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silentshadow56

Identifying Cartridge Revisions without playing?

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So I've noticed that a few different cartridges have had revisions to them due to consumer feedback like Auto Racing with the steering and Math Fun in regards to how the numbers are entered in for the solution. I've also learned from INTV Funhouse that there are different styles of cartridges for the Intellivision as seen here:

 

http://www.intvfunhouse.com/mattel/cart/cases.php

 

I was wondering if was possible to use those different cartridge styles to determine which revision of a game a person might have, without actually having to play it? Rather would a revision tend to coincide with a change in cartridge styles? Would it at the very least be possible to say if an Auto Racing game has Triangle headed screws it will ABSOLUTELY have the revised steering where as if it has philips head screws it could be either or and you couldn't be certain until playing it?

 

Just wondering, which not to sound rude, if this really ever occurred to anyone to test out or if there really wasn't enough of an interest. I'm just trying to see if there really is a concrete way to determine which box style goes with which manual style and which cartridge style would match up with those since there are so many revisions. Just from a collector stand point it's kind of determining these nuances that interests me

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a ROM variation immediately recognizable by the cart/label is Motocross: the copies made by Mattel with red label are NOT PAL compatible; the copies made by Intellivision Inc. with white label (no matter which label style) are PAL compatible.

 

This is the only variation of cart/label I'm aware of which allows us to determine which revision of the game we have

 

 

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@intellivotion, certainly appreciate the response so please don't think I'm ungrateful, but I am curious to know if anyone has tested my query as outlined above. That being where at bare minimum you could know what rom revision would be included on a cartridge based off it's style, but not necessarily the other way around.

 

Again as an example:

 

Auto Racing: Philips head screws are a complete crap shoot and could have the steering controls be either or. Where if it has triangle headed screws all tested version have always had the revised rom (not to say that it couldn't have the original steering just that it's never been found).

 

I know it sounds silly/nuanced, but if it's anything I've learned from the AtariAge board is that there are some people that know the slightest revisions to artwork at the drop of a hat and can tell you everything you would need to know

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Posted (edited)

With Mattel Space Battle and Auto Racing you can tell by the instructions that come in the box.  My guess is that if the cartridge is made in hong kong it has the revised rom.  Made in usa cartridges and white label cartridges might be either.   If you open the cartridge, they might have different rom codes stamped on the chip and the date marked would tell you something. I have two auto racing cartridges, both revised rom, one made in usa with philips screws, one made in hong kong with triangle screws, GI rom code -128.  My space battle is the revised chip, made in hong kong, triangle screws, has an AMI chip unfortunately.  My guess is date codes in 1981 or later are revised roms.

Edited by mr_me

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25 minutes ago, mr_me said:

With Mattel Space Battle and Auto Racing you can tell by the instructions that come in the box. 

Assuming the cartridge and manual have never been separated......

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1 hour ago, BSRSteve said:

Assuming the cartridge and manual have never been separated......

This.  Anything not sealed and probably even some sealed items (resealed) are suspect.  Many people purchase parts and combine/supplement to form CIB.  Also, component upgrading is common and can lead to mixing.

 

Regarding carts, someone would have to do a huge analysis to test correlation between hardware and ROM version, but I suspect there would still be exceptions to the trends.  Not as common, but possible, are people doing PCB swaps.  I've personally moved a PCB from a shell with a crap label to a nicer shell with a dead PCB.  You never know the history of a 40yr old game.

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2 hours ago, BSRSteve said:

Assuming the cartridge and manual have never been separated......

That's why I was asking more so in relation to the cartridge so if you're OCD enough like me where this is the kind of stuff that would drive you insane I wanted to know if you just had the cartridge if there was a way to tell. @mr_me did bring up another identifier that I forgot about in the form of "made in Hong Kong" that might be useful. Worst case i'll just see if I can't get a huge swath of Auto Racer cartridges, test them all out, and report back on the findings. Would be an interesting little project for sure!

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Posted (edited)

I think Mattel cartridges with the original rom are relatively rare.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's less than 15%.  I expect all mattel space battles in blue boxes to be revised roms.  Some say the change in space battle box/network corresponds to the rom change. 

 

Anyone have a hong kong red boxed space battle to comment.  You can tell original space battle easily since the map screen looks different.

Edited by mr_me

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50 minutes ago, mr_me said:

I think Mattel cartridges with the original rom are relatively rare.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's less than 15%.  I expect all mattel space battles in blue boxes to be revised roms.  Some say the change in space battle box/network corresponds to the rom change. 

 

Anyone have a hong kong red boxed space battle to comment.  You can tell original space battle easily since the map screen looks different.

From INTV Funhouse for what it's worth

 

Originally released as part of the red-boxed "Action Network." Consumer complaints of the game being "too easy" led to the addition of a new harder level. The harder version was released as part of the new blue-boxed "Space Action Network"

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Yes, and that came from Keith Robinson's intellivisionlives website.  I wonder if it's true.

