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The Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart is an expensive flash cartridge for your Neo Geo. But have you seen the prices for some original games, over a grand for some of them!!!! Find out if you should invest in this multi cart, or re-mortgage your house to buy all the games.
Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart Review Video
You can find out more information about the Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart at https://www.arcade-projects.com/forums/index.php?board/31-neo-geo-mvs-and-aes/ where you can find links where to buy, get the latest firmware and support for them.
Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart Review (Text)
The Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart comes in a snaplock box that feels good quality. It has a clip on the side to keep it securely closed. The box cover art is nothing fancy, it clearly shows what is contained inside. On the back you can read about what the cartridge does and some of the features.
Inside you can find the multi cart. This is a reproduction cartridge shell, so no original shells were harmed in making these 🙂 Size and looks wise, it looks near identical to an original AES cartridge. On the right side of the cart is a Micro SD Card slot where you can add a card containing the menu software and your game files. You can fit just about everything on a 8GB card.
Inside the cartridge you can find an 8 layer PCB with Altera Cyclone 4 FPGA, DDR memory, Flash memory and an ARM processor.
There are three simultaneous virtual game slots, each with 768 megabits of memory which is large enough to store the largest officially released game. You store the unpatched game files on the SD card and then flash them to a virtual game slot. We will take a look at this in more detail further in the video.
When first booting up the Neo Geo you are presented with the game selection menu. This shows the three games that are stored on the virtual slots. You can press A,B, or C to load the respective game slot, or the START button to go to the options menu.
From here you can perform various tasks such as game slot management, configuring the games, system settings amongst others.
The Games list will display any games found on the Micro SD card. You can scroll through the games using left and right on the joystick. This is the Thumbnail display which shows the games with a logo and thumbnail, or alternatively just a list with the logo. There is an option to show animations and I recommend turning them off to speed up when browsing the games.
There is also a Filter option so you can narrow down games by year of release, first letter, manufacturer and genre.
The games configuration will allow you to change the DIP switch settings found on the game. For example on View Point, you can change settings such as number of continues, bonus scores, difficulty and 2 player simultaneous or alternative. These settings vary depending on the game.
The system configuration allows you to change between MVS and AES systems as well as the region. The region can be useful as for example, some USA games have censored blood, where the Japanese does not.
The menu configuration lets you change settings for the flash cart. The boot mode will change where it loads to when first booted up, the game menu, game list or main menu.
The game list display changes how the Games list will display which I showed earlier. There’s options for showing thumbnails or simply a list of games for speed.
The menu music was previously locked to Axel-F song which annoyed many people. Thankfully, more recent firmware updates now have a choice of music, or if you wish to, you can fully disable it.
And the in game hot keys can be enabled or disabled. When enabled, this allows you to hold button combinations to other games in the slots or return to the main menu without having to power off and on the console.
Diagnostics will run a quick check on the cartridge to see if there are any issues. And the About option will show some information such as which firmware is installed and the supported games.
Exit and program games will proceed to flash any games to the virtual slots which we will show next.
Flashing a game to a virtual slot is very easy. From the Game list, choose your game and press A to assign it. You can then choose between the three virtual slots.
You can if you wish to, configure the game DIP switch settings or go straight to flashing the game.
Flashing a game does not take very long. It will vary slightly depending on the size of the game. Once the games have been flashed, the system will reboot and go into the first game on the virtual slots. On future powering up, it will show the game menu, main menu or game list depending what you choose previously in the settings.
I ran a few tests with games of different sizes. I have timed them from the moment I press the A button on the “Exit and program games menu option”, to the moment it shows the Neo Geo Unibios screen to get an equal timing.
The largest Neo Geo game is King of Fighters 2003 which is 768 Mbit. For this test I will show the unedited video, no speeding up. It takes 27 seconds to flash to a slot from start to finish. And loading from the game menu takes 18 seconds.
To save time, the rest of the tests will be sped up but I will show the times. A smaller game such as Ghost Pilot takes 9 seconds to flash, and 2 seconds to load from the game menu.
I chose three games and added them to their respective slots and proceeded to flash them. This took 18 seconds from start to first seeing the Uni Bios screen.
Personally I think the times are reasonable. Once a game is flashed to a virtual slot, which only needs to be done the one time, then the games are overall quick to load.
Here is a quick comparison of prices. The Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart costs around £355 if purchased in Europe, or around $425 in the USA. Comparing this to the NeoSD AES costing around £310, not including import taxes, it works out a little cheaper.
Whichever cart you buy, it is a lot of most peoples money to spend. But bearing in mind that many Neo Geo games are hard to find and/or expensive, then the multi cart does kind of pay for itself after a few games going by some current prices.
I have been using the Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart for a few months now and apart from just a couple of games not currently working I did not have any other issues. There has been lots of moaning from some on various forums about the time it takes to flash and load games. Personally I think waiting 20 odd seconds for a game to load is perfectly fine. How long does it take to load most modern games on PC or console?
Something to also consider is that Neo Geo CD games may be supported in the future. This is not a guarantee, but it would make a great selling point if it is supported, as the standard NeoSD AES does not support it.
I have always wanted a Neo Geo since I was a teenager in the early 90’s, however it was way out of my price range in those days. Now I am older, perhaps not so wiser, I finally have one and for me the Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart is a great option. I can enjoy all the Neo Geo games without having to remortgage the house.
There is not an official Darksoft homepage but the main hub of activity including the developer of the Darksoft Neo Geo MultiAES Cart can be found on the Arcade Projects forum. You can find more information about the carts, firmware updates, support and where you can buy one on there.