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SmartSped

New Retron 77 NTSC Cartridge Compatibility List

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Hey guys,

I took the time to test all my games today and decided why not use the Retron 77 and make a new list while I'm at it. So here's a compatibility list of all of my games that I have. I found about 5 of my games that were dead in the process (luckily none of them were rare ones). I know this is a bit late but I've always wanted a more comprehensive list so here it is.

 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16yn8tiEWMDEcJEX41fP8guRk3Y6nyeJ7TdwaUxnYNmA/edit?usp=sharing

 

I tested all games in both the Retron 77 and the Atari 2600 to ensure the games were working correctly. Firmware tested was on Stella 6.6.0. Curiously, I found that older Atari PCB's with brass connectors did not work in the Retron 77. I'm not sure why but I had several of the same game, where the older version did not work but the newer did work. These are marked in the notes of the compatibility list. Feel free to give me any input or your own test results to add to the list.

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I suppose you were testing carts, not games, right? There already is a thread about this somewhere on AA.

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I saw the other Compatibility thread. It had mostly Pal games and didn't have as many. And it didn't seem like anyone was updating it. That's why I wanted to make my own.

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On 3/6/2022 at 7:36 PM, SmartSped said:

Hey guys,

I took the time to test all my games today and decided why not use the Retron 77 and make a new list while I'm at it. So here's a compatibility list of all of my games that I have. I found about 5 of my games that were dead in the process (luckily none of them were rare ones). I know this is a bit late but I've always wanted a more comprehensive list so here it is.

 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16yn8tiEWMDEcJEX41fP8guRk3Y6nyeJ7TdwaUxnYNmA/edit?usp=sharing

 

I tested all games in both the Retron 77 and the Atari 2600 to ensure the games were working correctly. Firmware tested was on Stella 6.6.0. Curiously, I found that older Atari PCB's with brass connectors did not work in the Retron 77. I'm not sure why but I had several of the same game, where the older version did not work but the newer did work. These are marked in the notes of the compatibility list. Feel free to give me any input or your own test results to add to the list.

I have an NTSC Laser Blast cart and it works fine on my R77.  Maybe just your cart.  Activision carts can be the most finicky, even on original hardware.  I have quite a few Activision carts where I have to not quite push them in all the way in order for them to work.

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3 hours ago, insertclevernamehere said:

I have an NTSC Laser Blast cart and it works fine on my R77.  Maybe just your cart.  Activision carts can be the most finicky, even on original hardware.  I have quite a few Activision carts where I have to not quite push them in all the way in order for them to work.

Thanks for this. I'll play around with it and see if I can get mine to work. I'll update my list as well.

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It's odd that the Empire Strikes Back and Arena games work, but the other Star Wars games don't.  It's too bad that Pitfall II, Mr Do's Castle and Gyruss don't work.  Good thing that you can put a Micro SD card in your computer, download ROMs from sites like Atari Mania and plug it into your Retron 77 to play them anyway.  It's too bad that Hyperkin didn't set something like this up for their other consoles.  Some of the cartridges of certain NES and SNES games are crazy expensive now. 

This list is helpful. Thanks! I'll check it before buying more Atari games on cartridge.  I have most of them on ROMS now, but it's still fun to stick the cartridges in there for a more 'retro' experience.  I also like to get ones I don't already have for the cool box art, manuals etc.  

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7 minutes ago, DarthDuke said:

It's odd that the Empire Strikes Back and Arena games work, but the other Star Wars games don't. 

Not at all. The working games are 4K, the other ones are 8K and use Parker's bankswitching which is not supported by the cart dumper.

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It's too bad that Stella, which is a pretty good emulation program that I have sent a couple of donations to over the years, doesn't support 8K games with bankswitching.  Or, if it is something to do with Hyperkin's part of the emulator console, I'm surprised that they didn't include that support. I'm glad that Empire Strikes Back works, because it's my favorite Star Wars game on the 2600 as well as one of my favorite Star Wars games of all. 

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3 minutes ago, DarthDuke said:

It's too bad that Stella, which is a pretty good emulation program that I have sent a couple of donations to over the years,

Thanks for these.

3 minutes ago, DarthDuke said:

doesn't support 8K games with bankswitching.  Or, if it is something to do with Hyperkin's part of the emulator console, I'm surprised that they didn't include that support. I'm glad that Empire Strikes Back works, because it's my favorite Star Wars game on the 2600 as well as one of my favorite Star Wars games of all. 

It is definitely not Stella. You can play all games via SD cart. The problem is the cart dumper, which I consider a gimmick.

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Just did a video on trying out a bunch of classic 80's games to see if they work on the Retron 77.  Got a working/nonworking ratio of 83%/17%.  Not bad :)

 

 

 

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On 3/9/2022 at 6:10 PM, insertclevernamehere said:

I have an NTSC Laser Blast cart and it works fine on my R77.  Maybe just your cart.  Activision carts can be the most finicky, even on original hardware.  I have quite a few Activision carts where I have to not quite push them in all the way in order for them to work.

