Retro Flash cart thing. Like literally, can't think of anything to say.

The video was a fun watch though & I would like to see NL make more, cheers.

unrandomsam

#36

unrandomsam said:

@Kaze_Memaryu That only works for games that actually allow saving. (I have the cart / Steam - Genesis Classics / USA Wii VC of Gunstar Heroes and the only one that works perfectly is the cart but starting from the beginning all the time means I don't use it). Ones that use passwords I find just as annoying.

SyntheticPerson

#38

SyntheticPerson said:

@Dreamcaster-X

Exactly. Paying a fortune for a game is silly, when 100% of the money goes to the seller. Not the developer. Buying a game for a reasonable price is fine, as it feels like honouring the maker of it but there is no reason to spend £100 on a game 20 years old

Flowerlark

#39

Flowerlark said:

I think ROMs and flash carts are okay if you have legally obtained and paid for the official cartridge of the game and just want all your games on one cart. Likewise, it's also useful if you buy an imported game legally, but do not speak the language it's in. In that situation a ROM with a fan-translation patch is the only way you might ever get to appreciate that game, as a lot of them never make it outside Japan.

Noelemahc

#40

Noelemahc said:

It's the same old tired abandonware argument. If you're gonna be buying the game on the second-hand market for thousands of dollars or buying a two-hundred-dollar flashcart, or playing it on an emulator, the original devs won't be seeing a nickel of that money ANYWAY.

But here's the trick. If you're in this for the playing, not the collecting, you WON'T be paying the thousand dollars, but you might pay for the two hundred (and then some more for the spare parts and accessories to keep your old console running — like newer-TV-friendly connection cables, or fresh undamaged controllers, etc), if at all.

This is actually why I keep yammering about the need to develop VC better: it offers the companies to earn money from the people that would have otherwise simply emulated their games and not paid them anything. They are LITERALLY refusing to let people give them money for something the people would have had at their fingertips anyway. And so long as they continue to do it, I see no evil in flashcarts.

Fandabidozi

#41

Fandabidozi said:

I couldn't afford one of these but I would buy one in a heartbeat if I could.
Where are these illegal? In every country the world over?

Dave24

#42

Dave24 said:

Good luck with finding something like Hagane for SNES, for example.

In my opinion, it does not hurt anyone if people play on ROMs of old games from NES/SNES/SMS/SMD, because most of them won't be on VC or any other system.
If it is available to buy from VC or any other service, then go ahead, buy it, but if not, well, enjoy the game. You won't support the creators anymore anyway, even if you wanted.

electrolite77

#43

electrolite77 said:

@Geonjaha

I agree with most of your points completely. Nintendo haven't done enough for their Retro gamers. However one question, why would someone buy second hand if they didn't want to buy on VC? The developers and publishers still see no revenue from them.

MaximumRD

#44

MaximumRD said:

Flashcarts are great! Save space, save wear on cartridge slot, convenience, ability to play ANY game including unreleased, proto, Beta, Homebrew etc. One of the biggest "arguments" against flashcarts is they somehow reduce the value or collect ability of actual carts, I disagree, some people will get flashcarts for reasons I have already mentioned, some will collect flashcarts AND original carts and some like me will collect flashcarts and sell / trade their collection of original carts and guess what? That puts them back in circulation on the market for those who want the original carts, seems like win-win for everyone to me !

unrandomsam

#45

unrandomsam said:

@electrolite77 The VC Emulators are not good enough in most cases. (Best is GBA but even that is not perfect. Some microgames I can get about 10 points more on Warioware on the real thing. Cannot be perfect or I would be able to score about the same.). With what Nintendo knows their emulators should be indistinguishable from real hardware or the bsnes accuracy profile for SNES. (Removing the cheap filter would be a start).

