This guide is highly outdated. For a decent guide on which flashcart to get, check this GBATemp thread out. In addition, GBATemp has other, more informative guides made by people who actually know what they're talking about.
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1. What is that?
A flashcart is a device, basically a DS game cartridge with a slot to insert microSD memory chips into. You can do all kinds of fun stuff with them but we here care mostly for putting a bunch of DS ROMs on them and going nuts. However you can also use them to run homebrew apps, like emulators and media players.
By buying a flashcart, a microSD to load roms and homebrew to, and a microSD USB reader, someone can play a whole library of DS games for the price of one game. (Maybe less)
Rom downloading is illegal, but flashcarts technically are not in most parts of the world. In the UK it is illegal to sell or import them, but not to possess them if you can find someone willing to risk selling it to you.
2. What about DSi Compatible Flashcarts?
Lets make this very simple.
DSi Compatible Flashcarts are DSi System compatible, not DSi Game compatible. In other words, it will work on a DSi (or earlier system) and play regular DS roms, it will not however play any DSi only games, or DSiWare games.
There are a few DSi enhanced roms out there, but if loaded on a DSi compatible flashcarts, they will act like DS games no matter what system you play it on.
Older flashcarts that predate the DSi won't work, and cannot be updated to work on the DSi without buying an updated flashcart.
3. What kind of cards are there?
|Appearance||Brand||Good or Bad?||DSi?||Description|
A popular flashcart known for its cheap price and robust AKAIO firmware, one of the most compatible and reliable flashcarts currently available.
NOTE: Not 1.4.2 DSi compatible out of the box, but is simple to fix by yourself if you've ever like unzipped files and shit.
A reasonably good flashcart with high compatibility and nice firmware.
|DSTT||Decent||Yes and no||
Generally a waste of money, the official support is dead with some game fixes occasionally released through GBAtemp, but the card is pretty high maintainence.
A reputable clone of the Cyclo DS, but significantly less expensive. Newest firmware update fixes many antipiracy checks. Does not include any special features of cycloDS evo. plus has the EXACT same slow ass menu. Better off with acekard. Has iEDGE version if you like the menu (you weird bum)
This flashcart updates fairly regularly and has some nice features like real-time saving. This is probably a good unsung flashcart.
|iTouch DS||Decent||Yes||M3 team's budget cart. Does update (I think) but otherwise not very notable cart.|
DOES NOT SUPPORT COMMERCIAL NDS ROMS
This flashcart is practically an experimental Supercard DSTwo, with the same GBA emulator and CPU inside.
|M3 DS Real||Decent||No||An |
Known for its Sakura Firmware, which was already out before moonshell 2 (So moonshell 2 is actually based on sakura). Basically same as M3real but has DSi compatibility. Relies on a fragile USB flashing cable to install DSi bypassing firmware, but other flashcarts have better solutions for getting past the DSI and 3DS firmware updates.
Support is extremely poor and rom compatibility has suffered dearly for it. Avoid like the plague.
|(Original) R4DS with Wood R4||Great||No||
The Original R4DS (not fakes or clones) now sports a frequently updated firmware called Wood R4.
Whilst it has some limitations compared to the Acekard 2i or Supercard DStwo, notably no SDHC or DSi support, its Wood R4 firmware is extremely compatible and the R4 itself is super cheap, around $3-6 bought from the right places The R4 has more poorly-manufactured clones than any other kind of flashcart, so if you get an R4, order from somewhere reputable (like NOT EBAY)
Decent card, works with almost all NDS roms and the ones that don't usually just need an anti-piracy patch. Might be hard to find these days though.
Supports Real Time Saving, Real Time Guides, Real Time Cheats.
If you're interested in this you are probably better off buying the Supercard DS Two instead, but for original DS and DS lite it's perfect.
Arguably the best flashcart on the market, bar none. It features an internal CPU that supports an exclusive GBA and SNES emulator, and has the best real-time functions, like multiple real-time saves, guides in .txt or .bmp format, "Free Cheat" (memory modification), real-time cheats toggling, and probably the best compatibility thanks to its firmware that can detect, and bypass anti-piracy measures.
|G6 Lite||Bad||No||Old slot 2 by the M3 team that used to work well, but been dead for a while. I haven't seen any GBA games that didn't work on it though.|
4. Which one should I get then?
It really boils down to two things, what can you afford, and do you have a DSi or not?
Can you only afford $6 and use a DS Lite? You should get an [R4DS ].
If you're using a DSi or can afford a bit more, then you should get an [Acekard 2i Acekard 2i].
