G6 Lite (4Gbit) Review - Final English Version

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Opium, Sep 17, 2006.

Sep 17, 2006
  1. Opium
    OP

    Former Staff Opium PogoShell it to me ™

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    GBAtemp.net review of the...
    G6 Lite (4Gbit)

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    Supplied by Kick Trading
    Reviewed by Opium

    You can buy a G6 Lite on GameYeeeah!
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    Disclaimer: This is a second opinion review of the G6 Lite. It covers the final English G6 Lite package and also a few points not covered in Qrayzie’s excellent review found here. The Spade has also written a detailed G6 Lite Guide/FAQ which can be viewed here.

    Introduction:

    Ever since the launch of the DS Lite, flashcart makers have been clamouring to release their own Lite specific renditions. The G6 Lite is the G6 Team’s answer to Nintendo’s newest handheld revision. Not only does it fit the DS Lite’s slot perfectly but it improves upon many of the original G6-Flash 3rd Generation’s shortcomings.

    Features:

    - 4Gbit (512Mbytes) of space
    - Fits perfectly into the DS Lite’s GBA slot
    - Fits into the original DS’s GBA slot with included GBA cover
    - Includes 3 DS Lite covers (black, white, ice blue)
    - Integration of Moonshell like client ‘MediaPlay-Extend’
    - Great GBA and NDS game compatibility

    Packaging and Contents

    - 1x G6 Lite
    - 3x G6 Lite Dust Covers (Black, White, Ice Blue)
    - 1x G6 Lite GBA cover (white)
    - 1x G6 Burner
    - 1x Driver CD


    The G6 Lite comes packaged in a tiny stylish white box which looks very professional. Inside you’ll find a tin identical to the one that came with the original G6 (except ‘Lite’ has been added to the branding) and a software mini-CD. Upon opening the box all the various cartridge covers and burner and neatly packed in together. Overall the presentation of this flashkit is great, no problems here.

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    Hardware

    How does the G6 Lite case compare to the DS Lite dust cover?

    It’s remarkable the G6 team managed to cram the G6 into such a small case. When you hold the PCB in your hand it really is quite tiny. The G6 Lite case matches the original case in size exactly. It fits perfectly flush with the DS Lite.

    My only critiques are that the plastic feels a little cheap and that the white colour doesn’t match exactly. The G6 cover is indeed glossy but it isn’t covered by the clear plastic of the dust cover and therefore looks a little odd in the DS. It’s as if the G6 is a shade darker or yellowier. It’s only a minute difference but does distract slightly. Other than that I have absolutely no problems with it. It holds together strongly and does not scrape when inserting or removing it into your DS.



    (Comparing the G6 Lite to the original dust cover)

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    Changing the G6 Lite Case

    The G6 Lite comes standard in the black dust cover case. If you’re like me and you have a white DS you’ll want to switch it over to the white one. So how do you go about it? You’ll need a small #00 Phillips head screwdriver to undo the screw on the back. Once this is undone slide the back of the cover down slightly then pull the case apart. From there you can remove the G6 Lite circuitry board. Next undo another case and put the board into the other case. Make sure you line up the board the right way around before fastening the case. If you have an original ‘Phat’ DS the G6 Lite includes a white GBA cover which works just fine in any GBA or DS.


    (Dismantling the G6 Lite dust cover)

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    The G6 Lite as a redesign

    The G6 Lite is a redesign of the original G6-Flash 3rd Generation. So what have they improved? Thankfully they’ve gotten rid of all my pet hates in the hardware. No longer do we have that annoying black button on the case that drains your cart’s battery for no reason at all. It was based upon old technology (Neoflash technology) and is no longer needed. You’ll no longer have to file down any more black buttons.

    The other thing they’ve changed was the internal battery which is now fully rechargeable, as noted on the cover of the package where it says ‘Rechargeable Battery Design’. I’m not sure whether the cart recharges while you’re playing it or only when it’s connected to the PC as no documentation made that clear, which is a failing on the G6-Team’s part.

