Ewin Expansion Pack Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Sinkhead, Dec 19, 2007.

Dec 19, 2007

Ewin Expansion Pack Review by Sinkhead at 10:10 PM (35,110 Views / 0 Likes) 2 replies

  1. Sinkhead
    OP

    Former Staff Sinkhead yay p1ngpong.

    Joined:
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    [​IMG]GBAtemp.net review of the...

    Ewin Expansion Pack

    aka: EEP, Ewin, eWin

    Manufactured by: Ewin

    Review sample supplied by: Sinkhead



    By Sinkhead - 19th December 2007



    Review Contents & Index:
    • Introduction
      - Official feature list
    • Packaging and Contents
      - Box Contents
    • Cart Design
    • Setting Up & Using
      - GUI (OS)
    • Performance
      - ROM compatibility
    • Homebrew Support
    • Conclusion
    Introduction

    The Ewin Expansion Pack allows slot-1 flashcart users to play GBA games hopefully quicker and easier than than it's main competitor, the EZ-Flash 3 in 1. Ewin mainly makes slot-2 carts and they have not yet made a slot-1 flashcart, but their slot-2 efforts were generally well-received and all-round good products, therefore I have high hopes for this!



    Official Feature List:
    • Compatible with official Memory Expansion Pak
    • GBA game support

    Packaging and Contents

    The Ewin Expansion Pack comes in a small white box, with a picture of the product on the front and back, with 'Expansion PAK' in large writing. The feature list is in the top right of the front, and overall the packaging looks very plain. Down one side are some diagrams which clearly show that this product is for DS Lite only, not original DS (phat), GBA or GBA SP. On the other side are some coloured boxes so the shop owners can tell which colour is in which box. At the moment, the EEP is available in navy blue, pink, pale blue, black and white. I have a black DS so I ordered a black EEP.


    [​IMG]

    Inside the box is a clear plastic tray in which the cartridge is held, this will also protect the cart as I found out with my other, white one, because it seemed like Royal Mail had decided my parcel would make a good seat. Luckily, PSXBOY ships items in strong cardboard boxes, so my black one was safe (but I accidentally ripped the box when opening it [​IMG])
    Anyway, I digress, back to the review.



    Box Contents
    • 1x Ewin Expansion Pack
    Cart Design


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The cart feels very sturdy, it doesn't bend at all and there are no loose parts inside it. It does not have the glossy finish of the dust cover but the colour matches extremely well (with the white version at least) and it does not stick out one millimetre. Other carts advertise their products as being flush when really the stick out slightly, this actually does fit flush. The cart is really easy to get into the DS, it doesn't scrape against the edges but it doesn't feel loose either. It clicks in just like proper GBA games. The sticker is a simple but professional-looking job, it's shiny silver and dark grey, clearly stating the product is the Ewin Expansion Pack.



    Setting Up & Using

    When my first Ewin arrived, I was eager to try it out, but because no disc or website address is included it's quite hard to find the required files. Eventually, I found Ewin's Official Site, which turned out to be in Chinese. Luckily, at this point, I realized that the firmware files were on GBAtemp's Download Centre, so I downloaded it and placed it on my MicroSD card.



    GUI (OS)

    Loader used in review: V1.4.0


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The loader included is very simplistic and basic, but it works well. It comes in the form of an NDS file you launch from your slot-1 flashcart's menu, and is DLDI compatible meaning it should work on all slot-1 flashcarts. The screen you see straight away once the loader has loaded (which takes a second or so) has an Ewin logo on the top screen, with the version number, and on the bottom screen is a file browser and a key which tells you what different buttons do. The key says the X button will give more help, and it does.




