Pimp my Micro :P

Discussion in 'GBA - Flashing Hardware and Software' started by CaptainRockout, Nov 12, 2011.

Nov 12, 2011

Pimp my Micro :P by CaptainRockout at 4:14 AM (2,792 Views / 0 Likes) 16 replies

  1. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    Hi everyone! I believe this is my first time actually posting here, despite frequenting the site for years.

    I recently acquired a brand new GBA micro, still in the box, and it is a glorious little device. Now I'd like to turn it into the ultimate gaming device on the go. What are your recommendations for flash carts and software? I'd like to know what the best cards and software are for GB/GBC, NES and others, and of course, GBA emulation. If this requires more than one card, that's fine and cost isn't much of an issue. Any help and advice is greatly appreciated! :lol:
     
  2. how_do_i_do_that

    Member how_do_i_do_that Blue Wizard is about to die.

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    Flashcarts do not emulate the hardware they are made for. GBA Flashcarts DO NOT EUMULATE GBA games.

    As for the best carts, your mostly late by a few years, they were about all gone by the time you registered. What you can get is what is left.

    What is left:
    A. EZ-Flash IV
    B. Supercard miniSD (your likely to end up with a fake now)
    C. Elink2 (will require a VM if you are on windows 7x64 / Mac / Linux system)
    D. The NEO Flash flashcarts (overpriced and underperforms for certain features, mostly not worth the cost. Same requirements as the Elink2)

    The EZ-Flash IV can be gotten at almost any of the recommended shops, not too hard to find.
    The Supercard miniSD is no longer in production, that means there is a slowly shinking supply of legit versions left.
    The Elink2 can only be found at a few shops and will cost you more than the EZ-Flash IV and Supercard miniSD.
    The NEO Flash are found a few remaining reseller, ic2005 and a few EU shops. It will likely cost you just as much in shipping if you get it from EU.



    Tools and utilities you will need depending on what you get (alot will be dead links now, you can use filetrip to find much of it):
    http://gbatemp.net/topic/4562-gba-tools-and-software/

    The majority of the time, you will only need the associated client program to manage and put your games onto the flashcart.



    As for emulation, much of it can be found in the stickies (the very top 3 links) in the emulation section here or download from filetrip: http://gbatemp.net/forum/5-gba-emulation/



    If you need shops for C and D, I'll help there. A and B can be found in any of the shop listed at the top in the NDS section of the of the respective section.
    EZ-Flash : http://gbatemp.net/forum/94-ez-flash/
    Supercard: http://gbatemp.net/forum/92-supercard/

    Elink2 :
    http://www.deveno.com/products/ELink.htm
    http://www.nrebate.com/en/elink-gba-flash-card-set-for-gba-gbasp-gbm-nds-ndsl-ids-idsl-1g.html

    NEO Flash:
    http://shop.01media.com/default.asp (EU)
    http://www.ic2005.com/shop/home.php?cat=4
     
  3. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    Hey, thanks so much for the reply and the information. Sorry about my OP - I wrote it pretty late at night and probably could have worded that better. I meant emulation of NES and such on GBA not emulating GBA (pointless of course since you're already playing on one).

    The better thing to have said would have been which flashcart is best for GBA ROM compatibility and which flashcart is best for emulating older systems.

    I have already found and ordered a SuperCard miniSD, and I see there are still a few shops carrying EZ-flash IV for ~$30. Between those two should I have my bases covered, or is another superior? Also, from reading around it appears that using a microSD w/ mini adapter rather than an actual miniSD will often lead to problems. Is there a specific brand or type of miniSD that I should look for?

    Thanks again for the info. I'm late coming to the party but I didn't have as much disposable income back in college. I sure do not miss those cash-strapped days. I also didn't really get into flashcarts until the DS.
     
  4. how_do_i_do_that

    Member how_do_i_do_that Blue Wizard is about to die.

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  5. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    Excellent. Thank you for the quick responses.
     
