Hardware Review: Everdrive-GG X7

If you came here to learn all about the Everdrive-GG X7, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I will say that even if you’re not into buying the cream of the crop, I’ll also list the features of the lower models of Game Gear Everdrives as well. I want you to know that I only have experience with the X7. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t lay out the facts for the lower models. Alright, that being said, let’s roll into a ball and dash into this review in a blue blaze!

Unboxing Video:

Description:

Ever dream of having your whole library of Game Gear games in a single cartridge? The EverDrive-GG X7 allows you to load your game back-ups (commonly known as ROMs) on a microSD card, put the SD card into the EverDrive-GG X7, put the EverDrive-GG X7 into a Game Gear system and have your list of games at your finger tips.

The Basic Edition comes with just the EverDrive-GG X7 cartridge in the selected style. Whereas the Deluxe Edition includes the cartridge, a case, printed manual, a EverDrive-GG sticker, Stone Age Gamer sticker, and is covered by a 2-year Warranty.

Base Version Features:

  • FRAM for game saves (no battery required).
  • Max supported ROM size is 8Mbit (1Mbyte).
  • Game Gear and Master System games are supported.
  • Save RAM data can be stored or loaded from the SD card.
  • Codemasters and Sega mappers are supported.
  • SD/SDHC cards supported up to 32Gb.
  • FAT32 support.

X7 Features:

  • Insert microSD without removing shell
  • Max ROM size: 4MByte
  • Max SAVE RAM size: 32KByte
  • Save States function and In-Game menu function
  • Instant loading
  • Game Gear and Master System games are supported
  • Low power consumption
  • High quality 4-layers PCB
  • Soft reset to menu
  • MicroSD cards are supported
  • OS supports up to 1000 files per folder

Pros:

