Review - M3 Lite

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by Reiniku, Sep 22, 2006.

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Sep 22, 2006

Review - M3 Lite by Reiniku at 5:12 AM (12,914 Views / 0 Likes) 0 replies

  1. Reiniku

    Newcomer Reiniku Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    United States

    With the coming of the nds cart solution flash carts and the arrival of the M3 Lite I had a touch choice ahead of me when buying my first ever DS flash cart. Relatively thorough research was done with this in mind. And with my anxiety getting the better of me I bit the bullet and went with the M3 Lite over the Supercard Lite. Though purely based on what others had said, I went with the M3 Lite not really sure what I was getting into. What made me choose it over the SC Lite was one thing and one thing only: GBA support. With that said, I ordered from and hoped for the best.


    - CONTENTS/FEATURES delivered my package in a timely manner, though for some strange reason my M3 Lite case was crushed. Along with the M3 Lite I ordered the Passcard 3 which has a few things I’d like to mention about. More about that later.

    As many should be aware, the M3 Lite ships with black, turquoise, and white DS Lite cart cases, coming already installed in the white cart. For those who are curious there is NO included cart case the size of GBA games (for the older DS systems), this is a DS Lite exclusive flash cart.

    Here are the listed features per the M3 Website:

    -Both NDS / GBA


    -Application softwares

    -Along with several color cartridges for change.

    Not very descriptive is it? Well that isn’t all too bad, we’ll get down to the nitty gritty soon enough.


    Personally having a white DS Lite there was no need for me to change cartridge cases for my purpose. The cartridge is solidly built and inserts into the DS Lite flush enough that I could NEVER complain about it. If you run your finger over the DS Lite and then over the M3 Lite you will feel the gap and then feel a slight raise on the M3 Lite. Less than a mm according to my fabric tape measure (No way am I scratching my DS with anything else).


    The MicroSD / Transflash card is sideloading and to my surprise spring loaded! This was very assuring since even if the M3 Lite may be out of the DS, it will be near impossible for the MicroSD card to fall out.


    For this review I have 2 cards I will be using:
    512mb Sandisk Transflash Card
    - This is one of the older microsd (still being called transflash) cards that came with my Motorola SLVR. It is noticeably slow when transferring files but we’ll talk about its M3 Lite performance later on!
    1gb Sandisk MicroSD Card
    - This is the vanilla MicroSD card bought with the pure intention of using for the M3 Lite. I will be comparing the performance between this and the 512mb later on.

    Finally we have the Passcard3 which I wish to make several notes of. This Passcard is supposedly one of the newer ones and there are several little tricks/tips I would like to make note of. Now when booting your NDS you are able to go to the game/settings selection screen. By picking the passcard3 you can boot into the DS menu and by booting from the GBA cart you are able to go directly into the GBA menu. If you’ve set your DS to automatically boot form DS games and wish to play GBA games without having to go through the DS menu you can simply take out the Passcard, boot, and put it back in. This will automatically boot to the GBA menu. Hopefully this will be of some use to someone.


    Let’s start off with saying that the software and firmware of the M3 Lite is constantly updated, which is DEFINITELY a good thing. GBA/DS roms are released on nearly a daily basis and there will always be incompatibilities that may arise. Because of M3’s efforts I have been able to play EVERY SINGLE game I have tried at some point or another. The current firmware and game manager at the time of this review is v28. For all intents and purposes of this review firmware and software v27a and v28 will be used.

    Let’s start with updating the firmware on the M3 Lite. This couldn’t really be simpler. Move the firmware update onto the root directory of your M3 Lite, plug it in, and boot up. Wait paitently, done. This hasn’t failed me yet. If you seem to be unable to update via the DS menu, do so via the GBA menu.

    M3 Gamer Manager is the software of choice for the M3 Lite. By setting your root directory and then going to your directory via the windows on the program you are able to add and edit roms for your NDS as well as manage your saves.


    This is where we get down and dirty… so to speak. This HAS to be the main thing on everyone’s mind when looking at flash carts.
    Let’s talk about the interface for a second. The M3 Lite interface is really pretty self explanatory, things are labeled as exactly what they are. As a note, the interfae is skinnable as I have shown in my pictures. The built in Moonshell is definitely a plus, but for all intents and purposes in this review I am not all too interested in homebrew (I’m sure others are and I would be glad to amend this review at a later date if I ever feel a need to mention it myself).

    I apologize for how bad this shot is... my camera is a little funky. This is a shot of the skinned interface of the M3 Lite:

    M3 Game Manager Review

    Once accustomed to the form and function of the M3 Game Manager you can quickly and easily add games onto your DS. Thanks to Rom Trimming via M3GM I am able to squeeze quite a plethora of games into a measly 1gb stick. And Wifi has indeed worked for all games I have tried!

