Earlier this month I purchased a Retroflag Controller-M and I thought I may
as well make write a review of it. Testing involved playing Xeno Crisis, a
full playthrough of Arkagis Revolution and iwis slapping the buttons
because she likes clicky sounds.
Retroflag's controller looks pretty similar to a Mega Drive 6-button
controller, down to the size. There are some practical concessions however:
there's a Select button on top of the Start button, and instead of a
Mode button there are L and R buttons. The latter two are built to look
like the original Mode button, which is nice.
(iwis claims that it's not L and R buttons but "weft mode"
and "wight mode" buttons)
The D-pad seems to happily take all the abuse going on so far (turns out
Arkagis Revolution is surprisingly hard on the D-pad), albeit of course the
question is how many months it will last. At least pressing the directions
feels nice. The L and R buttons may be a bit too easy to press, so
be careful where you place your fingers, but everything else seems OK.
The Controller-M shows up as either a generic XBOX controller (if in XInput
mode) or a generic retro controller (if in DirectInput mode), so get ready
to rebind buttons (at least the button mappings seem decent). This may or
may not be an issue depending what you're using, the controller lets
you swap Z/C with L/R if really needed. The controller also works with a
Switch, according to their site.
If you're OK with the original 6-button controller's size and are
ready to rebind buttons, you should be fine.
medfanen doesn't like the controller in XInput mode (Z and C aren't responsive), you'll need to switch to DirectInput mode to work around this issue.
The controller maps its buttons like this:
D-pad maps as-is
A/B/X/Y map as-is
Z maps to L1
C maps to R1
L maps to L2
R maps to R2
Start maps as-is
Select maps as-is
Retroflag's site includes how the controller buttons map to a modern
controller's buttons, but the box also mentions some features that
I'm going to include here in case somebody loses the box and needs
Hold down X while plugging in to switch to XInput mode (stays even after you unplug).
Hold down Y while plugging in to switch to DirectInput mode (stays even after you unplug).
Hold down Select+L+R for three seconds to swap Z/C and L/R.
Hold down Select+L+A/B/X/Y to toggle turbo for A/B/X/Y (apparently C and Z can't use turbo).
Something that annoys me is how people seem obsessed with looking
"authentic" and how they think you absolutely need to provide
unique box designs for every region (and of course both "old" and
"new" designs for each, since the designs changed halfway through
the console's lifetime). Does anybody realize how much of an inventory
hell is this?
Worse yet, there's the trademark infringement issue — they just look
too close to the official Sega designs, and Sega definitely has trademark
on those again nowadays (both because of Sonic Mania and because of the
Minis, not to mention all the Mega Drive merchandise). No, using "16
BIT CARTRIDGE" doesn't change the fact the design is still too
close, if anything it only makes it look like a cheap bootleg.
Also, it's not like we're selling these games at local stores
that you walked in and looked at the shelf for a game to rent or buy, but
rather at on-line stores that sell globally, if not outright a Kickstarter
campaign. That also kills the "authenticity" aspect really hard.
On top of that, our new games look nothing like the ones from back in the
day, as our culture has changed a lot since then.
Can we just admit that this isn't the '90s and acknowledge
we're doing a whole new thing?
So what then?
I'd honestly prefer if we just dropped the Sega-like designs and let
the game artwork fill the whole box. When we aren't pretending to be a
Sega knock-off the boxes will look a lot better and feel less
"bootleg", and you avoid risking the anger of a lawyer who may be
in bad mood that day. Also, it means you just need a single box design and
won't need to worry if you sell too much or too little of a given
Acknowledging that we're a global market (if niche) also means no
region lockout. Thankfully I haven't really seen trouble over this
yet, but it means you should always consider "universal" shells
when possible (those that fit in both Western and Japanese consoles). This
way nobody has to worry about whether a game will work in their console or
not, and again the inventory benefit of not having to worry about multiple
Also don't forget to check out commercial
homebrew guidelines in this site! There's some useful advice
there, coming mostly from previous experiences. Learn from our past
mistakes and you'll make everybody's lives easier.
The two Arkagis Revolution trial versions so far are revisions XZ and YX.
If you paid attention, at Joypad the title screen said revision XY and at
Gamescom it said XW. What's going on with these revision names?
