M3DS Real Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Sinkhead, Dec 9, 2007.

Dec 9, 2007

M3DS Real Review by Sinkhead at 4:53 PM (273,645 Views / 0 Likes) 5 replies

  1. Sinkhead
    OP

    Former Staff Sinkhead yay p1ngpong.

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Messages:
    3,692
    Location:
    Across the pond
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    [shoptemp]414[/shoptemp]​

    GBAtemp.net review of the...

    [​IMG] M3DS Real

    aka: M3 Real, M3DS, M3DSR
    not: M3 Simply
    Manufactured by: M3 Team
    Review samples supplied by: M3 Team

    By Sinkhead - 23th November to 9th December 2007


    Review Contents & Index:
    • Introduction
      - Official feature list
    • Packaging and Contents
      - Box Contents
    • Cart Design
    • Setting Up & Using
      - GUI (OS)
    • Performance
      - NDS ROM compatibility
      - GBA ROM compatibility
      - Download Play / Single-Cart Multiplayer
      - Battery life
    • Homebrew Support
    • Conclusion
    Introduction

    The M3 Team are one of the most renowned flashcart teams. Their products are often innovative, reliable and supported well, so many people were surprised when it turned out that their first slot-1 flashcart was exactly the same as the R4.
    Their most recent cart (at the time of writing) is the M3 Real, which is similar to the G6DS Real, but instead of having built-in memory, it uses MicroSD(HC) cards for storage.

    The G6DS Real, while not being the most popular of the slot-1 carts, has developed a substantial user base, so hopefully the M3 Real will continue this success.

    Official Feature List:
    • 100% Game compatibility, supports clean ROM's
    • works on any DS.
    • Extreme simple to use: just drag and drop files to the M3 Cart .. ..Standard FAT system.
    • Supports the Micro SDHC specification, allowing for high capacity memory cards 4GB, 8GB...
    • Exclusive Super Cheat Function:
      • Fully AR Cheat Code compatible engine
      • A Ready-Made Cheat Code database file is available for download (English, Chinese, Japanese)
      • Support reading individual cheat code file too. (xml, cht, dht)
      • Special Game features can be enabled during game playing: (such as: SlowMotion mode...)
      • Software reset function
      • Automatically detect game save type. (No need to provide save type database file.)
      • Excellent homebrew support. DLDI auto-patcher.
      • Upgradeable system. No size limitation of Flash rom.
      • Robust & skinnable GUI.
      • Built in PassMe (NO need to use with any boot cart/passcard etc. Support booting Slot1-NDS, Slot2-GBA, Slot2-NDS etc…)
      • DirectBoot: Support directly booting games or applications.
      • Supports Slot-2 expansions card. (Rumble, Ram , Browser memory and GBA Game card etc.)
      • Includes a fully touch screen & button control operating system /GUI Menu.
      • NDS-GBA Linkage works fine.
      • The strongest media features:
      • Build-in “Media-Ex” application + “Moonshell “ media player.
      • Support playing MP3 ,OGG music & DPG /DSM / GBM movies …
      • Super E-book function , support Word/ Txt file directly .
      • Super picture viewer function , support *.BMP, *.JPG, *.GIF, *.PNG directly.
    • Built in PDA (Worldwide Time ,Memo , Note ,Phone book ,Calculator.)
    • Supports Multi-Language France, Germany, Italian, Netherlands, Portuguese, Spanish...
    • Supports DS sleep mode.
    • Brightness adjustment within GUI.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Packaging and Contents
    The packaging of the M3DS Real is quite small, but I was surprised with the number of accessories included. The large features list is on the back of the box. The packaging actually looks quite good. It's simple, but it has everything you need to know on it, and it will protect the product in shipping. It also has a little eyelet so it can be hung up in shops.

