Review cover Gateway 3DS (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review

Product Information:

Review Approach:

As a 3DS enthusiast, I was intrigued by the Gateway 3DS (GW3DS). I was filled with anticipation before getting my hands on one. About a month before release, the GW3DS team published information that the GW3DS would only works on 3DS units with firmware 4.5 or earlier. My 3DS was updated to the latest firmware, which at the time was 5.1. Fortunately, I was able to pick up a 3DS XL with firmware 4.4.0 at a local store. To be sure the unit I bought would be compatible, I checked the manufacturing date. All new 3DS units made during 2012 or earlier will have a firmware lower than 5.0. With my compatibility problem remedied, I was eager to tackle the evaluation of the GW3DS - along with the 3DS game library I had already collected.
The Nintendo 3DS launched on March 27, 2011. Due to Nintendo's increased safeguards against piracy, it was speculated that it would be years before we would see a "hack" that would make it possible to play 3DS ROMs. Especially after Nintendo's response to Nintendo DS Flash Kit makers and manufacturers, this was to be expected. Finally, with the release of the Gateway 3DS, a new era of hacking has come.

 

Introduction

The GW3DS is the world's first 3DS mode Flash Kit and it allows the user to play 3DS ROMs. This is done by creating a stack smash in the 3DS' DS Profile. The stack smash then crashes 3DS mode, making the 3DS reboot, and from there allowing the GW3DS Flash Kit to boot. The GW3DS team has released a few updates for the GW3DS, which include bypassing region locking and the firmware update requirements of newer games. With this review I hope to answer a few questions the consumer might have while they consider buying a GW3DS Flash Kit. Will it live up to its expectations? Is it just a taste of what will come to the 3DS scene? Here is a look at the product that sets the bar for 3DS-mode Flash Kits.

Thanks must go out to the Gateway 3DS team, for not only supplying the review sample but for also providing various bits of information that made this review possible.

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A Brief History of 3DS Hacking

On December 17th, 2012 an image was posted on Twitter by reseller OzModChips that showed a 3DS with both of its screens fully illuminated. The text it displayed was a simple "WE HACKED IT!" message. The hack was confirmed by various scene members to be legitimate, members who included scene veterans Crediar, Neimod, and Yellows8. Yellows8 commented that the hack used a save game exploit, however the name of the game used was not published to protect the exploit from being patched by Nintendo. The exploit functioned in User Mode, so homebrew would be limited to using assets originally associated with the game the save exploit used. This means that there would be no ROM loading, which was a plus because many 3DS hackers are against piracy. Since this exploited seemed rather limited, there was no point in releasing it.

News of another exploit soon surfaced which reported that 3DS hacker Neimod had acquired full kernel control on an unmodified 3DS. The exploit was confirmed to use another savegame exploit of a 3DS game cartridge. This could have been any 3DS game cartridge released before the announcement, and the release date for the exploit is nonexistent, the reason being that it is easy for Nintendo to patch. 3DS hackers wanted to experiment with the exploit to preserve the vulnerabilities across upcoming system updates and patches. From then on 3DBrew.org has been continually updated with newly obtained information, which includes a list of working and failed attempts at exploiting the 3DS. This list further includes attempts at trying to crash the 3DS using the eShop games Pushmo/Pyramid by creating custom QR codes, and exploiting the 3DS through its Internet browser.

Moving forward, on May 30th, 2013 we get an announcement from the GW3DS Team that they have a working Flash Kit that plays 3DS ROMs. They also demonstrate the Flash Kit working, in the form of a video, where they show it loading games such as Luigi's Mansion. The exploit they found involves corrupting the 3DS' DS User Setting strings, making them too long, which leads to a crash in 3DS mode that occurs once you attempt to view the settings. Once the stack smash crashes the 3DS from the corrupt strings in the 3DS' DS Profile Settings, it turns to the SD card to read data. The GW3DS Team released a file called "launcher.dat" that goes on the 3DS' SD card. This file contains information the 3DS executes once the SD card read begins. Once the information is read by the 3DS it reboots into GW3DS mode which allows the GW3DS to function.

A History of the Gateway 3DS Team?

The GW3DS team first stepped in with their announcement of a Flash Kit that plays 3DS ROMs on May 30th, 2013 in a form of a teaser video. The video shows them inserting a microSD card into a 3DS game cartridge, and inserting it into a white 3DS XL. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon appears in the menu, and is launched. After loading a save and showing a brief cutscene, the GW3DS team exits to the home screen of the 3DS. Then they eject the first microSD card, and insert a different one into the GW3DS cartridge. This time once the 3DS game cartridge is inserted Resident Evil Revelations shows up in the menu. However, on boot it gives an error that the save data is corrupt, so a new save is created. The introduction to Revelations is shown, and the GW3DS team exits to the home screen once again. Now a third microSD card is placed into the GW3DS cartridge, and the game that appears in the 3DS menu is Super Mario 3D Land. Upon boot another save data is corrupt error appears, a save is created, and the initial cutscene to 3D Land is plays, ending the teaser video.

