Author Topic: 64DD.net Review  (Read 10650 times)

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Offline KR155E

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64DD.net Review
« on: January 12, 2010, 08:41:16 AM »
My review of the N64 Myth is now online and can be found here:

http://64dd.net/modules/hardware/index.php?system=n64&section=main&id=46

I will update the review when I have had the time to do a bigger test with a lot of games and of course it will be updated whenever new features arrive.


History

The N64 Myth is the first commercial backup unit since the end of the Nintendo 64's life cycle and also the first and currently only modern flash USB cart for N64. It's made by Hong Kong based Team Neo, seemingly a one man army responsible for a lot of flash carts for different systems, including GBA, NDS, PSP, PC-Engine and Mega Drive (aka Genesis). Initially announced in May 2006 as NEO64, it went a long, quiet way to its release in December 2009, with an initial retail price of $199.

Package Contents

Like all Neo products, the N64 Myth comes in a semi-beautiful blister pack and is bundled with an USB cable (Type A to Type B mini) and a Mini CD-R, which contains software for various Neo flash carts, but NOT for the N64 Myth, which makes it pretty useless. There's also no instructions of any kind, so you have to get those as well as the needed software from their website, located at www.neoflash.com. You can of course also find all files mirrored on this site.

The Cart

The N64 Myth looks much like a regular black N64 cartridge, although a bit thicker at the top part and a little bit taller. The build quality is mediocre, it looks and feels a bit cheap, but as long as it works as it should, that's not a big issue.

In the front there's a small LED which shows when the cart is active, for example during the flashing process. On top of it it has a mini USB slot as well as a slot for a NEO GBA flash cart, which is used to hold the flashed N64 games. It seems a bit odd to use this instead of just internal flash or any standard flash carts like SD, but other flash units by Team Neo work the same way. I really have no idea why, maybe they have to get rid of old stock or reusing an already existing flash device simplifies the development process of new flash carts, but it still is an odd design decision.

The cart slots of N64s of different regions were differently shaped to have a physical way of preventing imports on top of software lockout. The N64 Myth cart is shaped to fit into any N64 of any region, so you can play games from any region, although some might need a patch.

Compatability

The 512 Mbit cart that comes with the N64 Myth makes it possible to play even the huge games, which, prior to the N64 Myth, only the V64 jr. was able to play. To name those: Conker's Bad Fur Day, Resident Evil 2 and Pokémon Stadium 2 (512 MBit) as well as Paper Mario and Ogre Battle (320 Mbit). If you choose games which are smaller than that, you can flash two at once, and switch between them with a little switch, labelled ON/OFF, on the N64 Myth unit.

A very big feature, which is currently in development, is the ability to put as many games as you want on an SD cart and launch them via an on screen menu. For that, however, you'll have to seperately purchase a NEO2-SD cart, which is an GBA flash cart similar to the included one, but has a SD cart slot on top.

The N64 Myth has a fantastic 100% compatability as it has enough storage space and support for all the different save chips built it. However, since there's still no way to emulate CIC chips, you have to have an original game cartridge put into the back of the N64 Myth unit or nothing would boot at all. There were 5 or 6 six different CIC chips used in different games throughout the N64 history, so, for earlier backup units you had to have one cart of every CIC chip type to boot every game, or patch those. Luckily, the N64 Myth has a built in boot emulator which enables it to boot any game with any game in the back. Inside the N64 Myth, there's a space labeled U4, to which you can solder a CIC chip so you don't need a cart in the back at all. Cool!

As good as this sounds, there are still some games like Jet Force Gemini or Banjo-Tooie which do not work without a patch, though. Team Neo is currently working on eliminating all issues which still arise, they already did a big step forward with firmware 1.1 which was developed during the testing phase and hopefully they can eventually make all games run natively.

Flashing Software

The N64 Myth uses a universal loader software called „NEO2 Ultra Menu“, which is used to flash a number of NEO products. While it might sound handy to have a single flasher for all your NEO carts, it is also confusing for standard user with all the NDS and GBA options. I wish there was a dedicated software for N64 with all the unneeded options left out.

On first usage, you should first do a full format of the NEO2 cart. Be sure to make a FULL format to fix possible bad blocks! You can get yourself a cup of tea or something because formatting takes a while. It clocked in at about 13 minutes for me, wow. Flashing ROMs is equally slow. Of course it depends heavily on the size of the ROM(s) you flash, but it still takes well over 5 minutes for a 256 MBit ROM. I really hope this can be improved, or -even better- gets obsolete when Drag&Drop to SD becomes possible.