XyVoX

#46

XyVoX said:

For me i my first ever experience was with a DS flash cart and what took me down that avenue was that i had literally 60+ highly rated DS games and it got really inconvenient carrying around my DS and multiple games i sat there one day and thought there has to be a better option, at this time i had NO idea of the concept of Flash Carts until after many hours research i discovered that they were available from Hong Kong i went ahead and ordered and thought it was amazing, secondly i the reason i SoftModded my Wii was because i owned again literally 80+ games most bought from new etc and got fed up with the utter inconvenience of it all and found out if i softmodded my Wii i could put my Wii game discs into my Wii and copy them over to a harddrive in order to play them this i can tell you made a HUGE difference in my enjoyment of my Wii (obviously the bonus of other territory games that never saw a Europe release i could play aswell)

Kirk

#47

Kirk said:

Look; the only way I even play retro games these days is on my PC or Mac (which by the way still tends to be a better experience than any officially available method imo) and there's many reasons for this. One of them is that I wouldn't give Nintendo the money it's asking to play these 20-30 years old retro games as I simply think they're overpriced. I most likely wouldn't be buying these games on some home console anyway, unless they were dirt cheap and actually offered the superior experience bar none (which currently isn't the case). So it's not like Nintendo is really losing money here, certainly not in my case, because 99.9% of the time it wasn't going to see it in the first place. At least this way these classic games are still getting played, enjoyed and appreciated by me and I'm still talking about them positively in places like this. Is that really so bad?

Maybe if Nintendo actually worked harder to figure out a way to get me back on board again this would be a different post...

Anyway, it's not like you can't just play many of these games directly online and for free in what is apparently a totally legal way (see link below): http://www.virtualnes.com/

Note: If posting a link to an apparently legal (see link below) NES emulation site is against the rules then please just delete the link but like I say, this is apparently being done within the rules of the law (see link below).

http://www.virtualnes.com/help/law/copyright.html

antdickensAdmin

#49

antdickens said:

Really glad to see this has turned into a very sensible discussion, good job everyone :) really interesting to hear all your views.

Williaint

#50

Williaint said:

@shibbyduckegg You know you can replace that battery, right? I had the same problem with Silver, and just changed the battery, it worked like new.

My opinion on ROMs is that they should be eliminated. While emulators have a right to exist, as they are just software, their existence is useless without ROMs. I have played homemade games, for instance a Mario and Sonic game, which was very incomplete. I'm a little on the fence about games tied to dead companies, as they wouldn't be getting any money anyway....
There are a few things I like about emulators is the fact they allow for "Game Genie/Shark" type codes. Having multiple frozen-game-states can be handy. Even though they ruin the original game experience a little...
Another thing I find despicable, is the way that Emulators and ROMs are advertised over the internet. There are several "Why pay for these games, when you can play them free!" popups, or whatnot, on 'top ten list' sites.
I have noticed the abominable price of retro games, which is pretty bad. I've wanted to play Final Fantasy 7 for years, but can't because the cheapest that game goes for is over $100 (comparably, I bought a PSX console with two controllers and four save things for $10).

There is no way to make downloading these games for free morally right. Not wanting to pay, or not have ever played them are not validators.
It's exactly the same as pirating music, videos, or anything else the internet has to offer (hypocrisy-cough).
So, to reiterate:
IT'S BAD.

kensredemption

#52

kensredemption said:

@Williaint

"Another thing I find despicable, is the way that Emulators and ROMs are advertised over the internet. There are several "Why pay for these games, when you can play them free!" popups, or whatnot, on 'top ten list' sites."

You must be hanging around in the questionable areas of the internet if you're seeing ads like that. I frequent mainstream sites for social networking, media and gaming news and not once have I seen ads promoting flash carts.

Anyway, as far as the original topic is concerned, I base my decisions on one philosophy:

If a developer can no longer capitalize on a title, either through digital distribution or selling physical copies (pre-owned copies of a game does not give the developer any money whatsoever), then the use of a flash cart to play the titles in question is tolerable.

gage_wolf

#54

gage_wolf said:

I think Nintendo should look to the emulator community like tech companies such as Google look to the hacker community for new talent. If someone can beat you at your own game, you should hire them. I'm not sure if the slow drip of VC on the Wii U is on purpose, but you can run pretty much any Nintendo titles from NES to Wii on a pretty conservative PC at this point with little to no tech knowledge. That should be happening on the Wii U, like right now.

Luffymcduck

#55

Luffymcduck said:

It's a good way for getting play games that are not available in eShop and such other places.

Bass_X0

#56

Bass_X0 said:

It's exactly the same as pirating music, videos, or anything else the internet has to offer. IT'S BAD.

If its so bad then the authorities would step up their game on closing down the websites that provide us with free entertainment.

fluggy

#58

fluggy said:

All for retro flash carts. Especially when considering the pricing of 25 yer old games. Very happily play full romsets on emulators on Wii U with no guilt whatsoever.

