Back in 1997 a new Nintendo64 copier appeared on the somewhat black gamecopier market which until then had been fed with Doctor V64 devices by Bung Enterprises,
a company based in Hong Kong. The new device called Mr. Backup or in short "Z64" was invented and sold by Harrison Electronics. Unlike the Doctor V64 which
used the expansion port of the N64 at the bottom side of the N64, the Z64 attached to the cartridge slot of the N64, looking a lot more sleek when attached to
the console, something that surely can't be said about the Doctor V64.
While the Doctor V64 offered that games could be run either from a CD-ROM or by attaching the V64 to a PC and loading games using a "parallel" cable, the Z64
only offered that games could be run from an iomega ZIP disk which could hold 100 megabytes of data. The owner would of course have to have a ZIP drive for
his/her PC as well otherwise no games or demos could be saved to teh disks.
It's quite sad that the developer of the Z64 choose not to include a parallel or USB way of connecting the device to a PC, but I definately like the idea of
using ZIP disk eventhough it sure was an expensive choice at the time, but then again so were CDs and CD recordable drives.
Harrison managed to release 3 different versions of the Z64. The first version only had 128mbit (16 megabyte) of RAM which is used when loading a game to play.
The other two version were upgraded to 256mbit (32 megabytes) of RAM and also receive an extra way of operating the unit by adding an onscreen display (OSD). The
unit could be operated away from TV or PC though as a small LCD display on the device servered as a way of selecting options in the menu.
It is not possible to upgrade the first version to 256mbit of RAM.
Rumor has it that someone back in the day brought his Z64 to a department store to copy a kiosk demo of Donkey Kong 64. He simply packed the small Z64 into his
backpack, then went to the store and managed to get ahold of the demo cartridge. He then found a power plug as the Z64 can't run off batteries, a useless option
anyway if you ask me. About a minute later the game was copied to the ZIP disk and voila!
As said earlier three versions of the Z64 exist, and as they all look the same on the outside well then there's a still a way to determine what version you
have. When powering on the Z64 it will display the bios version installed and if the bios number shows an A after the number then the hardware is revision 1,
if it's a B well then it's hardware revision 2 and finally C... yes hardware revision 3.
The difference between version 2 and 3 is that Harrison decided to use cheaper parts and thereby lower the production cost and retail price. The second version
is often said to be the best/most reliable version of the 3 as its using the motherboard from the first version, but upgraded the 256mbit RAM. The third version
has a completely redesigned motherboard which unfortunately features a bug which may make the Z64 freeze up when playing a game.
Don't worry though, there are several pages out there which explains how to fix the bug, such as this one http://www.schweino.com/z64mod
The Z64 is incredibly easy to operate, either by the LCD which doesn't feature much more than "backup cart", "play cart" or "play from from disk" features. A
ZIP disk delete option can be found by keeping the up and down buttons pressed for 3 seconds. But the later revisions also features an OSD (onscreen display)
giving the user a lot more features to choose from.
The extra features include auto patching of games, cheats and auto saving sames games to the ZIP disk (nifty!!). Auto patching is used for games that had its
protection cracked - Nintendo got better and better at protecting the ROMs from being played on backup units, but the hackers got better as well. The cheat system
used is nothing less than the Action Replay.
It takes the Z64 about 1 minute and 40 seconds to load a 256mbit game from the ZIP disk. The Doctor V64 could of course load a game faster because of it's CD-ROM
drive, but 1:40 isn't that bad really.
Another great Z64 feature is the feature of playing imports, the games doesn't have to be prepatched unless the game specificly checks if the video mode is 50hz
(NTSC format) or vise versa. The reason why this works is that the Z64 uses the CIC (lockout) chip info from a cartridge inserted into the cartridge slot of the
Z64. A cartridge is required if a ROM has to be loaded.
All in all the Z64 device is simply awsome, though had I owned one back in the day I would've bitched about not having a parallel or even better, USB connection,
to a PC.
As with the V64 it is possible to upgrade the bios of the Z64. The final official version was 2.17 but version 2.18 and 2.20 are also out there, though these are
of course unofficial released which have added better features to the Z64 such as support for bigger ZIP drives, Harddrives and even CF cards in the latest bios