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Gamer's Cartridge : Temporarily (?) Out of Stock

Written by cafealpha 20 comments
 TL;DR : Gamer's Cartridge are no longer available. It's not an end of the project but if back for sale, it will likely to be in limited quantity.

This is to announce that Gamer's Cartridge are out of stock for an undefined period of time.
That may look sudden, but I was scheduling this transition for around one year ... and kept it confidential until now to avoid an eventual rush of orders, or people purchasing my cartridges just for stocking "in case of" or for speculation without actually playing with their Saturn.

The reason(s) why

Why are Gamer's Cartridge out of stock ? First, this is for the simple reason that I don't have any Action Replay shell for assembling new carts : my friend who supplied shells stopped provisioning from wholesale supplier around one year ago.
So I bought all the remaining stock from that friend, and that stock kept me busy this year in manufacturing and selling last batches Gamer's Cartridge.

Now that my Action shells storage facility (which is maybe a bit pedantic term to speak about a couple of shoes box ) is empty and that I found the time and motivation to write this article, it's time to officially put Gamer's Cartridge project on pause.
That pause may be temporary or the last one ... I honestly don't know how the project will evolve, but what's sure is that it won't be available back in short term and in the case it shall become available back, this will be in limited quantities.

Another reason for Gamer's Cartridge being out of stock is the decline of public interest toward it : back on initial release in 2016, Gamer's Cartridge was relatively popular because its unique "virtual" memory cartridge feature. At that time, Action Replay flashed with Pseudo Saturn Kai was a standard to play Saturn games but unfortunately this solution didn't featured cartridge backup memory, so that Gamer's Cartridge was here to fill this gap.
But I clearly felt the recent rise of "all-in-one" red cartridges because time until each Gamer's Cartridge batch is sold became longer by longer from the beginning of this year, from "few hours" in 2016, it became "several days" recently

As of Gamer's Cartridge main developer and manufacturer my opinion is a bit biased, but I consider Gamer's Cartridge a better solution than the red cart because backup memory capacity is larger, access to Saturn floppy disk device is emulated, and also because save data contents can be easily backed up to modern media.
But on the other hand, as expansion 1MB/4MB RAM isn't available and that Gamer's Cartridge are hand made by one dude during its free time, maybe customers were more in confidence in the red cart because it mass produced, or a bit cheaper, or more convenient because it's "all-in-one". Who knows.

Also, the approaching public release of Satisfier project will certainly make possible the backup of cartridge memory contents to SD card, also provide the ability to dump Saturn BIOS there too. This overlaps few of the few remaining "Gamer's Cartridge exclusive" features.

Last remaining "sales point" of Gamer's Cartridge is to offer a *reliable* in-game save data support : all the other backup memory cartridges (including Sega official ones !) are prone to corrupt save data when not correctly inserted.
This was improved with Gamer's Cartridge, which shows an error message on startup (without botching any user data) if not correctly inserted. If Pseudo Saturn Kai boots then save data are saved in a reliable way
But as typical user don't care about data reliability, there soon will be no more room left for Gamer's Cartridge in the portfolio of retro gaming devices for Saturn.

Whatever it may be, it's stupid to continue Gamer's Cartridge manufacturing if I struggle to sell theses. Maybe aggressive marketing or promoting my projects here and there on social media would had made a difference, but that's clearly not the path I want for my projects : I don't do that for a living and don't want to influence potential customers just to increase my pocket momey.
If it interests someone then that's cool, but on the other case I won't force anybody to buy my homemade stuff and rather shall temporarily close the store and go on other projects.

Cartridges order page, before status being set to "out of stock"

Life-prolonging treatments for Gamer's Cartridge ?

There are some solutions to continue Gamer's Cartridge manufacturing a bit, but as the "life-prolonging" title suggest, theses are flawed and/or limited and I will explain you why.

Supplying shells from another source ?
That may be a viable solution, but honestly I didn't examined it in depth : that's a significant amount of time to ask several places about my project, my needs, etc etc ... without any guarantee to get something at the end.
Well, I may think about this solution someday but right now I prefer to dedicate my free time to projects other than writing tons of emails

Supplying shells from wholesale manufacturer such as EMS ?
Big manufacturer have the advantage to (usually) be stable on the long term and to offer broken prices ... but the advantages stop here.
On the other side it requires a commitment on my side to buy in large quantities, hence to manufacture Gamer's Cartridge in large quantities, and finally to sell in large quantities.

