Getting Started With DS Flash Carts

Discussion in 'NDS - Tutorials & FAQs' started by sambskn, May 21, 2011.

May 21, 2011
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    sambskn New Member

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    [IMG]
    Hey! Are you the coolest guy/girl around? Yes? Then you must be using a DS Lite or a DS Phat because you don’t want to fork over your hard earned cash for one of those fancy shmancy 3DS’s until Nintendo actually does something impressive with the device. “What about a DSi/DSiXL?” others ask. “Go away forever!” I reply. But forget about those uncool folk, you’re retro! But it ain’t easy being retro. Those uncool folk get to enjoy all kinds of cool stuff you don’t get to. Well, let’s stick it to ‘em! Go up to those losers and scream “If I wanted a crappy camera I’d use my cell phone!” or “Look at all these cool GBA games I can play! Anyone like rumble packs?” If that doesn’t phase them I guess you’ll have to get a flashcart for your DS.

    What’s a flash cart?
    It’s like the games you have for your DS now, but the game card has a slot for a memory card, which means you get to put tons of cool stuff on there!

    Does that mean I get games that are in stores without paying for them?
    Well, that’s something that goes into legal gray (more like black) area, but yes, there is a community where you can get these games, and it’s stealing/pirating. If that’s your cup of tea, you’ll have to go visit those shady tea houses on your own. Sorry.

    So what can I put on my flash cart?
    Luckily there’s a thriving community of people who make their own games for the DS, but either don’t want to or aren’t able to release on a scale equal to that of a game you find in a store, so they release their games online, almost always for free. These games are called homebrew, similar to the term for homebrewed beer, made at home, not by some factory. But it’s not only games! Some homebrew makers have released a variety of things besides games, like a PDA program or a program that allows you to watch movies or listen to music on your DS! Neat-o, right? Is that what the kids are sayin’ these days?

    What about games I own? Can those be put on flash carts?
    Yep! But it’s a pain in the buttocks similar to the pain of watching your pet wombat slowly eat all the baseball cards that you dug out of your closet only to realize that they’re worth millions, but as this happened, your pet wombat spit venom containing a paralyzing toxin all over you, leaving you in a state of immobility as your pet wombat, who used to be the most loved creature for miles, commits the previously stated act of pure hatred. Yeah, transferring your games is that much of a pain. Wouldn’t be easier just to pirate your games? Maybe. Is jail easy? Think about it.

    NOTE: Apparently, this backup method is still considered illegal by those fat cats up at Nintendo. But, morally speaking, it’s not bad unless you are giving away these games for free, or selling them. That’s double wrong (not to be confused with a double negative). On the record, I am NOT encouraging illegal activity, but, I wouldn’t say this would get you thrown in jail. It’s like ripping your DVD’s to put on your iPod. But this has gone on long enough. NOTE COMPLETE.

    How much will this magic device cost me?
    Depends if you want the bike, the ‘93 Honda Civic, or the Ferrari. The cheapest (and the simplest) option for you cool kids with the retro DS’s is the R4 DS Revolution. According to our pals at Shop Temp the best price on one of these bad boys is only $2.60! But it’s shipped from China, so that’s probably another couple bucks shipping wise, and depending on where you live, you may also need to pay customs fees. But don’t worry, it’s still only around $6 at the lowest from American shops. Don’t whine. I gladly paid $20 for this when it was still the coolest thing around. Back then the manufacturer still made their own firmware, or operating system for the card. Today, there’s a cool dude called Yellow Wood Goblin who has made and constantly updates an AKAIO (a firmware made by Acekard) based firmware adapted for the R4 called Wood R4 . More on this later. One of the downfalls of this card is that it will not be able to handle SDHC Micro SD cards. This card still works fine, there are better options now-a-days.

    Like the Civic of this group, the Acekard 2i. Before you go all a judging and a hating of this product because it’s not retro enough, simmer down. The Acekard 2i is simply prepared for when you become tired of retro-ness and decide you want to upgrade. With recent firmware updates, the 2i can be used on DSi’s and even the 3DS. But this card isn’t just good because of that. It uses the AKAIO firmware, developed by the Acekard team. Acekard is constantly updating this firmware, and that’s cool. Among other things (like custom themes) AKAIO will auto DLDI patch your homebrew games. That's pretty cool if you have a lot of homebrew on your flash cart. Anyway, if you think that you’d like to upgrade to a less retro handheld in the future, get the Acekard 2i.