Kirk

#59

Kirk said:

Hey, even if we do end up playing old retro games in some kind of futuristic VR cyber space, we'll almost surely still be playing with controllers and buttons but the controllers will just be simulated inside the VR space. So you will see a virtual representation of you holding the controller in your hand and pressing the buttons and sticks with your fingers and thumbs etc, or if it's an old arcade game you'll see a virtual representation of the arcade cabinet in front of you for example*, with probably some kind of force feedback or maybe even still some kind of physical control device that you hold in the real world that helps with the simulated experience. So basically, you'll almost certainly always be playing these old classics in some way that is pretty close to the original experience :-D

*Ready Player One has a great representation of how I think we'll likely be playing old retro games in the future in this whole VR experience: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ready_Player_One

fluggy

#60

fluggy said:

Nintendo should have a ROM/emulator service instead of VC. Dump every ROM from NES to N64 (without having to adapt it for VC) and provide the correct emulator and charge £1 a ROM. Cheap to do from Nintys point of view and real service at an apt price for customers.

pigwarts5ever

#61

pigwarts5ever said:

I say if it isn't available any where (giving $ to the developers) or if you already own it then its okay to get roms but other than that its piracy.

Kirk

#62

Kirk said:

@fluggy

I think it should actually have both.

What it should do is a quick dirt cheap version, practically free, that lets you access every single game as a simple ROM emulated version, on whatever device you own (as long as it makes sense for it to be on said device; so no games where the controls couldn't actually fit on the device for example), and then also have these proper updated VC versions that it trickles out at regular intervals and you can either upgrade from your basic ROM version for a small upgrade fee or buy them fresh as VC versions only and get any benefits that come with that (such as digital manuals and whatever else they're offering with these new Wii U VC versions).

IMO that's probably the best way to do it and satisfy everyone.

Of course, that's just too sensible for Nintendo to likely even consider.

Link506

#63

Link506 said:

Whenever I download a rom, I try to find it elsewhere so that the company who owns the rights for it, can benefit (No, ebay doesn't count). But if I can't find it anywhere but a second hand store or second hand website, I download it. Its a win win for everyone.

Smash_kirby

#64

Smash_kirby said:

I personally have a translation hack of FE12, I would import the game but I don't know Japanese. It runs rather well on my flash card, Tearing Shadows really makes the game.

DamoAdmin

#65

Damo said:

@Kirk I actually did that with my PC Engine (which is also on the table) and the results were amazing.

The SNES in question belongs to @antdickens. My Super Famicom is still in perfect condition, but I'm not sure it matters how well you look after it, certain plastics will turn yellow with age regardless. I can only guess that Nintendo used different batches of plastic in the production process, which is why the SNES has gone yellow on the middle section but not the sides.

MikeLove

#66

MikeLove said:

There is no reasonable argument for saying people shouldn't be allowed to play ROMs of games that are no longer being produced commercially.

It's like saying you shouldn't be able to read PDF scans of Nintendo Power, and should instead be buying second hand copies.

sdelfin

#67

sdelfin said:

I will reiterate what others have said which is that the Virtual Console is lacking in various ways for different people.

While there are some who are flatly anti ROM, I can't agree. There are too many great games, such as arcade games among other, that would be nearly forgotten otherwise and that will likely never see any rerelease due to licensing. Acquiring and using arcade boards comes with its own set of problems.

In defense of flash carts, many people who do use them are collectors to some degree and will still buy carts. Such people often buy multiples of systems, controllers, and will have upscalers and maybe scanline generators or CRTs as well. I doubt most people who just want to play the games for free would care about using original hardware with all its headaches or would consider flash carts a reasonable purchase when it's much easier and cheaper to emulate on a computer or even a phone.

Ruffigan

#68

Ruffigan said:

Copyright was established to give content producers a 'grace period', a pass to sell their ideas unmolested for an established period of time before it becomes a part of the public domain, to assure them that others will not profit off of their ideas during that time, and that after that time it will be available to the public to use. But, due to the lobbying efforts of Disney to keep Mickey Mouse out of the public domain (and the modern efforts of Nintendo et al.) the original grace period (28 years after conception) has been pushed steadily back to the current period of 120 years after the creator dies (essentially 200 years after conception). These corporations are trying to keep profiting off of things that should rightfully belong to the public (such as Doctor Who, Mickey Mouse, and Sherlock Holmes), and they don't ever intend to let these characters, books, and ideas into the public domain. That's just the way it is.