The initial community reaction to the GW3DS Team's teaser video was quite diverse. Part of the GBAtemp community was quite excited, and were in anticipation of the first 3DS Flash Kit to get into consumer hands. Other members of the GBAtemp community were against a 3DS Flash Kit appearing so soon in the 3DS' short life span. There arose a plateau of questions about the legitimacy and usage of the GW3DS Flash Kit. In the video, the GW3DS Team demonstrated that the GW3DS required games to be put on separate microSD cards, and that game saving was not functioning properly. In response, the GW3DS Team created a FAQ, to answer most of these questions. The FAQ confirmed the one game per microSD card limitation, its inability to play homebrew, that game saves were currently not working, and that the GW3DS would be available at the end of June. The FAQ created an even more diversified split on GBAtemp, each group with a different stance on the GW3DS Flash Kit. One side remained completely against it due to it being a device purely meant for piracy reasons, this due to the fact you cannot currently dump your own 3DS games and that the GW3DS team said it would not support homebrew. The other side, however, embraced the GW3DS perhaps for their want of free games. The end of June came with no word from the GW3DS team, this lead to suspicions of the GW3DS being fake. Finally, on the 11th of July the GW3DS Team posted an announcement that preorders were now open, and answered a few more questions in addition to giving some new information.

The GW3DS will launch working only on firmware 4.1-4.5, with plans to attempt an update to get it working on later 3DS firmware revisions. The GW3DS will ship with two Flash Kits. One is the red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit, which handles running 3DS ROMs and the other is a blue labeled DS Flash Kit that is used to install the GW3DS exploit, and play DS ROMs and homebrew. 

On the 18th day following the last GW3DS Team announcement, an update to the FAQ was published. This updates stated that the first GW3DS units were ready to ship, that the blue labeled DS Flash Kit runs homebrew as works on the 6.1 firmware, and that the GW3DS exploit installer only needs to be run once or each time you enter DS mode. The FAQ also informed customers that Animal Crossing: New Leaf would not function properly on the GW3DS due to its NAND based save chip. At this point members began to lose hope that the GW3DS would ever see release, but a day later the GW3DS sent out a widespread email that the GW3DS was on its way to reviewers. A few day later reviewers started to get their GW3DS samples, which gave hope to members who were once having doubts on the legitimacy of the GW3DS Flash Kit. 

The GW3DS units are still in transit to resellers in some parts of the world, while resellers closer to the GW3DS manufacturer have already received stock. The GW3DS Team has been busy supporting the product, and has recently posted another teaser video showing off firmware spoofing as well as region lock bypassing. Firmware spoofing is quite useful because newer 3DS games require you to update your 3DS to a higher firmware than the GW3DS supports. This means that firmware spoofing will allow gamers to play those games without the need for updating. Bypassing region lock will allow gamers to play any 3DS ROM, from any region, on any region-locked 3DS. The new update is currently in beta testing, and will be publicly released in the coming days. In the mean time, the GBAtemp community patiently awaits the arrival of the GW3DS to local resellers.

On August 21st the GW3DS team released an update to the GW3DS which includes the ability to play games from other regions as well as implementing a firmware spoofer that allows you to play newer games. The update is v1.1a, and now the GW3DS team is currently working on their goal of homebrew launching.

Packaging and Contents

     

   
Gateway 3DS red labeled Flash Kit PCB Photos courtesy of the GW3DS team

The GW3DS comes in a blue plastic box with the Gateway 3DS logo printed on the front atop a white background that fades into a deep blue color. The box design also incorporates lines that intersect each other. The back of the box is also blue, and has the RoHS compliance logo printed in the middle towards the bottom. The red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit is the same shape and size of a normal 3DS cartridge. It has a glossy red sticker on both the front and back of the unit, with a design similar to the box but instead of fading out to a deep blue it fades out to a rich red. The red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit also has teeth in front of the contacts in order to give them a bit of leverage between them and the 3DS itself. This prevents the GW3DS Flash Kit from having read issues, which is a major problem for some DS Flash Kits. In addition the microSD card slot is spring-loaded, which I consider a plus. The PCB board pictures supplied by the GW3DS team are green; however in person they seem to be a deep blue, which is similar to the plastic box design. As for the blue labeled DS Flash Kit that's included, it's the same shape and size as a normal DS game cartridge. Like the red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit, it also has a glossy sticker, however instead of red it's blue and takes after the GW3DS packaging. The blue labeled DS Flash Kit's shell is not held together by screws or glue, but by little plastic pegs. It has no teeth in front of the contacts, and the microSD card slot is not spring-loaded.

Design and Impressions

   

 

In my own personal opinion, considering the price of the GW3DS Flash Kit, the packaging could have been a bit nicer. Some of the DS mode Flash Kits, such as the iEvolution, come in metal tins, are packaged with a microSD card reader, and include instructions. Getting past the packaging and its lack of extras, the red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit itself has a nice quality build to it. The red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit is made of a nice durable plastic and has glossy stickers, which look like they could outlast typical wear and tear. Comparing the quality of the red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit to a retail 3DS game, I can not really distinguish one from the other besides the GW3DS having a slightly yellow tinge to it. Build-wise, the quality of the GW3DS is on par with that of an official Nintendo 3DS cartridge. Going onto the blue labeled DS Flash Kit, the bar was lowered in terms of quality. The plastic used in the shelling is a bit cheap which gives the cartridge a sort of slick feeling. Like the red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit, the blue labeled DS Flash Kit has a glossy sticker, however instead of fading out to a rich red it fades into a deep blue color. The shell is held together by plastic pegs one of which broke when I attempted to open it to take the PCB photos. Comparing it to an official Nintendo DS cartridge it's definitely of a lower quality.

I want to take the time to mention here that when you buy a GW3DS Flash Kit, that you are actually getting two Flash Kits for the price of one. One of them is for playing 3DS ROMs on your 3DS, and the other is a DS-Mode Flash Kit that supports DS ROMs and homebrew.

