Hacking "Why was my cart blocked?" "How do I unblock it?" "Firmware update?"

Rydian

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Flash Carts And DSi/3DS Updates

"Help I just got a flash cart and it won't work on the DSi/3DS!"
"My son/daughter updated the DSi/3DS and it's giving an error now!"
"My R4i SDHC Hyper King-III won't run on my new 3DS!"
"My 3DS or DSI is giving an error and tells me to restart..."


This thread explains what's going on.​


  • Background Info
    Unlike the older DS and DS Lite, the DSi/XL and 3DS can get firmware/system updates. These are often distributed with games and are required to be installed when certain games are run or when you connect to the DSiWare/3DSWare store, so Nintendo does its best to make sure that you update. The updates include methods to block flash carts from running, since Nintendo doesn't want you to use them.

  • Getting Around It
    Luckily, many flash carts can get updates to make them bypass these blocks. These updates are often distributed in one of two forms.

    1. An update file like a ROM (.NDS file) that you put on the MicroSD and run, it then updates the flash cart.

    2. The update might be integrated in the flash cart's system software, in which case you need to start the cart and choose the "update" option (generally somewhere on the home or splash screen).

    You generally just need to put this file on your flash cart and run it to apply the update.

    "Where do I get this update file from?" - You get the updates from the site printed on your cart. Most carts will have a website on the sticker, and you go there to get the updates. Be very careful about the spelling, there's a lot of different sites out there with similar names (especially anything with "R4" in the name).

    "There's no update on my cart's site, so I tried another one and it didn't work." - Updates are encrypted and cart-specific. If you cart doesn't have an update, then it can't be updated. Out of all the flash carts out there, most have stopped getting updates, so if your cart hasn't been updated in a while you'll need to get a new one... or maybe just wait a bit, though usually updates will come out within a week or two and after that a cart is usually dead.

    "Do I really have to run the update file? I can just stick it on the MicroSD and be done, right? - You do need to RUN the file. In most cases you need to run the update on the flash cart itself (it updates the firmware of the actual, physical cart), so if your DSi/3DS won't run the cart, then you can't update it on that DSi/3DS.

    "What do I do if I have the update file, but my DSi/3DS won't run it?" - If your flash cart has been blocked on your DSi/3DS, you will need an older DS model in order to run the update file. This means a DSi or 3DS that hasn't been updated in a while and still runs the flash cart, or you might want to choose an original DS or a DS Lite, since those do not get firmware updates, so they'll always run modern flash carts.

    "I heard about a cart swap method, can I use this on my DSi/3DS?" - No, cart swapping only works on the original DS and the DS Lite anyways.

  • Prevention
    "This is an annoying load of crap, how do I stop it from happening?" - Stop updating your DSi/3DS any time it asks. Always decline new updates, turn wireless off, never put the 3DS online, turn all automatic downloads off, etc. Only update after an update has come out for your flash cart and you have run it.

  • Technical Explanation
    With the newer systems and games, Nintendo started putting a special signature into the carts to allow them to run. Older games don't have these signatures though... so to allow them to run Nintendo put a whitelist of games into the DSi/XL/3DS. Now flash carts work by posing as one of these games with a fake ID of sorts. The updates Nintendo puts out generally changes what sort of things the system checks for to try to see if the ID is fake, and the updates that flash carts get are basically new fake IDs, or ones with more info on them to try to get past the security.

  • Layman's Example
    1. Let's say that you're dealing with a normal DS/Lite and you want to run a flash cart.
      Flash Cart: Hi! I'm a DS cart, please run me.
      DS/Lite: Okay.

    2. Well, what about one of the later DS models? They do more checking.
      Flash Cart: Hi, I'm a DS cart, please run me.
      DSi/3DS : You don't have the signature, who are you?
      Flash Cart: R4 Revolution For DS.
      DSi/3DS : You're not on the list, go away.

    3. So that's why flash carts update with fake IDs.
      Flash Cart: Hi, I'm a DS cart, please run me.
      DSi/3DS : You don't have the signature, who are you?
      Flash Cart: I'm "Fishing Tycoon", please run me.
      DSi/3DS: Okay.

