GBAtemp.net review of the... SC DS 1 aka: SCOne, SuperCard DS one, SC-1. Manufactured by: SuperCard Team Review samples supplied by: N/A - Own card By zatelli - January 27th 2007 Review Contents & Index: Introduction - Official feature list Packaging and Contents - Box Contents Cart Design Setting Up & Using - GUI (OS) Performance - ROM compatibility - Micro SD Comparison Chart for SC DS - Download Play / Single-Cart Multiplayer - Battery life Homebrew Support Additional Features Conclusion Pros & Cons Introduction The SC DS is the newest addition to the SuperCard family & yet another slot-1 development solution for DS handhelds. Supercard Team, released this card shortly before christmas on December 18th, just in time for the holidays season, a crucial period for card manufacturers to make serious money. The card builds up on a pretty good reputation even before it hits the shelves. Can the SC DS cope with the fierce competition on the slot-1 cards segment? We shall see. For this review I used a 1GB Toshiba (made in Japan) Micro SD card. I do recommend it as it performs quite well with the SC DS, you’ll figure it out as soon as you’re done skimming this paper. Official Feature List: 1. Plug 'n Play (No FlashMe, No PassMe, No convert). 2. 100% Clean Rom Support. 100% game capatibility. 3. No PC software required, just Drag 'n Drop file from PC to flash memory card. 4. Hardware save support. Easy to backup and exchange save with other players. 5. Support FAT/FAT32 up to 32Gbits flash memory card. Flash memory card can be used on other digital products, save money. 6. Blue-Light engine included. Support High speed flash memory card without any slow down. 7. DS original cartridge size, the perfect solution of slot 1. 8. TFlash/MicroSD slot Push'n Push design, easy to use. 9. Micro firmware designed, and extended skin which is fully upgradeable. 10. MoonShell built-in design. Can play MP3, Ogg and DPG2 directly in SuperCard DS system. Capatible with DPG0/DPG1. It also support eBook and view picture. It's a real multimedia system. 11. TWO mode design: -Standard mode: 100% Capability when copy clear roms into MicroSD for playing directly -Super mode: support RESET, cheat code, saves to flash memory card directly. Is it just me or download play is to be found nowhere on this list... I’m curious & to figure out to what extent does it support this feature. Packaging and Contents The SC DS ships in a small cardboard box with a plastic tray inside that houses the card. It’s a rather basic packaging compared to other cards which would come in fancier steel packages. It was quite disappointing not to find a quick start guide, an 8 cm software CD or freebies of any sort. Anyway, the box protects the goods very well and that’s all that matters. Box Contents 1x SC DS I confirm you didn’t misread anything: All you get when you have a glimpse inside the package is the SuperCard, no bundled micro SD card reader or carrying case, not even a CD with software is included. This certainly pales in comparison to the R4 or M3S 1st batch which shipped with lots of goodies. On a second look however, one can read a “brief manual” on the side of the box: 1. Copy the files into the microSD card, and insert it into the SuperCard DS 2. Insert SuperCard DSinto NDS/NDSL. 3. Turn on the power, that’s it. Cart Design There’s absolutely no difference between this card and a retail one: it’s something nobody you have considered possible a couple of years ago when passme devices would stick out from the slot-1 by nearly an inch. Even though the card fits flush into the slot-1, I’d sometimes find it bit tougher to pop it out due to the “Actel” chip sticking out a little through the casing. I wouldn’t have found about that chip sticking out if I hadn’t taken the card apart., it’s barely perceptible. The Micro SD slot being spring loading, it’s pretty easy to remove but there’s absolutely no risk of dropping it by mistake because the card is locked firmly inside the card reader. Spring loading Micro SD cards are a welcome idea as there’s no need to remove the card to fill it with binaries or format it, all you have to do is press the micro SD card firmly to have pop out & hook it up to the PC: hassle free. If you happen to take the card apart, to have a glimpse at its internals, you’ll be surprised to notice that the card has a dry cell battery that temporarily stores savers till next reboot, at that time the loader would write the file to the micro SD. This only happens when running roms in clean mode. Setting Up & Using Since the package doesn’t ship with the required software, you won’t be able to use right away which unfortunately hampers its ease of use for the end user. One has to go online and download the required appropriate OS Loader as the SC DS won’t boot without burning it to the microSD card. Aside from the OS Loader, here’s a list of what you need in order to be ready to use the SC DS: SC DS Preferably a Micro SD card manufactured