So I just cleaned my Laser Blast (again) and it still does not work on my Retron 77 even though it works perfectly on my 2600. Anyone else have a Laser Blast that does not work on the Retron 77?

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2 hours ago, ave1 said:

Just did a video on trying out a bunch of classic 80's games to see if they work on the Retron 77.  Got a working/nonworking ratio of 83%/17%.  Not bad :)

 

 

 

Watched it. Awesome vid. Added Universal Chaos, Boing!, Laser Gates, and Solar Storm to the list. Hope you don't mind.

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Somewhere on AA there is another thread, where this problem is discussed. IIRC, the culprit is the cartridge slot, which seems to be not 100% compatible to the original.

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On 3/7/2022 at 2:53 PM, SmartSped said:

I saw the other Compatibility thread. It had mostly Pal games...

With only a couple of exceptions, the difference between a PAL and a NTSC game is just in the code, not the hardware of the cartridge. The R77 dumper (that is the fake cartridge port) doesn't run any code from the cartridge, it just tries to dump the data into a rom file and then sends it to Stella.

 

Stella can play PAL and NTSC (and SECAM) games just fine, with correct colors and aspect ratio and without screen roll.

 

The issue here is that the dumper fails at creating a correct rom. As explained several times in the other long-running threads about the R77, a dumper+emulator works very differently from a console with a real cartridge port, and the result is that you're still playing an emulated cartridge in Stella, while the real cart is only briefly accessed before the emulation even starts, then just sits there.

 

Stella can emulate basically any 2600 cartridge type known. And it's updated when a new type is discovered (or created, in case of homebrews).

So if you put roms on the SD card, you'll be able to play everything.

 

The dumper in the R77, on the other hand, can only create roms for these cart types:
2k,4k,F8,F8SC,F6,F6SC.

Everything else will never work by using a cartridge.

 

Consider also that:

  • The dumper software sometimes fails to detect the correct cart type, even in case of one of those 6 supported schemes.
  • It can even fail at detecting the presence of the cart in the slot, as it checks if two pins (12 and 24) are connected together, which is not always true.
On 3/10/2022 at 12:10 AM, insertclevernamehere said:

I have an NTSC Laser Blast cart and it works fine on my R77.  Maybe just your cart.

The same game can have been produced with slight different cartridge hardware, and so some copies might work, while other might not. E.g. I have two apparently identical "Night Driver" carts, and only one has the pins 12 and 24 connected together. There's no way to tell the difference visually.

That's why compiling a compatibility list like those is not of much use IMHO.

 

Note that Stella can be launched with the "-rominfo" option that prints on screen the info about a rom, including the bankswitching type. A script could be easily written that does that against a complete rom collection and generates the "definitive" R77 cart compatibility list:

  • Every game using one of the 6 supported schemes can be marked with "Might work".
  • Everything else "Will never work" (The dumper software in the R77 runs on a separate microcontroller, it is not upgradable and it's not part of Stella).

 

IMO the R77 cart port has a merely cosmetic function, except that is mounted backwards and the cart sits there with both labels upside-down, so in a sense it fails at that too...

 

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, alex_79 said:

With only a couple of exceptions, the difference between a PAL and a NTSC game is just in the code, not the hardware of the cartridge. The R77 dumper (that is the fake cartridge port) doesn't run any code from the cartridge, it just tries to dump the data into a rom file and then sends it to Stella.

 

Stella can play PAL and NTSC (and SECAM) games just fine, with correct colors and aspect ratio and without screen roll.

 

The issue here is that the dumper fails at creating a correct rom. As explained several times in the other long-running threads about the R77, a dumper+emulator works very differently from a console with a real cartridge port, and the result is that you're still playing an emulated cartridge in Stella, while the real cart is only briefly accessed before the emulation even starts, then just sits there.

 

Stella can emulate basically any 2600 cartridge type known. And it's updated when a new type is discovered (or created, in case of homebrews).

So if you put roms on the SD card, you'll be able to play everything.

 

The dumper in the R77, on the other hand, can only create roms for these cart types:
2k,4k,F8,F8SC,F6,F6SC.

Everything else will never work by using a cartridge.

 

Consider also that:

  • The dumper software sometimes fails to detect the correct cart type, even in case of one of those 6 supported schemes.
  • It can even fail at detecting the presence of the cart in the slot, as it checks if two pins (12 and 24) are connected together, which is not always true.

The same game can have been produced with slight different cartridge hardware, and so some copies might work, while other might not. E.g. I have two apparently identical "Night Driver" carts, and only one has the pins 12 and 24 connected together. There's no way to tell the difference visually.

That's why compiling a compatibility list like those is not of much use IMHO.