Set-up and Usage

The follwing is a collection of requirements:

2x microSD Cards: You can prepare, and use the GW3DS using one microSD card, however I recommend having two microSD cards. One that is at least 2 GBs in size to hold the blue labeled DS Flash Kit firmware, along with the GW3DS exploit installer. The other microSD card should be at least 16 GBs in size; due to the fact that the max size a 3DS ROM can be is 8 GBs. Currently, the largest sized ROM dumps are 4 GBs, meaning that you will need a microSD card larger than 4 GBs to get started. However a GBAtemp user by the name of 3DSGuy has created a tool that trims 3DS roms to a smaller size that would allow someone to make a 4 GB 3DS rom small enough to fit onto a 4 GB microSD card. His tool can be found in the download section below, and so far all the roms I've trimmed using it have worked fine.

A microSD Card Reader and SD card reader: Sadly, the GW3DS does not come with a microSD card reader. You will need one in order to drag/drop 3DS ROMs to the microSD card, as well as put the blue labeled DS Flash Kit kernel files onto the smaller 2 GB microSD card. The SD card reader is needed to copy the required “launcher.dat” file.

3DS unit on firmware v4.1-4.5: At the time of writing this review the GW3DS only supports 3DS/3DS XL units on firmware 4.1-4.5. If your 3DS is on a higher firmware then you'll have to wait for the GW3DS Team to release an update. If you are interested in purchasing a 3DS/3DS XL then the way to make sure you get a compatible unit is to check the back of the box to make sure it says "Trademark of Nintendo 2012". This ensures it will have a firmware GW3DS currently supports. The Pikachu 3DS XL, Black 3DS XL, and the Animal Crossing New Leaf 3DS XL, are units confirmed to have a firmware higher than 4.5. (For the US that is it in other regions the 3DS may come with a lower firmware and still be a special edition 3DS XL.) It's recommend that if your 3DS is lower than 4.5 that you find a retail game with the 4.5 update, and update that way. The GW3DS team has recommended not updating to 4.5 using the GW3DS.

1x SD Card (At least 2 GBs in size): All new 3DS units come with a 2 GB/4 GB SD card. A smaller SD card might work, but I have yet to try the exploit with one. This SD card is needed in order to store your games saves on, as well as to store the GW3DS required “launcher.dat” file.

Software Requirements

3DS ROMs (Do not ask for these here, we do not support hosting or sharing links to illegal content)

download.gif Win32 Disk Imager
download.gif GW Release zip file (Can't link this due to legal reasons.)
download.gif Mac OS 3DS Imaging Tool
download.gif 3DSGuy's Rom Tool & Instructions

 

3DS SD Card Set-up:

  

Assuming you've already downloaded the GW Release zip file, open it in a program such as Winrar or 7zip. This is shown above in the first image. This archive file contains everything you will need to setup the blue labeled GW3DS Flash Kit, and the SD card. Once you have opened it you are going to want to go into the "GW Release folder", in which you will find a file by the name of "launcher.dat". Extract that file to the SD card, and insert the SD card into your 3DS. The second image above shows this being done in the archival program, Winrar. Once that is completed you are finished with this part of the setup. The reason why we are putting the "launcher.dat" file onto the root of the SD card is because once the 3DS crashes from the corrupt strings in the DS Profile Settings, it turns to the SD card to read data. Once the information is read, the 3DS reboots into GW3DS mode which allows the red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit to function. So this is an essential step in setting up your GW3DS.

GW3DS Blue Labeled Flash Kit Set-up:

   

For this setup you must once again open the GW Release zip file you downloaded. Once opened, navigate to the "Blue Card (R4i)" folder, and extract all the folders/files in it to the root of your microSD card. Insert the microSD card into the blue labeled Flash Kit, and then insert the blue labeled Flash Kit into your 3DS. This Flash Kit should show up as a game in the 3DS' main menu, after which you should launch it. After it launches you will see an icon with the GW3DS logo called "GW Install", highlight it and press A. You will now boot into a screen that says "Press A to Install", and "Press B to Exit". Press A, and the GW Install homebrew application will begin exploiting your 3DS system. 

(NOTE: You can run the GWINSTALL file on any DS flashcart as long as it's supported by 3DS firmwares v4.1-4.5.)

    

What the GW Installer is doing right now is corrupting strings in the 3DS' DS User Settings in order to allow you to crash the 3DS in 3DS mode. This will then allow the exploit launcher to function. Once the installer is finished verifying that the 3DS was exploited successfully, you will press the A button once more to exit to the 3DS' main menu. Now, go into the 3DS' settings, and into the other settings option, then proceed to press the profile option, and lastly the option that says Nintendo DS Profile. Your 3DS will crash, reboot, and you will be in GW3DS mode. You must go back into the Nintendo DS Profile setting, and crash your 3DS every time you turn it off. You must also run the GW Install homebrew each time you use the 3DS' DS mode (ROMs, homebrew, etc), and do every step thereafter.

GW3DS Red Labeled Flash Kit Set-Up:

 

Now for the last steps to set-up your GW3DS to play 3DS ROMs. Assuming you have already downloaded the Win32 Disk Imager program, the next step is to navigate to your 3DS ROM collection. The 3DS ROMs have a file extension of .3DS. With the newest GW3DS update you can now flash any 3DS rom from any region onto the microSD card and have it play on any region 3DS system. With the microSD card plugged into your computer, start up the Win32 Disk Imager. This program is recommended to write the 3DS ROM to the microSD card. Once Win32 Disk Imager is loaded, be sure to check that your microSD card drive letter is selected, if it is not you may end up writing the ROM to another device.