    The M3DS Real is sold in bundle packages, you can more about these bundles here

    Box Contents
    [​IMG]
    • 1x M3 DS Real
    • 1x MicroSD card reader
    • 1x DS cart and MicroSD card holder
    • 1x Firmware disc (MiniCD)
    • 1x Rumble Pack
    • 1x Rumble RAM Pack (only in Rumble/RAM pack bundle)
    • 1x GBA Expansion Pack (only in GBA Expansion Pack bundle)
    The Rumble Pack and CD cart holder were in a clear plastic tray, the CD was behind the tray and the MicroSD reader and other expansion packs were loose underneath the tray.

    The firmware on the MiniCD I received was horribly outdated, so I recommend downloading a more recent version from GBAtemp's Download Centre, but apart from that the accessories were nice. The MicroSD card reader doesn't feel particularly strong, and it isn't glued (held together by pins in holes) but the speeds are decent and it should be fine for normal use.

    Having a MicroSD card holder in the same box as the cart is a nice touch as well.

    Cart Design
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The English language version only comes in black colour, whereas the Chinese version comes in white. The team have said they will release other shells, but at the time of writing you're stuck with the colour you're given. In shaunj66's review of the G6DS Real he noted that although the cart was held together by clips round the edge, there was also a small screw underneath the label which you had to remove in order to open up the cart. In my sample, although the screw hole was still there, the screw was not. This meant it was very easy for me to open up the cart.

    The back of the cart (with the label on) came away, but the PCB remained stuck to the front of the cart (with the label on). This was because there is actually a hole cut in the shell under the sticker, which makes room for one of the larger and thicker chips (an Actel ProASIC 3). The chip had stuck to the sticker. There is a slight bulge in the sticker when the chip is under it if you look closely, however you don't notice this when inserting or removing the cart.

    The build quality of the cart itself is very good. The clips hold the two halves together really well, and the cart feels solid and it doesn't bend or creak. Unlike with official games, there aren't any plastic dividers between the contacts on the bottom of the card, but this doesn't seem to cause any problems. The spring-loaded MicroSD slot feels well-made, but the M3 Team have chosen to make the slot only be on one side of the cart, which makes it hard for people without long nails to eject it. I have quite short nails and I can get it out without a problem, so it's not that bad. All in all, the build quality of the M3DS Real is very satisfying.


    [​IMG]

    I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Where's the bottom of the carts gone?!" Well the truth is, I don't know either. I can't imagine why they missed that bit of plastic off, but it doesn't seem to affect much. The cart still slides in and out like it's supposed to, it still clicks, it's not going to fall out. It does mean that you can see inside part of each cart. They are both made from the same mould, you can tell because a hole has been cut to give room for the battery in the GBA Expansion Pack, but the hole is also there in the Rumble Pack even though it is not needed.

    The rumble itself feels very nice. Because this pack uses an off-centred weighted block on a motor, the shaking is more 'rumble-y' as opposed to 'buzz-y'.

    This is also the first 3rd-party slot-2 expansion pack I know of that has that nice shiny finish on the outside, to match the DS shell. Unfortunately, it will only match if you have a black DS, as the expansion packs, also only come in black.

    It's quite easy to get inside the carts, just one small screw and the front slides off.

    Setting Up & Using
    I found it more difficult to set up the M3DS Real than other carts I have tried, because the official site doesn't actually offer any downloads, they simply link to a number of mirrors owned by other people. This means that when a new firmware is released, it takes time for all the mirrors to update, so I was glad of GBAtemp's Download Centre which allows members to post files.

    The M3DS Real's loader is stored on the MicroSD card, and when the system files cannot be found a message displays saying "No system file found! Put system file in". Once you have the required files (one folder, 'SYSTEM', it still works if you hide it) it is very easy to set up, all you have to do is put the loader files in the root of your MicroSD card.


    GUI (OS)

    All tests conducted with firmware V2.51 using skin 2

    The menu takes around 4 seconds to load, then you are presented with 7 buttons.

    First you have the 'NDS' button which takes you to a file browser from which you can load NDS ROMs (it looks for ROMs in a folder called 'NDS' in the root of the MicroSD card). The game's icon is shown on the left (in full size) however transparency doesn't work, so many icons have lime green or magenta borders round them. The word wrap is also strange, as it wraps regardless of whether it's cutting a word in half or not. This can make the menu hard to read at times. In the third column is the size of the ROM.