    4. But then the DSi/3DS gets an update and now it checks for more information.
      Flash Cart: Hi, I'm a DS cart, please run me.
      DSi/3DS : You don't have the signature, who are you?
      Flash Cart: I'm "Fishing Tycoon", please run me.
      DSi/3DS: Wait a minute, I've been told there's people impersonating "Fishing Tycoon" lately, let me take a closer look at your ID... hey, this ID has the wrong birth date!
      DSi/3DS: You're a fake, access denied.

    5. So then the flash cart gets an update for it's fake ID to match the requested information.
      Flash Cart: Hi, I'm a DS cart, please run me.
      DSi/3DS : You don't have the signature, who are you?
      Flash Cart: I'm "Fishing Tycoon", please run me.
      DSi/3DS: Your ID matches, okay.
    And the process repeats over and over.

Changelog said:
12/20/2012 - Big update, added the "getting around it" section to make stuff clear, added the prevention section.
10/30/2012 - Fixed up the formatting/spacing from the forum move.
12/12/2011 - Created.
8/16/2012 - Added the info about not updating, because it's not obvious enough to people.
 

Rydian

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A while back it wasn't as much of an issue, but seeing as the release of the 3DS brings a lot more people into looking for flash carts, nowadays we're seeing people every single day that don't understand the update process and so lock themselves out of using their carts.
 
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Zapper97

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From a 3/DS / Flashcart Newbie...

Thank you, this actually helps quite a bit.

Now, I truly understand why I need a DS along with my son's new 3DS... :D
 

Coto

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A new topic like this, explaining 3DS games being different from DS Games, and why can't 3DS stuff run from a DS-Mode Flashcard would be a good idea
 

jruschme

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Nice writeup... wish I had seen it before starting a different thread.

One question, though (same as the other thread), any rhyme or reason as to the choice of choice of cart to spoof?
 

Pong20302000

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lol this made me laugh

very good idea

i like the convo's teh DSi/3DS has with flashcards :D

16587187.jpg
 

GammaGeorgeX

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It's funny and annoying. I thought that AKAIO 1.9 was good with the latest 3ds firmware, because I was losing track a little, so long story short, I am here playing music on moonshell with a DSI, which has a broken r button. God how I know that was a mistake.
 

AlphaMagnum

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I'm kind of curious: why do we need to update via the DS? Couldn't we just update our flashcart by connecting the microSD to our computers via USB and then downloading the latest firmware? Or is not updating a DS simply to ensure that you can always use your flashcart? I don't see how you can get 'locked out' (if you don't have a second system) by updating your DS unless flashcart update via DS is somehow different than updating by connecting to your computer.
 

shoyrumaster11

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Wow! Simplest way to explain this sort of stuff I've seen! Although, With my old R4 Redant and R4 3DS Clone card, here's what I think it's more like:

R4 Redant

R4 Card: Hey! Nintendo DSi/3DS, I'm a game card
Nintendo DSi/3DS: You seem suspicious, where's your RSA signature or game ID?
R4 Card: Here it is! *Shows ID for some star wars game*
Nintendo DSi/3DS: Can I really trust you, you look nothing like the "game" you say you are?
R4 Card: Just a few glitches, nothing the developers can't fix!
Nintendo DSi/3DS: SECURITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
R4 Card: But... I'm a genuine...
And the security take the "game" away!
 

shoyrumaster11

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R4 "SDHC 3DS" Clone

R4 Card: Hey! Nintendo DSi/3DS, I'm a game card
Nintendo DSi/3DS: Oh god no. Not another one of you kid's with your fake IDs
R4 Card: No, I'm seriously who I say I am!
Nintendo DSi/3DS: Well than, RSA signature and/or ID?
R4 Card: I'm this: *pulls out some Japanese game presumably about a werewolf*
Nintendo DSi/3DS: I'm a European system, not buying it!
R4 Card: But, don't you accept imports?
Nintendo DSi/3DS: Nope. SECURITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And we all know what happens after!
 
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