     

Now click the folder icon in the Win32 Disk Imager program, and select your 3DS ROM. If you do not see your ROMs then you may need to change the file type to browse “All Files”. Once the 3DS ROM is selected, press the "Write" button. Click yes when it gives you a warning about corrupting the physical media. What you are doing right now is writing the 3DS ROM files to the microSD card, which will allows the 3DS to read the information off the microSD card using the GW3DS red labeled Flash Kit as if it was an actual 3DS cartridge. Wait for the ROM to finish being written to the microSD card, and then put the microSD card into the red labeled GW3DS Flash Kit. Finally, Insert the GW3DS red labeled Flash Kit into the 3DS. The game should appear in the menu as a normal game as long as you are in GW3DS mode. Press A on the game, and watch the ROM boot.

    

The game should play exactly like an original retail version, but initially you might see a longer boot time. This is due to the GW3DS searching the 3DS' SD card for a gamesave, if none is found it will create one on the GW3DS itself. In order to permanently save the game you must let the game save, press the Home button on the 3DS, and then press X to exit the game and A to confirm. This allows the GW3DS to transfer the save from the GW3DS to the 3DS' SD card. The saves are stored in .SAV format, so you can easily back them up to your computer by inserting the SD card into your computer and dragging the .SAV files from the root of the SD card to your computer. Enjoy your GW3DS.

Compatibility

   

   

All games were tested on a 32 GB Class-4 AData MicroSd Card. The card was properly formatted using the Panasonic SD Formatter.

Bit Trip Saga - PASS
Bust a Move Universe - PASS
Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion - PASS
Cave Story 3D - PASS
Code of Princess - PASS
Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic - PASS
Disney's Epic Mickey Power of Illusion - PASS
Donkey Kong: Country Returns - PASS
Dream Trigger 3D - PASS
Fire Emblem: Awakening - PASS
Kid Icarus: Uprising - PASS (The game kicked me back to the 3DS Main Menu once, but hasn't again so far. Thought I would note this.)
Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon - PASS
Mario Kart 7 - PASS
New Super Mario Bros 2 - PASS
Paper Mario Sticker Star - PASS
Pilot Wings Resort - PASS
Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask - PASS
Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure - PASS
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked - PASS
Super Mario 3D Land - PASS
Super Street Fighter: IV - PASS
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D - PASS 

The below roms are ones that I've tested on the latest v2.0 firmware, and are of a different region than my 3DS XL.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland 3D - PASS
Hatsune Miku and Future Stars: Project Mirai - PASS
Mario & Luigi Dream Team - PASS
Spirit Camera The Cursed Memoir - PASS
Taiko no Tatsujin: Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb - PASS

 

Tested ROMs performed perfectly. The only slowdown I experienced while using the GW3DS is when I'm booting up a ROM. There is a 1-2 second delay to allow the GW3DS to find the save, and then transfer it to the GW3DS' storage system. However, once the save is stored on the GW3DS there are no more slowdowns, which I found surprising considering that I thought the slower data transfer speeds from the microSD card - to the GW3DS Flash Kit - to the 3DS would show some other kind of slowdown. 

I tested a few games for which I would consider to require no slowdowns in order to function and play properly. Super Street Fighter IV performed just as well as the retail cartridge. I was able to fight in a tourney, and beat all of the CPUs. There weren't any slowdowns in cutscenes, boss animations, or during the animations at the end of each fight. I'm also happy to say Cooking Mama 4 performed excellently as well. I was able to perform all the steps needed in order to make the perfect steak without screwing up any of the steps. In Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure I was able to do the on screen controls while listening to the beat of the rhythms, which shows there aren't any sound syncing issues while using the GW3DS. In addition to sound I was able to complete a mission in Rhythm Thief that used the 3DS' gyroscope sensor. The 3D mode in all of these games functioned as they should, without giving me any issues.

As a sort of curiosity test, I tried to boot a DSi-Mode ROM using the GW3DS by changing the extension to .3DS. The ROM did not show up in the 3DS' menu at all, leading me to the conclusion that the GW3DS red labeled Flash Kit will only recognize actual 3DS ROMs.

The GW3DS is currently unable to use a 3DS game’s online features. Attempting to do so gave an error "002-0123", which Nintendo's website reports is due to the 3DS not being close enough to the access point. I found this extremely strange considering I was right in front of my router, and 3DS retail cartridges worked without issue on my spare 3DS. Perhaps this error is by design as the GW3DS Team recommends staying offline with the GW3DS. As do I considering that the longer your 3DS is online the higher chance there will be for it to download the latest update. Keep in mind that the 3DS will not auto-update, but it will continually prompt you to update once it has downloaded the update. 

 

Conclusion

The GW3DS is the world's first 3DS-Mode Flash Kit, that allows the user to play 3DS ROMs. So it basically is setting the bar for other 3DS Flash Kits, and from what the GW3DS team promises they seem to be raising it quite high. They are doing this by releasing new features such as bypassing region locking and the 3DS game update requirements. In terms of presentation, the GW3DS is lacking a bit by having a plastic box, no inserts, and the lack off a microSD card reader. In terms of build quality, the GW3DS is top notch, and is equal to official retail cartridges. The GW3DS is easy to set up and use, so even if you are new to the scene you will be able to get your GW3DS working in no time. All of the games I tested worked perfectly, without slowdowns or glitches. The GW3DS team is starting to gain respect, and merit for what they have managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time. With the release of the firmware spoofer, and bypassing the 3DS' region lock the GW3DS has gained a lot more interest from the 3DS community. At the start of the 3DS' life a large number of people refused to buy a system until there was some sort of hack, or Flash Kit out for it. I believe that now that the GW3DS exists, and that it's being supported by the GW3DS team, that we will see a surge in 3DS system sales in the upcoming month.

