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Nintendo DS storage devices are some of the devices used to store a licensed developer's work-in-progress images, homebrew video games, or downloaded commercial games, since the Nintendo DS is not sold with a rewritable storage medium. (Licensed developers can use the blue Intelligent Systems Nitro Emulator box to flash cards.) There are two main classes of storage devices: older devices that fit in SLOT-2 (the Game Boy Advance Game Pak slot) and newer devices that fit in SLOT-1 (the DS Game Card slot). SLOT-2, or 1st generation, devices have historically been cheaper due to economies of scale inherited from their use with Game Boy Advance homebrew but require a booting tool in SLOT-1 in order to use the touch screen and other DS features. Devices that only use SLOT-1, or 2nd generation, do not work with GBA homebrew, but , they are becoming easier to use and less expensive, rivaling many SLOT-2 devices in price which may have been cheaper.

First generation devices include GBA flash cartridges, GBAMP CF, SuperCard and M3. Second generation devices include R4 Revolution, CycloDS, G6 Real, and DS-X. The storage device either contains flash memory or a slot for a memory card to store homebrew. Storage devices with a memory card slot usually have a larger storage capacity than flash memory devices. Although flash memory capacity is usually measured in megabits (Mbit), memory card capacity is usually measured in megabytes (MB). (8 Mbit = 1 MB)

Different brands of storage device differ in their support for homebrew, support for DS and Game Boy Advance ROMs, special features, such as playing media files, physical size and cost. Strictly speaking, a storage device is not necessary for DS with FlashMe installed because homebrew can be sent to the DS using WMB. However, this is not a very portable method because the DS needs to be within range of a suitable Wi-Fi card.

First generation

GBA flash cartridges

The first method of storing homebrew applications were flash Cartridges designed for the Game Boy Advance system. These were ideal for finding exploits since they are a 32 MiB block of rewritable flash memory directly accessible by both CPUs of the Nintendo DS. Many people who used a lot of GBA homebrew use these for DS homebrew as well, however their limited storage space, variety and price makes them non-ideal for new users. Since there were many types of flash cartridge, each with its own method for writing to the flash ROM, most homebrew programs only supported saving to the included 64 KiB of SRAM intended for game saves.With the creation of DLDI, this is no longer a problem, and any program from 2007 or later works with any flashcard. This method of storage does not work with the Nintendo DSi, as it does not have a GBA slot.

GBA Movie Player

The GBA Movie Player, often called GBAMP, is a CompactFlash adapter for the Game Boy Advance which supports playing music, movies and NES and Game Boy games (under 200kb) as well as very small Game Boy Advance games (under 256kb) from the CF card as well as reading text files. Although its standard features are sub-par, its low price and simple design made it ideal for DS homebrew. A hacked firmware is available which adds the ability to run DS homebrew while keeping the GBA features. This is the most widely supported homebrew device; nearly every homebrew which writes to the storage medium supports it.

Users should note that there are three versions of the GBAMP; a large pass-through device (version 1), a small white and red cartridge (version 2), and a slightly smaller SD version (version 2 SD). The device that has the most support is the 2nd version.

SuperCard and M3 Perfect

SuperCard and M3 Perfect are two devices similar to GBA Movie Player but with more features. M3 is made by the makers of GBAMP. Both contain a CompactFlash, Secure Digital, miniSD, or Transflash slot as well as 32 MB of built-in RAM. They offer all of the GBAMP's features, plus the abilities to play all GBA games and homebrew by using the built-in RAM as a mock flash cartridge, and DS backups using sequential reading. (There have been complaints that SuperCard's built-in RAM is too slow to play some GBA games accurately.) Some DS homebrew also uses this additional RAM, though addressing issues and speed make it less useful than the DS's built in memory. These are more expensive than GBAMP, however (M3 being more expensive than SuperCard), and not as well supported by homebrew. Most homebrew has trouble writing to SD cards because the more complex and proprietary protocols used with SD were reverse engineered later than the well-known CF protocol. The SuperCard has full support for booting DS game backups, with no problems with saving or booting, aside from the slow speed, which causes games load noticeably slower, and even has a cheat system and rumble support.However, the SuperCard only has partial support for DS Download. (Most games work, but some freeze upon loading)

Other variations have been released such as SuperCard Rumble and M3 Pro. These variations bring about many changes, from a smaller form factor that better fits the DS Lite, to the removal of the built-in RAM.

