Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by TheSpade, Apr 23, 2007.
Please see the post below for the DS Linker 16Gbit review.
GBAtemp.net review of the...
DS Linker 16Gbit
Manufactured by: DSLink (Distributed by Supercard Team)
Review sample supplied by: SuperDS.com
By TheSpade - 23rd April 2007
Review Contents & Index:
- Official feature list
Packaging and Contents
- Box Contents
Setting Up & Using
- GUI (OS)
- ROM compatibility
- Download Play / Single-Cart Multiplayer / Wi-Fi Connection
- Battery life
The biggest complaint about internal memory flash cards have been their limit in size. While we have seen this particular product before in other forms, such as DS Fire, Express Card, MK5 GIGA System, N-CARD, Ultra Flash Pro EX, etc., here we have the DS Linker 16GBit for those concerned with not having enough space to do as they please. Is it the biggest bang for your bucks, or will it fizzle out like a flat soda? Let's read on, shall we?
Official Feature List:
Original Size. Insert into DS Slot 1 without any stick out.
Boot from DS slot 1 directly. Do NOT need any PassMe/FlashMe. DSLinker can be also a PassMe.
Built-in memory design. Included 1GBit (128-Mbyte), 4GBit (512-Mbyte), 8GBit (1Gbyte), 16GBit (2GByte) NAND flash memory inside. It's the same as USB Disk flash memory, so it's very fast. About 512KByte/sec writting speed.
Clear ROM support directly. Do not need any patch, totally support clear ROM, faultlessly support the games in the feature. Game compatibility up to 100%.
Multi-games Support. A pretty touch menu to select the game. The game can be added or deleted freely, it's very easy to change new game or keep the favorable.
Easy to use, Plug'n Play. With the DS Linker Writer, DS Linker will like a U-Disk, the only thing you need to do is copy the game into the U-Disk, insert into DS/DSL and play.
Micro firmware, easy upgrade. Micro firmware designed, and extended skin which is fully upgradeable.
No software required. No software required, just Drag'n Drop file from PC to flash memory card.
Packaging and Contents
DS Linker 16GByte Flash Card
DS Linker Writer
Packaging was pretty basic but decent. The box was pressed paper as most of the others are. The tray held the flash card and writer. The cable was stored underneath the tray. I do have one bone to pick with the cable off the bat. It's quite short for most people. Unless your PC is right next to you, you'll find yourself positioning your DS a good reach away from you. Wish I could say more here, but it's usually standard practice nowadays concerning packaging.
The casing of the DS Linker is almost a first for me. Short of my DS-Xtreme, there are no screws as if it were a legitimate game card nor could I see anyway to disassemble it (you can take apart a DS-Xtreme). That means no naked spread of the board for this review. I did notice out of the box that part of the casing was a bit loose on the label side. This led to a pair of incidents where my DS didn't recognize it. Luckily, taking it out and reinserting it fixed that. While my sample was in this manner, I cannot state with certainty that all models will have this defect or not. However, it isn't a bulging problem like NinjapassX9 was, so relax if that worries you.
Setting Up & Using
The first thing you must do is to get your PC to recognize it. I highly recommend that you connect the USB cable directly to an open port on the back of your PC. There are some reported issues with using hubs, although nothing major. First, you place the DS Linker and Writer inside your DS. Next, you boot your DS, load the DS Linker and choose the Data Exchange option. After the DOS-like text appears on the lower screen, you now connect the cable to the Writer and your PC. After your PC recognizes it, you're good to go on doing what you need. Compared to my other flash cards, DS Linker doesn't seem to be able to enjoy the speed that USB 2.0 is supposed to provide, as the transfering of files was visibly slow.
To speak on the method depending on the Writer, I used to own an old EZ Flash Advance 256Mbit a couple of years ago. I had to have my GBA SP powered on while I transfered files. That was acceptable...2 years ago. Now, we see DS-Xtreme with a USB cable. G6 DS has a USB Reader. A little more innovation could have been done here, as it will shy potential buyers away due to using an out of date method of file transfering. While it's not completely unacceptable, it is not as user-friendly as the competitors. Also, why was the Writer only made in GBA-size? Last time I checked, DS Lite sells in droves and most everyone has ditched their original DS units. If it were Lite-sized, then it would be much more carefree with the option of leaving it inside the DS Lite. Before anyone jumps on the usual whining surrounding slot-1 flash cards, I won't bash it concerning no GBA support, because the Writer isn't a GBA flash card. It's just a module for the DS Linker, period.
Let's get back on positive notes. Unlike one of its clones, Ultra Flash Pro EX (reviewed by fellow GBATemp reviewer, zatelli), you don't have to format the DS Linker per every update. The DS Linker comes with Moonshell and DSOrganize preinstalled. ROMs are drag and drop and must be uncompressed, like most all slot-1 flash cards. As of the software and OS update on April 11th, 2007, you will also have 2 other homebrew apps present on-board: DSPad and DSMouse. Using these with your DS Linker Writer and USB cable attached, you can use your DS as a PC gamepad or mouse. While these are novelties, they're unnecessary. The development team, DSLink, provides source code for anyone wanting to develop USB apps, so perhaps, something much more worthwhile may appear in the future.
I cannot say that this is a pretty GUI at all. No matter if someone put a gun to my head...wait. That would do it. On the top screen, there's plenty of text to describe what each ROM is about. It will state the filename (although limited in the number of characters it can display), file size, save type (if known; read later), the portion of the serial code and the page number if you have more than 12 .nds files onboard. Also, there's a help menu to explain changing the save type, backing up saves and using the PassMe option.
