Earlier this week a brand-new Casio Loopy flash cartridge called the Floopy Drive was launched by Roger Braunstein (aka partlyhuman). While the initial listing of 15 sold out within 4 hours of launch, more components are already on order with a lead time of 4-6 weeks. If anyone is interested in the next batch, definitely click on the link here and join the waitlist!
The Floopy Drive supports all released games for the system – including the rare and expensive Chakra-Kun – and has the ability to run future titles as well. Game compatibility is nearly 100% with only the dog barking sound in Wanwan and anything related to Magical Shop’s A/V capture functionality being unemulated. Currently it’s up in the air if these will ever come to the Floopy Drive or a future flash cart, since both items haven’t been fully dumped or debugged.
This cartridge opens the door to translation-patches, homebrew software to aid in other hardware development, and eventually new games.
Due to the complexity of the Casio Loopy’s hardware and development on the system being in its infancy, games are flashed one at a time via an easy-to-use webUSB flashing method. The Floopy Drive also provides serial access via USB-C to the Loopy’s CPU for folks wanting to start coding for the system. Instructions along with a full FAQ can be found on the Tindie sales page, or check out the video below.
I was also able to chat with Roger this week and ask a few questions about the Casio Loopy and the Floopy Drive:
Congrats on selling out your first run of the Floopy Drive! Were you surprised at how quickly they sold out?
YES. Holy crap. I was pretty sure my beta testers made up at least 50% of everyone on Earth with a Loopy. That’s why my opening salvo was only 15 units, it’s a little chicken-and-egg to guess how many people want something before they’ve discovered it’s out there. That was plenty for the number of people who had signed up to get one at the time… Anyway, I’m building more 🙂
The Casio Loopy isn’t a commonly seen video game console, even at retro gaming events. How did you get introduced to the Loopy?
Like many, I first learned about the Loopy from the Femicom Museum and the archival work of Rachel Simone Weil. Without Rachel, this obscure console would be a completely unknown console, at least in the West. It’s staggering to think her work on the Femicom museum has been ongoing over a decade. As for me, when I first came across the Loopy in a previous chapter of my life, I think it went in one ear and out the other… When my mind was finally open to it, after discovering the joy of retro gaming, it was Shelly Xiong and Mizucat whose content drew me back to the Loopy.
What made you decide to work on a Loopy flash cart?
I’m still very much a novice at electrical engineering, and every project I do is half “I want this and it doesn’t exist” and half “Doing this is outside my abilities right now.”
The fact that the stars aligned for this project was miraculous: for some reason nobody had done it before, and I had just built my first multicart for another obscure piece of electronics with hard-to-acquire software, the Suzuki Q-Chord. A flash cart was a natural next step after making a multicart, while still being a huge leap in complexity. I also have to thank the members of the “Unloved Budget Computers Hole” Discord server for daring me to actually go through with it.
Do you have a background in making hardware products, PCBs, etc.?
Not at all, this just something that started with Game Boy modding and then became my COVID hobby.
What was the hardest part about making the Floopy Drive?
Honestly, the project was a breeze, and when I say that I don’t mean that there were no problems or hard work. Pretty much everything I did invented new bugs and mistakes. But there were so many really talented folks who joined to help, and who were so excited about the project, it was genuinely impossible to get stuck. This was absolutely a team effort, made better in so many ways by the contributions of the community, in particular Kasamikona, Keegan Van der Laag, and VideoDojo.
The most exciting moment was getting a game running on my Loopy for the first time. I just looked up the photo and it happened on April 27, 2023. When they say the last 10% of the work takes 90% of the time, they’re not kidding.
Since some readers may now be interested in jumping into the Loopiverse (just made that up), what’s your favorite Loopy game right now?
I mean, it’d have to be Wanwan Aijou Monogatari, because it goes places you do not expect. Like, you train a puppy for 30 minutes and then all hell breaks loose. I’m gonna put it that way so that you stick with it, but I don’t spoil the fun. It’s definitely for younger audiences, but the themes surrounding leaving behind your childhood are universal. Finally, it’s just silly and funny, and I enjoy that in a game.
Now that the Floopy Drive is released, I know there’s a bunch of different new projects that will be driven by the ability to run new code on the system. Do you have any future Loopy-related projects that you’re working on or want to promote?
I’ve translated the script of Wanwan to English and I’ve been working on making this into a full translation patch! There’s also a Wanwan save trainer I put up if anyone wants to use it with their Floopy Drive to explore the game nonlinearly, and unlock the prints you normally don’t get until you clear the game!