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Posts with tag flashcart

UK retailer pulls R4 after ELSPA threats

It looks like the tide is finally turning against the R4 flash cart in the UK. After yesterday's statement from the ELSPA on the matter, Brit retailer SimplyGames.com has decided to drop the R4 from its range entirely.

"Since launching them we have reflected on the overall impact R4 cards will have on long-term software sales and I have talked openly to senior people at Nintendo UK about the situation," explained SimplyGames' Neil Muspratt, who we're guessing may have received a grouchy phone call from Nintendo. "We have concluded that they are not at all healthy for software sales."

Muspratt then urged Amazon to follow SimplyGames' example. As we write this, the R4 listing on Amazon's UK site notes that "we don't know when or if this item will be back in stock," though no official statement has been released by the site. As for all you UK-based homebrewers out there, just be thankful there are plenty of alternatives out there.

ELSPA wants pirates stranded without R4


Otherwise known as the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association (an organization working within the British games industry), the ELSPA isn't happy about the abundance of R4 flash carts in the hands of DS owners. Nor is it happy about the availability of these little devices, which -- homebrew applications aside -- people are using to play pirated DS ROMS. If you want an R4, it's easy to buy one from Amazon, eBay, or a wealth of independent online retailers.

According to the ELSPA, "The supply of these items is an infringement and an offence under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Trade Marks Act 1994." So, how did they get onto shelves in the first place? Clearly the yawn-inducing law behind it all is more complex than simply "they are illegal," otherwise the shops wouldn't still be selling them. Which they are.

Long story short, it's a mess of regulations and red tape, and we've heard it all before. It's hardly a crystal-clear situation where legal teams "will take action where and when appropriate." If a blanket ban of selling flash carts suddenly falls over England, and police start breaking down doors of R4 traders, we'll let you know. Until then, get out there and buy some good games, and use any external device responsibly.

Nintendo delays Daigasso! Band Brothers bootlegging

In a likely accidental move similar to Square Enix's FFCC "Moogle of Death" screen, Nintendo has temporarily stalled pirates from completely enjoying Daigasso! Band Brothers DX. Not long after the rhythm game shipped out in Japan, crooked gamers around the world downloaded the ROM only to find that it didn't work as expected.

According to initial reports, because Band Brothers DX uses a 1mb save instead of traditional 512kb saves, the ROM refuses to load on many flashcarts. Of course, determined delinquents have already found a workaround, and some flashcarts will load the ROM successfully without any required hacking, but pirates are also finding themselves unable to access the 200 downloadable songs available through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Seeing as the game comes with only 30 tracks installed, the online songs are a huge draw for people playing Band Brothers DX! Though we expect hackers and flashcart manufacturers to fully "patch" the ROM in a few days, if not in a few hours, it's nice to hear that there are still a few things out there capable of temporarily flummoxing the DS piracy scene.

Gallery: Band Brothers DX

Flashcart piracy marches on in Korea

Although most of Nick Rumas' Gamasutra article on the ubiquity of R4 flashcart piracy in Korea is based on anecdotal evidence, we still found his piece to be pretty fascinating. While DS piracy may not be rampant in the U.S., Korea is renowned as a hotbed of piracy in videogaming, and Rumas claims that as many as three in five DS owners there possess a flashcart -- and we can't see all of those being used for homebrew.

Rumas also tells tales of traders in Seoul's Yongsan Electronics Market openly selling customized R4 flashcarts to customers (who simply pay up their $87 and select the titles they'd like from a master list), and of Korean consumers who are far more clued-up about game piracy than their western equivalents (including middle-aged women, and young children).

He eventually chalks this widespread acceptance of piracy up to more than one factor, including Korea's low minimum wage, an increasingly high cost of living, an apathetic government, and the fact that downloading games without paying for them is simply more of a cultural norm. With the DS now selling in respectable numbers in Korea, we can't imagine Nintendo being overly happy to hear of Korea's piracy endemic, but as Rumas notes, "Regardless of what [government] measures are undertaken, no real dent ever seems to be made."

