EZ-Flash IV Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Dirtie, May 18, 2006.

May 18, 2006

EZ-Flash IV Review by Dirtie at 6:51 AM (133,514 Views / 0 Likes) 6 Comments

    • Former Staff

    Dirtie :'D

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2003
    Message Count:
    3,704
    Location:
    Zealer
    Country:
    New Zealand
    GBAtemp.net review of the...
    EZ-Flash IV
    (aka EZ-Flash 4, aka EZ4)

    Supplied by Kick Trading
    Manufactured by the EZ-Flash Team

    You can buy an EZ IV on GameYeeeah!
    [IMG]


    By Dirtie - 18th of May, 2006
    Updated - 13th of July, 2006
    Loader version: 1.67 (datecode 20060710)
    Client version: Beta 3 (datecode 20060710)


    Introduction

    The EZ-Flash IV is the long awaited Nintendo DS cart from the EZ-Flash team, known for their quality products with excellent compatibility in the GBA arena. How will they fare with their first NDS product? Keep reading to find out.


    Specifications

    The EZ-Flash IV (I will be calling it the EZ4 from here on out) is very similar to the EZ-Flash III – except it sports a mini-SD card slot, rather than internal NAND flash memory. As such it requires no external linker device, just a mini-SD card, which of course means that your storage space is limited only by the size of your card.

    One thing that sets the EZ4 apart from its competitors is the inclusion of 128 Mbits of PSRAM for Game Boy Advance games to be loaded into, as well as 256 Mbits of internal NOR memory – much the same as the EZ3.

    The other notable difference to the EZ3 is the fact that there is no longer a real time clock (RTC) built in - whether it be for size or cost reasons - or simply because it is built primarily for running NDS games, which use the DS’s internal clock, and was therefore deemed unnecessary.


    Packaging

    [IMG][IMG][IMG]

    The EZ4 comes in a rather nice cardboard box, even if the colour looks a bit icky. It is labelled nice and simply, although the check boxes on the side with the different sizes next to them are a tad obsolete, and I’m guessing this is because the EZ4 changed from being an internal memory based cart to a mini-SD based one part way through the development cycle.

    Inside, a similarly coloured, moulded plastic tray (one of those furry ones) sits which houses the cart, as well as a SD card reader and a USB extension cable, which would be useful if your USB port was in an unhandy place. Noticeable is a lack of documentation or even a website address, meaning the customer must do their own online research - something that certainly shouldn't be the case.

    The SD reader itself only actually supports normal sized SD cards, but as most mini-SDs come with an adapter to make them fit into a normal SD slot, this shouldn’t be a problem for too many people.


    Hardware

    [IMG][IMG][IMG]
    [IMG][IMG][IMG]

    The cart itself is a nice translucent white, which I would imagine would match a white DS Lite quite nicely. The size of the cart is almost exactly the same as a standard GBA cart (perhaps less than a millimetre taller), and sits nice and flush in both my DS and my GBA SP. I don’t own a DS Lite, but being the same size as a GBA cart it’s easy to imagine the EZ4 would stick out the same amount (rectified with the release of the EZ4 Lite).

    The build quality itself is generally very good, apart from the fact that the two halves on don't appear to quite fit together completely on close inspection, as there is a minute gap between them at the top right corner - assumedly this is the result of the mini-SD slot being a tight fit inside the cart. However, this has no bearing on the fit of the cart into a GBA or DS.

    The mini-SD slot is situated on the side of the cart, and the card slides all the way in quite nicely, similar to like it would into a normal card reader, rather than using a spring-based mechanism like other products. To insert it correctly, the writing on the mini-SD should face the same way as the sticker on the EZ4. Getting the mini-SD out, on the other hand, can be quite difficult. I actually thought I had done something wrong the first time I inserted it, because I couldn’t figure out how to remove it again. Turns out all it needed was a little bit of force and a fingernail to hook on to the edge with.


    Setup

    [IMG][IMG]

    My testing setup consists of a standard DS already flashed with Flashme V7, as well as a Samsung 512 MB mini-SD card, rated at the nice slow speed of 60X.