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On 7/31/2019 at 12:38 AM, silentshadow56 said:

@intellivotion, certainly appreciate the response so please don't think I'm ungrateful, but I am curious to know if anyone has tested my query as outlined above. That being where at bare minimum you could know what rom revision would be included on a cartridge based off it's style, but not necessarily the other way around.

 

 

no problem. I had understood you were interested in every variation recognizable by the cart/label and told about one I for sure know of.

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I might have some time tonight to test some carts.  I'll see if there's any correlation between labels and ROM version.  So Auto Racing and Space Battle have only 2 variants each, right?   Anything else I should be looking for?

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13 minutes ago, JasonlikesINTV said:

Starting to regret this decision.  Apparently I own more than a few copies of Auto Racing...

Are you winning at least? Now you're ready for HSC if they do Auto Racing! 

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Ok.  I've exhaustively tested [huge number that shall not be named...let's just say a boatload] Auto Racing cartridges.

 

5/6 of the known label variants were tested (no Digiplay)

 

Screws:

  • Every Hong Kong Mattel cart had Triangle screws
  • Every USA Mattel cart had Phillips screws.
  • All Sears and FrCan were Mattel Hong Kong with Triangle screws
  • Every Intellivision Inc cart had no screws.

USA to Hong Kong ratio:

  • Almost exactly 1/3 of all Mattel carts were USA (n=boatload)
  • Almost exactly 2/3 of all Mattel carts were Hong Kong (n=boatload)

ROMs:

  • An overwhelming majority of the total carts had the Revised Steering ROM
  • Only 13% of the total Mattel ROMs had Original Steering (87% had Revised Steering)
  • Of the 13% Originals, 3 were USA and 2 were Hong Kong ;-)

Intellivision Inc:

This last one is the strangest by far.  It's a later release.  There are no screws to open the shell.  6 of the 7 Intellivision Inc carts had Revised Steering.  How the heck did that Original Steering ROM get in there?

 

So to answer the original question (at least with respect to Auto Racing), no you can't tell which ROM variant you have based on the hardware alone.  Statistically speaking, you probably have the Revised Steering ROM, but there's only one way to know for sure.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, JasonlikesINTV said:
  • Only 13% of the total Mattel ROMs had Original Steering (87% had Revised Steering)
  • Of the 13% Originals, 3 were USA and 2 were Hong Kong ;-)

Can you open an original rom Auto Racing cart.  Do a HK cartridge if you have a triangle screwdriver.  And post the rom code (e.g. RO3-9504-128) and the date code?

 

It's possible Intellivision Inc got some unused original auto racing rom chips in their mattel inventory.  If the rom codes are the same, they couldn't tell the difference.  Or they had more made, used the original game code by mistake and then corrected it.  Either way I bet that original rom auto racing from intellivision inc shipped with revised steering instructions.

 

Edit:

With a little bit of math I figured more than 23% of mattel usa cartridges are original rom, while less than 8% of mattel hong kong cartridges are original rom.  And Jason has about 45 Auto Racing cartridges all tested working.

Edited by mr_me

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3 hours ago, mr_me said:

Can you open an original rom Auto Racing cart.  Do a HK cartridge if you have a triangle screwdriver.  And post the rom code (e.g. RO3-9504-128) and the date code?

Surprisingly, I never owned a triangle screwdriver until my recently acquired FW Diagnostics set.  I'll open a few up and see what I find.

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3 hours ago, mr_me said:

Edit:

With a little bit of math I figured more than 23% of mattel usa cartridges are original rom, while less than 8% of mattel hong kong cartridges are original rom.  And Jason has about 45 Auto Racing cartridges all tested working

You ever look at that empty 18" pizza box sitting on your countertop and wonder how you managed to eat the entire thing yourself in one sitting?  Then later you see your reflection in the mirror, judging you for the monster that you are as you cry into the night "Don't look at me!". This is how I felt upon realizing that I somehow managed to stockpile 45 Auto Racing carts into my basement like some sort of game hording squirrel-man.

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1 hour ago, JasonlikesINTV said:

You ever look at that empty 18" pizza box sitting on your countertop and wonder how you managed to eat the entire thing yourself in one sitting?  Then later you see your reflection in the mirror, judging you for the monster that you are as you cry into the night "Don't look at me!". This is how I felt upon realizing that I somehow managed to stockpile 45 Auto Racing carts into my basement like some sort of game hording squirrel-man.

 

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4 hours ago, JasonlikesINTV said:

You ever look at that empty 18" pizza box sitting on your countertop and wonder how you managed to eat the entire thing yourself in one sitting?  Then later you see your reflection in the mirror, judging you for the monster that you are as you cry into the night "Don't look at me!". This is how I felt upon realizing that I somehow managed to stockpile 45 Auto Racing carts into my basement like some sort of game hording squirrel-man.

Lol. Well this is my favourite post of the day. 😂

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