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    G6-Burner

    The USB burner included is exactly the same as the burner for the original G6 3rd Generation. The only difference being that the new burner is white instead of silver. As was the case with the older burner, its width can be a potential hindrance. Luckily it fits in one of the USB ports on the front of my PC but if I had anything plugged in next to it I wouldn’t be able to fit the burner in. The G6 team could have possibly thought about improving the burner by slimming it down or by including a USB extension cable with the package.

    That said it’s just a small niggle, if you feel it will be a problem best to go out and pick up a USB extension cable.

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    Software:

    The full G6 software bundle weighs in at a hefty 42MB, so you’ll be glad they included a CD in the box. One of the main reasons the software package is so large is because of the thousands of pictures included. When you load a GBA rom it’ll automatically have a picture of the title screen associated with it. This is a nice addition to the presentation of the GBA loader, but for the huge file size perhaps it’s not quite so essential.

    Here is a list of software available for the G6 Lite, either included on the CD or available for download at their website (included in a links section of this review):

    - G6-Manager : The software used to handle and copy your games and saves to the cart
    - Loader : Firmware files for your G6 Lite to bring the cart up to date
    - PDA DS : PDA software for the G6 Lite (only available in Chinese)
    - Maintenance Utility : Used to format your cart and repair potential damage
    - Media-Extend : Software for the G6 Lite to allow playback of mp3s, videos and pictures
    - Moonshell : Like Media-Extend but not tailor made for the G6 Lite
    - G6 Media Player Converter : The official media converting software, creates .gbs and .gbm files for music and movie playback. Media-Extend is a much better alternative though

    G6-Manager

    The G6-Manager is the program you’ll use to copy your roms over to the G6-Lite. It’s simple and efficient to use. The design of the GUI is not too cluttered and gets the job done. Since my last review of the G6 3rd Generation they’ve fixed up some of my critiques of the software. For example at the bottom of the program it’ll now tell you how full your cartridge is. The only thing I can see they should improve upon is to include a graphical bar showing how much space is left. That might be a bit nicer than ‘you have 0.04GBytes left’. 0.04GBytes, oh dear let me think about that one for a moment. It involves maths, not one of my strong points. Perhaps I could get back to my training in Brain Age.

    GBA Side

    Under the GBA tab you can organise all your GBA roms. Clicking ‘Write’ will bring up a selection menu for you to select which rom you want to copy over and will then present you with a number of options.

    Thankfully they have improved the software with version 4.0 onwards, ‘Enable Real Time’ is no longer a default option (Real Time is the ‘save anywhere’ function better known as ‘savestates’). In my last review the Real Time save patch was responsible for lowering game compatibility dramatically, so it’s best you leave it off unless you really want to experiment. Compression as well is not that useful as it takes extra time to load the game and doesn’t provide you with that much extra space. For best compatibility leave all these options off.

    Under the ‘Rom Patch’ section there are a number of options with ‘Hardware + Software’ being the default one. This is the best option for compatibility. You are also able to copy .nes, .sms, .gg, .pce and .gb game files directly to the G6 Lite through the GBA side. These files will automatically be patched correctly allowing you to play NES, Sega Master System, Game Gear, PC-Engine and Gameboy games. This is definitely a nice feature of the software.

    GBA Side Software
    GBA Selection Menu
    GBA Rom Options

    (Click for images)


    NDS Side

    This side of the program is set out just like the GBA side but has different options. Under the ‘main’ tab when adding a NDS rom you’ll have the option of enabling soft reset (which can be activated in game by pressing X+A+B+L+R to bring you back to the G6 menu). Soft reset works fine with most games however there are a few that aren’t compatible with it yet. So if you ever find a problem with a game try disabling it.

    In the next tab along you can select the patching method. ‘DoFAT’ is the default option; it boots the NDS game in a few seconds. If a rom is released which is not compatible with DoFAT your best bet is to use Safe Mode as it sometimes has better luck with booting a game. As the Safe Mode option states, you can not use Soft Reset when using this mode.

    You also have the option to trim an NDS rom, this means removing blank space at the end of a rom file to make the file smaller. Version 4.4 of the G6-Manager also introduces the option to link a GBA rom to an NDS rom. The reason for this is that sometimes when you have a GBA game inserted it will unlock something special on the NDS game. The linkage feature allows you to link the two rom files so that you can unlock these special features with two roms.

