Where portable gaming systems are concerned, this has to be some sort of record. Tommo's just-released Neo Geo X handheld has found itself in the hands of its first customers this past week, and already people have figured out how to run custom ROMs on the device. To call it a "hack" is a little generous, however, as the process involves little more than cracking the device open and getting access to the internal SD card.
With the internal SD card plugged into your PC, you can simply copy over your custom ROMs in order to play them on the device. But, there are a couple of important caveats. At the moment, the device requires certain details to align in order for a game to run, such as the game name and its size. Thus, in order to play a non-shipping game on the device, it needs to be renamed to a game that already exists, and weigh no more in byte-size. In the end, you might be entering the Metal Slug icon on the device, but will see a different game entirely.
Unfortunately, while the device does sport an external SD slot, it can't be used at the current time to run these games. That's where the real hacks will need to come in, and custom system ROMs. In addition, it appears that there are two different versions of the console, where one has a sealed in memory card while the others do not. It could be that Tommo at the last minute decided to try something to keep the hardware hackers at bay, but as we know all too well, that's naivety at its best.
On a side note, the fact that Tommo implemented almost no copy protection on the device is pretty interesting. It could be that the company deep-down hoped that people would find other uses for the device - because in the end, it'd sell more units. Of course, the sealed-in SD card somewhat negates that, but that might have been done for legal reasons. Either way, the Neo Geo X is a pretty sweet-looking handheld, and if people out there can enable even more to be done with it, I raise my glass to them.
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