in Japan for optimal performance. Micro SD card reader Don’t forget to visit the SuperCard DS one Software Homepage in order to fetch the latest OS Loader as it is needed to boot the card. Now all you have to do is insert the micro SD card into the card reader which you’ll eventually plug into an USB port. Now unzip the file you downloaded earlier right into the root of your micro SD card (scshell folder + msforsc.nds which is a modified version of moonshell containing the loader. If you’ve done everything as instructed earlier, drag a few backups, some music and dpg videos & you’re ready to experience what the SC DS has to give you. GUI (OS) Let’s now have a glimpse at the graphical user interface, GUI for short. As soon as you boot your DS, a blue SuperCard splash screen greets you as well as a moonshell related error as you can see from the following picture: As soon as the SuperCard boots, you’ll be greeted by a fairly familiar interface which is nothing else than moonshell .That means that the GUI is fully skinnable & customizable to fit your needs and can be used to read text files, watch dpg videos, playback music as well as run homebrew & commercial roms. As you may have found out, all moonshell’s functionality has been kept intact. The SC DS OS is completely touch sensitive and has 4 sections which we’ll see in details: Saver: Here you can choose from 4 save sizes for recent roms which have no entry into the loader’s database. You can still choose save size manually by highlighting a rom, pressing Y button then touching the change button to fit the desired save size. Save sizes you can choose from this menu are as follow: 4K, 64K, 512K, 2M /4M Other: - GBA union: allows interplay between gba and nds roms unlock bonus content, such new characters, or levels for example. - SC rumble: allows a slot-2 SC rumble to be used as a rumble pack. - Display Chinese name: displays everything in Chinese. - Save menu: saves your current settings to the global.ini file. - Superkey: enables passme mode so that you can boot a slot-2 card using the SC DS. - Auto set SD Speed: manually set SD speed. - Enable patch: this sub-menu has the following modalities: (normal read, fast read, save in SD, save in DS, enable cheat (this function ain't be available yet) Option: -ICO modality: you can choose how game icons are to be displayed , here you can choose from no icon, small and mig icons. -File sort: allows you to sort files either alphabetically or from older to newer. -Language: Menus & file names can either be displayed inChinese or English. -SD speed: here you can manually set the micro SD speed or set it automatically using the provided SD test.nds rom -File info: makes it possible to show or hide the information pop up balloon which includes the rom’s scene number, full name, save type & icon are displayed in a pop up balloon on the bottom screen when you highlight a given rom. Hopefully, you can disable that pop up by you editing the global.ini file -about: Shows moonshell’s version & gives credit to whom it’s due. Help: basic instructions on how to use the moonshell interface in general. Now that you're quite familiar with the SC DS interface, let's summarize what we have seen in the following video: If you idle long enough, the top screen will display a custom digital clock, which can also be disabled by editing the global.ini file. Performance All the features the SC DS can boast proud of are meaningless if the card can’t manage to run both commercial roms & DS homebrew the way they are supposed to. For that matter, I tested tested no less than 65 ROMs under the same conditions. They are all clean drag & drop using a 1GB Kingston (Japanese made) Micro SD card, serial number: SD-C01G. The Micro SD speed setting was automatically detected at ‘30’, the highest possible setting. Emphasis on troublesome roms was my main concern when I built the list of roms to be tested. ROM Compatibility The SuperCard supports both FAT16 and FAT32 filesystems. In order to make sure the chosen filesystem be it FAT has no incidence on the flashcard’s performance, I have formatted my Micro SD card with both FAT16 the first time & FAT32 on the next try. In the following compatibility chart, unless stated otherwise, the card performs the same with both filesystems. PASS: Game plays just as it should on a real game card. FAIL: Game doesn't even load or freezes before game play. PROBLEMS: Game works but with issues. 