The EverDrive 64 is quite possibly the greatest product to have ever been released for the N64. And it’s not even made by Nintendo.
Of course, that’s because the glory days of the N64 are now a distant memory. Nevertheless, it’s good to know there are still some companies out there supporting it.
What is the EverDrive 64?
The EverDrive 64 is a flashcart: a bespoke N64 cartridge that has a built-in SD or Micro SD memory card slot. It was created by Igor “Krikzz” Golubovskiy in 2009.
What does it do?
Using the SD memory card slot, you can load N64 game files (ROMs) onto the EverDrive 64 and play them on an N64 console.
This way, you no longer need the original N64 cartridge to play the game, and you can play multiple games through just the EverDrive 64.
It currently comes into two versions: X5 and the X7. Both of these models replace the older V2.5 and V3 models, which some sellers still stock. You may find even older versions on eBay.
In order to use the cartridge, you need to install the EverDrive 64 operating system (which enables you to select games and configure settings) on the SD card, as well as add ROMs.
Why not just buy the original cartridges?
There are a number of reasons why the EverDrive 64 has become increasingly popular.
Some original cartridges are hard/expensive to get hold of
Many N64 games are now becoming difficult to get hold of. That’s because they either sold poorly or only released in limited quantities during the N64’s lifespan.
This has resulted in many games now fetching high prices on eBay and Craigslist.
The N64 was popular with children in the late ‘90s. But its games were quite pricey compared to other systems at the time.
These children are now in their 20s and 30s, and in many cases have a lot more disposable income than they did as a child. Nostalgia for these old games has resulted in them becoming desirable to many of these people again.
Now, the EverDrive 64 isn’t cheap. Prices will vary between sellers, and you should expect to pay more for the X7 model.
That’s a lot of money for a single purchase. But it’s worth remembering that this device will allow you to play every single N64 game and more.
Disclaimer: I have only included links to Retro Towers for informational purposes. N64 Today has no business association with Retro Towers and does not receive any remuneration or incentive in exchange for these links.
Original cartridges may no longer work
Compared to CDs and DVDs, N64 cartridges are incredibly durable, and they can last a long time without too much care required.
Nevertheless, many original N64 game cartridges are around 20 years old. Depending on how they have been used and/or stored during this time, some of these cartridges no longer work correctly.
Some original N64 games have a built-in CR2032 battery that powers the cartridge’s game save function. These batteries do not last forever, and they are not straightforward to replace unless you are familiar with basic soldering.
What’s more, most companies that published these games either no longer provide technical support or have since ceased operating.
It’s a great alternative to playing your original N64 cartridges
If you’re a collector then there’s a good chance you’re keen to protect your cartridges.
Using your cartridges naturally results in wear and tear over time. Not to mention that repeatedly opening the fragile boxes that your N64 games came in is not ideal.
With an EverDrive 64 you can play the system while keeping your collection on display or in safe storage.
For some reason, many people think you have to choose between an EverDrive 64 and a physical collection. Why not just have both?
The quality of N64 emulation on PC is still pretty poor
The N64 was a complex system, and not all of its games can currently be emulated accurately on a PC.
Because the EverDrive 64 enables you to play these games on an original N64, they run just as they did back in the day.
What else can the EverDrive 64 do?
The EverDrive 64 isn’t region-locked. This means you can use it to play Japanese (NTSC-J), North American (NTSC) and European/Australian (PAL) ROMs on any system.
There are 85 Japanese-exclusive N64 games. So there’s a good chance there are a lot of titles you’ve never played.
Some older models of EverDrive 64 have a manual switch built into them, which you use to choose your region. Even older models will only work on an N64 from one region (but will still let you play games from the other region on it).
You can also use the EverDrive 64 to:
- boot up prototypes of unreleased games (although it’s worth noting that how well these work varies from game to game)
- play modded N64 games, such as Goldfinger 64, Banjo-Kazooie: The Bear Waker and Bounce Tales 64
- use translation patches – especially useful for Japanese titles such as Animal Crossing, Densha de Go! 64 and Last Legion UX.
- play 64DD games and mods without needing the actual 64DD unit, such as the Mario Artist 64DD English translations and Zelda 64: Dawn & Dusk
- remove the N64’s notorious anti-aliasing blur through patches
- play NES games through an emulator
- set custom wallpapers for the EverDrive 64 menu screen
- use GameShark cheat codes.
What’s the difference between the X5 and X7 models?
The EverDrive 64 X7 is a premium model that has a few additional features.
With the X5, you have to reset your N64 system in order to save your game data. You don’t need to do this with the X7.
Otherwise, the X7 has a built-in real-time clock, which you’ll need if you want to play Dōbutsu no Mori (Animal Forest).
It also features a USB port, although this is only useful for developing homebrew N64 games.
What’s the difference between the EverDrive 64 X7/X5 and the V3/V2.5?
Essentially, the Everdrive 64 X7 and X5 are newer models of the V3 and V2.5.
Both feature refreshed internal hardware and an improved plastic shell. The X5 and X7 also use Micro SD, whereas the V3 and V2.5 use standard SD cards.
The Micro SD card is on the side of the cartridge. It’s much more discreet than it is on the V2.5/V3, where it sits at the top.
All X7 and X5 cartridges have region auto-detection built in. This means you can instantly play PAL and NTSC games on them. You can even play a PAL game on an NTSC console and vice versa.
On many older models, you have to flick a switch on the cartridge’s internal circuit board to change the supported region. My slightly older V3 doesn’t have a switch and it will only work on an NTSC console. However, it still plays all PAL games perfectly fine.
Compared to the V2.5, the X5 does not occupy part of the ROM memory for saves handling. As a result, this means Pokémon Stadium 2 runs correctly (whereas it didn’t on the V2.5).
Overall, the differences between the X5/X7 and V2.5/V3 are fairly minor. So there’s little reason for owners of these older models to upgrade.
Does it store memory card saves?
Yes, but not in the way you may think.
The EverDrive 64 doesn’t (currently, at least) act as a memory card. You still need to have a memory card inserted into the controller for games that require it.
However, you can back-up the data of your memory card to the EverDrive 64 (and transfer it back to the same or a different memory card).
This is incredibly useful should your memory card ever becomes corrupted.
Read my guide on ways to protect your N64 Controller Pak saves.
Should I buy one?
The EverDrive 64 is a great way to help futureproof your N64.
N64 emulation remains inconsistent in terms of quality, and original games continue to attract absurdly high prices. So an EverDrive 64 is a great way for you to enjoy N64 games the way they were meant to be.