Review: Everdrive 64 v2 (Hardware)

Everdrive 64 v2: Official GBAtemp Review

Hardware 13,991 views 2 likes 25 comments
Reviewed by Mike Wheaty, posted Aug 15, 2014
Cleaning out my battle hardened N64 from its box for a new round of reviewing. An Everdrive 64 v2 in the cartridge slot and a weekend of testing ahead, time would pass quickly.
Aug 15, 2014
Krikzz's latest version of the Everdrive 64 for the Nintendo 64 console is here. An all-in-one solution for the Nintendo 64 has been on my radar for quite a while, but how does the Everdrive 64 v2 fare on that front?
Mike Wheaty

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GBAtemp Review of the...

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Everdrive 64 v2

Developed by: Krikzz
Worldwide sales by: DragonBox.deemere.esStone Age GamerRetroGateMMGRetro.deNeotienda.es
Additional sales by: Various
Also Known As: Everdrive N64, ED64, ED64v2, EverDrive64, EDN64, N64ED
Review by Qtis – Completed 8/14/14

Introduction

While it was not the most successful console of its generation due to the release of the Playstation, the Nintendo 64 gave many gamers both old and young hours of fun. Many classics such as Super Mario 64 and GoldenEye 007 have helped form the future of their genres. The Nintendo 64 has over 300 games, but emulating them all have been challenging due to the complexity of the console itself. This is where the Everdrive 64 comes in and gives gamers today the option of playing the whole list of games without the hassle of finding a proper setup for emulators. All retro enthusiasts will love the idea of being able to have one cart inside the console and play any and all games ever made on the Nintendo 64.

The Everdrive 64 v2 is a retro Flash Kit designed for the purpose of being able to play the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo 64 DD games on the Nintendo 64 itself. The ED64 has a number of extra features such as Gameshark code support, which make it a tempting device. The ED64 can be purchased in various configurations from just the board to a complete setup with the CIC chip installed on the board and in a case. Setting up the Everdrive 64 v2 is a breeze and can be done without previous knowledge of the system. 

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Special Thanks:
​A special thanks must go out to Krikzz and Retrogate for providing the review sample. Retrogate is the officially licensed store for all Krikzz Flash Kit products. Their customer service, e-mail support, and inclusion of a tracking number make it easy to recommend them.

Product information

The product information (from Krikzz's homepage):

  • 64Mbyte (512mbit) SDRAM for ROM data (max ROM size 64Mbyte)
  • SD and SDHC cards are supported
  • FAT16/FAT32 support. Unlimited partition size for FAT32
  • SD to SDRAM transfer speed up to 23 Mbyte/s
  • Emulation features
  • Gamepack saves support (SRAM, SRAM128Kbyte, EEPROM16k, EEPROM4k, FlashRam)
  • GameShark cheats
  • IPS/APS patches
  • Region free - PAL ROMs can be played on NTSC systems and vice-versa
  • CIC boot emulator - Emulates CIC-6102 and CIC-7101 so all games can be played
  • No extra software needed
  • Byteswapped and non-byteswapped ROMs are supported
  • USB port 800k - 1Mbyte/s - USB port useful for developers (optional)

The Everdrive 64 v2 has a single universal design, which can be used on any region console. The Flash Kit is manufactured by Krikzz and has a very high quality finishing in the board itself. The basic board doesn't include the CIC lockout chip, which will need to be soldered in the board or bought alongside the ED64 in order to make the cart work. The Everdrive 64 can be used with the most common CIC-6102 (NTSC-U) and CIC-7101 (PAL) chips, which means most N64 games can be used as a donor cart. In case you aren't interested in soldering and dismantling a gamecart yourself, it is possible to buy the Everdrive 64 with a CIC chip in place, but remember to choose the chip according to your region (PAL/NTSC). The review sample was an all-in-one solution with the CIC chip pre-installed and the board inside the N64 donor cart shell. The shell was also modified in order to make the SD accesible without opening the shell itself.

Contents, packaging, impressions

Contents:

  • 1x Everdrive 64 v2 Flash Kit (CIC-6102 pre-installed and board inside a shell)

Packaging:

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The Everdrive was shipped in a bubble wrap envelope. Inside was the Everdrive cardboard packaging as seen in the picture to the left. The cardboard box was simplistic with a white exterior and label "Everdrive. www.krikzz.com". The Everdrive 64 itself was in an antistatic bag, which was surrounded by an extra layer of bubble wrap. The antistatic bag was a nice addition, since it lessened the possibility of static damage during shipping. As such, the device arrived undamaged and in perfect condition.