    ARun/Open
    YNDS linkage
    L+RDS Browser
    BBack
    XHelp
    PadSelect ROM
    L/RRoll
    SelectReturn to R4


    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Unfortunately, even though the file browser is on the bottom screen, it is not touch sensitive at all, so you have to use the buttons, but this shouldn't matter because you are going to be using the buttons when you play the GBA game...
    The file browser has no text wrapping, so if the name of a ROM is too long it just goes off the edge of the screen, but if you leave it selected for a second it starts to scroll, allowing you to see the entire name. It seems a bit silly that there is such a large margin on the left side, because if it the margin was smaller you could get more text on the screen.
    The loader shows all folders, whether they are hidden or not, and all GBA ROMs. NDS ROMs or other files are not displayed.
    Once you find the GBA ROM you want to load, you select it with the D-pad then press A to load it. Now, inside legitimate GBA carts are chips that hold the save files, so the Ewin Expansion Pack has to mimic these to get the games to save correctly, so before the game is copied from to the slot-2 cart by the loader, the Ewin has to patch itself so it appears to have one of those save chips. Patching takes roughly 10 seconds maximum, then, the GBA ROM is copied over which takes 2.5 seconds for a 32Mbit ROM, 5 seconds for a 64Mbit one, 10 seconds for a 128Mbit one and so on.



    Performance

    Because the Ewin doesn't really do anything special, it just loads the games, I'm expecting very good compatibility.

    I class a game as working if I can complete the first level, save it, then load it again later on



    ROM Compatibility



    .bold {
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    .yes {
    background-color: #CCFF99 !important;
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    .no {
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    Number
    Name
    Size
    Save Type
    Plays
    Saves
    Loads


    0025
    Super Mario Advance
    32
    EEPROM_V120 (4Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    0048
    Kuru Kuru Kururin
    32
    SRAM_V111 (256Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    0115
    Spider-Man - Mysterio's Menace
    64
    No save
    Yes
    N/A [A]
    N/A [A]


    0206
    Mech Platoon
    64
    EEPROM_V122 (64Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    0319
    Crash Bandicoot XS
    64
    EEPROM_V122 (4Kbit)
    Yes
    No [2]
    Problem [1]


    0451
    Earthworm Jim 2
    64
    No save
    Yes
    N/A [A]
    N/A [A]


    0576
    Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance
    64
    SRAM_F_V102 (256Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    0686
    Doom II
    128
    EEPROM_V120 (4Kbit)
    No [3]
    Problem [1]
    Problem [1]


    0776
    The Legend Of Zelda - A Link To The Past
    64
    EEPROM_V122 (64Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    0898
    Pokémon Sapphire
    128
    FLASH1M_V103 (1024Kbit)
    Problem [5]
    Yes
    Problem [6]


    0985
    Rayman 3 - Hoodlum Havoc
    64
    EEPROM_V122 (4Kbit)
    No [4]
    Problem [1]
    Problem [1]


    0997
    Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
    64
    SRAM_F_V102 (256Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    1053
    Crazy Taxi - Catch A Ride
    64
    EEPROM_V122 (4Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    1155
    Advance Wars 2
    64
    FLASH_V126 (512Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    1198
    Namco Museum
    32
    No save
    Yes
    N/A [A]
    N/A [A]


    1212
    Super Mario Advance 4 - Super Mario Bros 3
    32
    FLASH1M_V102 (1024Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Problem [6]


    1637
    Pokémon Leaf Green
    128
    FLASH1M_V103 (1024 KBit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    1828
    Kingdom Hearts - Chain of Memories
    256
    SRAM_F_V103 (256 Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    1864
    Legend of Zelda – The Minish Cap
    128
    EEPROM_V124
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    2314
    Drill Dozer
    64
    SRAM_V113 (256Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    2382
    Mother 3 (J)
    256
    FLASH512_V131 (512Kbit)
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes



    A: Game uses passwords, not save files

    1: Can't test because either the game doesn't run, or it didn't save so I can't test whether it will load

    2: Black screens when trying to enter menu

    3: Stays on 'Patching EEPROM V120 save' for infinity

    4: Get to 'Now Patching' then stays on 'Patching EEPROM V122 save' for ever

    5: Because there's no clock in the EEP, time/date based events won't occur, but the game can still be played

    6: It says the save is corrupt, but it always loads the most recent save anyway


    As you can see, compatibility isn't exactly perfect, in fact, I was disappointed with these results... Compatibility is the only thing the Ewin Team have to get right until they add more features, and they haven't managed it...

