GB Player GBA flash cart suggestion

Discussion in 'GBA - Flashing Hardware and Software' started by eadmaster, Jul 3, 2012.

Jul 3, 2012
  1. eadmaster
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    Newcomer eadmaster Advanced Member

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    I'm looking for a GBA flash cart with the following features:
    - Game Boy Player-compatible (including the GBPlayer enhancements: rumble, etc.)
    - SD support or large builtin memory (>=1GByte)
    - realtime saves

    less important, but still good to have:
    - no battery-backed RAM saves (the battery discharge after a while and needs to be replaced)
    - no specific driver, flashing software, ROMs patching required -> it is recognized as a mass storage device and supports clean roms
    - compressed ROMs support (zip or custom packer)

    list of candidates i prefer:
    - M3 Perfect SD (pricey)
    - G6 Lite (512MB only)
    - Ez-Flash 3
    - Ez-Flash 4 (no realtime saves)
    - SuperCard SD (bad compatibility and speed)
     
  2. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip
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    Anything that runs GBA roms should support the GB player to the fullest.

    The supercard uses somewhat slow memory and an odd way of saving meaning compatibility is sub par at best (and slowdowns in some of the stuff that does works) and given everything else is damn near perfect the contrast is striking. This pretty much means EZ4 as there are not a lot of other choices these days for stand alone GBA carts.

    Compression. It never made it to the EZ4 (the EZ3 had it though) and frankly if you trim your roms it will not make a great deal of difference. Stick a 2 gig miniSD* in one and you have most of the good GBA library (roms were rarely more than 16 megs) and a fair few hacks on top of that too.

    *you do want a miniSD instead of an adapter unless you get an EZ4 lite deluxe. Your local amazon has a few 1 gig ones and I usually find phone shops will sell you one as they tend to consider them dead weight.

    Battery backed- most non NOR only carts (the EZ 3 in 1 is about the only notable thing in common circulation unless you get a firecard clone) will not use battery to the exclusion of everything else. They (including the EZ4) tend to use SRAM to save and then write to ?SD on reboot. The supercard is about the only thing to try anything different and as every rom requires fairly extensive patching not every rom works.
     
  3. thaddius

    Member thaddius Charmander is not pleased.

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    Not quite. I own some old carts that don't, but I imagine that most carts that are currently available will work on the GB Player.
     
  4. eadmaster
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    Newcomer eadmaster Advanced Member

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    thanks for your suggestions, now i'm considering the old M3 SD adapter.
    Reportely it supports compressed roms in common zip files and is also compatible with the GB Player.
     
  5. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip
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    If you can find an M3 for anything resembling a reasonable price you will be doing well. Note you do not want an M3 professional which you might still be able to find (a few companies did carts with limited GBA support as entry level DS devices which are no good for what you want or much DS stuff in general).

    I still do not see the appeal of compressed roms- most space that is saved by basic compression is just that you save by using trimmed roms (a couple of megs of 00 goes to next to nothing with a passable compression method). There are occasions when roms did compress well (usually when you did something like full dictionary 7zip with duplicates in the archive which is very much not something the GBA handles well) but the GBA was also one of the first systems to use compression in a big way (it existed in the 16 bit era but the GBA had compression support in the BIOS and it got used) and compression of already compressed data tends not to achieve that much.

    @thaddius I am curious to hear what goes there- granted I imagine some of the really old rebadged GBC stuff would fall short but straight up GBA carts should be no different (save for the GBA video stuff but that is a different matter and otherwise "sorted"- http://www.caitsith2.com/gba_video_arv3.htm ).
    Certainly though the EZ4 is well tested on the GB player.

    If you are up for something slightly pricier (sadly the site that had them going cheap has gone) and do not mind a casemod the EZ4 lite deluxe can still be found http://shop.01media.com/info.asp?ProductID=33276 (note you do not want the EZ4 lite compact)
     
  6. DanTheManMS

    Member DanTheManMS aka Ricochet Otter

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    Yeah, the only one I know of with compressed file support is in fact the slot-2 Supercard products, but that feature was disabled long ago in the patcher software and likely in the firmware updates as well. GBA games can be trimmed, but don't expect real compression support or use that as your criteria for getting a cart, as there are more important things to consider.
     
  7. eadmaster
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    Newcomer eadmaster Advanced Member

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    I'm interested also in realtime saves, and sadly the EZ4 does not have them.
    Btw i've updated the first post with a list of compatible flashcarts, maybe we could add a wiki page for that...
     
  8. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip
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    The EZ3 has compression, real time saves/savestates, real time clock and there was a model 8Gbit aka 1Gbyte in size (it was internal NAND memory rather than external). Greater than 1 gigabyte pretty much means 2 gig SD (no GBA cart has workable SDHC).

