Review: Everdrive GB (Hardware)
The flash cart covered in this review has been supplied by Retrogate, the official distributor of the Everdrive line of products and was sponsored by Krikzz himself. Visit www.krikzz.com and www.retrogate.com for your retro console’s flash cart needs!
Front and back of the device
The Game Boy Advance and DS eras spoiled us with a huge variety of flash carts of all-sorts, we got terribly comfortable with a constant supply of increasingly advanced flash kits – this is not the case when it comes to some retro consoles. Often times products for systems like the Nintendo 64 or the Game Boy are either discontinued and rare or terribly outdated and troublesome to use in comparison to the devices we enjoy today. This is where people like Krikzz step in and put a new breath of life into our retro devices by providing SD support, high compatibility rates and MultiROM/MultiSave support, among other awesome features we could only dream of back in the day. The latest product in Krikzz’s Everdrive line, the Everdrive GB, is specifically exciting simply because of the massive popularity of the Game Boy line and the scarcity of modern flash solutions.
...I totally didn't forget to take an unboxing photo *whistles nonchalantly*
The Everdrive GB came packaged in a simplistic white cardboard box with the Everdrive logo stuck on top of it – no awkward blister, getting to the meat of the sandwich was as easy as it gets. The box itself is a bit too minimalist for its own good, but on the bright side it’s much safer than your usual flash cart package. A lot of care went into protecting the device during shipping – the box was inside a bubble wrap envelope while the cart itself came in an anti-static bag which was also wrapped in additional bubble wrap. The package would easily survive a small tactical nuclear strike, so the supplier deserves props for that.
Front and back in comparison to original GBC (left) and GB (right) cartridges
As far as the cart itself is concerned, the casing is made of translucent plastic which shows all the electronic wonders inside – great, because they’re a view to behold. Everything on the PCB is laid out nicely and soldered neatly, it’s definitely a high-quality product that isn’t going to break on you.
The casing feels relatively sturdy and much better than most flash carts, unfortunately the cart I received had a crack on its back which saddened me greatly. I doubt that the cartridge got damaged during shipping because the box itself was intact, but I can’t fault Retrogate for it – the carts were all sold out the moment I requested one so I assume that the sample I got was found in a dark corner of the warehouse.
The cartridge does not have any distinguishable stickers and follows a minimalist style. Instead of stickers, the Everdrive logo and Krikzz’s website address is embossed in the plastic itself in an effort to expose as much circuitry as possible.
The spring-loaded SD slot is solid and can be found in the top right-hand corner of the cart. There’s also a red status LED in the top center – it blinks whenever you erase or write to the cartridge’s flash memory.
The cartridge is held together with an original Nintendo-style screw – on one hand it gives it a genuine feel, on the other it makes replacing the battery a chore if you lack the appropriate tools to open Nintendo cartridges – a more standardized screw would’ve been more welcome.
ROM flashing process
All you need to use the flash cart is a FAT32-formatted microSD/microSDHC card up to 32GB – the cart does not come with any proprietary software, ROM installation is as simple as dragging and dropping them onto the SD card and inserting the card into the slot. This is a huge advantage as other flash solutions for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color come with necessary flashing software which often does not work on modern operating systems. The cartridge is compatible with the entire Game Boy line from the original Game Boy to the Game Boy Advance, including the Super Game Boy and the Game Boy Player – if your device is compatible with Game Boy games, it’s compatible with the Everdrive GB.
Various sections of the Main Menu (ROM Browser, File Menu, Main Menu). On the screen you can see the EDGB folder - that's where all the dumped save files are stored
The greatest feature of the Everdrive GB is MultiROM/MultiSave thanks to SD card support. Whenever you wish to switch games, all you have to do is use the simplistic but all-encompassing menu to flash a new game and its save file onto the cartridge’s built-in memory – the process is quick and painless (length of flashing depends on the size of the game) and whenever the game is in memory, you can start it at any time using the Start button without having to flash it again until it is erased and overwritten with another game. The flash cart supports up to 1024 files per directory, but fear not! It also supports folders, so you can easily multiply that number by dividing your collection into categories. In case you will need to restart a given game quickly the cartridge also supports a Soft Reset combination - A+B+Start+Select - this comes in handy whenever you reach "rinse and repeat" sections in games.
In-depth game settings (Mapper/ROM/RAM Options, Game Genie Code Menu)
The cartridge is compatible with ROM ONLY, MBC1, MBC2, MBC3 and MBC5 games with ROM sizes up to 8Mbytes. It works with both Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, it also supports additional features available only on certain systems such as The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages Advance Store on the Game Boy Advance or screen borders on the Super Game Boy. It covers almost the entire spectrum of Game Boy games, its only shortcomings are the lack of an RTC clock, however this problem can be resolved using patches or Game Genie codes which the cartridge does support natively, as well as the lack of HuC-1, HuC-3 and "Chinese Originals" mappers support, but those are obscure and it is unlikely that you will ever run into a game using them unless you deliberately search for one.