    I also tried NDS-GBA linkage, and I am pleased to say it works. If you have an R4, you can press Y instead of A when loading a game, which returns to the R4's menu once the GBA ROM copies to the slot-2 cart. From there you load the NDS ROM. If you don't have an R4, you load the GBA ROM like usual, then very quickly do a hardware-reset and load into the menu of your slot-1 cart and load the NDS game. I tested it on Megaman Battle Network 5 and it worked perfectly (using a CycloDS Evolution and the hardware-reset method).

    I also tested the Opera web browser, and it works perfectly if you use the patch for SuperCards.




    Homebrew Support

    • BulletGBA - PASS
    • Vulkanon - PASS
    • Reaxion - PASS
    • Trailblazer Advance - PASS
    • Herg's Solitaire - PASS
    • Pong Fighter - PASS
    • Eliminator - PASS
    • JPEG viewer - PASS
    • Motocross Challenge - PASS
    • PocketNES - PASS
    • Goomba Color - PASS
    • LOCKJAW: The Overdose - PASS
    As you can see, every piece of homebrew that doesn't require file access works, which is great. Most of the homebrew loaded really quickly as well, the longest loading time being only a few seconds.



    Conclusion

    I was most disappointed with the compatibility bugs, as playing GBA games is the only thing this does therefore I would expect it to play them well, but hopefully this will improve as time passes (there have only been a couple of updates so far, so I cannot tell if the support will be good or not)

    All in all, the Ewin Expansion Pack is a really good alternative to the EZ-Flash 3 in 1 Expansion pack, and it loads GBA games really well, however that's all it does. It lacks extra features like real-time save and cheats, which the M3DS Real has, and the text-only loader is very basic and simple.
    There is room for improvement in this product, and I still recommend it, but at the moment it's just an easy way to play GBA games, without any fancy extra bells or whistles.



    Pros

    + Uses clean GBA ROMs

    + Loader supports DLDI

    + Good ROM compatibility

    + Good homebrew compatibility

    + Fairly fast loading times

    + Works with DS Browser (use patch for SuperCards)

    + Works with NDS-GBA linkage

    + Lots of colours available



    Cons

    - Basic, text-only loader

    - No extra features (RTS, cheats etc.)

    - No file-system access

    - No internal clock

    - Some compatibility problems

    - Only available in lite-sized cart (no DS Phat compatibility)




    [​IMG]


    External Links:

    - Official Ewin Flash Forums



    Where to buy?:

    - PSXBOY



    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 - sinkhead [@a@t@] GBAtemp [.d.o.t.] net


    [title:Changelog]22/12/2007 - Added Kingdom Hearts and Mother 3 compatibility info
     
  2. Sinkhead
    OP

    Former Staff Sinkhead yay p1ngpong.

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Messages:
    3,692
    Location:
    Across the pond
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Any questions about the review or the Ewin Expansion Pack in general? Give me a PM, and I'll put the question and answer up here!

    Q&A
    Q by PTtouch: Is there some way to use cheats for GBA? Like putting the code inside the ROM somehow?
    A: There is nothing official from the Ewin Team, but trainers/cracks that alter the ROM's code should work like on any other flashcart

    Q by JKR Firefox: If it compatible with all the major slot-1 carts?
    A: It should be, as it's DLDI compatible

    Q by James B.: Can you use it in a DS Phat?
    A: Nope, unfortunately it's lite-sized only [​IMG]
     
  3. Costello

    Administrator Costello Headmaster

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