Review: Master Everdrive (Hardware)

Master Everdrive: Official GBAtemp Review

Hardware 4,144 views 2 likes 9 comments
Reviewed by Jakub Kowalski, posted Dec 5, 2014
The Master System is a console that came out before I was even born, but since I'm a huge SEGA fan, I couldn't help myself and bought one. Needless to say, I was quite excited to check out the Master Everdrive and delve into the system's vast library of games.
Dec 5, 2014
This is a review of the Master Everdrive, a Master System flash cart from the famous Everdrive line of products by Krikzz.
Jakub Kowalski

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GBAtemp Review of the...

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Master Everdrive
Developed by: Krikzz
Worldwide sales by: Everdrive.de (Cartridge)Emere.es (Board Only), Emere.es (Cartridge)Neotienda.esRetrogate.comRetrotowers.co.uk (Cartridge), Retrotowers.co.uk (Board Only)Stoneagegamer.com (Board Only), Stoneagegamer.com (Deluxe Edition)
Additional sales by: Various
Also Known As: ME, Everdrive Master System
Review by Foxi4 – Completed 05/12/14

Introduction

The Nintendo NES revived the video game industry, there's just no question about it. The "NES culture" is omnipresent even today and the console is synonymous with retro gaming for most gamers. Not too many people are familiar with the NES's arguably biggest competitor though, the SEGA Master System. While the NES dominated the United States and Japan, the Master System was the go-to console in many areas of Europe and Brazil. The system had surprising longevity and its clones continue to be sold to this day, its library features many video games that you won't be able to experience on any other system, so it's definitely worth looking into this often overlooked underdog and check out what it has to offer.

This review will cover the Master Everdrive, a flashcart for the SEGA Master System. In addition to Master System games, the Master Everdrive is also capable of launching SG-1000 ROMs, making it the ideal solution for those who would like to try out what the Japan-exclusive system has in store. The Master Everdrive costs aproximately $77.

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Special Thanks:
‚ÄčA 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.

Product Information

   The description below comes from the product page at www.krikzz.com, outdated sections of the description have been removed or altered.

  • Max supported ROM size up to 8mbit (1mbyte)
  • SMS and SG-1000 games are supported
  • Supported standard Sega mapper and Codemasters mapper
  • Cart can be used on GameGear via Gear Master adapter
  • USB port for homebrew development (USB port available only on "Master Everdrive +USB" cart version. Homebrew software could communicate with PC via virtual serial port interface. All USB port operations controlled by SMS Z80 CPU, so USB port can not be used if cart not attached to console)
  • OS can be updated from SD or USB
  • Save RAM data can be stored or loaded from SD card
  • SD/SDHC/MMC cards support.
  • FAT32 support

Originally the Master Everdrive only supported FAT16 and SD cards up to 2GB, however the Everdrive line is continuously updated and those limitations have since been dealt with and the cartridge can be safely used with SDHC cards.

Contents, Packaging, Design & Impressions

As usual, the cartridge came in the white cardboard Everdrive box, protected from the elements by a generous amount of bubble wrap as well as an anti-static bag. The cartridge itself is sturdy, the SD card slot is not spring loaded and the PCB can be easily fitted into an original Master System cartridge casing - I chose not to do so as I don't own any Master System games that I would be willing to use as casing donors. Unfortunately, not all retailers offer the Master Everdrive in its own casing, which is a shame.

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Product unboxing and size comparison to an original cartridge

Setup and Usage

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Master Everdrive's File Browser

Using the Master Everdrive couldn't be more simple, really. All you have to do is download the latest OS revision from Krikzz's website, stick it onto an SD card along with the ROMs you want to launch, click on the OS file, select the Update option and you're good to go! The update procedure is practically instantaneous - a couple of flashes of the red on-board LED and the cartridge is ready for use. When using the Master Everdrive for the first time, make sure that you're inserting it the correct way. The front and back of the PCB are not marked, so make sure that the SD card slot is facing the back of your system, not the front.

