Coleco 128-In-1 Flash Multicart
"A must own for any coleco fan"
Review by Mitch Gerson - August 2006
If you’ve read my Atari articles in the past you know already that I am (as most of you are) a big Atari fan. But boy-oh-boy do I remember my first real "next generation" arcade machine - the Colecovision.
The first time my brother and I saw the Colecovision was in the Alexander’s department store in Brooklyn (kinda’ like Kohl’s at the time); our jaws dropped. This was literally arcade-perfect gaming (almost) for the time and we knew we must own this system.
Well many months and hours of begging, pleading etc. we finally were the proud owners of our Colecovision. We must have had a "huge" collection of at least 10 carts at the time.
I remember the games I had well:
Flash forward 20 years.
So like all of you, I’ve been going through my "mid-life crisis" playing my old arcade & console favorites once again on emulators.
But you have to admit, there’s nothing like the original hardware. It conjures up memories of being in my PJ’s playing games with my brother….ahh, I can still hear my mother screaming at us to lower the volume on the games. You know as an aside, as an adult playing these games again…a lot of the sounds and "music" were really annoying! (just ask my wife when I play them).
Anyway, a few months back my brother gave me a full Colecovision set up that I have been having a lot of fun with. While finding carts is fairly easy on Ebay...there had to be a better way to play these games and get access to them.
Well I had a full rom set on my Coleco emulator and always thought to myself, "how cool would it be to put all of these games onto one cart?" Shortly after that thought I came across, and picked up the "Sean Kelly Colecovision multicart."
These carts are really scarce and are no longer available unless you stumble across one like I did. The cart essentially contained just about every Coleco game (and other’s like Atari’s Colecovision ports) on one cartridge.
It worked great (and Sean if you’re reading this….we want more multi-carts!) but the menu is a bit cumbersome and to change games you have to power down/up the machine (as if you were changing carts in the machine itself).
Then Came The 128-In-One Cart by Atarimax.com
If you’re into retrogaming on consoles I will just jump right to the point...you must own this cartridge.
THE only cart that compliments your colecovision
Here are the specs from the Atarimax.com website:
Colecovision/ADAM compatible Flash Multi-Cart with on screen game menu and USB flash programming interface.
Includes Multi-Cart Studio PC Software and custom device drivers for Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME and Windows 98.
Each cartridge can hold up to 127 of your favorite Colecovision games, plus on-screen menu and diagnostic software (slot 128 is for the game menu).
Each cartridge contains a USB port for adding and removing games using your PC, plus a Reset button to return you to the games menu without having to turn your Colecovision off and on again.
Adding or replacing a game is as easy as dropping the rom image into the slot you want and pressing the 'Synchronize' button in the multi-cart studio software. Once you have loaded your rom images you can plug the cartridge directly in your Colecovision.
No commercial ROM images are included with this product.
How Does It Work?
I have to say, Atarimax did a great programming job on the easy to use software.
Basically all you have to do is save the program to your PC and download the driver. This is all really spelled out well with excellent screen shots and documentation available on line (full instructions here)
The system works a lot like synching a palm pilot, cell phone, address book, etc. with your PC.
Again from the site:
The software is based around the concept of creating 'Workbooks' that represent the final configuration you would like programmed into your multi-cart.
Workbooks are like any other file, such as a Microsoft Word document, they contain your data and are not directly linked to any physical cartridge. You can create, edit and save your workbook designs without ever needing to connect your cartridge.
Once you have used the Multi-Cart Studio to create the layout you desire for your multi-cart, then and only then do you need to connect your cartridge for programming.
Changes made to workbooks are incremental, so if your new workbook only differs from your current cartridge configuration by a small amount, for example you may have changed only one or two rom images, only those changes will be saved to your cartridge, saving time during synchronization.
The system worked flawlessly for me each time I re-flashed the cart with new games as a test. A neat feature of the program is that you can really customize the "front-end." If you look at my photos, I have called my gaming list "RetroBlast!" You can adjust the font, colors and other minor text changes are possible. You can even rename all of the games if you wish. I can’t stress enough how easy this is to do (and FUN!).
It just looks so natural, like everyone who has a colecovision needs one of these in their collection...
How Does The Cart Work?
With the games flashed and the USB unplugged, I took the cart into my living room and plugged it into my Colecovision. I powered it up and instantly was seeing my games list.
You just move the joystick up/down to choose your game and press fire. As far as the Coleco is concerned, you just popped in a commercial cart. Excellent!
So many games, So many memories...
A few games of Super Donkey Kong later I pressed the "reset" button and was once again at my main games list. Within seconds I was playing Zaxxon...SWEET!
The only glitch I noted was that occasionally upon hitting the cartridge reset switch, the game froze and would not go to the main game menu. As per the instructions, I pressed the Coleco’s reset button and went instantly back into the main menu.
Build Quality - Physical Parts - Packaging
Impressive! They clearly are molding their own carts, that except for the missing "indent" on the back for the Coleco inserts, are identical to the original carts. As a matter of fact at first glance they look like they may have sacrificed an original Coleco cart...but thankfully that is not the case.
The USB port and reset button are very secure and solid as you press reset and plug/unplug your USB cable. They have also applied a high quality label as well to make if feel more commercially authentic.
One minor thing to note is that I was using a "pre-production" cart so my reset button was physically set up next to the USB input. The final commercial carts (see photos) have the reset button opposite the USB plug.
The complete package
The USB cable is a standard cable and the CD has a colorful Coleco theme label. This all comes simply wrapped in bubble wrap. A box or some other packaging would be a nice touch, but it’s not a big deal.
Should You Get One?
Well this is not an inexpensive product. The initial run was sold at a sale price of $129.00, but it has now gone up to $149.99.
So is it worth the price?
I think the product is solid, the software is very stable, and the ability to upgrade with games at will giving you the opportunity to try out some games that you’ll never find in cartridge form anywhere will now be available to you.
To collect every game out there is impossible (for most of us); but this will instantly give you complete access to the entire Coleco collection to play on a real Colecovision.
I give this a very strong recommendation. If you can swing the cost you can’t go wrong with this cart.
About The Author
Mitch Gerson, 37 years old, resides in Manhattan with his wife of 4 years. He discovered the magic of MAME™ around November of 2002. Two years and two complete arcade cabinets (one stand up and one cocktail, both built by the author) later he’s still going strong coming up with various custom peripherals for his arcade cabs with no end in sight. His, home arcade has now expanded into Pachislo machines and now includes Metal Slug, Jet Set Radio and Tekken as his favorite new toys.
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