    [​IMG]
    The main menu

    One thing that I find nice is the ability to sort the ROMs by tapping the column label, for example tapping 'Name' lets you organize your ROMs by name, either ascending or descending (the same applies to the 'Size' column). Scrolling down the menu is quite fiddly, as the scrollbar is very small, but you can tap it anywhere above the 'moving block' to move up, and anywhere below it to move down, so it's not that bad. You can also scroll through 4 ROMs at a time by using the L or R button which has the same effect as tapping the scrollbar. To load a ROM you tap it, or highlight it with the D-pad and press A, which takes you to a menu screen where you can choose some loading options.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The file browser and the loading options menu

    Firstly, there is a button saying 'Select File...' which allows you to choose which cheats database you want to use.
    You can choose whether cheats are off, on, or be able to activate/deactivate them with a button combo (SELECT+LEFT = Enable, SELECT+RIGHT = Disable). Next you can choose what buttons to press for soft-reset, either L+R+B+A+X or L+R+B+A+Y. Personally, I prefer to press L+R+A+B+X+Y, but it's good that it's the user's choice. Soft-reset is one of my favourite features of any flashcart, so it's good that the M3DS Real implements it well. Thirdly, you can choose which buttons to press to enable slow-motion, either SELECT+L, SELECT+R or off. The last option lets you choose how slow the slow-motion is, ranging from Level 1 (Slow) to Level 5 (Slowest). Like with all other flashcarts that have slow-motion, the music isn't affected, however with the M3DS Real, slow-mo only seems to work when soft-reset is turned on, and even then it doesn't always work. Sometimes, the game just freezes when you press SELECT+L/R then starts again when you release the buttons... These settings are saved for individual games which is very handy.

    [​IMG]

    At the top of this options screen there is another tab, which takes you the cheats menu. Here you can choose what cheats you want to use. To enable a cheat you tap it with the stylus, or highlight it with the D-pad and press A. Scrolling with the stylus is a bit fiddly as the scrollbar is very thin, but I found out that you can tap the actual scrollbar itself, not the buttons, which makes it easier. The game's game code is shown at the bottom (for example, Club House Games is 'ATDE'). If the name of a cheat is truncated, you can see the full name at the top of the screen. Once you have chosen which cheats you want, you click the 'Config' tab at the top which takes you back to the previous screen with all the options on, and saves which cheats you have enabled. From the 'config' tab you can launch the game normally, or press Y to launch it with download play (single-cart multiplayer) compatibility.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The GBA file browser and loading options menu

    The second button on the main menu allows you to load GBA games placed in a folder called 'GBA' in the root of your MicroSD card. The file list is the same as in the 'NDS' loader, but this time there are no game icons; every GBA ROM has the same generic GBA icon (see pictures). When you tap the name of a ROM you get the same options screen, but with different options. This time you can choose the cheat database as always, but this differs slightly from using cheats with NDS games. You have to choose the cheat file for the individual games, they aren't automatically detected. This also means that there isn't a 'cheats' tab in the loader which confused me at first, so I loaded the GBA game and I found the menu. Once the GBA game has loaded onto the slot-2 expansion pack, a cheat menu appears in GBA mode. To turn cheats on and off, you use the D-pad to move up and down to highlight a cheat, then you press A to either enable or disable it. The menu is very easy to use, and there's even an option at the top to turn all cheats on or off. Some handy messages alternate on the bottom grey bar, telling you (among others) that SELECT disables all cheats, START loads the game, and B returns to the main menu (however, the B button doesn't actually seem to do anything except make the cheat menu reset).