The bottom screen displays the size of your DS Linker's memory and the current OS build. To interject, why must we always know what size of memory our flash card has in total? On the bottom edge, you'll see the date and time. Center stage of course is the icons for any and all .nds files you have. Icons can now be displayed in either 2-D or the classic 3-D, which looks like dice suffering indigestion. The 3-D icons don't fair too well looking when the icons bear transparencies. Luckily, you can choose which style of icons you want with a simple editting of the DS Linker System's own global.ini file (not Moonshell's). One big suggestion to any of the team behind DS Linker, in order to clean up the GUI: Fonts. Use different ones and smaller, cleaner ones.
All background screens can be skinned easily as most other flash cards. Although, it's more wallpaper than skins to be accurate. The March 11th update, as mentioned earlier, now offers PassMe support for those who still wish to use their popular slot-2 flash cards. I say popular, because I don't have a collection of slot-2 flash cards to test. M3 works for certain, but I prefer to keep mine in my GBA. They also added multiple save support for NDS ROMs, for those households with only one DS (tragic).
While it is definitely not the prettiest package, it is indeed a functioning one. While loading/unloading files is cumbersome and the GUI looks like it could use an overhaul, it does as it intends to do. It loads ROMs and homebrew fast. Save writing within games is also seemingly as fast as their real counterparts. There's only one small catch, and I say small because it can be overcome. Within the device files, there's a gamelist file. If a game isn't in that gamelist, than it won't know which savetype a particular ROM uses. Fortunately, you can set it yourself until the next update. M3DSS/R4DS and DS-Xtreme are still the kings of the carefree saving standard.
While I did go through and test a lot of games during my M3 DS Simply review as I did here as well, I'm not going to make a long, drawn-out list. The reason being is because people really want to know the answer to the following questions:
Q: Is there any game that won't work?
A: None that I could find. Probably the only one that won't is the usual suspect, the older Super Mario 64 DS (USA) ROM. Just use the newer (v.1.1) dump.
Q: Will Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin play properly without freezing?
A: Yes. I did not see any freezing whatsoever at the usual, suspect areas of gameplay.
Q: Will it work with the Nintendo DS Browser?
A: If you have the patched ROM and cooresponding slot-2 flash card (G6, M3, Supercard), then yes. Otherwise, you'll need the official memory expansion.
Download Play / Single-cart Multiplayer / Wi-Fi Connection:
Once again, due to not having two DS units available to me, I am unable to personally test Download Play. There has been some dicussions that have caught my eye concerning some games having protections (usually Nintendo-published titles), while others need to be redumped. I don't know if these statements are exact or not, nor do I care. No slot-1 flash card had superiority on download play over any others as far as I know. If everyone you are playing against has a flash card, then this isn't an issue. Fortunately, all Wi-Fi Connection titles will play online.
Battery Life Results:
As with the M3 DS Simply and all other slot-1 flash cards that I own, I could not notice any battery hits with the DS Linker as significant as they were back on the older slot-2 flash cards and nopass combos. The only extra battery hit would be the time you are loading files to and from your DS Linker. Though the days of worrying about this attribute isn't that far in the past, this area of review has relatively become moot these days. Let's hope we continue to see an utter extinction of battery-guzzling flash cards.
Speaking of moot areas, due to the now-standard within the scene to DLDI format along with a DLDI driver, homebrew has become linear upon flash cards. Being a clone of many, you would use the NEO Flash MK5 (NAND Flash) driver. Forgive me for repeating myself, but if the game or application is DLDI compatible, then you can likely play it on DS Linker. However, there is a present downside. Thanks to EX for alterting me, there are issues with write support. A future update to the DLDI driver hopefully should remedy this.
Stating once again that this hardware is available in many flavors under various names brands, the DS Linker 16Gbyte is a diamond in the rough. The means of loading files is old school...bad old school. The GUI looks rushed and neglected in the recent updates, although this could be cleared up if the development team really wants to. Depspite the ugliness surrounding this flash card, it does the job it intends to do. It gives buyers 2 gigabytes of space in order to enjoy NDS backup and homebrew play. The on-board memory is fast enough to play Portrait of Ruin in a stable manner. You won't have to hunt down the right kind of micro-SD memory like other cards for the best compatibility here. For 59-85 dollars USD, it's priced pretty well. If the team behind DS Linker, despite what the clones and other teams do, can at least clean up the GUI and operation system entirely, they could be a serious contender in the flash card market. DS-Xtreme continues to be the premium of the slot-1 flash cards with onboard memory, but this is a good, surprisingly working alternative.
+ 2 gigabyte onboard memory
+ No need to mess with Micro-SD cards
+ GUI supports touch screen
+ Fast read/write
+ PassMe Function
+ Multiple save support
+ Decent price
+ DLDI support
- Must have your DS on and use both slots to write files
- File transfer speed is subpar
- Ugly GUI
- Writer is only available in GBA-size
- Auto-saving depends upon gamelist file
- No color casing choice
- DLDI write support issues
- Official DS Linker Website
Purchase this cart from our affiliated shops:
Where to buy?:
This review was written for GBAtemp.net ONLY. The article and all included photos are property of GBAtemp.net. If you see this review on any other site, then please let me know via a private message here at GBAtemp.