    The very first thing I did was download the latest software, which can be obtained here. There are two packages, one for the client, and one to update the loader (also known as the kernel) on the device itself. Updating the loader couldn’t have been simpler - well almost, because this is where I found out I couldn’t use the included SD reader to write to my card, I only discovered later on that it was a contact problem. No problems though, because I had another reader that worked just fine. Anyway, like I said, updating the loader couldn’t have been simpler. First off make sure your mini-SD card is formatted with the FAT16 file system, or just plain “FAT” as Windows XP reports it – mine came preformatted like that anyway, as I imagine the majority of cards would. Next what you need to do is copy the unzipped loader onto the root your mini-SD, renaming it to “ezfla_up.bin” if it isn’t already. Once that is done, load the mini-SD into your EZ4, then your EZ4 into the DS (not forgetting your passthrough device if it isn’t flashed), then turn on the DS while holding the R button down. The loader should begin to update, and when it is finished you can turn off your DS. Easy as pie.

    One thing to note is that if you want to update the loader but are unable to access DS mode for one reason or another, you can hold down the R button while booting into GBA mode. The most likely reason for needing to do this is if you are using a Superkey/Passcard 3, which are only supported after the 1.66 version of the loader. Be aware though, because only the earlier versions of these devices work at all anyway. To check if your specific 'nopass' device is supported, check out the GBAtemp NoPass Comparison Chart.

    I'll make a mention now for those that intend to use a Passme 2 or similar device; the appropriate SRAM (.sav) file must be renamed "passme2.sav" and copied a folder named "Saver" on the root of your mini-SD. You will then have to load your EZ4 up in GBA mode (more details further down) which will automatically write the file to the SRAM, allowing your Passme 2 to be used so you can boot into DS mode.


    Client Software

    [IMG][IMG]

    Be aware that any information about the software in this review is subject to change due to updates, and information herein will periodically be updated accordingly. Check the "Updated" date at the top of the page to determine the version of the software used at the time you read this.

    The EZ4 client is very simple and extremely easy to use. Default, it has a nice looking Mac OS style, but the interface skin can be changed should the glossy buttons not float your boat. One thing to mention is that anything stated here is in no way final, as both the PC software and the loader software are frequently updated, and features and fixes are bound to be added in future revisions.

    First off, the config needs to be changed so that “Send Path” points to your mini-SD card. Your language, preferred skin and button combination for the GBA 'Reset' option can also be selected. After your options have been confirmed you can use the ‘explorer’ section of the window to create subfolders to organize your files as you wish, or rename and delete files.

    Loading a rom on to your card, once again, couldn’t be easier. Clicking the “Open” button opens a file dialog, which allows you to select your file(s). A nice touch is the fact that it supports ZIP and RAR archives, so there is no need to unzip your rom before selecting it. If your PC has processed a single file, it should show a name (which can be edited) and file size if you have selected a NDS rom. If you have selected a GBA rom the rest of the options will also become available, which are outlined in the below paragraph. If you have selected multiple files of either type, a dialog will appear from which you can send the files to your mini-SD card consecutively, but only the "Reset" and "Add Save Patch" options (applicable to GBA roms only - outlined below) are available using this method.

    This paragraph only applies for GBA games. Save type and save size are self explanatory, and should be auto detected by the client. As yet there has been no word on what the ‘Add Save Patch’ checkbox does, and my testing of it proved inconclusive, however I guess it just patches the default rom save, similar to what GBATA and other applications do - as yet there has been no official word on the matter. The ‘Reset’ checkbox will allow you to use the button combination of your choice to soft reset back to the loader; when using the NDS loader to boot this has the side effect that it resets to the GBA loader rather than back to the NDS one, since it is then in GBA mode. Cheats allow you to use a cheat file (extension .cht) for your GBA roms, and more information on the .cht format, as well as applications that can help you out, can be found here.

    One minor annoyance is that fact that the client only recognizes roms included in the data files that come with it, because these can potentially be out of date since new releases are added manually, and so are only updated with a new version of the client. If you try to open a rom it does not recognise, you will be presented with this message:

    [IMG]
    Nice English [IMG] Don’t let this put you off however, as the game is more likely to run perfectly than not. The side effect though, is the fact that the “ROM Name” appears blank (couldn’t they just use the internal name?) on these games, but can be named to your liking before transfer. The guys over at Sosuke maintain a regularly updated NDS ROM naming list (as well a GBA one), so you can update it yourself instead of waiting for the next version of the client if you wish.