DS Fanboy's (semi) ultimate homebrew guide


Where there's a system, there's a community of hobbyist programmers willing to tear it down, build it back up, and make it better, and they've been doing it to the DS from nearly the moment the handheld hit shelves. As the necessary hardware has grown cheaper, easier to use, and more widely available (when not sold out), the DS homebrew community in turn has grown stronger, producing some applications that are so good, they rival (or better!) similar commercial products.

But with all of the homebrew solutions available, how does someone new to the scene know where to start? A quick search for guides returns information that can seem complicated and confusing, and many DS owners are wary of spending money on hardware that may not work with their particular system or with the applications and homebrew games they're interested in trying out. The reality is that homebrew on the DS is much easier than it seems, thanks to breakthroughs in the scene, and DS Fanboy is dedicated to helping you navigate the ocean of user-generated content available. From searching out Slot-1 solutions to taking you through them, we've got all the information you need to get started, no matter how little you know about DS homebrew. If you're really lost, check out our handy homebrew glossary for help.

It's worth mentioning that we're focusing solely on the newer flash carts for DS homebrew here. With the advent of the all-in-one Slot-1 flash cart, there's little reason for anyone to go with the more complicated Slot-2 devices. While we cover some of that terminology in our glossary, we do so only to help provide a guide for those DS owners just getting started, who may encounter such terms as PassMe and wonder just what it might be.

From here, you can hit the jump to see an index of this article's contents, or simply follow the arrows if you'd like to go through step by step. Comments are open on every page, but you can always return here to the main discussion by way of a DS Lite icon on each page.







CycloDS Evolution

Continue reading DS Fanboy's (semi) ultimate homebrew guide

Homebrew solution: M3 Real

M3DS Real
Slot-1 (All-in-one)
Also needed:
MicroSD card
Price: $39 - $60
Find it: Real Hot Stuff, Amazon Marketplace, DealExtreme

With the M3 Real, it's easy for even the noobiest of noobs to get a grip on DS homebrew. If you know how to a) manipulate files on a computer and b) insert a cart into your DS, then you too can master the world of DS homebrew. It really is just that easy.

So you bought the M3 Real -- what now?

Once you've got the M3, with or without accessories (other than the necessary MicroSD card), setting it up is extremely simple. Before you do anything else, you'll need to:
  • format your MicroSD card (PC users, see here and here; Mac users, check here)
  • get the latest M3 loader firmware
  • copy the M3 firmware System folder to the MicroSD card
  • insert the MicroSD into your M3 cart (like this, not like this)
  • insert the M3 adapter cart in your DS and power it up
The first time you boot up your M3, you'll be prompted to select your language. If you happen to choose the wrong one, or decide to shift later, you can adjust this in the Setting menu from the main screen (see list of menu options to the right). After that, you're ready to go, and you've already become a part of the homebrew community. The M3 firmware comes complete with a built-in PDA app, so you've already got a program you can use. You've also got MoonShell packed in with your card, which allows you to access media files from your DS, just in case you want to, say, watch Night of the Living Dead. But in order to get that film, other media, or any other programs, you're going to have to plug that MicroSD back in to your computer and go hunting for software.

What kind of homebrew programs do you want to get? Frankly, that's up to you, and we'll provide some resources later that should help you choose. For now, however, we're just going to tell you how to work with your new homebrew cart.

How do I manage files so that my homebrew software will run correctly?

You'll need to place all of the loader files (.nds files) in the root directory (unless directed otherwise in the instructions for various programs) on the MicroSD card. This allows for automatic DLDI patching, which some applications require in order to run correctly. If your files are not in the right place, your programs may not work. If you're having any trouble, make sure the files are in the right place!

Your media files, however, can be organized as you see fit. Only .nds loader files for your homebrew programs need to be in the root directory. MoonShell has its own file browser, and supports several audio formats, including MP3, most basic image formats, and DPG video files.

As an aside, we recommend fiddling with your new M3's menus. You can't really mess anything up, after all, and you'll learn more about it. The firmware comes with several skins already installed (accessible through the 'Setting' menu), and you can cycle through those and familiarize yourself with the menus before digging too deeply into various programs.

To the right, you can see the basic menu options. You'll spend most of your time in "My Card," which is a file browser that lists all your homebrew programs. Open My Card, and from there, you can select the executable files.

