The GoodTools suite, as it is known, is a collection of ROM renaming tools developed and released by an individual in the emulation community known as Cowering. The tools follow the naming format of "GoodXXXX" where the XXXX is a few letters which signify what system the tool renames ROMs for. A lot of the time, two or more systems which are closely related are grouped together in one renaming tool - for example, GoodGBX contains ROM information for both the original GameBoy and the GameBoy Color, and GoodSMS contains ROM information for the Sega Master System, the Sega Game 1000, the Sega Computer 3000, the Sega Super Control Station, and the Microvision. Tools are DOS programs, and as far as I know no other versions are available.
Each tool works by containing checksum and file size information for all the known ROMs available for a system - effectively an electronic fingerprint which can identify a file. To go with each checksum/file size pair is a name, which allows the ROM to be identified uniquely from all others in the system. This often involves special codes to differentiate between versions of the same game - these codes are detailed over in the ROM codes node. Basically though, the format is <game name> <codes to indicate special dumps / hacks / translations etc.>. You run the program (using command line arguments) in a directory containing ROMs (which can be zipped or rarred if you like) for the particular system and the program will then perform some function on the ROMs. These functions could be renaming the files to fit in with the naming scheme, auditing the files (which creates text files showing which ROMs you have and which you are missing), moving the ROMs to organised folders, deleting duplicates, and other similar tasks. The tools are essentially there to keep someone's ROM collection organised, and to show people how many ROMs they have out of the full set.
If someone has all the ROMs available for a system, then it is called a "GoodSet". Some people say that a Goodset should only involve having all the Good / alternative / translation ROMs, as opposed to having bad dumps and over dumps (which are generally useless and unplayable) although there are some nutters who insist on collecting all 7 bad dumps for every NES game. I definitely fall into the former category, and as the developer of SMS Checker notes: "Remember - collecting bad ROMs and variants is evil!". There are numerous sites which have every ROM for nearly every GoodSet up for download, but I will refrain from listing any of them here for fear of possible legal trouble for E2. If you really struggle to find ROMs, then fire up everyone's favourite searching friend. If you can't find at least some ROMs on Google, there is little hope for you.
There are currently GoodTools available for the following systems:
In some cases, a Goodset for a system can take up only a megabyte or so, even though it could contain over 1000 ROMs. This is the case for older systems like, for example, the Atari 2600. In this case, finding a place to download the set as one file can be very useful - unless you fancy clicking 1000 download links. However, some newer sets are massive - I have an (almost) full SNES set, in which all the files are zipped, and it takes up 5 CD-R's worth of space. I dread to think how much it would take to have every N64 ROM, especially with the no doubt large amount of bad / over dumps around. One emulation website recently held a raffle, in which the third prize was 10 CDs full of N64 games...
However, anyone who hangs around a fair bit in the emulation and ROM hacking community will soon find out that plenty of people are not at all happy with the GoodTools. Numerous people refer to "GoodSNES" as "BadSNES" due to the fact that it is very incomplete, updated infrequently (some translation patches released up to 5 years ago have still not been added to the GoodSNES set, although some more recent ones have) and the method which the tools use to scan ROMs is unreliable. Although these concerns probably apply to most sets, the SNES one is possibly the most often complained about, because the SNES is one of the most popular consoles which is emulated.
The cause for this is, likely as not, that Cowering has taken on too much work, and so has to spread his time out over many sets. This means releases and updates come very infrequently. While some really resent Cowering because of the way his tools are developed, most (including myself, to an extent) respect the obvious amounts of work which have gone into all the GoodTools. Considering that apparently he regularly gets 30 megabyte N64 ROMs in the mail from idiots who think it should be included in the set (but didn't bother to warn him to expect a large email), I think he has done very well at creating at least some order from the chaos.
However, as always when they don't particularly like something, the emulation community has started to bring up better tools and release them. As a good alternative to the GoodSMS and GoodGG tools, SMS Checker was developed, and since it is made by someone heavily involved in the Sega 8-bit emulation community, it will obviously be updated much more, and be more reliable. For the much larger SNES community, Nach's SNES ROM Tools 3.0 has recently been released. It incorporates pretty much all the functions of GoodSNES along with a much better database (which doesn't include translations, because that could lead to sites distributing prepatched ROMs, and that is the last thing any ROM hacker wants. It is much better to use soft patching (placing patch files in a specific directory for the emulator, and having it automatically patch the ROM on startup. This means if a new version of a patch is released, you can just swap the patch files - no need for a backup ROM)), and a number of features like fixing common bad dumps etc. I have a lot of faith in NSRT, and I hope that websites start serving a full NSRT set as opposed to a GoodSNES set, because the main author (Nach) is a genuinely nice guy, and works very hard for the good of the emulation community (he is also on the Zsnes team).
Overall though, in the case of many rare systems (like the Vectrex) where there is not much of a community, a Goodset is a blessing for people who want to collect the games, and there are not likely to be any rival tools. While the sets do cause a bit of controversy, they are certainly a hell of a lot better than not knowing what ROMs you have, and whether or not they are good dumps, which was the case before the Goodsets arrived.
The GoodTools (but not the ROMs themselves) can be picked up at www.rareroms.net.
Typically enough, I spend hours writing this, and just as I post it, a new version comes out. Anyway, if you want more supported translations and hacks, then head over and pick up GoodSNES 0.999.6. However, if you're like me, and you don't like to have sets with translation patches in (it annoys ROM hackers who make them) then you'll probably want to stick with NSRT).
Cheers to nanashi for this information about another thing that is wrong with GoodXXX tools: "I don't know if it's just goodsnes, but it seems that good* is plagued by poor romanisations of japanese titles. aside from mixing different romanisation methods (a big no-no), there are occasions where the romanisations are wrong or misspelled. for example, some gundam game for the snes has "kidoesenshi" instead of "kidousenshi" in the title, and one game listed as "Mizuki Shigeru no Youkai Dotyuki" mixes two different systems of romanisation. (and the title is wrong, anyway. It should be "Mizuki Shigeru no Youkai Hyakkiyakou".)"
Cheers to werejackal for asking about the sets, and prompting this writeup.
Thanks to Servo5678 for keeping me out of jail ;-)
Far too much time hanging round http://forums.cherryroms.com, www.romhacking.com, the Aeon Genesis Translations message board, #aeongen, #rareroms, and many more.