M3i Zero Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Minox, Sep 27, 2009.

Sep 27, 2009

M3i Zero Review by Minox at 12:59 PM (72,443 Views / 0 Likes) 8 replies

  1. Minox

    Supervisor Minox Spytech Employee

    Aug 27, 2007
    *This review is obsolete. The M3i Zero no longer has official support. <center> <iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="260" src="http://shoptemp.net/viewproduct.php?pid=32" width="100%"></iframe></center>

    GBAtemp.net review of the...

    M3i Zero [​IMG]

    aka: M3i, M3i0
    Manufactured by: M3 Team
    Review written by War & Minox_IX

    Review Contents & Index:
    • Introduction

      - Official Feature List
    • Packaging and Contents

      - Box Contents
    • Cart Design

    • Setting Up & Using

    • Performance

      - ROM compatibility
      - Multiplayer, Download Play and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support
    • Additional Features

      - Multimedia Support
      - Cheat Support
      - MicroSDHC Support
      - Soft Reset and Slow-Motion
      - Real-Time Save
      - DLDI Support
      - Language Support
    • Homebrew Support

    • Conclusion

    The M3i team has been hard at work to keep up with the DSi flashcart "competition". On June 12th, 2009, the M3 Team announced the M3i Zero, their first DSi compatible flashcart. The M3i Zero seemed to be a very promising flashcart, offering the ability to upgrade the cart's firmware without the need of a DSi. This feature would be crucial in the event that Nintendo released a new firmware that would block flashcarts. Fans of the team were ecstatic to hear the news, and many people anxiously awaited its arrival.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As of the writing of this review an update for the DSi has been released which blocks flashcarts with their own custom icons & titles, blocking all DSi flashcarts released at that time. However, flashcarts that were updatable could circumvent this newly added protection by using the icon & title from a retail game. Some flashcarts required to be updated while used in a "pre-1.4" state or in a DS/DSL, some were updatable using provided flashing hardware, some were even able to update by just using the power provided from the slot 1 of a DSi with firmware 1.4 and some simply were not updatable at all meaning that a new hardware revision would be needed. M3i Zero falls under the second category and using it's recently updated core firmware DSi owners can now enjoy 1.4 while still being able to use their flashcarts even though that means your M3i Zero will now use the icon & title of the retail game Danny Phantom.

    Official Feature List:
    • Compatible with DS, DSl & DSi.
    • 100% game compatibility.
    • Supports Real Time Save function.
    • Supports Multi-Language System.
    • Continue to update & frequency enhance software/firmware.
    • Supports micro SDHC.
    • Extreme simple to use, just plug & play.
    • Super Cheat Function

      - Fully AR Cheat Code Compatible engine.
      - Supports reading individual cheat code files too (xml, cht, dht, dat-R4 format).
    • Supports software reset function.
    • Supports slow motion feature.
    • Automatically detect and generate game save file.
    • Excellent homebrew support, DLDI auto-patcher.
    • Robust & skinnable GUI
    • Built-in PassMe
    • Supports download play.
    • Supports rumble pack, GBA expansion & DS Browser.
    • Supports 4-scale-lightness adjustment.
    Packaging and Contents The M3i Zer.../moniox.gbatemp.net/m3i/Box - small.jpg[/img] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [/url]Box Contents
    • 1x M3i Zero

    • 1x microSDHC reader

    • 1x Flashing cable

    • 1x Small case for the M3i Zero and a microSD
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The included microSDHC reader is of the really tiny sort and does its job, but like other microSDHC readers included with flashcarts they tend to not work for too long or may even come dead on arrival which also happened to be the case with one of the two supplied M3i Zeros. The small case for the M3i Zero and a microSD is quite nice and is of a similar kind to those often included with regular memory cards.

    The flashing cable is a simple looking cable with one end being a USB connector and the other being the contact for the M3i Zero. The edge of the M3i Zero connector is really thin and feels like it probably could be bent off if you're not careful. Better watch out for that as you wouldn't be able to update the core firmware anymore if such a thing would happen.

    Cart Design

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The M3i Zero's design feels like a slight letdown. When looking at the front of the cart it looks pretty decent with a nice-looking sticker on the front and only a small reminiscence of a bulg being the main chip.

    Like some other available flashcarts the M3i Zero has a spring-loaded microSD slot on the side of the flashcart. While it does secure the microSD inside of the flashcart it also makes it a little more annoying to remove the microSD as you have to eject the whole M3i Zero from the DS in order to do so. However, thanks to this certain aspect of the M3i Zero it looks close to an original cartridge from above when inserted into a DS.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    On the other side of the M3i Zero there's not much at all except for a small hole. This hole is where you plug in the flashing cable whenever you need to update the core firmware.

