The world of video game emulation is a delicate one. Sure, it’s fantastic to be able to play retrospective games with all kinds of enhancements, graphical and otherwise, it’s also great to be able to store your library digitally, but with it being a dodgy subject in a legal sense, wary people tend to steer clear. I, however, love it. Being an 80s kid, playing old games really hit that nostalgia nerve beautifully, and some of the best games ever made were made a lot of years ago.
Emulators are hit and miss on anything past the 16-bit era on any system you play them on. The worst of which is the Nintendo 64; I have scoured high and low for an N64 emulator that has impressive compatibility but always came up trumps. That is until now….kinda.
I have finally found the holy grail of N64 emulation, but it’s not an emulator as such. I’m talking about the Everdrive 64, an N64 cartridge that allows you to play roms on an actual N64 console, which of course brings with it almost 100% compatibility.
The Everdrive 64 is created by Krikzz.com, who have generously provided us with a unit to review. The latest revision of the ED64 is the X7, which has a few enhancements over previous models. When it arrived, I was instantly impressed with the packaging quality. Neatly packed into a foam padded black box with the Krikzz.com logo printed on the lid, the cartridge itself is identical to a regular N64 game cartridge in every sense, but what was apparent was that there are no instructions whatsoever, but hey, thank God for Google.
Inspecting the cartridge, the first enhancement is the removable storage media that the ED64 uses. Gone from older versions is the SD card slot in favour of the more up-to-date MicroSD slot. On whatever MicroSD you use, you must have the operating system files, which can be downloaded from the Krikzz website, as well as the roms you want to play, push the MicroSD (which needs to be formatted to FAT32) in the cartridge, and you’re all set. There is also a USB slot, but this is purely for development purposes, so conventional users won’t need it.
Switching on the console displays the main menu, which is very retro looking. Apart from the interchangeable background images, it’s not aesthetically pleasing or easy on the eye, but that’s fine considering what this thing can do. The main screen is your basic file manager screen that allows you to browse all folders and files you have on your SD card. Pressing the Z trigger activates that actual main menu, which grants access to the ED64’s features.
First up is ‘Options’, which allows you to alter save type, activate the built-in cheat system, and automatically activate IPS files, which are game patches and more. ‘CPak Manager’ allows you to format or backup your controller memory pak. ‘Cheats’ allows you to input compatible GameShark codes to activate cheats in selected games. ‘Device Info’ displays information about the Everdrive 64 cartridge, such as when it was manufactured. ‘Self-test’ tests the device to ensure everything is in working order, ‘RTC Setup’ alters the built-in real time clock, which is essential for Animal Crossing, and ‘About’ tells you all about the geniuses who created the wonder that is the Everdrive 64.
Playing roms is as easy as browsing to where your rom files are and selecting a game file. You will get the option to select and play or just select; this is key if you want to use cheats as you need to have the desired game file selected first before input. If you’re completely savvy though, you can conveniently create a .txt document in the ED64/Cheats folder, name it exactly the same as the game file and put the codes in it. This enables you to activate and deactivate cheats without typing them in every time as the ED64 doesn’t store any cheat you put in. Now, the bad thing about the cheat system is inputting incorrect cheats makes a game not play at all; we’re talking black screen of death. Also, some master codes don’t work, so cheating may not be possible on some games (WWF No Mercy Rev. A, for example).
Compatibility on the Everdrive 64 is 100%, which includes hack roms, prototypes and even NES games thanks to the built-in NES emulator. This is the best way to play N64 roms, period. That is if playing them as intended is okay with you. What I mean is that the ED64 doesn’t allow or support any sort of game enhancements found in conventional emulators, although you will need the Expansion Pak to use cheats and play the games that require it, such as Donkey Kong 64 or The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
A key enhancement over previous revisions of the Everdrive 64 is the built-in save system. The majority of games that save on the cartridge can now do so on the ED64 seamlessly, whereas previous versions of the product meant you needed to press the reset button to save your game.
So, the Everdrive 64 is the best way to store and play Nintendo 64 roms. Its compatibility is unprecedented, and the enhancements it brings over previous revisions are a godsend, such as the save system and required storage preference. The Everdrive 64 is a niche product, which brings a hefty price tag, but trust me when I say you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Platforms: Nintendo 64
Release Date: 2019
Do you agree with our review of Everdrive 64? Will you be buying one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.