EZF-Advance Review By Opium Introduction: This is an official GBATemp review of the EZF-Advance (known as the EZFA in this review). First off let me thank Jandaman for supplying this gba development kit for the review, I’ve had nothing but good service from Jandaman. Jandaman is a very reputable company as you can see from feedback around the forum. Many people recommend buying gba flashcards from Jandaman and I’m one of them. The EZFA is widely regraded as one of the best, if not the best flashcard on the market so far. I’m here to present my view on the product to see if it lives up to its hype so that anyone thinking of buying a flashcard can have an informed opinion of the EZFA. The first thing I noticed upon receiving the EZFA is the size and form of its packaging. I own both a Flash 2 Advance and an EZ-Flash 1 but the packaging for the EZFA for outstrips both of them. The EZFA is packaged in a tiny, red glitter, wooden box. It’s very impressive to have the pride and joy of your gba wrapped up in a wooden box. You can see what I mean from the pictures. Included in the box are the EZFA cartridge (128mbit and 256mbit sizes available) and the usb cable. For this review I will be comparing the EZFA to both the F2A and the EZ-Flash. Features: • 128mbit or 256mbit size • Real Time Clock and Calendar built in • Supports all known save types (2048kb RAM for saves) • Soft Reset for games (4 key reboot) • I.G.F Cheat function The Cartridge: The cartridge of the EZFA is a see-through ruby red type of colour. It fits in the gba just like a normal cartridge and doesn’t have any sticking problems (the EZ-Flash is known to wedge itself into the gba). Both 128mbit and 256mbit cart sizes are available, although the side of the EZFA box indicates that they were thinking of releasing a 512mbit and 1gbit version. The cosmetically speaking I prefer the look of the EZFA over both the F2A and the EZ-Flash. The EZFA was the first flashcard to include a real time clock so that games like Pokemon Ruby or Sapphire would work correctly. Upon starting the cart for the first time you need to enter in the time and date to get the clock started. This is easily done and only ever needs to be done once, however a key combination will let you alter the time and date if you so wish. The Cartridge supports all known save types including the big nasty 1024k save. There is a 2048kb save bank available on the cart so you could save on two 1024kb save games if you wanted to. The cartridge’s battery recharges whenever you have the cartridge inserted into the gba and turned on. So it recharges while your playing your favourite games, which is certainly more practical then in the EZ-Flash where you have to leave it in the writer to recharge the battery. The Software: First up let me just say something plain and simple. The EZFA Client is amazing, but damn installing the drivers was a pain. I spent about 45 minutes trying desperately to install the drivers. The EZFA isn’t packed with any instruction manuals what so ever, you have to access the official website then go into the forums and check forum posts to find out an easy way of installing the drivers. Once the hassle of installing the drivers is done it’s a smooth road. But I just wish they would have had downloadable drivers that have a self install like the EZ-Flash, so much simpler. The client is quick, simple and practical. Everything you need, very user friendly. Unfortunately you can’t delete whatever game takes your fancy like on some of the newer carts. However you can delete the last game flashed on without having the re-write the whole cart. The Client visually shows you how much space each game is taking with a blue bar at the bottom. When you are actually writing to the cart the blur bar fills up in another colour. So if you’re bored enough you could just sit there and watch a bar fill up. It’s quite satisfying as it builds up your anticipation. Okay not really, but one can dream. The Client also manages to fix several saves (such as EEPROM v124) automatically when you add the file to the game list. No need to patch any files, also it automatically trims the roms to free up space. One of the features of the Client is the I.G.F cheat function. This allows you to use certain codes with your games, similar to Gameshark. I have not really had a use to use this function yet but I’m sure there are people out there who will find this function essential. You can back up and write saves to your cart with the click of a button. No mess, no dramas. The EZFA loader that you use to navigate your roms on the gba is quite, how should I call it? Nifty. For your viewing pleasure you have an analogue clock in the bottom right hand corner. Not digital but a nice charming analogue clock. It’ll give your gba a nice feel to boot it up and have an analogue clock running. I must say I was impressed when I first saw it; my initial reaction was “Hey, nifty!”. I believe the loader and flashing software to be far superior to the F2A and the EZ-Flash, it has everything you could want. And with the support of Borden (the EZFA creator) I’m confident the software will remain one of the EZFA’s main competitive advantages. Performance: So, how does the EZFA measure up in the speed department? These tests are for how long it takes to flash to a 256mbit size cart: Flash 2 Advance- 346 seconds EZ-Flash- 392 seconds EZFA- 409 seconds A bit of a surprise to me as well. I was told the EZFA’s writing speed was second to none when it first came out, and the two other carts were out well before the EZFA. Quite perplexing. However even 409 seconds isn’t too long to wait, just get it flashing and go make yourself a cup of tea or a fruity concoction of something. Writing speed aside were there any problems I faced with the actual running of cart uses? Nope not even the smallest of problems. Every game I tried ran flawlessly, and I mean flawlessly. Sometimes with the F2A a game wont copy over correctly, some small transcription errors might create little glitches, like a pixel or a shadow not in the right place. But I noticed no such defects, every time I wrote to the cartridge it worked first time. The USB cable the EZFA uses is quite sturdy; it’s not flimsy like the F2A parallel cable. Since the EZFA is compatible with all current saves there are no hassles of patching files to get them to work correctly, the software even manages to patch some files for you automatically when you add them. Conclusion: Well how does the EZF-Advance measure up? Quite well actually. Despite the lack of a manual of any sort, easy driver installation and a longish writing time, it comes out looking pretty good. The EZFA certainly beats the Flash 2 Advance and EZ-Flash hands down. The great software support and wonderful functionality of the EZFA makes up for any small weaknesses. Overall I’m very impressed with the package put together by Borden and his team, and I’d recommend the EZFA as a very dependable, stable flashcard for the GameBoy Advance. Pros- -Supports all known saves -Stable -Great Software -Great Packaging and cart design Cons- -No manual included -No simple driver installation file -Long writing time -Max cart size for sale is 256mbit Overall: 8.5/10 Links: http://www.gba-toys.com (Official EZF-Advance Site) http://www.jandaman.com/ (Jandaman Import Accessories; a very reputable store offering the EZFA for purchase) Once again thank you to Jandaman for supplying the cartridge so that I may review it for GBATemp and hopfully offer you all another judgement on this Flashcard. If you have any questions or comments (or if you picked up any gramatical errors) feel free to PM me.