For example, on the above screenshot, lj.nds is selected, which loads LOCKJAW, an excellent Tetris clone. Chat Noir is also shown. To get here, select My Card from the main menu, and scroll down to the files you want. Tap the desired file once with your stylus (or alternate pointing device), and again to load it. Or, if you prefer to use the buttons, A selects, and B will move back to previous menus.

Sound simple? It is. The interface is easily navigable, and the beauty of the all-in-one Slot-1 carts is that running homebrew apps is nearly as easy as booting a commercial cartridge. So many steps that were necessary with earlier Slot-2 homebrew solutions are automated here. Now anyone can get in on the homebrew experience.

Where can I go to for more in-depth information on the M3 Real?


Check out the official M3 Team site or the M3 wiki, as well as great community sites like GBATemp.net.

Features: Built-in media player and PDA functionality, HDSC compatible, skinnable interface, automatic DLDI patching, supports Slot-2 expansions
Possible problems: Official site difficult to navigate if you're looking for firmware updates; some people don't like the necessity of keeping things in the root directory
Accessories: GBA expansion, rumble pak
Language support: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Thai

Jargon flying right over your head? Check out our homebrew glossary for more information!

Gallery: M3 Real

MyCard menuMoonshell menu



CycloDS Evolution
Back Revolution for DS

Homebrew solution: CycloDS Evolution

CycloDS Evolution
Slot-1 (All-in-one)
Also needed:
MicroSD card
Price: $53
Find it: Real Hot Stuff

Though it's well regarded by many for its high compatibility with commercial ROMs, the CycloDS Evolution is also gaining popularity for the ease with which one can install and load homebrew games and applications using the slot-1 cart. Its capabilities and dead-simple features come at a premium, and you will need to buy a microSD memory card to use with the cart (we suggest 1GB+), but you'll find very few people who're unhappy with the Team Cyclops product.

So you bought the CycloDS Evolution -- what now?

As with the R4, the CycloDS Evolution kit includes a USB microSD card reader/writer which you can plug into your computer. Both the slot-1 cart and the card reader/writer lack spring mechanisms for popping out the microSD cards, so you'll need to pull them out with a fingernail. This isn't as awkward as it sounds!

The first two things you'll want to do is make sure you have the latest firmware and the MoonShell media player. The official CycloDS Support and Downloads page has links to the latest versions for you to download. Unpackage the files and drag everything into the root of your microSD card (do not rename the "moonshl" folder).

The next time you run the CycloDS cart on your DS, you'll receive a prompt asking if you'd like to update the firmware. Make sure your battery light is green -- you might even want to hook the system up to its charger -- and press A to start the process. It's imperative that you do not turn off your system during the update. After the firmware update is complete, you'll need to restart your DS. The firmware upgrade file will be automatically deleted.

That's easy enough, but how do I set it up for homebrew?

Running homebrew off this cart couldn't be any easier. With the CycloDS' automatic DLDI-patching, you should be able to run most games and applications without having to patch the software. Just drag and drop the NDS files you've downloaded, and you're good to go. It's suggested that you organize your files into folders if you plan to keep a lot on your cart, as the cart's file browser will only list 128 ROMs in a single directory. As the folder named "/CycloDS" is a system folder, make sure not to drag any homebrew files that you plan to play into there.



Once you've started up your Nintendo DS, tapped past the Health and Safety screen, and selected "CycloDS Evolution" from the initial menu screen, you'll be greeted with the simple user interface pictured above. In case it's not obvious, the DS icon will bring you to a file browser that will load the software you've copied onto the microSD card. The headphones icon will open the Moonshell media player for any compatible photos/music/text/video files you have. The third icon, a briefcase, will let you configure different settings, including your DS's current LCD brightness.

How do I customize the CycloDS's main menu?


