What you’ll need is...
Presumably you’ve already got a DS or a DS Lite and you now want to know what else you need to get your homebrew on and start your cheap, touch-screen gaming.
Unfortunately, this is where most would be homebrewers get put off of the whole thing as there is an awful amount of choice out there in terms of booting devices. A lot of it is oddly named too, so being presented with the choice of DS-X, SuperCard, M3 DS Simply, R4DS or DS Linker isn’t really a lot of help.
None of the equipment is free either, though a lot of it is cheaper than buying a full priced DS game from high street store. Still, before we get into specific prices and capabilities, let’s consider the basics.
DS homebrew devices fall into two categories – Slot-1 and Slot-2 cards. Slot-1 cards are those which connect to your DS by being plugged into the top slot, where normal DS games would be plugged in. Slot-2 cards however plug into the GBA cartridge slot in the bottom of the DS. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages too. While Slot-1 cards are always smaller and don’t stick out of the bottom of the DS as Slot-2 cards tend to do, but they’re also a lot newer and don’t tend to support the old GBA homebrew games.
One thing all cards have in common however is that they either contain in-built flash memory or a memory card slot on which you’ll be putting your homebrew games. One tricky thing to be aware of is that cards with built in memory tend to measure memory in megabits
, a convention set by Nintendo, while cards which accept external memory will usually measure in the more common megabytes
- the latter is larger than the former by a factor of eight, so it can make a massive difference to storage capacities..
The M3 DS Simply and R4 DS are some of the easiest homebrew devices
With that said though, the main thing you’ll want to bear in mind is that the support offered by each system. Because the Slot-2 devices have been around longer and are also compatible with GameBoy Advance systems, they’ve typically had far better support by homebrew developers.
However, with the introduction of new new drivers
, that is changing and Slot-1 devices are slowly becoming the norm. For this reason we’ll be looking only at Slot-1 devices, which should offer some good future-proofing for your homebrew-enabled DS.
So, you now know that you want to get a Slot-1 storage card (if not then you’re reading the wrong article) but the question still remains about which one you want to get. Well, in the realm of Slot-1 cards there are three cards which are the most common and therefore most supported. These are the M3 DS Simply
, the R4DS
and the DS-X
, all of which can be purchased legally through sites like Amazon
The differences between the first two devices are very small. The R4 and the M3 both accept external memory cards in the form of MicroSD cards which can be bought very cheaply, they are both second generation devices (which means you don’t need anything other than the card and a MicroSD) and they both sit flush within the DS slot. In actual fact, the two cards are both made the same manufacturer and the only difference is in packaging.
The DS-X card uses in-built memory to store homebrew games on
The R4 and M3 are also the most widely available homebrew cards and come with MicroSD/USB adapters to connect to a PC with. They also both support the DS WiFi and rumble packs if you have them, as well as coming packaged with Moonshell – a popular media player for the DS which lets you listen to MP3s, view photos and so on.
The interface for both is also very clear and easy to use – it’s just a matter of dragging and dropping files onto the card, which automatically patches them using the latest drivers.
The DS-X however is a little different. Unlike the R4 and M3 which use MicroSD cards for storage, the DS-X connects directly to the PC via a USB cable and uses in-built memory which is measured in Gigabits
, not Gigabytes
. Thus, 16 Gigabit of storage is actually only two Gigabytes. It does have some nice extras on it, like cool disco lights
which flash to any playing MP3.
So, you’ve been introduced to the hardware and you’ve got the information you need to get started. For the above three cards it always is a case of simply ordering one and then dragging your downloaded homebrew onto it via your PC, whether it connects via USB or MicroSD is relatively moot.
So, what homebrew is out there for you and what will you be able to do with your newly refitted DS?