    The next option you have when you load a GBA game is whether to have RTS (real-time save) enabled or not. If you do, you press A+B+L+R in game to bring up a small menu in the same style as the GBA cheats menu. There are three options: to save the game, load a previously saved game, or restart the game. B resumes the game, and A lets you confirm your choice once you have highlighted it with the D-pad. Saving and loading both take a couple of seconds, and don't always work, but it's a nice feature to have for games that do work (but make sure you test it somewhere near the beginning of the game so you don't lose a lot of gameplay). If you look down in the 'Performance' section I've tested a selection of games, and the compatibility is pretty good. The one thing I wish this function would have is a 'Are you sure you want to save/load?' message, because all too often I have accidentally pressed the wrong option and overwritten my save file or lost all my progress by accidentally loading the old one. The last option you have on the GBA loader is what patching method to use. 'Fast Load' simply writes the ROM to the slot-2 cart, whereas 'Patch' lets you use cheats and save the game.

    Finally, when you have chosen all your options (it remembers the options you used to last load that game, so it doesn't take long) you can press the start button to begin loading your GBA game onto the slot-2 expansion pack, from where it will be launched so you can play it.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The GBA cheats menu (launched once game has loaded) and the in-game RTS menu

    It was at this point in the review that I realized my Ewin Expansion Pack had been in my DS throughout this entire GBA section, not the M3DS Real GBA Expansion Pack. So I opened them both up.

    From the front, they look completely different, but if you turn the PCB of the Ewin Expansion Pack over, you can see that now they both looks remarkably similar. There are two large chips, both the same size and similar location, and one of them is Altera Max II. They are from different moulds, and are made from a different type of plastic, but it's interesting to see how they can be used interchangably.

    Going back to the opening menu, to the third button. This lets you access a simple file browser. This is exactly the same as the NDS and GBA browsers, but again, only commercial ROMs have icons. The other files (GBA ROMs, homebrew etc) simply have generic icons, which I found odd, because most of the homebrew I have has an icon, it just doesn't show up in this loader.

    The fourth button on the main menu is a PassMe/NoPass, but with a special feature: It lets you choose whether to boot the slot-2 cart in GBA or NDS mode, which is really useful in some situations. I only have two slot-2 carts to test it on: a SuperCard Lite and an EZ-Flash 3 in 1 Expansion Pack, both of which is launches in GBA mode and the SuperCard in NDS mode.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The built in NoPass and the Settings menu

    The fifth button (first on the second row down) takes you to GBalpha's media player (it behaves like a modified version of MoonShell), which isn't bad. It plays DSM movies (converter included on the disc that comes with the M3DS Real), a memory card browser (from which you can't load NDS or GBA ROMs), a music player that plays MP3s slightly faster than my PC does, an eBook reader and a picture viewer. It's not bad, and it it's nice that a media player is included instead of just asking users to download Moonshell. You can get back to the main menu through the 'Settings' button, or by pressing Start.

    The sixth button takes you to the TouchPod PDA software which I won't go into in much detail, but it has an NDS launcher (which takes you back to the main M3DS Real menu), a clock and calendar, a small scribble pad, a units converter (which is actually useful!), a calculator and a memo pad. It's quite fiddly to use, and it's a bit slow, but like the media player, it's nice that they include it instead of using third-party software like DSOrganize.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The built-in media player and PDA software (respectively)

    The last button on the main M3DS Real Menu is the settings. There are 4 settings: One is called 'BootIcon' and the only option you can choose on the M3DS Real is 'NO'. On the G6DS Real, this option lets you choose whether the cart automatically skips the health and safety warning and goes straight into the menu, or if it appears in the DS's menu like a normal game would. The next setting lets you choose the skin (there are 5 included with the firmware, I prefer 2, the Vista-y one, the most). Unfortunately, the entire operating system of the M3DS Real is in a nasty generic serif font similar to Courier New which spoils the smooth appearance somewhat, I hope this is fixed soon. The next option is really useful, it lets you choose whether to go to the main menu or the NDS launcher when you boot the M3DS Real, and the last option lets you choose the language from English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean or Thai.

    Overall, the firmware is full of features, most of them working, and it's generally user-friendly. The biggest annoyance in it is the lack of a 'Back' button, which spoils the stylus-only navigation. There is plenty of room for it in the title bar at the top of the screen on the right, so I hope they implement this...

    Performance

    NDS ROM Compatibility

    We no longer test individual games, as 100% compatibility is expected of all flashcarts nowadays, but I have had no problems with any of the games I tested Download Play compatibility on, or any of the other many games I have tried.