    Looking at the backside of the M3i Zero you'll quickly notice the lack of "teeth" on the contact area. This is supposedly done to improve connectivity with slot 1s, but also has the side-effect that dirt gets caught there easier.

    The cart is held together by three small clips and what I suspect to be a glued top. The clips are small and feels rather frail as if they shouldn't be messed with or they'll break. As a whole the flashcart feels sturdy enough despite the clips with only one exception - the bottom of the cart. At the very bottom of the cart beneath the contact area there is a small plastic strip that budges really easy. This little plastic strip does not look like it has any real function and it still confuses me why they bothered to add such a small plastic strip which feels like it's going to break at any moment.

    When inserted into a DS I immediately noticed something. The M3i Zero had contact issues, which means that the DS has a hard time recognizing the M3i Zero unless the contact area is pressed towardst the DS slot. This meant that in order for me to actually use my new M3i Zero I had to use the old papertrick were you put a small piece of paper/small bit of tape on the back of the flashcart in order for it to be pressed towards the DS slot. Having to do so with a new slot 1 flashcart is strange by itself as you'd think that they would've figured the part of getting it to fit properly by now. Luckily this does not appear to be the case for all M3i Zeros as the other one worked as it should so this problem could possibly have been fixed in later batches.

    Setting Up & Using

    Unlike most other flashcarts the M3i Zero comes shipped without a core firmware meaning that you won't be able to use it until the core firmware is flashed to it.

    <p align="center"><object height="385" width="480"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/jV_SKXZszBo&hl=sv&fs=1&rel=0" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/jV_SKXZszBo&hl=sv&fs=1&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480"></embed></object>

    Core firmware flashing process</p>

    Flashing the core firmware is not a hard process at all and doesn't take long to do. In fact all you have to do is to download the f_core.dat file and copy it to the root of your microSD/microSDHC, insert it into the M3i Zero and then plug in the supplied flashing cable into a USB port and the M3i Zero. The M3i Zero should then start to flash with a red light and when it's stopped the M3i Zero should now have its core firmware.

    What remains is to put a operating system onto it and here you've got 2 choices. Either you choose the old Touchpad operating system or the new M3Sakura. The main difference between the two is that Touchpad usually gets game fixes earlier while M3Sakura features a much nicer GUI. Copy across the operating system of your choice to the microSD/microSDHC and now you should ready to use your new M3i Zero.

    Performance I tested all of the fo... when you run a game is around 3-5 seconds. ROM Compatibility

    Q: Does the M3i Zero support "DSi Only" games?
    A: At the time of writing there has been no DSi only games released by Nintendo. This means that there's no real way to know for certain whether or not it'll work, but the general assumption is that it will not.

    Q: Does the M3i Zero support DSiWare?
    A: The M3i Zero does not support DSiWare by itself as it is limited to DS compatibility mode. This means that you can't just download DSiWare ROMs, copy them to your SD card, and run them as if they were a normal DS game.

    Q: Is there any game that hasn't worked properly?
    A: Out of the 45 or so games I tested, none of them had problems.

    Q: Do you have to perform any ARM7 patching or modifying, such as Worms: Open Warfare 2?
    A: No. All games appear to work fine without prior tampering.

    Q: Have you experienced any slow down and or lag in games?
    A: All games tested does not appear to suffer from lag and notorious games known to be laggy on flashcarts seem to run just fine on M3i Zero.

    Q: Have you encountered any random freezing in games?
    A: No random freezing in-game has been noted on the M3i Zero without contact issues. The other one has had occasional freezing, but that was solely caused by accidental dislodgements of the flashcart.

    Q: Does it matter what micro SD card I use?
    A: As with all DS flashcarts it's important to try to get a fast microSD/microSDHC from a well-known manufacturer. However it does not appear to cause much of a difference.

    [b]Multiplayer[/b] Multiplayer ove...: Days of Ruin, Bomberman DS and Contra 4. Additional Features

    The M3i Zero has a lot of really nice features, which is one of the reasons why I like it so much. One of the features that I really appreciate is the "Application Software" tab. Basically, when you run a ROM and later turn off your DS, if you turn it back on, and boot up your M3i, it will take you to a little tab called "Application Software". This tab keeps track of the games you have played recently, so you don't have to go through all the menus to find that game you were just playing.

    The M3i also comes pre-loaded with two little homebrew applications. If you click on the tab named "Accessories" (it can be accessed when you boot up the M3i or by pressing Select), you will see the 2 applications. One of them is "Check disk for NDS Ver0.4", which I honestly have no idea what it does since the program is in Japanese and the other app is "Morning timer Ver1.2", which is a nice little timer/alarm that is easy to configure and works really well.