This "large quantity" point is clearly not what I want for my project : for me, Saturn is just an hobby which I don't want to be a source of stress (what should I do with remaining stock of unsold carts, electronic parts and shells if by example Gamer's Cartridge would be "3rd party copied" and that all customers prefer to purchase that because it's $20 cheaper ?), and I consider this was a wise choice to do such kind "limited manufacturing" because at some point Gamer's Cartridge lost interest from public.
To give an idea of magnitude between my projects and mass produced ones, unit used for mass-produced things is probably (I don't know in details) around "large cardboard", or "palette". On my side, the until is "shoes box"

Cartridges without shells ?
That's a big no : if that's to then hear that the quality of my carts is shabby I prefer to leave here on a good impression.
Additionally, if that's to also hear that because of the lack of shell my cartridges have to be put on discount that's another NO too. Prices of my carts are decided after a long work of research and introspection () so I don't want to hear any kind of price reduction after that. If you want a cheap cartridge, the red "all-in-one" cart is all for you.

Providing shell from customer' space Action Replay ?
No thanks. I have better things to do than waiting for your spare Action Replay, to mount a Gamer's Cartride inside (which includes to drill and cut the shell etc) and then stick your favorite label on it
As indicated above, ideal quantity for my cartridge projects is "shoes box" : I prepare a batch of cartridges from a shoes box of parts to another shoes box of "ready to sell" carts. Doing individual manufacturing for only one user just fulfills the personal interest of that user but except that it completely counter-productive ...

Open Source ?
That's completely NO : open sourcing Gamer's Cartridge project would yield around $20 price cut on user side. On my side, it would yield to the disappearing of pocket money to challenge in more complex projects.

I don't have anything against open source, but I'm completely against the ones that beg open sourcing just for their personal own interest, i.e. saving more or less 20 bucks in the case of Gamer's Cartridge.
Maybe that's quick money saved for them, but on the other hand that's also innovation in new Saturn projects being destroyed : I certainly wouldn't had pushed Pseudo Saturn Kai development so far (for example around cheat codes and Rhea/Phoebe disc image selection support) if in the meanwhile of the development 3rd party manufacturers would had made profits from my hardware projects.

DIY Kit ?
That's more or less same as open source solution : it's just a simplistic solution to satisfy one's personal interest.
Additionally, it's a source of troubles in the case that DIY Gamer's Cartridge doesn't works : is it caused by electronic parts (= my responsibility) or soldering and assembly (= user's responsibility) ? In the case of "one man show project" as I'm doing, everything is simpler because I'm responsible of everything when a problem happens

3D Printed Shells ?
It's an interesting solution, but this requires to use a completely new manufacturing process for me, with all the related matters (verifying solidity, tweaking shape, selecting appropriate color and base materials etc) ... and all the unexpected problems too : from my own experience, there are high chances of being stuck into unexpected problems when challenging in something new

To give an idea of my apprehension regarding 3D printed shells, let's take a look on Pyra portable laptop development : project started several years ago and now electronic and firmware/OS side of the project seems stable. It's however not released yet because of ... unexpected problems regarding shell manufacturing.
That's not a critic about Pyra project (in fact, I'm following it with admiration), but just an example to detail how bad development can be delayed when you're trying new process or new project.

And for theses reasons above (of extra design, tweaks and risks) as well as in regard of the limited public interest into Gamer's Cartridge this is probably not a good way to do. This would however make sense on a new hardware project.

BTW, I do have some spare 3D shells, but at theses were a generous present to me from their creator theses are not for sale and consequently it's not worth asking if I could sell a Gamer's Cartridge with theses shells.

Official memory cartridge shells ?
Very first Gamer's Cartridge assembled back in 2016 were using shells from official memory cartridge, so this is a good "B-plan solution" to continue manufacturing of Gamer's Cartridge. And on the good side, gathering some used memory cartridges would be the occasion to dump and share the saves eventually left by previous users on theses cartridges

This however needs some tuning on PCB, because status LEDs of theses very first Gamer's Cartridges are currently positioned in the area reserved for cartridge label.

