Dextrose.com, 23rd May 1998
CD 64 Review v. 0.9
Welcome to the Dextrose
Review of the latest Backup Device from Hong Kong called CD64. Actually, the CD64
manifactured by UFO Company hit the streets in HK on 22nd of March.
|The Package of CD64|
|Installation and first Impressions|
Also we had problems installing the BackupDevice on two NTSC-N64's. The Screen just remained black. The Problem seems to be a loose connection between CD64 and N64. On a third NTSC-N64 it worked fine. The Manifacturer already recognized that problem and as of 19th of May, they offer a new so-called flexible pins connector which shall ensure 100% connection between the two units. Users with an old connector have the possibility to update it. ** (cd64's tech : already improve on May 19 )
Controlling the operations via joypad is a unique feature and not seen on any other N64-Backup-Device yet. If you have owned one of the old SNES-BackupDevices you will love this.
The Main-Menu shows a lot of Information. Look at the Screenshot as everything is self-explanatory.
Now we will go through every single menu options for you, one by one.
1. LOAD CD64-File
This option starts the ROM-Image currently in RAM which you may have loaded by using the previous menu-option or dumped with the Download-Option. The actual ROM-Image-Name is displayed on the bottom of the Menu-Screen. It will return an error if no file is present.
Read out the the inserted N64-Cart to CD64-Ram by selecting this menu-option. The reading-out progress is very fast but again not visual by a status-bar. A 64Mbit-Module takes around 14 seconds to backup into DRAM.
Execute the Cartridge plugged into the CD64-Slot.
The Manifactures didn't write a whole new SRAM-Manager here, but actually used the SRAM Manager 1.0B released by RBubby quite some time back. It is built-into the CD64-Bios. You may as well use the SRAM Manager 2.0 from Blackbag, but of course you will need to load it from CD/PC first.
X-Terminator is a cheat-utility based on certain codes similiar to GoldFinger- or Action-Replay-Devices. We will discuss X-Terminator later in this review.
The CD64 Tools-Option will lead to another menu offering a Hex-Editor to edit DRAM, a Checksum-Calculating Utility, a Byte-Swap Utility to flip bytes from Binary-Format into byte-swapped format (V64) and vice versa and an option to activate the ProComm-Link-Connection. The Byte-Swapping only needs a few seconds. We will go deeper into the Hex-Editor-Function later.
In this menu you will find a few test utilities such as download and verify a cartridge or verify DRAM. The third option will format the X-Terminator-Buffer to disable codes you selected before in the X-Terminator-Menu.
CD64 offers the use of
so-called X-Terminator-Codes which are basically Cheat-Codes you normally enter by using a
Datel ActionReplay or Goldfinger (seen on several SNES-Backup-Devices such as ProFighter
As stated before, the
CD64-Tools-Menu features a hex-editor.
If you are wondering why this Review has the Version Number 0.9, here is the reason. As a matter of fact, we didn't received the ProComm-LinkCard for File-Transfer between N64 and PC. For some reason it is not possible to enable a usable connection between N64 and PC without that. Though from different sources we have the confirmation that transfers are actually working whenever you use a ProComm-LinkCart. We hope it is only a matter of time until the Bios can be improved so a transfer without the additional card is possible. Your only other possibility up to now is to burn the stuff to CD and load it from there. So with the next Version of the review we will fully inform you about this matter.**( cd64's tech : already release the parallel port adaptor , so the end-user can link to pc through parallel printer port )
|Bios 1.09 Features|
The latest Bios of the CD64
can now play the previously cracked version of 1080¢X snowboarding.
|Deep into the Hardware|
As we unscrew the CD64 and we see a standard IDE-CDRom from Matsushita which is screwed to the bottom part of the CD64-Case.
The Mainboard looks quite tidy, there are not that many chips onto the board so there isn't much we can explain here, but remind that the CD64 uses the N64 CPU for processing and that also might be reason why it is cheaper than other Units.
Our Mainboard had the Revision-Number 1.1 inscribed.Here we have the backside and frontside of the mainboard. Left you can see the different processors. The single Ram-Socket for the PS/2 Simm is located on the backside. You will be able to exchange the Ram in future.
A closer look on the Power Supply of the CD64, which you might not need at all.
The Parallelport and IDE-Cable for the CD-Rom. Between those notice the two golden pins which have the inscription L and R. So we assume its an Audio-Out. But there is nothing leading to the outside from there.
And a last overview. Now you should have an idea of the inside of the CD64.
|So What ?|
We are happy to say that
our bad feelings about this unit have not been confirmed ! When we first heard about the
low price we feared to see very low quality, but the CD64 actually is a nice Device with a
whole bunch of smart features although it needs improvements here and there. The Menues
are unique, the control via joypad pretty comfortable. Features like X-Terminator-Codes
will delight a lot of users as well. What we missed actually is the support of direct
uploading SRAM-Savegames from PC or CD as well as .IPS-Support. Also there is no
Transfer-Utility to use with the Parallel-Connection for you use with a standard pc
printer port, if this is possible at all ? So at this time you should also own a
ProComm-Link-Cart to make transfers between CD64 and PC (cd64 answer: the parallel port adaptor was release on June 5. So the user
can transfer files through the PC's printer port ).
We also see some danger in the fact that the Bios of the CD64 is actually a N64-RomImage
and therefore can be upgraded via N64 code. Which on the one side is a real cool
development and holds unbelievable potential for future development, makes on the other
side the bad dudes able to totally destroy your bios.Also it should be quite easy for a
manifacturer to check if a CD64 is present and to rewrite the bios,so someone could do
some real rude things to it. Thats why the CD64 needs something like a Bios-Reset to
prevent this (cd64 answer: the developer already put
a strong protection to prevent this could happen ).
From the legal iusse we doubt that a Manifacturer will include a routine to destroy a
backup device, but an average hacker who wants to take revenge for being kicked out of
#doctor64 it may be an option. But actually its not THAT easy as the Flash-Programm of the
Bios still has a CRC you have to crack, so don't think every idiot can do it. We assume
that it is also the fault of the unstable Bios, that a lot of CZN-Intros are not working
at all. The machine crashes after loading an image linked with one of those intros. (cd64 answer : We already send a cd64 to CZN, so that they will
release the patch also compatible with cd64 in the future. )By powering off/on the N64 your CD64 will be still in a good shape but you of
course miss all the fun of the CZN-Productions. The only possibility to avoid the crashing
problem so far is to hold down the start-button of the N64-Joypad while powering on the
N64. The intro will then be skipped. Not a very elegant solution of course. Here is still
some work to do.
|This was the fourth Dextrose Review. More to come. We invite all
manifacturers to contact us for reviewing their
Also comments by our readers are as usal very welcome in the guestbook.
Words: ACTRAiSER Photos & Design & Additional Ideas by Hartec.