    NDS Side Software
    NDS Rom Options 1
    NDS Rom Options 2
    NDS Rom Options 3

    (Click for images)


    Loader


    The G6 loader has made some impressive improvements since its graphical overhaul when the G6 Lite was released. The improvements are not just graphically though, many new features have been added to the NDS side of the loader.

    GBA Side

    Let’s start off with the bad first shall we? When version 4.0 came out the NDS side was drastically overhauled, how about the GBA side? Nope, still the same ugly loader for GBA games. It begs to question why the GBA loader did not get updated to fit into the graphical style of the slick NDS loader. The loader isn’t very spectacular, if anything it’s a bit of a pain to navigate as you are moving around a cursor to select buttons instead of just selecting the buttons directly. There’s a bug with original Gameboy games (.gb) that you copy over to the G6 Lite. Every game is given the name ‘Goomba’ (after the GB emulator). This causes a lot of confusion as you never know which game is which, something that definitely needs to be addressed.

    The GBA loader does have one nice feature. GBA roms will have a picture associated with them and if the rom matches the G6-Manager database then you’ll have a picture of the title screen of the game in question. While it serves no practical use it does look aesthetically pleasing.

    With the 4.0 update the GBA loader also managed to fix another of my pet hates, the Real Time patch query. On an older version of the loader if you didn’t patch a game with Real Time save then every time you started the game it would ask you if you wanted to apply the patch. This was incredibly frustrating as the patch brought down compatibility significantly. Thankfully this was removed.

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    NDS Side

    The stylish and professional look of the NDS loader is remarkable. I wouldn’t be out of place saying that it is the best designed loader on the market. I’m sure many people will agree with me there. The loader has full touch screen control but you can use the d-pad and buttons if you wish. Icon images are presented next to the name of the game which is a nice visual touch. The battery icon represents your DS’s battery, if you power goes into the red the battery will change to indicate you need to recharge your DS. It performs the same function as the battery icon on the normal DS menu. As such it’s not terribly helpful, but a nice addition none the less.

    When selecting a game and pressing SELECT it will open up a menu where you can fiddle with the save data for that game. Each game has three save files associated to it, game.0 (the default save), game.1 and game.2. Normally the only save file you have to worry about backing up on the PC is the default .0 file. The others are for if you want to use multiple save files for the same games. For example, if you have a sibling who plays the same game but ingame there is only one save slot available you can swap G6 save files. One really good feature from this menu though is the ability to transfer your rom's save file to the original DS game inserted into slot 1 of your DS, or vice versa. This feature is great for backing up saves of your legit games.

    In the top right hand corner is a drop down menu you can select with either your stylus or by pressing START. Selecting My Card will allow you to browse all the files on your G6 Lite, media will start up the built in media player (plays .gbs and .gbm files), pdaDS launches the Chinese only PDA functions (Tip: Delete the pdaDS files on your cart to free up to 80Mbytes of space!) and MediaPlay-Extend will start up the Moonshell-like media player. All from one little menu.

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    Performance:


    The make or break of any flashcart is how well it performs. It may have more features than you can list but if it doesn’t do any of them particularly well then it wont be worth buying. In this section I’ll take a look at how well the G6 Lite stacks up as a flashcart.

    GBA Usage

    If you’re looking for a flashcart for both GBA and NDS usage or perhaps even just GBA usage it’s hard to go past the G6 Lite. There have been many software improvements since my last review of the G6-Flash that have improved GBA support.

    Every GBA game I’ve thrown at it has worked perfectly fine. I have not experienced any slowdowns or saving issues even on some games that people posted they are having trouble with on the forums. My advice is to make sure you are using the latest software and loader, and also to make sure that Real Time save and compression are switched off. Of course I do not have the capacity to test every single GBA rom, but from what I’ve tried they all worked without a hitch.

    At the time of writing the review G6-Manager 4.4 was the latest manager and it added some improvements to GBA compatibility and also the GBA linkage feature, so it’s safe to say that the G6-Team still care about GBA functionality. Now just release a new GUI in the style of the NDS loader and I’ll be happy.

    Built in emulator support for older systems like original Gameboy games is great except for the naming bug where all the games are named the same. This is a minor issue that needs to be addressed.