Max Media Player

The Max Media Player (not to be confused with Max Media Launcher, which is a NoPass device) is similar to the GBA Movie Player, but does not function in GBA mode. Although the easiest device to find - it is the only DS homebrew device sold in major retail stores such as Wal-Martmarker - its price, power consumption and poor homebrew support make it an unpopular choice. Its main attraction is the ability to be used to play DS game backups (through use of an un-official homebrew called Max Overload), although all of these devices can be used for this purpose. (The developers of the GBAMP firmware hack have made an effort to prevent this, though methods do exist.)

Second generation

Once the DS card encryption was broken, it became possible to design cards that boot and read directly from slot 1. This meant that pass through devices or flashed firmware were no longer needed to read from an external storage device and led to a wide proliferation of various 'all-in-one' 'plug-n-play' cards.

One drawback was that the new cards had very low compatibility with the significant portion of homebrew applications that required filesystem I/O. DLDI (Dynamically Linked Device Interface for libfat) patching has since solved the problem. All 2nd generation cards that have a DLDI driver written for them are now able to run most of the homebrew that requires filesystem I/O.

Action-Replay-DS-Media-Edition

A bulky device that protrudes out of the top of the DS,and has a slot (pointing down) for a game to be plugged in (behind the DS)It is basically an all-in-one combination of Datel's Max Media Player and the Action Replay.It is not supplied with a microSD card, but only supports microSD cards up to 2GB, as it does not support SDHC.It is not compatible with commercial ROMs.

Acekard 2

The Acekard 2 is a relatively new card (April 2008). It earned the Golden Award on GBATemp.net and 90% on ds-scene.net. 100% game compatibility, skinnable, download-play support, micro SD/SDHC memory card support, very fast loading and Action-Replay cheat support are some of its features. Users reported freezing problems with the first batch of cards, but the Acekard 2.1 revision released in December 2008 addressed these issues. These newer cards show '2.1' on their sticker and can be identifiable by their lack of a microchip bulge underneath the sticker.

The card is now considered to be one of the best cards on the market. The official Acekard Team continues active development . In addition to the official firmware, a Closed-Source firmware is also under active development, called AKAIO. It is currently at version 1.5, with support for the EZ-Flash V 3-in-1 and 3-in-1+ Expansion Packs.

Acekard 2i

The Acekard 2i was the first commercially available card to support the Nintendo DSi. It is otherwise identical to the previously released Acekard 2.

Acekard R.P.G

The Acekard R.P.G is the only device on the market to feature both NAND memory, and a MicroSD slot.

The Acekard R.P.G, like most newer devices, is able to utilize the newer SDHC cards, which range from 4GB to 32GB. The Acekard R.P.G comes with a Mini USB cable to connect the card with a computer to access the 1GB of internal NAND memory.The card is currently the only card with a completely open source loader. This has led to numerous custom loaders, with a wide range of extra features. The most prominent of these features is the native support of the EZ Flash V 3 in 1 expansion pack, which enables the Acekard R.P.G to utilize the internal PSRAM for the Nintendo DS Browser, the Rumble function in games which support it, and the ability to load GameBoy Advance games to either the PSRAM or the NOR memory.

CycloDS Evolution

The CycloDS Evolution features DLDI auto patching and full DS download play support. It is one of the best, and most popular cards on the market, but also more expensive due to its higher quality components and extra features other cards do not have. It earned a golden star on GBAtemp.net.

Like most other slot-1 devices, the CycloDS Evolution uses MicroSD cards for storage and media is played using a modified version of the Moonshell media player. It was one of the first to use SDHC cards, which range from 4GB to 32GB. The CycloDS Evolution package comes with a fast USB MicroSD reader/writer compatible with SDHC. The "Enhanced Mode" provides unique features activated through an in-game menu which other cards do not support. These features currently include slow-motion, soft reset back to CycloDS GUI, a built-in cheat device, a real-time save feature, the option to change the brightness of the DS Lite's LCD backlight in-game, and an in-game text reader for video game walkthroughs. The EDGE DS is very similar to the CycloDs, although the CycloDS is slightly more reliable with more features.