    The Games:

    DS in order of their release:

    0005 – Warioware Touched
    Original Size: 32mb
    Trimmed Size: 31mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0028 – Kirby Canvas Curse
    Original Size 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 51mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0056 – Super Mario 64 DS
    Original Size: 16mb
    Trimmed Size: 14mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0060 – Meteos
    Original Size: 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 63mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0072 – Puyo Pop Fever
    Original Size: 32mb
    Trimmed Size: 30mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0085 – Jump Super Stars
    Original Size: 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 40mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0121 – Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow
    Original Size: 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 48mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset
    As of v27, v27a, and v28 intro movie plays WITHOUT FLAW on 512mb Transflash and 1gb Vanilla MicroSD.

    0122 – Trauma Center
    Original Size: 16mb
    Trimmed Size: 14mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0127 – Phoenix Wright
    Original Size: 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 55mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0168 – Mario Kart DS
    Original Size: 32mb
    Trimmed Size 24mb
    4x DMA, No Software Reset
    Wifi works without a single problem!

    0177 – Sonic Rush
    Original Size: 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 62mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0292 – Bleach DS
    Original Size: 128mb
    Trimmed Size: 117mb
    1x DMA, Software Reset
    Wifi Works without a problem!

    0366 – Tetris DS
    Original Size: 16mb
    Trimmed Size: 13mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset
    Wifi works without a problem!

    0434 – New Super Mario Brothers
    Original Size 32mb
    Trimmed Size: 20mb
    1x DMA, Software Reset

    0556 – Megaman ZX
    Original Size: 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 44mb
    Safe Mode, No software reset
    As of V27A saving works while in Safe Mode.
    Animated Cutscenes work without fail!

    0559 – Mario Hoops 3 on 3
    Original Size: 64mb
    Trimmed Size: 53mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0560 – Cooking Mama
    Original Size: 32mb
    Trimmed Size: 21mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    0566 – Pokemon Mystery Dungeon
    Original Size: 32mb
    Trimmed Size: 30mb
    4x DMA, Software Reset

    PHEW, that’s all the DS games I’ve tested. Remember that MicroSD performance comparison I was getting at? Well there is no need. After loading the games on both, all played these games without a single Slowdown apparent to myself. Great compatibility is what I’d have to say as a comment in concern of DS support. I am very pleased with how quickly Megaman ZX was made compatible.

    GBA Games:

    For all intents and purposes of GBA games, all of the following I have tested worked exceptionally aside from Super Mario Advance 2 – Super Mario World, which had slowdown during one of the water levels. It was nearly unplayable for a span of about 5 seconds but it quickly became normal again. Also when accessing the special M3 menu on the Megaman Zero games returning to the game results in a loss of audio.

    Advance Wars
    Super Mario Advance 2 – Super Mario World
    Megaman Zero (Audio loss when accessing m3 menu)
    Super Mario Advance 3- Yoshi’s Island
    Street Fighter Alpha 3
    Super Puzzle Figher II Turbo
    Advance Wars II
    Final Fantasy Tactics
    Megman Zero 2 (See Zero)
    Sword of Mana
    Pokemon – Fire Red
    Megaman Zero 3 (See Megaman Zero)
    Riviera – The Promised Land
    Final Fnatasy IV Advance
    Drill Dozer
    Summon Night
    Rhythm Tengoku.

    And as a side note all these games DID indeed fit into a 1gb microSD card.

    Saving is just as it has always been on the M3 series, with the actual save occurring when you reboot your DS. This is not an issue since you do NOT have to immediately turn your DS back on but simply turn it on the next time you use it. It will save your previous game and you can move on. A bother like some SC users have made it out to be? Hardly. 2 or 3 seconds, longer if you use GBA save states.


    What can I say? I actually love what I paid for! The M3 Lite is well worth the money with excellent compatibility all around. Is it worth the extra premium over the SC Lite? That’s hard to say, GBA compatibility is indeed excellent but not absolutely perfect thanks to my Mario World slowdown, from what I have seen it still remains superior to the Supercard in GBA compatibility. The sideloading feature of the M3 maybe be a turnon or a turnoff depending on what you like. I found it slightly bothersome having to take my cart out every time I wanted to update, but it goes in and out easily (not quite as easily as the original dust cover, but easily just the same) so it’s not at all difficult to take out. But I have the security of knowing that no way in HELL will I lose my microSD card. A freak accident involving an electric fan has shown me how SCARY small these cards are, having lost my 512mb to the wind and finding it 2 hours later under constant searching. Overall complaints are VERY minimal and I have to say… get it if you can!

    ( 9/10 )
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