Most of these ROMs are not older than the original grace period, but it's something to keep in mind moving forward: these games will never go into the public domain, and Nintendo, SEGA, Atari, and others want to profit off of this software indefinitely. If that's the case, the onus is on them to create a reliable service that allows us access to these thousands of games, or else gamers will continue to use emulators, ROMs, and flashcarts to play them.

As a side note, I am against the use of flashcarts to play games that are still sold in retail. Copyright is useful, it is just being abused.

Kirk

#69

Kirk said:

@Damo

I regrettably sold my SNES to Game or Gamestation (or one of those stores) a few years back but I recall even after having and using it regularly for probably well over 10 years it was still in perfect condition.

I think I either got really lucky with a later production run or maybe it just never got any direct sunlight or something (and I don't smoke either) because that thing looked lovely till the day I basically gave it away (I got a few pounds for it).

I miss my SNES...and my "watermelon" N64...and my black GBA SP...and my black GC...and even my Xbox...but not my original FAT DS

Boy, I got rid of a lot of great machines and would you believe all they got me was SOME of the money towards a new DS Lite (another great machine in it's own right though), if I recall correctly (although I might have bought a Wii around the same time too) :-o

ZenTurtle

#70

ZenTurtle said:

I think that if Nintendo put more of its classics such as Fire Emblem on the VC and made remakes pr something then there would be less piracy. Look at the NES: there's loads of ROMS on the internet (but that's true of all software ), but flash carts? Not as much. Look at the GBA meanwhile, piracy piracy everywhere. If the classics were on Nintendo's more popular handheld console, and we had more remakes etc, there might be less... And I've said it many times: We need more vc classics on each platform. No more 'WII U gets overpriced GBA games because it doesn't sell well', more 'all Nintendo platforms are getting the 100 most critically acclaimed titles for all of our classic systems'.

ToxieDogg

#71

ToxieDogg said:

I admit I have dabbled with piracy in the past but nowadays I never pirate any game that I can buy commercially. However, if my only option is fighting people on Ebay for a second hand copy, then I see no harm in it....how else would we get to play these games that haven't been available for years and are now (mostly) just sitting on the shelves of collectors and hoarders? As others have mentioned, if the games then turn up on the Virtual Console, or have remakes made for the E-Shop/PSN/XBLA, then I'll pay to download it even if I carry on playing the rom on original hardware.

@WilliaintT If you're that desperate to play Final Fantasy 7 without being a pirate, you can download it legally for quite cheap from PSN and play it on your PSP, PS3 or Vita (if you've got any of those devices).

ZenTurtle

#72

ZenTurtle said:

@Kirk
Most of the SNESs in the UK are now yellowing, it's really just the type of plastic used. You must have just kept it nicely, that's all.

Kirk

#73

Kirk said:

@ZenTurtle

Yeah, mine was a UK SNES.

I'm a bit anal about tidiness and stuff anyway so I guess just keeping things clean in general maybe helped by making sure it didn't get dusty, covered in spills, gather smoke fumes (since I don't smoke) or just sat out directly in front of the window all day or whatever.

ZenTurtle

#74

ZenTurtle said:

@Kirk
I got my SNES from my cousin, it was really yellow. I found that the controllers don't go that much, but around the buttons there's a sort of grime that has the texture of dried coffee, that easily comes off. They were built so well however that it still runs like a dream.

xj0462

#75

xj0462 said:

im all for flash carts, if they preserve game history, than go for it!!

Kirk

#76

Kirk said:

@ZenTurtle

Yeah, Nintendo has always made high quality hardware.

I've basically never had a Nintendo system fail on me; other than one face button on my SNES controller that became a bit sticky after many years of play and one should button on my DS Lite that became a bit sticky after many years of play.

I think those are basically the only issues I ever had with any Nintendo machines ever.

Even my N64 analog stick(s), I had 4 controllers, all worked great after years of use and apparently those aren't supposed to hold up all that well.

unrandomsam

#77

unrandomsam said:

@Kirk They used to I am not sure they still do. (Case in point Wii U dpad left is less warn than right already - That took over 15 years for my SNES).

Dreamcaster-X

#78

Dreamcaster-X said:

The yellowing of SNES consoles is due to certain batches of consoles having too much bromide in the mfg mix which is a flame retardant put into the plastic. Too much of it mixed with UV exposure over the years causes the yellowing.
You can turn the consoles back to their original color with a process called Retrobright, just Google it. My Super Famicom looks like brand new.