  6. raulpica

    Supervisor raulpica With your drill, thrust to the sky!

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    The EZ-Flash IV is easily superior to the SuperCard miniSD, which is plagued with problems like horrible saving system and slowdowns in some of the most heavy GBA games.

    The SC miniSD is a lot better on the emulation front, though. But if I recall correctly one of the latest firmwares for it disabled the internal emus, so be aware of that.

    I'm fan of the Extreme Flash Advance (EFA) myself, which is kinda similiar to the E-Link, I guess (I don't have an E-Link, but they should be similiar). It's a nifty cart, it requires you to use a VM if you're on x64, but it loads games instantaneously (the EZ-Flash IV takes a bit of time loading) and saving is pretty much painless. Too bad they're really rare nowadays.

    As for GBA carts in general, it's a real shame there's not a single one available which comes with RTC support.
     
  7. DanTheManMS

    Member DanTheManMS aka Ricochet Otter

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    raulpica, you're slightly incorrect on a few points there. The SC miniSD has the same emulation capabilities as any other Supercard, as the emulators were built into the firmware updates. You are correct that in the past, the built-in emulators broke if you didn't upgrade to 1.80 before going to 1.81 or 1.82, but most people don't know that 1.83 fixed that issue. Either way, the slot-2 Supercards are indeed to be avoided for GBA usage. They were among the best slot-2 devices for DS support, back before slot-1 carts even existed or before they became mainstream, but for GBA they kinda suck.

    On a side note, the whole built-in emulator thing was silly, as you were always better off getting the latest versions of the emulators and packaging the *.gba files yourself. It should not have been a selling point, really.

    CaptainRockout, get the EZ-IV. I don't have a definitive source, but I have a hunch that you're right about using a real miniSD card vs a microSD card with an adapter. I believe some Supercard users had issues with that. I hope you can find a miniSD card at a decent price; I bought mine back when microSD was brand new, so stores were still selling miniSD cards (sometimes at great discounts to bring customers in the door).

    The only issue with the EZ-IV is that it has some issues with certain emulators, specifically regarding their need for 64 KB save files while the EZ-IV only wants to give them 32 KB. See http://www.pockethea...er=asc&start=15 for details on that as answered by the resident EZ-IV expert Kuwanger.

    EDIT: Also see http://www.pockethea...mulators_on_GBA for a short list of some of the emulators you can run on the GBA. The PHWiki is VASTLY out of date when it comes to DS stuff, but for the GBA it's fairly comprehensive. If you manage to find a Pogoshell plugin that emulates a system that isn't on that list, you can use Kuwanger's Plugin2GBA to make it work as well.

    EDIT 2: I haven't checked DCEmu in a long time, but it used to have a HUGE list of emulators for the GBA as well. That might also be worth a shot. Also see http://www.geocities.jp/gbmogiki/pogoshell.htm for aforementioned Pogoshell plugins, or at least the names of them. (see Kuwanger.net and its Pogoshell page for an explanation of what Pogoshell was. It doesn't have much use in today's age, but back in the Flash2Advance era, it was king)
     
  8. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    raulpica and Dan, thank you both for the additional info. The helpfulness and thoroughness of the gbatemp forums is refreshing :D

    I did some poking around after HDIDT gave his responses and found information that agrees with what you've posted. I ended up going with both the SC miniSD and the EZ-IV. SC for emulation, EZ-IV for GBA usage. Between the two I should have my bases covered. I was able to find two 2GB SanDisk miniSD cards for only $30, shipping included. That should be more than enough for each card, but since they were only a few dollars more than the 1GB cards, I figured why not.

    Once everything arrives in the mail I'll be sure to read through the resources posted and get myself properly set up. My micro will truly be pimped out and it will be a lot more convenient than carrying around my bag of GBA games on business trips and holidays.

    Thanks again. You guys rock!
     