    In the main Sakura menu, you can press Select to access the features I talked about above, or you can press Start to access things such as "GUI Settings" and "Language Settings".

    [b]Multimedia Support[/b] Another r... can skip to the next song by pressing L+R. Cheat Support
    Pressing X while highlighting a ROM will bring up the M3 Sakura NDS Settings menu. Here, you can set cheats to "off", "always on", "on/off" (this allows you to input a command while in-game to turn the cheats on and off), and "instant codes". To be completely honest, I don't think there's any difference between "on" and "instant codes". Once you set the cheat switch to your desired setting, click on the "Select Cheats..." tab and select whichever cheats you want. After that, return to the NDS Settings menu and press "Ok" at the bottom.

    [b]MicroSDHC Support[/b] This is ba... who have lots of games, music, and videos. Soft Reset and Slow-Motion
    In the NDS Settings menu (once again, just press X while higlighting the desired ROM) you can select whether you want Soft-Reset to be on or off. You can set it to either LR+ABX or LR+ABY. By pressing the button combination that you have chosen while in-game, you can return to the Sakura menu without having to turn the DS off and then back on. The soft-reset function has worked perfectly in every game I have tried, although it is not perfect. As I said, though, I have not encountered any problems yet.

    If you select the Soft Reset option in the NDS Settings menu, you'll notice that the option to select Slow-Motion becomes visible. I don't like the fact that it cannot be selected on its' own, but I will cover that later. Slow-Motion can be set to "Off", "L+Select", and "R+Select". There are also 5 different levels of slow-motion, 1 being normal speed and 5 being very slow. I wasn't too impressed with the slow-motion, to be honest. Sometimes, it took me more than a few tries to get it to work. Whenever it does work, it usually generates some very nasty sound glitches which are annoying unless you play with the sound off (why would you?). Using slow-motion may also cause graphical glitches, and there was one instance where my game froze. It's works fine, but just be sure to save before you attempt using it, and be aware that it is far from perfect.

    [b]Real-Time Save[/b] Most of you w... little feature which not many carts offer. DLDI Support
    The M3i Zero has auto-DLDI patching, so you shouldn't have to worry about homebrew requiring manual DLDI patching.

    [b]Language Support[/b] By pressing... French, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. Homebrew Support

    As many other flashcarts nowadays the M3i Zero has DLDI auto-patching meaning that most if not all homebrew applications/games should work without problems. So let's see how the M3i Zero performs when tested with a small amount of the wast amount of homebrew available for the DS
    • ComicBookDS - Pass
    • DiagnoSe - Pass
    • JezzballDS - Pass
    • Lameboy - Pass
    • Lemmings DS - Pass
    • Moonshell 2 - Pass
    • nesDS - Pass
    • Pocket Physics - Pass
    • Still Alive DS - Pass
    • World Of Sand DS - Pass
    • XM7Play - Pass
    • MegaETk-TD - Problems (Can't access the file system)
    • Sandscape - Problems (Scrambled graphics)
    • Lode Runner Origine - Fail
    • Video Games Hero - Fail
    • Codename Hacker - Fail
    • Inside The Machine - Fail
    • PuzzleManiak DS - Fail
    As you can see when using M3 Sakura the M3i Zero doesn't really live up to its supposedly excellent homebrew compatibility. It's decent, but could be further improved. However when I tried them with the old Touchpad firmware all but 2 worked as they should, so if you're a homebrew enthusiast you may want to use Touchpad as your main firmware instead of M3Sakura.

    <a name="h">Conclusion

    As the flag-ship of M3 Team's flashcarts this was their first flashcart that was available for the DSi and had updating capabilities to circumvent possible DSi firmware updates. When it comes to circumventing updates it has already proven itself once, the question is whether or not this can be done again or if Nintendo will be able to block it on the second try.

    Much like the other available DSi compatible flashcarts the M3i Zero doesn't offer a lot more than their DS/DSL counterparts in terms of features (M3i Zero's counterpart being the M3DS Real) with the exception being updatability & DSi support. It also doesn't support any DSi specific features to distinguish itself from the other DSi compatible flashcarts. So what it comes down to is - is the ROM compatibility and features of the M3i Zero worth the price?

    Feature wise it has a fair amount of things to offer such as soft-reset, real-time save, cheat support, slow-motion & a built-in media player and the ROM compatibility of it could mildly be described as being pretty damn excellent. You will most likely not be disappointed with its ROM capabilities and if you would happen to stumble upon a ROM that doesn't work then the somewhat regularly updates will most likely fix whatever problem you encounter. Some of it's features contains minor annoyances such as the real-time save often causing static noice from the speaker which can be fixed with a small detour (closing the shell of your DS/DSL/DSi and then opening it again), however this and problems like not being able to enable all the features for a ROM at once adds to things that would've been nice if they would just not have these issues.

