When I started this adventure a few months ago, I had never heard of a multi-cart. A multi-cart is circuit board, usually mounted inside a standard cartridge shell, that allows you to load multiple games on either flash memory or some type of memory card. As it turns out, some very creative and talented individuals have developed multi-carts for almost all retro game systems. For example, multi-carts have been made for the Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, Colecovison, Vetrex, Intellivison, and others.
Multi-carts have become a critical part of the retro gaming community as they allow developers to quickly load and test their games on real hardware. They also make it possible for others to test game release candidates and report bugs back to the developers. They are also great for the gamer as a whole library full of games can be put on a single cart, saving wear and tear on cartridge ports.
The Atari 7800 multi-cart was made by Chad Schell and was called the Cuttle Cart 2. It is estimated that Chad built and sold about 200 of these and they are highly sought after. The Cuttle Cart used a MMC to load and store the games. The Cuttle Cart 2 is no longer in production, but you can learn more about it at Chad’s website.
Atari 5200 and Colecovision fans are in better luck as Steve Tucker makes and sells multi-carts for these systems. Recently, I purchased Steve’s ‘Atarimax Ultimate SD Multi-Cart’ for my 5200 SuperSystem. This Multi-Cart is an amazing product that allows you to put all of your 5200 games on a single cart. Steve has also ported over more than thirty 8-bit games including classics like Atlantis, Demon Attack, and Donkey Kong. Additionally there are a number of hacks, homebrews, and prototypes available for the 5200. To see all of Steve’s cool products, check out his Atarimax website.
2600 fans are also in luck as a great multi-cart is readily available. Developed by a team of great guys from the AtariAge forum, the Harmony cart is available for both SD and micro-SD memory cards. The Harmony cart also works with the 7800 and allows you to play almost all of your 2600 games on either your 2600 or 7800. Since purchasing my Harmony cart, I have been able to test and provide feedback on the development of a couple of new 2600 games as well as play a number of homebrews and hacks.
The same team that developed the Harmony cart are also working on the H2. The H2 cart will be compatible with 7800 games. This will allow those of us who do not have Cuttle Carts to help with development of new games for the 7800. The development of the H2 has been slow, but it should, hopefully, become available in 2013.