    Before you send your rom to the mini-SD, you can select a subfolder on the right hand side to send it to, this way you can keep everything organised. To send the rom to the mini-SD, just click ‘Send’ and the progress bar will count up until your file is transferred. Also, a dummy save file for each ROM copied will appear in the "Saver" folder on the root of the card (which will be created if it is not already present), which funnily enough is where the save files go.


    Loader Software

    [IMG][IMG][IMG]

    The EZ4 has a dual loader system, where if you use it in your DS you will be presented with the NDS loader, and if you use it in your GBA (or your DS in GBA mode) you will get the GBA loader.

    Like everything else, the NDS loader is very simple. A list of files and folders will be displayed, and you can select a subfolder to open it, or a file to run it. Fortunately, the loader supports long filenames, which makes it easy to organise and identify your files. The interface is fully touch capable, so if for some reason you can’t be bothered pressing buttons, you can use the stylus to select stuff. You can also access the NOR part of the cart by touching the film reel icon, and access the save method options by touching the CD icon (these will be explained further down).

    NDS games are run directly from the mini-SD, and there is only an very brief pause before they load. GBA roms, however, will first be loaded into the PSRAM (with the exception of 256 Mbit roms, which will be discussed later), and a small progress indicator will appear until the game is executed. Times for this vary depending on the size of the rom, and in my tests were approximately 5 seconds for a 32 Mbit rom, 9 seconds for a 64 Mbit rom, and around 16 seconds for a 128 Mbit rom. Unfortunately, it doesn’t detect your screen preference from your DS’s settings, so GBA games will always run on the top screen - you can rectify this by using the GBA loader to boot your games. Writing the save file to your mini-SD, for both NDS and GBA games, is done automatically when the system is turned back on. If "Auto Saving" is turned on (default setting) in the save method options, you can skip the save writing by quickly tapping the touch screen if so desired. Otherwise, if "Obliged Saving" is on, you are unable to skip this process, eliminating the prospect of accidentally doing so. Saves are stored in the “Saver” subfolder, and can be backed up to your PC easily by copying them straight to your hard drive.

    The GBA loader appears to be a variation on the EZPDA software from the EZ3, sporting an interesting Darth Vader theme. It features a File Manager (which also supports long filenames), a ‘Txt Saver’, which will allow you to view the .txt files you opened last (the loader supports native viewing of text files), a homebrew minesweeper game (which has aptly been titled “Star Mine”), a settings menu where you can change the language and (again) the saving settings, and a help option, which opens small text document detailing a few of the features and a couple of shortcuts.

    The basic functionality of the File Manager in the GBA loader is the essentially the same as the NDS loader, but one big difference is the fact that 256 Mbit GBA roms can only be executed from the GBA loader. You see, while the PSRAM is limited to 128 Mbits, 256 Mbit GBA roms are still able to run using the NOR memory - but only if they are executed from the GBA loader, rather than the NDS one. This process, however, takes a lot longer than running a smaller sized game, as the 256 Mbit games I tested all took around 5 and a half minutes to copy to the NOR and run. It's not all bad however, because once a rom is loaded into the NOR, it does not have to copied again unless overwritten or deleted, and can be loaded instantly from the both the NDS loader (using the movie reel icon which will display the contents of the NOR section) and the GBA loader (within the File Manager). Furthermore, the EZ4 also has functionality that allows any size GBA rom to be copied to the NOR if wished, essentially making it a standard 256 Mbit GBA flash cart all on its own! Selecting a GBA rom on your mini-SD and pressing Select will give you the option to copy it across, and the last rom on the NOR (multiple roms are fine as long as they fit) can be erased in the same manner.

    The GBA loader has a couple of annoyances however. NDS roms cannot be run from it, however this is for obvious reasons and can hardly be expected to count as a flaw. The other one is to do with the save writing process, which works much the same as it does when using the NDS loader, except for the fact it is skipped by pressing the L button rather than touching the screen (save method option permitting of course). The GBA loader takes a lot more time to write saves than its NDS counterpart, and you could be waiting quite a while depending on the size of the save file.