And unlike 3D printed shells, the solidity and other mechanic small details around those official memory cartridge shells should not be a problem, but overall state may be a bit questionable : upper half of the cartridge may be yellow, previous label may be a mess to remove etc. I personally don't care such kind of "retro Gamer's Cartridges" might look not "pristine as new", because as the project name suggests I want my cartridges to be used for playing rather than collecting, but I'm concerned if cartridges don't sell well ... let's wait and see if that's a reasonable solution or not.

Regrets about Gamer's Cartridge

This kind of farewell article traditionally features a "this point should had be done better etc", but I don't have any regrets around Gamer's Cartridge development !!!
When releasing Gamer's Cartridge, I thought the project would last for half a year and then be cloned or overtaken by a more competitive (widely available/more features/cheaper : maximum two choices possible), but this project actually lasted for more than three years
This was an occasion to meet many people who then became good friends (more details in the "Thanks" sections below) and/or gave extensive help around Pseudo Saturn Kai development. Without them, the limits Pseudo Saturn Kai wouldn't had been pushed that far

This wasn't an occasion for me to become rich, and this was as expected ! Making big cash from retro gaming project requires mass production, which I'm not interested in because for me, Gamer's Cartridge was just a toy and the activity to develop and manufacture theses was just an hobby.
I don't think it's good to go over that toy/hobby limit, because if an hobby becomes a business, it's no longer an hobby

This wasn't an occasion to become famous too : I wasn't approached by famous personalities from social networks about Gamer's Cartridge (nor about Pseudo Saturn Kai too), but everything is well like that as rather than hype I simply want to contribute to a better public interest on homebrew development and Saturn in general.


Many project proudly show feedback from their happy customers, and now it's time to announce stock and production shortage, I realize something similar wasn't available for Gamer's Cartridge !
"All-in-one" cartridge customer feedbacks

As listing feedback from hapy customers is too mainstrean, let's show feedback from users who didn't purchased Gamer's Cartridge

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
(After explaining over several emails that Gamer's Cartridge isn't an EverDrive and giving links to Saturn ODE project in the case this fits better potential customer's needs)
"Thanks for your time"
β†’ You're welcome, and thank you for teaching me this expression to decline something in a clever manner  It will now take a place of choice in my library of useful English expressions.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
(After detailing about Gamer's Cartridge features and disclaimer)
"I see. I bought an USB Data Link instead."
β†’ Well, that's better than not replying to my email after ordering a cartridge : at least I don't need to reserve this cartridge during several days for nothing

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Will you release DIY kits ?"
β†’ NO! PCBs are publicly available, and appropriate MAX3000A CPLD can be found on ebay so that you can assemble everything by yourself.
CPLD firmware isn't available, but please have fun in re-implementing Gamer's Cartridge logic inside. I learned VHDL like that.

(Note : feedbacks displayed above are the result of several individual feedbacks mixed together, so that general trend about Gamer's Cartridge is discribed, and anonymity of their authors is preserved)


(In alphabetical order, so that nobody won't claim because they are upper or lower than someone else)
 - antime, for USB dev cart development, which was used as basis for Gamer's Cartridge
 - Baraka, for the fancy Dezaemon 2 themed labels for Gamer's Cartridge
 - Darius, for providing my first modded Saturn on which I started homebrew development on
 - Deunan, for providing the good ODEs. Those helped a lot during devlopment of Pseudo Saturn Kai.
 - Dezaemon DB (IGK), for keeping Dezaemon community active during all theses years
 - privateye for all the help around Pseudo Saturn Kai, Gamer's Cartridge and also for motivating me to make Pseudo Saturn Kai even better on every beta build :)
 - Stac for numerous beta testing help during Gamer's Cartridge early development stage
 - vbt, for all his contributions to Saturn homebrew community

The Future

I wish Saturn community a bright future with Satisfier and "all-in-one" red cartridges. The first project shall bring ability to export saves to SD card, also contribute to homebrew games development as also shall feature a nice disk image selection menu someday too. The second project shall bring a an affordable and convenient cartridge support for "all" Saturn games.

On my side, as I now have additional free time from the pause in Gamer's Cartridge manufacturing I would like to focus on the development of old frozen projects.
As usual, I won't communicate about any ETA, development cost nor even what it is about until things are working well enough : that will be less pressure on my side, and less frustration on your side

Good bye Goku.
(Until being resurrected ?)


