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January DS Homebrew Overview 54

Posted by Zonk
from the non-standard-dual-screen-devices dept.
marcellizot writes "Handheld site Pocket Gamer has a new monthly DS homebrew review roundup, which kicks off today with an update on slot-1 hardware methods, plus a look at DS Motion, Lemmings on DS, Flashback DS, Tetris Attack DS and more. From the article: 'The latest hardware is the slot-1 type, which is a DS-sized card and requires no additional hardware or modifications to the DS. These are much simpler to use than slot-2 devices, but as the majority of homebrew was designed for the slot-2 hardware and it's ability to boot GBA software, there are some compatibility issues. They are thankfully being ironed out, and as slot-1 devices become the standard we fully expect that all new homebrew will be designed with them in mind.'"
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January DS Homebrew Overview

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  • someone decided to do monthly homebrew reviews. I spend too much time here to keep up on everything that's going on with homebrew. A those games look pretty sweet. Sweet enough to finally get me to invest in some homebrew access hardware. I've always loved Lemmings. Any predictions as to how long before Sony sends the cease and desist? My guess is tomorrow.
    • Nintendo not Sony. But yes, I do see them doing the while DCMA thing shortly.
      • by Thansal (999464)
        the GPP was reffering to Sony shutting down the lemmings port (as aparently sony owns lemmings).

        And I kinda doubt that Nintendo will be shutting down the homebrew crowd, mainly because they havn't yet. They could easily go the route that Sony did and plug all the security holes with patches (your DS firmware can be updated via the wifi connection), but they just have not, so I susspect that they are not going to any time soon.
        • They could easily go the route that Sony did and plug all the security holes with patches (your DS firmware can be updated via the wifi connection)

          Unlike the PSP firmware, the DS firmware is not intended to be upgraded in the field. The firmware is write-protected (first 64 KiB on older models; first 248 KiB on newer models including the DS Lite). Installing DS firmware requires opening the battery door using a + screwdriver (right [jk0.org]) and pushing a metal paperclip device (lower left) into a hole in the case next to the battery slot to bridge a test point called "SL1".

          • Mario Kart DS automatically upgraded older DS firmware to give it Internet over WiFi connection.
            • by tepples (727027)

              Mario Kart DS automatically upgraded older DS firmware to give it Internet over WiFi connection.

              That wasn't a upgrade to the code in the same sense of PSP firmware upgrades. All the WFC games did was initialize a struct in a previously unused part of the 8 KiB user settings area at the end of firmware. Early versions of FlashMe stored some code in this area, causing a DS to appear bricked after running a WFC game, but this was fixed within a week; FlashMe users could hold the failsafe keys (A+B+Select+Start+Power) to boot a SLOT-2 device and install a new version of FlashMe that stayed out of WFC's

      • I meant a cease and desist regarding the Lemmings game. Why would Nintendo send one for something Sony owns the IP for?

        I can see why Nintendo would send one to the homebrew hardware manufacturers, for enabling the play of copied games. I don't think they will, though, since a strong homebrew community can increase console sales and extend the life of the handheld.
        • I can see why Nintendo would send one to the homebrew hardware manufacturers, for enabling the play of copied games.

          The administrators of a major GBA and DS homebrew forum have a strict policy [gbadev.org] against the discussion of methods of piracy or "backups". Perhaps this has helped Nintendo decide not to waste its time on fighting homebrew.

    • by Kamineko (851857)
      They'd be a bit slow: Lemmings has been out since Boxing Day
  • Only exiting parts to me are Lemmings DS (I think I will be downloadign that), and the fact that we are moving into Slot-1 devices.
    The move to slot one is kinda disapointing for me as I just was given a slot-2/passme set up, and that will possibly render my set up out dated compared to the new set ups....
    • The move to slot one is kinda disapointing for me as I just was given a slot-2/passme set up

      The advantage of SLOT-2 is that most SLOT-2 cards allow you to run homebrew designed for GBA compatibility mode as well, such as TOD [pineight.com], Luminesweeper [pineight.com], LOCKJAW [pineight.com], and everything else I've made [pineight.com]. The SD cards for SLOT-2 adapters are also significantly cheaper at Staples than the microSD cards for SLOT-1 adapters.