  9. DanTheManMS

    Member DanTheManMS aka Ricochet Otter

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    Ugh... buying the SC for emulation, as I said before, is kinda pointless. I mean it's great that you have another device in case the EZ-IV fails, but the emulation thing is silly simply because the built-in emulators are nothing more than built-in versions of publicly-available emulators, and they're often out of date.

    Here's what happens normally, for all other cartridges including the EZ-IV. You download the emulator (using Goomba Color as an example). You run the rom builder, which combines the goomba.gba emulator core with the GB/GBC roms you select. You receive an output *.gba file with everything combined, then you put it on your card and run it. Maybe involving the EZ-IV patcher, I don't know (see the previous link I posted). In the case of Goomba Color, it's as simple as doing a command-line entry of "copy /b goomba.gba + game1.gbc + game2.gbc + game3.gbc outputFile.gba" although for other emulators like PocketNES, there's a tiny bit more magic done behind the scenes that the PocketNES Menu Maker does. It's still essentially nothing more than a binary combination of files.

    On the Supercard, you can launch *.nes and *.gb/*gbc files directly from the miniSD card, but all that it's doing is replacing that "copy /b" command and the functions of the PocketNES Menu Maker in realtime. Internally, it adds the rom file to the end of whatever version of the emulator it has built into the firmware, and launches it.

    The key point is that the Supercard doesn't have special versions of the emulators or anything. It just has built-in versions of PocketNES, Goomba Color, PCE Advance, and SMS Advance. Only the Supercard DS:TWO has anything in the way of original content, with its GBA emulator for the DS.

    One final note: know that as a 16-bit system, almost every single program for the GBA must be less than 32 MB to execute, including emulator compilations. So you can't put the entire NES library into a single *.gba file, for instance. The only exceptions are a few 64 MB "GBA Video" releases that use some unknown-to-us form of bankswitching. On the Supercard, all GBA games are loaded into its 32 MB of PSRAM and executed, and that takes a few seconds, moreso if the *.gba file is larger. On the EZ-IV, files under 16 MB can run from PSRAM in the same way, while anything larger must be loaded to NOR flash. NOR flash takes a lot longer to write to, but it doesn't disappear after powering off like with PSRAM. See http://www.pockethea...le=NAND_and_NOR for an explanation; it tells it better than I can here. Before things like the Supercard and M3 and EZ-IV came around, NOR was the de-facto standard for all GBA flash carts. It was also expensive. My Flash2Advance Ultra cartridge for instance is purely NOR, and at the time that I bought it, paying $100 for a cartridge with 128 MB of storage space was a steal.

    Other GBA things: look into GBA GSM player by Tepples (and his other works) if you want to use the GBA as a music player. The GBA is too weak to decode MP3 files in realtime, so you must use either GSM Player or Music Player Advance, which I personally found annoying to use. Both compress the files and thus have significant audio artifacts, but they work. Also look into GBA JPEG Viewer for image viewing and METEO for very limited video viewing (5-25 minutes depending on the quality, limited by the fact that GBA files can't be larger than 32MB as I said earlier). I can provide a link to the latest version of METEO if you're interested, as it's not widely known in the Internet.

    EDIT: I might as well go ahead and link it, even if you don't care. The website is gone, but Archive.org has an old version. http://web.archive.o...php?p=utilities

    EDIT 2: oh wow, reading that page again, I forgot about Boot-O-Matic Advance. It lets you soft-reset to your flash cart's loader in many instances. Quite useful. I run most of my homebrew GBA files through it before putting them on my cart.
     
  10. DanTheManMS

    Member DanTheManMS aka Ricochet Otter

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    Also I'm glad you stopped at the 2GB mark. All GBA-era flash carts don't support SDHC (SD High Capacity) which limits you to 2GB maximum. With your new miniSD cards, stick with a FAT-based filesystem, and use FATsort at least on the Supercard because it orders things by date rather than alphabetically. I don't know if the EZ-IV does the same.