#1  - Hslick said :

Thank you for everything.

I don't think I will ever be able to understand the inner complexities of this project, but from the user side, I'm very happy.

I'm still need to find out the code for the easter egg you put into the menu :)

#2  - zone66x said :

I don't think it's just personal bias to think that the Gamer's Cartridge is a better solution than the all in red cartridge. SD card saves is awsomeeeee! :D

If you ever feel nostalgic and want to make more cartridges with 3D printed cases then let me know and I'll work on making a better design than the ones I had. Probably use screws instead like the Action Replay case. I made a translucent blue case a while back that you'd probably like :P

I'll cherish the Gamer's Cartridge I have will use it for years to come!

I hope you will enjoy your next project as much as the last one :)

#3  - cafealpha said :

Long time no see ! That's my personal opinion too, but if large majority of users prefer cheap carts, then it doesn't makes sense to continue the manufacturing and sales of Gamer's Cartridge.
This however doesn't means the end of Gamer's Cartridge : now that hardware part of the project is over, I can spend more time on firmware/software part of the project. That's for example the development of "Gamer's Cartridge only" features for Pseudo Saturn Kai, or small games making smart usage of SD card, etc. Until that time, please have fun in playing your favorite games by using Gamer's Cartridge :)

I will definitely need some 3D cases someday, but probably not for reviving Gamer's Cartridge project. As explained above, I'm tired of hardware part of Gamer's Cartridge project and would like to challenge in something new instead.

#4  - cafealpha said :

Sorry for the delay, and thank you for the kind comment. To tell you the truth, I wasn't expecting any comment in this article so that I didn't checked how my blog was going until today.
Yes, the last remaining way to get a Gamer's Cartridge is to find how to trigger the easter egg in Pseudo Saturn Kai. This offer is valid until the end of this year, so few days are remaining.
The last order of Gamer's Cartridge was a group order from a friend and was reached destination last week. It's a bit strange to think that there won't be any order after this one.

#5  - whitezombie said :

It's a shame this won't be produced anymore. I think it's a mistake as there is no better way to back up your saves with modern media. USB DataLink is a clumsy device, it relies on an old GameShark or Action Replays with a 25-pin DSUB connector. Having almost limitless save dumps to a SD card is much better option. Just because your device takes days to sell out rather than hours I think is poor decision to stop selling it. That's just my opinion but I do thank you for making it.

As far as the Easter egg goes I think I'm better off buying a lottery ticket. It sounded like five clicks in the YouTube video and you stated it's more complex. With 4 dpad inputs, six face buttons, two shoulder buttons, a start button, that makes 13 inputs. I'm no good with math but with five clicks, thirteen buttons, I think that's a lot of combinations. I mean you just add one or two more to that and it's insane what the total combinations are.

#6  - cafealpha said :

Temporarily (or not) stopping Gamer's Cartridge production is the result of a decision taken around one year and half ago. At that time I was informed that Action Replay shells wouldn't be supplied and consequently had to choose between finding an alternate solution (with all the energy and risks it costs) or taking a break around this project.
I took second choice and don't have a lot of regrets about it : "all-in-one" cart vampirized Gamer's Cartridge niche, and the (incoming ?) release of Satiator will eat the remains. I would be surprised to find people still interested in Gamer's Cartridge in a near or middle future.

The fact that it was requiring days for Gamer's Cartridge to find a buyer was a problem for me : processing several (typically 3 or 4) orders simultaneously is way more convenient (in term of time and energy spent) than processing orders individually : as an example, going to post office to send one cartridges takes 30-45 minutes of my time, but it is the same for 3-4 carts and that's the same when processing orders, packing the cartridges etc.
There is the solution to make buyers waiting until 3 or 4 orders are reached, but as I like to minimize the time between an order is received and cartridge is sent, I'm not interested in doing that.

Video about easter egg was taken before setting combo used in public version. IIRC, the easter egg requires to hold one button while repeating twice a sequence of 4 buttons.
With that extra hints, this reduces the number of combinations to 13*12^4 = 269568. And with some intuition, the correct combination shall arrive around the beginning of candidate ones.
Even if it didn't interested a lot of people, it was funny to add such kind of easter egg in Pseudo Saturn Kai. If I have the occasion, it shall add a new one in a future release !

