DS-Link Review

Discussion in 'NDS - Flashcarts and Accessories' started by DeVS, Sep 2, 2006.

Sep 2, 2006

DS-Link Review by DeVS at 3:10 AM (9,032 Views / 0 Likes) 79 replies

  1. DeVS
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    Newcomer DeVS Advanced Member

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    DS-Link Review
    By: DeVS

    Part 01: What Is It And What Do You Get?

    The DS-Link is the first commercially available DS Slot 1 loading mod for the Nintendo DS that allows the use of swapable flash memory. The unit uses MicroSD cards for storage. With their rom patching software you can play DS games and run homebrew. Unfortunately it does not allow the running of GBA games.

    When you order the DS-Link, you will receive a professional looking box and inside the box is another box made from tin.

    [​IMG]

    Once you open the tin you notice that the unit comes with 1: Ds-Link mod cart, 1: USB SD card reader and 1: Mini cd with the DS-Links software. All of the cans contents are nicely secured inside a foam casing.

    Part 02: Size And Build

    [​IMG]

    The DS-Link itself is nice and small, and is built very well . I was surprised at how thick the plastic was considering they were able to squeeze a microSD card reader into the unit. The DS-Link is the exact same size as a commercial DS rom or a passme 3rd gen device like the Superkey.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The DS-Links slides in and out of the DS Slot 1 perfectly. There are no catches and the unit doesn’t give you the feel of having to force it on or out of the DS. Once inserted the unit does not have any over hang or sticking out of the DS so it is undetectable visually to others.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Part 03: Software

    I will start with the pc side of the software. The DS-Link comes with a mini CD with the rom patching software. Once you pop the disc in you will immediately notice that the software’s install is not in English. I assume it’s in Chinese. You can easily install the software as it’s not hard to figure out what to click to get it to install. Once the software is installed you have the option of choosing English as the language which was a pleasant surprise. The software itself is VERY straight forward. You have no settings or choices for patching the roms. The only option you actually do have is the language option. You point the rom patcher to the location of your microSD card connected to your pc then you choose “add” and pick the rom you want to add to the microSD. The rom patching software patches the roms and transfers the patched roms to the microSD card automatically. That is all that is involved in getting your roms patched and loaded.

    [​IMG]

    Once you have all your roms on your card your ready to load it up and take it for a spin. In order to use the DS-Link your DS must be either flashed with flashme as the unit doesn’t not have the passme software/hardware built into it or do a swap type trick with a Mk4 Mini where you boot the DS with the Mk4 Mini inserted and then swap it out for the DS-Link. When you turn on your DS you will immediately notice the beautiful OS. The DS-Link’s OS rivals that of the G6 Lite. On the top screen there is the DS-Link logo and on the bottom screen are all your roms listed including a nice little icon next to each rom with a pic from that game (just like the G6 Lite). One odd draw back I noticed was that even though the bottom screen was where the roms were listed, you are not able to use the touch screen to scroll through or launch a rom, this must be done with the D pad and the A button. Seems like a draw back that could be fixed with a firmware update in the future though. The unit will go into sleep mode if you close the DS lid while playing a game and resume when you open the DS lid which was also another pleasant surprise.

    [​IMG]

    Part 04: DS & GBA Performance

    I had read some other people’s initial impressions of the DS-Link and I must admit I did not like what I read. All my concerns were put to rest QUICKLY. To get the obvious out of the way, the DS-Link does not support GBA games. It does support GBA cart linking so if you have the rumble pack or Opera browser ram pack you would be able to link up with them (I have neither so I could not test this function). On the DS game side of things the DS-Link owns all other mod carts. I was disappointed that the unit still required the patching of roms but it is a small price to pay for the amazing DS rom support. The DS-Link played every DS rom I threw at it with no slow downs at all. Castlevania, Animal Crossing, Metroid Prime Hunter, and The Rub Rabbits all played at full speed in game and full speed movie intros. I did not notice a single hiccup in video or audio. The DS-Link was also able to play all the new games like Star Fox and Mario Basketball 3 on 3 with no problems. One game that worked for the first ever for me was Ultimate Spiderman. Until now I had never gotten this game to work with any of the GBA mod carts as it would instantly freeze at the beginning of the first level. I was able to play through the 1st level and beyond with the DS-Link. Now the game New Super Mario Bro's did bring up and odd occurrence. The game itself works perfectly but for some reason the Mini Games do not. Not sure why but when I go to launch the Mini Games the DS screens go black and the unit freezes. Again the game itself works perfectly just the Mini Games do not at this point. I can’t say that it has 100% compatibility because I’m not about to go through 100 something games, but I can say it worked flawlessly with all the new games and all the games that give GBA mod carts “trouble”. I was able to connect and play online with Mario Kart, Tetris, Metroid Prime Hunters, and Star Fox with no problems. I was also able to start and play a “DS Download Play” between my DS-Link DS and another DS Lite. Wireless multiplayer between the DS Lite with the DS-Link and a DS Lite with a Supercard and M3 both worked also.