The card also acts as a pass-me and slot-2 cards like the 3-in-1 extension or G6 lite can be recognized as expansion packs for the CycloDS Evolution. This allows to extend memory for DSLinux, to play GBA games launched from the Slot-1 device and to use the Opera Web Browser, which normally requires a separate RAM expansion pack. The CycloDS Evolution is also able to boot and patch GBA games directly from the CycloDS menu instead of using a separate homebrew program.

Datel Games n' Music

Datel's "Games n' Music" is one of few most commonly available homebrew players.

The Games n' Music is a slot-1 device made by Datel. It uses microSD cards for storage, like many other slot-1 devices. It uses a similar firmware to the Max Media Dock, but accesses data from the microSD rather than the slot-2 CF device. This device was considered a poor choice for homebrew by a vocal few, because it did not have a DLDI and could not run older applications, but it has since been hacked and a DLDI driver has been written.[390542] The Games n' Music is one of the few homebrew devices to make it into stores, along with Datel's other devices, the Max Media Dock and the Action Replay (a cheat engine).

This card has a few known issues. The issues are common to most Nintendo DS storage devices.Unlike other Slot-1 Cards, it does not support SDHC or any built in RAM. The card, overall is very sturdy and can endure heavy scratches.

This device is supplied with a 256MB microSD card, a USB microSD card reader and a CD containing 25 homebrew games (playable on the DS once they've been transferred onto the microSD card).

DS Link

The DS Link was one of the earliest slot-1 devices, and like most other cards, it uses MicroSD cards for storage.The DS Link wasn't as popular as its competitors because unlike all other cards, it does not contain a No-Pass, which means you must use a Mk-4 Mini to boot it, or flash your DS with FlashMe.The loader was recently updated to support the newer SDHC cards (Up to 4GB).

DS-Xtreme

The DS-Xtreme flash card is a one-card solution that contains 4 Gbit (512 MB) (or a newer 16 Gbit model (2 GB)) of internal flash memory, with no option to add external memory on top. The DS-Xtreme hardware supports the generic USB Mass Storage specification, and therefore functions as a drag & drop USB drive with no additional drivers needed. It also sports two color-adjustable LEDs. After connecting the DS-Xtreme to a PC via the included USB cable, files can be transferred to the DS-Xtreme memory and be used on the DS immediately thereafter. The DS-Xtreme does not sport 100% compatibility, indeed, many of the games that will load will have errors in a variety of areas, most prominently download play and Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. These problems were usually corrected by installing the newest version of the firmware, as with any flashcart, though support is no longer offered, thus many games require patching or other advanced methods of fixing in order to make them operate. In terms of homebrew compatibility, it is one of the highest-rated and does not require extra fixes due to the auto-patching software included. The biggest drawback to this card is its price, usually retailing around $100. As of 2009, the price on them has dropped to around $50, even the 16 Gbit models. The developers have abandoned the project since 2007.

DSTT & DSTTi

DSTT is a very popular card compatible with SDHC cards. Recently, the DSTT has fallen to the same problem as the R4: clones have found their way into the market. Many manufacturers are making cards that imitate the package and look of the DSTT. Some clones change the name (ie: DSTT-ADV or CN-DSTT) but most label their product as DSTT even if they are not affiliated by real DSTT Team. There is now a lot of information on DSTT official website to identify fakes and clones. and even a guide to telling if a DSTT is real or fake.

Contrary to popular belief, running any unoriginal DSTT card does not "brick" a Nintendo DS. It is possible that the card itself will not work, but it does not affect hardware in any way. The most common problem with a legit DSTT card is the infamous "Menu?" screen, much like the dreaded R4 "Loading" screen, which is usually a software issue and can be easily fixed by installing the software from the DSTT website onto your micro SD card. The DSTT also exists in a version compatible with the recently released Nintendo DSi which is called the DSTTi.

EZFlash V

The EZFlash V uses MicroSD cards for storage. The newer EZFlash V Plus and the newer EZFlash Vi supports Micro SD cards over 2GB while the original model does not. Also available is the 3in1 Expansion Pack which supports rumble, cache, and GBA ROM.

EDGE DS

The EDGE DS card is the same size as a regular Nintendo DS Lite cartridge. It has been likened to the R4 Card (R4v2 / R4v3 / R4 SDHC variations), DSTT card, and DS One Supercard. The EDGE DS has one of the highest reliability rates of any DS / DS Lite storage device It also comes in somewhat distinct packaging in the form of a triangular swivel-pack.