    Homebrew compatibility is best described with a single word - "meh". It's not good but it's not totally bad either and in any case it's very clear that this factor could be vastly improved. The media features of this flashcart is a nice niche, being able to play DPG videos/listen to MP3s/view text files and open a decent amount of other file formats from within the OS itself. This is clearly not a flashcart for homebrew enthusiasts and if you happen to be one you should probably look for another flashcart, but if what you're after aren't homebrews but DS games, then this is the cart for you.

    So to summarize this, this is the flashcart for you people out there looking for DS games, media capabilities and doesn't mind having some other nice features on top of that and can withstand some of the small quirks that resides with some of these mentioned features.

    + DSi compatible
    + microSDHC support
    + 100% ROM compatibility
    + Updatable through external means
    + Nice interface
    + Built-in media player
    + Multi-language support
    + Clean ROM support, no patching required
    + Real-Time Save, soft-reset & cheat support
    + Slot 2 functionality when used in a DS/DSL

    - Flimsy build quality
    - Homebrew compatibility could be improved
    - No global options, you have to enable the features on a per-game basis.
    - Some features can't be used at the same time as the other.


    Official Website
    GBAtemp's M3Sakura FAQ

    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 please let me know via e-mail - minox_ix [@at@] gbatemp [.dot.] net
    *This review is obsolete. The M3i Zero no longer has official support.
  2. Alexsuliter

    Newcomer Alexsuliter Member

    Jun 15, 2011
    Seems great Reviews.
    M3i zero have much functions support to DS,DSI.Thanks for your reviews.
  3. Zorua

    Zorua Newbie

    No, it has terrible support.
    Get an Acekard 2i or Supercard DSTWO instead.
  4. Generation 16

    Member Generation 16 GBAtemp Regular

    May 4, 2011
    United States
    Yeah, this review is outdated. The M3 no longer receives updates from the team, and also, the lates build, GMP-Z003, doesn't allow fan-made firmware such as YSMENU, WOOD M3, and any multi-boot, such as the Quad boot, iSakuReal, or the M3 Ninetails, if you still have that.

    If you have only a DSL/DSP, get the M3 DS REAL, which still doesn't get updates, but does allow fan-mad firmware, which do get updates.
  5. Crystal the Glaceon

    Member Crystal the Glaceon GBAtemp Inkling™ Squishies~

    Sep 13, 2009
    This review is over 2 years old and a lot has changed since it was made. I suggested a few months back to update the review to add in some of the changes, such as the poor support, lack of features, and other problems it has now, but they removed my comments.
    I suggest if you are looking into getting a flashcard buy an Acekard 2i.

    I really suggest someone at least add a side note or something of an update to this so people know NOT to buy this card.
  6. jimmyemunoz

    Member jimmyemunoz GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Feb 23, 2009
    United States
    Yeah, people might just skim the review and see the silver award and purchase the M3i-Zero on that alone. Maybe a "current award" would be a great idea. I just think this is necessary to avoid people going in the wrong direction, and blaming a gbatemp review for their error.
  7. RupeeClock

    Member RupeeClock Colors 3D Snivy!

    May 15, 2008
    United Kingdom
    It's my opinion that the M3i Zero was never good, even whilst it had support, and worse now that it has none.
    From features like a brittle USB cable that is necessary to get it running for the first time, to a flashy firmware which actually doesn't run games effectively, to sleep mode issues and a lack of compatibility... I could complain about it for some time!
  8. jimmyemunoz

    Member jimmyemunoz GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Feb 23, 2009
    United States
    Care to mention the games it had trouble running? :) Heck, the forum is starting to be a little slow so why not dissect the M3i Zero a little.
  9. RupeeClock

    Member RupeeClock Colors 3D Snivy!

    May 15, 2008
    United Kingdom
    It was some time ago, but it even had trouble running some of the earliest DS games like Mega Man Battle Network 5: Double Team.
    It could not play the opening video at full speed and it would not properly enter sleep mode. Depending on the DS system I used, it might flicker between sleep mode and not sleeping, or simply shut down altogether. I've been told these issues can happen depending on the microSD card used, but this was the same good card I had been using in my Acekard 2i without fault.

    I don't know if those issues were fixed or not because I quickly got rid of both my M3i Zeros. I had two of them because the first unit I received came with a broken USB flashing cable, when Gamezway.com did not return my emails complaining about the faulty unit I had to buy a second unit from a different website.

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