    Part 05: Homebrew Performance

    Homebrew was hit or miss. I will just quickly go through what I tested and let you know what did and did not work for me.

    WORKING:
    Moonshell
    BeUP
    NDSMail
    MegaETK (non fat version)

    NON-WORKING:
    DsOrganize (tested all versions, grey,green,blue)
    DoomDS (froze after the “survived graphic int”
    ScummVM (loads then gives a zip not found error)
    SnezziDS (black screens when choosen to load)
    Lupins Zelda Platformer
    DSAim
    PicoDriveDS

    Looks like homebrew compatibility is hit or miss at the moment but I was pleased at the amount of homebrew that already works. Seeing at how much homebrew currently does work im sure it wont take much to get the others working as well once the DS-Link has sometime to get out in the hands of the developers.

    Overview

    The DS-Link is the first DS Slot 1 mod available on the market today to use microSD or any type of removeable flash media.. No doubt others will come ( DS-Xtreme’s launch is knocking on the door and M3 already announced a version). If this is the DS Slot 1 mod you choose to go with you wont be disappointed at all. There is no English support web site but the Chinese web site easily translates with Google Translate and is easy to navigate once that is done. The DS-Links pc and DS OS software is all in English so there is no hassle there either. It would appear that the DS- Link is currently the king of the mountain when it comes to DS rom support and even though you still must patch roms, by now were all used to it and it’s a small price to pay for the amazing DS compatibility.

    Pros:
    Amazing OS W/ Ability To Change Skin Colors
    Amazing DS Game Compatibility
    Cheap Price
    Use Of MicroSD Lets You Expand It’s Storage
    Sleep Mode Works
    Wifi Works
    Slot 1 Mod Leaves Slot 2 Open For Things Like Rumble Pack & Opera Ram Cart


    Cons:
    No GBA Support ( Hard to call it a “con” as slot 1 is the future and that means GBA play will have to come from an emu)
    No Passme Built In Which Requires Either The DS To Be Flashed Or To Do A "Swap Trick" With The MK4 Mini
    Still Have To Patch Roms
    Only About Half Of Tested Homebrew Works
     


  2. lookout

    Member lookout GBAtemp Board Room

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    Thank DeVS! you the frist one to post a review of DSlink excellent info
    and welcome to GBAtemp it your frist post as well good start!
     
  3. lookout

    Member lookout GBAtemp Board Room

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    could you try 0506 Nintendo DS Browser dose this work? if so might get one too!
     
  4. ron555

    Member ron555 GBAtemp Fan

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    God damn that looks beautiful.

    I just ordered my Supercard, but I may sell it for this.


    WHERE DID YOU BUY THIS FROM!?!
     
  5. DeVS
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    Newcomer DeVS Advanced Member

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    I dont have the ram expansion pack but I tired it anyway. You get the Opera logo and it goes into the browser but then a warning comes up in japanese and only gives you one option which is to turn off the system.

    Ron55 I got it directly from the DS-Link team.
     
  6. Vulpix

    Vulpix Newbie

    With the expansion ram pack, it works. Tried it out and proof is also in the yyjoy forums.
     
  7. Vulpix

    Vulpix Newbie

    You can buy it from psxbox.net
     
  8. neojei

    Member neojei GBAtemp Regular

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    A flashed DS isn't required from what was translated on the chinese review. You could use an MK4 series passkey to boot the DS up then swap. I think the con should be edited to "Need to swap between passkey and DS-Link in order to work for nonflashed DSes." It's great to hear theres no slowdown when you played the DS games, its so tempting to get right now. And you're right about the GBA not being a con, an emulator should pop up eventually since the DS is the future, and from the looks of it, the GB series won't be reincarnated again from other reports due to the DS's success.
    Just a question, does this work with the homebrew AIM and Picodrive? Those are the only ones im really eyeing right now. Thanks [​IMG]
     
  9. lookout

    Member lookout GBAtemp Board Room

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    Thank just order one! it very cheap! £25.38 + air shipping to uk
    now need to flash my DS [​IMG]

    and thank to DeVS Review i sure it 99% compatibility ds roms + nice interface of OS.
    I already got a F2A GBA cart and it hardly good game on GBA.
     