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • + Easy setup and use
  • + Ability to back-up save files
  • + Works with most games
  • + Local multiplayer works
  • +Region free
  • +Firmware spoofer
  • +emuNAND
  • +Multirom
What We Didn't Like ...
  • - No online gameplay
  • - No homebrew (yet)
  • - Requires a 3DS on older firmware
8.5
out of 10

Overall

Overall the GW3DS has a fantastic build quality, works as intended, and is receiving great support from the GW3DS Team. With the only downfalls being ones that were either stated by the GW3DS beforehand or ones they're currently working on fixing. They're a small price to pay for access to almost the entire 3DS' game library.
As much as I am against the idea of pirating 3DS roms, I might actually pick one of these up for my collection. It looks like a pretty nice piece of hardware.
 
Great review Devin!
Personally ima hold off on this cart for now and wait for a better solution and to see how Ninty reacts!
 
Excellent review, keep it up! I definitely want to get one myself, but I can't since I goofed up by updating my 3DS' firmware :rofl2:
 
The Pikachu 3DS XL, Black 3DS XL, and the Animal Crossing New Leaf 3DS XL, are units confirmed to have a firmware higher than 4.5
That's only true for the US Black 3DS XL. My German one came with 4.5
 
This review in no way, shape, or form makes me want to buy a Gateway. Because I have wanted to buy one ever since you gave your first little okay on the forums. Thanks for all of the great work, Devin and Another World!
 
Thanks for all the help/corrections guys. I'll edit the review in a bit with the corrections.
 
Like WOAH...just finished reading the review !! This is quite the large step...I will surely look into investing in one around october ^_^"
 
Hey Devin,when you say there is no homebrew support yet,
are you saying it is possible? or you simply don't know if it is feasible?

Have you tested any MicroSDXC? Do you know if they are compatible?
Have you tested if the loading times vary according to different read/write speeds from different SD cards?

Thanks for the great review, I'll consider in buying one Gateway when it starts supporting firmware 6.2 and bypassing region-lock
 
It would be nice if there was a comparison in load times, I wonder how if a class 10 or faster microSD will be even faster than a regular cartridge. Gateway has said in an e-mail that Download Play works but have you tested it yourself?
 
@VMM At this point in time homebrew is not available. The team did mention on the 13th that they were going to begin plans for homebrew support at a later date.
 
@VMM The GW3DS team said they're working on homebrew support. The only microSD cards I had on hand are a Chinese unbranded class-4, and Adata 32GB class-4 microSD card. With their recent release of the beta which I'll add onto the review at a later it's looking promising in them keeping their promises but only time will tell.

@redkeyboard I was unaware 3DS games had download play, I'll look into it.

@YottaByte The information I laid out is enough to make ones own basis. I'm not here to say "Buy this", or "Don't buy this" but to lay down the facts, and add a dash of opinion. Of which I say if you've got a 3DS on a firmware lower than 4.5, and don't care about eShop/Online then go for it. With the entire 3DS game library to play you can't really go wrong.

@Ryukouki Thanks.
 
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Just curious, why is it that ROMs require an SD card bigger than the actual ROM size? Is it overhead from the file system or something along those lines?
 
Could you post a screencap of the DS interface? I'm curious to see how it compares to that of an acekard (in terms of features). Also what does " No automatic saving, requires you to quit game to home menu" mean? If a pop up windows appears in a game asking me to save will the system not be able to do so?
 
@ViRGE most microSD makers use the base 10 version of a gigabyte to define the capacity while ROMs will be using base 2 version of a gigabyte. Windows 7 will show the ROM size as a base 2 defined gigabyte.

base 10 of 1K is 10^3 = 1000
base 2 of 1K is 2^10 = 1024

you lose a lot of bits and bytes when your dealing with gigabytes.
 
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Great review, though you have mentioned about ROM trimming and updating the 3ds through ROMs that would have helped a lot of people.
 
Great review Devin, like always your review was very in-depth and covers almost each and every aspect of the gw3ds. My minds now clear thanks to you. :)
 
Only a few seconds longer to load? Not a very big problem at all!

Thanks for the review, the good and bad points are (to my opinion) presented well and fairly! ^^
 
Finally.....a flashcart review, like the good old times here at GBAtemp !
I miss those times when we had new hardware reviews every week and the game releases were posted on the portal......
Sigh......

Anyway, I must concur that this is one of the best review I've seen on GBAtemp from all the eight years I've been lurking around.
Or was I just thirsty ? ;)
Congratulation Devin and Another World.
 
Very nice review, I just ordered a new 3DSXL, a gateway and a 32GB Class 10 MicroSD, just incase future games require a higher read speed.
 
Lovely review. Would however like to know more about multiplayer why does it not work, what happens when you try, can you even try and connect to your home wifi in gateway mode? Games like Pokemon black 2 play on current flash cards in DS mode only so they only support WEP / No security on WIFI, does the gateway mode allow you to play these in a mode where WPA2 is available? That sort of thing.

But yeah fantastic review thanks :)

p.s. i wont be buying one, not that anyone cares its just i only have 2 games i wish to play on the 3DS and there cost would be same as the gateway card.
 
