Well, I finally got my EFA Linker II in today. Ordered it from a German company close to Frankfurt so I could just drive over and pick it up to save on shipping and so I can support a local German vendor. Luckily the company I ordered from is pretty maniacal when it comes to GBA/NDS flash carts so this guy can pretty answer ANY question I might come up with in the future.
Man, I gotta get him into these forums one day...
Main website of the Flash cart is: http://www.efa.cc/index-e.html
For a more "thorough" review, see here:
What was shipped
Well, first of all the packaging is quite nice. It comes in a nice, sturdy wooden box that contains everything to get you started:
1) EFA II GBA cart
2) 2x USB-to-mini-USB cables (one really short, the other nice and long)
(The mini-USB is more of a "micro" USB connector that is not really found in stores...it's completely different from the 'standard' mini-USB cables you find on most external hard drives, Motorola vX phones, etc.)
How it works
The cables connect the cart to any USB port on any computer and it shows up as a regular "Removable Media" flash drive with 128MB of space on it for the .GBA files. A little warning about the documentation though: there is none. Luckily the shop I ordered from also threw in a CD-ROM that already had the client software on it and had already "upgraded" the loader firmware on the cart itself to the latest version (that's why it's handy to have a local dealer like I used).
It pretty much works in one of two ways:
1) Just drag-n-drop the .GBA files into this flash drive, plug it into the GBA/DS and copy the game you wish to play from the "flash" side of the house to the NOR side (that's the side that actually plays the games themselves).
2) Use the client software freely available from www.efa.cc to copy them over.
(In both instances, do NOT have the cart plugged into the GBA/DS when connecting it to the computer)
NOTE: I noticed one weird "issue" that I need to test further. It seemed to me that when I copied a GBA rom over the "drag-n-drop" way from the PC to the cart and then copied it over into the NOR area to run it, it wouldn't perform in-game saves at all. But when I used the client software, it seemed to "setup" the GBA ROM and the cart for saving. Strange, but again I think I need to further test it.
It works like a champ, and everyone says it's one of the most "compatible" and "fastest" GBA ROM carts out there. I wouldn't know, this is my first one.
But so far I haven't found a single GBA ROM that won't work with it....even Bleach Advance ran well.
Ok, so now I have this fancy cart, but will it run GBA "homebrew" on my DS or my GB Micro?
The answer is....yes and no. There's a "trick" you have to do to run a DS ROM from the cart, and that involves one of the infamous PassMe devices.
(more here: http://www.gameboy-advance.net/ninte...-linker-ii.htm)
The company that made this cart is working on an "easier" way to do it, but it's not out yet.
For regular GBA homebrew, as long as it's in the .GBA rom format, it flat-out works.
Well, I ran over the nets looking for strange homebrew and ran across a little program that will "convert" a classic Sierra game (i.e. Leisure Suit Larry or any of the old King's Quest games) into a GBA ROM that you can then play on the GBA/DS/Micro. So I downloaded their "sample" GBA ROM that had a few on it and dragged it over onto the cart without using the client software.
Once it was over on the ROM cart, I plugged it into my DS (the Micro was charging at the time) and then copied it into the NOR (Running RAM) from the NAND (storage). Then I ran the ROM and it worked perfectly, including save and restore.
Yup, as long as it's in the .GBA ROM format, you can run GBA homebrew from this thing. I even converted a Sega Master System Wonder Boy ROM I had into a format that ran on my DS. Weird, but it runs fine.
DS homebrew? Well, I'll have to get busy later on with getting WiFiMe to work and reflash the latest FlashMe into my pre-September 2005 DS.
But from reports around the nets, it works well with a PassMe cart and DS ROMs.
One thing though, if you've already copied a game over into the NOR RAM from the NAND RAM, you can delete it from the NAND RAM and it's still in NOR, ready to play. However, deleting anything from the NOR RAM seems to be a chore and usually winds up "erasing" all the games in the NOR RAM causing you to copy them back over. It's a pain, but hopefully it will be addressed in the next loader firmware which can be easily applied via the cart itself.
I'll add more to this "mini-review" as I discover more things to do with it.