Byron-3D

#79

Byron-3D said:

I own flash carts for my n64, GBA and DS. I spend loads of money on my wii u, PS3 and 3DS so I don't feel a bit of guilt as I'm still doing my bit for the current industry.

Kirk

#80

Kirk said:

@unrandomsam

I was actually going to say that I'm not entirely sure/confident that's going to be the case going forward because I just get the sense that modern Nintendo is a little bit less about crafting everything to the highest quality standards and more and more about making as many 'whatevers' as cheaply and quickly as possible, even if it means a little drop in overall quality.

So far I've not really noticed it in the hardware on the whole but I've noticed that it seems to be the case more and more with things like the firmware and overall presentation and quality of the menus and user interfaces in it's systems and that's maybe the first sign.

I guess the more complex everything gets, the more all the little details (that I think are often the most important thing) get overlooked.

I've also noticed it with some of Nintendo's recent collaboration projects too, where imo it seems to be being a bit haphazard with how it's letting other companies use it's characters and visa versa. Sometimes that extra "Nintendo" layer of polish just seems to be missing imo.

Still, overall, the standard is still generally very high for the most part.

AK-1138

#81

AK-1138 said:

My retro "argument" is that my heart literally cannot survive another loss of 20+ portable games from over three generations.

GN004Nadleeh

#82

GN004Nadleeh said:

we gave nintendo a chance with the virtual console and they only repeat the same games and charge more for it on each system and most of the the time there is no way to get some of the best games (dk64) because of licensing problems that have nothing to do with gamers. it is easy to get classic controllers for pc and use emulators

ogo79

#83

ogo79 said:

@EarthboundBenjy
yeah i dont know a lick about these flash carts, but im not against them either.
i guess they would have saved me a lot of space...yes, the english mother 3s have been available for around 1 1/2 years now.

Henmii

#84

Henmii said:

I guess its convenient to preserve some of your own games. For example: You have some games on cartridges that never get released again in any form. And your console died. Then you can still preserve your game and play it on a different device.

I for example can never play DK 64 and Banjo Tooie again because my Expansion pack died (and I don't have a Xbox360, so I can't download Tooie).

By the way: I am talking about converting your own games into roms for your own usage. Getting lots of roms for free of the internet is bad! Though I guess why people do it: Nintendo's ridiculous VC prices+no real account-system+all the games that never hit VC. If Nintendo would serve the people better, then it would happen less often.

ryanator008

#85

ryanator008 said:

The NES and SNES are so old that I could use an emulator or flash cart and not lose sleep over it. Nintendo doesn't seem to care about people pirating these old games, so why should I?

ElkinFencer10

#86

ElkinFencer10 said:

I have no problem with the existence of ROMs for the purposes of preserving games. These flash carts, on the other hand, are a bit grey for me. I don't have a problem with their use to play hacks and homebrews - playing Legend of Zelda: Outlands or Super Mario Frustration on an NES, for example - but that's where I draw my limit. I'm less okay with their use to play released games and not at all okay with their use to play games that have been rereleased on a Virtual Console-like service. With that said, however, I don't think it's my place to pass judgement given how little money is likely to be denied to the developers and publishers from these devices. I just have a personal problem with emulators in general.

StarDust4Ever

#87

StarDust4Ever said:

I've got flash drives for NES (PowerPak), Famicom, SNES, Genny, TG-16 (Everdrive), and Atari 2600 (Harmony). In the case of TG-16, the game cards are so stupid expensive that I gave up trying to collect for it and instead preloaded my Everdrive with R0Mz. Great tech overall and it's often possible to sample demos, hacks, translations, protos, and homebrews. If a homebrew is available on cart, I usually try to support the devs by buying it. Definitely much more fun than PC emulators. ;)

Ufaowl

#89

Ufaowl said:

One more opinion.
DS flash cards are the reason NDS was at least in slight demand here in Russia. Otherwise it would have been missed entirely as N64 and GC were. Thanks to flash cards i'm here, loving Nintendo and buying games for my 3DS constantly. I'm happy to pay for what there is. I have no wish to use my flash card anymore, but it made the deed - i fell in love with Nintendo.
But this is not common case. In other countries Nintendo's availability was always better.

