1. Darkforce

    OP Darkforce DERP!
    Former Staff

    Nov 5, 2002
    GBAtemp.net review of the...

    NeoFlash MagicKey 2 [​IMG]
    from Shop.01Media.com

    By Darkforce - 18th December 2005

    Note: This product is out-dated and no longer available or in production. This review is for archive purposes only.


    Welcome to the official GBAtemp review for the NeoFlash MagicKey 2, also known as the MK2. I'd like to thank Shop.01Media.com for supplying the NeoFlash MagicKey 2 to review; who are one of the largest European based flash cart retailers around and ship worldwide.

    The NEO team were the first company on the market to offer a solution for playing commercial NDS roms, their product heavily patched commercial games to run from the GBA slot in the DS, and although the hardware and software caused a lot of controversy it was a method soon adopted by many other companies to create their own NDS flash kits.

    Since then the NEO team have been hard at work on the next generation of the NeoFlash; the MagicKey 2 and MagicKey 3 (also known as NeoFlash MK2 and MK3 respectively). Both of these carts revolutionize the market in being the first kits on the market that run DS games directly from the DS cart slot, not only that but the games do not require any patching either! Sounds fantastic, but just how successful are these carts? In this review I will be looking at the MagicKey 2, a few things are needed in addition to the MagicKey 2 or 3 for it to work which are listed below.


    • Any GBA flash cart.
    • Any original NDS game.
    • SD or MMC card.
    • SD/MMC card reader for the PC.
    A review by GBAtemp of the MagicKey 3 as part of the Neo-Max bundle (NeoFlash MagicKey 3 + GBA flash cart, SD card and card reader) will be up shortly.

    MagicKey 2 vs. MagicKey 3:

    So what is the MagicKey 2 and how does it differ to the MagicKey 3? The MagicKey 2 is a similar device to the first MagicKey which itself was basically a cased passme. However, whereas the first MagicKey simply redirected the DS to load data from the GBA cart slot, the MagicKey 2 has the additional option of loading data directly from the DS cart slot. Games are stored on either a SD or MMC card which is inserted into the MagicKey 2. A GBA flash cart is required to store the game selection menu.

    The only difference between the MagicKey 2 and MagicKey 3 is that the MagicKey 3 includes additional onboard memory so theoretically speaking the game selection menu can be stored on the MagicKey 3 eliminating the need for a GBA flash cart, however the NEO team haven't actually implemented this feature into the MagicKey 3 yet so a GBA flash cart is still required. The only thing the MagicKey 3 can do that the Magickey 2 cannot is write a game from the SD/MMC card onto the GBA flash cart for improved compatibility, but for more information on this read the MagicKey 3 review.

    Using the Cart:

    Back onto the MagicKey 2, the thing is a little bulky, no more so than similar devices but unlike others which become optional after a firmware update to the DS system, as games are loaded directly from the SD/MMC inserted into the MagicKey 2 you will always need to take it around with you, so make sure you have a little carry case or something to store it in when out and about.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The MagicKey 2 came packaged in a flimsy box and nothing else. Using the device is fairly straight forward which is thankful as team NEO don't include any software, documentation or instructions with the kit whatsoever. First of all you'll need to download the game selection menu, this can be found on the NeoFlash website here (Registration required), write it to a GBA flash cart disabling any GBA multiboot menus, then put it into the DS. Now connect the SD/MMC card to the PC via the card reader and simply drag and drop the NDS games you want into the SD/MMC card; no patching software necessary.
    Insert the SD/MMC card and any original NDS game into the MagicKey 2 then shove that into the DS system. Turn the DS on and the game selection menu loads, it will give you some information on your SD/MMC card and a press of the A button displays all of the games and saves stored on the card:


    Running a game from the SD/MMC card is as simple as selecting the game from the menu and pressing A, a few seconds later the game will run. The MagicKey 2 and 3 supports virtually all SD and MMC cards up to 2GB in size, including Mini-SD and RS-MMC cards.


    Although the idea of just being able to drag and drop games onto an SD/MMC card and play them without any form of patching sounds like a great concept, in reality the software is still in it's early stages and not all games will load up or play correctly. Of those that do work, many suffer from occasional slow down, for example in Mario Kart DS you will have to wait a few seconds before a race for the track to load, but once it the actual race it plays fine - More often than not the slow down does not affect gameplay and occurs in-between levels and menus etc... as opposed to a part when you're in control of a character, so it's not a huge issue. The main concern here is actual compatibility regarding the number of games that work at all.

    A compatibility list can be found here and these results match the games I have tried myself, so if there are any titles you are particularly interested in playing on the MagicKey 2 I recommend you check out the compatibility list. Using a little math and referring to the list, 53% of those games tested actually work. This is a lot lower than the 80% compatibility quoted by the NEO team, and 53% is very poor compared to the almost perfect compatibility (round about 99%) from flash kits like the M3 and Supercard. Compatibility for the MagicKey 2 will improve over time as new versions of the game menu are released (current version 0.3), just as compatibility for other NDS flash kits start off low then increase, so it may be worth holding out on purchasing a MagicKey 2 until compatibility is improved. However, even with poor compatibility at the moment, over half the games available work including many good games such as Mario Kart DS, Sonic Rush, Phoenix Wright, Wario Ware and so on.


    Homebrew wise all tested games worked fine so it seems slowdown and compatibility issues are limited to commercial games.


    Game saves are stored in the 2MB SRAM available to the MagicKey 2, allowing any game to be saved with ease including titles like Nintendogs and Mario Kart DS which have large saves. The next time the DS is turned on and MagicKey 2 game selection menu is loaded it gives you the option to backup the save onto the SD/MMC card and gives you the option to load the appropriate save for any game you want to play. Saving is very straight forward, easy and worked for all games tested.


    Whilst the MagicKey 2 has some serious compatibility issues that make it hard to recommend, at the same time it's hard not to see the potential for this unique cart. The ability to just drag and drop pure NDS games onto the SD/MMC card and play them from the NDS slot is fantastic, and much harder to see Nintendo or developers prevent happening in the future than say prevent patched roms running from the GBA slot, as other NDS flash kits currently use.

    Also as the MagicKey 2 and 3 load direct from the NDS slot, once the NEO team have the menu sorted out there is the potential to use the GBA slot for the kinds of things developers intended it to be used for. So for example, you could use the GBA rumble pack with Mario & Luigi or Metroid Pinball, or use the song expansion pack cart with Jam with the Band, or use Sega GBA games with Feel the Magic XX/XY to unlock extras, transfer creatures between the GBA and DS version of Pokemon Fushigi no Dungeon, and so on. Many more DS games are likely to make use of the GBA cart slot in the future so a flash cart that loads games from the NDS and not from the GBA slot look more likely to become the standard in the future and the NeoFlash MagicKey 2 and 3 are leading the way.

    Overall, the slowdown in the games aside, the games are quick to actually boot up and saving is simple. Not having to patch any games is really sweet, but the issues with compatibility and slowdown put the product way behind other NDS flash kits such as the M3 and Supercard. In the near future the MagicKey 2 could become a real contender but I would advise you to look at the MagicKey 3 as the extra on board memory make for way more possibilities and improving compatibility easier. The NeoFlash MagicKey 2 can be purchased from many of the retailers located here.

    + Loads games directly from the NDS slot.
    + No patching required.
    + Easy to save.

    - Low compatibility.
    - Slowdown in games.
    - GBA flash cart required.
    - Not able to play GBA games, little support for other formats or features.



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