The DS-Xtreme was announced several months ago, and pre-orders for this product started in August of this year. Since August, the “hype” for this product has built up with every piece of news and feature being revealed, from homebrew compatibility, FAQ
’s to the built-in music player and LED’s. All of this hype was well worth it as it was all delivered!
Before DS-Xtreme, there have only been a select few of Slot-1 devices. A slot-1 device, rather than the regular GBA flashcarts are inserted into the slot-1 (DS slot) of the Nintendo DS, leaving your bottom slot open for whatever GBA game you want (or another flashcart!). With 512mb built-in memory, the DS-Xtreme has plenty of room for all of your homebrew games and applications – even leaving room for plenty of music files!
When announced, the number one “kicker” and striving force behind the DS-Xtreme is the drag n’drop functionality of the cartridge – deleting any need for patching software! With the DS-Xtreme, you can simply drag and drop any file, into any folder and launch it within the DS-Xtreme OS without patching of anything. With the majority of other flashcarts out on the market, patching of ROM files has become a common occurrence in the scene.
With this eliminated, the ease of use of NDS homebrew and ROM files have been significantly increased. Installing homebrew and other files is now easier than ever with the drag n’drop functionality! No more “DS homebrew is too hard and confusing with this passme and flashcart stuff”, now all one has to do is purchase this single
product and they are golden!
Opening up the Box and Initial Impressions – Manuals, who needs those?
Going with the drag n’drop functionality, no manual, demonstration or instructions are needed. As a result, this product only contains the DS-Xtreme cartridge itself and a free mini-B USB cable to connect the DS-Xtreme directly to the computer. Inside the box, you are greeted with the USB cable first, followed by the DS-Xtreme cartridge itself, being securely fastened in a nice cardboard arrangement with even a nice cutout X to signify the “Xtreme” product in which it is holding. The DS-X product only comes in the white color at the moment, meaning that owners of a black NDSL may not find it as attractive. However, all DS cartridges (retail games) have been a shade of black, so seeing a white cartridge in my white NDSL was a nice combination.
After taking the cartridge out, it was much smaller than I had imagined and the design did seem a bit “flimsy” at a first glance. The quality of the product is excellent, it's just not as sturdy as your standard commercial game cartridges. It has a thinner outer shell, but is well built as a whole and it's "poorer" quality shouldn't worry you unless you accidently step on it with a lot of force.
Even now I am careful with the product when handling it. You can also take off the cover as it is only restrained by a few clicked-in tabs which you can take off. However, I’m one who never likes to break products (knowing my destructive nature), so I decided to leave it as-is. However, Shaunj66 from GBATemp has taken his sample apart and had the opportunity to take some snapshots of it. One of these pictures can be seen on the right.
The first most noticeable feature of the cartridge is the mini-B USB connector at the top of the cart which does not seem as out of place as I thought it might have. The first concern I had with this port is the stability and structure of it. Like the cart, upon first glimpse it seemed to be fragile, but upon initial testing of the product – it held up just fine! So, the cartridge may seem flimsy itself, but the USB port held up just fine under normal use.
When connected to my PC, I noticed that the LED’s lit up at the top of the cartridge! Along with those lights on, a few lights on my computer changed to notify me that it had detected a new removable drive, the DS-Xtreme as expected. I quickly dragged and dropped a few homebrew files onto the DS-Xtreme cartridge and began to launch them on my NDS. A notable “plus” for this is the very fast USB 2.0 transfer speeds, leaving me with no time to grab my NDS to the right of me!
Note: While you have the USB cable attached and your DS-X inserted into the NDS, it will hang (performance-wise).
DS-X “”Skinable” GUI – Revolution in Itself!
Near the beginning of the month, I read several posts on WIP (Work in Progress) skins that users are creating for the DS-Xtreme as well as how the skins should be made. Like many GUI’s for flashcarts, the basic structure of the menu remains the same while the look just changes slightly. However, with the DS-Xtreme interface, one can create their own intuitive setups with using their own graphics and script. Leto of the DS-X team had the following to say about the scripting language they will use for users to customize their DS-Xtreme interface –
So, with that being said – you can basically do anything you want with the DS-Xtreme interface as long as it fits within the basic parameters of the interface! You can see a few examples of existing skins in creation in this thread
and this thread
. So, with users already creating skins for the product, I believe there will be no issue of finding the right skin for you!
DS-Xtreme Interface Options and Abilities
The default skin may not be as pretty as some may have wished for, but the skins that are being worked on will compensate for this. On the main menu, you have the option to select Applications, Music, Settings and About. Each option has something very special about it which I was glad to see. However, navigating through these options can be a pain sometime as their response time seems (specially with MP3 player) tends to hang for a second or two, but is almost evident in all flashcarts.