Quite frankly the very best review regarding all the information about Gateway if I do say so myself. Congratulations.
 
@MrAnalysis

I cover a few of those points in the review. :)

"The GW3DS is currently unable to use a 3DS game’s online features. Attempting to do so gave an error "002-0123", which Nintendo's website reports is due to the 3DS not being close enough to the access point."

The 3DS is able to connect with retail games just fine when you restart the 3DS. However trying to play online multiplayer games with roms gives you an error. All other online functionality works.
 
^It wasn't recommended by the GW3DS Team but members on here have updated their 3DS' using the GW3DS flash kit itself. Just be sure to put a rom with 4.5 on it. (Luigi's Mansion, Lego City Undercover, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, and Donkey Kong Returns all have the 4.5 firmware on them.)
 
Now when this awesomness is released, we should also hope for launching different regions and firmware spoofing with original cartridges as well :)
 
...nice review! Besides the fact it's a 3DS flashcart, the region-lock bypass is easily one of the most important features. Let's just wait and see what the Gateway Team will show up in the future...
 
Devin i saw you teased me with a screen of Dragon Quest Terry's Wonderland... Did it pass the region test?
 
"^It wasn't recommended by the GW3DS Team but members on here have updated their 3DS' using the GW3DS flash kit itself. Just be sure to put a rom with 4.5 on it"

I assume you have to be on at least 4.1 to do that?
 
Yeah, having the photos would be nice (upload to imgur instead of photobucket), but other than that I thought it was a very good review.

I'm probably going to wait for the second generation of 3DS carts to get one. Maybe.
 
hello everybody, thanks for the work devin i just want to notice that it should be useful to emphasize about some facts: ***the hack manipulation must be perform everytime the 3DS is shutdown ***once hacked the 3DS can only reconize 1 game permicroSD card whatever memory size and 3DS roms are on the microSDcard i dont wanna look ungrateful, but there is still a lot to do however thanks to the gateway team
 
my question,
will this review be updated when the region fix is released by gateway? they already showed us a video about it, about Hatsune Miku Project Mirai being playable on an US 3DS.
and if so , will there be more games tested?
from the looks of it, it doesn't seem all that user-friendly to set-up.

but anyway, A nice and elaborated review like we always have on gbatemp.
 
Awesowe review! I'd like to give up four thumbs for this review! :yaynds:
By the way, can I use it as my reference for my article about Gateway 3DS? Thank you before :)
 
I have a few questions,
1) So if I was to buy a 3DS (or XL) now, it might not be updated to the latest firmware but it is probably going to be?

2) Also, are they constantly releasing kernel updates for the GW3DS (to make it work with a newer 3DS firmware) like they do with other flashcarts? How long does it usually take before they release a new one?

3) When you said "(NOTE: You can run the GWINSTALL file on any DS flashcart as long as it's supported by 3DS firmwares v4.1-4.5.)", does this mean, if I get the R4i A+, (you can see that here)
1.jpg


and put the extracted contents of the "Blue Card (R4i) folder" onto the root of the microSD card. Then put the microSD card into the R4i A+ and ran GWINSTALL, I would be able to play 3DS ROMs with this flashcart now? Or would this flashcart always be able to play 3DS ROMs, even without doing all that?

4) When you say no online gameplay but Local Multiplayer works, does this mean in Pokemon for example, I would be able to battle against my friend who is in the same room as me but not use the WiFi and battle a random person who is in a completely different country?
 
1. If you're buying the 3DS XL new then you'll want to find one that was made in 2012. (Says it on the back of the box.) Since the 5.0 firmware was released in 2013 those 3DS' will be on 4.5 or earlier.

2. It's not as easy as DS flashcarts and we aren't sure if they're going to be able to update it to work with newer 3DS firmwares. We just have to wait and see.

3. That's not the case. The GWINSTALL file installs the exploit but the GW3DS hardware is still needed. You can run the GWINSTALL homebrew on any flashcart that works on 3DS firmwares 4.1-4.5. So if you were to lose the Blue DS flashcart included with the GW3DS bundle you can just get any other flashcart and install the exploit.

4. That's correct. Local multiplayer works fine but online multplayer does not. So you and your friend could play if you're in the same room but you can't play online against someone in a different country.
 
"You must go back into the Nintendo DS Profile setting, and crash your 3DS every time you turn it off. You must also run the GW Install homebrew each time you use the 3DS' DS mode (ROMs, homebrew, etc), and do every step thereafter." After turning the 3DS off after succesfully doing it the first time, when you want to use the 3DS' DS mode, do you open up the game in the main menu first, then go to GWINSTALL and then go to the Nintendo DS Profile setting? Is that the correct order to do it?

On the GW3DS website, under the downloads tab, there are 2 things called:
GW3DS SD IMAGER for OSX version 1.5
GW_testrom.3ds - Hardware Diagnostics and SPI rese
  • What do these 2 things do/what are they for?
 
If you want to use the 3DS' DS mode just play a DS game/use a DS flashcart on the 3DS. What I meant is;

If you simply turned off the 3DS in order to get back into the GW3DS mode you'll need to just go into the 3DS settings the next time you turn on the 3DS and go to the Nintendo DS Profile setting. No need to rerun the GWINSTALL homebrew.

If you played a DS game or used a DS flashcart then you must rerun the GWINSTALL homebrew. Running anything in DS mode when you've already installed the GWINSTALL homebrew cancels it out. You do not need to run the GWINSTALL homebrew in order to play DS games/roms.

