With more and more slot-1 flashcards coming out, people have come to expect a few things; such as perfect rom support, drag and drop functionallity, etc. However, one thing that people miss from slot-1 cards over the 2nd slot varieties is the GBA support. The EZ-Flash team seems to have taken a note of this and has provided a setup which lets you access the GBA support you sorely miss, as well as some other extras, that works in unison with their slot-1 card. Lets see how it fares in this installment of...

 

The EZ-Flash V Bundle Review
by: Maximum Hashi

 

As always, I am very grateful to the services of Kicktrading for sending me the review copy.

First off, lets take a look at what you're getting in the package; please note that the 3-in-1 expansion pak is only available in the bundle version.

  • EZ-Flash V slot-1 flashcard
  • EZ-Flash 3-in-1 slot 2 expansion

So, you don't really get too much in the form of extra accessories and such. The two cards come in a nice plastic housing and the box is small and compact. There is no card reader or CD so you'll have to get the firmware off the internet and buy a TF/SD card reader. But the good part is that you won't need a U-disk burner to use the 3-in-1 expansion as the writing process is handled by the slot-1 card. In terms of the actual hardware, the EZV is pretty sturdy but has some faults. Namely the two huge chips sticking out of the sticker. With some flashcards, this is usually unnoticeable and/or doesn't affect the size much but with the EZV, it fails on both of those fronts. The two chips are very noticeable and stick out a lot (they even lift the sticker up a little) and getting it out of the DS's 1st slot is pretty hard. It sometimes gets mushed in and requires some pinching to get out. Also, the micro sd card slot isn't spring loaded but fortunately, it gets easier to use as it wears down a bit. It also loads from the side so if yout want to take out the micro sd card, you'll have to remove the EZV entirely. The 3-in-1 is pretty good in terms of build shape but it has it's faults too. It's made of plastic with a matte finish so it would look and feel similar to the inside of a DS lite rather than the glossy outside; and while it is made for the DS lite, it sticks out by 1 mm or so. It isn't very noticeable when you look at it but you can feel it.

Presentation is going to be a hit or miss with some people. The EZV uses a modified version of Moonshell for it's GUI. Some people won't like it because they might find it as a lazy attempt to rush a flashcard or because they don't like Moonshell's interface to begin with. However, others might like it because of the already extensive skin support and the fact that they can run all of their movies or mp3s directly from the main menu rather than booting Moonshell afterwards. I fit under the latter group and like the fact that I don't need to run another app just to listen to my music and such. You can also give a save type to each rom (a la, DS Linker) but the good part is that save lists are made so you don't have to guess each save type. You can also access a menu to adjust vibration strength (through the 3-in-1), micro sd card speed, language (English or Chinese) and rom type (clean or hybrid; more on that in a bit).

Now, the EZV bundle comes with a 3-in-1 expansion pack that combines a GBA flashcard, rumble pak and a 4MB expansion pak. The rumble can be adjusted to 3 levels with the 1st level with the lightest rumble but the least sound, and the 3rd having the most rumble but the most sound. The 2nd level is comparable to the official DS rumblepak. The rumble works with any rumble enabled game without patching or anything (rumble must be listed in the save list). It is a nice feature and works great with the games that support it (Starfox Command, Ouendan 2, etc.) The expansion pak also works great with the only game supporting it, the DS web browser (clean rom).To use the GBA functionality, all you do is put the GBA game on your micro sd and it will write the rom onto the 3-in-1; no PC needed. However, you can only write one rom at a time and the process takes about a minute. It's a pretty good companion to the EZV and provides a lot of functionality to the slot-1 card.

In terms of rom compatibility, it really depends on your micro sd card; however, most games worked perfectly on my Lexar 1GB. You have to know your card speed to make it work best, with an option to automatically check it. This makes it a little more complicated to understand (unlike the M3 Simply). Here's a list:

  • Yoshi's Island DS (Worked Great)
  • Osu! Tatake! Ouendan 2 (Worked Great)
  • Ridge Racer DS (Worked Great)
  • Phoenix Wright - Ace Attorney (Worked Great)
  • Pheonix Wright - Justice For All (Worked Great)
  • Sim City DS (Didn't Work)

So, rom compatibility was alright but there was a game that didn't work. To combat this issue though, the EZ-Flash team released a hybrid tool that aims at improving compatibility while adding soft-reset and rom trimming support as well. After patching, every game worked fine. Now a rom trimmer might be useful for those who need it but soft-reset and 100% rom support should be commonplace with slot-1 cards without the need for patching or anything of the sort. So this is definitely a down point for the EZV. On a brighter note, 3-in-1's GBA compatibility was perfect and homebrew worked with the corresponding DLDI patch.

A nice part about the EZV Bundle is the price. While normally, the 3-in-1 costs $23 USD and the EZV costs $40 USD, you can get the whole package for $55 USD so at least you get a pretty good value for a GBA and DS flashcard.

While the EZV Bundle combines the best of both worlds with GBA and NDS rom support, it isn't perfect. Those looking for the 3-in-1 only will be glad to know that there are unofficial drivers for other slot-1 cards out there; and with good reason, since there are other flashcards that are much better than the EZV. Stick with an M3 Simply or DS Linker or something not unlike those cards.

Ratings:
  • Build - 3.0: Chips stick out, hard to eject from DS.
  • Ease of Use - 3.5: Drag 'n drop doesn't work always, GBA takes 1min to write.
  • Value - 4.5: Pretty good value for two flashcards.
  • Compatibility - 4.5: After patching, everything worked, GBA works perfect.
  • Final Score - 3.0

If you have any questions or want to comment about the review, then e-mail me at maximumhashi [at] hotmail [dot ] com.

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