[GUIDE] - Which flash cartridge should I buy?

Discussion in '3DS - Flashcards & Custom Firmwares' started by apoptygma, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. apoptygma
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    apoptygma GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Please take a few minutes to read this entire post before creating another "which cartridge should I buy" thread.

    Presently the two most popular flash cartridges are the Gateway 3DS and Sky 3DS
    At this time all other cards are clones of these two main cards


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sky3DS

    Is compatible with the following:
    • Original 3DS - Any Firmware version up to 9.8 (current)
    • Original 3DSXL - Any Firmware version up to 9.8 (current)
    • 2DS - Any Firmware version up to 9.8 (current)
    • New 3DS - Any Firmware version up to 9.8 (current)
    • New 3DSXL - Any Firmware version up to 9.8 (current)
    There are two variants of the Sky3DS:
    The original release which allows up to 10 ROMs to be used, however this tool provides a workaround, enabling it to work much like the second revision.
    The second revision which allows an unlimited number of ROMs to be cycled through by adding/removing them from a micro SD and will allow up to 31 ROMs to be stored on each micro SD.
    The two versions can be identified by the color of the button on the cartridge (blue for the newer card, red for the older) and most sites selling the Sky3DS will indicate which version it is.

    The Sky3DS works by emulating a real cartridge. As a result it will not allow the use of eShop titles or Homebrew. (It should be noted however that due to being able to update the SYSNAND to 9.7 you can still access the eShop and purchase games)
    The button on the cartridge is used to cycle through the ROMs stored on the micro SD inserted into it, the delay between game swaps is a couple of seconds and varies depending on the speed of the micro SD used.

    Online play - ROMs are copied to the Sky3DS using the DiskWriter tool from their website. The tool will inject a public header into the ROM allowing online play. The template used in this process can be modified to include a private header. This tool or this one is recommended for this purpose.
    A discussion around reports of players being banned for online play with flash cartridges is posted here.

    Sky3DS is ideal if you:

    • Own a New 3DS and Do not wish to purchase "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D"
    • Own an Original 3DS or 3DSXL or 2DS with firmware over 9.2
    • Either do not wish to run homebrew or have the ability to use ninjhax to launch homebrew (ninjhax does not require a Sky3DS but does require firmware <9.2)
    • Wish to pay for eShop games (and DLC) or do not wish to play them
    • Do not wish to play out-of-region games or have the ability to play them using a combination of Sky3DS and RegionThree
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Gateway 3DS

    Is compatible with the following:
    • Original 3DS - Any Firmware between 4.x and 9.2
    • Original 3DSXL - Any Firmware between 4.x and 9.2
    • 2DS - Any Firmware between 6.x and 9.2 (Numerous reports of compatibility issues however eg. here)
    • New 3DS - Firmware 8.1 to 9.2 (requires a retail copy of "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D" or "Cubic Ninja")
    • New 3DSXL - Firmware 8.1 to 9.2 (requires a retail copy of "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D" or "Cubic Ninja")
    The gateway ships with two cartridges:

    The Blue Card - An Ace3DS+ clone which allows DS ROMs to be played on a 3DS that has firmware below 6.1.

    The Red Card - The other is the gateway cartridge itself. This needs to be inserted to launch Emunand and is where the 3DS ROMs are stored (on a micro SD)

    Notes on the Blue card:
    It has not been successfully upgraded to work on higher firmware however it is capable of running a modified 1.62 Wood kernel. Modifying the white-list file in the SYSNAND of your 3DS will allow the blue cartridge to run on firmware 6.1 or above. See the guide here.
    It's primary purpose is to install the DS-mode exploit which was the entry point for gateway prior to a number of other exploits used in more recent versions of the Gateway's firmware.

    Aside from the 4.0-4.5 "MSET" exploit (installed via the blue card) there are a few other exploits which can be used on higher firmware versions
    • The 'Go' exploit - relies on internet connectivity but can also be run with just WiFi (no internet) hosting the website on a PC or Android
    • The "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D" savegame exploit requires another exploitable 3DS console or a savegame dongle in order to inject the exploited savegame onto the retail cartridge. More details on this process in this thread. A Sky3DS can be used as a replacement for this retail game, this process is detailed here.
    • The "Cubic Ninja" exploit requires a (brief) connection to the internet the first time it is setup, after that it will only require that the Cubic Ninja cartridge be inserted again to load Gateway mode if the system is rebooted (as with the "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D" savegame exploit). A Sky3DS can be used as a replacement for this retail game.
    Any of these exploits can be used to install the MSET exploit which will allow Gateway launching via the "DS Profile" option in the SYSNAND settings menu. This requires a small, reversable software modification to the SYSNAND.


