MSX flashcartridge questions

By Pokun

Supporter (14)

Pokun's picture

09-11-2021, 20:51

Hello
I'm an MSX fan from Sweden. I have a Panasonic FS-A1WX with stock parts (MSX2+, 64 kB RAM, 128 kB VRAM, FDD, MSX-MUSIC), and although I'm still very much an MSX novice, I can do some basic programming in BASIC and Z80.
I'm looking would for a versatile multi-purpose flash-ROM- and RAM-cartridge to suit my needs. Important features includes SCC/SCC+ support and good compatibility with games and features.
The best alternatives seems to be the MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K, the Carnivore 2 and possibly the GR8NET.
I've been searching around for some time and it seems that the Carnivore 2 can't use SCC+ together with RAM and will therefore not work with the original Snatcher disks (Japanese, not any patched variants) for example. The MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD seems to have the same problem but I've been unable to confirm if the 512K variant of it has the same problem. So that leads to my first question:

1)
Is the MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K able to work like the original SCC+ sound cartridges for original Japanese disks of games like Snatcher and SD Snatcher? And is it correct that the Carnivore 2 can't do this?
Is any other flashcart able to do this? What about the GR8NET?

2)
Is the MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K and Carnivore 2 able to properly run games that uses a sound chip like Metal Gear 2 with the MegaROM SCC without an additional cartridge and without patching the original Japanese ROM?

3)
I've seen that there are affordable aftermarket SCC+ repro cartridges like the Popolon Sound Cartridge with up to 2048 kB RAM and support for both the Snatcher and SD Snatcher SCC+ types as well as the regular MegaROM SCC, but they are always sold-out when I look.
Hunting down an original SCC+ cartridge seems a bit too expensive, especially for both variants for supporting all Konami games (and I'm not sure I can use those for regular MegaROM SCC games like Metal Gear 2 anyway).
If MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K, Carnivore 2 and GR8NET are no good for this, is there any other alternative?

4)
The Carnivore 2 seems to support the PAC 8 kB battery-backed SRAM. But what about Konami Game Master 2 and games like Hydlide 2 and Elthlead that contains its own battery and SRAM? Do any flashcartridge support these? I don't see a battery on the PCB of the MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K nor on the Carnivore 2, but it seems the Carnivore 2 can have one installed.

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By Grauw

Ascended (10159)

Grauw's picture

09-11-2021, 23:41

Hi Pokun,

Frankly I think you’re making things more complex than they need to be by focusing on this particular point. If you have the original (SD) Snatcher disks then you will have the Konami Sound Cartridge (“SCC+”) as well. If you do not have the original disks, then there is no issue patching the game, in fact likely the disk images you use will already be patched (e.g. the Melancholia translation patch for SD Snatcher offers such option).

Both MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K and Carnivore2 are excellent cartridges with good compatibility, and the best you can get that provide this kind of multi-purpose functionality. They can never be perfect, because of the great variety of different hardware out there, but overall they do their job well. GR8NET is also very powerful hardware but I recommend to read the manual to see if you will feel comfortable with its complexity.

1) Afaik neither MFR nor C2 support the SCC+ RAM that the Snatcher games use. They only support the sound chip capabilities. Afaik GR8NET does support the RAM.
2) Yes all MegaROM SCC games work completely fine.
3) The Popolon Sound Cartridge is the only Konami Sound Cartridge clone that I’m aware of.
4) I read through the C2 technical specification and as far as I can tell it does not support the SRAM mappers. Although maybe it can if it runs the games from RAM instead of FlashROM and write protect is disabled, but of course the RAM is easily overwritten. The MFR does not support SRAM since it is purely FlashROM based. Not sure about the GR8NET.

By Pokun

Supporter (14)

Pokun's picture

10-11-2021, 00:49

Thanks a lot for the answers!

Yes maybe, but what if I want to play the game in Japanese? I do have the pure Japanese disk images of both Snatcher and SD Snatcher but no sound cartridges. I'm also thinking about the other Konami games supporting it. It seems the GR8NET and Popolon Sound Cartridge are the best two options, I would have to read up more on what the GR8NET can do and how to use it though. I guess I will have to contact Repro Factory homepage about the Popolon one.

Now that I know that the MFR can't work like the Sound Cartridges either, it seems to me that the Carnivore2 is the generally slightly better flashcartridge with more RAM and 4 kB PAC SRAM support and is open-source. Things like MSX-MUSIC doesn't hurt either even though I already have it built-in in my MSX.

By CASDuino

Master (249)

CASDuino's picture

10-11-2021, 00:55

Pokun wrote:

Now that I know that the MFR can't work like the Sound Cartridges either, it seems to me that the Carnivore2 is the generally slightly better flashcartridge with more RAM and 4 kB PAC SRAM support and is open-source. Things like MSX-MUSIC doesn't hurt either even though I already have it built-in in my MSX.

If you have a look here you can see how to enable the SCC-I sound for Snatcher/SD Snatcher on the MFR.

By Pokun

Supporter (14)

Pokun's picture

10-11-2021, 01:03

Does that work for the original disks though? I was under the impression that it requires a patched disk.

By CASDuino

Master (249)

CASDuino's picture

10-11-2021, 01:33

When it requires a patch it usually says it requires a patch in the compatibility notes but as it's a keypress it is a feature of the cart even using the original disks. I could be wrong and others may be able to say different.

I could try to see from my gotek and MFR SCC+ SD if it works but I'll be honest and say I wouldn't know if it works unless I get an error message.

By sdsnatcher73

Prophet (2340)

sdsnatcher73's picture

10-11-2021, 06:00

Carnivore2 has an SCC+ with RAM option by using the SCCPLUS.RCP preset which you can find in their Github repository.

Because the way the original SCC+ was designed the Carnivore2 no longer has IDE, memory mapper or FM-PAC in this mode. So it will only work when loading the game from another medium (could be disks, Gotek etc.).

By Alexey

Guardian (3239)

Alexey's picture

10-11-2021, 15:49

Carnivore2 can also run SCC+ and Konami5 ROM at the same time in the Dual-Slot mode.

By Pokun

Supporter (14)

Pokun's picture

10-11-2021, 18:30

Thanks for all replies!
So now it sounds like both flashcarts possibly can use SCC+ with RAM.

As for testing it, Snatcher doesn't seem to load at all if the Sound Cartridge is missing, it just keeps trying to load forever from what I can tell in openMSX.
SD Snatcher however does show up an error message if the Sound Cartridge can't be found. It looks like this:

It says "Please set the Sound Cartridge" (in case picture doesn't work, it's a black screen, a blue dialog box with the text: "サウンドカートリッジをセットしてください")
If it's working this message should never come up. So it should be quite easy to tell if it's working or not in both cases.

By Popolon_fr

Resident (53)

Popolon_fr's picture

11-11-2021, 15:50

Hi,

I can be reached via the contact address on my MRC profile if needed. There is currently no cartridge on ReproFactory (sorry, lack of time), but I have some components in stock, enough to make a few parts. Currently, there is only one made, it can be found here ;) .

Best regards,

By Pokun

Supporter (14)

Pokun's picture

12-11-2021, 00:10

Thanks for the response! Good that's one more option available for SCC/SCC+, although it doesn't satisfy my flashcart need alone as it's a RAM/sound cartridge.

At the moment Carnivore2 seems to be my best option for a flashcart anyway, I'm going to study it a bit more and see if I can understand exactly how it works.

And finally, if anyone manages to test either Snatcher game unpatched with any of these flashcarts please let me know the result.