    A bonus is the fact that the skins for both loaders can be modified thanks to some smart cookies over at Sosuke. Click here to find out more.


    Compatibility/Performance


    NDS compatibility for the EZ4 is excellent, but not perfect. I tested a variety of games, including some of the most popular ones, and others that have or had issues in the past with other products. Almost all worked perfectly, could be played over Wi-Fi (for those that had it), and saved just fine. I did however notice minor slowdowns in a few games, such as slightly longer pauses in between menus, and a little bit of in game lag on a couple of the more graphic/data intensive games. Some of these are possibly the fault of my slow/cheap mini-SD card, but none of them were a real bother to me at all and didn't detract from the gameplay at all. The only games in my test selection that were unplayable were a couple of the more historically problematic ones: Pokemon Dash failed to run whatsoever, and Ultimate Spiderman was unplayable after simply locking up every time I attempted to get in game - but really there are no surprises here, as these games have a history of problems even with other devices, but it's still a little disappointing that the EZ-Flash team weren't able to pull something out of the bag compatibility wise to give it a little more pulling power. The only other game I had any minor issue at all with was Castlevania, with the FMV being slow and jerky, and once again that could have been partly due to my mini-SD, as the FMV is often used as a benchmark test for memory cards, so investing in a quality, fast mini-SD might be a good decision. An excellent compatibility list is maintained over here, and you'll notice there is certainly a relatively small amount of games that are have issues, and an even smaller amount that are unplayable. However, many of these can potentially become compatible in the future due to software updates (as is already the case with some games).

    A much touted advantage the EZ4 supposedly has is its excellent GBA compatibility, and it doesn't disappoint. I tested games of all sizes and all save types, and all ran perfectly and saved fine. In fact GBA compatibility is perfect - other than the fact that because the EZ4 lacks a real time clock, it can potentially cause problems for games that use one, but unless you intend to play the Pokemon RPGs (which can operate without one anyway after being patched, there just won’t be any time-based events), there is only a small minority of games which utilize it. The other matter to note is that some customers have reportedly experienced slowdowns when booting some of their GBA games from the NDS loader. However, this appears to be a software bug, as the aforementioned games play perfectly when booted from the GBA loader - let's just hope a future update can solve the issue. Otherwise, GBA compatibility is definitely a major advantage over other products, which have had reports of slowdowns, bugs and incompatibility issues with a lot of GBA games.

    As far as homebrew goes, the news isn’t quite so good. I tested a small selection of homebrew, and applications with the “.ds.gba” extension (formatted for GBA flash carts) work just fine, but I was unable to get any “.nds” homebrew to run – this may because most of these files are designed for hardware similar to the GBAMP, and the EZ4 doesn’t seem to fall into that category. Of course, this could potentially be rectified with software updates in the future.


    Multimedia


    Hang on, we’re not done yet, as included with the EZ4 client is a modified version of Moonshell for use with your EZ4, meaning you can play videos, listen to music, and view pictures and other documents all from your DS. Reportedly, the official Moonshell build also supports the EZ4 now as well, so you are not stuck with the default skin if you don’t like it. Since videos have to be converted for viewing on your DS, you’ll need to the easy-to-use Moonshell DPG tools which can be obtained here. Other supported files can be played/viewed as is (e.g. MP3, JPG, etc.)

    To install Moonshell, copy the ‘moonshell.ds.gba’ file included with the client (or the one you compiled yourself) to your card, using either Explorer or the client. Also copy your media files onto the card using Explorer (the client doesn’t like them) - I decided to put mine in a folder called ‘Media’.

    To run Moonshell, you just select it like any other file in the loader (DS only), and you will then be presented with the Moonshell interface with which you can browse and play/view your media files. A small matter to note here is the fact that I experienced choppiness in some videos, and once again this is likely due to my mini-SD card, though reducing the frame rate a little bit in Moonshell DPG Tools can usually fix the problem.