42 All-Time Classics/Club House Games - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Actionloop - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Advance Wars Dual Strike - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Age of Empires - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Animal Crossing - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Asphlt Urban GT 2 - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Biker Mice from Mars - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Big Brain Academy - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Bomberman Land Touch! - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Brain Boost - Beta Wave - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Brain Boost - Gamma Wave - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Brain Training - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Brick ‘em all - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Burnout Legends - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Bust a Move DS - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Castlevania: DoS - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Castlevania: PoR - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Children of Mana - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Daigasso! Band Bros - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Danny Phantom - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Dead 'n Furious - PASSS: Plays fine and saves fine. Diddy Kong Racing - PASS: Plays and saves fine.(manually set save to 2M) Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Elite Beat Agents - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Feel the Magic - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Guilty Gear – Dust Strikers - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Hotel Dusk Room 215 - PASS: Plays and saves fine. InuYasha – Secret of the Divine Jewel - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Kaitou Wario The Seven - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Konductra - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Legend of Spyro - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Lost Magic - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Magical Starsign - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Mario Kart DS - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Megaman ZX - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Metroid Prime Hunters - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Metroid Prime Pinbal - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Micro Machines V4 - PASS: Plays and saves fine. My Animal Centre in Africa - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Nacho Libre - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Nanostray - PASS: Plays and saves fine. NEW Super Mario Bros - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Nintendogs Dalmatian & friends Touch & Roll - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Nintendo DS Opera Browser(with official RAM) - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Nintendo DS Opera Browser ~SC patched~. - PROBLEMS: Minor graphical glitches. Phoenix Wright 2 - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Point Blank - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Pokemon Dash - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Pokemon Diamond - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Ryuusei no Rockman - Ice Pegasus (J) - PASS: Plays and saves fine. San Goku Shi Taisen DS - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Sonic Rush - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Starfox Command - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Super Monkey ball Touch & Roll - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Tetris DS - PASS: Plays and saves fine. The Sims 2: pets - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Tony Hawk American Sk8tland - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Tony Hawk Downhill Jam - PROBLEMS: Plays and saves fine, minor graphical artifacts might appear briefly even with top notch micro SD cards. Ultimate Spiderman - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Xiaolin Showdown - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Yu Gi Oh Spirit Caller - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Zoo Keeper - PASS: Plays and saves fine. Below is a video of the SC DS in action you to see for yourselves, how well it performs: Note At the time I’m writing this review, I’ve noticed that enabling “super mode” is nothing but asking for trouble as some games will crash or would stop loading & won’t let you get past the rom’s splash screen (as you can see from the picture below). Therefore I strongly advise you, not to turn it on for now until SuperCard Team fixes it. As you may have noticed all roms tested with Toshiba 1GB microSD (Japan) worked and saved fine. Since I’ve tested lots of roms for this review in all possible conditions (FAT16/32), both with patcher mode enabled & disabled. I can safely back up SuperCard’s team claims: the SC DS one has a perfect “clean” rom compatibility. Now that we’re done with the compatibility, let’s have a closer look at the transflash/MicroSD card compatibility. Micro SD Comparison Chart for SC DS The following cards in this chart have been rated based on the following criteria: - Crashes occurences, slowdowns, Lagginess, choppyness & stuttering. Columns: Transflash Card: brand & name of the media. Firmware: Supercard DS(One) firmware used for the tests. Notes: comments on the results Patch mode: recommended setting for this media. Rating: rating given to the media when used with the Supercard DS(one) Transflash CardFirmwareNotesPatch modeRating (out of 10)Dane-Electric 1GB (DCD-MSD1024)1.0/0120All games I tested on this card ran fine. Didn't notice any erroneous behavior.Disabled8.5Garmin 128MB (010-10683-01)1.0/0120The card didn't do very well, was somewhat slow with backup I tested. Was not thoroughly tested.Disabled6.5Kingston 1GB (Japan)1.0/0120Elite Beat Agents runs perfectly aswell as Castlevania POR. Yet to find a broken game with this card. A pick.Disabled9Kingston 1GB* (Taiwan)1.0/0120Many games won't boot (double white screens). Didn't undergo thorough testing. It is too slow!! SC DS will not support it!Disabled7Kingston 512MB* (Japan)1.0/0120Eite Beat Agents runs perfect aswell as Castlevania POR. This card caused me no problem at all: A pick.Disabled9PNY 1GB1.0/0120Castlevania POR Intro runs perfect, froze ingame randomly a few times . Aside from it, other games run normally.Disabled7.5PQI 128MB1.0/0120Untested______________Sandisk 512MB (Normal).1.0/0120Laggy, Castlevania POR Intro, game suffers from serious issues, stuttering & crashes . Longer load times compared to other mediums & slow gaming experience.Disabled4.5Sandisk 1GB (Normal)1.0/0120Castlevania POR Intro runs perfect game suffers from hiccups, crashes. Other games run fine though laggy.Disabled4.5Sandisk 2GB (Normal)1.0/0120Castlevania POR Intro runs perfect game suffers from hiccups at teleporters, opening menus. Other games run fine.Disabled4.5Sandisk Ultra II 1GB1.0/0120Castlevania POR Intro runs perfect game suffers from hiccups.Disabled5.5Ridata 1GB1.0/0120Untested______________Transcend 80x 512MB (133268-1340)1.0/0120Castlevania POR runs but freezes randomly in-game. Other games mostly work fine.Overall, it's not fast enough but does its job quite well.Decent. Disabled6.5Toshiba 1GB* (Japan) - (SD-C01G)1.0/0120All games I tested on this card ran admirably well. Sustains the comparison to G6 Lite in term of speed: A pick.Disabled9Toshiba 1GB (Taiwan)1.0/0120Castlevania POR runs with problems : crashes when opening menus, all other games work fine.Disabled7 Note: Kingston & Toshiba entered a strategic alliance for over a decade now & are worldwide partners in the memory segment. Since 2000, Kingston provides Toshiba with memory modules Hence this explains why both their micro SD modules are alike in term of performance. Download Play / Single-cart Multiplayer Even though SuperCard didn’t make any statement concerning that matter, I did some testing on download play out of curiosity to see for myself where this card stands among its fierce slot-1 competition. I tested download play functionality between two unflashed DSes, below are the results: 42 All-Time Classics (Club House Games) - FAIL: Download play broken. Brain Training - PASS: Download play works. Mario Kart DS - FAIL: Download play broken. Metroid Prime Pinball - PASS: Download play works. Nintendogs Dalmatian & friends Touch & Roll - PASS: Download play works. Point Blank - PASS: Download play works. Zoo Keeper - PASS: Download play works. The results are fair & much better than I'd have expected, especially since it wasn’t an advertised feature: download play works with some roms while it won’t with some popular ones. Battery Life Results: I have performed two series of power consumption tests on the SC DS with two scenarii in mind: Scenario A: speakers nearly turned off (sound and music can still be clearly heard, brightness set to default (2) : • The DS's batteries would run dry after 8 h 35 mns of play. Scenario B: Loudest possible sound coming from the speakers with the brightness set to its highest (4): • The DS's batteries would run dry after 4 h 28 mns of play. Be aware that power consumption might slightly differ depending on your set up (brightness/loudness) as well as your battery's lifetime (charging it prior to using it the first time is supposed to increase its lifespan). With nearly twice the playtime compared to slot-2 flashkits in similar conditions, the SC DS & more generally slot-1 development kits are truly power saving which is great news for the end user. Test condition: Fully charged European Black Nintendo DS Lite SC DS, Toshiba 1 GB micro SD Japan serial number: SD- C01G formatted with FAT32. Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll's movie looping continuously, would hold into my hand from time to time to play a littl. Tested with two brightness settings (2) & (4), (scenario A and B) Sound at 20 & 100% (scenario A and B) Homebrew Support Now let’s have a look at how the SC gets along with DS homebrew, shall we. AMAP4DS: PASS Beup 0.3 (with dragon drivers): PASS Beup 0.3 Live: FAIL (Only the no-FAT version works). Comic Book 2.0: PASS DSOrganize 2.45b DLDI: PASS DSFTP 2.4: PASS DS Live Weather 0.3c DLDI: PASS Girl NDS (Tickle): FAIL (White screen). IRCDS 0.3b : PASS Lemmings DS : FAIL NDS Mail 0.54b : PASS Omalone DS : PASS ScummVM DLDI : PASS SNEmulDS DLDI: PASS SylphIRC: PASS Tales of Dagur: PASS From my experience with homebrew on the SC DS, both FAT driver free & DLDI ready homebrew would work just fine with the card. However, when it comes to the FATlib driver, the results are more mitigated. The only homebrew I managed to run successfully were of those homebrew that had SC SD/CF fatlib drivers. The SCDS has DLDI drivers available & more homebrew developers are switching to this driver architecture, so compatibility should not be a concern in the near future. Additional Features The SC DS has plenty of non advertised bonus features, some of which are innovative, while others are somewhat common: The SC DS works as a super key (passme) , in other words, it allows the end user to use the SC to boot slot-2 flashcards. The SC DS can also link DS & GBA games, which means when you have both the NDS & GBA flavor of a given game on the slot-1 & the slot-2 two, you can use that feature to unlock bonus missions, & levels. The SC can be used as a USB pen drive, no drivers are needed to enable this feature, just drag and drop your files to the micro SD card. Since the SC DS is based on FAT16/32 filesytem, you can easily hide unwanted folders such as the shell folder. To do so , one has to tick the hide button by right clicking on the target folder in XP then properties and finally ticking the “hidden” attribute button. No more need for patching, as the patch data will be bundled in the loader OS. Last but not least, SC DS’s OS will look for looks for Trojan DS brick A/B prior to launching backup rom, , which means you can safely run homebrew with no fear of bricking your DS. Super mode comes bundled with the OS loader, so there’s no more need to patch the roms using a PC in order to enable soft reset to the loader, cheat or real time save, which is not supported in clean rom mode. Conclusion My overall impression of the SC DS, as of the time of i'm writing these lines, is that this product is still within final beta testing phase due to some broken features, annoynances & bugs. The final product, the one I strongly recommend to buy would be the reworked version of the SuperCard DS one on which SuperCard Team is currently actively working on. I'm confident that the future release of the Supercard will have addressed all the issues that had me no choice but take away a few points from its final mark. Nonetheless I've been quite impressed by this flashkit's ease of use & its truly outstanding compatibility. I'm looking forward to see what the next generation of the SuperCard slot-1 will have to offer. Pros & Cons Pros: + Truly drag & drop, a real user-friendly device + Perfect rom compatibility (from the library we’ve tested) as long as you have a well supported MicroSD card + Uses raw saves, therefore compatible with other flashkits that save the same way + Ability to link GBA-NDS games supporting that feature + Decent homebrew compatibility thanks to SC team releasing fatlib & DLDI support when applicable + Satisfying update frequency, although, many issues are yet to be adressed + Fair download play compatibilty, even if not advertised by Supercard team. + Patching roms or enabling options can be done in the OS, it does not require a computer Cons: - The card's performance is highly microSD dependant. - No freebies in the box (MicroSD card reader not included...) - Unpolished save system: relies on a database (ndsinfo.dat) to decide which save type to use with every single rom. With fairly recent roms, frustration is around the corner because you'll have to guess the correct save type. - Does no detect save types properly, as a consequence it relies on the manufacturer's updates, thus not future proof. - Patch mode and soft reset (L+R+SELECT+START) are incompatible, you can't use both at the same time (using current firmware). - A chip which pops out of the casing, makes inserting/ removing the card a tad tougher if you don't remove it gently - No real-time saves, one has to reboot for the save to be written to microSD. - 8 character save files, can be confusing when dealing with regional dupes or roms with quite similar names (anything after 7th character is replaced by ~) - A few bugs are yet to be fixed, such as the boot I/O error - Critical bug: the OS wipes all savegames on the microSD card if it happens to be full! Score: -/10 Rating is subject to change, as we'll be updating this review with the SuperCard DS "v2.0" version shortly. External Links: - Official SuperCard Website Affiliated sites Purchase this cart from our affiliated shops: ÂÂÂÂ Where to buy?: - GameYeeeah This review was written by zatelli for GBAtemp.net ONLY. The article and all included photos are property of GBAtemp.net If you see this review on any other site please pm me or email me.