It has in part to do with the Mega Drive ROM
header format. The serial number field has a revision number going from
00 to 99. The problem is that this field is intended for released versions
(00 being the first release), and these trial versions are
pre-release (something Sega had never accounted for). I could have
just started counting from there, but then the first proper release
wouldn't be 00, which doesn't feel right.
Instead of doing that, I improvised a pre-release versioning scheme, using
the letters X, Y, Z and W. This gives me up to 16 pre-release revisions
(XX, XY, XZ, XW, YX, YY, YZ, YW, ZX, ZY, ZZ, ZW, WX, WY, WZ, WW). Feel free
to copy it, I hope we never need to go beyond that! When the game finally
launches for real, I'll switch back to the normal revision scheme (00,
01, 02, etc.).
You may also have noticed that I didn't mention which revision was XX.
That was a privately distributed revision, and as such you're not
going to have seen it in any form.
Story time: some years ago, I downloaded a Mayhem in Monsterland dump.
Whoever uploaded it clearly had just done LOAD
"*",8,1 and called it a day because it wasn't even
remotely a good dump (nor even just a crack dump): a quick look at the
directory showed there was another game inside as well as a letter. The
letter is what I want to talk about.
Here are the relevant parts of it (to screen readers users: I've
transcribed the relevant part below)
Transcribing the part I want to talk about because the font is
deadbone/breeze design: Yo bevan! I hope that you've still got your
64 left so that you can read this! hehe… OK, many thank for your send…
Yes, you read right on the boot-text but I don't have a SNES, at least not
yet… I wrote it there because that I've got some friends that have got
wildcards and also because that Trasher will buy one soon. We're also
able to get the latest SNES games as Surfer (the leader of Active)
works as a game-reviewer for one of the absolute biggest newspapers in
Therefore he gets all the new games for SNES/Sega (and more systems)
directly from the importer to review them, and I don't think you have to
guess long to understand that he of course makes backup copies of it all
to himself!! He already supplied some Sega first-releases to Censor and
Auartex! I'm thinking of buying a 24M wildcard & SNES myself as you see
that I can get all the new games for it, but we'll see… I'm not such a big
arcade freak, and most console games are in that range, so… But it would
be cool anyway! I've heard rumors that backup systems for consoles will
get illegal here in Sweden in the beginning of 94 so I have to think fast
if I want one while it's legal to buy…
I saw some demo names on the list of your SNES stuff. I've never seen any
console demos so could you please send some over, but wait until I've
spent some HD disks over to you of course! I'll copy some SNES stuff for
you as fast I can… but as I've got quite limited spare time it could take
As you can see, Censor and Auartex (is that meant to be Avartex? going by
the letter's spelling…) would get dumps of Mega Drive and SNES games
directly from a game reviewer. Seeing as some Censor releases have been
found to be prototypes, I thought I may as well bring this up.
A bunch of the Mega Modem stuff is designed around some on-line service
that of course is long gone by now. But some of them actually feature some
form of off-line mode as unlikely as it sounds.
1200bps modem noises
Mega Anser was a piece of home banking software. Of course, the service is
not available anymore, but what many people don't know is that it
still works without the modem (in part because it's one of the
few things that doesn't work without a standard controller, it needs
the Ten Key Pad).
If you try to use Mega Anser without a modem connected, it'll go into
"practice mode" (練習用). In practice mode, Mega Anser will
give you a few bank accounts with 1,000,000 yen each and you can do
everything you would normally do with a real bank. You can also set up the
password, change the modem settings, etc. Occasionally it'll even
pretend that there was a connection error.
Sansan, SanSan, San San, whatever. サンサン
This game was used to connect to the Sansan service to let you play Go with
other people on-line. Of course, the service is gone now, so people assume
that it's unplayable anymore. What most people don't know is that
it has a local multiplayer mode! (or something that can be used
like one — no AI players, sorry).
Sansan will refuse to go anywhere without having initialized memory, so if
this is the first time you're playing it you need to do this:
Select the 4th option (メンテナンス — "maintenance")
Select the 2nd option (メモリークリア — "memory clear")
Select the 1st option (はい — "yes")
Once memory is working you can access local multiplayer as follows:
Select the 2nd option (棋譜の研究 — "practice matches")
Select the 4th option (電子碁盤 — "electronic Go")
Note that both players share the same controller (taking turns, of course).