Firmware Updates

It is possible to update the unit's firmware by opening it up and connecting it to a computer via USB, but this requires a "Nero Dual programmer", which also has to be purchased seperately. Hopefully in the future firmware upgrade can be made via the SD cart menu like it is possible with Neo Team's NDS flash carts for example.

Lookout

As mentioned earlier, support for SD carts and an On Screen Menu are in the works. This would be so much cooler than the current method and would open up many possibilities. Features on my personal wish list are Drag&Drop, saving save games directly to the SD cart, backing up Memory Pak contents to the SD cart, Action Replay cheat code support and on-the-fly applying of patches.

Conclusion

Overall, the N64 Myth is a good product, but it has its flaws.

First of all, it is the only modern flash device available for the N64 and therefore highly interesting for any N64 enthusiast, although the price tag is discussable. One might say that $199 do not look so bad compared to the 1000 DM (~500 EUR) I once paid for my Z64, but that was over a decade ago. People will think twice before shelling out that amount of money for a flash cart for their old dusty N64, but then again, any other units are very rare and even more expensive.

A big plus is the near perfect compatability. It's region free, supports all save types, all CIC chips and all game sizes. Plus you can solder in a CIC chip to eliminate the need for a game being in the back of the Myth. Now, if Team Neo can solve all remaining compatability issues, it couldn't get any better.

Main point of critic is the use of GBA flash carts as storage medium, that really makes no sense. Other negative aspects are the horrible flashing speeds, the overloaded flashing software and the virtually unusable save management. When Team Neo bring SD cart and On Screen Menu support, that could fix all those problems at once, though. Let's cross our fingers!

Author: Chris
Reviewed on: 2010/01/11
« Last Edit: January 12, 2010, 05:33:10 PM by KR155E »

Offline Sektor

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2010, 08:59:15 AM »
Good review. Just change moden to modern in the conclusion.

Offline KR155E

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2010, 09:04:23 AM »
fixed that, thanks!

Offline Conle

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2010, 11:18:58 AM »
Great review & cool site!  ::sm-29.gif::

Offline Dr.neo

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2010, 01:16:19 PM »
nice review, but can you post to here also?  ~sm-41.gif~
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Offline KR155E

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2010, 05:33:40 PM »
Sure. Updated my top post.

Offline bcass

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2010, 10:10:52 AM »
Quote
A very big feature, which is currently in development, is the ability to put as many games as you want on an SD cart and launch them via an on screen menu. For that, however, you'll have to seperately purchase a NEO2-SD cart, which is an GBA flash cart similar to the included one, but has a SD cart slot on top.

Is this definitely going to happen?  Because right now, the 2 game limit is the only thing stopping me from buying one.

Offline ChillyWilly

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2010, 10:32:52 AM »
Is this definitely going to happen?  Because right now, the 2 game limit is the only thing stopping me from buying one.

Yes, being able to use the SD card is coming. That's my goal with the N64 Myth. SDHC will be a good match for the N64.

Offline bcass

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2010, 10:37:29 AM »
Great, thanks for the prompt reply. 

This possibly isn't the best thread to ask, but can you also confirm that *full* GBA support is coming to the NEO2-SD?  And, how does the NEO2-SD handle GBA saves?  Does it save to non-volatile RAM or are we still at the mercy of a battery?

Offline madturbo123

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2010, 06:42:38 PM »
Is this definitely going to happen?  Because right now, the 2 game limit is the only thing stopping me from buying one.

Yeah im in the same boat... no dramas in spending the money as ive spent lots more on the dr64 mand v64 before

Offline ChillyWilly

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2010, 01:19:08 AM »
Great, thanks for the prompt reply. 

This possibly isn't the best thread to ask, but can you also confirm that *full* GBA support is coming to the NEO2-SD?  And, how does the NEO2-SD handle GBA saves?  Does it save to non-volatile RAM or are we still at the mercy of a battery?

I don't work on the NDS/GBA software. Currently, I work on the SEGA MD and N64, and am looking to work on the SNES. Not to say that I'll never work on those, just that I'm not now, nor in the immediate future, so I can't confirm anything for that platform.

Offline kuroiso

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2010, 06:24:58 AM »
Great review!
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Offline bcass

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2010, 07:30:23 AM »
Is the SD card support any closer to being completed yet?  Seems like quite a while since this was last talked about.

Offline bcass

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2011, 02:45:52 PM »
Apologies for the aparent impatience, but is SD support still in development?

Offline Sektor

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Re: 64DD.net Review
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2011, 02:57:50 PM »
SD support was added around August 2010.