Guide (instruction) on the SuperCard cartridge
The SuperCard cartridge is a Flash cartridge.
At its core, a Flash cartridge is like a hard drive for the Game Boy Advance and like a hard drive on a computer, it can be used for piracy as well as for regular work. You can burn pirated games to a Flash cartridge (if you download the ROM file of the game from the Internet), or you can use the Flash cartridge for another purpose, for example, by downloading open ROM files or simply uploading your program. That is, use the Flash cartridge as a development tool.
But remember that all responsibility for these actions lies with you!
There are four versions of this cartridge, two of them can no longer be found and two are quite realistic to buy. They differ in what kind of memory cards they are made for.
Let's take a closer look:
The first is made for a Compact Flash memory card. The second is for an SD memory card. And the third for a Mini SD.
These versions are almost impossible to find. However, it is now possible to find the fourth version of this cartridge. Here are just my speculations, but this cartridge was not officially released for a Micro SD memory card and the Chinese themselves converted it from the Mini SD version to the Micro SD version. But we generally do not care, because in fact nothing has changed except for the use of a more modern memory card.
Let's dwell a little on my speculations. The official site supercard.cn existed until about 2007. Then disappeared. On this site, already at that time, there was an article on how to distinguish a fake cartridge from an original one. You can read about it here:
Further we will talk about this particular cartridge, into which a microSD memory card is inserted and which can be freely purchased on Aliexpress and Ebay.
Where to buy?
What else do we need to purchase?
There is nothing in the box except the cartridge. For normal use of this cartridge, you need to purchase a few more items.
1. . Micro SD memory card.
2. Card reader to the memory card. (To record games from computer to memory card). Of course, this is not for the purpose of piracy (we are strictly against this! And we condemn such behavior), but solely for informational purposes.
All this must be purchased separately. And after you have the cartridge itself, the memory card and the card reader, you can proceed further.
What format should the memory card be formatted in?
The microSD card must be formatted in FAT format. Not FAT 32, but FAT.
How do I write games to a cartridge?
The first thing to understand is that you can't just take and write games directly to the memory card for this cartridge, they will not start. We need a special software that will allow you to run games from this cartridge.
You can download the program for patching ROMs here:
After you install this program and open the following window will appear:
There are three buttons
Add the ROM file of the game to the program,
Del the added ROM file and
Out the patched file to the hard disk. After you add the
Add file using the ROM button , it will be automatically patched, it will look like this:
Then you need to press the button
Out and the game will be recorded in the place specified in the program settings. Three files will be created for each game, the game itself, a save file, and a real-time save file.
Let's move on to the settings, for this you need to click the
Options button, after which the following window will open:
Out Path: in fact, this is the place where the patched ROM file will be copied.
Language: choose the language Chinese or English, leave English.
On the right in the Game Default Set table are the settings of the game itself.
Saver Patch: allows you to save games to the cartridge. Here is an explanation of the process “it also supports normal saves, not sure what that means.” There is a single SRAM chip on the cartridge that is the same as used by the majority of genuine game cartridges for battery- backed save. Most versions of SuperCard have a battery to maintain the save in the same manner, but because they are intended to run more than one game (you add a bunch of ROM files on your SD-Card), the SRAM gets cleared every time you start a game - it's actually reintialised with a file from from SD-Card. After you modify the data in SRAM by saving your progress in-game, you also have to use the hotkey menu for "normal save" to copy the contents of SRAM to a file on SD-Card. Which is to say of course extremely stupid - instead they should have used a tag file. " To put it simply, each time you save in the game, you need to press a special key combination in order to finally save this save to the memory card, and not leave it on the SRAM chip, which will be reset to zero when you start another game.
Enable Restart: this option allows you to exit the game without constantly restarting the console.
Enable Add Cheat: includes cheat codes.
Enable Compress: can compress games by as much as 50%, however, in the usual settings this function is disabled, apparently it can somehow affect the game, given that 2 gigabytes is a lot, there is no point in enabling this function.
Enable RTS: (RTS - Real Time Save) allows you to enable the real-time save function using a specific key combination (this will be discussed later).
The default settings are shown in my screenshot. (see above)
ADD, and then removed something in the settings (
Options), then you need to remove the game from the program and add it again using
Supercard Patch Fail and why is this patch needed at all?
First, let's figure out why this patching at all.
There is such a thing as Wait State - this is the delay experienced by the processor when accessing external memory or another device that is slow to respond.
In our case, there is fast access to memory and slow. Nintendo started production of slow ROM (read only memory) cartridges, which required a delay to read data, and subsequently Nintendo began to produce all games on fast ROM. GBA can work with both modes, WaitState Control is already configured in the cartridge from the factory, however, ROM images of the game that are pirated from cartridges copy this WaitState control state.
Let's return now to our Supercard Flash cartridge. The Supercard cartridge is implemented on slow ROM memory and most of the late games (which we copied from the "fast" cartridges) will not run on this cartridge without changing them. Usually you just get a white screen.
That's what game patching is for.
You can read about WaitState here:
Sometimes, Supercard writes that Patch is “Fail”, but the game still starts and runs well, this is precisely because there is no need to change the game, it is, therefore, adapted to work with slow memory.
Problems with patching
Some problems that may arise when using software:
1. You need to run this program as an administrator.
Enable Restart and others can break the game, so if the game does not start, try to turn off these settings one by one, to avoid exactly that which prevents the launch.