    GBA ROM Compatibility



    [A] Game uses password, not save files
    [1] Rapid clicking once loaded
    [2] You get a buzzing noise that doesn't go away (tried pausing, going into different rooms etc)
    [3] The road and all menus disappear therefore making the game unplayable
    [4] No internal clock in expansion pack, meaning that time/date-related events won't happen (but the game can still be played)

    .bold { font-weight: bold;}.gbacompat tr td { background-color: #FFFFFF;}.yes { background-color: #CCFF99 !important;}.problem { background-color: #99CCFF !important; cursor: help;}.no { background-color: #FFAA77 !important; cursor: help;} Number Name Size(Mbits) Works Normal Save Real-Time Save Saves Loads Saves Loads 0025 Super Mario Advance 32 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 0115 Spider-Man - Mysterio's Menace 64 Yes N/A [A] N/A [A] Yes Yes 0206 Mech Platoon 64 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 0319 Crash Bandicoot XS 64 Yes Yes Yes Yes No [1] 0451 Earthworm Jim 2 64 Yes N/A [A] N/A [A] Yes Yes 0576 Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance 64 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 0686 Doom II 128 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 0776 The Legend Of Zelda - A Link To The Past 64 Yes Yes Yes Problem [2] Problem [2] 0898 Pokémon Sapphire 128 Problem [4] Yes Yes Yes Yes 0985 Rayman 3 - Hoodlum Havoc 64 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1053 Crazy Taxi - Catch A Ride 64 Yes Yes Yes No [3] No [3] 1198 Namco Museum 32 Yes N/A [A] N/A [A]> Yes Yes 1212 Super Mario Advance 4 - Super Mario Bros 3 32 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

    Download Play / Single-cart Multiplayer

    All games are tested using the 'Download Play' button when loading an NDS game.
    PASS: Game plays just as it should on a real game card.
    FAIL: Game doesn't even load or freezes before game play.
    • Big Brain Academy - PASS
    • Bleach DS 2nd - PASS
    • Brain Age - PASS
    • Clubhouse Games - PASS
    • Daigasso! Band Brothers - PASS
    • Diddy Kong Racing DS - PASS
    • Elite Beat Agents - PASS
    • Jump Ultimate Stars - PASS
    • Konami Classics Series - Arcade Hits - PASS
    • Mario Kart DS - PASS
    • Mario Slam Basketball - PASS
    • Meteos - PASS
    • Metroid Prime Hunters - PASS
    • Nanostray - PASS
    • Need for Speed Carbon: Own the City - PASS
    • New Super Mario Bros - PASS
    • Super Mario 64 DS - PASS
    • Super Monkey Ball - Touch & Roll - PASS
    • Snowboard Kids SBK - FAIL: Once player has been accepted, a communication error occurs
    • Starfox Command - PASS
    • Tetris DS- PASS
    • Winning Eleven DS - PASS
    • Worms - Open Warfare - PASS
    • Yoshi Touch & Go - PASS
    The back of the box promises perfect compatibility, and this isn't it, but 96% compatibility isn't bad.

    Battery Life Test:
    Test condition:
    • Fully charged European Black Nintendo DS Lite
    • M3DS Real
    • Toshiba SD-C01G JAPAN formatted to FAT32
    • New Super Mario Bros. Running Main Menu and movie looping continuously
    • Screens at maximum brightness (level 4)
    • Sound at 100% (loudest)
    Results:

    Backup ROM of New Super Mario Bros. on M3DS Real = 4 hours 38 minutes
    Retail New Super Mario Bros cart = 4 hours 55 minutes


    Homebrew Support
    Because of DLDI, homebrew should work if placed in the root of your MicroSD, where the M3DS Real should patch it automatically. I was quite disappointed with this, as I like to keep things organized, and putting all my homebrew in the root of my memory card cluttered up the file browser... Homebrew that doesn't require file reading/writing will work fine.


