Hacking Looking for help dumping/modifying saves

JennerBlackmane

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Hey GBAtemp,

I've recently been interested in trying to dump some saves from a few DS games (ideally to modify and push back to cart) and came across a couple of threads around this very topic (I'm told new users can't link - the threads in question are #274290 and #333153)... I've been trying to be self-sufficient about it but after running into wall after wall I've concluded I don't know what I'm doing.

I have a stock DS Lite, and was originally hoping to use an EZ-Flash IV as recommended in both threads, only to find out after getting one off eBay (microSD, translucent white shell with green sticker - not sure if that's an older or newer hardware revision) that an EZ4 can't do it alone as DS code can't be loaded from Slot-2 normally (Wood Dumper and Pokedoc's Savegame Manager run DS code, I assume - both are packaged as .nds). From there I started looking into getting a Slot-1 card that would let me flash the DS with FlashMe so I could then run the DS code from the EZ4, but the only cards I've been able to find are Datel's Max Media Launcher cards, and after just receiving one today and running into issues (MML splash and then dual white screens regardless of what kernel version I put on the EZ4) found out that it means that hardware revision of the MMLs I'm finding up for sale is not compatible with the EZ4.

So at this point, I'm reaching out here to see if anyone can help me from this stage... I don't want to keep hunting down and buying legacy hardware just to find out that it's not a compatible solution for what might as well be a one-off use (since the whole point of FlashMe is that you don't need to use the Slot-1 card anymore), and I'm tired of my research attempts running into broken links from years-gone websites. A lot of the trouble I've had has been around finding hardware that should be successful - I've had no luck with finding a PassMe2 or PassCard3, for example. Or maybe I'm doing something wrong and the current hardware I have can work somehow. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree entirely and some other solution is ideal.
 

Pk11

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I don't have a Slot-2 flashcart myself, so apologies if I get anything wrong, but I've got a few ideas at least.

For FlashMe/PassMe you shouldn't need an ancient Slot-1 flashcard/PassMe card, I believe any modern card should do, so getting one of the cheap Ace3DS+ clones (unlabeled cards with a red PCB) from eBay or AliExpress would probably be better for that.

For the MAX Media Launcher I'm afraid I've got no idea, it might be possible to get working but I wouldn't know how... Perhaps holding R while loading it would do something? I saw that mentioned in the GBAtemp review of the EZ Flash IV under setup, seems it may be needed to update it for some PassMe cards or something like that? Dunno if that's relevant for you though. One thing I did see is that it seems the EZ Flash IV doesn't support DS mode with newer kernels so make sure you've got an old kernel I guess, I'm not sure exactly what 'old' is, but it sounds like if it doesn't support SDHC that's good? (also make sure you're using a 2GB or smaller SD card if that's the case)

I'm not 100% sure how to do PassMe from a modern flashcard, but I think most kernels have a 'Launch Slot-2' option somewhere and that'll function as a PassMe. With TWiLight Menu++ you just press SELECT then in the DS Classic Menu it'll be the option in the same spot that the start GBA option is on the normal DS menu, I think that should work.

For FlashMe you can also do that with a modern cart, you should be able to follow the instructions on WikiTemp but just load the .nds from the Slot-1 card, though the download links are dead so probably want these from FileTrip (archive.org backup). I don't think you really need FlashMe though since you should be able to just use the Slot-1 card as a PassMe card.

Also, for doing the actual dumping you're probably better off with GodMode9i, it should support running on Slot-2 cards (though I'm not sure how well tested it is, if it doesn't work try the older tools) and it's able to dump saves and ROMs and I think is the most compatible dumper for the DS now.

GodMode9i also has a feature, currently only in the recent nightlies, to dump DS saves using GBA cart save data so you only need a Slot-1 flashcard (or a DS, Wii, GBA, and GBA <-> GC link cable lol) and a couple GBA games so if you can't get the EZ Flash working you may be able to use that. See #138 for more info. Since you've got the EZ Flash you should be able to use it though.
 
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FAST6191

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Modern EZ4 revisions (if it is full size GBA cart and sports a microSD it is that) and kernels (which can run on older stuff, indeed many will use the newer on the older as it allows larger size cards in the SDHC ranges and onboard patching) lack DS mode. Indeed you will be quite hard pressed to get DS mode going on for anything EZ4 related these days so I would not really go there at all and just consider it a nice GBA flash cart.

As above then anything that runs DS code will be able to run the flashme installer. I am not sure why you would have been pointed at those ancient things but I guess at the time they would have been available in real world shops, and as nobody wanted them then they were going cheap so could have possibly got something going on more easily than tracking down/buying a DS flash cart (which might have spent a long time in the post because China).

Most people dumping games today will probably be using a hacked DSi or 3ds, or maybe a PC dumper as they got popular for a while there.
Can still get things going on with DS slot devices though as you can hotswap on a DS/DS lite for these purposes (not in general but for the purposes of ROM/save dumping there is a way, DSi will generally do other things which makes it harder for parts there but as noted elsewhere they have standalone homebrew so no great issues). As you are presumably not going to want to go get a 3 in 1 you then get to use wifi, which is its own can of worms these days (DS/DS lite only support WEP and no security, and can be fussy about the routers they connect to. Most then trying things with a phone or buying a second old router to wire things into) plus you then get to run netcat and hope windows firewall does not mess you around too much, though there are FTP options as well if memory serves (though that still means server running plus annoyances with windows firewall in addition to everything else).
 

JennerBlackmane

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Thank you both for your responses!

