SNES PowerPak Materializes

November 12th, 2009 by Benj Edwards

RetroZone SNES PowerPak

Remember the PowerPak — that wondrous device from RetroZone that allowed you to cram every NES game ever made into one cartridge? Well, two years later, RetroZone has released its follow-up, the SNES PowerPak for the Super NES.

Well, they've kinda released it. Sales appear to temporarily be on hold in order to "investigate system compatibility," according to the RetroZone website.

RetroZone Temporarily UnavailableFor those unfamiliar with the original PowerPak concept, the SNES PowerPak allows one to copy SNES ROM files onto a compact flash card, place the card into the SNES PowerPak cartridge, and then play those games on a real Super NES unit. It supports multiple games through on-screen menu selection.

More Info to Come

When I stumbled across the new SNES PowerPak today, I initially felt like jealously hoarding the knowledge so I'll have less competitors when I try to get my hands on one of these magical devices.

But then I realized that I have a responsibility to let you guys know about this, since so few sites out there cover the world of Nintendo hacking and modding — and especially since the proprietor of RetroZone doesn't make much effort to get the word out.

Whenever I get one, I'll write a review for VC&G. Until then, you can drool over it like me at the RetroZone site.



25 Responses to “SNES PowerPak Materializes”

  1. Abe Says:

    Hey Benji

    Since last time, 2 years ago, I got my Nes powerpak, certainly it delayed a lot in Mexican custom's office, I received it 2 months after bought it.

    But at this, time, I can tell you this is a very best investment I've made on games. The NES powerpak accomplished all my expectatives and it has provided me a lot of fun hours that i'd thoutgh i'd lost.

    Yesterday, I ordered a SNES powerpak in fact, trusting this is a quite quality product as its predecessor. I did't put to much attention to its price, because I consider if you are a really NES/SNES fan, this a must.

    Many people in some spanish (Spain) forums, criticizes a high price, those cheap-asses!!!

    No way, we're in front of a great craft-product, which is worthy of every dime. For people it's easy to talk about how much does it cost, but, as a very old proverb used here in Mexico.

    My price is for all know, not for what I do
    Cobro por lo que conozco, no por lo que hago.

  2. Multimedia Mike Says:

    I think this blog is where I first learned of the NES PowerPak so many years ago. I ordered it as soon as it was available… and I never have gotten it to work.

  3. jlanagan Says:

    OMG I'm still trying to justify the original PowerPak, and now this! Great. I'm doomed.

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    What doesn't work about the NES PowerPak, Mike? Are you trying to use it on a NES clone machine perhaps?

    I use my PowerPak all the time — it's probably the coolest and most useful video game accessory / peripheral I've ever bought. I haven't used a real NES cartridge in the last two years. Also, RetroZone more recently added the ability to play Famicom Disk System games on the PowerPak, which made me love it all over again.

  5. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Not a clone. In fact, it's an official Nintendo top-loader.

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    What doesn't work about the PowerPak when you use it in a top loader?

  7. Flit Says:

    Initially I was incredibly excited, then I noticed the lack of SuperFX compatibility. Not unexpected but still a huge downer.

  8. orsty3001 Says:

    I know Neoflash are working on one of these but you have into plug the neoflash flash cart into the SNES cart. Kind of don't like that because of how proprietary that seems.

    I agree with Flit about the FX compatibility issue. There were a lot of DSP chips to try to emulate or copy.

    Still will probably get one and there were only like 8 games that used that chip. I think there were two versions of the FX chip too. It's understandable why they didn't add that.

  9. mvsfan Says:

    I always hated the superfx deal.

    The bottom line is that the snes is a 2d sprite based machine. thats what it was built for and thats what it exceled at.

    if the new power pack can run what it says it can run, fx not included, i will be very, very happy.

  10. johney Says:

    now i ,m angry about the fact that the snes powerpak lacks the fpga chip wich is a pretty shame,maybe they put such option in the future to install it for you, instead of the dsp chip wich i call sake.
    but it,s updateble and duo it,s hich capacity storage of cf flash cards it,s maybe even possible to convert your favoite movie,s mp3,s into snes hardware to push the snes video and soundchip to it,s limmitand.
    and we can play compatible homebrew and official games.
    it,s a must have.
    and the cd rom addon and copier units now becomes obsolete!!!

  11. mnky9800n Says:

    @johney, if you are talking about the superfx it isn't an FPGA it is a RISC. It comes preloaded with instruction sets. Otherwise you would have to give the snes game a list of instructions every time you wanted to play the game.

  12. Benj Edwards Says:

    By the way, I received my SNES PowerPAK a few days ago, and I'm testing it out. So far, so good.