Ever wanted to see your true love, Sasuke, as soon as you turned on your DS? Or maybe you'd just like a sleek menu screen to match your iPhone? Here's your chance to make your system's graphical user interface really feel like yours!
  1. Find and download a skin you like -- try NDS Themes or the skins section of the Team Cyclops' forum
  2. Unzip the skin folder from the file you've downloaded (e.g. LePetitPrince.zip -> "/LePetitPrince")
  3. Open the "/CycloDS" directory in your microSD card
  4. Create a "/Skins" folder in "/CycloDS"
  5. Drag the skin folder you downloaded into the "/Skins" folder (e.g. "/CycloDS/Skins/LePetitPrince")
  6. Slap the microSD card and CycloDS cart into your DS
  7. Load the CycloDS Evolution cart from the DS's initial menu screen
  8. Head into "Settings/Misc" from the CycloDS menu
  9. Select the "Skin" line and hit the A button or use the directional pad to pick your skin
  10. Voila! You've added and enabled a new CycloDS skin!
What about this "Enhanced Mode" I've been hearing about?

The CycloDS has a unique "Enhanced Mode" menu which users can access at any time, even while playing a game, by hitting A + B + X + Y + L + R buttons simultaneously. The menu offers some really slick options, some of which we'd love to see implemented by Nintendo for future versions of the DS -- LCD brightness adjustments, an in-game reset for returning to the CycloDS main menu without restarting the DS, real-time saving for saving/restoring game states at any time, cheat code toggling, variable slow motion, and a display for the current time.

Unfortunately, at the time of this guide's posting, this Enhanced Mode is only available for commercial games and not for homebrew software. If you're the type to crank up Aerosmith and live on the edge, Team Cyclops currently has a public beta for its new firmware (v1.4 Beta 2) adding an in-game reset for homebrew games and applications, allowing you to return to the CycloDS main menu without restarting the DS. It's not as impressive as the full Enhanced Mode, but the soft reset is still very useful!

Why are some people choosing the CycloDS Evolution over the cheaper R4?

While it's onboard firmware, microSDHC support, and Enhanced Mode offerings are all significant advantages for the CycloDS Evolution, the biggest reason why many are happy to pay $10-20 extra for this cart is its excellent, English-speaking (this is a huge deal!) support staff. In addition to providing great technical support and firmware upgrades with new fixes/features, Team Cyclops keeps an active presence in its own forums. You would expect these points to be standard with most flashcart teams, but it's rare to see a group support its cart this well.

Where can I go to for more in-depth information on the CycloDS Evolution?


Try Team Cyclops' CycloDS Evolution Reference Manual or The CycloDS Wiki!

Features: Automatic DLDI-patching with excellent homebrew compatability, media player (Moonshell), user-friendly and skinnable interface, OS built into onboard flash memory, Enhanced Mode, auto-boot and auto-execute options, and microSDHC support
Accessories: EZ-V 3-in-1 Expansion Pack
Language support: English, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Latin American Spanish,
Korean, Dutch, Greek, Indonesian, Malaysian, Russian, and Tagalog


Jargon flying right over your head? Check out our homebrew glossary for more information!





plctext
Back M3 Real

Homebrew Solution: R4DS

R4DS
Slot-1 (All-in-one)
Also needed: MicroSD card
Price: $35-$50
Find it: Gameryeeeah, Real Hot Stuff, Modchip Store

Probably the most popular storage device cart (or at least the most well-known), the R4 is a safe choice for people new to the homebrew community. It's essentially the same as the M3, and just as easy to set up. Also, it's unlikely that you'll ever have to deal with DLDI patching with an R4.

Just follow our directions below or check out our step-by-step picture guide, and you'll be experiencing homebrew in no time.

So you bought the R4DS -- what now?

The R4DS storage device comes with a USB MicroSD card reader/writer and a protective case to hold your cart. As stated above, though, you'll need a MicroSD card. (Note: The R4 is only compatible with MicroSD cards that are 2GB or less.)

Once you have your card, insert it into the USB MicroSD card reader (be careful!). Then, pop the USB reader into your computer's USB port. When prompted by "AutoPlay," click on "Open folder to view files." (Note: If you're not prompted, make sure that your computer is reading your USB drive properly. If it is, just open the drive manually through your "My Computer" folder. If not, there may be a problem with your USB drive or MicroSD card.)

That's easy enough, but how do I set it up for homebrew?