Applications – King of Organization
One issue I find with many flashcarts is the simple annoyance known as organization and finding games. Unlike other flashcarts which require you to browser directories for your NDS files (or place in a particular folder), the DS-X searches all of the directories on the DS-Xtreme for executable files and lists them all in one simple list (each application’s name is listed, along with a thumbnail picture if one is provided within the .nds file).
Once you’ve navigated the list to the application you want to execute, you can easily execute it by double clicking it with your stylus/thumb and clicking launch or navigating using the d-pad and clicking A and then launch. Now, something cool happens, the menu breaks away and reveals the executed application!
Compatibility – Best of the Best?
One of the great consequences to having numerous flashcarts on the market is having compatibility issues. However, with the DS-Xtreme, only a few programs have been discovered not to work (Snezzi DS
, Heretic, and Hexen). However, we have been told that the DS-X team are already researching and working a fix for the compatibility, so no need to slump on this topic much.
After more extensive testing however, I found that the DSOrganize’s file browser did not function, MegaETk can only be ran using the no-fat version, and even then there is no sound produced. Also, Heretic, Hexen and other games that use similar technology/code will not work at the moment. These are all great applications and games that have failed to work properly, but in time, all should be fixed.
Music – Wow, I’m ditching my old MP3 player!
Music playback has been included in almost all of the falshcarts released, and each seem to be different. However, the DS-X’s music player gets a huge thumbs up from me! The DS-Xtreme features a full MP3 player with your basic MP3 management features (can also play OGG files!).
Settings – To Dance, or not to Dance?
The settings are very limited, but are all a significant part of this wonderful cartridge. The first is Auto-Boot, allowing you to have executed an application, shut off your NDS and the DS-Xtreme will automatically boot that application you have used. If you want to bypass the auto-boot of that application, just hold A once you start up the DS-X cartridge.
You are also given the options to change the color of the LED lights as well as their brightness. I loved this feature as I’m a huge fan of the LEDs, even if they are somewhat pointless – they are nice to have. I choose to set mine as green, and turned it up all the way to the brightest level (drains battery much faster than usual). A recommended brightness is below 50, or if you do not want them on – 0.
Now, probably the “weirdest” function I’ve seen on the DS-X is next, the Dancing LED’s! There’s an option to disable or enable dancing LEDs which we revealed 2 days ago. You can read all about that feature in my previous post.
The battery consumption with music and the LED’s were on my mind from the first day of testing this product. Kfree was very generous and tested the battery life of the music playback, with and without the dancing LED’s. His results were that with the MP3 playback (lid closed on DS, volume at the highest), you would get an average of 6.5 hours, while with the dancing LED’s you would get anywhere from 4.5-5 hours.
About – Who am I?
The About option comes in handy when determining what version of the DS-X OS you are using and where you can go to find more information on the product if you somehow forgot about the simple DS-X website url.
Miscellaneous Features – No-Pass Functionality!
The DS-Xtreme has a built-in no-pass feature, allowing you to boot all of your NDS homebrew without a flashed DS like some slot-1 carts require you to have. You can also boot a handful of GBA (slot-2) flashcarts using the DS-X as a passme device as well, just hold Select and click DS-Xtreme on your main screen (or, if you are using auto-boot, hold select after the warning screen). You can also boot into GBA-Mode if you have a GBA flashcart or game by holding start and executing the DS-Xtreme cartridge on the main menu, or on startup if using auto-boot.
However, the only down-side to this is that current M3/G6 owners can not boot their devices using the DS-Xtreme at this time; however, the dedicated DS-X team is already looking into a solution.
With the DS-Xtreme no-pass being built-in, they have also been able to obtain perfect multiplayer compatability with games. Now, if you go to play multiplayer (download play), you can send a download to your friend, regardless of their DS version. With previous flashcarts I could not send downloads (that worked) to my friend’s non-flashed NDS and presented a troublesome problem – this is now fixed!
Passkey M3 (fix being worked on)
One color - white
Feels easily breakable
Somewhat expensive (125$)
Homebrew compatibility needs to be improved
No GBA support (No slot-1 devices have such)
Somewhat slow response/lag in music player and menu
LEDs! (need I say more?)
Auto-detection of games in any directory
Drag n’ Drop functionality - no patching
Highly skinable OS
Built-in passme functionality
Fast transfer speeds
All-in one product (nothing else needed)
Perfect multiplayer compatability
Music Player – supports MP3 and OGG
Great Support from product team (English website with great support forums and IRC)
Overall, this is a great product for new comers to the “scene”. I strongly recommend this product!