Yeah, it sounds like my EZ4 is a modern revision unfortunately as it is a full-size GBA cart - I'm using a 32GB SD card with it, and even with downgrading the kernel to the oldest I've found is still supporting the card so I imagine DS mode is going to be impossible (which I'm assuming also means that GodMode9i won't work?). Like Fast said though, it's cool to have for playing romhacks and such on-console :)

The MML isn't a true Slot-1 flashcard from my understanding, all it does is pass execution to the Slot-2 card. There's also no way to really update it, it's basically just a standard DS card in its construction. So, if I was going to continue down the FlashMe route I'd need a different Slot-1 card anyway.

I will say I haven't been pointed at anything, more the threads I was following were... really old. Every FlashMe tutorial I can find though suggests a PassMe or NoPass type Slot-1 card if flashing from an EZ4.

Anyways, moving forward with @FAST6191's suggestions:
  • PC dumpers (by which I assume you mean something like the NDS Backup Adapter Plus or the SMS4, both of which you recommended in 333153) were actually the first things I looked into, but again ran into the scarcity issue. I've been able to find listings for the SMS4 (no luck with the other), but the MML+EZ4 route was cheaper and I thought it would work.
  • Hacked DSi or 3DS is not really a route I want to go down at this time, I don't own either console and don't plan to in the near future. It also seems like the most expensive option here, since presumably it wouldn't just be the cost of the console.
  • I'm confused how hotswapping a Slot-1 card (i.e. an R4 - assuming that's what you mean) would work for save dumping, would appreciate more detail there. I'm not married to getting FlashMe firmware on my DS, since the main point there was to be able to execute DS code on the EZ4 which is impossible for my EZ4 anyways. If you're talking just for the EZ 3-in-1 instead of a standalone Slot-1, best I've found is a listing for it that's around the same price as the SMS4 options.
  • I don't mind going the wifi route, I have a spare junk router that supports WEP and am relatively comfortable on the PC end of things - I just again don't really know what I'm doing on the DS end.
So assuming I'm understanding the options I have here - I think my preference would be to attempt the wi-fi route, I just have no idea what the process/utility is, or if I need to seek out additional hardware. Failing that... given the SMS4 or EZ 3-in-1 are around the same price where I've been able to find them, I'd probably opt for the SMS4 at this point for the sake of simplicity.
 

FAST6191

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Yeah I should probably have noted they are likely to be scarce. They got like that while things were still current and don't appear to have come back since.

Rudolph's dumpers had a GBA slot/slot2 version, a 3 in 1 version and a wifi version, there was also a more dedicated save dumper that sent data raw such that netcat would reassemble it.
The non GBA slot versions would see you boot it from a DS flash cart (basically anything should be a candidate here), it would be in memory so you could afford to remove the DS slot cart. At that point you would insert the real game and it would send the data over wifi, or to the 3 in 1 in segments of whatever it needed (32 megs a time could take a while compared to EZ4 that could do it at once). I don't think the wood dumpers that replaced Rudolph's ones had save abilities. Most other things would either be for the 3 in 1 or ancient GBA flash carts (before writing libraries/DLDI you still had access to the GBA SRAM to write to, annoying but can get it done).

Theoretically you could have a custom firmware dump saves (there were a few that did things beyond baseline firmware) but nothing really went there.

For the wifi stuff then on the DS side of things you pretty much point it at the IP address (most won't even do custom ports but if there is that then that too) of your PC/server and press go/follow on screen instructions. It should pull wifi settings from firmware and go from there. The PC side of things though is where it gets fun if your setup prevents LAN devices from speaking to each other or Windows firewall decides to be a pest (and it frequently does, though I still have XP machines around if it comes down to it).
 

JennerBlackmane

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Ah, so I would need a slot-1 card for the wi-fi or 3-in-1 solution as well? Though I thought part of the idea with the 3-in-1 is that it took care of the slot-1 and slot-2 components.

This is all really interesting stuff - thanks for helping clarify all this! I'll have to think whether I'd rather get a Slot-1 card (an R4 would work for this, right? Or is there a better option?) and go for the wi-fi solution or get an SMS4.
 

JennerBlackmane

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Yeah, turns out PassMe in particular is irrelevant at this point since my EZ4 doesn't have DS mode capability anyway. But I am leaning more towards the NDS flash card + wi-fi solution. Any recommendations? Seems R4 cards are the most common recommendation but I want to make sure I get something that works for this (not to mention it seems there are many, many R4 variants)!
 
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Pk11

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Currently the cards with no label and a red PCB that are common on eBay and AliExpress are the best you can easily get, see the r/flashcarts wiki page for more details.

Since you have a DS Lite literally any card should should work fine, but those ones are cheap and work well so they're a good option. The DSONE clones on AliExpress are also decent as they have a few bonus features for running DS games, but they're often dead on arrival so you often need to get at least 2 to be sure you get a working one.

Then I believe your two options for Wi-Fi save dumping are savegame-manager and NDS Backup Tool FTPd. savegame-manager is probably overall better as it support IR games (Pokémon HGSS, BW, B2W2, and a couple pedometer games) however I know it has a few bugs that cause it to fail sometimes so if it doesn't work for a game you'll either need to try NDS Backup Tool FTPd (I've never used it, so dunno if it's got the same bugs) or GodMode9i as I linked above.

There's also a couple games that can't be dumped currently fyi, I think Battle & Get: Pokémon Typing DS is the only game that GodMode9i doesn't support on DSi/3DS however on DS Lite it also doesn't support Warioware D.I.Y., Jam with the Band, or Face Training. savegame-manager doesn't support any of those and NDS Backup Tool FTPd doesn't support any of those and also IR games as mentioned above.
 

JennerBlackmane

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Wow, I'm glad you linked that - I'd had a few of those R4 clones set aside since they're easy to find. Take it I should avoid those, then.

I'm not planning on dumping any of those games or any IR games, but I had been planning on using savegame-manager.
 
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