I purchased a Memor32 PS2 memory card from Modchip.ca; What is a Memor32 and why did I pay $70 for a PS2 memory card? The basic Memor32 is a 32MB PS2 memory card (4x larger than a normal 9MB PS2 card) that has a mini-USB port on it. This port allows USB connection to a PC (after downloading the appropriate drivers) and with the Memor32 savegame manager you can transfer save games to and from your computer (for archival storage or using other users save games). This feature is pretty cool.
But wait- there's more! By downloading a firmware update from the Mememto Team you can play backup games on your PS2- without opening the case to install a modchip! (Detailed instructions for the firmware installation can be found on the Memento guides web page). After the firmware update is installed the PS2 is essentially 'modded' to play non-original games (one catch, the disk images must be patched to run- detailed instructions on this is also in the Memento guides). Even better is that the firmware works on all PS2 (so they claim) from v3 (Original 'fat' PS2) to v16 (PS2 Slim) and the card may be used on multiple PS2 systems (one at a time, unless you have multiple Memor32 cards). Removing the card removed the patch so the PS2 warranty is not voided.
The current v1.2e firmware seems to work pretty Ok; I ripped my copy of Shadow of the Colossus with ImgBurn, patched it and burned it back a DVD-R (note; the current version works only with DVD-R media- DVD+R does not appear to work). I put the disk in, booted the PS2 (with patched Memor32 card inserted) and I greeted my a 'Mememto' screen instead of the standard Sony screen. A few moments later Shadow of the Colossus booted and I played through the first two levels before getting bored (ADD kicked in).
I also tried patching Star Trek: Encounters and Galdius that I downloaded from one of the binary newsgroups and I had less success; Star Trek would boot and show most of the intro and freeze before the game started. The later game boots and seems to play Ok, but I did have a game freeze during the load of the 5th training level. It is possible this is do to corruption in the images I downloaded or it is also possible that my PS2 doesn't like my DVD-R media (Imation 16x DVD-R burned at 4x).
A promised v1.3 firmware promises the ability to run games from hard drive (internal for old PS2s ore USB for new PS2s) but is is also said to currently support HDAdvance/HDLoader on the old PS2s. There are complaints about the PS2 reading a disk image over USB1.1 speed, but PS2 disks can be installed to the HD via a PC (at USB 2.0 speed) with WinHIIP software.
I am not 100% sure how this actually works, but a Memento patched game will appear as a DVD video to the PS2 browser if it is inserted without the Memento card; I am guessing when the PS2 tries to play the DVD video it looks for settings on the memory card- and from there there is an exploit that allows the Memento software to run and play a backup PS2 game?
Note: I will have to say something about Modchip.ca- they have great turn-around on orders. I placed an order on Saturday and selected overnight FedEx. My order was processed on Sunday and went out Monday morning- so I received it by 10:00am on Tuesday. I was supplied with email information during order and processing to indicate the status and tracking information of my order. Great job guys!
It did appear that I had a used Memor32 as there were six save games on it when it arrived (some Resident Evil 4 level 1 and some other random games), but it is also possible that this is how the card is tested before shipping- perhaps they just forgot to erase the test saves?