The DS-Linker is another entry into the slot-1 realm of flashcards. With lots of other competitors like the M3 Simply and the DS-X, is it able to differentiate itself from the pack? The answer is a resounding, yes. But does that mean its any good? The answer to that and other questions lies in today's review, entitled...
by: Maximum Hashi
As always, props go to Kick Gaming (Kicktrading got a name change).
Note: The model used for the review is the 16Gb DS-Linker. It is also available in 8Gb and 4Gb flavors as well.
Before we delve into the hardware, lets look at the packaging first. The DS-Linker comes in a nice, petite black box with a plastic mold inside holding the contents. What are the contents you ask? Lets see:
So, there isn't much inside to look at. No CD, or even instructions are included; which isn't good because some people might have a hard time figuring out how to put roms on it. Also, another small thing to scoff at is the included USB cable, which is so ridiculously small, that you'll be looking for one of your replacement cables. Some people might be okay with this setup but for people who have their PC's below their desk, this cable won't cut it. On a brighter note, the build quality is pretty impressive. The DS-Linker fits perfectly and the U-Disk writer is also pretty sturdy. Also, the one I got is pink, which annoys me a little as it contrasts my onyx DS lite but it is only a minor gripe.
Presentation wise, the DS-Linker comes out on top with a slick menu screen and lots of options. For example, you can make a bunch of save files for each game; so people playing Phoenix Wright can have their own save file without deleting someone else's. Also touch-screen support is very well done. When booted up, the DS-Linker immediately shows every icon for each of your games/homebrew and if you want, you can display each icon in a 3D cube shape, which is unnecessary but still pretty slick.
When putting roms onto the DS-Linker, instructions are a necessity as it uses a pretty unconventional method of writing roms. In order to put roms on it, one must put both the GBA U-Disk writer into the 2nd slot of their DS and put in the DS-Linker in the 1st slot. Then when the DS is booted up and connected to the PC (GBA cart has a USB port), then the PC recognizes the DS as a USB drive. Then, you can simply drag and drop roms into the folder without running it through a game manager, as the DS-Linker makes it's own save files. I personally don't mind this setup but it can be inconvenient when you want to put roms onto it and the DS's battery is dead. A good side to this setup is that you can download applications from the DS-Linker website that turns your DS into a mouse or gamepad. As you probably already assumed, the DS-Linker doesn't use removable storage, instead opting for a pretty hefty, 16Gb (2GB) of storage. 2Gb is pretty much enough space to hold most of your roms so removable storage isn't missed as much.
In terms of rom compatibility, the DS-Linker does a superb job. Every rom tested worked almost perfectly, just like a slot-1 card should. It does not come with any bundled software so you'll have to download Moonshell and etc. yourself. Load times are very fast, which is nice, but save times are a tiny bit slower than some other flashcards. Online and local play worked, as expected, and of course, download play is sporadic between roms, with some working and some not working. Homebrew support was also pretty good. Here is a list of some of the roms tested:DS:
- Osu! Tatake! Ouendan (Worked Great)
- Mario Kart DS (Worked Great)
- Super Monkey Ball: Touch and Roll (Worked Great)
- Super Mario 64 DS (Some weird textures in one level but barely noticeable)
- Elite Beat Agents (Worked Great)
- Nodame Cantabile (Worked Great)
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Worked Great)
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (Worked Great)
*Side Note - All of the roms used for any review go through many different flashcards to ensure that it is not a bad rom.
Another thing to note is the price, which is pretty reasonable at that. The 2GB version reviewed here costs around the same as the M3 lite (sans microSD card) at $80 USD, while the 1GB version costs $50 USD. At eighty bucks, you get an amazing flashcard with 2GB of space; which in my opinion, is a pretty sweet deal.
In conclusion, the DS-Linker is a pretty amazing flashcard. It has great compatibility, is well built, has a lot of storage, a slick interface and is reasonably priced for such great quality. If you are in the market for a slot-1 flashcard, the DS-Linker is a pretty good choice.Ratings:
- Build - 4.5: Very nice build, although USB cable is too short.
- Ease of use - 4.5: A little hard to put roms on without instructions; drag and drop functionality is great.
- Value - 5.0: $80 USD for 2 gigs? Sign me up.
- Compatibility - 4.5: Nice homebrew support and game compatibility. No GBA though.
- Final Score - 4.0
Want one? Buy it here!
If you have any questions or want to comment about the review, then e-mail me at maximumhashi [at] hotmail [dot ] com.