This guide is to teach you how to verify that your Nintendo 64 ROMs are good dumps using Cowering's tool GoodN64, combined with Polarz's frontend GoodGUI for easier usage of the program. When a Nintendo 64 ROM is dumped from the cartridge onto a hard drive, sometimes more data than the actual ROM size is dumped. This creates what is called an overdump [o]. Other times, you may get an incomplete or corrupted ROM image, also known as a bad dump [b]. You will only want good dumps [!] of N64 ROMs, and this tutorial will teach you how to verify that your dumps are good.
Section 1 of this tutorial is almost identical to the first section in my N64 Emulation Tutorial, because I feel it is good information on what a ROM dump is and is there for a quick reference on the different types of ROM dumps. If you have already read this tutorial, or already know all about ROMs, then you can safely skip this section and move straight to Section 2.
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Section 1: Nintendo 64 ROM Dumps
A Nintendo 64 ROM is a 'read only' file containing N64 Cartridge data that has been extracted (a.k.a. dumped) via a special device that connects a N64 game to a computer. ROM stands for 'Read Only Memory' which is exactly what the data was before it was dumped off of the cartridge. (Just to clarify, dumping isn't "taking" the data off of the cartridge, it is -copying- it from the Game Cartridge to the Hard Drive.) When you manage to find ROMs or dump them yourself, they will most likely have the default image of what appears to be a blank file, with a N64 file extension. There are several different type of N64 ROM file extensions: .n64, .z64, .u64, .rom, .v64, .usa, .pal, .j64, etc.. there may be more. So, Super Mario 64 could look like: SuperMario64.n64, SuperMario64.u64, SuperMario64.v64, or basically anything above and possibly more. I may as well mention now ROMS can even be zipped, so SuperMario64.zip is also valid. Most N64 emulators can read zipped ROMs, which can save a lot of hard drive space if you have a large collection.
Each ROM also has a country associated with it, such as:
[U] - USA
[J] - Japan
[E] - Europe
[F] - France
[G] - Germany
[A] - PAL
We're going to use the tool "GoodN64" to see if your ROMs are a verfied good dump.
- Good dumps will be renamed to have a [!] at the end of their file name.
- Bad dumps will have a [b] in their filename.
- Overdumps will have an [o] in their filename.
You want good [!] ROMS which are a perfect dump. Unfortunately, I cannot link you to ROMs because you are only legally allowed to own ROM dumps of cartridges that you personally own. Before you move on to Section 2 of this tutorial, find yourself some ROMs.
When you have a collection of N64 ROMs, make sure you put them all into the same folder. Emulators can't look all over your computer for ROM's, it has to know where all of them are at the same time. So create a folder for your collection of ROMs, and place all of them all into it.
The icons for the ROMs in the picture may not be the same as yours, but the appearance of a normal file (the picture shows a collection of zipped ROMs with WinRAR installed as the default file compressor). Most Emulators and the tool GoodN64 can read zipped ROMs, so if you understand how to compress files, then it is a good idea to compress your ROM collection. Keep in mind, all ROMs must be zipped into seperate archives.
- Go get some ROMs before reading on!
Section 2: Gathering and Understanding GoodN64 and GoodGUI
Cowering has released his GoodTools for many different video game systems. The purpose of these tools are to rename your ROMs with tags that identify if there is anything wrong with the ROM such as an overdump or bad dump, what country it was released for, and add a [!] if it is a verified good dump. Some ROMs may also be tagged with an [a], meaning that it is an alternate version of the original cartridge, most likely re-released later on to fix bugs in the original game or eliminate game genie codes (quote from GoodCodes.doc). This does not mean that there is anything wrong with this dump, it may even work better than the original version of the cartridge. GoodTools have a variety of other functions that I will explain later on in this tutorial.
All of the GoodTools must be ran from the Command Prompt, which is Microsoft's version of the old DOS operating system. Various programmers have created different frontends for the GoodTools, with GoodGUI being one of the best. A frontend is a program that allows you to access the functions of the command-line program with a graphical user interface (GUI); it basically does all the work for you. Take this time to download GoodN64 and any other GoodTools you may want to use. Also download GoodGUI for easier usage of the GoodTools. Links to these downloads are found below.
After you have downloaded the necessary files, you will need to extract the contents from their compressed versions. While almost any file decompression program will be able to open GoodN64_314.zip, GoodGUI is compressed in RAR format which will require either 7-Zip which is free, or WinRAR which gives you a 30 day trial and costs $30 to register. There are various other programs which can probably open RAR files, but 7-Zip is your best choice for the reason that it is free, and it supports decompression of almost every single compression format. Use whatever program you like most.
First off, extract the contents of GoodGUI.rar into a folder, name it to "GoodGUI", and place it wherever you want. Now, create a folder within the GoodGUI folder named "GoodTools". This will help keep all the GoodTools you download organized within the GoodGUI folder. Now, extract GoodN64_314 and any other GoodTools you downloaded into this folder. See the picture to the right for an example on what it should look like.
It is probably a good idea to leave the version number within the name of the folder of the GoodTool. When it comes time you decide to check for updates, you will know exactly which version of the GoodTool you have. Some of the tools to the right may be outdated by the time you have read this tutorial, so always make sure that you are using the most recent version of the GoodTool that you wish to use.