    Conclusion
    The M3DS Real has proved that it can follow in it's ancestor's footsteps and be a good choice, and although the cart is good overall, the many small things add up to lower it's overall score. The plain, boring font, the weird text-wrapping, the mega-fast icon animation in the menu, these are a few of many small things that, if corrected, would make the M3DS Real a much, much better cart.

    There's also the fact that it doesn't really do anything new unless you get the GBA Expansion Pack bundle. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the GBA Expansion Pack is the best thing about the M3DS Real. It takes clean ROMs, isn't too slow, and works well, it even has cheat support and real-time save.

    Then there's the M3 Team's reputation for good support, which is a very important factor in choosing a flashcart. So far, firmware updates have been very frequent, and problems are quickly solved.

    So all in all, if you want a flashcart with GBA compatibility, that has perfect NDS game compatibility, a great support team and no glaring problems, the M3DS Real will do exactly what you want.

    Pros

    + 100% NDS compatibility
    + Perfect GBA compatiblity
    + Extra features like cheats and RTS when playing GBA
    + Integrated GBA loader, no external software needed
    + Good skinning engine
    + Media player and PDS software included, good for newbies
    + No patching software needed for anything
    + Great build quality
    + Fast, frequent updates

    Cons
    - Download play not perfect (but it's close)
    - Homebrew will only be automatically DLDI patched if placed in the root of the MicroSD
    - GBA RTS is slightly buggy with some games


    [​IMG]
    External Links:

    - Official M3 Team Website

    This review was written for GBAtemp.net and RomNet.co.uk ONLY. The article and all included photos are property of GBAtemp.net
    If you see this review on any other site please let me know via e-mail at sinkhead(at)gmail.com
     
  2. Sinkhead
    OP

    Former Staff Sinkhead yay p1ngpong.

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Messages:
    3,692
    Location:
    Across the pond
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Any questions about the review or the M3DS Real in general? Give me a PM, and I'll put the question and answer up here!

    Q&A
    Q by SpikeyNDS: Did you test SDHC compatibility?
    A: Unfortunately I don't have an SDHC card to test it with (I have no money [​IMG]) however kizza and ChemicalGus have told me their 8GB cards work fine, and others have reported 4 and 6GB cards working too.

    Q by filozof: Did you test Wii to DS linkage?
    A: Unfortunately I don't have an Wii to test it with (I have no money [​IMG]) but the M3DS Real is very similar to the G6DS Real which supports it, so I wouldn't be surprised if it works (but please don't take my word for it)

    Q by Satangel: Do the NDS and GBA games need to be in a folder called 'NDS'/'GBA' or not?
    A: If you want to load them using cheats, soft reset etc., then yes. You can still launch NDS games through the file browser, but you won't get the options.

    Q by Gestahl: Does the M3DS Real correctly display ROM names with Chinese symbols?
    A: Yes it does.

    Q by kaputnik: Does the M3DS Real show hidden files/folders in the file browser?
    A: No, hidden folders are visible, but you usually don't need to go into the file browser as NDS and GBA games are launched from their own file browsers.
     
  3. XtremelyNooby

    Newcomer XtremelyNooby Advanced Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2013
    Messages:
    58
    Location:
    Falls Church, Virginia
    Country:
    United States
    can this card load GBA games?
     
  4. Crystal the Glaceon

    Member Crystal the Glaceon GBAtemp Inkling™ Squishies~

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Messages:
    14,724
    Location:
    Inkopolis
    Country:
    Antarctica
    There are very few Slot-1 cards that have GBA emulation. The best one being the Supercard DSTwo.

    This card (the M3 Real) is extremely old and requires a slot-2 card to work with GBA games.
     
  5. Rydian

    Member Rydian Resident Furvert™

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    27,883
    Location:
    Cave Entrance, Watching Cyan Write Letters
    Country:
    United States
    If you're on a DSi or 3DS and can't use a slot-2, then your best bet is the DSTwo.
     
  6. pyromaniac123

    Member pyromaniac123 ส็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็(ಠ益ಠส็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Messages:
    2,000
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    First ever ds flashcart :wub:
     
    RikuCrafter and The Catboy like this.

Share This Page