Last year I directed you to an interesting article about how to rescue your valuable save data before aging video game cartridges succumb to dead batteries. Once a cartridge's battery dies, your long hours of leveling up characters, collecting the best weapons, and unlocking all the secrets die with it. Thanks to the wonders of aftermarket homebrew technology, it's possible to copy that data off of the cartridge to store on a PC. Platypus Comix outlined a few ways to do it previously, but now site proprietor Peter Paltridge has acquired a rare and expensive Retrode device in order to show us all how to use it with Super NES and Sega Genesis cartridges. Here's a piece of his report:
Like a modern PC plug-in should, the Retrode does not need a CD to install or anything else annoying to bother with. You plug it in, it grabs the firmware (the "RETRODE.CFG" on the left) and your games appear as files. From here, preserving your game saves is as easy as drag-and-drop. You can also dump the ROMs with this, of course, but....why? Next came the most important test....downloading emulators and testing out the saves I'd copied. Would it really work? Was the Retrode worth all the hype and expense? I was so relieved to see my Chrono Trigger save had at last escaped its cart. You can play Chrono Trigger as many times as you want and keep all your experience from the previous game you played (in fact, the game expects you to do this, as challenging the final boss before it's time will get you many different endings throughout). Building that save back up on another device would require a horrendous amount of time I no longer have.
Paltridge goes on to discuss the process and challenges of rescuing save data from Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 cartridges with the use of special add-on adapters. I love enthusiast utilitarian toys like this and I looked into trying to track down one of the last Retrode's on the open market (they're going fast now that the creator has a steady job and no longer produces them). It's sad that the Retrode is out of production, but it is a product for a niche market and can't be that profitable a venture. It seems cheaper and easier to pick up a RetroN 5 retro console that can play those old cartridges and store save game data to conventional SD cards as a part of its standard operation, but that wouldn't be nearly as awesome as using a kludgy device that requires a little luck and magic to make it work. It just feels like this whole process should not be so simple. Rescuing save data ought to be a quest unto itself. Of course, considering how difficult it is to find a RetroN 5 in stock right now, buying one of those is an entirely different challenge.