My C64 hobby has lately been more active than in ages. I have even ordered some new hardware for the good old machine! And I really mean new; additional hardware that has been produced in the 2000s! This is not the first time for me though, I got myself the Retro Replay many years ago. This time I ordered 4 Player Interface and the RR-Net ethernet module from Protovision-Online.
This was the first time I order anything from Protovison-Online. Everything was simple and my order was posted in few days. The items were packed very well, but still there was a minor drawback. RR-Net comes with a 5,25″ floppy disk with Contiki operating system. Somehow the disk was bent against something and damaged. I simply emailed Protovision about this and they sent me a new disk! Excellent customer service, and my overall impression of Protovision-Online is nothing but positive.
And now a brief overview of the hardware I got.
4 Player Interface
The 4 Player Interface is a rather simple device. It is connected to the user port of C64, and it provides two extra joystick ports. You can easily build one by yourself with the instructions provided by Protovision. In fact, I did so many years ago, but my DIY device was ugly and unpractical. It looks like a mess and the thin flat cable broke off from the board very easily. So I decided to get the professionally manufactured add-on as it is solid and small. I think I will use the one I made myself in some future project. I could for example install it inside the case of one of my C64s or something…
The 4 Player Interface does not work with the old games just by plugging it in. It needs support from the software. There are some games written for it, and some classic multiplayer games have been hacked to support it. For me most notably the IK+. I’ll bropably write something up about the supported games later on.
The RR-Net is an ethernet module that plugs into Retro Replay, MMC64 or MMC Replay. I don’t have any particular need for it, but I got it mainly as a curiosity. Protovision was selling the redesigned version that is primarily meant to be used with the MMC Replay that has replaced both Retro Replay and MMC64. The idea of the new design is that it can be plugged into MMC Replay and the combination still fits into standard cartridge case. Basically it is the same device as the original RR-Net module and everything is pointing out that it is backwards compatible. But…
I understood that the ethernet plug is pointing to unpractical direction when plugged into Retro Replay. I thought it’s not a big problem, and perhaps I’ll get the MMC Replay some day. But it really is a problem. The pictures tell it the best.
Yep, the new RR-Net can be installed to Retro Replay with no problem, but there is simply not room for the ethernet cable! The freeze and reset buttons of RR are in the way of the cable connector. This is quite interesting as the installation instructions that came with it even describes how to install it to the Retro Replay! I have the first version of Retro Replay (black board) but judging from pictures I found from the internet, the expansion port where the RR-Net is inserted is located in the same location in the later versions of Retro Replays too. So the problem is likely to remain also with the newer versions of RR.
I understand why the new RR-Net is designed the way it is. But this is just retarted… Everything seems to suggest that it is compatible also with the older devices. And even the installation instructions tell you how to install it especially to the Retro Replay.
Oh well, this needs just some arrangements or modifications. At least it’s perfect for the MMC Replay if I ever get one.