    Now the Ferrari. Oh yeah. The Supercard DSTWO. This card has everything the previously mentioned ones do, plus more. Now, this wouldn’t matter to you, because you’re retro, but this card has a GameBoy Advance emulator! You can play all your legally obtained GBA ROMs (a ROM is a game file. A “.nds” the file extension for a NDS ROM) right off the flash cart! Not to mention the ability to play your legally obtained Super Nintendo ROMs as well. The cart can also play a whole buncha media files right out of the box. Sexy. Wait, what? Guess what? GBAtemp even got the Supercard folks to make a special GBAtemp edition, yet sadly those were a limited run, so the best chance to see one of those sick puppies is if I send you a pic of the one I win in this contest (Am I right judges? Yes.). Anyway, a regular one of these things will run you about $42 average and $33 for the lowest price listed on ShopTemp. But hey, if you want to overcompensate for your small . . . bookshelf, this is the thing for you.

    There are other great carts out there worth looking into, like the EZFlash Vi, or the CycloDS in it’s current revision or it’s original one. Take some time and look around on GBAtemp at reviews and opinions. Despite the handy search feature of the site, the variations on the question “Which flash cart should I get?” are more common than drugs at a Phish concert. That is, you should have no trouble finding advice for your purchase.

    But sadly, you can’t just buy a cart and start yelling at it until games appear on it. That method is simply too retro, and crazy. Remember, the line between retro and crazy is very hard to see. Be wary. You’ll need a memory card.

    What memory card?
    All “modern” DS flash carts load data off a Micro SD card. One of these tiny guys looks like this:
    [IMG]
    Figure 1-1: My 2 Gigabyte Micro SD Card, a penny for reference, and my old and battered R4DS
    As mentioned right above, I have a 2 Gig. Micro SD (a variety of SD[Secure Digital] card that is hella tiny). While those little cards can come in sizes as large as 32 gigabytes, most cards larger than 2 are of the SD HC (High Capacity) variety, which older cards like the R4DS are unable to comprehend. Like you and that silly TV show LOST. More than 2 episodes in and BAM, everything gets too crazy and you have to start consuming your meals through straws, right? But newer cards like the Acekard 2i and the Supercard can handle those big mutha’ truckers. But don’t worry about it. If you fill up 2 gigs, you’re probably not playing most of the games that you have on there regularly.

    I’ve found that most online stores that sell flash carts will have the option to bundle your product with a Micro SD for a fairly reasonable price, but feel free to bargain hunt on Amazon.com, where 2 gig ones can run as cheap as $5. And who knows, you may already have a card that you use for your cell phone, as many folk do. That will work great.

    But even buying and putting the Micro SD in the cart won’t get you all the way to bliss. You need to download the firmware specific for most carts and put it on your Micro SD. It’s very unlikely that your Micro SD didn’t come with either an adapter to make it into a regular size SD card (which most computers have ports built in for) or a USB adapter. Even some flash carts come with a USB Micro SD reader (like the Supercard). But if you still don’t have a way to read and edit the files on the card. Get a tiny USB adapter for $0.98 and free shipping at Deal Extreme here:
    http://x.co/XAkg
    Now that everyone is prepped for file transferring, let’s get to it!
    PUTTING FILES ‘N FIRMWARE ON YOUR MICRO SD
    or
    DRAG AND DROP: CAN IT BE THAT SIMPLE?

    WARNING! Spoilers inside!

    GETTING SOME GAMES
    WARNING! Spoilers inside!

    BACKING UP YOUR DS GAMES
    or
    (SEMI) LEGALITY: MORALS ARE A PAIN IN THE BUTT

    WARNING! Spoilers inside!



    BONUS READING

    Not satisfied by my tutorial? Well, here’s some other stuff to entertain yourself with.
    WARNING! Spoilers inside!
    Last edited by sambskn, Dec 15, 2013


    • Newcomer

    sambskn New Member

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    Please tell me what you think of my entry. I sometimes have a tendency to write things that seem like they make sense, at least to me, when in fact they don't. If that is the case somewhere, please tell me so I can edit it. Thanks!
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    AlanJohn Fuck you and a happy new year! :3

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    Good idea.
    Off-topic: Is that a REAL white R4 DS you have there?
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    sambskn New Member

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    Thanks!

    I believe it's real. I got it waaaaaay back in the day. Works great.
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    Terminator02 ヽ( 。 ヮ゚)ノ

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    why would you make this just for DS phat/lite and shun the DSi?

    anyway, there's way too much "more on this later" in the How much will this magic device cost me? section

    and SDHC is secure digital high capacity

    for the dstwo the plugins are in the "_dstwoplug" folder, not "_dstwo"

    for the firmware spoiler you should indent the steps that are explaining the action like so
    i'm fairly certain only the original R4DS needs to be DLDI patched, the Acekard 2i and DSTwo auto-DLDI patch when you launch them
    • Newcomer

    sambskn New Member

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    Thanks for the tips. I've fixed (hopefully) all the problems now.