The GW3DS SD Imager is a rom flashing tool for OSX.
The GW_testrom.3ds is an image you flash to a micro SD card that in conjunction with the GW3DS diagnostic tool allows you to see if your Micro SD card/GW3DS is performing properly.
 
1. What exactly is the 3DS' DS mode/what do you mean by it? Is it just playing games/ROM's that aren't 3DS games/ROMs?

2. So in order to play 3DS ROMs after setting it up the first time, you must go to the Nintendo DS Profile Setting to enter GW3DS Mode first. Then you can run the 3DS ROMs?

3. After the 3DS enters GW3DS mode, if you just leave the 3DS on, you will be able to play as many 3DS ROMs as you want (until you play a DS ROM/game or turn off the 3DS). Is this right? And if you played a DS ROM (probably with the Blue Flashcart) after playing a 3DS ROM then you must run GWINSTALL then go to Nintendo DS Profile Setting in order to play another 3DS ROM?

4. So you should always have the SD Card in the 3DS so you can run GWINSTALL again if you wanted to play a 3DS ROM after playing a DS ROM? And you must always have the SD Card in the 3DS at all times so that the games can save there (creating new saves or overwriting saves)?

5. Also, you said if the game cannot find a gamesave on the SD Card, it will create a new save file on the GW3DS. Does this mean it saves to the microSD card that is in the GW3DS or the actual card itself? Does this mean you can just have all your save files on the GW3DS/microSD card in the GW3DS instead of storing all of them on the SD Card?

6. Lastly, the GW_testrom.3ds and GW3DS SD IMAGER for OSX version 1.5 aren't necessary for setup or playing of any ROMs using GW3DS. Right?
 
1. Playing DS games/roms/homebrew.

2. Correct.

3. Exactly.

4. The GWINSTALL file is placed on a mSD card and ran using the blue flashcart. So the 3DS' normal SD card has nothing to do with the GWINSTALL homebrew. However you must put a file on the 3DS' SD card as well to run the exploit. (By run the exploit I mean go into GW3DS mode.) So yes you need a SD card in the 3DS in order to load the exploit and for games to save to.

5. It stores it on the GW3DS' save chip. However you can only store one 3DS save at a time. If you play a new game with the old game's save still on the GW3DS it'll be deleted. (But again like I said you need a SD card in the 3DS to even get into GW3DS mode.)

6. GW_testrom.3ds isn't necessary and GW3DS SD Imager for OSX is only needed if you're running OSX.
 
So when it stores a save file on the save chip/SD card, is that only for when you play 3DS ROMs? If I only play one 3DS ROM and let it save to the GW3DS save chip (and not the SD Card), will I be able to use the play the game without the save file deleting (and when I play again, I can continue where I left off if I don't change play a different ROM)?
 
When looking for 3DS's, on the side of the box of a black colored 3DS, it has the Copyright symbol and then it says Nintendo 2012 (or 2012 Nintendo, I don't remember). Does this mean that this will have firmware 4.5 or lower?

So the Blue Flashcart isn't really needed? I can just use the R4i A+ (supports 3DS 6.1) put all the contents from the Blue Card (R4i) folder onto a microSD card and put that in a R4i A+. Then I could also put DS ROMs on that mircoSD card and play them. But whenever I wanted to play a 3DS ROM, I must run the GWINSTALL from the R4i A+, then go to Nintendo DS Profile Setting. Then put microSD card with a 3DS ROM in Red Flashcart and play it like a normal DS ROM?

Furthermore, so currently, you must use 1 mircoSD card per 3DS ROM? Even if a 3DS ROM is 4GB and you put it on a 16GB mircoSD, then you wanted to have another 3DS ROM that is 4GB, you must put it on a different mircoSD? Do you think they might allow multiple 3DS ROMs per mircoSD in Gateway 3DS 2.0?
 
I'm not sure if it's saved if you turn on the 3DS but again there's no point to not having a SD card in the 3DS for the saves to go to. As a SD card is required to even load the exploit.

Yes if it has the Nintendo Copyright 2012 and it's new the 3DS will have firmware less than 5.0.

The blue flashcart isn't needed if you have another DS flashcart. Just get the proper kernal files for your R4i A+ and throw them onto a microSD card. (The only thing you need from the Blue R4i Folder is the GWINSTALL.nds file.) Load the GWINSTALL homebrew using the R4i + then go to Nintendo DS Profile Setting. The 3DS game flashed to the microSD card will then show up in the 3DS' menu and you can play it.

That's correct and as for the 2.0 update I believe the GW3DS team will have more in store than a rom selector.
 
So I can buy the 3DS and it should work with the the Gateway 3DS. If you still have the box from when/ if you bought a 3DS/3DS XL made in 2012, does it say: (C) Nintendo 2012? If possible, can you maybe take a picture of the box?
Also, what do you mean when you say, if it's the new 3DS?

So the blue flashcart functions just like a regular DS flashcart? And when you say get the proper kernel, does it mean go to the website, download kernel and extract that to root of microSD (for this, folders extracted would be: _rpg, moonshl2, _DSMENU.DAT, moonshl2.nds)?

Can you put multiple DS ROMs on 1 microSD for other DS flashcart (or for the blue flashcart)? Will the save files for those DS ROMs go on the microSD card or on the SD card?

When you said "go to Nintendo DS Profile Setting. The 3DS game flashed to the microSD card will then show up in the 3DS' menu and you can play it." You meant switch the R4i A+ (or the Blue Flashcart) flashcart, and put a microSD in the red flashcart and then put that in the 3DS to play the 3DS game. Right?
 
