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CREATED SEP.08.2009
UPDATED SEP.09.2009
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TEXT WRITTEN BY
MARTIN NIELSEN
NEO MYTH MD 3 IN 1 FLASH CART
CLASSIC GAMING IN A FLASH!
After months and months of waiting the second of many to come Neo Myth carts has finally arrived. The cart is made for the Sega Megadrive, known to Americans as the Genesis, and it's now known as Neo Myth MD 3in1, even though the label on the cart says "Super MD Flash Cart". It's made by Team NeoFlash who probably are most known for their XG (GBA) and MK (NDS) flash carts.

So being a fan of retro gaming I of course had to check this one out, while waiting impatiently for the Neo Myth N64 (hehe). So after having secured a copy and a few days of waiting, a DHL courier arrived at my doorstep with a big bag containing a very small box.

PRESENTATION

The Neo Myth MD is packed in the usual NeoFlash blister pack style box and what you get is the obvious - the Neo Myth MD cart - but also a miniUSB cable and a driver CD with software for all sorts of NeoFlash products.

What you don't get though is a description of how to use the thing. Some may say that it's very self explaining and easy to use, however I still think a small guide for those "not so tech minded" people out there would've been nice addition. Even though I have a fair share of experience with flash carts, I had a bit of trouble to check out all features of the cart, so a manual - even an online wiki would do it - is definately needed.

Included with the Neo Myth MD is also a NEO2 memory cartridge, an NDS Lite "expansion pak" style cartridge. Two versions of the cartridge is being made, two different colors as well I believe. A blue cartridge is released with a NEO2 512mbit memory cartridge while a grey one is released with a 1024mbit NEO2 cartridge.

CARTRIDGE

The Neo Myth MD is slightly taller than a regular Megadrive cartridge and it has the same shape as a European/American cartridge. As I only own a European Megadrive console I havn't been able to test if the cart fits in a Japanese Megadrive, but I'm sure it does even though the Japanese carts look a little different.

The cartridge itself has no built-in memory, but instead of using a standard memory card such as a SD or CF card, Team NeoFlash for unknown reasons decided to go with their own memory cartridges, the so-called NEO2 carts which were used for their early NintendoDS flash carts as ROM storage. They were inserted into the NintendoDS and DSlite's expansion "GBA" slot, meaning that the Neo Myth has a slot for a GBA cartridge.

But that doesn't mean that any GBA cartridge will fit as there's a no space on each side of the cartridge connector, meaning there's no space for the GBA cart housing of a normal GBA cartridge. That was just a little bit of info for those who wondered, if any :-)

The NEO2 memory cartridge included with my Neo Myth MD is the 512mbit version which equials to 65megabyte of storage, surely not a large amount of storage if you ask me. However if you're lucky enough to own an old NEO2 SD adapter then you're in luck because sometime in the future it can be used with the Neo Myth MD cartridge aswell, but right now only the internal 512mbit of the NEO2 SD can be used.

Why on earth the went with this memory choice is beyond me, other than the fact that they probably have a lot of left over NEO2 carts they'd want to get rid of. The use of SD or CF cards would have been much much slicker choice and you would be able to include a lot more games on one card than on the largest NEO2 cart which is 1024mbit, that equals to 128megabyte.

At the top side of the Myth cartridge a USB plug can be found as well, so the cartridge is used as a transfer dock for the NEO2 memory cart. Besides the USB plug a start button can also be found as well, although I've experienced that it's working more as a reset button but maybe that's just me not knowing what it does.

The internals of the Neo Myth reveals a heavily packed PCB with a core called "Neo Cell KS 200". Also, the final product seems to be revision 11?. On the backside of the cart there's a "Neo Myth USB 388C" chip along with some rather poor soldering/fixing, so I guess revision 12 is soon to be available.

NEO2 CARTRIDGE

As mentioned, all versions of NEO2 memory carts can be used with the Neo Myth, but eventhough the older NEO2 carts feature a SD card slot, this can't be used for storing roms, yet. I've also tried using a NEO3 (TF) cart which has a microSD slot and while it was recognized as a NEO2 it wouldn't work, as this cart is nothing more than an adapter and doesn't have any internal memory.

Please note though that Team NeoFlash has informed me that the use of SD cards for storage may be available later, so we can only hope and pray that it'll become reality very soon.

SOFTWARE

The software included on the CD is already outdated, so I suggest going to www.neoflash.com and downloading the latest software/driver package. At the time of writing the latest release is version 2.84.

My test lab is a 5 year old desktop PC running and a newer laptop, both running Windows XP. Why have two test machines you may ask? as the installation of the software is a pretty simple task, but the installation of the Neo2client as the software is called ended up not functioning on my desktop pc, prompting the following error when I try to run the start the program.