    This tutorial really isn't horribly predjudice towards the newer stuff, it's just written with the older models in mind, with the others are sort of just a bonus. I think most of these steps do accommodate readers interested in prepping and using flash carts with a newer system. Please point it out to me (and quick!) if you see otherwise.
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    freestile New Member

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    I think its a pretty good straight forward read. Figured I'd buy me an R4 DS Revolution
    since is was only like $2.90 with shipping and included box. Rock on man.
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    obaz New Member

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    a2ki+3in1 owner here. you know - I miss real time saves.
    so I have 3 option:
    1) supercard ds one.
    good
    cheap. good compatibility.
    bad
    do not work good with 3in1.
    2) supercard ds two
    good
    supermonster. even have emu.
    bad
    horrible batt life. expensive, in comparing to other. do not work good with 3 in 1.
    3) ez 5i
    good.
    work nice with 3in1. have real time saves
    bad
    I do not know nothing about this flashcard. is it have good compatibility? is it buggy ? is manufacture support good ?

    what should I choose ?
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    sambskn New Member

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    I think that I would go with the EZFlash 5i. I've heard good things about it and your 3in1 should work perfectly with it. But if you're willing to spend a little more cash, I would go with the DSTWO. Though I don't know how much you'd want a GBA emulator if you are using a DS compatible with the 3in1.
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    obaz New Member

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    I`m using ds lite (as it oblivious). and honestly I do not interested much in emulation, and not interested at all in homebrew.
    about ezflash 5 - I would like to see somewhere comparison between it and a2ki.
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    katrina0126 New Member

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    First,thanks for your review,it is really helpful,as for me the supercard DSTwo is my favourite flashcard for my DSi... [IMG]
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    Terminator02 ヽ( 。 ヮ゚)ノ

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    go with the acekard 2i, it has perfect ROM compatibility with AKAIO and more community support, while the ezflash 5i can't play some games (yet)
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    RchUncleSkeleton Skeletron 9000

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    Umm as far as I know the "Acekard Team" has nothing to do with AKAIO and it's actually developed by the AKAIO TEAM, which consists of FawkYew RTFM, Normmatt and Smiths. Other than that, you recommendations are pretty straight forward and what I would expect from the current lineup of flash cards available.
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    mhackat1 New Member

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    The post was very helpful and informative, though I have just one ?... Which Flash Cart would be sufficient for ereading on my DSlite. I want a good one, but it doesnt need to run ROMs or Homebrew games, just txt reading.

    Thank you,

    Misty [IMG]
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    obaz New Member

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    as for me - there is only 2 option for ds lite. acekard - cheap and effective, and dstwo - ubermonster with tons of stuff. both good with txt reading (I suggest IkuReader), and theoretically dstwo better in pdf support.
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    Terminator02 ヽ( 。 ヮ゚)ノ

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    for mhackat1, i'd recommend the Acekard 2i with AKAIO, and then get IkuReader for reading your junk
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    TNSweetPea New Member

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    Hi everyone. I have been reading the last little while and am still totall lost. Please forgive me if I am duplicating something. Here is my situation. My son has a DSi. He wants to play GBA games on it. Sounds plain and simple, right? Of course every website says something different and everyone has a different opinion. For this particular situation, what cart do I need? We have NEVER done any backups, roms, emulations or anything before, so you are talking to a country girl without a clue. [IMG] Thanks for anything you can do to assist. *SweetPea
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    alidsl I am now a lurker

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    To be honest right now the two best options are the DStwo and the Acekard 2i

    The choice is completely dependent on your budget, the DStwo can be found for about $35 and the Acekard is about half that.

    So in short: If you don't mind about spending money get the DStwo, If you want a cheaper cart get the Acekard 2i [IMG]
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    Thesolcity Wherever the light shines, it casts a shadow.

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    DSTWO plays GBA and NDS

    iPlayer plays only GBA and NDS Homebrew, NOT retail NDS games.

    I think the iEvolution plays GBA too but its the most expensive.

    ...Those are your options.
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    Ron It Begins

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    Hey, if you would add something about FlashcartHelper in your guide, I think that would be extremely useful to people reading it. It's a Program I wrote for Windows that setups your cart easily and quickly.

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