Kolzig

#90

Kolzig said:

I think they are a vital way of preserving the history of our hobby.

Definitely that, especially what I've seen in our local retro club and at the semi yearly events that we arrange, people are loving the fact that we can easily introduce them to old gaming consoles and old games, and the SD card functionalities brought by amazing modding people are a big help with that. I've seen for example Commodore 64's and Amigas and Turbografx consoles that can be easily made super computers with the sd card mods that enable you to easily have the whole library available since there is no legal way to even get the classic games anymore. Don't even start about the failed experiment with C64 and Wii VC.

Same thing also with console like Sega Saturn, it had amazing games that most people have never even heard about especially since Sega doesn't want to put even small effort to re-release the games on modern platforms. That's why it is incredibly important work that some people make mod chips for such old consoles like the Saturn. Those people responsible should deserve a medal or something for their work.

What I hate the most in modern retro business is people cashing in with old games in eBay etc when they ask for 100-500 euros/dollars/pounds for some old game that never was worth that much.

What I personally want is that more and more people, especially the younger generation, since I'm +30 already, would know about what games and consoles there were in the past.

Nintendo is doing the good with the VC, although the content is way way less than what it should be and the pricing has been totally wrong ever since the Wii days. It's still wrong even in 3DS and Wii U eShops. The prices should be a lot lower.

Geonjaha

#91

Geonjaha said:

@electrolite77 - True, but if the product is actually still available to purchase legitimately (even if it is on the overpriced Virtual Console) then I revert to a stance of piracy being wrong, and would prefer to buy it second hand, because at least then its legal. As I said though, I understand not doing that, its just my personal choice.

MysticX

#92

MysticX said:

I think retro flash carts are very important in preserving the games for a lot of people, Nintendo aside (Since Nintendo loves their re-releases :P ), which other publishers from back in, say, the SNES age republish any of their games? (Never mind the countless publishers that are gone now)

The money has been made on those games when they were first released (I'm against flashcards for current-gen systems, those are only for pirating), the second-hand retro market (The sole alternative to ROM-carts) doesn't earn the publishers anything either, so let the games be used freely now.

sagen

#93

sagen said:

A gba flash cart was the only way I could play MOTHER 3 in English the way it was intended to be played. Otherwise, I don't use them. (BTW, I do have an actual copy of MOTHER 3, so I'm pretty sure what I did was technically still legal..)

Starwolf_UK

#94

Starwolf_UK said:

As someone becoming less interested in collecting cartridges and DVD cases (lack of room, becoming less convenient as libraries increasingly become digital) flash carts interest me from that perspective. But at the same time I don't play retro games very often so would be better off sticking with emulators.

@unrandomsam A bit off topic but I think the homebrew swiss for gamecube game be used without a modchip (using a Datel SD media launcher) and may also be able to force 480i (searching around finds forcing of 240p, 480p and 576p).

Gio32k

#96

Gio32k said:

I'm a recent owner of the Commodore 64 and Commodore Vic 20. Find actual floppy disks for those computers are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Since floppy disks are magnetic, they usually crap out after a certain amount of uses. The ones that do survive, especially the really good ones. Can go for hundreds of dollars and you have no idea how much longer they will last. Thankfully there are emulators and devices out there which allow you to play software that otherwise would have been lost to time. Without such things existing, I would have never gotten into retro computers and I would have never been able to fully experience what made those computers wonderful.

bartplugers

#97

bartplugers said:

I personally don't collect retro games just to collect them. I do wan't to play a lot of them, though! And what better way than to play them on the original hardware through the use of products that make use of the exact same hardware on the cartridges as the original game cartridges?

At first I did try to get all the games I wanted to play in their original form, but it's getting harder and harder to get them for a reasonable price these days. So I got myself a couple of these everdrives.

It just isn't much fun getting the original games I wan't anymore..

KingMike

#98

KingMike said:

Flash carts can be good for things like translation patches. Buy the original game so you legally own the game, but then play a translation to better enjoy it.

But even though I would definitely want to buy legal originals, there has to be a medium even when using it for a ROMs of out of print games. I can't imagine anyone except maybe resellers seriously arguing that everyone who wants to play Surprise at Dinosaur Peak should be required to spend $1,000 for it. Especially when it's legitimately hard to imagine Taito getting another penny off that game ever (but if that does show up on a digital service, I'd recommend buying it). (the resellers probably made more money on that game that Taito ever did :D )

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