- Dec 22, 2002
GBAtemp.net review of the...
aka: DSTopToy, TTDS, TopToyDS.
Developed by: DSTT
Review written by Opium - 26th December 2007
Review Contents & Index:
- Official feature list
- Packaging and Contents
- Box Contents
- Cart & Linker Design
- Setting Up & Using
- Initial Connection & Firmware
- GUI (OS)
- Additional Features
- Cheat Support
- Soft reset
- Multimedia Support
- Micro SDHC Support
- DLDI Auto-Patching
- ROM Compatibility
- Download Play
- Save Game Support
- GBA Support
- Rumble Support
- Homebrew Support
The DSTT is a new, cheap slot-1 flashcard that boasts a lot of the latest features like SDHC, cheats, soft reset, saving directly to MicroSD and GBA support with the optional GBA expansion pak. It enters the market out of relatively nowhere but already has an impressive list of features. Few cards come to the market with this sort of functionality upon initial release. Yet, does it actually perform well enough to win people over in this highly competitive market? Read on to find out!
Many thanks to the DSTT Team for supplying the sample for review.
First let us check out the official feature list from the back of the box. As usual it is unnecessarily long and has its fair share of bad English and grammar.
Official Feature List:
- DS original cartridge size, Slot1 interface.
- Plug ‘n Play, easy to use, just Drag ‘, Drop file from PC to flash memory card.
- No Flashme, built-in NoPass, and the GBA cards in slot 2 can be started directly.
- Supports CleanROM, No covert.
- 100% SDHC TF and standard TF compatibility up to 32Gbits flash memory card.
- High speed SDHC. Supports any TF card speed with no lag in game.
- Save directly to TF card, not to onboard chip, never lose your saves.
- Automatically detect and generate save type.
- Supports Moonshell and homebrew. DLDI auto-patching.
- Supports FAT/FAT32, works on any OS.
- Supports Action Replay cheat and edit the code base.
- Built-in energy-saving design.
- User friendly skinnable interface. Touch screen or button operation. Supports Skin DIY.
- Supports the four button Soft Reset.
- Supoorts the WiFi game, DS Rumble Pak, DS Browser.
- Supports Download play.
- Supports 4-scale-lightness adjustment.
- Free SDHC high-speed reader.
Packaging and Contents
The DSTT comes packed in the standard cardboard box with plastic tray. The reflective silver lettering makes the box stand out and on the back it has a list of features. The presentation looks and feels very professional.
The DSTT card itself conveniently comes with a sturdy plastic case which is great for protecting the card when not in use.
(Box contents may vary depending on whether you are buying a bundle with the extra expansion paks or not)
- DSTT with plastic case
- GBA & Explorer pak
- Rumble pak
- SDHC compliant card reader
- DS Lite USB charger
- Installation CD
Cart & Linker Design
The DSTT card is white and is the same size as an original DS card; it is strong, study and is a flush fit. The review sample I received has a raised bump in the front of the card due to a chip underneath the shell; this makes the card stick when inserting it and taking it out. However it appears this problem is only with early builds of the card as the current build has no bump and is entirely flat. Overall I’m very impressed with the quality of the card and the reflective sticker doesn’t go amiss either.
The MicroSD slot is spring-loaded and accessible from the top of the card. From my experiences it works perfectly fine however with cards such as the R4 recently removing the spring-loaded mechanic it brings to question how the card may hold up in the long run. There have been reports of the spring breaking on a lot of R4’s, although this problem may be limited to the R4 as there isn’t any indication that the spring is of low quality on the DSTT. An added benefit of the card being spring-loaded is that you can safely remove the MicroSD card while the DSTT itself is still inserted in the DS. This makes it a breeze to manage the files on your MicroSD.
Setting Up & Using
Initial Connection & Firmware
The DSTT (like most slot-1 flashcards) is extremely easy to use. All you need that is not included in the box is a MicroSD card. Since the DSTT is SDHC compatible you can use any of the high capacity cards (6GB, 8GB etc) if they strike your fancy, although normal MicroSD’s work perfectly fine as well.