Just go here to download the most recent kernel and the extract the files onto your computer. In the "English" folder there will be four files to copy/paste onto your MicroSD card:
  • _system_ folder
  • moonshl folder
  • _DS_MENU.DAT
  • _DS_MSHL.NDS
So now that your homebrew is set up, how do you actually do stuff?

Congratulations! You've set up your R4, complete with MoonShell. The rest of what you do simply depends on your own needs and wants. If you want homebrew games, make a "Games" folder and put it in the root directory. If you want music, make a "Music" folder; if you want applications (like iPod DS or PictoDrive), make an "Applications" folder, and so on.

Now, get to the downloading


It's nice that you have all these nifty folders, but it's no fun if they're empty -- so go on and add some programs and multimedia! If you have no idea where to start, check out some of our past recommendations by scanning through our homebrew category.

Be careful to check if what you're downloading has special instructions. Some programs (like DSOrganize, for example) might need to be installed into the root directory. Otherwise, just put your homebrew games into your "Games" folder, music files into your "Music" folder, etc.

So you have the programs you want -- now what?


Remove your USB reader from your computer, take out the MicroSD card carefully, put the MicroSD card into the R4 storage cart, and put the R4 storage cart into your DS. Then, turn on your DS. Once it loads, you'll notice a menu that's split into three different sections: Game, Multimedia, and Boot Slot-2.


"Game" (left icon) is where you go to open all .nds files, such as DSOrganize, iPod DS, emulators, and any homebrew games that you've downloaded. Only folders and .nds files will show up here, so don't worry if everything else appears to be missing. "Multimedia" (middle icon) takes you to MoonShell, where you open multimedia files. "Boot Slot-2" (right icon) is what you'd use if you had a GBA expansion pack or other slot-2 device inserted into your DS.

Where can I go to for more in-depth information on the R4DS?

Still confused? Use our step-by-step picture walkthrough to make setting up your R4DS even easier. If you have other questions, though, your best bet would be to visit community sites like GBATemp.net or the (unofficial) R4DS Support Forums.

Features: Built-in media player (MoonShell), skinnable interface, automatic DLDI patching, Slot-2 expansion support, Wi-Fi compatibility, operable with both the touchscreen and buttons/d-pad, constantly updated firmware (available on the R4DS website)
Possible problems: Not as power efficient as a normal DS cart, some programs must go in the root directory, not compatible with MicroSD cards over 2GB (MicroSDHC cards)
Accessories: USB MicroSD card reader/writer, protective case to store the R4 cart
Language support: English, French, and Korean

Jargon flying right over your head? Check out our homebrew glossary for more information!

Gallery: Picture Walkthrough: How to set up your R4DS

Getting startedThe main componentThe USB MicroSD reader/writerIf you have it, trash itMicroSD card not included



M3 Back Other

Anguna brings back the old-school action-adventure game



It's not every day you get surprise homebrew releases like this! Anguna: Warriors of Virtue is a complete action-adventure game for the GBA, boasting five dungeons, unique enemies and bosses, and an expansive overworld. Hidden rooms, secrets, and special weapons -- bear traps, dynamite, and more -- are scattered around Aguna. It's all the work of a single programmer (with sprites provided by Chris Hildenbrand), Nathan Tolbert, who labored over the game as a hobby for the past three years.

Very much inspired by the original The Legend of Zelda, Anguna is an old-school experience that doesn't hold your hand whatsoever. Other than a few sentences to set the plot and a sword, you aren't given much to work with. After you fight your way through the introduction dungeon, you'll need to explore the overworld for a while before figuring out where to head next.

If a lifetime of easy gaming has turned you soft, the official site has a guide for getting started that should help you out. The site also offers physical GBA cartridges of the game if you'd rather not play Anguna on an emulator or off a flashcart, though pricing varies for that option.

To promote Anguna: Warriors of Virtue's release, Nathan is hosting a contest -- the first person to submit proof that they've gathered all of the game's hidden power-ups and items will receive a free cartridge of the game.

Gallery: Anguna


[Via GBAtemp]

Square Enix thanks pirates for playing FFCC

Mere hours after Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates hit store shelves today, pirated copies of the game appeared in the shady corners of the internet, posted for all the picaroons out there to download and transfer to their flashcarts.