    • by Kamineko (851857)
      That's pretty convenient for you then, because my Lemmings DS only works on SLOT-2 devices. :)

      (Feel free to ask me anything about Lemmings DS :) )
      • by tepples (727027)

        (Feel free to ask me anything about Lemmings DS :) )

        How do you plan to handle a cease-and-desist letter from Sony, owner of trademarks and copyrights related to the Lemmings franchise, should you receive one?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @03:19PM (#17741498)
    I did some research into "homebrew" this week and ordered a M3 Perfect Simply for $45 (came to about $62 with shipping). It's a slot-1 cartridge (same slot that uses DS games). You insert a Micro SD flash card into the cartridge and off you go. It plays ROMs perfectly, without any need for conversion. Savegames are saved to the flash card. Its only downside is that it doesn't play GBA ROMs, which I didn't really care about.

    My second choice was the R4, which is basically the same thing - slot-1 cartridge with flash card - but didn't look like as good for some reason (it might be, for all I know).

    If you want GBA ROM support, you're looking at a slot-2 cartridge. They're generally more expensive and many (all?) need a booting card in slot-1. Bundles are available.

    As far as homebrew goes, the M3 Simply plays videos and mp3s straight out of the box. It has a skinnable shell. There are applications that will turn your DS into a PDA or telephone, but I'm not sure if they work with the M3 - maybe someone here knows more on this subject.

    Try to avoid homebrew solutions that require you to flash your DS bios. It voids your warranty.

    Some links:

    M3 website: http://www.m3adapter.com/ [m3adapter.com]
    R4DS website: http://r4ds.net/ [r4ds.net]
    Review of some common methods for homebrew: http://www.metku.net/index.html?path=articles/nds/ index_eng [metku.net]
    Store: http://bamboogaming.com/ [bamboogaming.com]
    Store: http://divineo.com/ [divineo.com]
    • by Perseid (660451)
      If you have a slot two cartridge you need a slot one passcard OR a flashed system. If you do not have one of those two it will only boot GBA games. But if you use a slot-1 only device you won't have any GBA compatibility at all. It's getting to be a pretty crowded and complicated market out there for DS flash carts.
    • I have an M3 (slot 2) and one of the things I like about it is its real-time save capability. Basically, it works like save-states in an emulator. Do the M3 Simply or the R4DS have this function?
    • Another disadvantage of the M3 simply, and many (all?) slot one cards is that download play (when you play locally against someone who doesn't have the game) does not work for many Nintendo games, including Mario Kart. There is a comparison guide for slot 1 cards here but you may have to register (free) to access it... http://gbatemp.net/index.php?dynamic=39 [gbatemp.net]
      • Yarr? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @05:20PM (#17743454) Homepage Journal

        Another disadvantage of the M3 simply, and many (all?) slot one cards is that download play (when you play locally against someone who doesn't have the game) does not work for many Nintendo games, including Mario Kart.

        Yes it does. All you have to do is turn off the DS, push on the M3 DS Simply card to eject it from SLOT-1, insert an authentic Mario Kart DS Game Card into SLOT-1, and turn on the DS. Homebrew isn't backups of commercial games.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by maughanahan (1053586)
          Fair point! Although it is very convenient to store many of the original games that I own on one flash card to save carrying all those seperate cards around...

          ...Nah - I'm not fooling anyone am I? Yarrr.

          • by tepples (727027)

            Although it is very convenient to store many of the original games that I own on one flash card to save carrying all those seperate cards around...

            Look in any camera shop and you'll find a memory card wallet that's intended for CompactFlash and Secure Digital cards but also good for holding DS Game Cards.

      • Another disadvantage of the M3 simply, and many (all?) slot one cards is that download play (when you play locally against someone who doesn't have the game) does not work for many Nintendo games, including Mario Kart.

