Awhile ago I ordered an NES Powerpak from RetroUSB and it arrived! The Powerpak is a flash cartridge for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. In practice, that means you can load homebrew roms and others onto it to play the games on the original hardware with minimal trouble.
Playing on Original Hardware
Why is playing on original hardware important though? If you’re used to emulation on PC then you’ve been inadvertently victim to severe input lag and <100% emulation. For the casual player this isn’t too much of an issue, although it will make some difficult games that require frame-perfect jumps feel impossible.
No More Video Lag
It’s honestly a bit hard to describe how much better the games feel playing on original hardware versus emulation, but trying to make particular jumps on original NES hardware on an old school CRT television is an absolute dream compared to the frustration that can come with playing on PC.
The cartridge itself is a bit pricey at $150 for the bundle with a compact flash card, but it’s a lot more affordable than it seems initially. Anyone that’s tried to buy original NES cartridges can attest how pricey these are starting to get with a rising collectible market. I very recently purchased Castlevania: Simon’s Quest II for $17. A game people don’t even particularly like.
You want a copy of Mega Man 1? You’re looking to drop close to $80. Cheetahmen II? In your dreams buddy. If you want to enjoy Little Samson, then it is clear outside the realm of possibility. No surprise that after collecting a handful of your personal favorites you’ve probably already broken the bank.
But not with the Powerpak, even the smallest of compact flash cards can hold a complete NES rom set with room to spare. Now I can actually enjoy Little Samson as if I were a millionaire.
Famicom Disk System Support
Absolutely excited to play around with the FDS. Another dream of my inner-retro-child that seemed impossible several years ago is made a breeze with the Powerpak. I’ll be sure to let everyone know how those experiments go when I have the time to play with it.
Custom Mapper Support
On the one hand you could download mappers to play the widest assortment of games to the best of their ability, including the always difficult to play Castlevania III, or you could go crazy with custom mappers.
I’ve only played with a few, but while improving compatibility and having room for future development is always great you can get some new features too. Right now I’m using a set that includes a savestate feature that is blowing my retro-nerd mind.
Rough area of Ninja Gaiden you want to practice? Press Down + A to save. Down + B is your quick load. It all works very well and I’m extremely excited to use it to practice speed running particularly difficult areas of games like the Mega Man series and Castlevania.
Can’t Wait to Speedrun
Now that I’ve got the Powerpak I’m genuinely excited to sit down and play NES games and practice speed strats. More so than any recent PC releases, which is saying a lot.