3.For some games you need to use the gbata7a-en program and use the SRAM patcher (only it and nothing else!) Then use the software (the one above).
If the game slow?
A person with a nickname on the Internet Bubble2k has created a patch that slightly improves WaitState Control.
To use this patch, you need to download this program:
Then we open the program for patching games (that program from the section "How to record games?" Of this guide), add our game, right-click on it and press the Properties button, and then activate
Enable Save и
Enable saver Patch (strictly only these). Like on a picture:
Ok and than
Then we just drag the game file (which we got from the manipulations above) onto the Prefetchpatcher.exe file. There, the black command line window quickly blinks and disappears. All our game is ready, you can save it to a memory card and play it.
If you have any doubts whether this patch worked or not, then look at the size of the game before and after the patch, it should change slightly.
Before the patch:
And after the patch:
Is it possible to exit the game without restarting the console?
It's possible! You need to press
R (these are the back buttons) and
Start at the same time.
Is there anything else you can launch besides Gameboy Advance games?
There are many different emulators built into the BIOS SuperCard cartridge, which directly (without installing emulators) support games from different platforms:
NES games (with a .nes ROM file extension), Gameboy games (with a .gb ROM file extension), Gameboy Color games (with a .gbc ROM file extension), PC Engine / Turbo Grafx-16 games (with a .PCE ROM file extension) , Sega Master System games (with the .SMS ROM file extension) and Game Gear games (with the .gg ROM file extension).
If you suddenly have any problems, then try putting games in folders with the appropriate name. nes games in the nes folder, .sms games in the sms folder, and so on.
How to save in the game?
This is a rather difficult moment we will conditionally divide all the save into four types:
1. Real Time Save save. Can be saved anytime, anywhere. Press
R these are the back buttons) and a menu appears that asks us to save the game? Press YES and the whole game is saved. To load, respectively, you need to press the same combination of buttons and select LOAD.
2. Normal Save. Normal saves are those that are made in the same way as if you were using a regular licensed cartridge.
Why is it needed if there is a Real Time Save? For some reason, RTS saves may not work in some games. Sometimes you may need real saves. For example, in games about Pokemon (Pokemon Fire Red, Pokemon Sapphire and others in this series), some Pokemon evolve only if you get it through an exchange from another player. That is, in order to evolve a Pokemon, you will either need to find your colleague with the same set + buy a wire or download your save game, and run your two saves in parallel on the computer via the GBA emulator and connect them through the Emulator (a special function in the Emulator, as if you were playing Online) exchange Pokémon. Also, the save file may be needed for Backup and for other reasons.
In order to make a "Normal save" you need to do the following: when in the game you pass the checkpoint (at which the game is automatically saved) or the save location or you yourself press the save button (if the game supports saving), then you need to immediately press the following key combination
A and a window will appear in which you need to confirm the save. And then your game will be written from the SRAM chip to the memory card.
3. What if Normal Save and RTS are not supported by the game?
In this case, when in the game you pass the checkpoint (at which the game is automatically saved) or the save location, or you yourself press the save button (if the game supports saving), you must immediately turn off the console. Turn it on and press to the right (Saver tab on the cartridge) to find the .sav file from the game and click on it with the button
A. An inscription will appear: Do you save to SD.And press again
4. How to save in games running in the emulator?
The emulators support the save function, but in order for it to work normally, you have to tinker.
First we need to create a .sav file for the game. To do this, we take any .sav file from the GBA game that we created with the software above and rename it to the same name from the game. For example, if the game is called tetris.nes, then we rename the save file as tetris.sav.
After that, we write this file to the memory card in the same folder where the ROM with the game is.
After that, you need to open the emulator menu (either the
R keys, or in some cases the key
Select) and press the save button (these can be different buttons Save, Save State, Save Menu or something similar) after the game writes that it has been saved, we press
A and save the game as if it were Normal Save.
Movies or music?
It is possible, but not so simple. First, a special program is needed, previously it could be downloaded from the official SuperCard website, but now this website is gone. Secondly, you need to convert video and music to special GBM and GBS format respectively to run them. The converters were also stored on the SuperCard site, which now does not work (in fairness, the converters from that site did not work well).
But the Internet is a great thing and it has preserved to this day both the program and the converters (although a long video will not work, it is better to have short videos, and with music it is not very good, but better than without it).
So the program (You don't need to patch it, just write it to the memory card and that's it.):
Converter (installation file, it works for me on windows 10):
How do I update the firmware of a Supercard cartridge?
Before reading further text, read this article, about all the consequences of the firmware!!! You must fully understand all the consequences of your actions!
In fact, if you bought a cartridge from China (version of the cartridge with a Micro SD memory card), then you do not need to flash it, most likely it will already be on version 1.85, but you need to check it.
To check or update to the latest version (1.85), you need to download the firmware file and write it to the memory card (To the root directory of the memory card!). You can download the file here:
Then insert the Supercard cartridge into the Game boy Advance and turn on the console.
The start menu appears and the following picture appears:
The sd_185.bin file is the firmware file. We launch it with the button
A and a menu appears where the old firmware (OLD) is written, and you want to install (NOW) such and such a version.
If they match, then you do not need to install anything, and if they do not match, then you can update.