Hi probably a pretty dumb question but my 3ds firmware is 4.5.0.1 is this low enough? I keep seeing firmware 4.5 and lower so I was not sure if my 4.5.0.1 firmware is low enough. please somebody tell me whether or not this firmware is low enough
 
That's correct and by new I meant never been opened. If it hasn't been opened and has (c) Nintendo 2012 it'll have a firmware less than 5.0.

Exactly. Then just get the GWINSTALL.nds file from the Blue R4i folder throw it on the mSD card with the kernel.

Yes it works like a normal DS flashcart. Multiple games can be on the blue flashcart mSD and the save files are saved to the mSD.

And yes that's right.

4.5.0.1 is low enough to work with the GW3DS. (It's actually the last firmware the GW3DS works on. Only the first 2 digits being 4.5 matter.)
 
No problem and thanks.

Yes currently you can only have one 3DS game on a mSD card at a time.
 
Sorry but it's too much trouble to set up and well, it would take a while to download and load the rom on just one microSD card. I think I'll wait until a better alternative comes out like buying the games I want to and not fooling with games from Japan for a while. Also, I feel that paying over $100 for this is not worth it.
 
What is OSX and why would you need to run it for this?

So for the microSD for the red flashcart, you only need to put the 3DS ROM on it? Nothing else?

"I believe the GW3DS team will have more in store than a rom selector." So you're saying you think that they will probably have a rom selector and much more? Did they announce that they will have that?
 
Some of this stuff you could easily Google you know.

OSX is the OS for Mac computers made by Apple.

Correct. You flash it using the Win32DiskImager program to the microSD card.

In their announcement they listed that the next update is going to be a major revolution. In my opinion that means more than just a rom selector. Something better than a rom selector. We'll have to see. As for announced features the only confirmed ones are NAND backup, 3DS game backup, UI and on screen diagnostics.
 
Also, is there any way to use AR Codes/cheats like putting a CHEAT.DAT file, usrcheat.dat file, etc. for the Red Flashcart? You can put usrcheat.dat files on the blue flashcart, right?
 
Thanks for a really good review.
I noticed that in some of the comments it's recommended to buy a box with copyright 2012 or earlier that way you get a version <= 4.5 .
That is not always true, there are boxes with (c) 2012 that have a higher version. The best indication is the serial number.
There is a good thread about it on this forum (I used it before buying so please search it before buying).
It seems the three big reasons:
1. Many are produced later but still using the old box.
2. Refurbished/Serviced units are sold with a later version
3. Exchange policy, customers that buy and try (upgrading via game or internet) and return it to the store.

An other big problem is the lack of multi rom support.
So with one microSD per game it's not like a DS card (I only have DSTWO) where it's easy and inexpencive to have many games on the same card.
Gateway promis that it will come in there version 2.0 but it's still not released and it might never be.
But there is hope since MT card have multi rom support on the same microsd (but not much else).
Gateway say they are optimising and tuning it but no videos releases.
They have however released a video of automatic save and support for Pokemon (nand based save).
Once the 2.0 if it contains multirom and nand based save are out and the clones like R4iDS will be just as good from a consumer perspective.

If anyone wants to know more about the gateway hack the "3DS Toolkit" on firecewaffle is a really good site with good links:
http://www.fiercewaffle.com/softwareArticle.php?id=10

And as a final note as gateway says: Support the innovators, not the imitators.
The way I see it the real innovators are supported by buying original games, so atleast buy your favorit games...
(Yes, I know they mean the flashcards, but since this is not a homebrew card the main content is games)


Thanks again for a good review :)

Cheers, Niklas
 
If someone only reads the review and nothing else I recommend not using the 2.0b2 right now 1.2 is safe and probably 2.0b1 but b1 has a savegame bug.
Right now both clones and original gateway are bricked for using 2.02b or on clones the copy of it.
When you read this things might be very different so please first read a little bit in other parts of the forum: http://gbatemp.net/forums/3ds-hacking-homebrew.201/
Unless there is an update to the original review at a date later than this comment...

That being said: I would not buy a 3ds flashcard right now. It's better to wait a bit to see if there are brick code (or brick for other reasons in the final 2.0)...
The development of the MT-card is also worth following (but currently they only have multirom and they pictures indicates low build quality),
so here I would wait for more of the minimum requirements and a review of it after that. I wouldn't buy the clones since they copy/paste only.
(But if there is brick code in the final 2.0 aswell the clones might become the safer option and in that case even the clones would be an option).
Given the above I can only recommend not buying any 3ds flashcard right now....

I only have Gateway original and DSTWO and have never tested the clones or the MT-cards.
With the exception of the current situation with 3ds brickings to the left and right I'm really happy with my gateway card...
 
Where can I get firmware 1.2? (Not the DSTWO patch available on the "downloads" tab on gbatemp, I want the original zip intended for use with the GW blue and red cards.)

I'm just not able to find it anywhere, if someone could pm me a link (if allowed) or something I'd be very grateful. I found one version, but only encountered errors when trying to unzip so it must be a corrupt zip-file.
 
Due to a DMCA notice given to this site we are actually not allowed to link that information as per your request.
 
You should probably take down, or at least alter the warning now that Omega firmware is out.
 
Great review, loved it. Just wanted to mention that my USA pikachu 3ds xl has firmware 4.5, which is what I'm using to run my gateway 3ds. Which means there are at least a few batches of the pikachu 3ds that are 4.5.
 
I am light years away from my former pirate self. Stuff like this is truly informative. Thanks guise!
 
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