        So you have three friends and yourself, and you want to play some multiplayer Mario Kart via ad-hoc wireless.

        If all four of you possess the game cart, you can play it.
        If only some of you possess the game cart, you can play it.
        If only one of you possesses the game cart, you can play it.

        You are
        • by Torne (78524)
          Legality issues aside, you can play download play from any slot 1 or slot 2 device just fine if the DS being downloaded to has been reflashed with a FlashMe firmware.

          Download play works by sending a copy of part of the game data over wifi. This data is signed using RSA, to prevent tampering. However, your slot1/2 card modifies the data in some circumstances as it's being read (or in advance, if it's a device which requires a patching tool), as it can't distinguish between code that's going to be run on the
      • I went to GBAtemp and I dont see the slot-2 game cards being reviewed for download play. Can Slot-2 cards be used for DS download play ?
    • by MS-06FZ (832329)

      Try to avoid homebrew solutions that require you to flash your DS bios. It voids your warranty.

      Bah! I flashed my DS as soon as I could get the WiFi exploit working on Linux (I'm happy to say I played at least a very small role in helping to get that software working...) - it was well worth it for the benefit of bypassing the health & safety screen alone.

      Besides which, I've come up with all kinds of other ways to void my warranty - replacing the plastic casing of the DS with an aftermarket knock-off and painting the thing, for starters.

      • You can bypass the health and safety screen? Holy crap that really is worth it just to get rid of that annoying thing.
        • by MS-06FZ (832329)
          Sure! It's been the default behavior of Flashme for a long time now. Then some people wanted their DS'es to appear stock despite having been flashed (so they could resell them or whatever without having to flash them back to the standard, I guess - no one would know the difference unless they had some DS software on slot-2...) and so they made the "stealth" version of Flashme that left the Health & Safety screen intact.

          Flashme also allows you to boot unsigned code over WMB - so you can send demos, pro
          • Did Mario Kart update the firmware, or do you just mean DSes produced before Mario Kart came out?
            • by MS-06FZ (832329)
              There are hardware limitations that prevent software from overwriting the main part of the firmware - a full firmware update can only be performed if the user manually shorts out the SL1 jumper, accessible through the battery compartment (underneath the "security" sticker)

              Mario Kart and other internet Wi-Fi games do write Wi-Fi settings to an unprotected area of the DS flash ROM - this area was inadvertently used by early versions of FlashMe. A DS flashed with an old version of FlashMe could be bricked by
              • Thanks for the info. It appears it doesn't matter anymore what firmware you have? (If it did I should be ok, I have a fat DS from launch day in the US).
                • by MS-06FZ (832329)
                  If you buy NoPass-derived hardware like all these Slot-1 devices, then no, it doesn't matter - any DS will work.

                  If you do have a pre-v4 DS and a compatible wi-fi card and a programmable GBA cart of some kind, then you can take advantage of the fact that WiFiMe will work with your device and use it to run FlashMe - get up and running with homebrew at no additional cost - but if you're lacking any one of these things it's probably more cost-effective to get a Slot-1 flash cart.

                  More info about NoPass and the D
    • by TadMSTR (996071)
      The M3 and R4 seem identical to me. Look at the FAG for each. For the most part they are word for word the same.
    • by Builder (103701)
      The M3 looks great, but what about the software required to communicate with it ? Is OS X / Linux supported or is it all still Windows like my old GBA stuff was ?
    • by billcopc (196330)
      Back when I was doing homebrew on the GBA, we ran legacy GBC roms through an emulator since it would then appear as a GBA executable. Alternately there was the GB-Bridge device which is kind of like the Slot-1 passcard system, but the added cost and weight of this bridge device resulted in most people just going the emulated route.