Using the included MicroSD reader (or another reader) simply copy the latest TTMenu OS to the root of your MicroSD. The latest OS (or ‘loader’, ‘kernel’ etc) can be found on the official DSTT website. It’s recommended you download the latest version rather than use the potentially outdated version included on the CD. There is no firmware to flash to the card, the DSTT simply reads the menu files when booting up so as long you keep the files on your card it’ll boot up fine.
As far as .nds games and homebrew are concerned you can place them anywhere on your MicroSD and the DSTT will automatically detect them. There’s no rigid file structure you need to a heed to.
When booting up your DS the DSTT will override the menu screen and jump straight into the DSTT’s OS. It takes about 4 seconds to load the OS. When it’s started up you will immediately be presented with a list of games and homebrew on the card.
Each game has a number of different icons underneath their names, these are very handy as they represent what additional features are turned on, such as soft reset, download play fix, cheats present and cheats active. I particularly like the icon that shows up gray if cheats are present for a game and then illuminated yellow if the cheats are actually turned on. This automatically lets you know if your game has any codes available or not. It’s really nice to have these visual prompts present in the GUI.
The top screen is particularly useful as it displaying further information about your selected game including things like gamecode and savetime. The gamecode is a special four letter code assigned to a game and is particularly useful to know for PC side apps. Savetime is also a great feature because it tells you exactly when the last time you saved the game was right down to the second, effectively telling you when the last time you played the game was.
Under the system options button on the bottom screen you have a number of useful things to select. You can enable soft reset as ‘on’ for all games by default, enter passme mode (to boot a slot-2 flashcard), enter the DS’s GBA mode, power the system down and change the DS Lite’s brightness setting.
You can press the plus button next to any game (or press SELECT) to access further game options, like soft reset and cheats, which you can select on and off. Press right or hit the cheats tab to access the list of cheats.
There isn’t any file browser of any sort which is a bit of a disappointment. The only list you’ll be seeing is a list of all the games on the card, which I imagine would become quite unwieldy if you had a 6GB or 8GB memory card. A simple folder browsing function would at least let you segregate your backups from your homebrew games instead of throw them all in together in one big list.
The OS also doesn’t allow you to organise your games alphabetically for the most part. When you copy a big bunch of games over they will stay in the same order that you copy them over. But if you add a single game later on it will always be displayed at the bottom of the list. At the top of the game list are the words ‘icon’, ‘name’ and ‘size’ representing the columns. It would be great if you could actually click name or size to organise your list.
Another mild annoyance is that the slider on the right hand side of the game list is very laggy. If you slide it from the top to the bottom it will take about two seconds to load the list again. Also when just pressing up or down on the d-pad once it will still lag slightly. I hope this will get addressed in a future update.
It is also important to note that the Neoflash version of the Top Toy OS can be loaded on the DSTT and vice versa. The OS’s are practically identical.
The DSTT uses Action Replay codes built into a usrcheat.dat file. A normal cheat.dat file (used with the R4 and M3) can easily be converted into a usrcheat.dat file using the R4 Cheat Code Editor and deselecting ‘encrypt as cheat.dat’. This makes the DSTT compatible with range of cheat databases. Using a cheat code editor it is also easy to add your own cheats.
To enable cheats select the game of your choice and press the plus button on the touchscreen or press SELECT to be taken to the game options menu. Select to turn cheats on and then select the cheats tab or press right to access the list of cheats, once finished save your selection. It works really well; the feature is simple and intuitive.
[update 07.01.08] Cheats can be enabled or disabled in-game using the following button combinations. There is however no in-game menu.
L+R+START+UP = Cheats on
L+R+START+DOWN = Cheats off
Soft reset can be performed by pressing A+B+X+Y+L+R in-game. This will boot you back to the DSTT OS menu. This feature worked perfectly for every game tested and is a must have feature. You can turn soft reset as ‘on’ by default in the options menu.
There is no native multimedia support on the DSTT. Moonshell will work fine though. Unfortunately there is no easy access menu like on the R4 or M3 Simply. Moonshell will be just another game in the game list rather than a prominent button on launch. Depending on whether you use your DS for a lot of multimedia or not this may or may not be an issue.
Micro SDHC Support
The DSTT has support for SDHC cards. I was however unable to test this feature as I don’t have a SDHC card. But it is nice to know that when SDHC becomes more of the norm the DSTT supports it. Most new DS flashcards have SDHC support.