Design and impressions:

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As mentioned before, the Everdrive 64 board was already inside a NTSC shell, when it arrived. The measurements of the shell are exactly the same as in N64 game carts (in this case, a NTSC cart), but with a few modifications on the exterior design. The most notable differences and modifications are the custom labels on the back and front of the cart, as well as the slot on top of the shell for the SD card. In addition, the screws holding the casing together have been switched from the original security screws to the more available phillips screws. For easier access for development purposes, it is possible to order the Everdrive 64 with a USB port included. The review sample did not have this option in place, but the placeholder is still on the board.

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The cutout for the SD card in the top of the shell has been done professionally and doesn't have any sort of extra remains from the process. This is a positive aspect of the all-in-one option for the Everdrive 64, since no additional work was required to make it look good. The labels are simplistic and high quality, though not from the most expensive label materials. Still, once inserted into a N64 console, the labels felt identical in terms of visual quality compared to original N64 labels. The front label is simple with Everdrive 64 in a Super Mario Galaxy font above a planet and Krikzz's logo at the bottom. The back label has been modified to represent the Everdrive 64 and its use. The back label also includes information regarding the product such as developed in Ukraine and Game Pak designed in U.S.A. All in all, I'm impressed by the finishing and quality of the product's design. It is suitable to be left in the N64, since all data and firmware updates can be accessed by taking the SD card out of the device compared to needing to take the ED64 itself out of the cartridge slot.

Setup and usage

The Everdrive 64 v2 is similar to the other devices in the Everdrive series in terms of setup. In addition to the ED64, you will need a SD card or a microSD card with an SD adapter.  The latest version of the operating system is available from the download section of Krikzz's website and includes everything needed to make the ED64 work. All you need to do is drag and drop the folder marked ED64 into the root of your SD. In case you have a question of how exactly this should be done, there is an image of the setup included in the OS files (see below). Once this has been done, the ED64 is ready to be used. 

The Everdrive 64 is compatible with both .v64 and .z64 ROMs. The Kit can run ROMs from any region, but I'd recommend using your N64 region's native ROMs, especially if you're using a HD TV. HD TVs can push PAL games as black and white on a NTSC N64, but the issue is due to the HD TV, not the ED64.

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Once you turn on the Nintendo 64 with the Everdrive 64 in the cart slot, the OS will boot into the root of the SD card. Here you will have the folder market ED64 as well as any other folders in your root. Each page will show 19 items as well as have the full file name displayed at the bottom of the screen. Navigating the menu is done by using the dpad or C-stick. A buttom functions as select and B button as cancel. The Z button is used to access the additional options available for the selected files (Options, CPak Manager, Cheats, Device Info and About). All files in the OS are sorted alphabetically and pages can changed by pressing left or right on the dpad/C-stick.

When the A button is pressed on a file, the File Menu is opened. Select and start loads the file, Select only chooses the file, ROM Info gives detailed information about the ROM itself and Hex View opens the hex file of the ROM. The average user will not need other options than the first one, since the rest are used mainly for debugging. 

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Inside the options menu is a large amount of options available for the end user to choose from: Save Type, Game Mode (PAL, NTSC, PAL-M), SD Speed (25/50MHz), Menu Size (320x240 or 640x480), GameShark (ON/OFF), IPS/APS (ON/OF), Auto IPS (ON/OFF) and Auto Cheat (ON/OFF). Most options have a default set by the OS, so the user doesn't need to worry about doing much in this area. GameShark cheats can be used to enhance the games with specific options such as unlimited lives. A nice addition to the ED64 is the possibility of creating backups of your Controller Paks, which store the save files for some games. The System Information includes a various amount of data on the ED64 itself as well as the N64 system.

Saving on the Everdrive 64 is done in game similarly to traditional N64 carts, when in game. If the save is located in a Controller Pak, it's transferred automatically. If the save is done inside the SDRAM, resetting will be required for the save to transfer. The ED64 doesn't support a software reset combination, which means resetting for saving will have to be done manually each time. Once the console has been reset, the save is transferred to the SD card. Automatic save transfer would have been a nice addition to the cart, but isn't a major feature to the system. 

