The world of DS flashcarts is a little confusing right now for n00bs (or GBA flashcart owners) to jump into. Here’s what I’ve gathered after a few days of research:
– “NeoFlash” brand products are shit. Everybody on forums everywhere says the same thing, so it’s probably not worth taking the risk to find out. Build quality and compatibility seem to be the main issues.
– The Supercard brand is not too bad. Decent for the prices you pay, but ROMs must be patched with included software before “burning” or copying them over to the card. I’m not sure how long this takes but it sounds like a hassle. However, they make a SuperKey product which should work fine.
– Superkeys, EZPasses, Passkeys, Nokeys, Max Media Launchers… these are all the same thing. A new NoPass/PassMe exploit that allows code to be launched from a GBA (Slot 2) card, and run like DS code. Put simply, run copies of DS games from a GBA flashcart instead of the top DS slot where they are supposed to be. Earlier ways of fooling DS machines required an ugly and bulky attachment to stick out of the top. Now these are the exact same size as regular DS cartridges.
– The M3 product is highly regarded in most circles, and the G6 line is made by the same company. The difference is that the M3s use removable memory cards, and the G6 uses internal flash memory which is supposed to be faster.
– Only a couple of months ago, I met someone who actually had a CompactFlash Supercard in his old phat DS, and even then it stuck out 2 centimeters or so. I’d just gotten my DS Lite, and thought that I would never buy a flashcart since I don’t like things to stick out, and with the DS Lite’s GBA bay being shallower than the old DS’s, it seemed I would never get that chance. Goddamnit if the Chinese pirates aren’t hard workers. All the major manufacturers now have designs that fit into the DS Lite. Incredible.
– EZFlash products like the new EZ4 Lite have a rather good reputation, but there are fakes out there for some older models so be careful where you buy from. That said, the EZ4 Lite looks like a missed opportunity. It uses microSD cards (Transflash), and sticks out of the DS Lite about a half-centimeter. And it has no Real-Time Clock or battery inside, so old GBA games like Pokemon probably won’t run. There are reports that the PassKey3 (made by the M3/G6 company) and SuperKey devices don’t work with EZ4 Lites. I guess that leaves you with the Datel Max Media Launcher.
– There are next generation products on the way, using only a single DS cartridge with onboard memory. The two contenders now are the Ultra FlashPass and the NinjaPass. The latter isn’t out yet, winsunx.com seems to be collecting pre-order money to get it made, and the former is plagued with supply and quality problems. See the forum at their site, ndsgba.net, for examples of unhappy customers.
– Both of them come in the maximum size of 512Mbit (64MB), which is half that of a real DS game cartridge. You’ll be able to fit most game backups onto there, but not some like Resident Evil: Deadly Silence. So while this is a great idea, and the closest solution to the original GBA carts, it’s too early to take a chance on them now. There really seem to be technical issues with memory and savegame handling that is beyond them. One guy said his USB reader device fell apart and is now being held together with rubber bands.
– My conclusion has been that the best thing to do now, if you want an NDS/GBA flashcart with maximum compatibility, speed, and optional features, is to buy a G6 Lite 4Gbit card. Even then, it’s a little bit more complicated because there are 2 versions, English and Chinese, that seem to have different hardware configurations preventing firmware flashing between them. So if you buy a Chinese language version, you’re stuck with Chinese. And it seems that the company has switched over to producing only English versions now, and future drivers for the Chinese version may be slow in coming.
Howeverrrr, and I’ve wasted several days of net-surfing time to determine this for your benefit, you can sidestep all the issues by buying a now extremely-hard-to-come-by English G6 Lite from HopeBuy.com for about USD$80. Pay them via PayPal and not the credit card option (it uses a buggy system through the Agricultural Bank of China), and use one of the brand-name courier options like DHL (only USD$13 to Singapore). The girl there who does customer support in English is named Celery, and you can’t ask for more than that. Mine should be arriving next week. I’ll report back on whether or not the box was filled with nothing but sawdust.
The forums over at MaxConsole.net are a great place to get more information about everything. And that’s it for this utterly-useless-for-99%-of-readers post.