DLDI auto-patching is a great idea and wonderful feature on any flashcard. Gone are the days of manually patching all your homebrew. This feature makes homebrew very newbie friendly. It worked great from my testing.
The DSTT officially supports English, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. However language packs made by users are available on the official website. The only one available at the time of reviewing is a Dutch language pack. It is very easy to customise the language as all words are found in a separate language.ini file for you to edit. It really is simple to customise.
The OS is easily skinnable by replacing a series of .bmp’s and editing an .ini file. Anyone with a bit of photoshop skill can create their own skins. I myself have made a GBAtemp themed skin which you can see below. The skinning is nice but it is not as customisable as some of the other flashcards.
Also the OS file structure seems to indicate that multiple skins are supported as the normal skin is located in a folder called ‘default’ underneath the ‘skin’ parent. There is no such support. You will have to replace the files in ‘default’ to get your skin to change. It is a pity that a skin selector isn’t part of the OS.
Now down to the nitty-gritty of how the DSTT actually performs. All the features in the world are useless if none of them are implemented particularly well.
All tests were run by me using a 1GB Kingston (Japanese made) and using TTMenu OS v1.07 unless otherwise stated.
I’ve tested many different games but I won’t bore you with a big long list.
Every game I’ve tried has worked perfectly except for Contra 4. A single game stops me from saying there is 100% compatibility, which is a shame. Contra 4 fails to boot due to an error in creating a save file. The OS will then freeze and tell you to restart the system. With any luck this can easily be fixed in an update however so far it hasn’t been addressed. Considering every other flashcard can run Contra 4 just fine it certainly is an oddity.
Aside from that issue all other games I tested worked fine. I did not experience any freezing or slowdowns in any games including the Castlevania titles. I did not have another MicroSD to test with but as a general rule I suggest always buying a high quality and high speed MicroSD such as the Japanese made Kingston. The back of the DSTT box does state that it supports any MicroSD card speed with no in-game lag. I have yet to disprove that.
Both FAT and FAT32 are supported as expected. I ran into no issues with either mode.
It is important to note that games boot incredibly fast. It takes only about 2-3 seconds to start a game, which makes the DSTT one of the fastest booting flashcards out there. The reason for this is talked about under ‘Save Game Support’.
(A look at the GUI + game loading and soft reset)
Now for the moment of truth for a lot of people; how does Download Play stack up? There are many cards that don’t feature full download play support and only a handful that do. I was unable to test download play myself however fellow staff member Sinkhead was able to conduct the tests and the results are extremely positive.
- Big Brain Academy
As you can see from the games tested Download Play was working 100%. Tests were conducted using two unflashed DS's. This is a great accomplishment and a major feature for the DSTT.
Save Game support
Quite possibly one of the best features of the DSTT is that it does not have any sort of battery for retaining saves what-so-ever. When you save a game in-game the save is automatically written to the MicroSD card then and there, rather than be temporarily stored to an onboard chip to be written to the MicroSD next time you boot up the DSTT. This cuts out the middleman so to speak and speeds things up considerably. On the EZ-Flash V you would have to wait some time before each game loaded for the last save to written to your MicroSD and the new game’s save to be retrieved from the MicroSD and written to the onboard chip. Not having these load times made a night and day difference.
Using this brilliant save system also means you will never lose a save game, which can happen to other flashcards that have a drained onboard battery.
The DSTT uses the same saves as the R4/M3 and many other flashcards. Each save is 512kb and designated by .sav. They are in a raw .sav format so they will be completely compatible with other flashcards.
The only thing I didn’t like about the save system was that all the save files were in the exact same folder as the ROMs. This made things very confusing as the clutter isn’t appreciated when sorting through a bit list of files. The DSTT Team should take a leaf out of the EZ-Flash’s book by letting saves have their very own folder. This makes backing up saves as simple as copying and pasting a folder instead of CTRL+clicking through a long list of files. This is something that could be addressed in a future OS, but it is up to the DSTT Team to actually act on it.