In-depth system information (System Information, About Screen)
The results of compatibility tests are more than promising - after testing 50 titles, both commercial and homebrew ones, the cartridge only ran into issues with three titles - Pokemon Crystal and Harvest Moon GB which obviously require an RTC clock to properly function and R-Type DX which ran normally after a Soft Reset. As far as homebrew is concerned, unless the application specifically stated that it was meant to be ran on emulators only and would not work on real hardware, everything worked perfectly fine. The detailed results of what games and applications were tested can be found below.
No MBC (ROM Only):
- Dr.Mario PASS
- Motocross Maniacs PASS
- Tasmania Story PASS
- Bomb Jack PASS
- Boxxle 2 PASS
- Bubble Ghost PASS
- FIFA Soccer '97 PASS
- Metroid II: Return of Samus PASS
- Kirby’s Dreamland 2 PASS
- Warioland: Super Mario Land 3 PASS
- A Boy and his Blob - The Rescue of Princess Blobette PASS
- Donkey Kong Land 3 PASS
- Mega Man V PASS
- Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins PASS
- Duck Tales 2 PASS
- Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters PASS
- Tetris DX PASS
- Final Fantasy Legend PASS
- Final Fantasy Adventure PASS
- Ultima: Runes of Virtue PASS
- Ultima: Runes of Virtue 2 PASS
- Wave Race PASS
- Mystic Quest PASS
- Kirby's Pinball PASS
- Harvest Moon GB PASS (The sprites which normally help in harvesting when the game is off are not working due to lack of RTC)
- Pokemon: Blue Version PASS
- Pokemon: Crystal Version PASS (Clock does not work without patches)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX PASS
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons PASS
- Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword PASS
- Mega Man Xtreme 2 PASS
- Dragon Warrior Monsters PASS
- Dragon Warrior Monsters II: Cobi's Journey
- Dragon Warrior I & II PASS
- Dragon Warrior III PASS
- Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams PASS
- Shantae PASS
- Mario Golf PASS
- Donkey Kong Country PASS
- Resident Evil Gaiden PASS
- R-Type DX PASS (Starts with a glitched level from R-Type 2, plays normally after a Soft Reset)
- Metal Gear Solid PASS
- Pokemon Trading Card Game PASS
- Pokemon Pinball PASS
- Nanoloop PASS (Saving songs does not work, the original cartridge is unique)
- LSDJ PASS (when using MBC5, LSDJ does not show the SAVE/LOAD function, using the file system requires 128kb RAM and the cartridge only addresses 32kb. When using MBC3, the function does appear, however does not work due to lack of free space - this might be ammended via future firmware updates. For now the only way to "save songs" is to keep separate files for each of the songs, this does work. The .srm save files can be re-named to .sav and the songs can be extracted using an emulator)
- SnakEat PASS
- Apache! PASS
- Jetpak DX PASS
- Back to Earth 3D PASS
The Everdrive GB is a quality product for demanding customers. Its built-in features are miles ahead of what's offered by other contemporarily available solutions and SD support allows you to carry your entire Game Boy and Game Boy Color collection on just one cartridge instead of the usual 1-5 ROM's. The product is easy to use, requires no additional drivers or converters, it's entirely plug and play - input SD card, output fun. It's essentially the Game Boy flash cart of the modern age and it's products like this that keep the scene going. There isn't much more to add - the Everdrive GB deserves a glowing recommendation and two thumbs up, the only negative I can really think of is the price of the kit which is $88, but honestly, you're paying for quality here. If you want to bust out your old Game Boy instead of using emulators but don't feel like carrying around numerous cartridges or you don't feel like arm wrestling with drivers to get your ancient flash cart to work, the Everdrive GB is the way to go.
+ SD/SDHC support allows for carrying your entire Game Boy/Game Boy Color library in your pocket on one device
+ The compatibility rate is very high
+ The device can store save files for multiple ROM's unlike many other Game Boy/Game Boy Color flash solutions
+ +Folder support allows for organizing your ROM's neatly
- The lack of a built-in RTC clock necessitates using patches or cheats with some games including Pokemon Silver, Gold and Crystal, it's not a huge complaint though as all three can be patched to work without this component
- The price point can be discouraging, but you do pay for quality
- ROM's and Folders are sorted by creation date instead of using alphabetical order, it's hard to order them the way you want and there are no built-in sorting options
out of 10
The Everdrive GB is easily the best flash cart available for the classic line of Game Boys, it's miles ahead of the previously available kits. SD support is good enough on its own, but this cartridge also features a built-in Game Genie and a simple yet robust menu. The flaws of this kit are minor and will not impede your enjoyment of all your favourite Game Boy/Game Boy Color classics. It's more expensive than the competition, but that's the price of quality and it's worth every penny - I highly recommend it.