    Conclusion


    Overall, this is definitely a great piece of equipment, and if you have a standard model DS I highly recommend it on virtue of its price, performance and size. While NDS compatibility is not perfect, software updates look sure to make this a viable contender in the compatibility stakes in the future. GBA support is one thing that is sure to have a lot of pulling power for the EZ4, and the inclusion of internal memory in the cart ensures that compatibility is top notch - apart from the lack of a real time clock for GBA games, which is a minor disappointment, but as it is in no way integral, the majority of customers are unlikely to notice its absence. As it stands though, the EZ4 has a little bit of catching up to do in the software department, mainly with respect to the NDS side of things, despite being a quality piece of hardware. If things improve significantly, look for a revised score in the future.

    Pros:

    +Nice value for price
    +Size of a GBA cart
    +NDS compatibility constantly improving
    +Excellent GBA support with the exception of games which utilize the real time clock
    +Simple to use
    +Multimedia capabilities

    Cons:

    -No real time clock
    -NDS compatibility needs improvement
    -Lack of proper documentation or directions

    Overall:

    7/10



    Useful Links
    Affiliated sites
    Purchase this cart from our affiliated shops:

    ÂÂÂÂ
    • Member

    Yepi69 GBATemp Pokemon, EarthBound, Mother3 Proud Fan Boy

    Member Since:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Message Count:
    1,622
    Location:
    Onett and Tazmily Village
    Country:
    Portugal
    The review is nice but... why giant letters?
    • Member

    Rydian Resident Furvert™

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Message Count:
    27,886
    Location:
    Cave Entrance, Watching Cyan Write Letters
    Country:
    United States
    This thread is really old, and from a different forum software that used different text size measurements.
    • Newcomer

    vikingwizardeyes New Member

    Member Since:
    Mar 2, 2013
    Message Count:
    1
    Location:
    Ealing, United Kingdom
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Hey Peeps,

    So, today I received my EZ-Flash IV to use with my GBA. I'd been getting my head around how to set everything up before I received it, so I was prepared. However, when I followed the steps, I encountered something weird and I don't know how to fix it.

    Problem:

    My GBA boots fine with the EZ-Flash IV without an SD ("Can't find disk" message appears). When I put my FAT formatted 2gb MiniSD card in there it won't even power on. The GBA light flickers red for a millisecond as though it's trying to boot up, but turns off immediately.

    I've tried formatting, reformatting, partitioning to make the memory smaller, different various ezfla_up.bin versions, different miniSD card and still no luck. I've spent literally all day trying to figure it out, but there I can't find anything about it on the internet. If there is information on the problem out there, it's hiding in the far reaches of the kitten corner of YouTube and I can't find it.

    I would really appreciate any help, it's driving me insane. Thank you in advance.
    • Member

    Kouen Hasuki Kouen the Cyber Husky

    Member Since:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Message Count:
    1,365
    Location:
    Gaming Bunker
    Country:
    Norway
    Try in another GBA to make sure also make sure your GBA has a full charge maybe leave the ac cord in for the test the EZ4 takes more power than a normal game if your battery is a bit funny that could be causing it

    Also are you using a real miniSD or a Micro to Mini adapter
    • Newcomer

    diego2345 New Member

    Member Since:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Message Count:
    1
    Country:
    Spain
    hi, i have a question, i want to buy a ez flash IV, but i can't buy, i can't find a webpage where buy it, anyone knows where i can buy?

    sorry for my english
    • Newcomer

    Newcomer1029 New Member

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Message Count:
    9
    Country:
    Germany
    Sorry, Diego2345, but they are nearly everywhere out of stock.... But you can find here in the webpage some useful links that lead you to some shops where you can still buy them.

    However, here is my question: I am using Linux (Ubuntu) on my Computer and I tried to get the newest EZ Flash IV Client working properly with Wine but it does not! Whenever I try to patch my favourite ROMs into the folder of the SD card, where all my games are, everything seems fine but the weird thing is that in the "SAVER" folder, that I have made, there are no Save files and I do not know why! Is it the fact that I am using Linux on my Computer? In addition, the patched ROMs do not show the GBA Logo at the beginning of each game. Just like in the Supercard Mini SD! I do not know what causes that. Please help and did anyone try to get the EZ Flash IV Client work with Linux?

SPONSORED LINKS
 

Share This Page