Hacking Reflashing GBA Bootlegs, can't save!?

kidpoker

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Hey guys I am new to the forums so hello everyone.

Ok so I hate to play games on emulators but I like playing hacks so me and a friend brought a handful of Pokemon bootlegs and Benn Venn's Joey Joe bags.

I can reflash the carts with out any problems but I can get them to save. :( I am trying to play Pokemon hacks by the way.

Is there a fix for this or have I just wasted my money?

Also, this is most likely a newbie question but as the bootlegs don't have internal clocks, is there patch to get rid of the annoying message.

Also, what is the M1 board?

Thanks in advance! :)
 
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FAST6191

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Not all bootlegs will be able to be flashed but it seems like you got lucky.

Do you patch the games you are flashing back? Ones you can flash usually will be based on flash carts and thus need to have the games patched to use SRAM. The SRAM patcher of GBATA from http://www.no-intro.org/tools.htm is my usual go to tool for this sort of thing, depending upon the flash cart it uses as a base you may have other options.

Real time clock can be sorted for those few games with it, though some of the odd regions
http://gbatemp.net/threads/buying-a-gba-flash-cart-in-2013.341203/page-18#post-4756995 has links to such things (though ruby and sapphire will be taken care of with the clock patcher also available in GBATA above, emerald is linked in that).

Personally I would just get a flash cart. Far less hassle in the long run.

Not sure what one of the tools will be calling an M1 board.
 

kidpoker

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Well, I order 10 games all Pokemon hacks, I have only flashed 3 as if I can't save them they are not much use.
So I haven't tested the other 7 but I have opened them all and they all look very similar so hopefully, they are flashable.

I tried the SRAM patcher on Pokemon Liquid Crystal and everything looked like it was working. I saved it fine then I turned it off and back on to see if the save worked and it said it was corrupted. :(

I tried again and the same thing.

Yeah, I could always get a flash cart but I like have carts I can put on my shelves.

I will try another hack, see if I have any luck.
 
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kidpoker

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Just flashed an other rom and no save. :(

How does the save work in most bootlegs. I mean I know legit Pokemon games use a 128k flash, I think anyway.
But if I patch it to an sram does that not need to be powered?

The sram on this board read 'M68UI000ELTGI' at least that's what I can make out as there is flux or something all over it.
I guess that's not the right part number as I am getting nothing on google when I search it.

Does anyone know the part number so I can find a datasheet?


I cleaned the SRAM the part number is KM68U1000ELTGI-10L
 
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The Real Jdbye

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Just flashed an other rom and no save. :(

How does the save work in most bootlegs. I mean I know legit Pokemon games use a 128k flash, I think anyway.
But if I patch it to an sram does that not need to be powered?

The sram on this board read 'M68UI000ELTGI' at least that's what I can make out as there is flux or something all over it.
I guess that's not the right part number as I am getting nothing on google when I search it.

Does anyone know the part number so I can find a datasheet?
Yes, SRAM is powered, that's why bootlegs usually have a battery.
 

kidpoker

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None of these bootlegs have batteries in them and the ones I haven't flashed are saving just fine. Well the game freezes for about 30 seconds when you save but other than that they save fine.
 

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Just flashed an other rom and no save. :(

How does the save work in most bootlegs. I mean I know legit Pokemon games use a 128k flash, I think anyway.
But if I patch it to an sram does that not need to be powered?

The sram on this board read 'M68UI000ELTGI' at least that's what I can make out as there is flux or something all over it.
I guess that's not the right part number as I am getting nothing on google when I search it.

Does anyone know the part number so I can find a datasheet?

As mentioned there are a variety of types of bootleg/repro available for the GBA. They work in a variety of ways.

Patch to SRAM then. If you are bored
http://problemkaputt.de/gbatek.htm#gbacartbackupids

All GBA carts (give or take some esoteric things with aspects of flash carts) save by interacting with a few pins.
Different save types have different needs for the interaction (different wake up/handshakes, different lengths of read/write and so on) but they are similar enough that we could make generic tools to work on any known save type. This is what the patching program handles.
If the cart you are using uses SRAM chips then yes it would need some power method, however there is a closely related type called FeRAM/FRAM which speaks much the same protocol but does not need power to hold data. Official GBA carts went to this some time quite early in the GBA lifetime (we have examples of SRAM games and then a reprint which uses FeRAM instead). Most flash carts, certainly ones of any great use, prior to the everdrive uses SRAM and batteries, possibly also a battery for the real time clock. Many repros were based on these (earlier ones not so much, the various later stages also not so much, and a few of the odd ones made throughout it all... who knows)

Well, I order 10 games all Pokemon hacks, I have only flashed 3 as if I can't save them they are not much use.
So I haven't tested the other 7 but I have opened them all and they all look very similar so hopefully, they are flashable.

