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Screwed up Sonic 1 cart

#1 User is offline ShonicTH 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:36 PM

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A couple of days ago, I was looking through my games collection and I found a copy of Sonic 1 (MD) that I've had since I was a little kid. It hasn't worked in quite a while, but I always kept it because...well, I don't know why.

When it was playable, back when I was around 8 or so, it started to screw up over time. I don't remember specifics but it used to have Illegal Instruction errors frequently. After a while, it started to get closer and closer to the beginning of the game, eventually creeping up to the Title screen, then to the 'SEGA' screen, then finally, nothing at all.

The thing I don't get is, is that when I try it in my MD2, it shows the 'Produced by or under License by SEGA Enterprises LTD' screen, but nothing after that. Now...from what I remember, I always thought that for that screen to come up, there has to be valid data in the header of the ROM (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

So, It has me wondering what's going on in the cartridge. I've been tempted to get it dumped but I don't have my own dumper and getting the components to make my own around here has proved to be difficult. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what could be going wrong, or how I could get it dumped? (If it's even really worth it).
This post has been edited by Shonic the Hedgehog: 24 January 2009 - 02:47 PM

#2 User is offline Tweaker 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:45 PM

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Sounds like it could either be a case of bitrot or general corruption. It's not too uncommon for the contents of an EPROM to be corrupted over time, really; I'm betting that's exactly what happened here.

I wouldn't doubt that the header was still intact, in any case—it's a very minimal part of the ROM which can suffer small bits of corruption here and there and still be valid according to the system. As far as I recall, all a cartridge needs to boot is to be able to read "SEGA" at a certain part of the header—the rest of the header doesn't matter.

You could try dumping the cartridge if you wish—hell, it could be interesting to play around with—but I'm definitely betting that there's nothing special about it. Good effort, though. :psyduck:

#3 User is offline Kurosan 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:48 PM

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For the sake of curiosity, it could be worth it. It's probably more of a personal thing, right?

#4 User is offline Qjimbo 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:50 PM

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I can dump it if you really want but I doubt it's that exciting :P

#5 User is offline Sik 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:50 PM

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View PostTweaker, on Jan 24 2009, 05:45 PM, said:

I wouldn't doubt that the header was still intact, in any case—it's a very minimal part of the ROM which can suffer small bits of corruption here and there and still be valid according to the system. As far as I recall, all a cartridge needs to boot is to be able to read "SEGA" at a certain part of the header—the rest of the header doesn't matter.

"SEGA" or " SEGA" at $000100 (no idea why it also checks for the latter, I think there's one legit game that uses that >_>).

It could be memory corruption like Tweaker said, or it could as well be that the address bus pins got damaged. After all, the header is at a very small address, so if the higher pins got damaged, that could make sense.

#6 User is offline Krigo 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:51 PM

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I remember andoba, my spanish friend. Speaking on MSN about how he had a version of Sonic 1 that was messed up bigtime, especially having illegal instructions after levels, or if going past walls.

Going back on topic, it's probably worth getting dumped.
This post has been edited by Krigo: 24 January 2009 - 02:51 PM

#7 User is offline Maxd 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:54 PM

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Or, maybe when you were a kid you did the whole "swap carts while the power is on so I can glitch" deal. That might have ever something. It fried my only copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

#8 User is offline Overlord 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:54 PM

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View PostTweaker, on Jan 24 2009, 07:45 PM, said:

Sounds like it could either be a case of bitrot or general corruption. It's not too uncommon for the contents of an EPROM to be corrupted over time, really; I'm betting that's exactly what happened here.

I wouldn't doubt that the header was still intact, in any case—it's a very minimal part of the ROM which can suffer small bits of corruption here and there and still be valid according to the system. As far as I recall, all a cartridge needs to boot is to be able to read "SEGA" at a certain part of the header—the rest of the header doesn't matter.

You could try dumping the cartridge if you wish—hell, it could be interesting to play around with—but I'm definitely betting that there's nothing special about it. Good effort, though. :psyduck:

Stop me if I'm completely wrong here, but why would a regular S1 cart be EPROM? Wouldn't it be a write-once-read-many rather than something rewritable? Or am I mixing EPROM up with EEPROM or something =P

#9 User is offline ShonicTH 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 03:00 PM

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View PostTweaker, on Jan 25 2009, 05:45 AM, said:

Sounds like it could either be a case of bitrot or general corruption. It's not too uncommon for the contents of an EPROM to be corrupted over time, really; I'm betting that's exactly what happened here.