The GUI of the Master Everdrive is very simplistic and may seem familiar if you've been following the Everdrive Month series. The reason for that is very simple - the Master Everdrive and the Everdrive GG reviewed by Another World share similar hardware and utilize the same interface. If you've ever used an Everdrive before, you'll feel right at home with the Master Everdrive.

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Master Everdrive flashing a game onto its on-board memory, this process is signified by the red LED light

All of the operations are performed from the File Browser menu seen above which shows the contents of your SD card. Upon selecting a file, the menu will show you a variety of options depending on what kind of file was selected: firmware updates will give you the option to flash the cartridge, ROMs will allow you to either flash the ROM onto the on-board memory (Load Only), flash the ROM and launch it (Load and Start) or view it in Hex mode (Hex View), and finally, .txt files will allow you to manage your Cheats.

The Master Everdrive recognizes both Master System and SG-1000 ROMs in .sms and .sg formats, compressed files are not supported.

Compatibilty

The cartridge was tested on a Master System Model 1 and a 2GB SD card formatted to FAT32 running OS v7 Beta. All of the tested games come from the GoodSMS ROM Set and retain their original region designation. Due to time constraints, SG-1000 ROMs and homebrew were not tested, the list below will be expanded upon in the future.

  • After Burner (UE) - PASS
  • Alladin (E) - PASS
  • Alien 3 (E) - PASS
  • Alien Syndrome (UE) - PASS
  • Castle of Illusions (U) - PASS
  • Choplifter (UE) - PASS
  • Columns (UE) - PASS
  • Double Dragon (UE) - PASS
  • Earthworm Jim (B) - PASS
  • Ecco the Dolphin - Tides of Time (B) - PASS
  • Fantastic Dizzy (E) - PASS
  • Ghouls 'N Ghosts (UE) - PASS
  • Golden Axe (UE) - PASS
  • Hang-on (E) - PASS
  • Lemmings (E) - PASS
  • Micro Machines (E) - PASS
  • Mortal Kombat 3 (E) - PASS
  • Ninja Gaiden (E) - PASS
  • OutRun (UE) - PASS
  • Phantasy Star (B) - PASS (For some unknown reason, the UE 1.3 version freezes at a Black Screen, using other releases is recommended)
  • Rampage (UE) - PASS
  • Road Rash (E) - PASS
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (UE) - PASS
  • Street Fighter 2 (B) - PASS
  • Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (E) - PASS
  • X-Men: Mojo World (B) - PASS
  • Zaxxon 3D (UE) - PASS
  • Zool (E) - PASS

‚ÄčThe cartridge performed admirably during testing and launched practically everything I threw at it aside from one version of Phantasy Star - the compatibility rate is impressive and the device is clearly well-suited for Master System collectors.

Conclusions

The Master System may not have been as popular as the NES, but it's still well-worth a try and the Master Everdrive is an ideal flash solution for it, as it enables the user to enjoy practically the entirety of the system's library and more without the trouble of juggling cartridges all the time. The device is very affordable, simple to set up and use and in my opinion it's $77 well spent, especially if you want to try out all of those great retro titles as they were meant to be played - on an original Sega Master System.

Verdict
Pros
+ Ease of use
+ High compatibility rate
+ Compatibility with Master System and SG-1000 software
+ Drag and Drop operation - no need for additional software (unless you are using the USB port)
Cons
- Lack of casing with some retailers - in my opinion it should be a standard, not an aditional feature
- The front and back of the PCB are not marked which may lead to some confusion during the initial setting up
8
out of 10
Overall
The Master Everdrive is an excellent device and despite a few small quirks it can easily be called the best flash solution currently available for the system. The high compatibility rate and the affordable price speak for themselves, so if you plan on playing Master System software on an actual Master System, this cartridge is definitely something to be on the lookout for.
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