Using the included GBA pak was very confusing to begin with as there was no documentation to its use and there is no native support for it in the DSTT OS. This is rather strange as the pak is bundled in with the DSTT card. You would at least expect native support to copy GBA ROMs onto the card.
After a lot of fiddling a closer look at the PCB of the DSTT GBA pak revealed it is just a rebadged Ewin GBA pak, which was reviewed here. All you need is the Ewin GBA Loader, which is just a simple homebrew file. This acts as the frontend for managing the GBA pak and I’m pleased to say it works great. Just place a few .gba files onto your MicroSD and boot up the GBA loader. The loader will take care of everything with one button press. Games will be copied over to the GBA pak and patched automatically, you don’t have to do or select anything.
Saving games is hassle free as all saves are automatically saved and backed up to your MicroSD on your slot-1 card. It is organised really well and is definitely a big step up from using the EZ 3in1 expansion pak with the EZ-Flash V.
All in all I prefer using the DSTT GBA pak more than the EZ 3in1. It is a fully flush fit and is of a sturdy build quality and looks great in the DS Lite.
You can check out Sinkhead's Ewin expansion pak review for more in-depth details on how the pak functions.
The DSTT rumble pak fits flush with the DS Lite and works just as you’d expect it. From the rumble supported games I’ve tried they have all worked perfectly. Just plug the rumble pak in and these games will rumble just like with the original game and official rumble pak. The rumble gives off a satisfying amount of strength and is also a little less noisy than the EZ 3in1, which is certainly appreciated.
My only complaint is that the rumble isn’t included in the GBA expansion pak. It would’ve been nice if there was just one single, unified expansion pak.
jEnesisDS – works /auto DLDI
SNEmulDS – works /auto DLDI
DSOrganize – works /auto DLDI
Moonshell – works /auto DLDI
This is a sample of some of the popular homebrew applications and they all work fine with DLDI auto-patching. Other homebrew games and apps that don’t use DLDI work as well. I haven’t found anything that isn’t compatible.
It really is a blessing to have DLDI auto-patching as it removes an extra step when getting homebrew to run.
The DSTT may be the new card on the scene but it hits the ground running. There are some great features in this little package like: SDHC, direct save to MicroSD, game status icons, 2-3 second game boot times, 100% download play support, easy to use cheat system, DLDI auto-patching, soft reset and optional GBA support. It’s a mouthful but this little card does a lot, and when you consider its cheap price tag it becomes even more appealing. When you think of how a lot of the DS flashcards started out, they didn’t have these sorts of features to begin with (and some still don’t have them now), they slowly built up with months and months of updates. Having this sort of usability out the door with the DSTT is a great achievement. However the DSTT Team shouldn’t rest on their laurels, because there is still some basic work to be done before the DSTT can stand up with the other top cards. The card does do a lot of things right but it also leaves some things lacking. DS support is only 99.99% with Contra 4 (by no means an obscure game) not working where other cards have no problem. The GUI needs some touches as it lacks even a simple folder browser. This is made more frustrating as the long list of games can’t be sorted alphabetically through the GUI. The games list is also slightly laggy when scrolling from top to bottom. GBA support also seems to be ignored as there is no OS intergration, instead you have to rely on a program by Ewin to get things working. A skin selector is also missing from the OS. These sorts of things could be fixed with future updates but the card is new to the market and the team has yet to prove its support. There is certainly a great foundation to begin with. The DSTT is loaded with great features and should definitely be considered when purchasing your next flashcard (especially for the low price), but it needs some of the quirks cleared up before it can sit with the best.
+ Great build quality
+ 100% download play support (from tested games)
+ Cheat system
+ Soft reset
+ DLDI auto-patching
+ SDHC compliant
+ Super fast game boot times
+ Games save directly to MicroSD not onboard chip
+ Game status icons
+ Easily skinnable
+ Clean GBA ROM support (with expansion pak)
- 99.99% compatibility (Contra 4 fails to boot)
- No file browser
- No alphabetical sorting
- Saves don't have seperate folder
- Game list lags
- Doesn't support multiple skins
- GBA support isn't built into the OS
- DSTT Website
- GBAtemp DSTT Discussion Area
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 please let me know via e-mail - Opium [@[email protected]] GBAtemp [.dot.] net