Compatibility

The setup for the tests included a Nintendo 64 (NTSC) with the Everdrive 64 v2 fitted with a 6102 CIC chip. A Sandisk 16 GB Ultra (Class 10, 30MB/s) SDHC card was used for testing the Everdrive 64. Before beginning the testing, the card was formatted FAT32 with the OS X Disc Utility. Load times were around a second max, which means less time wasted looking at the "Loading" screens. All games were tested for at least 5-20 minutes or as far as was possible without special peripherals unique to single games. If a game failed for any reason, I tested older OS version or other ROMs in case of bad dumps or complications with a certain combination. Comments regarding a game are mentioned after the verdict.

Firmware / Operating System versions: 2.31 / 2.04.

Ratings used:
PASS: Game works without any issues during testing
PASS/PROBLEMS: Game works, but with issues unrelated to gameplay. Fixable with OS updates.
FAIL/PROBLEMS: Game boots on current OS and hardware, but cannot be fixed due to hardware limitations.
FAIL: Game does not work due to unknown reasons.

Original games:

64 Oozumou 2 (J) PASS    
1080 Snowboarding (U) PASS
A Bug's Life (U) PASS    
Aerofighter's Assault (U) PASS    
Armorines - Project S.W.A.R.M. (U) PASS    
Army Men - Sarge's Heroes (U) PASS    
Bakuretsu Muteki Bangai-O (J) PASS    
Banjo-Kazooie (U) PASS    
Banjo-Tooie (U) PASS (E Black Screen due to crack in OS compatible with U version only)
BattleTanx (U) PASS/PROBLEMS (Black Screen for some versions. Works on a previous OS version. All fixable with OS update in the future)
Bomberman 64 - The Second Attack! (U) PASS    
Bomberman 64 (U) PASS
Bottom of the 9th (U) PASS    
Bust-A-Move 3 DX (U) PASS
Carmageddon 64 (U) PASS    
Castlevania - Legacy of Darkness (U) PASS    
Castlevania (U) PASS    
Chopper Attack (U) PASS    
Command & Conquer (U) PASS    
Conker's Bad Fur Day (U) PASS    
Dark Rift (U) PASS    
Derby Stallion 64 (J) PASS    
Dezaemon 3D (J) PASS/PROBLEMS (Issue with saving due to non-standard save file size. Fixable with OS update)
Diddy Kong Racing (U) PASS    
Donkey Kong 64 (U) PASS
Doom 64 (U) PASS    
Doubutsu no More (J) FAIL/PROBLEMS (No RTC module in the ED64 v2. Crashes when saving)    
Dr. Mario 64 (U) PASS    
Duke Nukem 64 (U) PASS    
F-Zero X (U) PASS    
Gauntlet Legends (U) PASS    
Gex 3 - Deep Cover Gecko (U) PASS    
GoldenEye 007 (U) PASS    
Hey You, Pikachu! (U) PASS    
Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (U) PASS    
Jeopardy! (U) PASS    
Jet Force Gemini (U) PASS
Mario Golf (U) PASS    
Mario Kart 64 (U) PASS    
Mario no Photopie (J) FAIL/PROBLEMS (No SmartMedia card slots in the ED64 v2)
Mario Party 3 (U) PASS    
Mega Man 64 (U) PASS    
Mortal Kombat Trilogy (U) PASS    
Nuclear Strike 64 (U) PASS    
Paper Mario (U) PASS    
Perfect Dark (U) PASS    
Pilotwings 64 (U) PASS    
Pokémon Snap (U) PASS    
Pokémon Stadium (U) PASS (Transfer Pak works)
Pokémon Stadium 2 (U) PASS/PROBLEMS (Works, but a few graphics errors exist, see notes below for details. Transfer Pak works)
Quake II (U) PASS    
Rayman 2 - The Great Escape (U) PASS
South Park (U) PASS    
Star Wars - Rogue Squadron (U) PASS
Star Wars Episode I - Battle for Naboo (U) PASS    
Star Wars Episode I - Racer (U) PASS
StarCraft 64 (U) PASS    
Starfox 64 (U) PASS    
Super Mario 64 (U) PASS    
Super Smash Bros. (U) PASS    
Superman (U) PASS    
The Legend of Zelda - Majora's Mask (U) PASS    
The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time (U) PASS  
Tsumi to Batsu (J) PASS    
Yoshi's Story (U) PASS    

Homebrew:

Dexanoid R1 PASS    
Manic Miner PASS        
NES Emulator PASS (some mapper issues as can be expected, but general compatibility was promising)
Pip's World Game 1 PASS    
Puzzle Master 64 PASS    
Shuffle Puck 64 PASS    
Super Bomberman 2 by Rider PASS 

