Review Ewin Expansion Pack Review

Sinkhead

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eep.gif
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.


eep_box_and_cart.jpg

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
frown.gif
)
Anyway, I digress, back to the review.



Box Contents
  • 1x Ewin Expansion Pack
Cart Design


eep_front_of_cart.jpg
eep_cart_in_ds.jpg

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


eep_top_screen.jpg
eep_loader.jpg

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


eep_loader2.jpg
eep_loading.jpg


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



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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)




award_bronze.png



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 [@[email protected]@] GBAtemp [.d.o.t.] net


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

Sinkhead

yay p1ngpong.
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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
frown.gif
 
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