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Benn Venn Game Boy Cart Dumper

Another device I’ve been wanting to get for a while was a Game Boy Card ripper. There are a few varieties of these, but I went with the Benn Venn Joey Jr. The key feature here, is the ability to copy off Saved files. I can get ROMs anywhere, what I really want is to preserve my old Save Files. This device does Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advanced titles.

The most important title worked right off the bat. My original Pokemon Blue is not preserved forever with my original Charizard. There are ways to get these OG Gen 1 Pokemon into modern games I really want to look into next.

Despite that so far I have had hit and miss luck getting things to work, I already wish I had one for the SNES, though those seem to be considerably more expensive. N64 would be nice as well, I’m less worried about my NES carts, most of them don’t really use battery based saves, and I can beat Zelda 1 again in a few hours.

The Benn Venn device is pretty slick. You insert the cartridge, then plug it into a USB Port, and it just shows up like it’s a flash drive. The results have been weirdly hit and miss. Maybe half of my games copied off and the save files loaded no problems. The other half either didn’t get a working save or didn’t even get a working ROM. Two I really care about that did not work that I want to troubleshoot through are Final Fantasy Legend 1, and Zelda Oracle of Ages. The weird thing is, Oracle of Seasons worked just fine.

I even tried some other ROMs of the same game with the save files and no luck yet.

Once the copies are done though, the device still has some fun uses. For one, it lets me dump photos off of my Game Boy Camera. I always have been looking a bit into ways to “hack” the GB Camera with lenses and such, but getting the files off is one important key need. I also want to see if I can write a program that will upscale the files cleanly as they are very tiny images.

I also want to try out what happens when I try to copy TO a cart. It may go immediately nowhere. I don’t have a blank ROM cart, which I will probably get eventually, but I want to try copying to a cart. I have two carts to test. One, I own an extra Pokemon Blue. Maybe I can hack a full Pokedex into the cart. I also have a bootleg Pokemon Emerald, which feels maybe more likely to work.

Either way, something I want to look into is hacking these save files a bit. I want to get my Charizard into my copy of Ultra Moon. I want to add in all the missing Pokemon from Blue. Though maybe not straight add them, try to transplant from a Red save to a Blue save maybe. Maybe these ideas will go nowhere but trying to make it work is like half the fun.

Retroid Pocket 3

So, I’ve been pretty heavy on the programming push lately, but it’s not all I’ve been up to. So, back around the start of the pandemic, I started work making a PiGrrl handheld emulator device. PiGrrl is basically a Game Boy Clone that runs with a Raspberry Pi at it’s core. I ordered a bunch of parts and a case, I already had a Pi (I have several), and then the Pandemic caused my parts to take forever to arrive. Plus I probably spent more on it than I really should have.

Then I got a little bored and it sat for a bit, but I did eventually solder everything together, and it didn’t quite work, so I did some corrections and got bored of it for a few months again, then eventually, I got it working. Sort of, some emulators work, others don’t even launch, I am sure it’s a software issue a this point.

So, after a bit more trouble shooting, I got a little bonus at work like I occasionally do, so I just ordered a Retroid Pocket 3. A nice pre built solution that’s configured and well, just works. I mostly play gaming on PC, but for consoles, most of my playing in the last 20 years has been on handhelds. I am pretty sure I actually played and finished almost every DS game I have bought (including GBA), and the completion rate for my 3DS games is also very high. The point is, my follow through rate for hand held games is staggeringly high compared to PC and traditional Consoles. I mean, I bought my PS3 and it came with The Last of Us, which I was excited for, and I still have yet to play it even once.

Anyway, the Retroid Pocket is essentially an Android device with a controller and case wrapped around it to make it look like a PSP or a Switch. I considered the Retroid Pocket 2+ but I wanted the wider screen, so I went with the Retroid Pocket 3. So far, my experience with it has been pretty excellent.

There is a bit of trickiness in tracking down the BIOS files needed but there are guides and resources out there. Anything older than say, the SNES/Genesis era plays flawlessly with ease. Which is pretty expected, since it’s all basic 2D gaming at that point. I’ve had a lot of luck running PS1 and PSP titles as well.

Nintendo 64 games are a little touchy but there are some settings that I believe I can adjust to make it work better. Right now everything has screwy transparency. There are options for some more powerful systems but I’ve not had luck yet getting things like PS2 working. I’ve played several WiiWare games but the Wii itself has the motion controls which don’t translate super well to a handheld device’s controls.

Overall, I am extremely happy with this purchase, it’s really invigorated my interest in older games and gaming again.