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  1. Kirby102

    OP Kirby102 GBAtemp Regular

    Dec 27, 2005
    FlashMe vs Passcard 3: The Passover has concluded
    *Kirby102 (and GBAtemp) have no responsibility when your 'Nintendo DS / DS Lite' Video Game Handheld is temporarily or permanently damaged, if you are tampering your DS / DS Lite with unknown applications, in the near future.*​


    Nintendo has been dominant for the past 21 months since the release of their latest handheld [in the US], the 'Nintendo DS'. Just recently, Nintendo has done a 'GBA' on us, providing us with smaller and compact versions of the original. With that, they have produced the 'Nintendo DS Lite'. Enough about the history... Onto the homebrew scene:

    The homebrew scene has grown to a significant state that the use of flashcarts to play DS homebrew/roms is phenomenal. Although this sounds too good to be true (which it is), this can be achieved only with a passthrough device. But with the growing community on the rise, Nintendo has realised this and taken action, thus providing different firmware versions on the DS in an attempt to counter this hack. With the advancing age of technology, the homebrew scene has provided the use of Passcard(s)/SuperKey(s)/etc to counter-counter back Nintendo, and triumphed. They have also produced modified firmwares (eg. FlashMe, FWNitro) to remove the use of Passcard(s) or SuperKey(s).

    In the end, we have FlashMe(s) and Passcard(s)*, and I will be comparing with the two, providing further information about them.
    *Passcard 3(s) will be used in the following comparison, as SuperKey(s) are identical to this.

    FlashMe: A new FW

    FlashMe is an alternative Nintendo DS firmware which has been modified to run any code from the SLOT-2 of the DS / DS Lite (GBA Slot). This eliminates the use of a passthrough device necessary each time you wish to load something from the GBA slot. (This is mainly used to run flashcarts) There are two types of FlashMe versions: FlashMe, and FlashMe_stealth; both containing the latest FlashMe, version 7, supporting the brightness feature of the recent release of the DS Lite.

    Advantages of FlashMe:
    FlashMe is the more dominant, modified firmware than FWNitro. With FlashMe installed into your DS, you are able to possess many features of this firmware. This includes:
    + Booting code from the SLOT-2 of the DS, without the hassle of a passthrough device.
    + Guarantees the DS with FlashMe's special Fail-Safe feature. This is a revival feature in case something erases the firmware, and resulting in a brick. But with a simple button combination of A+B+Start+Select, it will force to boot the flashcart, instead of waiting to bypass the original firmware of the DS, and continue the flashing process once again.
    + Able to download and play from ANYTHING that you have downloaded from a Download Station or from another DS for multiplayer. Thus, bypassing the RSA check necessary for all downloading games.
    + Eliminates the appearance of the health warning screen (only with standard Flashme).
    + Able to flash the DS, while maintaining its original firmware state, as if nothing was touched at all (only with FlashMe_Stealth).
    + Cool, fade-in backlight during startup of a DS game.

    Disadvantages of FlashMe:
    But with great power, comes great responsibility. In this case, there are some facts that you will need to take into account before you commence flashing:
    - Needs a passthrough device to actually flash the DS.
    - A probability of resulting your DS / DS Lite into a 'brick'-like state.
    - This flashing process VOIDS your '1-year' warranty from Nintendo and/or your store warranty (if they aren't that stupid).
    - Unable to place into sleep mode unless a DS game is inserted into the SLOT-1 of the DS, resulting in a constant on/off switching of the sleep mode mechanism.
    - Significantly drains your DS battery much quicker as to an unflashed DS.
    - Reverts firmware with an older status. (DS Lite only)

    Passcard 3: A passing grade

    A Passcard 3 is a physical passthrough device which goes into the SLOT-1 of the DS / DS Lite (DS Slot). Similar to FlashMe, this is also a method of loading code from the SLOT-2 of the DS / DS Lite (GBA Slot). Some later versions of the passcards differ, as some batches provide splash screens and others do not.

    Advantages of Passcard 3:
    The Passcard 3 is a safer alternative to FlashMe, as little [to no] knowledge is necessarily needed to boot any code from the SLOT-2 of the DS. This process allows:
    + The DS to remain as normal as it was factory made.
    + Compatible with most GBA flashcarts. (That occupies the SLOT-2 of the DS)
    + Booting code from the GBA Slot on ANY DS.
    + Supports Sleep mode, rather than others do not.
    + Same specifications as to a normal DS game cart - even unnoticeable to the naked eye.
    + No flashing/adjusting of anything needed to work it. (eg. Bridging, Passkey-2) Just a simple inserting into the DS and you're good to go.

    Disadvantages of Passcard 3:
    It bears great significance to the homebrew scene, as it is accomplishing what it is designed to do: Passcard 3 + DS / DS Lite = WIN! Perfect it may be, but the perfectionist it is not:
    - The DS is more capable of getting bricked, without the Fail-Safe feature provided by FlashMe.
    - Constantly switch carts if you wish to play legit DS games.
    - Unable to download and play from games loaded from flashcarts.
    - Loading nothing in the GBA slot with the Passcard 3, will result in white screens or nothing at all.
    - Host must use Passcard 3 to host multiplayer games with other flashed DS's in order to commence multiplayer.
    - Also consumes as much of the DS battery as other passthrough methods.


    With both passthrough methods with their advantages and disadvantages, it is all dependant on the individual who decides how they would like to do everyday. Some wish to carry their Passcard/SuperKey/etc, whereas some could leave their favourite game in their DS / DS Lite. Or people who want to return their DS without tampering their firmware, while others' warranty has already expired and just flash it anyway. However, I do recommend flashing the DS phats (the original DS), as the risk involved is at a bare minimum, unless you mysteriously turn it while during the process.

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