EZFlash Vi

The EZFlash Vi is an upgraded version of the EZFlash V Plus, made for the Nintendo DSi. One of its advantages is the claim of no lag slow-down in any game [390543].

G6DS Real

The G6DS Real comes with a built in 8Gbit or 16Gbit (non-expandable) of NAND memory and offers a simple drag and drop interface via its USB linker with high speed USB 2.0 write speeds like its predecessors. The card features 1:1 gameplay, offering the same ROM backup compatibility as commercial cartridges.

By using the same firmware as the M3DS Real, it supports Action Replay Max. It also offers features such as skinning, soft-reset and DLDI homebrew auto-patching.A feature unique to the G6DS Real is that it allows the user to select whether or not the card bypasses the Nintendo DS' main menu, and go straight to the G6 Real's loader.

I-Cheat xtra

A bulky device that protrudes out of the top of the DS, has a slot (pointing down) for a game to be plugged in (behind the DS). The device is similar in appearance and functionality to Datel's "Action Replay Media Edition".

The Orbit I-Cheat Xtra combines the functionality of:

Cheat Cartridge

Gamesave Backup/Install

Homebrew player

Cheat updates can be downloaded from the website and saved to microSD card.

M3 Real

The M3 Real (also known as the M3DS Real) is a mainstream slot-1 flashcard manufactured and designed by the M3 Team. It is most notable for it's 'Sakura' firmware, created by Moonlight from code that would eventually be released as Moonshell 2. Before this, the M3 Team's own firmware - dubbed 'Touchpod' - was used with the cart, though this received mixed reviews due to it's rather slow and clunky interface. Today, both Sakura and Touchpod come bundled with the firmware, with the card allowing you to choose which firmware you want to use upon first boot.

The M3 Real has many features now expected from most carts, including automatic DLDI patching, SDHC compatibilty, cheat/Action Replay system, slow motion, and soft reset. Sakura includes a built in media player, built around Moonshell code, featuring support for playing various formats directly from the shell, including DPG video, AAC, MP3, OGG, MOD, and many others. It also supports the display of TXT files and several image types, such as JPG, BMP, GIF and PNG. Another interesting feature of Sakura is the 'Save Restore' function. This allows the user to restore his/her save from various backups, which are created each time the game is run.

Received with the M3 Real are two GBA expansion cartridges - a Rumble Pack, and a GBA Memory Cart. The Rumble Pack works with DS game backups and any supporting homebrew games. When activated, it vibrates, though there have been many complaints about users that it is too noisy and inconsistent. The Memory Cart allows the M3 Real to boot and play GBA games through the software directly, and allows the user to use GBA real-time save and cheat features. The Memory Cart can also be used as external RAM for hardware intensive applications (such as DSLinux) or emulators (like SNEmulDS).

As of Sakura v1.40 and Touchpod v4.3i, the M3 Real supports in-game real-time saving. This makes it one of the few carts that support this feature.

There are quite a few skins available for the Sakura firmware, though not nearly as many as other popular carts. This is mainly due to the complexity of the skinning system, though the skins produced are generally of high-quality, due to the flexibility of the image format of the components (PNG files (with alpha) - most carts use BMP or GIF images).

M3i Zero

The M3i Zero was released by the M3 team in late 2008 after the release of the Nintendo DSi. There is no GBA compatibility with the M3i Zero running on the Nintendo DSi because it does not have a GBA expansion slot. However, the M3i Zero will run GBA games on DSes/DSlites that have a GBA expansion cart.

The M3i Zero is the first card to use specialist hardware to upgrade its firmware, coming with a firmware cable.

N-Card (NAND Card)

During its lifetime, the N-Card was available in 128MB, 512MB, 1GB and 2GB. Today there are two versions of N-Card, 1GB and 2GB, smaller cards are discontinued. N-Card doesn't require FlashMe, PassMe or any other device or modification. It is compatible with all commercial games without having to patch them. No additional software is required to transfer games from PC to the card, you just hook it up and transfer your games exactly like with an USB Jump Drive. At first N-Card didn't support download-play, but this has been solved in firmware 1.45 (released in August 2007), Wi-fi play was always supported.

Because this card uses its own internal memory, just like original DS cartridge, read speed is really fast, faster than microSd card, so there is absolutely no slow-down during gameplay and loading games takes about 1 second only.