    EDIT: FAT16, that is. As long as it's not NTFS.

    EDIT 2: sorry for so many edits, but I must say this. If you got a legitimate SC miniSD (which I kinda doubt), then it might come with firmware 1.63. There's a way to check that but I don't remember. Something about holding certain buttons at bootup. Anyway, if it's at 1.63, upgrade to 1.7 before upgrading to the latest 1.85 firmware. This is a precautionary measure to make sure that you don't end up with a bricked cartridge.

    EDIT 3: According to the Supercard FAQ, it's holding L+R upon bootup and pressing A several times to check the version number.
     
  11. how_do_i_do_that

    Member how_do_i_do_that Blue Wizard is about to die.

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    Take care of the faceplate, since it will be the only faceplate your gonna have for a while probably. There is no vendor selling selling even 3rd party made faceplates, just the sticker covers.
     
  12. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    @Dan - No worries about all the edits, I appreciate you filling in the additional details. My experience with DS flashcarts such as the R4 and M3i Zero has taught me to do my homework with SD cards and compatibility, but unfortunately I had already purchased a SC miniSD before making this topic. It was a slight impulse buy (I wanted a flashcart and was already familiar with SC) but then discovered there were other options still available and decided to find out if there was anything better. Oh well, it can at least be a back up or I can leave one in my SP2. It will be fun to learn and work with both.

    Also, out of curiosity, how can I check to see if it's a legit cart? Thanks for the enlightenment on emulation.

    @HDIDT - Luckily the micro I purchased came with three faceplates. I immediately put screen protectors over all three. Not the kind that they overcharge for that are slightly smaller than the clear area of the faceplate, but I instead cut up a PSP screen protector to make ones 1/8" larger than the viewing area all around, making them virtually invisible. With the way I take care of my handhelds, these should last years and years.
     
  13. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    Hey guys,

    It's been awhile but I just wanted to say thanks again for all of the help. I received my EZF4 awhile ago and was able to set it up with ease. I'm very impressed with how well it works and PocketNES is pretty amazing as well. It's a bit different building the ROMs into the emulator, but it was easy to catch on and it's neat having it all in one package. I am having a bit of troubles with Goomba Color and my game saves however... I've been browsing around but haven't found much that makes things clearer for me. I'm guessing part of the issue is the 64KB save files? I have 64KB save files in the save folder with the same name as the .gba files I created for my Goomba Color files. Any help is appreciated. Until then, I'm going to keep trying working through it and revisit some of the links above.
     
  14. libertyernie

    Newcomer libertyernie Advanced Member

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  15. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    Yes, same as for PocketNES, from that same thread too. Interestingly enough though, I tried it again for the hell of it and it's working perfectly now and saves just like it should on exit. I was working on it rather late last night, so it's entirely possible I screwed something up (maybe used a goomba file instead of goombacolor or something). Thanks for prodding me to try again!

    EDIT: New question, now that I have mastered building ROMs and getting them to correctly save - How do I get the soft reset to work on the GBA ROMs? When I used the EZ4Client, the reset option was checked and set to be the default (L+A+B+up), however it does not seem to be working. When playing Sword of Mana, I pressed the button combination for a soft reset and all it did was freeze.
     
  16. DanTheManMS

    Member DanTheManMS aka Ricochet Otter

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    My only suggestion is to try either the GBATA reset patch, or Boot-O-Matic Advance, or kuwanger's "sleephack" tool specifically for the EZ-4, available at http://kuwanger.net/gba/

    Of course, you'd want to only try one of these at a time, always starting with a fresh rom.
     
  17. CaptainRockout
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    Newcomer CaptainRockout Member

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    Thanks, Dan! And roger that on always starting with a clean ROM. That might be my problem actually, as now that I think about it, I may have previously patched Sword of Mana for my iPlayer (don't judge, this was years ago when the iPlayer was brand spanking new and worth trying out :P).
     

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