    The Gateway 'mode' (launcher) once launched either via the DS exploit (on 4.x systems) or the GO exploit provides the following options:
    • Emunand - A copy of the NAND is run from a partition created on the SD card inserted in the 3DS (can be updated to 9.5 on New 3DS/XL or 9.7 on Original 3DS/XL)
    • Classic Mode - Emunand with the ROM loader and signature check hacks disabled, used to play retail carts requiring a higher firmware version than the 'real' SYSNAND has
    • Dump Cartridge - dumps the game cartridge inserted into the 3DS onto the SD inserted in the 3DS.
    • Dump Save - dumps the savegame of the inserted (retail) cartridge
    • Restore Save - injects a savegame from the SD card into the inserted (retail) cartridge
    • Backup SYSNAND
    • Downgrade SYSNAND (can be used to downgrade SYSNAND to 4.5 using these packs.
    • Format Emunand - (re)creates the Emunand by copying SYSNAND to the SD card
    Note that launching Emunand will request that the Red cartridge be inserted if it is not already. All other options will work without the Red cartridge even if you don't or have never owned one.
    Pushing the 'Select' button in Emunand homescreen brings up a menu to select from one of the ROMs on the micro SD in the Gateway cartridge.

    It is possible to install eShop titles (CIA) on the emunand using BigBlueMenu, however this tool is derivative of Nintendo's IP/Dev tools and should not be linked on these forums.
    A guide to converting .3DS ROMs to CIA is posted here. Note that CIA format games do not contain or require a header.
    Retail cartridge ROMs may also be converted to CIA format and installed as if they were bought from the eShop, even if that title is not available on the eShop.
    Once the emunand is loaded the red cartridge can be removed and multiple CIA games can be loaded, closed and re-opened without needing the red cartridge again unless the emunand is exited (usually by powering the system off, entering the system settings and exiting or loading certain games such as smash bros.). This means one gateway card can get multiple 3DS systems up and running games simultaneously.

    Emunand at the time of writing version 3.2.2 of the Gateway firmware allows Emunand to run version 9.8 on the original 3DS and 9.5 on the New 3DS
    There are presently no titles which require higher firmware as so all titles are playable however this restriction will prevent eShop access on the New 3DS

    Online play is possible using either the CIA or 3DZ method. A guide to 3DZ is posted here.
    A discussion around reports of players being banned for online play with flash cartridges is posted here.

    Gateway 3DS is ideal if you own an older-style 3DS or 3DSXL with firmware below 9.2 and:

    • Would like to load homebrew
    • Would like to run copies of eShop games (and DLC)
    • Would like to play out-of-region games
    • You have 2 or more 2DS/3DS systems that can share the cartridge
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Clones

    All other cartridges are clones of these main two.
    Those known are as follows:

    Known Sky3DS clones:
    Known Gateway 3DS clones:
    More details about the differences between original and clone cartridges can be seen in the GBAtemp.net Wiki Flashcart comparison chart

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Custom firmware

    There are multiple public custom firmwares which can allow most ROMs and CIAs to be loaded without a flash cartridge.
    Presently the highest level of compatibility would be a system on 9.2 firmware using "Pasta" CFW which would allow for the vast majority of titles to be run in the CIA format.

    Further information is beyond the scope of this guide. An guide on how to load custom firmware is posted here

    A list of all Custom firmwares is maintained on the wiki here (thanks to mid-kid) http://wiki.gbatemp.net/wiki/3DS_CFWs

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Disclaimer

    This guide is written based off information from the gbatemp forums at the time of last update (June 2015) and relates to the most recent firmware for 3DS being 9.8 and most recent firmware for Gateway being 3.2.2
    If you are to look up the current firmware versions for the 3DS or Gateway and they differ from these numbers it is worth reading any changes which relate to these updates.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thank you for taking the time to read
    To the forum regulars please let me know if you think anything else should be linked, added, changed or updated.
     
    Last edited by apoptygma, Jun 13, 2015


  2. shamzie

    shamzie Oh David de Gea <3

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    Region free roms, Homebrew & the ability to install and play DLC should be added to the Gateway bit.
     
  3. apoptygma
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    apoptygma GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Added, thank you for the suggestion.
     
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  4. endoverend

    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    You should add that sky3ds supports homebrew through Ninjhax and that it is useful for anyone who already updated their sysNAND to >9.2.
     