Hacks / Translations / Unreleased:

Super Mario 64 and the Colorless Kingdom PASS    
Super Mario Magic Plant Adventure 64 PASS    
Doubutsu no Mori (J) English Translation FAIL/PROBLEMS (No RTC module in the ED64 v2. Crashes when saving)    
Tsumi to Batsu (J) English Translation PASS  
The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time Master Quest PASS       

A few notes have to be said regarding Pokémon Stadium 2 and why the game has graphics issues. The graphics issues are minor and affect only the Pokédex The Everdrive 64 v2 has 64 MB ROM memory available for games. It uses the 64 MB also for saving in cases, where the save type is not EEPROM. Krikzz explains it as follows: "It means that actual max rom size for v2 is 64Mbyte minus 32Kb (if SRAM used), or 64Mbyte minus 128Kbyte (if FlashRAM used). Whole 64Mbyte is avaialble only for games with EEPROM or wihich have no save memory at all."

There are three (3) games to use the 64 MB cartridge possible with the Nintendo 64: Conker's Bad Fur Day, Resident Evil 2 and Pokémon Stadium 2. Conker uses EEPROM for saving, which means it has no issues with the 64MB limit. Resident Evil 2 uss SRAM for saving, which means 32kB is cut off from the end of the 64 MB. Luckily the ROM has over 32 kB extra space at the end of the ROM. Pokémon Stadium 2 on the other hand uses FlashRAM for saving, which means 128kB less available space due to the save. Unfortunately, the ROM has less than 128 kB of dummy data at the end of the ROM, which results in some issues with the game. Disabling the save type from the options results in a fully working game, but naturally the saving doesn't work. Thus Pokémon Stadium 2 can't be fixed in regards to the graphics issues unless a save hack is created or Krikzz finds a new workaround. The game can be completed from start to finish without problems on the ED 64 v2.

Conclusion

Continuous support is a huge plus for the Everdrive 64 v2 and both .v64 and .z64 ROMs can be used. The current compatibility is already nearing 100%, but a few more tweaks will be needed for the OS to support every game released. Testing was done with the GoodN64 set of games, which can be used as a reference for anyone needing to solve compatibility issues. Unfortunately due to the lack of a Nintendo 64DD during the reviewing, Nintendo 64DD support could not be tested. Based on other people's experience, the ED64 v2 is compatible with the N64DD add-on. While the Nintendo 64 homebrew scene was never close to as large as on other Nintendo consoles, a great surprise for the Everdrive 64 v2 was the homebrew support.

The E64 was designed with the commercial cart hardware specifications in mind. This results in the maximum of 64 MB space for games on the board. Due to this and the saving method used on the ED64, available space for ROMs is 64 MB subtracted by the save size based on save type. The most notable and only issue for this setup is with Pokémon Stadium 2 as well as ROM hacks and homebrew requiring more than 64 MB space. There has been discussions of a v3 hardware revision by Krikzz with external save memory and RTC, but the price for the third hardware revision will definitely be above the price of Mega Everdrive (thus at least 1.5 times the price of the v2). The release date of ED64 v3 has not been announced, but Krikzz will continue to keep the v2 in production alongside the possible v3 in any case.

Verdict
Pros
+ Easy to use
+ Easy setup (drag and drop, done!)
+ Supports .v64 and .z64 filetypes
+ Support for multiple save types
+ Auto IPS/APS loading
+ Region free
+ Fast load times
+ Nearing 100% ROM compatibility
+ Homebrew compatibility top notch
+ Transfer Pak functionality
+ Controller Pak manager
+ Build quality
+ 64 MB ROM Memory
+ Price
+ Future OS updates
+ Developer can be contacted for assistance
Cons
- Saving requires resetting the console
- No software reset
- A few games require fixing
- Pokémon Stadium 2 graphic issue on v2 hardware setup
9.2
out of 10
Overall
The Everdrive 64 v2 is very near a perfect Flash Kit for the Nintendo 64. It supports both file types for games as well as multiple file types for saves. Hacks and homebrew work without any noticeable issues. The issues with Pokémon Stadium 2 drag the score down a notch. Overall I can easily suggest the ED 64 v2 for everyone looking for an easy solution to play close to all of Nintendo 64 games ever released and many more for a competitive price. Nothing beats retro gaming on original hardware.
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