I wouldn't doubt that the header was still intact, in any case—it's a very minimal part of the ROM which can suffer small bits of corruption here and there and still be valid according to the system. As far as I recall, all a cartridge needs to boot is to be able to read "SEGA" at a certain part of the header—the rest of the header doesn't matter.

You could try dumping the cartridge if you wish—hell, it could be interesting to play around with—but I'm definitely betting that there's nothing special about it. Good effort, though. :psyduck:


General corruption was one of the things I had going through my head. I just wasn't too sure how common it was with EPROM's.

It's been quite a while since I've tried the cart (several years) so I may just try it again shortly, to see if it still shows the TMSS screen or not.

I would like to get it dumped, for curiousity purposes and stuff, but only if I can get it back again (it's like, one of my first video games ever).

And also, replying to Maxd, I never did the swap-the-game-to-make-it-glitch trick back then, not when I was that young anyway. I did try that a few times a few years later (mainly pulling Sonic 2 out of S&K really carefully and watching Knuckles fall through the floor) but this Sonic 1 cart hadn't been working for years already by that point in time.
This post has been edited by Shonic the Hedgehog: 24 January 2009 - 03:01 PM

#10 User is offline Sik 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 03:01 PM

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View PostOverlord, on Jan 24 2009, 05:54 PM, said:

View PostTweaker, on Jan 24 2009, 07:45 PM, said:

Sounds like it could either be a case of bitrot or general corruption. It's not too uncommon for the contents of an EPROM to be corrupted over time, really; I'm betting that's exactly what happened here.

I wouldn't doubt that the header was still intact, in any case—it's a very minimal part of the ROM which can suffer small bits of corruption here and there and still be valid according to the system. As far as I recall, all a cartridge needs to boot is to be able to read "SEGA" at a certain part of the header—the rest of the header doesn't matter.

You could try dumping the cartridge if you wish—hell, it could be interesting to play around with—but I'm definitely betting that there's nothing special about it. Good effort, though. :psyduck:

Stop me if I'm completely wrong here, but why would a regular S1 cart be EPROM? Wouldn't it be a write-once-read-many rather than something rewritable? Or am I mixing EPROM up with EEPROM or something =P

Both EPROM and EEPROM are erasable. EPROM using UV, EEPROM using 12V. PROM is the write-only-once technology.

And it could make sense if it's a pirate cart.

#11 User is offline ShonicTH 

Posted 24 January 2009 - 03:04 PM

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View PostSik, on Jan 25 2009, 06:01 AM, said:

And it could make sense if it's a pirate cart.


I don't think it's a pirate cart. The label seems to have a bit of discoloration, but I think thats just happened over time (Sonic looks more purple/pink than blue). Other than that, it looks like the standard EU/AU cart. I could take a few pics of it if you'd like?

#12 User is offline XCubed 

Posted 26 January 2009 - 12:44 AM

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Wow, that's actually a really scary story. I've never heard of a cart doing that, but then I don't really know the technicals behind them as well. I just know that my Sonic 1 (Not for Resale) edition still works like it did back in 1992 :/. It hasn't got regular use since about 1994 and I keep it in a TV cabinet, but I'm sure deterioration is still possible. Thank god for roms!

#13 User is offline Skyler 

Posted 26 January 2009 - 02:29 AM

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Something similar like that happened to me once. I had one of those plug-and-play packs with Sonic 1 (unsure what version) in them. After some fiddling in debug, it not only crashed Sonic 1, but none of the other games would work properly anymore, slowly dying up to the beginning like your cart. Could it be something related to a fatal error in debug mode or something along those lines?

#14 User is offline ShonicTH 

Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:38 AM

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View PostMoonshadow Caz, on Jan 26 2009, 05:29 PM, said:

Something similar like that happened to me once. I had one of those plug-and-play packs with Sonic 1 (unsure what version) in them. After some fiddling in debug, it not only crashed Sonic 1, but none of the other games would work properly anymore, slowly dying up to the beginning like your cart. Could it be something related to a fatal error in debug mode or something along those lines?


Wow..thats really strange. I haven't really had anything to do with those plug and play packs, but it has me interested. I wanna get one now and see what happens if I mess around with it. Do you remember what you did in debug to make it crash?

#15 User is offline Metal Man88 

Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:45 AM

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Debug mode could cause things to try to write to places that don't exist, but in general, it would seem power surge or something took it out. Not so much a programming error.

It seems to be a reliable pattern too...

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