Direct Disk to Cartridge Port

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The practise of some cartridge game developers was to put an unchanged game from the CPC into a cartridge for the Plus/GX4000. A game which had small changes (often just using the Plus's palette) was called a "Almost Direct Disk to Cartridge Port".

Disk vs Cartridge

The most common size of cartridge used was only 128KB which had less capacity compared to a 3" disk. The standard DATA format had 178K of useable storage and later (1990) disc games had around 210KB of usable storage on each disc. This meant that a direct Disk to Cartridge port would need to have something removed so that it would fit into the cartridge space. (It is worth noting that 256KB ROM and 512KB ROM (maximum capacity for a rom) can be used with cartridges but probably because of cost reasons most used 128KB ROMs.)

A small number of games on tape/disc (e.g. Bloodwych) used tape/disc to store game state (so play could continue after), but there was no way to store game state on Cartridge games. (i.e. the cartridge contained an EPROM and the ACID protection chip only, no EEPROM or RAM).


Of course this direct disk to cartridge didn't help the Plus range at all and was almost as shameful as the Speccy Port technique, but it was done because it was a cheap and fast way to quickly release games.

Another problem came from the fact that both the 464Plus and GX4000 (essentially a cut down 464Plus) had 64KB ram. As a result using the Plus features to the full was not so simple if the game was to run on these systems.

If 128KB ram had been the minimum then this would have allowed more flexibility for graphical data, sampled sound etc and would have easily enhanced a 64KB only game.

Almost Direct Disk to Cartridge Port

Most games with CPC and PLUS versions are "Almost Direct Disk to Cartridge Port", a "Direct Disk to Cartridge Port" with small modifications. The use of the extra Plus features varied a lot. Some didn't use much, others used more.

Examples of Direct Disk to Cartridge Ports

These games are identical in look to the CPC versions with no use of Plus features:

These could have benefited from using the Plus 4096 colour palette as a minimum.

Please visit their respective pages to read more about these games.

Examples of Almost Direct Disk to Cartridge Ports

Some other cartridge games looked almost the same as the CPC version, but did use some Plus features. Some examples:

This was still better than the direct ports, because it could give a more "16bit version look".

Please visit their respective pages to read more about these games.

Examples of games developed using lots of Plus features

All cartridge games should have followed the example of these games:

All these games were developed with the Plus features in mind, and all cartridge games should have been of this quality.

Side-by-Side comparison of ported games

Price comparison

Thankfully most of those games were known as good games on the CPC. The bet was that it would still be a good game on Plus.

Yet people were not interested in buying an expensive cartridge with no or few advantages when the CPC version could be bought for cheaper and played on the Plus.

UK prices: in 1990 when the Plus/GX4000 was released, cartridge games were sold at £29.95, while disc versions were normally £14.99 and tape version was £9.99. Blank discs were £2.50 each. (Source Amstrad Action October 1990)

French prices: in 1990 when the Plus/GX4000 was released, cartridge games were sold for 250Fr , 150Fr for disc and 100Fr for tape. Blank discs were 20Fr each. (Fr = French Francs, pre-Euro currency in France).

The present and future

It is easy to make a "Direct Disk to Cartridge Port" by using the No$cart utility by Nocash.

A number of unofficial cartridge games have been made this way and some have been even been sold in nice packaging and sold on Ebay. (See Bootleg Cartridges).

It is nowadays a common feature to modify existing CPC games to take advantage of some plus features, mostly the Plus's bigger palette, but often these remain on disk. With No$cart these could be converted to cartridge and made into "Almost Direct Disk to Cartridge Port".

Most cartridges were the original games released from the GX4000 era so these ideas were mostly applied to games. To apply this to utilities you would need to have drivers to access disc/tape for storage, or include the OS/firmware in your cartridge.

Now that the operation of the ACID protection chip is known, and the development of various home brew cartridge hardware solutions may lead to Direct Disk to Cartridge Port applied to any kind of software or new cartridge games that make fuller use of Plus features (See Converted_GX4000_games).

Since the release of C4CPC hardware it is now easy to make a cartridge that can be run on GX4000 or Plus.