NeoFlash MK6 Save Cart and Neo 3 TF

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Sinkhead, Dec 29, 2007.

Dec 29, 2007
  1. Sinkhead
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    Former Staff Sinkhead yay p1ngpong.

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    GBAtemp.net review of the...

    [​IMG] NeoFlash MK6 Save Cart and Neo 3 TF

    aka: Neo3TF, Neo3 TF, Neo 3TF, MK6, MagicKey 6, MagicKey6
    Manufactured by: NeoFlash
    Review samples supplied by: NeoFlash

    By Sinkhead - 27th to 29th December 2007

    Review Contents & Index:
    • Introduction
      - Official feature list
    • Packaging and Contents
      - Box Contents
    • Cart Design
    • Setting Up & Using
      - GUI (OS)
    • Performance
      - ROM compatibility
      - Download Play / Single-Cart Multiplayer
    • Homebrew Support
    • Additional Features
    • Conclusion
    Introduction
    Neoflash have been spewing out products left, right and centre for a couple of years now, and this is one of their latest offerings. You even get a free Neo 3 TF thrown in, so I will be reviewing the two as a pair.
    Now, lots of people have been asking me what this actually does, and the answer is simple. It lets you save and load games if you're using a Neo 2 or 3, and it also acts as a PassMe/NoPass.

    Official Feature List:
    Front of packaging:
    • Plug and Play!
    • Original 1:1 size!
    • Support all NDS!
    • Build in PassMe!
    • Support all Neo2/3
    • Support 4K-4M all save!
    Back of packaging:
    • 1:1 original NDS cart size.
    • Support all version of NDS & Lite
    • NDS brightness adjust able
    • Support auto sleep mode
    • Simple Plug and Play
    • Build in 4M game save
    • Support 4K/64K/256K/512K/2M/4M all save mode
    • Support all Neo2/3 serial, can backup your original NDS card by one click
    • Universal boot, support almost all third-party slot-2 cart
    Packaging and Contents
    [​IMG]
    The MK6 Save Cart comes in the same all-purpose packaging most NeoFlash products come in. It's got spaces for all different shapes and sizes of carts. It doesn't look bad, and it allows you to see the products themselves very clearly which is good. The specifications are shown clearly on both sides, and there is a little icon telling you that there is a CD included inside the packet. Although the English isn't perfect, it's completely understandable, so people should know what they are buying.
    The box does look a little bit empty because of the empty spaces, but this shouldn't matter.
    Because the package fits round the products tightly, I don't think it will offer much protection during shipping. My sample was sent in a box, but different shops may send the package in varying amounts of protection.

    Box Contents
    • 1x MK6 Save Cart
    • 1x Neo 3 TF
    • 1x Firmware MiniCD
    Cart Design
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The MK6 Save Cart feels very light, and the plastic is bendy, especially under the blocked-up MicroSD card slot. If you open the cart up, you can see that there is a big gap on the PCB with solder points for a MicroSD card slot (there is even a label on the PCB saying 'TF CARD'), which is odd. It's also interesting to note that the label on the PCB says 'MAGICKEY R6 V21A'. I don't know any details, but it looks like NeoFlash is either using incomplete R6s as MK6 Save Carts, or they have cancelled the R6 project and are making the best of what has already been made.
    The label on the front of the MK6 is colourful on a brushed silver label. It doesn't look bad, it's a bit cluttered, but the silver of the label and the white of the cart go nicely.
    Just a quick note, the two sides of the cart are held together using small pegs. To disassemble it, simply use a thin instrument to get between the two halves at one side, then work it round until all the pegs have come out. You can get high-res images of the PCBs here, and here.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The Neo 3 TF is also very light, and it's easy to see why. Half the plastic is missing! The bottom half of the cart is completely open, exposing the contacts. I think this is why the cart doesn't 'click' into place when you insert it into the GBA slot of a DS Lite, you can get it partially out by banging the DS against a hard surface (not too hard though!).
    Even though half the plastic casing is AWOL, you can still see where a component is sticking out! This is the MicroSD card slot, and it extends about 1mm out of the casing...

    [​IMG]
    The final problem with the Neo 3 TF is that it doesn't fit flush, at all. The MicroSD card and MicroSD slot extend out of the DS roughly 4mm. The protruding bits are rounded, so it doesn't catch on things, but in this day and age people expect flush-fitting carts... There is also a section of plastic missing that makes it fit correctly in the DS Lite, so you can see a gap. It's hard to describe, but there's a picture of it above. The MicroSD slot is spring-loaded which is nice, but this is the only good thing about the cart's design I can comment on.
    The sticker on the Neo 3 TF is shiny red with a colourful Neo logo on, but it doesn't look very nice or professional and it's a bit too big for it's indentation.
    The case is held together with a single small screw, but you can prise it half open whether the screw is in or not.

    Setting Up & Using
    To set up the cart you simply copy over a file called '_boot_ds.nds' from the firmware CD to the root of the MicroSD card. And that's as simple as it gets. You can get updated versions from the NeoFlash website if you want.