  • Form Factor. I’m absolutely in love with this thing! I think it’s all-around adorable.  The Game Gear itself isn’t a looker, but the cartridge is. And let me tell you something else, I love the color choice they went with. Of course, it’s so that it can match the original color scheme. But I think the black and white text emblazoned on it adds a definite boost to the color. That’s not where the similarities end. The cartridge for instance is the same size and shape, naturally. But even the fit and finish are the same as an actual Game Gear cartridge. Down to the little circular nubs on the top of the cartridge. The bottom line is that whoever Krikzz and company use to manufacture these, has the method down pat.
  • Build Quality. Now we can also talk about the build quality. To those of you out there who happen to be not of the same mind as me, you might think that that’s the same thing. I can explain. The form factor can be best explained as the outside of the product. The part that you almost exclusively see, touch, feel, and operate. The build quality is a step further than that. We need to talk about the insides. The company that makes the shell molds and prints the stickers is very unlikely the same as the company that manufactures the PCB. So, now that you understand, let’s talk about the inside. As the feature list indicated, there is a 4 layer PCB. That thick layer provides more than just overall strength. By using a multilayered board, you can enable more features because you can build architecture into the PCB. In other words, you can build in extra features exactly how Krikzz did. I was astonished when I was taking out the retail game from my Game Gear and picked up the Everdrive-GG. The Everdrive is so much heavier than a retail game, it’s absolutely bonkers.
  • Battery. Speaking of adding weight (and add adding features, for that matter) the internal battery deserves applause all on its own. By adding in a battery, you achieve a couple of things. The big draw is the fact that you can have fast and accurate saves. On the base model, it says that it uses FRAM only for the saves, thus not having a battery. This must support more save file types (a bit out of my scope) if you need those types of things. The other point of interest is having a real-time clock for any game that can utilize it. I really wish I could pat Krikzz on the back about one more awesome pro about the battery. I’ll just use that as a transition into the next topic.
  • Ease of Access. Alright, now let’s discuss just how easy it is to get inside this guy. If you’ve never had an Everdrive before, they’re generally the same in terms of disassembly. For instance, the Everdrive-GB for Game Boy has one screw on the back. Take that out and then slide the two halves apart from one another. Then you have access to the PCB. Gee, I’ll give you one guess as to what you do with the Everdrive-GG too! It’s honestly so easy to open and then close back up. Why might you want to open it? It’s so that you can easily change out the battery, for one. Krikzz gets the previously mentioned pat on the back for using a button battery that is commonplace and is easy to pop out and replace. Maybe the battery is working just fine, you might want to clean the insides. By opening it, you’ll have greater access to the contacts within. This means cleaner contacts. One thing I did see Stone Age Gamer advertise is the base model and you use your own donor shell to save some money. If you buy the base model (because you’re okay with a 1MB ROM limit), you can put it into the shell of a game that may no longer work.
  • Setup. Talking about things that are easy, let’s talk about how the setup of this is super simple. Do you have a microSD card handy? You shouldn’t need more than 4GB for the entire supported ROM collection from every region. You likely don’t have all of those games, but if you do, again, 4GB’s is fine. Now, just format your card into FAT32 and put the most up-to-date OS onto the root of it. Put your games on it however you’d like (more on that later), then eject the microSD card. Now just click it into the Everdrive-GG and put the Everdrive-GG into your Game Gear and GO! I think the fact that you can get an Everdrive up and running in minutes is a testament to why people love them so much.
The outside of the box of the Deluxe Edition.
  • Compatibility. So, I’ve brought up ROMs a couple of times now. So let’s talk about what this Everdrive-GG does support (more on the does not in the cons). First of all, the Everdrive-GG does indeed support Game Gear games. An obvious point, but I don’t mean in terms of what the hardware is expecting. I mean in terms of percentage, this thing seems to run 100% of Game Gear titles. Candidly, I did not test every ROM under the sun. What I did was I picked one at random from every letter of the alphabet and they all loaded. The Everdrive-GG also goes and supports Sega Master System games too! And again, I didn’t test all of them, but I could not find one single Sega Master System game that would not run. Last up, I want to mention that this thing even seems to support homebrew. I was able to get it to run both Game Gear and Master System homebrew. I did not test every single freakin’ homebrew out there, but I tested three of each and was pleasantly surprised. (Bonus video at the bottom of the page of me showing “Swappy”, a Game Gear homebrew).
  • Speed. Not only do the aforementioned games load, but they also load incredibly fast. When comparing it to the Everdrive-GB (using a DMG GB since it was competition at the time), this loads the games almost instantaneously. The Everdrive-GB was slower than the Everdrive-GG in my tests. I did not, by any means, test every single ROM for each flashcart. But I tested 5 at random from each card and got my results. I would say that the Game Gear and SMS games load just as fast as if you were playing their retail versions. The same could not be said of the Everdrive-GB. I’m wondering if it’s a hardware limitation that makes it take up to 3 seconds to load up a GB game. I did not test GBC games though, they were not direct competition.
  • In Game Features. I really appreciate the ability to reset on the fly back to the main OS. This is also a feature you can disable if you’re afraid that the game you’re playing will be influenced by the button combination (A, B, and Up). I would assume fighting games might be the major culprit there. I would love to see a physical button like when you press in on the X7 of the Everdrive-GB to pull up the menu. Aside from the in-game reset, I also love having extra options that I can pull up at a moment’s notice. The save states are a real treat and sometimes a necessity. Other times they aren’t, like how I use them to cheat at Wheel of Fortune and then go back and win after the puzzle’s answer has been shown!
  • Deluxe Edition. For $15 on top of the cost of the cart, you can make your purchase a “Deluxe Edition”. If so, you’ll find that the X7 comes in a BittBox with a custom cover. Inside there is a fantastic slot that can hold your Everdrive-GG when needing to be stored. Furthermore, it has a full-on manual inside that can help you better than I ever could. And of course, my favorite part about the Deluxe Edition is the stickers. I love stickers so much, I almost feel like I’m wasting them by using them. But back to the box, the thing is sturdy. To know what a BittBox feels like, I point you to the Disney VHS clamshells. It’s puffy on the outside and sturdy AF on the inside. This little cartridge doesn’t need all of that extra protection, but since it’s part of the cost, why not use it? Best of all, you get an extra year added to your warranty on the Everdrive-GG. This is extremely useful if you actually take your Game Gear on the go.
  • Extra Features. The features mentioned up top are not going to do much for most people. However, you can buy an X7 knowing that you can use the features any given day. I, myself, never used the 1000 files per folder feature. Even if you have the entire collection of Game Gear games for your region, you will never reach that. Heck, I think that even if you combine all regions, you may never reach that in a folder. But it’s good to know it’s there. What if there’s a giant homebrew scene (for GG or SMS) that hits tomorrow and tons of games and applications drop. I never bother with game cheats, something that I’m not proud of, but the feature is there. I wish I had more care to look up codes and input them so as to get more out of my games. Either way, if thats a feature you boogie too, the option is absolutely there.  Lastly, I would also say that I couldn’t find much in the way of proving that there was low power consumption. My guess? Krikzz isn’t lying about this and we get the benefit of it not chewing up our AA’s left and right.
Open shot of the box. Not Pictured: Stickers and Manual.