#7  - SONICR2K said :

😳 I'd beg with envy for a SD Cart. I must know more!

#8  - cafealpha said :

That's too late to get one, so let's do it in an eventual future project !
In the case I find spare carts to get rid (or simply need of spare pocket money) I shall put an announce on this blog, so please stay tuned :)

#9  - Retro dad and modern lad said :

Thank you for producing a brilliant product and all your fantastic work in the Sega Saturn community. I am a massive fan of Gamer's Cartridge and always telling people it's the best cartridge solution for saturn/ an essential purchase. I understand your reasoning and respect your decision, but there isn't a better product than the Gamer's Cartridge for saturn. Satiator from what am hearing off beta testers has a lot of issues. On a personal note I would like to thank you for all the help you gave me when I bought my Gamer's Cartridge. so glad I managed to get one and I am delighted with it. I also look forward to all your future projects and can't wait to see what you do next.

#10  - rendakiro said :

great work you have done with this project.

Too bad I found out recently, why dumping games in SD is something I need.
if you put cartridges up for sale again, wanting to buy one.

#11  - cafealpha said :

I'm actually a bit lonely in not receiving cartridge order emails or no longer going to post office ... and more pragmatically, may also require some spare pocket money someday.
However as there are currently delays (or even complete suspension of service) regarding postal delivery maybe it's not the right time to sell last carts remaining here. And I need to tidy my collection/hoarding of carts before that :)

#12  - rendakiro said :

these are difficult times. but if in the near future (or not) you dare to create them again, let us know :)

#13  - cafealpha said :

Oh, thank you for keeping an eye on my blog ! After half a year and a big camp fire in Australia, a global pandemic and probably an alien invasion next month I thought only google bots were still following me :D
I really would like to surprise the Saturn community someday, but I'm really lacking of free time from this year unfortunately. That's "less free time than before" but not "zero free time" so I do my best to make some progress even if that's quite slow β™ͺ

#14  - Jeff said :

Darn, came here to order one :(. I’m always too late on these things.

#15  - cafealpha said :

I'm sorry it isn't available right now. I'm missing of free time to assemble new carts.
Gamer's Cartridge use no longer available electronic parts that I want to solder by myself, because quality of these parts may be so-so if a third party manufacturer does that for me. Rather than having problems with hardware reliability, I prefer to put the project on pause.

Ideally, it would be good to design a new cartridge using modern available electronic parts, so that third party manufacturer could assemble carts instead of me. But that's the matter of completely re-designing a new cartridge, which is not the kind of thing someone can do easily on one weekend :)

#16  - moonsuncst said :

I have made many programs with game basic for sega saturn. However, I came here while looking for data because the cable was broken and I couldn't pass the work from PC to Saturn.
I've heard the news that Saturn Gamers Cartridge can solve this problem, but my heart aches at the news of the end of production. It doesn't matter to me if it's the reason for the cartridge case. If I can buy it, and if you have something you can sell without a cartridge case, please let me know by email. I'd like to restart my old basic project somehow. Thank you

#17  - cafealpha said :

Are you sure that a Gamer's Cartridge can solve your problem ? Because I didn't verified if it works with Game Basic, and also because it "only" provides backup memory feature but not connection with PC.
It's not that I don't want to sell you a cart, but it would be better for both of us to be sure it will do the job (or not) before doing (or not) a transaction :)

#18  - moonsuncst said :

Thank you for your answer.
Since the file system of the Satrun's FDD is not supported by PC, it appears to be the only way to exchange files from PC to SATURN and from SATURN to PC.
Even if this is impossible, I think it's worth a try.
If I buy this, I will test the result and let you know.
I look forward to your positive response.

#19  - cafealpha said :

Ah, if you need to import data from FDD, then that should be doable :)
Please send me an email ( https://ppcenter.webou.net/contact/ ) if you want to continue the transaction.
But please note however that delivery may be long because of EMS and airmail not being available for some destination countries, including USA. In that case, surface mail is the last alternative, which takes ... three months to deliver.

#20  - moonsuncst said :

Good News~
I'm already excited because I think my big problem is being solved.
I hope I can use a pleasant machine, too.


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