    GUI (OS) (V2.00 used in review)

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    If I was being nice, I would call the menu simple, minimalistic and functional. If I wasn't, I would describe it as confusing, slow and feature lacking. It's confusing because you press the 'Up' button to go down the file browser, and the 'Down' button to go up. It's slow because when you choose to launch a game it has to save the last game which takes a few seconds, then it asks you if it's got the right save type, then it erases the save from the save cart (another few seconds), then it restores the save file from the last time you played the game you are trying to launch, then it asks you if you want to load the game, then it actually loads the game (another few seconds). This sounds very long-winded, and it is. On average, it takes around 30 seconds to load a game, and that's with me making sure I answer the questions (like 'Are you sure you want to load this game?') within around a second. It's feature lacking because it's exactly that. All it does it load DS games. No soft-reset, no in-game menu, nothing.
    Another little annoyance is that even if a MicroSD card is in, before it loads the menu it always tells you to insert a MicroSD card. Always. Then, once you press 'A', it loads the loader...
    Something even more irritating is that you have to choose the save type manually from the MK6 Save Cart, every time, or the game will sometimes not save/load.

    Performance
    ROM Compatibility
    Recently we have stopped performing tests for individual games, but after some games wouldn't load I decided to see how good compatibility is, game by game.
    PASS: Game plays just as it should on a real game card.
    PROBLEMS: Game works but with issues.
    FAIL: Game doesn't even load or freezes before game play.
    • Castlevania Portrait of Ruin
      Problem
      - Freezes very often during normal gameplay
    • Club House Games
      Pass
    • Daigasso! Band Brothers
      Fail - Game won't even load AT ALL, black screen
    • Konami Arcade Classics
      Fail - Game crashes too frequently to be any use
    • Mario Kart DS
      Fail
      - After trying 3 times I could never get past creating a custom emblem without it freezing
    • Metroid Prime Hunters
      Pass
    • Nervous Brickdown
      Pass
    • SBK - Snowboard Kids
      Pass
    • Tetris DS
      Pass
    • WarioWare - Touched!
      Pass
    • Worms Open Warfare 2
      Fail - Game crashes after intro video, black screens
    As you can see, compatibility is pretty bad. This is disappointing because running NDS games is the only thing the Neo 3 can do. If it can't do this well, it has no purpose at all.

    Download Play / Single-cart Multiplayer
    • Super Monkey Ball - Touch & Roll
      Fail - Crashes after Nintendo logo appears on recieving DS
    • Yoshi Touch & Go
      Fail - Crashes after Nintendo logo appears on recieving DS
    • Bleach DS 2nd
      Fail - Crashes after Nintendo logo appears on recieving DS
    • Diddy Kong Racing DS
      Fail - Crashes after Nintendo logo appears on recieving DS
    • Elite Beat Agents
      Fail - Once song sends to recieving DS, communication error occurs
    • MarioKart DS
      Fail - Crashes after Nintendo logo appears on recieving DS
    • Snowboard Kids - SBK
      Fail - Communication error occurs when you start the game
    I did test more games, but many of them didn't work, so I added them to the compatibility list above this list instead.
    I am very disappointed with this, many other carts have at least partial Download Play compatibility, whereas the Neo 3 TF has none...

    Homebrew Support
    There is no DLDI patch available for the Neo 3, so I tried using the patch for Neo 2 but no homebrew worked. All of the following homebrews would not run on the Neo 3.
    Fail
    • BeUp Live
    • Colors
    • World of Sand
    • DSOrganize
    • MoonShell
    Lack of homebrew compatibility is also disappointing, but by now I'm expecting to be disappointed, so it doesn't matter very much...

    Additional Features
    There is an NDS game dumper available from the main menu which is available by pressing 'X'. It does what it's supposed to do, although all the times I tried I had to defragment my MicroSD card before I could play the game. This feature isn't really anything special, as there is already a DLDI game dumper available. It's nice to have this feature built in, but cheats or soft-reset would have been nicer...

    Conclusion
    To summarize, the MK6 Save Cart and Neo 3 TF are a waste of your money. Flashcarts with much better compatibility and many more features are available at a fraction of the cost nowadays. It's good that NeoFlash have tried to create a slot-2 cart with no patching, but I'd take patching over poor compatibiliy any day. The Neo 3 has no place in today's scene, to be honest I don't even know why it was released. I don't like being harsh, but there is simply no reason to spend your money on this. At all.

    Pros
    + Spring-loaded MicroSD card slot
    + Clean ROM support

    Cons
    - Sticks out of DS Lite
    - Poor ROM compatibility
    - No download play compatibility
    - Non-existent homebrew compatibility
    - Poor build quality
    - Exposed PCB, no 'clicking' into position in the GBA slot
    - Components sticking out of case
    - Obsolete hardware
    - Confusing menu
    - No extra features

    [​IMG]
    External Links:
    - Official NeoFlash Website

    Where to buy?:
    - IC2005

    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 - Sinkhead [@.at.@] GBAtemp [.@dot@.] net
     

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