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    NDS Usage

    I’m happy to report that NDS game compatibility is bordering on near perfect. There are still a few games that have some issues with Software Reset or that don’t save correctly, but they are mainly later games that will be fixed in upcoming patches.

    Like all GBA slot flashcarts you will need to wait for patches to improve NDS game support if the latest releases aren’t working. The G6-Team usually offers great support and patches newly released games in a few days.

    In my opinion the G6 Lite has the best NDS features and compatibility on the market so far. It is also one of the few flashcarts that have a soft reset feature for NDS games. I love this feature for two reasons; it will get you back to the menu easily so you can play another game and because when you return to the menu your save data is written to the cart. This way the G6 Lite does not require a battery to backup your save data. If there is ever a problem with your battery (I can’t see why since it is rechargeable this time) then you will not lose the ability to keep your save data, simply soft reset back to the menu. It’ll take a second to save and then you can turn the system off.

    For those of you hankering for some multimedia on your G6 Lite you’ll want to use MediaPlay-Extend. The great thing about this application is that it is integrated into the NDS loader menu and has the same functionality as Moonshell. For those that don’t know it’ll allow you to play DPG encoded videos along with, mp3s and picture files. While the DS is no PSP when it comes to multimedia, MediaPlay-Extend does a fair job keeping up.

    Movie playback is fairly crisp however the small DS screens don’t make for optimal viewing. Mp3s also put up a reasonable fight, but you’re not really going to want to replace your MP3 player as the sound quality is questionable with a good pair of headphones. You have to bare in mind the DS was never meant for any of these things so for the DS the multimedia quality of arguably good. There are also plenty of options to fiddle around with. My favourite is when you play a video file you can select different viewing methods, one of them displays the same movie on both screens but flips the top one. That way you can flatten out the DS screens and share it someone else who views it opposite you.


    (Starting a NDS game and soft resetting back to the menu)

    NDS Homebrew support

    Unfortunately homebrew support isn’t going to be the reason you buy a G6 Lite. Many homebrew projects do not support it such as DS Organise, ScummVM DS and DSDoom. Any homebrew that requires FAT access (read/write functionality) is not going to work due to the G6/M3 team not yet committing to releasing the needed source files. I was told by the G6-Team that this would be under review but so far we have not seen the release of the needed files. I sincerely hope that in the future this is addressed because it looks like the G6 and M3 are on the way out of the homebrew scene with developers dropping all support for them.

    There is a preassembled version of DSDoom that is compatible with the G6 floating about that uses the shareware wad though. Also ScummVM DS does work fine but the game files must be preassembled and under 30MB in size; a real pity that there is not more support. All other homebrew that does not require the FAT library works just fine. At least that’s something.

    Conclusion:


    The G6 Lite is a very capable, feature rich cartridge. It manages to hold together and deliver excellent game compatibility with ease of use. The software is top notch and a breeze to navigate. The G6 Lite also has what I think is the best NDS loader on the market.

    It’s just a pity that some of its shortcomings drag it down. The waning homebrew support is something that definitely needs to be addressed. The GBA loader is outdated and in dear need of a makeover. Also the built in pda functions are still only available in Chinese which gives English customers the short end of the stick. I hope the G6-Team is able to improve upon some of these features.

    These points aside the G6 Lite is a huge improvement over the original G6-Flash; it removes all of the original’s old quirks and improves the hardware, even if it now has a few new quirks of its own. I’d recommend the G6 Lite to anyone wanting a functional, feature rich and easy to use NDS and GBA solution.

    Pros

    + Fits perfectly in a DS Lite
    + Great GBA and NDS compatibility
    + Software Reset for NDS games
    + Brilliant NDS loader
    + Built in Mediaplay-Extend

    Cons

    - Outdated GBA loader
    - Questionable homebrew support
    - No English pdaDS

    Re-evaluation:


    As of 25th September 2007

    The G6 Lite still remains a solid card for both GBA and DS functions in the same package. It is a long lasting and still visually and technically appealing product. However you may be better off going for a slot-1 flash card with a gba expansion pack (EZ-V 3-in-1 Expansion Pack). This card is not recommended if you want a card solely for DS use.

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    Links:


    Official G6-Flash Website
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