      I would expect it to be just as easy to run a DS-native emulator for GBA roms. That gives you the benefit of a DS-native launcher app allowing for all sorts of tricks. You coul
  • Homebrew... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JMZero (449047) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @03:53PM (#17742118) Homepage
    I think one of the things that tarnishes the "Homebrew" image is the percentage of games/content that are recycled from other games. I'm guilty of this to some extent myself in my own game dev projects: it's much easier to lift assets or ideas from completed, successful works than it is to develop everything from scratch. And this is not entirely bad - there's lots of great remakes and re-imaginings out there.

    However, it seems like - especially for consoles - there's a real dearth of quality, finished original material. If we could point to a quantity of such material then there might be a more adequate defense for hardware and efforts to allow homebrew development. Right now, there's a lot of truth to the argument that items like NDS flash cards are pretty much just channels for illegal material.
  • Does anybody know of a good ebook reader for the DS ? Something that can read .txt files or .pdf ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Frogbert (589961)
      Moonshell will read text files and play movies. It is compatable with most, if not all, flash card devices.
    • MoonShell can read .txt files, but it doesn't do proper Latin-alphabet word wrap because it's maintained by somebody whose first language is Japanese. Try DSOrganize, which was recently revived due to Chishm's new "DLDI" block device driver architecture.

    • by xtieburn (906792)
      My M3 has an ebook section on its menu, not actually used it but I assume all you need comes with the M3 package. I know it also has music, movies etc and the encoders required to put them on. So Id assume the same for ebooks.
  • The latest hardware is the slot-1 type, which is a DS-sized card and requires no additional hardware or modifications to the DS. These are much simpler to use than slot-2 devices, but as the majority of homebrew was designed for the slot-2 hardware and it's ability to boot GBA software, there are some compatibility issues. They are thankfully being ironed out, and as slot-1 devices become the standard we fully expect that all new homebrew will be designed with them in mind.'

    For DSLinux [dslinux.org], the issues cannot

    • Couldn't you also just get a slot-1 device, and then put memory-mapped RAM in slot-2?

      I'm curious about DSLinux - at this point I have no idea if it really does anything useful (though DanTheMan's post suggests that it really, truly does) and at the moment I don't have a slot-2 device with any significant amount of RAM on it (just got a GBAMP and a GBA flash cart) but if it really is useful in a practical sense then I'd really like to give it a go, once I get a device that'll give me a decent amount of files
      • by stsp (979375)

        Couldn't you also just get a slot-1 device, and then put memory-mapped RAM in slot-2?

        Yes, if vendors supplied a RAM expansion for slot 2 the problem would go away.

        Do you know if it would be possible to run an ssh client on DSLinux without RAM expansion?

        The ssh client works well without additional RAM. If you want to browse the web with links or run the bitchx IRC client, you are better off with extra RAM. But if you just want to ssh into some other box and do everything else there, you don't need extra

  • Indeed, DS homebrew is worth investing in. Moonshell is an amazing application for viewing many different types of media, and the games mentioned on that page are pretty fun, especially Tetris Attack DS. Other notable applications include DSFTP, an FTP server for the DS, and DSOrganize, which is more than an organizer and includes functions like playing back Internet radio streams. There's also SylphAmp, which lets you stream music directly from your computer to the DS.

    Overall, there's a lot of awesom
    • by markimusk (669429)
      Hi, sorry not replying to anything, just have a question as I'm new to the DS and thought someone here might help (just got one as a belated xmas gift, belated because everyone was sold out of the black DS Lite and I was very much holding out for it...)

      I understand the Opera webrowser came out for the DS in Japan but can't find jack about a North American release, just that it's "coming". Or is there another way I can go online with the DS now?

      I think it's a great platform but would honestly like to see som
      • The Opera browser is out in Europe as well if you want to import it. I bought it when I was in London because I was tired of waiting for a North American release. It works pretty well, if a bit slow. Homebrew offers two text-only web browsers in the DSLinux port of the Linux OS to the DS. Getting connected to the Internet can be a pain, but once it's connected, they work good enough for me. DSOrganize is a homebrew organizer application that many swear by. It's very useful and does more than just act

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