I tried the SRAM patcher on Pokemon Liquid Crystal and everything looked like it was working. I saved it fine then I turned it off and back on to see if the save worked and it said it was corrupted. :(

I tried again and the same thing.

Yeah, I could always get a flash cart but I like have carts I can put on my shelves.

I will try another hack, see if I have any luck.
The problem with repros/bootlegs is a) they are not always made the best, b) the hackers that made them have no say in it, c) and may not be able to issue fixes (the repro makers tend not to be the sort of follow projects properly and will instead grab whatever buggy old mirror they find) d) you are paying someone for pirated goods and likely not just a couple of quid for the burned CD. Those inclined to link them tend to get invited to do one but talking about ones you have and trying this sort of thing is OK enough here.
If you want to make or collaborate on boxes/boxart/labels and buy flash carts (a well known variable around here and likely with all the major problems already solved), or SD cards for each hack for the flash cart, to populate them then carry on.
 

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I thought it could be a FRAM but I just looked at another game and I can read the part number which is 'lp62s1024ax'.

An SRAM!? So how is this holding a save?

All the boots I have are all different, just small things.
It's odd. Also on the board, there are jumpers.

One is marked 'DAN' and is not soldered then there are two others one marked 'N' which is soldered and another 'Y' which is not soldered.
Any Idea what they could be for?

I will get some pic uploaded.


Yes, you're very right about the bootlegs, they are not exactly quality.
But if I can figure out a way to get these babies to save I can update them to the latest versions of any hack and hopefully there will be a lot fewer bugs. :)
 

kidpoker

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Ok so here is three boards. The one marked 4400 is Pokemon Dark Cry, the board marked 4000 is ash gray and the last board is Pokemon adventures red chapter.

How can these hold saves with out any power?

34pgnef.jpg
 

FAST6191

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Two main choices.
Either there is a fairly large capacitor in there providing power or the chip (tantalum supercap + modern SRAM's keep alive current needed is sort of doable) governing it takes the data from SRAM and writes to a piece of flash memory and back again when it boots (like certain types of flash cart can do).

I will have to see the pictures and layout to get an idea of what is going on though.
Edit missed the picture post, will get back to you later on that. These epoxy blob ones are seemingly what the current batch of repros are like though, though I am not sure I have seen hacks on them yet.
 
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kidpoker

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Two main choices.
Either there is a fairly large capacitor in there providing power or the chip (tantalum supercap + modern SRAM's keep alive current needed is sort of doable) governing it takes the data from SRAM and writes to a piece of flash memory and back again when it boots (like certain types of flash cart can do).

I will have to see the pictures and layout to get an idea of what is going on though.
Edit missed the picture post, will get back to you later on that. These epoxy blob ones are seemingly what the current batch of repros are like though, though I am not sure I have seen hacks on them yet.


I don't know my SMD part to well but I don't see any caps. So we can rule that out.
That makes much more sense the save going from the SRAM to the flash and back again when it boots.

How do you think that is programmed? Would it be in the ROM it's self or is the glob top some sort of IC that tells the SRAM when to talk to the flash and vice versa?

Also any idea what those jumpers are used for?
 
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How can these hold saves with out any power?

Note that certain Pokemon repro carts (not sure if that includes these) save to non-battery backed up sram and then immediately to a portion of the flash memory that contains the game information. The flash memory does not need power to store the save.
 
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kidpoker

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Note that certain Pokemon repro carts (not sure if that includes these) save to non-battery backed up sram and then immediately to a portion of the flash memory that contains the game information. The flash memory does not need power to store the save.

Yes thats most likely how these carts work.
Any idea how it's programmed to do this?

Would it be helpful if I dumped a rom from one of these carts and shared it?
 
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If I'm not mistaken, Pokemon GBA games have weird chips in them. My brother had Pokemon FireRed and I wanted to play it, so I used a dumper program on my DS Flashcart to dump the GBA cart from SLOT-2. After patching for my SuperCard, it worked fine, but when I turned off my GBA and turned it on again, it said the save was corrupted. I got around this by downloading a patched version. That might be your best bet. The problem with these carts is that they save in a very weird way, because they need so much space for your Pokemon.
 

kidpoker

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If I'm not mistaken, Pokemon GBA games have weird chips in them. My brother had Pokemon FireRed and I wanted to play it, so I used a dumper program on my DS Flashcart to dump the GBA cart from SLOT-2. After patching for my SuperCard, it worked fine, but when I turned off my GBA and turned it on again, it said the save was corrupted. I got around this by downloading a patched version. That might be your best bet. The problem with these carts is that they save in a very weird way, because they need so much space for your Pokemon.