If you can afford a lot more, then the [Supercard DSTwo ] is a wise investment.
R4DS is only an option for DS Lite users, but DS Lite or DSi can both use Acekard 2i and Supercard DSTwo.
NEVER BUY THE FAKE/CLONE R4s, IF YOU INSIST ON R4, CHECK IT CAN RUN WOOD R4 BEFORE YOU BUY IT.If you're still not sure, check out GBAtemp's poll, they know their shit.
Generally I would discourage buying CycloDS since Supercard DStwo is better and cheaper but it's a great card nonetheless.
DSTT are crap when R4DS with Wood or Acekard 2i is an option.
M3i Zero may not be as good as you've heard.
5. So what about that memory?
All slot-1 flashcarts take microSD (2gb max) cards, and most support microSDHC (4gb - 32gb).
Before you buy there are 2 points to consider:
Capacity: Buy as much space as you think you'll need.
1gb: Play a few games at a time, delete games once you're done with them.
2gb: Start keeping some more games and homebrew on. Can hold an entire NES rom library for NES DS, with space to spare.
4gb: Can comfortably store many DS games, maybe more than you'll need.
8gb: Enjoy storing games, as well as whole albums of MP3/OGG files and long DPG videos to play in Moonshell.
16gb: Enough space to put every recommended DS game on it plus emulators and roms for them. And still have room to spare. If you collect porn on your DS as well, this is for you.
Keep in mind that storing too many files will impact microSD performance.
Speed: You want to buy the fastest memory you can to make sure games run properly. microSDHC cards are split into Class 2, 4 and 6, 6 being the fastest. If you buy slow memory you may experience slowdown or freezes in some games. 90% of games will run perfectly fine.
Games that experience slowdown:
Apollo Justice: Slows down with certain music with a class 4 card.
Miles' Edgeworth 1: Similar issue.
Addition (by fucker who knows this shit): Actually (even more if you get a GOOD flashcart) The speed is not factor, a class 4 will work just as fine as class 6 cart on Acekard and CycloDS evolution. Only game in whole existence, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, that froze on slow memory cards was patched in a fix for both AKAIO for acekard 2i and CycloDS evolution (as they found out that it was not the microSD's fault) - Of course, if you get some complete shit, I cannot guarantee them working - but as of these days, speed is not actually that big factor. Think what size you want, and then the other stuff. Speed is not a big factor unless you get a R4 (and we already told you to NOT fucking do that.)
Write about things like EZ Flash 3in1, Supercard Lite, etc.
A 3in1 loads GBA roms from a Slot-1 card and plays them, it also acts as expansion memory and a rumble pack. Rudolph's 3in1 homebrew tools are recommended for expanded use/versatility of the 3in1.
Note: There are two form factors of the 3in1, Phat (original) and lite. The Phat version nowadays is pretty much exclusive to realhotstuff.com while the lite version is available at all major online flashcart retailers.
A Supercard Lite can play NDS or GBA roms from Slot 2, but requires some sort of passcard for NDS games/homebrew. Did you know that old Action Replay DS carts have a secret passcard function? Hold select whilst you turn on the DS.
Homebrew Applications and GamesEdit
The list from the main DS page goes here when the construction is finished. Maybe some general words on emulation. Edit: Linkified some consoles in the emulates section to direct to recommended games, for general convenience.
Where to buy your flashcartEdit
Here's some helpful advice for buying a flashcart.
1: Check out the official website of the flashcart you want to buy. They will usually have a list of resellers, which they verify will sell authentic units.
2: Check out GBATemp Forums, they often banter about where to buy, where they've bought from, etc.
3: Check out Shoptemp, they are affiliated with GBATemp and used to be a good reseller of flashcarts. They have since closed up shop though and are now a flashcart reseller comparison website. Shoptemp is now a good place to research what flashcart to buy and where to buy it, based on cheapest prices customer reviews and store locations.
4: Shop around, flashcart pricing can be very competitive, you could save a few bucks by buying at the right place, but you could wait a long time buying from the wrong place too!
Otherwise, check out these sites:
*modify this list as necessary*
^ More details? I got a legit DSTwo from them no problem.
^^ I second this, got my cart from them, totally legit.
This site has one of the cheapest Acekard 2i and DStwo around and surprisingly fast free shipping
|http://www.realhotstuff.com||USA, NJ.||Average prices but excellent shipping.|
||UK/Asia||Dealextreme no longer sells flashcarts, but this is *apparently* their new flashcart reseller. They usually have unbeatable prices, but poor delivery times.}|