In order to read the card on the computer to add or remove files, there is a special adapter and an USB cable that comes with the N-Card.

It was the most cloned card on the market with about 6 different clones : DS Fire Card, K6, MK5, Ultra N-Card, DS Linker, F-Card, and many more. All clones can run the original N-Card firmware.

NinjaPass

NinjaPass is a one-card solution that uses MicroSD cards for storage. A few games still don't work. Compatibility is highly dependent on the MicroSD card brand and model. The card works with most homebrew including but not limited to DSAIM, DSLinux, MoonShell, NesDS, LemmingsDS, and DSOrganize. It is compatible with MicroSD cards of up to 4 GB and works with cards of all speeds provided that the speed is adjusted for on the main boot menu before loading any applications. The product website provides users with all of the necessary startup software for download.

YushenDS Card, R4DS, M3 DS Simply, and their clones

R4DS (Revolution for DS), YushenDS Card (YDC) and M3DS Simply are essentially the same hardware product. The same method is used to distinguish between Chinese, English and Japanese (and German for the YDC) versions of the cards. The firmware for the various brand and language versions can be readily patched to work on other language or brand versions of the hardware.

The original R4 card was replaced in late 2007 by the "R4 version 2" or "R4v2". This new version removed the need for a spring mechanism to insert a Micro-SD card. Instead, it simply had a slot in the back where a user could manually slot a Micro-SD card in. This eliminated the problems of the original R4 Revolution DS Card where the spring mechanism reportedly malfunctioned after prolonged use.

Further confusion has been added by the arrival of numerous poor-quality clones of the YDC(R4,M3) hardware - selling under the brands including N5, E7, ND1, NPlayer, U2DS, MARS and numerous variations on the R4 name, such as "R4DS Upgrade-II", New R4, R4 Deluxe, R4 Advance, R4 DS III, R4 SDHC, R4 Pro, and R4 Ultra. The firmware for genuine YDC(R4) cards is encrypted, although the encryption scheme was broken in 2007 and several utilities exist for encrypting, modifying and decrypting YDC(R4) firmware. The N5 and most other clones use a decrypted version of the firmware; decrypted YDC(R4) firmware can be used on the N5 and some other clone cards, and encrypted clone firmware can be used on the R4. Some clone manufacturers have released modified versions of the firmware to support additional games; others have done away with the R4 firmware entirely and replaced it with homebrew loaders such as YSMenu or other alternatives.

All of these are one-card (Slot-1) solutions that use MicroSD cards for storage, and all the final official firmware versions include Action Replay cheats, auto-DLDI patching and support for Nintendo Wi-Fi connection and Download Play. They also include a hardware-specific version of the Moonshell media player, selection of which is integrated with the main menu. Around August 2007, the R4 team also revised the hardware to use a springless memory slot as there had been significant complaints about the failure of the slot.

Unlike newer cards, the R4 cannot read SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards due to hardware limitations, although certain clones add this functionality. There exist several clones of the R4 card that are capable of using SDHC cards, but some studies have suggested that certain types of these cards have high failure rates. One clone, named the "R4 SDHC", is reported to be reliable. R4DS is now known to be outdated, as many other flashcarts are known to be better and cheaper (Acekard 2, M3 Real Supercard One, and Edge), and a genuine R4DS is hard to find.

R4 has been banned from sale in Japan.

SuperCard DS ONE

The SuperCard DS ONE is a Slot-1 solution that uses MicroSD cards for storage. It is made by the SuperCard Team.

The SuperCard DS ONE demands an extremely high-speed microSD to fully utilize its gameplay function. Most of the games tested could not be played with normal MicroSD cards - they hung with a white screen after starting the game. Only a few high-speed Micro SD cards are available in the market. Even when using High-Speed MicroSD cards, games will sometimes lag and freeze. Updates are maintained at sporadic rather than regular intervals. Users must take care not to move the white sticker cover on the front of the card as this dislocates the main chop, which spoils the product.

With the newer SDHC compatible models, games are playable with lower speed SD cards, nullifying the most significant problem with the original. The latest firmware includes several functions, like Real-Time saving, Real-Time cheats, and Real-Time game guides. The Supercard DSONE also exists in a version compatible with the recently released Nintendo DSi which is called the DSONEi. DSONEi comes with a firmware writer for future firmware update in case Nintendo releases DSi firmware update to block flash carts.

See also



Official websites



References


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