1. DS FlashCarts

What’s a FlashCart?

The essential ingredient for transforming your NDS into an Ultimate piece of technology is a Flashcart. A Flashcart fits into the Slot 1 of your DS and bypasses the DS operating system, which essentially opens up all sorts of possibilities for you and your DS. You will be able to load your backup roms and homebrew applications that will transform your Nintendo DS into a full blown multimedia center!

The FlashCart that started it all was the R4/M3 DS Simply. This Flashcart will do the job nicely and there is a lot of support for it, but it is now considered outdated and you should explore other options.

Me and my DS

You must do a bit of reading to find out what you want out of your DS and your FlashCart. To help yourself focus on what you really need you should first ask yourself what class of user you are:

Power User/Hacker: I want to play games, listen to music, watch movies, browse the internet, install snes, commodore64 and other emulators. I even heard a rumor that I can turn my NDS into a telephone and I’m definitely gonna try it.

Multimedia Junkie: I want to play games and run homebrew applications that allow me to browse through images, listen to music and play videos. I want to watch Naruto and Scrubs in the train on the way to work.

Compulsive Gamer: I just want to play (my) game backup roms. All this other stuff you mention here will just take time away from me paying games. I like to play games!

Make sure you google “flashcart review” and do some reading of your own, after you have read through my guide. I will however offer you all of the core information needed to make your decision. In my humble opinion, you should not need to look further as I am again describing the decisions I have made for myself and my own system.

Picking a FlashCart made Easy

When I started looking into FlashCarts I made sure I read as many respectable reviews I could until I found infomation repeating. The dust took some time to settle but I emerged with some enlightening realizations that I’d like to share with you:

Tip #1: FlashCart manufacturing is at such a sophisticated level that most support 100% of game roms and homebrew applications. The difference between them only come into play when you consider secondary uses such as GBA rom support, the speed of the FlashCart interface, CheatCode support and other silly things such as SaveStates, SlowDown and SoftReset.

Tip #2: FlashCarts are cheap so don’t stress over this too much. The price range for a Slot-1 FlashCart is $25-$60 max. In terms of usefulness these things are a steal. So rest assured that you’re absolutely definately going to be getting your money’s worth.

Tip #3: FlashCarts need a microSD memory card to work. This is where you will be storing the firmware that runs the cart, your games, homebrew apps, videos, music and whatever else – so you definitely need one. Picking one can be tricky so again, this is what I found:

Tip #3.1: microSD cards have a maximum capacity of 2GB. There are new microSDHC cards that are now becoming available at 4GB and 8GB. Soon even larger versions will be released. You definitely want to get a FlashCart that explicitly supports microSDHC cards.

Tip #3.2: Many FlashCart and ModChip retailers and the likes will try to bundle a microSD card with your FlashCart. This will seem like a good idea, since you’ll be thinking that you want maximum compatibility, but thats exactly what they are thinking too. Do not buy your microHD memory card from them. Go to Newegg and buy the best price/size card you can find, with the most golden eggs you can see. You will save yourself $20-25 easy.

Tip #3.3: If you did as I suggested earlier and went out to read all you can about FlashCards and microSD memories you would have undoubtedly come across accounts that suggest you use Japanese made 1GB chips because they are “faster” or “better”. This is all complete rubbish. Maybe back in the day when the DS hacking scene was new and they had to use 128MB first generation microSD cards to load homebrew there were some issues with the speed of these devices. These days the industry has matured, all microSDs are very fast and the prices are dropping very quickly. I myself bought the cheapest 4GB microSDHC card I could find at Newegg at the time and have no problems.

Tip #3.4: You will also see much critisism on the microSD ejection mechanism on various FlashCarts. Some will offer spring loaded ejection and others will offer none at all. In my experience if you are careful inserting and ejecting your memory card then you will have absolutely no problems with the ejection choice. Dont let that sway your decision.

Tip #4: Rumble packs are offered with various FlashCarts or are at least mentioned quite a bit. They are Slot-2 devices that contain a tiny circuit and motor that reads collision data from some games and adds a feedback effect. I haven’t tried one myself but i already find the NDS Lite’s form factor small-ish for my hands and certainly dont want it to rumble around on me. That said, they cost only $5-$8 bucks so it could be fun to have around for the games that do have support and if you’re into them. I opted out, myself.

Tip #5: DLDI is a development package that was required to let ROMS run on various FlashCart firmware cross-platform, or should I say cross-cart. Back in the day, you had to patch a game with the appropriate DLDI for your FlashCart before you could play it. However, as of like… June 2007 the latest firmware revisions of all leading FlashCarts have automatic DLDI (which means that as soon as you turn on the DS the card patches all of the roms on the memory stick) so you don’t have to worry about this every again! Just for sanity’s sake make sure that automatic DLDI is explicitly supported by the one you pick!

Tip #6: If you are interested in the DS Opera browser then you will need a Ram pack. This is a Slot-2 device with some extra memory that the browser uses to cache stuff. You can buy it separately from any FlashCart you decide on, as they are largely compatible with eachother, or go for a combo package. In the next section I will be suggesting what I think are the best NDS FlashCarts with optional compatible Ram packs.

The Final Stretch

Here are the best FlashCarts on the market today. They all have 100% game compatibility, automatic DLDI, download play, support for microSDHC and media applications:

  1. CycloDS Evolution: A very feature rich cart with perhapse the most active and responsive development team in the scene: TeamCyclops.
  2. M3 DS Real + Rumble Ram pack bundle: Full featured successor to the M3 DS Simply, that is bundled with a Slot-2 Ram Pack for use with a browser.*** my choice ***
  3. Supercard DS One: The new generation of the legendary GBA cart.
  4. DS TT: A simple, cheap but full featured gaming cart. A very good selection for someone not interested in homebrew or browsers.
  5. DS Xtreme: A revolutionary Flashcart with a built-in memory and microUSB socket for direct connectivity to your computer! No need for a microSDHC stick.
  6. EZ Flash V: Reliable and full featured flashcart.
  7. EDGE: EDGE is a top-quality, easy to use cart with good support and frequent updates.
  8. Acekard 2: Very user friendly and streamlined interface with several very nice features.

The EZ3in1 Rumble Ram can be used with any of these if you want the additional RAM to use the Opera Browser, especially with the CycloDS Cart.

I will be adding images of the carts and their OS and more information on the individual carts (price, manufacturing quality, responsiveness, firmware update frequency and unique characteristics) to make the decision easier for you. A lot of this has to do with finding one that you like personally. Like I mentioned earlier, they all have 99.9% rom compatibility, you just have to find one that has some particular feature that you like. If you don’t know what to do, then go for the cheapest, and chances are… you will not be disappointed!

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