Flash carts are treated like some sort of arcane piracy device by the “proper” games media, but it’s time to face facts: electronics don’t last forever. Capacitors eventually burst, solder cracks and contacts wear down or become corroded. Some systems are affected by this more than others. In particular, the NEC PC Engine, known as the Turbografx outside of Japan, stored its games on fragile HuCards (and later on, arguably more fragile CDs) and the consoles, especially the CD units and Duos, were prone to breakdown.
Whether you still have your Turbografx from when you were a kid, or you’re just getting into what the PC Engine has to offer, you likely want to protect your investment. Luckily, flash carts aren’t just about piracy, and Stone Age Gamer has given us a chance to review a Turbo Everdrive V2 from Krikzz so that we can show you how valuable it can in saving excessive wear and tear on PC Engine family console.
Turbo Everdrive Review | Is it legal?
Before we get into the Everdrive itself, we have to address the legality of using the device. Many people will tell you that if you use a flash cart, the FBI will come to your house and set you on fire immediately.
While we’ll pen a more detailed article on this in the future, the whole matter is relatively gray. Your best bet is to be aware of the legality of software backups in your country and act accordingly. We at GameRevolution don’t support copyright infringement, but we do support gamers being able to archive their software so they can enjoy it for years to come without placing undue stress on their consoles and original copies.
According to Title 17, Section 117 of the United States Code:
…it not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.
This section is frequently quoted when the question of the legality of ROMs is brought up. This section allows an owner of a computer program to make one copy for archival purposes as long as they’re destroyed if the ownership of the original software license is transferred.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can just download the ROM of a game you own and you’re fine. The stipulation is that you have to dump YOUR copy of the game to follow what’s outlined in Section 117. Dumping HuCards is beyond the purview of this article (though there are several ways to do this), but as long as you do this, you should be within your legal right to play the backup on your Turbo Everdrive.
However, the thing about law is that it’s open to interpretation. No one has ever been prosecuted or even admonished for playing their own backups. In fact, as far as our research shows no one has ever been prosecuted for downloading ROMs of games they don’t own. The only legal action has been against those who host the ROMs for download.
Turbo Everdrive Review | Compatibility
One thing that’s always concerning when purchasing a flash cart is whether it’s going to be compatible with your hardware. Fortunately, most modern flash carts don’t have the quirks older ones did. The Turbo Everdrive is compatible with any system that has a HuCard slot:
- CoreGrafx II
- LaserActive LD-ROM2 PAC-N1/PAC-N10
- PC Engine
- PC Engine Duo-R and RX
- PCEngine GT
- PCEngine LT and LT2
- Turbo Express
- TurboGrafx-16 (NTSC and PAL)
The only caveat is that you’ll have to take the plastic shell off the Turbo Everdrive for it to fit into the LaserActive module. Otherwise, it fits into any machine just like a regular HuCard would.
Turbo Everdrive Review | How it works
The Turbo Everdrive aims to emulate a HuCard. It can read ROMs off of a MicroSD card, and a basic menu allows you to choose which game you want to play. A tap of a button and, boom you’re in-game.
You don’t get RGB out, game dumping, and CD-ROM game compatibility with the Turbo Everdrive like you do with the Super SD System 3. However, there are a few things the Turbo Everdrive can do that will make your PC-Engine experience a little smoother.
The Turbo Everdrive is region-free, so you don’t have to worry about switching between a PC Engine and Turbografx if you want to play a US or Japanese game. All you have to do is set a little switch on the side to whichever model you have, and you’re good to go. This also means you can forgo a region mod. You can just backup your HuCards, and you don’t have to worry about whether you have a Turbografx or PC Engine.
You can also use the Turbo Everdrive v2 as a Super System Card. The process isn’t entirely straightforward, though. First, you’ll need to dump a System Card ROM. Unfortunately, because of the way the Turbografx interacts with the System Card you won’t want to use an unmodified System Card ROM. Doing so can cause damage to your Everdrive with extended use.
Fortunately, there’s an IPS patch available that you can use to safely boot to CD BIOS using the Everdrive. With this method, you can switch over to playing a CD-ROM2 game without having to take the Everdrive out each time which will further decrease wear on your system. However, note that the Everdrive can’t emulate the Arcade Card, which means if you want to play games that require that you’ll still need to pick one up.
Turbo Everdrive Review | Where to buy it
There’s a couple of different ways you can get a Turbo Everdrive. Stone Age Gamer provided us our review unit. As one of the largest providers of flash carts and retro accessories in the US, you can count on them to have the Turbo Everdrive and other flash carts in stock.
Stone Age Gamer offers several different variants of the Turbo Everdrive. We received the black Turbo Everdrive with a label based off the Turbografx-16 that gives it the look of an official NEC accessory. If you’re more into the PC Engine label, though, you can order a PCEverdrive which carries PC Engine-style badging.
You can also choose whether to get just the board, which is $89.99 or opt for the deluxe version. Stone Age Gamer was kind enough to send us the deluxe edition which adds a hard protective case, a printed manual, an extra two years to the warranty (in addition to the one year warranty provided with the basic model), and a few extra goodies. The deluxe edition is only $20 more for a total of $109.99, and I feel like it’s worth it just for the case alone.
Turbo Everdrive Review | Should you get it?
Retro hardware and software are getting ridiculously expensive. The less wear and tear you put on your equipment, the longer it will last you, which can save you hundreds of dollars. Just getting a base PC Engine is $150-200 now, and a Turbografx-16 goes for even more. It’s a no-brainer to want to prevent putting stress your HuCards and the card slot on your system, and the Turbo Everdrive can help out tremendously in that regard.
Every HuCard-based game I had available worked flawlessly when I loaded the backup onto the Turbo Everdrive and played it on my Duo-R. The initial investment of around $90-110 might seem a bit high, but when you see how much people are charging for HuCards, it starts to make sense to go ahead and keep yours as pristine as possible.
The Turbo Everdrive is a fantastic product and adds to the joy of owning a Turbografx/PC Engine. Whether you’re an old NEC fan or just picking up a controller for the first time, the Turbo Everdrive should be high on your list of accessories to pick up.
We received the Turbo Everdrive from Stone Age Gamer for review purposes.