  10. go185

    Member go185 GBAtemp Regular

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    Great review, but I need to correct something.

    The Ultra Flash Pass and Ninjapass were the first commercially available DS Slot 1 loading mods, not DS Link.

    I think you just convinced me to get a DSLink, looks great!
     
  11. DeVS
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    Newcomer DeVS Advanced Member

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    Sorry niether worked.
     
  12. NeXsus

    Newcomer NeXsus Member

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    what I would love is having a supercard lite in the gba port and the ds link in the top, I would really love to have two flash carts and like 4 gigs of micro sd

    What happens if you boot holding select to bypass flashme and try to load the ds link from the menu?
     
  13. DeVS
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    Newcomer DeVS Advanced Member

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    I tried the DS-Link in a non flashed DS Lite and it just goes to the normal DS boot up area where pictochat is and the DS-Link is not listed as something in the DS slot. I also made the changes that a couple of people suggested (IE: not the first slot 1 but first slot 1 to use removeable media, the swap trick with the Mk4 Mini and added PicoDriveDS and DSAim as homebrew that doesn't work). I also added a new pic showing the back of the DS-Link so you can see what it looks like with the microSD card inserted. Thanks for the suggestions guy I apreciate it.
     
  14. neojei

    Member neojei GBAtemp Regular

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    Man DeVS good review, made changes fast to it, heh. Ususlly when I see people requesting for things from the reviewer takes forever to get noticed, heh. Anywas assuming it works with the MK4-mini it is like 100% sure it should work with the MK4-key shouldn't it? I don't have any flash carts yet, nor have any real experience with any, just basing this off from what I've researched on the topic. I so hope DSAim and PicoDriveDS work soon. Thanks again for the review. so close to being convinced, but M3 just had to stick their nose into slot 1 with passme built in, lol.
     
  15. DeVS
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    Newcomer DeVS Advanced Member

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    Ya tell me about it. It was easier when the M3 was clearly ahead of the crowd, but now with all these great devices coming out, it's hard to decide which to get. I have pretty much every device (excpet a Ninjapass and Mk4) and I can say that this DS-Link took me by suprise with how good it is. If it could play GBA it would have forced me to pop out my G6 Lite and switch for good (now I will just carry both,lol). And thanks for the kind words. I do these review to hopefuly help others get a clear picture of what a mod looks like and how it works in actual REAL use so they can decide if it is worth there hard earned money or not.
     
  16. forkyfork

    Member forkyfork GBAtemp Regular

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    That's good to hear about everything working with the dslink. I read somewhere that a lot of games have slowdown issues. I remember in particular someone said that the minigames in NSMB did not work. Can you verify that they do? Thank you.
     
  17. neojei

    Member neojei GBAtemp Regular

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    Heh np. I think one big question now thats left is battery life. How dramatic is the battery life compare to the standard gba flash carts? If its great, I might actually get this, its pretty sexy. Since it goes into sleep mode no problem, I'd swap it out and just leave it in sleep mode to not swap out for a while, used to just leave my DS Phat in sleep mode all the time. Think you'll be able to test the battery life of it? Hope I'm not asking for too much. [​IMG] Don't do it if you don't have time though, lol, I'm sure someone else will get around to doing it.
     
  18. DeVS
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    Newcomer DeVS Advanced Member

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    Slow downs are not an issue at all. Interestingly enough I just tried the NSMB mini games and they dont work? The game itself plays fine but when I choose a Mini Game the screens go black? Edit made for NSMB, thanks for the heads up, I would have never in a million years thought to test the mini games,lol. I thought about testing battery life but not sure whats the best way to do it, just turn the ds on fully charged with and without the DS-Link and see which turns off first?
     
  19. lookout

    Member lookout GBAtemp Board Room

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    i read it somewhere, it last to 4hours battery life and yes it support sleep mode.
     
  20. lookout

    Member lookout GBAtemp Board Room

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    slowdown issues seen to do with Micro SD - while reading data from the cart,

    if you using a high performance Micro SD it should able handly the read & write speed without slowdown.


    DeVS dose the DSlink support fat32 or fat16?

    fat32 (faster)
    fat16 (slower)

    supercard lite useded fat16 [​IMG]
     

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