Nintendo Cartridges support

Is there any plan to provide support to official Nintendo cartridges? A few projects of this kind are available on the web

Technically there’s this: Possible NES development software on Kickstarter, but in terms of supporting the official carrtidges themselves you may need to use something like this. One of the features behind the GameShell is that it is modular, so instead of trying to be everything to everyone, it is cheaply modular so you can add what you want with it, more of a Maker’s product than a All-In-One, ready out-of-the-box solution. So while it won’t have this feature, you can certainly add it.

I was rather thinking about GameBoy Color/Advance cartridges just for the size. They could be inserted in a version of the shell modified to host the plug. Nes cartridges would require an external reader. Game boy cartridges have 24 pins ( 16 bit address + 8 bit data ). I think this would require a parallel to serial converter.

Sorry, I thought by “Nintendo Cartridge” you meant the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) cartridge, not a Game Boy Advanced cartridge. For that you’d want something like this. I went with this one because it connects over microUSB, a slot our GameShell’s happen to have as opposed to the pin out readers that require 24 pins (a bit trickier to pull off).

Good idea but a little bit pricey. However what about firmware side? Is it supposed to be compatible with gameshell? What software should be used to read memory and play games?

Well, I said something like that product, not necessarily that one alone. The driver for that one only has ARM support for Windows, which unless if you want to try to emulate your GBA games through Wine, is not ideal to say the least. I personally don’t have much experience with these types of interfaces, but I do know that if they have drivers for ARM and/or a Linux binary that you can compile from source it shouldn’t have any reason not to work for the GameShell.

Have you done anything similar to this with other products?

I happen to come across this today in one of the subreddits I follow: Community Spotlight: VeteranGamer’s Super Famicom GBZ
It’s a Raspberry Pi Zero version of what I believe you were trying to do and has a build log in the article with further details. Maybe this would be a good starting point?

The answer is no, there is no cartridge connector and will probably never be. To be honest, it would be useless, and incompatible.

If really you want you can buy a Retrode with the GB[C]/A adapter and plugit to your device and use an emulator, but seriously, if you want to play real NES/GB[C/A] cartridge, buy the corresponding console and play on it. There is no perfect emulator, and no emulator can really replace the feel of the real thing.

Well with that kind of attitude it will definitely never be. Obviously having either a real Game Boy would be the correct way to get the full experience, but the maker community is about seeing what is possible. There are existing components that make this project possible, granted it would require some work and effort to get something functional.

I don t think it would be useless. If it is, then, the whole gameshell is. What s the matter of playing retro games on a tiny, pricey, heavy portable emulator rather then playing on a common smartphone which already has all the emulators you need?

Just to clarify: i have 1 gba sp, 1 gba, 1 japanese gba, 1 gbc

I think he was just saying that the GameShell isn’t made for perfect emulation. If you are looking for a system you can plug real cartridges into and play perfectly, you need real hardware.

The GameShell is great as an emulation platform. But it is only that. Without the right hardware to process your games, it will be emulation even if you run it off of a cartridge with something like this.

So, spending money to set that up is kinda useless when you could simply store the roms on a sd card. You own the cartridge, you own the rom. No real legal issues here.

Though, I can understand that feeling of “owning” your games that you get from plugging in a cartridge.

What I try to say is that with an emulator using the real cart is pointless, use a ROM file instead. If you want to use use a cart, dump it then use the generated ROM file.

Working with a real cartridge with an emulator is a source of potential problem, look at the NES and Mapper 30 (used by NESMaker) it is an aftermarket mapper, which is not supported by most emulator, and all the psuedo hardware (retron-thing) that use cartridge but in fact is an emulator (and not real hardware, not even an FPGA) are not able to play a physical cart with unsupported hardware.

You want to play with a cart -> use real hardware (or FPGA)
You want to play with an emulator (including the GameShell) use a ROM file.

If someone want to do that, well do it, I do have my own list of project that people would think pointless, I’m not there to judge that. My only point here is that, this is more likely to cause problem than it is going to solve.

But yes, that why I mentionned the Retrode, hardware to do that already exist (like also the one mentionned by @QuantumKraken) but be aware that even using such a device is not running properly like the real hardware/FPGA clone do.

Also be careful with your save on SRAM backed cart, it super easy to screw them, super easy. I’ve already lost data with official hardware (Transferpak on the N64 with a GB game) so be even more careful with that, especially if you try to write!

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I have a couple of fpgas somewhere. Is there a vhdl project to map the original Nintendo hardware?

Yup there are some:

Nes in FPGA (VeriNES) or GameBoy in FPGA

I know. You can’t jailbreak a phone. I’ve actually got a gameboy advance sitting right next to me, and it works. I’ve also got a couple of gameboy colors and a gameboy advance. But I can’t program anything for them.

You know, you say that but the product I linked above does allow for programming cartridges for the Game Boy.

Programming game boys is very hard. You have to do that in assembly, which means you need to understand the underlying hardware architecture.

I never promised it would be easy, I merely stated there is a way if you wish to undergo such a project.

I prefer to work with higher level languages. If I could just dictate what I wanted the thing to do and have the computer let me agree to whatever artwork I wanted it to use, I’d do that instead.

You may enjoy this thread then: Possible NES Development Software On Kickstarter