Since the picture to the right is large enough to give some extra space to type more info, I will mention now that you will eventually want to use the GoodTools to rename all your ROMs for every system that you have. Cowering's tools cover just about every video game system ever created that were mainstream to the public, but yes there are a few systems that he hasn't created the tools for (such as the Nintendo DS).
Section 4: Configuring GoodGUI
Now it is time to open up GoodGUI, and configure it so that it knows where your ROMs are and where to find the GoodTools.
From the navigation bar at the top, choose Main > Config. This will open up the configuration window for GoodGUI (pic to the right). Make sure the "Same As Rom Path" area is set to false.
Scroll down until you find the system you are looking for, in this case we want to verify Nintendo 64 ROMs. To set the path to your ROMs, you can simply click on the [....] button and choose the folder to where they are stored.
Unfortunately, this does not work for the GoodN64 executable file. When you have located it using the [....] button, it will not automatically input the path to where the executable is, it will just input the filename "GoodN64.exe". You will manually have to input the path to where GoodN64.exe is located.
Note that GoodGUI utilizes directories using a forward slash (/) as opposed to a back slash (\). I'm pretty sure either type of slash will work, but I like to keep things looking neat. When choosing a ROM path, it uses (/), so I chose to keep that consistency when choosing GoodN64's exe path.
I know there are other methods to locating the paths to the GoodTools such as using a global directory for all exe files or putting them in the same folder as ROMs, but this is the method I choose so this is the way that the tutorial explains how to do it.
When a ROM path and GoodTool is successfully located, the menu found at the top-right of the program will display that console or system as an available option for ROM editting.
There are several options to choose from. You can rename, move, scan, list, or audit your ROMs. After you have chosen the first option, more options will open up. The option that you will want to choose here is rename, which will simply rename your ROM collection into their proper names with the country and attributes associated with it (o, b, a, t, etc..).
The first two options are: dirs- which will place the renamed ROMs into subdirectories depending on the attributes found, or inplace - which will just simply rename your ROMs and keep them in the chosen ROM directory. The best option available here is dirs. Using this option you can easily sort through the good and the bad ROMs, and also identify any other types of ROMs that you have.
There are various other options at your disposal, none of which you should have to concern yourself with except maybe the "force" renaming options. The first option force63, will make sure ROMs are renamed into a format that can be used on CDFS file systems (compact discs), so burning them to a CD won't be a problem. The second option forcexbox, will make sure they are renamed so they can correctly be transferred to an XBox for console emulation. Finally forceDC, which is almost the same as forcexbox only for Dreamcast consoles.
Section 5: Using GoodGUI for GoodN64
After choosing the correct options that fit your needs, hit the green Go button to start the renaming process. This will take some time to complete, depending on the size of your ROM collection and overall speed of your computer. It could possibly take up to 10 minutes, so just be patient and let it finish. When the renaming process is complete, some information in the main window will appear. It will also create a folder in your ROM directory named N64Ren, with several sub-folders that identify the ROMs based on information such as the: country, bad dumps, betas, hacks, trainers, public domain (PD), etc. All good ROMs [!] will be found in the folders labelled with a country such as: Australia, Europe, Japan, and USA. In the Europe folder are more country folders: French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
This does not mean that the ROMs in the other folders are not technically good ROMs. Public domain, translations, trainers, hacks, etc.. may also work 100% in your emulators.
If you navigate to your ROM directory, along with the N64Ren folder are three text documents: N64DupesG, N64Have, and N64Miss. The N64DupesG will display any duplicate ROMs that you have in your collection. The N64Have document will display all the ROM files that you have out of 3044 known dumps, and the N64Miss document will display how many you are missing out of 3044. The number of known ROMs as of writing this tutorial is 3044, but it may change in the future if more ROM dumps are found and if Cowering updates his GoodTools.
Section 6: You're Done! + Some Additional Info
That's all there is to it, you're done! You now know which ROM files you have are good, which ones are bad, and which ones are something entirely different. Any ROM found in a country folder with an [!] is a verified good dump. But what about the other folders? I'll try to go into a little bit of detail on each before finishing up so you know which ROMs to keep, and which ones to discard or put off to the side to keep your collection complete.
BadDumps [b] - Self explanatory, these are the bad dumps of games.
Beta - A leaked beta dump of the game (at least I think).
CopierBIOS - This is a dump of the BIOS files in N64 game copiers CD64 and Doctor V64.
CopierFixes [f] - Fixes to games applied by copiers to either work better in copiers or emulators.
Hacks - These are ROM files that were hacked to add special features or alter the original game in some way.
Translations [T] - These are home made language translations made to ROMs.
OverDumps [o] - ROM files that may be a good dump but contain more data than the original cartridge.
PD - Public domain ROMs, which are home brew games created by the public.
Trained [t] - Contains trainers which allow cheats to be enabled before the game is loaded.
Unlicensed (Unl) - Game cheating units not liscensed by Nintendo, such as: Action Replay Pro 64, GameBooster 64, and GameShark Pro.
Although this tutorial focused mostly on renaming N64 ROMs with GoodN64 and GoodGUI, all of the GoodTools are set up in the exact same manner and are renamed through the same steps. I suggest renaming all of your ROMs for every system that you have, because nothing is worse than not knowing you have a bad dump, getting 3/4 through the game, and all of a sudden problems start happening that keeps you from completing the game.