  13. Snow Says:

    Hey Benji. I think I was here 2 years ago as well, canna remember. I purchased a NES Powerpak - and have been loving it. Now it has .fds support too, (which I haven't tried out yet, but that's gotta rock).

    Anyway, as soon as the SNES powerpak is available again, I'm getting my greedy fingers on one.

    One question for you, since you're testing. Did you get yours with the NTSC lockout chip? Will that cause problems if you try to play a Japanese rom? One game I've been dying to play on original hardware is Seiken Densetsu 3 - also known as Secret of Mana 2. There is an English translation of the rom. I very much would like the ability to play that game. If you get a chance, could you test out the translated version (if you have the NTSC lockout). I'd get the Powerpak anyway, but still am curious. Thanks for your time Benji.. and as always, thanks for sharing stuff with us.

  14. Benj Edwards Says:

    Snow,

    I got mine with the NTSC lockout chip, but it does not affect what region ROMs you can play on it. It simply surpasses the lockout functionality in the North American SNES unit so you can play games on it. In short, I can play Japanese ROMs fine.

    I've actually tried an English fan translation of Seiken Densetsu 3 already and it didn't work. I think it was because it wasn't an official size (they usually have to be exactly 1, 2, 3, 4 MB, etc.) or it didn't have a proper header format. I didn't get it to work so far, but there might be a way to fix up ROMs like that to get them to work. None of the fan translated games I've tried have worked.

    The SNES PowerPak's SRAM save system is a little buggy too, but it works if you massage it the right way. I'll include more about it in my formal review. For now, I'd say it's not the must-have that the NES PowerPak was, but it's still a technological marvel and I'm still testing it out.

  15. Snow Says:

    Ok. Thanks Benj. Yeah, I'm sure there is a way to get fan translations working. May require the power of a hex-editor, dunno.

    I've been reading up about this new Powerpak and according to Brian (bunnyboy - creator of powerpak for those of you wondering), there are still some things to work out and I guess from what I read or picked up anyway, is that this may not be the final design. I think he's still improving it significantly. None-the-less, as you stated, it is a technological marvel. I definitely am getting one right away and if he should have an *improved* (only if he says it's improved, for me, this thing as it is has blown my mind and already is much better than all other flash carts for the SNES out there), I'll get another one. My gf and I have our own SNES's anyway. :P

    Thanks again Benj and thanks for explaining the lockout chip, that makes much more sense than what I was worried about. I'm such a dunce. hehe

  16. Me. Says:

    Benj came out many many years later with what was only a dream for me back in the day. A perfect Copynes system, for those who wanted it as well, as coming out with an almost perfect flash cart called NES powerpak that i just was forced to admire and adore for its ability to run anything i would throw at it. This did in fact become the rock solid, and missing NES product i had been looking for for a very long time. With the nes products, as well as their usb controller adaptors, Retrousb simply rocks, and answers the call for these things.

    as far as the Snes powerpak is concerned, i cannot even get the included tests to run on it and i feel that they still have a huge amount of software and/or hardware updates to do to it before it is road worthy.

    I am an original purchaser of a Professor Sf II / Gdsf7 that i still have and i also wish that it would still work. that thing always ran everything, translations included, as long as i had the right header information, it would run all i threw at it except for special chips, until it started coming up with ram errors every time i would boot up, due to a faulty ram module that i just could not find a replacement for.

    as far as the snes powerpak is concerned, i cant even run the tests, let alone super mario world.

    I would like to find a good header manipulator to do so though just because of how good the Nes Powerpak has been to me, as well as that back in the day, i had to get every snes game header for any game that i wanted to run readable by the Gdsf7.

  17. Benj Edwards Says:

    I did what now? I think you mean Brian Parker, the guy who runs RetroZone.

    I will agree that the SNES PowerPak feels very rough around the edges at the moment. That can be improved over time, but for now it might be best for people who don't want too much excitement to wait on buying it. I'll still post a full review soon.

  18. johney Says:

    well thanks for for your response mnky9800n ,yeah it,s true the fpga chip is very different from risc chips,however i was dissapointed that they dit,nt put a powerfull risc proccesor in the snes powerpak with a fpga chip to instruct the risc chip wich proccesor to emulate,it would,ve been really cool to play anny snes game ever made on the powerpak i know it will be very expansive but it would be so cool,imagine a homebrew improved version of doom,wolf 3d,mortol kombat 1 with all the gore and blood,a full version of dracula x rondo of blood oh yeah,but some one else could allway,s try to install the super fx2 chip by his self.
    i also don't understand why it does'nt have a multi lockout chip instead and why it does,nt work on the snes mini,it remains for me a mistery for me????