"The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000005). Click OK to terminate the application". Even after a reinstallation of the program the error appears. However the installation went flawless on the laptop. With that said though I got the same error of being unable to register neo2usb.dll as it's not included in the package.

The NEO2 Software is a "multiconsole" tool, meaning it will can be used for any console that makes use of a NEO2 flash cartridge for storage. I won't go into detail though, the MD part is pretty much straight forward, but the rest of the program looks a little chaotic to say the least.

Also, the rom transfer seems a little on the slow side compared to a normal windows file transfer, filling the 65megabytes of memory will take several minutes.

COMPATIBIILTY

According to Team NeoFlash the Neo Myth MD supports all Megadrive/Genesis games, but I do wonder if someone actually sat down and tested them all. Of course there are a lot of bad rom dumps out there and most of my tests either resulted in a black screen or the Myth menu showing in negative colors, black background with white/yellow'ish text.

32x support is also built-in, I unfortunately don't have a 32x add-on available to me at the time of writing, but I've heard from others that 32x support is working so-so. One game will never work, Virtua Racing, as the game makes use of a custom chipset that no other game uses. Darxcide 32X didn't work at all either and Star Wars locked up during gameplay. Of course the later two could be working with future firmware revisions.

Master System support. I've tested a few SMS games such as Phantasy Star and Alex Kidd and both worked. What wonders me though is why GameGear isn't supported, I'm no Sega expert but isn't GameGear games some sort of Sega Master ripoff? Maybe a thing for the future there?. The Neo Myth MD also has a YM2413 FM built-in for output of Mark III sound on a Megadrive/Genesis console.... clever!

SegaCD is supported as well, or at least it's planned. At the time of writing this feature isn't available as Team NeoFlash needs to release a modified SegaCD bios. It is however supposed to be out within the next 2 weeks, meaning mid-late September 2009. The Neo Myth MD will also function as a "RAM" card for SegaCD savegames but as the bios isn't available I obviously havn't been able to check this out.

The Neo Myth will run on any Megadrive/Genesis console, according to the specs released by NeoFlash, there's multi region support except for 32X, a single rom size of maximum 40megabit, meaning Street Fighter 2 should work. A cheat code system is said to be implemented later on, we're probably talking Pro Action Replay here. Also mentioned in the specs is "built-in 4M SRAM save using battery to keep the data", but please tell me where the battery is on the PCB pictures I made.

I've tested a few Megadrive/Genesis games and here are some of my test results:

TITLE COMMENT
Action 52 Doesn't boot, Myth menu goes netagive colors.
Alex Kidd & the Enchanted Castle Works!
Asterix & the Great Rescue Works!
Asterix & the Power of the Gods Works!
Batman Doesn't boot.
Sonic & Knuckles Works!

Of course the test results may be affected by bad roms floating around.

SAVING

This is probably the worst of it all, saving is at the time a manual feature, meaning you'll have to select savetype for each game before flashing the cartridge.

I'm sorry but something like this is totally unacceptable, there has to be a way to make this happen automaticly and besides I would want to save in any game - not just the games that originally had a save feature, or am I totally wrong here?

NEO MYTH CART MENU

The onscreen presentation is sadly a little sparse. Instead of giving the user a list of games to choose from, each rom on the cart is presented with a screen of its own, forcing the user to press up or down on the joypad to switch to a new rom with pretty much the same information except for the rom title.

In my oppinion a scrollable list of games would be better option, but maybe we'll see that in a future version of the firmware.

CONCLUSION

The Neo Myth has been long awaited, it has been in development for over 2 years and with that said I am a little dissatisfied with the final product which somehow seems rushed. Sure the thing works, although most of my tests resulted in the screen going black or blank, I was able to load games such as Sonic 3. But with the fact that you have to manually select saving for game is just wrong, the segaCD part doesn't work and worst of all, the decision to use the neo2 as storage is truly a show stopper along with the buggy windows software provided.

I'm really sad to see how this turned out, a lot of things can be fixed with software upgrades I hope, but with the mentioned problems in mind and a pricetag of $150, I'd leave the Neo Myth MD on the shop shelf for now, there are other megadrive flash carts on the market now that gives you more value for less money.

But with that said, I'm not saying that you should totally avoid this product, but just wait a while and see what Team NeoFlash makes of improvements, once the SD carts are supported, with just dragging and dropping roms to the SD and not using their sad software, they'd be well on their way to a better product.

Oh yeah I almost forgot to mention that the Neo Myth MD actually is a 4 in 1 as the NEO2 memory card can be loaded with GBA roms to be played on a Nintendo DS Lite, now how nice is that? :-)

I will of course keep updating this review when the Neo Myth MD is updated with new software/firmware.

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