Cons:

  • Demo/Kiosk. Surprisingly, the only things I couldn’t run were demo unit games. I’m not sure, there are a number of possible reasons that it didn’t work. Maybe it’s down to how they’ve been dumped. I can always try a get a different/new dump for them. Maybe the extension they were dump as doesn’t load (I don’t think this is the case). It’s possible they don’t have the same method of loading as a gold, retail version. Who knows, all I know is that most people don’t own and have legal backups of a demo game. I’m not going to hold this against Krikzz and if you have problems loading a demo/kiosk version of a game, you were warned.
  • F6 Error. This is the first time I’ve ever ran into this FAT NOT FOUND error. If you look everywhere online, it seems to be that everyone follows the same steps and nobody gets anywhere. Krikzz even suggests these steps and none of them worked for me. Format the card as FAT32, extract OS files as-is from the zip onto the root of the microSD, put games on the microSD, place microSD into Everdrive-GG, put Everdrive-GG into Game Gear, power on Game Gear, success. HOWEVER NO SUCCESS. Some people said to not format it with quick format, that doesn’t work. Others said to do some magic with the MBR for formatting, that doesn’t work. Some people suggested all the previous steps, but with FAT16, that doesn’t work. It seemed like the Everdrive-GG itself was to blame. I was ready to give up and contact Stone Age Gamer to tell them that I got a dud.
    But then I had an epiphany, what if I take the functioning microSD card from my Everdrive-GB and put the Everdrive-GG files on it?! Will that work?! Why yes, yes it did. So what was the difference? It was formatted for FAT32, it had the same files on it, I had formatted it over a year ago with quick format, never messed with the MBR. So what was the freaking difference?! Well, boys and girls, it was the brand name. Yes, that’s right, Everdrives do not like “cheap” microSD cards, like the one I was using from my local Micro Center. So, since the price is a neglible difference between Micro Center’s in house cards and a name brand card, I recommend you just buy the name brand. San Disk is a home run for these Everdrives. I wish they just said that that is the case. “F6 Error: Nothing can save this card, it is not compatible on this Everdrive, use a name brand card. Press Start button to see a list of tested sd cards.” Problem solved Krikzz! Stop making people think that there is much hope for their cards. 99% of people online either think it’s your product that is broken or find the solution. And that solution is to swap the card but never share that with the rest of the world.
    For anyone running into the other error numbers, I don’t know what those errors even are, but just start by replacing your microSD card if it isn’t a tried and true brand name. You’ll thank me later.

Final Thoughts:

This is an absolute necessity for any Sega fan with a functioning Game Gear. This review was supposed to have been out sooner, but my “Ultimate Game Gear” goal has hit some roadblocks. I thought, why not just still get the review out for the Everdrive-GG. So after borrowing a friend’s Game Gear and spending a whole weekend with it, I can honestly say that I’m not going back to retail games. Swapping games, carrying them around, worrying about cleaning them on the go…it just doesn’t make sense. I would really suggest you buy the X7 model over the base model, even if you pay the extra for the Deluxe Edition. The differences between the X7 and the base model are truly just night and day.
I can’t find a logical reason to buy anything less than X7 version. Just save the money and save another $48 more on top of that. You will thank yourself later because you won’t be stopped from playing something because you skimped on a feature. This Everdrive made me love the Game Gear in a way I never felt before. It makes me feel like I have nostalgia for it even though I was 5 years too young for the Game Gear. I love it and so will you (and if you don’t, just tell Stone Age Gamer’s great customer service)!

Purchase Links:

Everdrive-GG X7 (Colored Stripes Sticker)

Everdrive-GG X7 (Colored Ovals Sticker)

Everdrive-GG Base Model (With Shell)

Everdrive-GG Base Model (No Shell)

Thanks to the team at Stone Age Gamer for coming through again. They were patient as I went through some “growing pains” with my Game Gear. Ultimate Game Gear is still coming soon!

 

BONUS VIDEO!

About V1RACY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *