M3 DS Simply Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by TheSpade, Feb 15, 2007.

Feb 15, 2007

M3 DS Simply Review by TheSpade at 12:20 AM (153,717 Views / 0 Likes) 1 replies

  1. TheSpade
    OP

    Member TheSpade GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Please read the post below for the review...
     
  2. Sinkhead

    Former Staff Sinkhead yay p1ngpong.

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    GBAtemp.net review of the...
    M3 DS Simply
    [​IMG]
    A.K.A.: M3DSS
    Manufactured by: M3
    Review sample supplied by: Team G6/M3

    By TheSpade - 11th February 2007


    [​IMG]Purchase your M3 from our official partner store!
    Thanks for reading our review, if you are interested in purchasing this product and wish to support the GBAtemp community or simply to reward the reviewer for their amazing work, please buy it from ShopTemp.com, GBAtemp's official partner and recommended online store! The benefits will be reversed to GBAtemp, which helps keep the site alive, support the costs for running the website, and allows the community to receive awesome prizes for competitions!

    In addition, ShopTemp offers a Premium Update & Flashing Service which allows you to get rid of all the hassle of setting up your flashcart: flashing the firmware, finding the right system files, and if you order a microSD card they will also fill your card with loads of awesome homebrew applications and games.

    ShopTemp is a reliable web shop selling flashcarts and electronics. They have amazing prices, among the most competitive on the market! They offer 100% free shipping worldwide so you won't have to pay extra. Customer service is top-quality and you get all the answers you need. You even get to use the dedicated ShopTemp Discussions Forum on GBAtemp for any further questions you may have! Wait no more, visit ShopTemp.com and get your flashcart immediately!
    Review Contents & Index:
    • Introduction
      - Official feature list
    • Packaging and Contents
      - Box Contents
    • Card Design
    • How are M3 DS Simply & R4DS different?
    • Setting Up & Using
      - GUI (OS)
      - Game
      - Multimedia
      - Boot Slot-2
    • Performance
      - ROM compatibility
      - Download Play / Single-Cart Multiplayer
      - Battery life
    • Homebrew Support
    • Additional Features
    • Conclusion
    Introduction
    [​IMG]
    Card comparison photo or collection showcase? You be the judge.


    We've seen a couple Slot-1 flash cards that are just shy of greatness. Others are nothing to write home about. The powers behind the M3 comes out swinging with the all-new M3 DS Simply, their first slot-1 flash card. After arguably dominating the slot-2 marketplace with its high compatibility, skinning support and more, can it continue its dominance upon the flash card marketplace, or is it time for them to throw in the towel? Are you out of your damn mind? Read on for a thorough scope into quite possibly the best slot-1 flash card that anyone could own!

    Official Feature List:
    • The same size as an original DS card.
    • Build in PassMe (no need for boot card or anything else).
    • Uses Micro-SD card (Transflash) as external storage. Cheap & varied usage.
    • Boots clean dumped images.
    • Super simple to use. Just drag and drop files over to the micro SD card. No drivers required.
    • Standard FAT system support.
    • Supports different speeds of Micro-SD cards, even the lowest speed. Run games without any lag or slow down.
    • Upgradeable Firmware (OS/BIOS/Kernel).
    • Touch screen control & robust skinning support.
    • No need of battery. Backs up the save file onto the Micro-SD card directly. Never lose your saves.
    • Auto detects the save type & automatically generates the saver file.
    • Homebrew support (via DLDI).
    • Directly watch movies, listen to MP3s & read text on the DS via the use of Moonshell.
    • Supports Wi-Fi, DS Rumble Pack & DS Browser.
    [​IMG]
    The times of "What is that sticking out of your DS?" are long over.



    Packaging and Contents
    [​IMG]
    Thanks to RueGorE, here are the extras presently included with the M3DSS.


    Box Contents:
    • M3 DS Simply card (white or dark grey casing)
    • Micro-SD USB Adapter
    • Game Card Carrying Case
    • Wrist Strap
    • Software Mini-CD
    [​IMG]
    While the game card carrying case is nice...


    The first issued M3DSS units included both color casings, and the carrying case also doubled as a keychain. The keychain bit isn't a loss. How many times have you lost your keys? Now imagine losing your keys and your games...frightening! The included USB Adapter, available in aluminum or transparent blue plastic, is a piece of garbage. I've learned 4 possiblities of what they can do: Work properly, experience bad read/write, break or overheat. Mine falls under the microwave category. Get yourself a good card reader prior to buying. You'll also get a wrist strap as well, in case you are prone to dropping your DS. I kid. It's still nice to see an attempt at giving some freebies in the box. The only other flash card received that did that was NinjaPass X9 (includes a standard SD USB Adapter). Just a bit of advice to those picky of their casing's color: Make certain when ordering to inform the reseller of which color you desire in advance. Personally, either color suits me just fine without any personal preference.

    [​IMG]
    ...the adapter's a crapshoot.


    Card Design
    [​IMG]
    Turn away! It's naked!


    The flash card is well snug inside the shipped casing. Upon opening the smallest screw that I've ever seen on any flash card and exploring the insides, you can see that the Micro-SD bay has two clasps that help keep it in place. The casings themselves connect via thin plastic prongs and are then fastened by a Philips screw. The Micro-SD memory snaps into place and ejects with a gentle press, and they even took the time to embroider a diagrahm upon the casing to show which way the memory inserts. You could even keep the M3DSS inside your DS while changing out memory if you are daring and gentle (DO NOT!). There are some reports, albeit a small percentage, that the Micro-SD bay can become misaligned or obstructed, preventing inserting your memory. I myself have changed memory over 200 times easily (definitely more due to my skinning work alone), and there have been no issues at all. Remember that a gentle touch is mandatory, and you should be fine. If you do end up with a unit having a bad bay, then you can either attempt to repair it (search the forums and remember that can void your warranty or even break it) or exchange it with your reseller.

    [​IMG]
    Even an idiot can figure it out...we hope.

    How are M3 DS Simply & R4DS different?
    In all relativity, they are the same, identical flash card with subtle differences. First, both the M3DSS and R4DS are manufactured at the same lab. The first issue models of each card can be modified with a soldering tool to convert from one brand to the other. A recent redesign upon both brands ensured this would no longer continue. Each team shares all findings and discoveries with one another, although R4DS uploads their updates a few days sooner tham M3DSS does. The updates have been identical in every attribute. The GUI, icon settings, etc. are exactly the same. The only difference, besides the default skin, is the M3DSS logo screen displays, "M3DSS (Region) Version", while R4DS shows, "(Region) Version." Each product can use the same custom skins that you see around here at GBATemp and abroad. At this point at time, they are essentially the same product. Just the label, a small difference of time for updates, board chipset placement and the GUI's logo message are all that seperate the two.

    Setting Up & Using
    Setting up the M3DSS
    [​IMG]
    If you can drop these in, then you can use it.


    Setup could not be any simpler (no pun!). First, go to the website and download the full installation package. Yes, avoid the out of date mini-CD. It's worth mentioning that you don't actually install anything. Next, you drop a pair of files and folders into the root. Then, simply drag and drop your uncompressed ROMs, homebrew, MP3s, text, etc. into the root of the flash memory. Yes, you backup hoarders will have to unzip your ROMs before placing them in. Finally, pop it into your M3DSS, load it within your DS and you're off! It couldn't be any easier.

    GUI (OS)
    [​IMG]
    Can you handle choosing between 3 buttons?


    The GUI is quite easy to figure out. Upon booting, you're presented with 3 selections: Game, Multimedia and Boot Slot-2. You'll see the System version and your DS's internal clock at the bottom. Unlike some flash cards, you won't have to worry about setting the memory speed. In addition, you can use custom skins that will enhance each screen per your choice. Skinning is much more simple (there's that word again) to develop than it was on M3 Perfect/Professional. It's quite a cherished attribute to personalize your GUI to however you see fit. The only negative here is that while you can use the touch screen throughout, you'll find that using the control pad and buttons is more suitable. Let's explore each menu option individually.

    Game
    [​IMG]
    Neat and tidy listing. Mom would be proud.


    Game will obviously take you to the file list. You can see all ROMs and Homebrew by default. You can also sort your file listing with the Select Button to show text (as of System 1.02) as well as to show all files and folders. The bottom screen shows the game's icon and title box, just like it would using the built-in DS Menu. Every file has its own icon, whether it is a ROM, MP3, etc. You can adjust the DS Lite's brightness level by use of the touch screen or the L Button. Soft Reset is another option added recently and can be selected by the touch screen or the R Button. To run anything, highlight the file and press A or the lower touch screen. It will create a 512 kilobyte saver file, if one wasn't already present. Also, the saver type is automatically detected, making it easy for any user rather than some of M3's competitors. For text files, it also can create a saver file in order to remember bookmarks. The only bad mark here is for those who are fans of NDS-GBA Linkage, you better own the original cartridge or an older GBA flash card that provides single-boot functionality. Otherwise, you'll have to use your Slot-2's again for that.

    Multimedia
    Multimedia is Moonshell. Unless you've been living under a rock, this is the best homebrew application for viewing movies and listening to music. Unlike the M3 Perfect/Professional models, there are no original movie and music players or picture viewer. If you never owned an older M3, then let me save you the trouble of asking: They sucked! For convenience, the Moonshell package is included in the system download. The best part for those not concerned with Moonshell, is that you don't have to drop the folder onto the memory at all. However, if you want the eBook function, then dig into the default folders for the necessary files. It's all moot to me, as I own an iPod Nano for movies and music. Moonlight still deserves every bit of credit for all flash cards placing "movies and music" on their boxes.

    Boot Slot-2
    It's not rocket science here, kids. If you still have a slot-2 flash card, such as M3 Perfect, Supercard, Ewin2, EZ-Flash IV, etc., then you can boot it just like a Passcard 3. Truthfully, it boots more devices than my own Passcard 3.

    Performance
    [​IMG]
    If you were here, then you'd be playing right now.


    Operation, execution and continuity are all sublime here. Minus two games (read down), I could not find any performance issues with the M3DSS. Those same problems are avoidable as well. I did not spot any slowdowns on my Kingston (Taiwan) 1GB, and my Sandisk 512MB showed negligible yet acceptable hits in speed. According to the M3Wiki and various circles, there isn't a single brand of Micro-SD memory that won't run all the games minus the problem titles. However, if you really want the best performance, then you should hunt down a store or auction that bears Japan-made Kingston, PNY or Toshiba flash memory. M3DSS could very well be the only flash card capable of running any commercial software at the time of this writting. Now, they can finally call it "perfect" for once.

    ROM Compatibility:
    • 4 Game Fun Pack - Monopoly + Yahtzee + Boggle + Battleship
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Animal Crossing - Wild World
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Asphalt Urban GT 2
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Big Brain Academy
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Castlevania - Dawn of Sorrow
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Castlevania - Portrait of Ruin
      - PROBLEMS: You must own one of the above mentioned memory brands, or the game will freeze.
    • Club House Games
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Dead 'n' Serious
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Diddy Kong Racing
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Elite Beat Agents
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Final Fantasy III
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist - Dual Sympathy
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Hotel Dusk - Room 215
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Inuyasha - Secret of the Divine Jewel
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Kirby - Canvas Curse
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Kirby - Squeak Squad
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Mario Hoops 3 on 3
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Mario Kart DS
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 - March of the Minis
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Meteos
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Metroid Prime Hunters
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Metroid Prime Pinball
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • New Super Mario Bros.
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Nintendo DS Browser
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine in conjunction with Nintendo's RAM Pack. The M3 and Supercard patched ROM also works.
    • Nintendogs - Chihuahua & Friends
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Phoenix Wright - Ace Attorney
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Resident Evil - Deadly Silence
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Super Mario 64 DS
      - PROBLEMS: Original U.S.A. dump fails, but v01 plays and saves fine.
    • Tomb Raider - Legend
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Yoshi's Island DS
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    Download Play / Single-cart Multiplayer:
    Due to not having two DS units available to me, I am unable to personally test Download Play. There are reports that Nintendo-published titles are shown to have issues with Download Play, while third party published games seemingly work. Thankfully, all Wi-Fi Connection titles will play online. Since they seem to have single player compatibility on lock, perhaps they will shift their focus towards improving Download Play. It's worth noting that all slot-1 flash cards presently have issues with this function.

    Battery Life Results:
    I could not notice any battery hits as significant as they were back on the older slot-2 flash cards and nopass combos. With running a single device, you can be assured of similar battery life as you would real game cards. There aren't any battery hogs these days, so depsite which brand you choose, your play sessions won't be cut prematurly by seeing your battery light turn red much sooner.

    Homebrew Support
    Due to the massive shift within the scene to DLDI format along with a DLDI driver for M3DSS/R4DS, homebrew has taken a whole new life upon a multitude of flash cards. Simply put, if the game or application is DLDI compatible, then you can likely play it on M3DSS. To us reviewers, this is a nice alternative towards figuring out and testing a bunch of homebrew programs that we would otherwise never personally use on a daily basis. No offense, authors, and thank you guys and gals for finally coming to an agreement on a single format. DLDI is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is a much broader access to homebrew. The curse is for novices to understand how to use DLDI tools as well as waiting for some authors to make the change over for their respective programs.

    Additional Features
    [​IMG]
    If you must squeeze every single ROM you can, then here's your girdle.


    While I've pretty much covered every base about the product, there are two additional downloads that you can acquire. First, we have the ROM Trimmer. I think that is self-explanatory. Second, there is the Save Transformer. This handy tool will take your older M3, G6, Ewin2, Supercard, Acekard, DSLink or EZ-Flash IV saves and transform them into M3DSS. There has only been one small issue with the Save Transformer. A friend of mine, Spikey, transfered his Elite Beat Agents save. The game saves "replays" of past games. While the save progress was intact, those replays would not work. So, there might be a few more games out there that won't work with it, but the vast majority will indeed convert.

    [​IMG]
    Leave no save behind.


    Conclusion
    Being a long-time M3 fan, I was relieved to see that they can indeed continue the momemtum displayed in the past. M3 DS Simply is quite easily the best slot-1 flash card on the market. ROM combatibility is virtually 100%, just as long as you bought the right brand of memory. Otherwise, it's 99.8%. Its GUI is newbie-friendly yet functional, which is something the competitors forgot to ensure. They ditched their in-house media players for finally caving to the superior Moonshell and tied it into the OS. You will retire your Passcards or Superkeys, as this can boot any popular slot-2 flash card. Skinning adds beauty to functionality. The best part is that the M3 DS Simply retails for around $35-50USD. That's around the price of a single retail game card, unlike DS-Xtreme, the only high-rated slot-1 flash card to date which retails for 3 times the cost. Even if you choose M3DSS's clone, R4DS, you are choosing a definite winner in the flash card arena. There is no "perfect" flash card, but this one comes closer to that mecca than any other product today!

    Pros
    + Easy to setup and use
    + 100% ROM Compatibility
    + Auto-detects memory speed and saver type
    + Brightness adjustment within GUI
    + Software Reset support
    + Doubles as a nopass for all major brand slot-2 flash cards
    + eBook text viewer
    + Skinnable GUI
    + Compatible with Nintendo's Rumble Pak and RAM Pack
    + Compatibile with Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection
    + NDS-GBA Linkage works with genuine GBA cartridges
    + Free game card case, Micro-SD USB adapter and wrist strap included
    + ROM trimming & save transforming software provided
    + DLDI-complient for most homebrew games & applications

    Cons
    - Included Micro-SD USB adapter is usually junk
    - Small chance of Micro-SD bay malfunctioning
    - Still having to mind which memory brand to use for a single game
    - NDS-GBA Linkage presently won't work with most slot-2 flash cards
    - GUI doesn't utilize the touch screen effectively
    - Only one color casing instead of originally getting two
    - Not all homebrew is DLDI-complient
    - Local Wireless play is still not as good as having the real cards

    Score: -/10

    External Links:
    - Official M3 Website
    - M3 Wiki
    - Unofficial M3 Adapter Forum


    [​IMG]Purchase your M3 from our official partner store!
    Thanks for reading our review, if you are interested in purchasing this product and wish to support the GBAtemp community or simply to reward the reviewer for their amazing work, please buy it from ShopTemp.com, GBAtemp's official partner and recommended online store! The benefits will be reversed to GBAtemp, which helps keep the site alive, support the costs for running the website, and allows the community to receive awesome prizes for competitions!

    In addition, ShopTemp offers a Premium Update & Flashing Service which allows you to get rid of all the hassle of setting up your flashcart: flashing the firmware, finding the right system files, and if you order a microSD card they will also fill your card with loads of awesome homebrew applications and games.

    ShopTemp is a reliable web shop selling flashcarts and electronics. They have amazing prices, among the most competitive on the market! They offer 100% free shipping worldwide so you won't have to pay extra. Customer service is top-quality and you get all the answers you need. You even get to use the dedicated ShopTemp Discussions Forum on GBAtemp for any further questions you may have! Wait no more, visit ShopTemp.com and get your flashcart immediately!


    This review was written for GBAtemp.net ONLY. The article and all included photos are property of GBAtemp.net. If you see this review on any other site, then please let me know via a private message here at GBAtemp.
     

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