CAVE Conversions

Espgaluda, Ketsui and DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou Black Label as cartridges? Why not, as long as they’re 100% true to their originals.

IGS/PGM conversions of Cave titles
IGS/PGM conversions of Cave titles

Yes, you can always claim that “They’re not original!” but if they behave as well as their bare PCB counterparts I for one do like the concept of a cartridge version of my favorite CAVE shmups; better protection and easier storage being two of the pros.

On the flip side unfortunately another game has to be sacrificed as always when making a conversion. In many cases this was the the way for instance when older CPS-II games were to be retired and replaced by newer titles. The older games were returned and the hardware reused in order to lower production costs. Conversions remain a grey area among gaming enthusiasts. Some consider them legit and some write them off as bootlegs. For me it all depends on the game in question and the source of the game. Certain CPS-II games, like Progear, I consider ok since Capcom did them themselves, but the PGM conversions, IMO, are bootlegs. Even if the hardware used is similar to the original these games were never officially released on the PGM platform nor has CAVE ever licenced them for the PGM.

That aside, these conversions are top of the line. They perform (in some cases even outperform) as their original counterparts. Nonetheless it’s a grey zone – they are bootlegs.


  • Cartridge instead of bare PCB
  • No battery on the PCB
  • Brighter sound than the originals
  • Cartridges can be stored in shock boxes


  • Bootleg
  • A PGM game needs to act as donor
  • Arrange ROM’s for Ketsui and DDP DOJ cannot be played
  • DDP DOJ Black Label doesn’t have the Vanilla version

Donor games

The following games can act as donors for the conversions.

DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou Black Label

  • Night of Valour Super Heroes

Ketsui and Espgaluda

  • Knight of Valour 2
  • Demon Front
  • Dodonpachi 2 Bee Storm
  • Martial Master
  • Gladiator
  • Killing Blade

Ketsui conversion

As you can see from the pictures below the conversions are kind of messy and not easy to do.

Pictures by Monouchi



10 Replies to “CAVE Conversions”

  1. Thank you for the pictures !
    The memories used are 3,3V (not 5V) that’s why there is a wire going from a resistor to every memory chip (the resistor drops the voltage from 5V to 3,3V)
    Accessing the memories with TTL is still OK 0V is 0V and 5V acts as a 3,3V high (the line drivers are 5V but won’t deliver enough current to harm the chips)
    Chips needed : 27C160 (the big UV-EPROM) program rom
    26L6420 (SOP-44 64MBit) mostly everything graphic
    29L3211 (SOP-44 32MBit) this one has the #1 Pin at high logic level (signal /WE)
    this is for the music.
    The SOP-44 are all connected on Pin #23 this is Vcc and should be 3,3V this conversion uses a cheap & lazy method of using a resistor in series from the 5V.
    Why not using a 5V to 3,3V LDO Regulator ? it’s clean and still dirt cheap.
    Wires should be AWG30 insulated wires, and please don’t jizz on the carts…
    The other chips are CPLDs (you can use PALs or GALs) they could be programmed so you don’t have to do the rewiring by hand.
    Cheers RWK

      1. I forgot to mention you need four 26L6420 Chips
        One on the first board (the rom that contains the text tiles and baground tiles) with the 27C160 UV-EPROM (that contains the decrypted 68000 program)
        the 3 other 26L6420 are for sprites and are on the second board with the 29L3211 (that contains the music)
        You can find the rest of the information (about the memory mapping for example) in the pgm.c driver commentaries from the MAME project.

    1. To my knowledge there’s no public info on this. It’s no black magic but doing this requires some microproc skills and a steady soldering hand 😉 is afaik the only source for the carts.

    1. Not that I know of, but as I mentioned before it’s not black magic. If you’ve got the skills I don’t think it would be too difficult to reproduce the process.

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