 

Note that Stella can be launched with the "-rominfo" option that prints on screen the info about a rom, including the bankswitching type. A script could be easily written that does that against a complete rom collection and generates the "definitive" R77 cart compatibility list:

  • Every game using one of the 6 supported schemes can be marked with "Might work".
  • Everything else "Will never work" (The dumper software in the R77 runs on a separate microcontroller, it is not upgradable and it's not part of Stella).

 

IMO the R77 cart port has a merely cosmetic function, except that is mounted backwards and the cart sits there with both labels upside-down, so in a sense it fails at that too...

 

 

I don't think a compatibility list for carts is "not much use". The Retron 77 is aimed at a mainstream audience. Not everyone wants to dig into putting custom firmware/roms on their console and not everyone is fully aware of its limitations, however I'm assuming that many more will be searching Google for a compatibility list. The only place I messed up here was I didn't test on vanilla firmware. As I've said before, there is a list of mostly PAL games in another compatibility thread but it's not as comprehensive. And there are a couple of NTSC versions that don't work, such as Gangster Alley.

 

Interesting note about the 12 and 24 pin info though. I didn't know about that one.

Edited by SmartSped

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1 hour ago, SmartSped said:

I don't think a compatibility list for carts is "not much use".

My point is that the R77 dumper is limited to only recognizing a few cart types, it's unreliable, and there are so many different hardware revisions of cartridges that the fact that a certain cart doesn't work for someone else doesn't mean that the exact same game cannot work for you. You still have to test yourself to be sure.

 

The only exception is if a game does not use one of those few supported cart types. In that case you can be certain that it won't work. Without even trying.

 

1 hour ago, SmartSped said:

The Retron 77 is aimed at a mainstream audience. Not everyone wants to dig into putting custom firmware/roms on their console

and not everyone is fully aware of its limitations...

True, that's why Hyperkin should describe the product in a transparent way making aware their customer about what it can and cannot do.

 

1 hour ago, SmartSped said:

The only place I messed up here was I didn't test on vanilla firmware.

It doesn't matter for cartridge compatibility. The firmware that you can install with the SD card doesn't affect the dumper. Even if someone ever writes a new firmware for the cart dumper, you'll need a soldering iron to update it...

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5 hours ago, alex_79 said:

IMO the R77 cart port has a merely cosmetic function...

It is a (badly done) marketing gimmick, nothing more.

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42 minutes ago, alex_79 said:

 

It doesn't matter for cartridge compatibility. The firmware that you can install with the SD card doesn't affect the dumper. Even if someone ever writes a new firmware for the cart dumper, you'll need a soldering iron to update it...

Yes I understand how the dumper works. I'm speaking of any rom compatibility fixes if there have been any since the vanilla version.

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46 minutes ago, alex_79 said:

My point is that the R77 dumper is limited to only recognizing a few cart types, it's unreliable, and there are so many different hardware revisions of cartridges that the fact that a certain cart doesn't work for someone else doesn't mean that the exact same game cannot work for you. You still have to test yourself to be sure.

 

I'm not looking for perfection here. As long as someone finds some use out of the list, that's totally ok with me.

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27 minutes ago, SmartSped said:

I'm not looking for perfection here. As long as someone finds some use out of the list, that's totally ok with me.

That's fine. I realize I sounded dismissive. Sorry for that.

I just wanted to point out some of the reasons why R77 cartridge compatibility is hit and miss, and the fact that it's not something that can be fixed or improved

 by the Stella developers.

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47 minutes ago, SmartSped said:

Yes I understand how the dumper works. I'm speaking of any rom compatibility fixes if there have been any since the vanilla version.

Lots of improvements. The original firmware was based on a Stella version, which was many years old. 

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12 minutes ago, alex_79 said:

That's fine. I realize I sounded dismissive. Sorry for that.

I just wanted to point out some of the reasons why R77 cartridge compatibility is hit and miss, and the fact that it's not something that can be fixed or improved

 by the Stella developers

It's all good. I've been creeping on the Retron firmware pages for quite a while here and realize the Retron 77 isn't perfect for carts. Genuine question though: Is there a better alternative for playing carts on a modern TV? I honestly don't know. I haven't investigated. I know there's lots of other choices for NES games but haven't really dug into Atari systems.

 

Second question: Is there a known hardware mod that can be applied to the Retron 77 to enable expanded support? Would that even be feasible?

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39 minutes ago, SmartSped said:

Second question: Is there a known hardware mod that can be applied to the Retron 77 to enable expanded support? Would that even be feasible?

That would be a better dumper. But for what? You play all the games from SD card instead. 

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35 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

That would be a better dumper. But for what? You play all the games from SD card instead. 

I guess I'm the only oddball here that prefers playing the cartridges.

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The cartridge is dumped and a ROM file is created on the SD card. Which is identical to the file in any ROM collection. And then this file is put into Stella. There is zero difference between emulating the new dump or the collection file. 

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