  5. shamzie

    shamzie Oh David de Gea <3

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    The guide says sky works on all firmwares already. I thought ninjhax was independent of sky3ds and would work on any 3ds console prior to 9.3. Ninjhax isn't a sky3ds feature.
     
  6. endoverend

    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    The "ideal for" column is entirely biased toward Gateway. There are advantages that should be listed in that column. Notice how i didn't say it was an exclusive feature.
     
  7. shamzie

    shamzie Oh David de Gea <3

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    No but you're suggesting sky enables homebrew through ninjhax when ninjhax works independently, gateway actually enables homebrew that's why I suggested it. I'm not arguing about the feature list of it being "bias" I've stated facts. Ninjhax has nothing to do with sky and shouldn't be listed as an advantage of buying sky.
     
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  8. endoverend

    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    That's where the problem is. I don't want to turn this into a fight either. Just wanted to make a suggestion, and I won't make any further comments here.
     
  9. shamzie

    shamzie Oh David de Gea <3

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    He probably should reword it to avoid appearing bias I agree
     
  10. apoptygma
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    apoptygma GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Good suggestions guys. I do want to keep this free of any bias or opinions so I'll change the Sky3DS 'ideal' statement to include ninjhax.

    Please continue to post any suggestions, I agree this shouldn't fall into the trap that 90% of the threads on here do (gw vs sky) but this thread should seek to contain all the unbiased facts about both/all carts to allow people to make their own informed decisions instead of starting more threads which inevitably turn into opinion pieces and fanboi fights.

    Another bias was inferred with the sentence 'wait for support from another manufacturer' when referring to the New 3DS so this was removed. Have also added higher firmware (non-new)3DS and 2DS to the Sky ideal list.
     
  11. Helper

    Helper GBAtemp Regular

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    Avoiding and actively removing (perceived, if nothing else) bias and providing just the facts in a clear and concise manner. Why hasn't anybody (to my knowledge) been able to do this until now? Kudos, OP.
     
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  12. apoptygma
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    apoptygma GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Tempted to put a little one-liner next to each of the clones with any 'gotchas' because some people insist of saving a few bucks by buying these instead. I don't know a lot about them however. An example might be 'card only supports firmware up to x.x' or 'no longer produced/updated' etc.
     
  13. ravihpa

    ravihpa GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    AWESOME! ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

    10 points to Gryffindor :lol:

    Edit: STICKY REQUEST! :)
     
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  14. Darklinkreturns

    Darklinkreturns Advanced Member

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    Personally, I'd change
    • New 3DS - Not compatible
    • New 3DSXL - Not compatible
    to "Not yet compatible" under the Gateway, seeing as they've officially announced their intent to get it working, and released a video of it working on the new consoles.
     
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  15. apoptygma
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    apoptygma GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    That's a tough one. It's kind of bias to imply that their statement will be fulfilled. I think avoiding speculation and rumors would be preferable to encouraging sales of a product which may or may not ever be compatible. Perhaps an a note or link to their statement would be appropriate but I'm hesitant to talk about anything that doesn't exist in reality at this point. The DSTWO+ only really made the cut because it's supposedly not a clone, and if upon release there's evidence of it being a clone it will be moved to the clones section.
     
  16. LinkmstrYT

    LinkmstrYT ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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    You wanted to see where I live? You stalker...
    Should have been like this:

    Is compatible with the following:
    • Original 3DS - Any Firmware between 4.x and 9.2
    • Original 3DSXL - Any Firmware between 4.x and 9.2
    • 2DS - Any Firmware between 6.x and 9.2 (Numerous reports of compatibility issues however eg. here)
    • New 3DS - Not compatible yet. SOON
    • New 3DSXL - Not compatible yet. SOON
     
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  17. apoptygma
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    apoptygma GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Heh yea. Funny as it is I don't think we need to get any more newcomers on the gatewait train. The rage in that thread is already pretty nuts. Perhaps I could re-write the 'other carts' part as a 'speculation' and bundle the gateway and DSTWO+ rumors together for people who don't want to buy something immediately and want to keep future options open.
     
  18. LinkmstrYT

    LinkmstrYT ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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    You wanted to see where I live? You stalker...
    Well, you could always add a warning that if they do want to get a Gateway for their New3DS, they may have to wait for quite a while for the new update to come out and that their the ones responsible for the flashcarts they bought and so that they shouldn't be angry and blame others for their decisions.
     
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  19. mech

    mech ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

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    Stickey please.
     
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  20. LameNobody

    LameNobody Weighted Companion Cube Enthusiast

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    Love the guide,
    Sticky?
     
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