    Good luck in finding one and if you do my advice is try not to tell people as it will probably go instant bidding war- you might get a few people opt for some of the G6 line, some M3 stuff and maybe an EZ4 lite deluxe but not so many people would argue that the EZ3 as listed up there is one of the most desirable GBA flash carts.

    I had hoped we would have a top flight GBA flash cart built with modern chips (the EZ4 lite deluxe was 2006 and pretty much the last new GBA flash cart before everybody started building expansion packs) but despite some rumours all that happened as far as I saw was another run of original EZ4 models which is why they are pretty much the only ones you can get these days.
     
  9. eadmaster
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    Newcomer eadmaster Advanced Member

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    The G6 lite looks a good alternative, but it has 4Gbits=512MB only.
     
  10. Auyx

    Member Auyx GBAtemp's Unofficial Sanic impersonator

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    Anyone tried one of THESE with the Gamecube Player and an EZ-Flash 4? The review says it doesn't work with the flashcarts they tested but they never mentioned the EZ IV.
     
  11. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip
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    I would be shocked if it did work with a flash cart like the EZ4- those sorts of devices work along the same manner as cheat devices which is to say they hook the code as early as they can and then jump onwards which is fine for a normal commercial cart but something like a full flash cart which also starts off in flash cart mode and then sets itself up (either selecting a new memory bank and/or flashing things around) and then should clear the memory (which assuming the save device code was not overwritten already would clear it) and do a reboot (soft or hard it does not really matter).

    You could probably hack the loader to prevent it and some carts did not clear memory properly in DS mode (lick's media player/lmp-ng usually providing a nice example of graphical corruption with the menu of the cart it loaded from being the corruption seen) and it might not even be that hard (kuwanger did a few things with the menu to change skinning and allow it to load in VBA and it did not seem to have any real protection not to mention we have the EZ3 SDK) but it is still effort. Personally l I would probably consider backporting the EZ4 hardware specifics to the EZ3 loader (which had compression, a fine cheat engine and savestates) and getting that to run before I went for that hardware or give up and just emulate the GBA on something.
     
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  12. eadmaster
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    Newcomer eadmaster Advanced Member

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    What about expansion packs (like the EZF3in1)?
    If it is possible to write the PSRAM in Gamecube mode, one could load games off the SDGecko directly.
     
  13. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip
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    I believe GBA cart writing (as in ROM section rather than EEPROM/SPI/similar which is entirely possible and a common operation) is a feature of the hardware and with the GB player being for pretty much all intents and purposes a fully functional GBA things look good although I can not find the relevant part of gbatek right now but I did not look hard. Likewise at least the 3 in 1 software/write libraries are open source which is probably the main reason we use those rather than m3 expansion packs or similar. Frankly though I am not sure about GB player- gamecube interaction methods (hitmen YAGD has nothing much) not to mention there is a bit of inline ASM for the libraries or at the very least GBA specific code (memory mappings, cart/memory unlock commands and such) which has the makings of an unpleasant port; do I make a piece of gamecube homberew with the associated aggro of launching GC homebrew and hope it can speak to the GB player or make a piece of GBA homebrew, possibly easier with the inline stuff, and hope it can speak to the gamecube?.
    On top of this expansion packs are a general pain to deal with outside of the DS/DS lite with DS flash cart setup; we certainly tend not to direct people towards getting an expansion pack an using the DS to flash it for use on a GBA.

    I would love to see it as a proof of concept and it is certainly not an unreasonable line of logic but I can not see a nice "end user" style method arising pretty much ever and certainly not any time soon. On top of this we have had multirom support on everything aside from these expansion packs (which it could and has been done on but is not really easy/that useful) since GBA flash carts stopped being rebadged GBC carts but that is a different discussion.
     
  14. raulpica

    Supervisor raulpica With your drill, thrust to the sky!

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    M3 Perfect SD: Rare as heck. It can easily go for $120+ if you EVER find someone selling one.
    G6 Lite: There should be quite some around, people used them a lot during the DS Lite age. Still, I haven't seen any around for sale. Might go for $80+.
    Ez-Flash 3: Uber-rare. I remember having one in my hands years ago. Quite the piece. It was SLOW as heck in file-copying as it used internal memory.
    Ez-Flash 4: You can still find it around. Uses SD. Best choice overall, in this moment. And probably for ages to come.
    SuperCard SD: Keep away from it. It's a piece of crap. The fact that you need to save manually SRAM to SD _every single time_ is enough for me to discourage anyone in even thinking about it.
     
  15. eadmaster
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    Newcomer eadmaster Advanced Member

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    I guess the 2nd route (GBA homebrew) is not doable, but i may be wrong...
    Also i can't help you much in the development aside of GUI programming.
    Btw, i have all the hardware to do the testing, including an EZF3in1 (the lite version, need to replace the case to make it fit inside the GBPlayer).
     

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