Twenty minutes or so into the ARPG, however, many of those pirates found themselves greeted with this "Thank you for playing!!" screen and unable to progress. Players have the option of restarting the game from the last save point and playing on, but the screen reappears at random intervals. Clever!

Why not lock pirates out before even loading up the game, you ask? Well, this way, they can try out Ring of Fates, eventually reforming their criminal ways and buying it if they find the experience enjoyable. Also, anyone dumping the game for distribution wouldn't notice this bit of programming unless they played a significant portion of it first.

Though this method isn't 100% effective, as some brands of carts are unaffected and hackers will likely find a workaround by day's end, it's certainly cute! Pirates should feel thankful that this isn't even half as malicious as Earthbound's anti-piracy measures.

90% of DS owners are pirates? Not bloody likely!

In a recent chat with Scotland's The Sunday Post, John Hillier of the ELSPA (Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) warns retailers that the R4, a popular DS flashcart capable of running pirated and unauthorized software, could ruin businesses and the gaming industry. In the scaremongering piece, Mr. Hiller throws out an unsourced statistic: "In America it's thought 90 per cent of Nintendo DS users are playing pirated games because of R4s."

90%? Considering the near-ubiquity of the handheld and its expanded casual audience, we highly doubt that even 9% of DS owners in the US have a flashcart of any sort, let alone know of their existence. Though we don't consider ourselves supporters of piracy, stating a false figure like that as fact just to rally people to his cause is unconscionable.

In a way, we kind of wish the R4 was that popular, but not for any illegal reasons -- it would likely result in more homebrew projects and a much larger homebrew audience. Mr. Hillier will hear none of that, though: "The R4 has shifted balance of power in the piracy industry to the consumer -- and that is hugely worrying. That's why we intend to stop trade in these chips wherever we can."

'My god, it's full of StarLite updates'

Despite the legal quandaries that often follow these unsanctioned projects, progress continues on StarLite. This update (version 0.03) to the homebrew StarCraft game for the DS introduces two important features to the RTS port: 3D sprites and a local multiplayer mode.

This limited build seems more buggy than usual -- we couldn't even get it running on an emulator -- but if you have two sets of DSes and flashcarts handy, you should be able to test out StarLite's two-player setup by following this series of steps:
  1. Download Starlite.nds and equipe.txt
  2. Copy StarLite.nds onto both of your flashcarts
  3. Copy equipe.txt onto the root of one cart, making sure the only text in the file is the number "1"
  4. Copy equipe.txt onto the root of another cart, making sure the only text in the file is the number "2"
  5. Boot up the DSes and load the game on both systems
  6. Mutter with satisfaction, "Excellent," while tenting your fingers

Gallery: StarLite

Roguelike updates remind us to play roguelikes



Are you one of the four roguelike fans out there? If so, and if you also can't wait for Mysterious Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer's February release, why not play NetHackDS or Powder -- two recently-updated homebrew dungeon crawler ports -- in the meantime?

While NetHackDS has the edge in terms of "graphics" and name recognition, Powder has the advantage of being immediately playable in an emulator, so even if you don't have a flashcart, you can still enjoy the addictive game ... if you consider dying a dozen times while trying to figure out how to live longer than five minutes enjoyable.

See also: Nethack your DS

Read - NetHackDS 1.12C
Read - Powder 094

NeoFlash dives into DS movement

NeoFlash's MK6-Motion is proof that not all flash cart manufacturers are out to capitalize on video game piracy. The cart's 16 megabits of flash memory gives users enough room to burn a passme ROM or a small homebrew project, but not commercial releases. As its name suggests, the MK6-Motion's appeal lies in its built-in accelerometer and gyro sensor.

Since the release of the DS Motion Card earlier this year, over a dozen homebrew games have already incorporated motion sensing features. The MK6-Motion slot-1 cart improves on the technology, bypassing the need for a flashed DS or an additional passthrough device to load software. The hardware doesn't have complete compatibility with existing games yet, but developers will be able to update their homebrew projects to work with the new cart.

You can pre-order NeoFlash's MK6-Motion for $49. The DS Motion Card is available at several online shops for about $30-40.

[Via DSDev]

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Big Download Blog
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