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Did I accidentally ruin my NBA Jam: TE cart's ability to save?

Sega Genesis NBA Jam Tournament Edition

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#1 Jin OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 5:05 AM

So I got a rather lovely condition copy of NBA Jam: Tournament Edition for the Genesis in the mail the other day, and the first thing I did was check to see if the save system was still working. I powered on the game, went to the saved initials list, and sure enough there were still a dozen or so saved games on the cart. Pleased that the save system was working I decided to clear out all the previous owner's saves by deleting them, then went and started my own game. 

 

It didn't take long to realize that the cart wasn't saving my initials and records after turning it off, and a little research revealed that when there are no saves on the cart it needs to be first "initialized" by playing one full head-to-head game with the initials XXX then one full head-to-head game with the initials NBA before it will start saving your games. I followed the instructions to the letter, but every time I power off the cart all the saves (including the one for NBA, it never records a save for XXX at all) are gone. 

 

Now clearly the previous owner was able to save their games just fine, but it seems that by deleting the original XXX and NBA initial save files I may have inadvertently killed the cart's ability to save games. Is there any way to fix this or have I just permanently bricked the cart's ability to save by deleting those original XXX and NBA save files? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Edited by Jin, Wed Feb 6, 2019 5:10 AM.


#2 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 5:34 AM

I don't see how what you did would have "killed" anything except for the data you didn't want anyway. These cartridges are old. The save game battery probably died.

#3 HoshiChiri OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 7:53 AM

It didn't take long to realize that the cart wasn't saving my initials and records after turning it off, and a little research revealed that when there are no saves on the cart it needs to be first "initialized" by playing one full head-to-head game with the initials XXX then one full head-to-head game with the initials NBA before it will start saving your games. I followed the instructions to the letter, but every time I power off the cart all the saves (including the one for NBA, it never records a save for XXX at all) are gone. 

 

That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, and it's not mentioned in the manual at all- you'd think something as important as 'don't delete these or you'll ruin your cart forever' would be in there. I also can't find anyone else talking about it- the first result on my search is this thread!

 

I'm with Flo- your save battery is probably dead. Enough juice to blank itself, but not enough to create a new file. I'd get the battery replaced... or if that's not an option, look for a cheap ugly copy with a good battery and board swap.



#4 Jin OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 8:29 AM

That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, and it's not mentioned in the manual at all- you'd think something as important as 'don't delete these or you'll ruin your cart forever' would be in there. I also can't find anyone else talking about it- the first result on my search is this thread!


Sadly this is indeed a real thing, ridiculous as it is. There's no info about it in the manual because this problem was a bug discovered after the whole run of 250,000 carts, cases, and manuals were produced. There's an interview with one of the game developers on the subject here on The Cutting Room Floor, but I'll quote it below for reference:


I was working on NBA JAM TE for the Genesis, which used a flash chip to store game data. The game had been tested for months, and everything was ready to go, so the publisher ordered 250,000 copies of the cart. But it soon became apparent that no one, for months, had reset the flash chips on the test carts to make sure the flash init routines worked correctly. Nor did anyone order any carts for testing.

It was only after all the carts had been ordered that we discovered the flash init code was dead, and that the carts could not save games properly! The studio went into meltdown trying to figure out how to ship 250,000 broken carts. Suggestions of production lines adding extra resistors and other hacks to every cart were tried and failed.

When all seemed lost, someone figured out if you played the games in an odd, and very specific order, the flash memory would sort of work. So an extra leaflet was added to every box explaining how to use this "feature."

- Chris Kirby



As far as the aforementioned leaflet goes, I actually got my copy of NBA Jam: Tournament Edition complete in box and guess what was hiding in the box tucked behind the manual?

l6JGSI7.jpg


Now are you ready for the truly diabolical part? I opened the cart up and there is no battery on the board, just an EEPROM chip for saving data, which I'm feeling pretty confident is corrupted since the save files necessary to initialize it were deleted.

TZVwM6n.jpg


I'm hoping someone here familiar with the coding of this game has an idea for how to reinitialize it, but I'm guessing that this one is just dead now and I'm probably going to have to buy another copy of the game with a beat up label for cheap and swap the boards.

Edited by Jin, Wed Feb 6, 2019 8:34 AM.


#5 Retro STrife OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:03 AM

Huge NBA Jam fan, but I never knew that you could see all the saved initials... where is that option?  And I guess I never looked in the manual to learn that there was a system for getting the saves to work...  I always just thought my NBA JAM TE carts had dead batteries!  I can't be the only one.  Sorry to slightly change the subject there, but wanted to let you know that at least you passed along some good info here.


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#6 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:08 AM

OMG that's completely insane. I'm sorry I doubted you, Jin. Good luck with finding the replacement. I have the game too, but lack the attention span to care enough to complete a whole season or track my stats. 

 

Seems like there are ways to hack the ROM (not the cartridge) to insert the modern roster, which would be neat for roundball fans. I think that would be completely awesome for a certain kind of person. 



#7 derFunkenstein OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 10:28 AM

This is why I never wanted to own the Genesis version of Jam TE. I rented it a few times as a kid and the rental box had the same paper about play with these initials, and then play with those, and then you can save. But it never seemed to work right for me, so it just killed my desire. The 32X version is where it's at (IMO). And based on what I played in an emulator, the Jaguar version is basically identical. 



#8 amiman99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 11:13 AM

"Contains special AutoStat feature", what a BS/spin trying to cover up a bug or failure on their part.

 

Speaking on Jam TE on 32X, I have 2 copies of the game, one of them is somehow defective, in a way that after you select your team and are ready to play. The game starts, no player sprites are visible, and then crash.

The other copy seems to work now, but before was doing same thing. I was thinking I have defective 32x, but other games play fine.



#9 derFunkenstein OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 11:54 AM

OMG that's completely insane. I'm sorry I doubted you, Jin. Good luck with finding the replacement. I have the game too, but lack the attention span to care enough to complete a whole season or track my stats. 
 
Seems like there are ways to hack the ROM (not the cartridge) to insert the modern roster, which would be neat for roundball fans. I think that would be completely awesome for a certain kind of person.

NBA Jam 2K17 on the SNES is fun for sure.



#10 -^CrožBow^- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 12:10 PM

I've never bothered with the Genesis version though I do have it. Not sure I've ever played the 32x version although I have that one too. But I have played and prefer to play the Jaguar version. I also seem to recall an interview or something like that with the Devs back then stating they felt the Jag version of NBA Jam T.E. was the definitive version next to the arcade. Jag version does seem to have everything there from the arcade including the hidden characters and modes.



#11 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 12:11 PM

big heads seem pretty silly though



#12 HoshiChiri OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:59 PM

Sadly this is indeed a real thing, ridiculous as it is. There's no info about it in the manual because this problem was a bug discovered after the whole run of 250,000 carts, cases, and manuals were produced. 
 

 

Well that's just about the craziest thing I've come across in awhile- you'd think this would be better documented by now!

 

I hope you can sort something out... man, what an odd thing...







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