Saturday, March 17, 2007

R4DS Review

For more R4DS guides for the Nintendo DS, head over to the brand new

I noticed that one of the more popular entries in my blog is the guide to running homebrew on the Nintendo DS with a R4 Revolution for DS (original article here). Lets face it, talk about flash carts like the R4DS will generate interest from people looking for ROMs and on the other hand, cause some people to act like presumptous righteous religious zealots asking "OMG! Why have you gone over to the dark side?"

Before kicking off with this review, I would like to take the opportunity to remind my readers that games reviewed on this site are original titles owned by me and I will not provide information regarding where to obtain ROMs (some prefer the politically correct term of backup games, but I say they are in denial) nor host them in this blog of mine. However, please feel free to peruse this review and my article regarding running homebrew games using an R4.

The R4 is basically a Slot-1 storage solution for homebrew programs on the Nintendo DS. The previous generation of Slot-2 solutions utilized the GBA slot of the DS but at the same time required a booting tool such as a Flash Me in the Slot-1 to function. On the other hand, the R4 is a complete solution out of the box and users can run homebrew programs stored inside the R4's MicroSD card without the need for additional hardware or flashing the DS.

The R4 package represents an interesting case study in value-adding for such a niche product. The package consists of R4 unit itself, lanyard, installation/manual CD, and a MicroSD card reader (MicroSD sold separately).

The overall build quality is good and the MicroSD slot in the R4 unit is spring loaded; inserting and ejecting a MicroSD card from the R4 unit is similar to inserting and ejecting a cartridge from the DS' Slot 1.

Some tips for the first time users of the R4 should the unit fail to boot on the DS:
  • Read the Manual
  • Make sure that you have loaded the necessary files from the supplied CD to the R4's MicroSD card, alternatively you can get these files from the R4DS website (google it)
  • Check whether the connectors in the DS Slot-1 are dust free. Try blowing the empty Slot-1 before inserting the R4. Personally, I would give the R4 unit as good shake as well. Somehow this tip is starting to sound very wrong. :P
  • Read the Manual! I can't emphasize more on this and unlike the excellent build quality of the package, the manual is somewhat sketchy but should be no problem with some trial and error.
So what can you do with your R4? Personally, I run homebrew games on it while my friend uses it as a test bed for Japanese DS titles (don't ask, and all I can say is that it is good that you can try out things before deciding whether to buy). Some of the homebrew games that I have are:
  • DSDoom - This is a port of id Software's genre-defining game, Doom
  • Tower Defence - This is a port of one of Warcraft 3's multiplayer mode, and superbly addictive.
  • QuakeDS - I've not loaded this up as I'm still figuring out some stuff, but this should rock, come's QUAKE
It's a paltry amount but try looking up for the list of homebrew games supported on the R4 and you will definately be a homebrew happy camper. Modojo recently did an article on popular homebrew games and you would do no wrong checking it out (here). Don't forget though that some games do need patching to run on an R4 and the patching guide can be found on this blog (here).(AY!)