  19. Abe Says:

    Hey Benj, I've been testing my snes powerpak, since last 2 weeks and it's wonderful!

    Of course there's some games with glitches such as Art of Fighting, or even DKC's intro, but playability it's very acceptable. I'm wondering if there's tool to fix mappers as the same as Nestoy, maybe that could be a solution.

    I've found too that, there's some roms, some of them translated, not compatible with powerpak.

    But it's pretty cool to have & play your games with SNES PowerPak!!!

  20. johney Says:

    despites my criticts about the snes powerpak i just want to buy both the nes and snes powerpak.
    but i can,t pay it cuzz i got no shitty creditcard even when clicking onn maestro debit card does,nt work ,cuzz thy still ask a large number code and issue code,the only thing i found on my debit card is a 4 number code and obviousely my bank number code but none of those other codes.
    what is this? according to my dutch local bank i van only pay with a debit card on the american methode,is that true?
    i,ve tryed 10 times to contact retrozone to tell them my payment problems, but hotmail tells me that the email has been failed to send or when i clicked on the email adress from retrozone, i got a massage to install outlook express but even after following the instructions and sending one email with and without my emailadress i got a massage that one error has occure, ,m mean wtf!!!
    it seems that ,m stack and that i never get my hands of one of those must have addons.dammed.

  21. johney Says:

    to make a chip wich could replicate all enhanced snes chips.
    we need a fpga chip to instruct a powerfull proccesor wich chip to replicate,we also need a switch to regulate the richt voltage for each chip.
    since each chip also rely,s on different pins,the proccesor must be flexible enough to shift from one to another pinout.
    so if we want to replicate the fx chip the fpga got to instruct the proccesor and tell them wich pinout to be used,and to command the switch to regulate the richt voltage.
    if we want to replicate the sa1 chip the fpga got to instruct the proccesor a different instruction and tell the switch to regulate another voltage etc,,,
    also there,s amount of switcheble memory required for other stuff like decompression,bit busses and other stuff.
    so in theory a chip wich could emulate all snes chips possible!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. me Says:

    while retrozone has done a great job with what they have accomplished so far, they simply dont have the resources that bung did when the legendary gdsf7 was flying off of shelves. theirs one major and important difference between the powerpak and the gdsf7.

    when a standard, old game like madden 94 refused to run on the gdsf7 or it ran real buggy, it was almost always a software problem and Not a problem with the gdsf7.

    in the case of the powerpak when something dont want to run right, many times its the powerpak mappers.

    btw if anyone knows where i can get a ram module for a gd7 id love to get it running again. only reason i tried the powerpak was because the gd7 finally quit about a year ago.

    my verdict is this. with time, and many revisions, the snes powerpak can in fact be the solid piece of hardware that the nes powerpak is, but its no Gd7.

  23. johney Says:

    i,ve good news for all snes fans,the snes powerpak will now also work on the snes jr aka snes mini.
    i wish to run annimations,movies and music(in smc format) on the snes,but the powerpak has only 128 mb internal memory for the largest snes games,but even that is not enough to fit one animation,movie or even a song on it.
    the solution maybe to use bankswitching allowing to split and fit hich amount of data one by one on the 128 mb size,trough software update.
    for cd quality sound we need to use all tricks like stereo metrix for dolby surround to increase the signal to noise ratio and the sample rate from 32khz to 44,1 khz and the flexible sound driver engine for allowing more soundchannels atonce.
    thisway we may could run 21fx rompatched software on the snes powerpak!!!!

  24. johney Says:

    more awesome news the snes powerpak now finaly has the super ciclone lockout chip, to be allowing compatible with the pal,ntsc,snes jr and most snes clone systems and snes with no lockout chip.
    so you don,t need to buy 3 snes powerpak for each system.
    also the dsp chip is now standard installed so no more extra costs annymore for the instalation and /or incompatible with dsp games.
    and with the 4 gb cf cards it,s(maybe) possible to stream near cd quality sound and full motion video on the snes,trough also the use of bankswitching,and data streaming to the frame buffer for animation,
    and by writing codes to the echo buffer to the s-dsp and then offsetting echo mode, the snes can play true uncompressed 16bit 32khz stereo. sound.
    why waiting for the 21fx homebrew kit if it maybe allready possible on this trough update??!!
    yep the snes is blast porfomance!!

  25. steve Says:

    Dude just buy a a $30 dreamcast download dreansnes and nester along with snes roms and nes roms there now u can play every snes and nes game ever made

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