These bootlegs seem to have a very odd way of saving, I think I am going to need more than a patch to get these carts working.

I do not.

What do you think the glob top is or does?

What if I patch the ROM to work on SRAM and installed a battery directly to the SRAM?

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

Would uploading a dump of one of these hacks that are saving be useful?
I know very little about coding but if we crack this, very cheap flash carts for all! :)
 

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Ok update time!

So I got a rom hack patched it with the SRAM patch.
I went ahead and installed a battery directly on to the SRAM. I used a CR1616 as that's all I had around.
Acrodding to the data sheet VCC is pin 8 on the SRAM the cart was using this SRAM : KM68U1000ELTGI-10L
I need to get a small iron as soldering to that TSOP was a pain!

Anyway, then I boot the game and saved.
When I booted it back up it told me the save was corrupted which means there was data being held on the SRAM, I am probably sending the wrong amount of power to it. My multimeter is broken that's not helping.

I am thinking of getting out the heat gun and removing the SRAM to follow the power input trace to find an easier place to solder in a battery.

I am also going to send one of the Chinese ROMs to a programmer friend of mine to see whats going on in there.
Here is a link to it if anyone on the forum is interested in having a look.
(Link removed)
 
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The Real Jdbye

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Ok update time!

So I got a rom hack patched it with the SRAM patch.
I went ahead and installed a battery directly on to the SRAM. I used a CR1616 as that's all I had around.
Acrodding to the data sheet VCC is pin 8 on the SRAM the cart was using this SRAM : KM68U1000ELTGI-10L
I need to get a small iron as soldering to that TSOP was a pain!

Anyway, then I boot the game and saved.
When I booted it back up it told me the save was corrupted which means there was data being held on the SRAM, I am probably sending the wrong amount of power to it. My multimeter is broken that's not helping.

I am thinking of getting out the heat gun and removing the SRAM to follow the power input trace to find an easier place to solder in a battery.

I am also going to send one of the Chinese ROMs to a programmer friend of mine to see whats going on in there.
Here is a link to it if anyone on the forum is interested in having a look.
ufile (dot) io / k7pi9
You didn't mention GND, but I assume you connected that too?
Yes thats most likely how these carts work.
Any idea how it's programmed to do this?

Would it be helpful if I dumped a rom from one of these carts and shared it?
Dump the ROM and compare it to a clean dump (no-intro?) of the same region. If the ROM has been patched to offload SRAM to flash it should be easy to tell. Especially if the value at 0x100 differs, as that's the entry point that tells the GBA where to start executing code, it's used by scene groups to show those fancy intros before it jumps to executing the game.
 
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kidpoker

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You didn't mention GND, but I assume you connected that too?

Dump the ROM and compare it to a clean dump (no-intro?) of the same region. If the ROM has been patched to offload SRAM to flash it should be easy to tell. Especially if the value at 0x100 differs, as that's the entry point that tells the GBA where to start executing code, it's used by scene groups to show those fancy intros before it jumps to executing the game.


Yes, I used the ground from the SRAM, pin 24.

I am not much of a software guy so I only understood about half of that but I will pass that on to my programmer friend. :)

You can have a look at the ROM yourself if you like, the link is in the last comment. :)

So do you think it may be possible to make a patch that would allow the game to save the same way the Chinese have done it?
As adding a battery is a pain, especially if your soldering to a TSOP chip. Those pins are tiny and I don't think your average joe would be to solder to them. :/

As I said if we can crack this super cheap flash cards for all!! :)
 

The Real Jdbye

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Yes, I used the ground from the SRAM, pin 24.

I am not much of a software guy so I only understood about half of that but I will pass that on to my programmer friend. :)

You can have a look at the ROM yourself if you like, the link is in the last comment. :)

So do you think it may be possible to make a patch that would allow the game to save the same way the Chinese have done it?
As adding a battery is a pain, especially if your soldering to a TSOP chip. Those pins are tiny and I don't think your average joe would be to solder to them. :/

As I said if we can crack this super cheap flash cards for all!! :)
You should probably remove that link, it's not allowed here.
It's certainly possible to make a patch like that, the question is whether it's worth the effort.
Edit: I had a look at it, but it looks like this version of Shiny Gold is based on Ruby whereas the one I already have is based on Fire Red. There's probably many different versions of Shiny Gold that makes comparing them hard. Do you have one that's not a romhack?
 
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