Part 01: What Is It And What Do You Get?
The DS-Link is the first commercially available DS Slot 1 loading mod for the Nintendo DS that allows the use of swapable flash memory. The unit uses MicroSD cards for storage. With their rom patching software you can play DS games and run homebrew. Unfortunately it does not allow the running of GBA games.
When you order the DS-Link, you will receive a professional looking box and inside the box is another box made from tin.
Once you open the tin you notice that the unit comes with 1: Ds-Link mod cart, 1: USB SD card reader and 1: Mini cd with the DS-Links software. All of the cans contents are nicely secured inside a foam casing.
Part 02: Size And Build
The DS-Link itself is nice and small, and is built very well . I was surprised at how thick the plastic was considering they were able to squeeze a microSD card reader into the unit. The DS-Link is the exact same size as a commercial DS rom or a passme 3rd gen device like the Superkey.
The DS-Links slides in and out of the DS Slot 1 perfectly. There are no catches and the unit doesn’t give you the feel of having to force it on or out of the DS. Once inserted the unit does not have any over hang or sticking out of the DS so it is undetectable visually to others.
Part 03: Software
I will start with the pc side of the software. The DS-Link comes with a mini CD with the rom patching software. Once you pop the disc in you will immediately notice that the software’s install is not in English. I assume it’s in Chinese. You can easily install the software as it’s not hard to figure out what to click to get it to install. Once the software is installed you have the option of choosing English as the language which was a pleasant surprise. The software itself is VERY straight forward. You have no settings or choices for patching the roms. The only option you actually do have is the language option. You point the rom patcher to the location of your microSD card connected to your pc then you choose “add” and pick the rom you want to add to the microSD. The rom patching software patches the roms and transfers the patched roms to the microSD card automatically. That is all that is involved in getting your roms patched and loaded.
Once you have all your roms on your card your ready to load it up and take it for a spin. In order to use the DS-Link your DS must be either flashed with flashme as the unit doesn’t not have the passme software/hardware built into it or do a swap type trick with a Mk4 Mini where you boot the DS with the Mk4 Mini inserted and then swap it out for the DS-Link. When you turn on your DS you will immediately notice the beautiful OS. The DS-Link’s OS rivals that of the G6 Lite. On the top screen there is the DS-Link logo and on the bottom screen are all your roms listed including a nice little icon next to each rom with a pic from that game (just like the G6 Lite). One odd draw back I noticed was that even though the bottom screen was where the roms were listed, you are not able to use the touch screen to scroll through or launch a rom, this must be done with the D pad and the A button. Seems like a draw back that could be fixed with a firmware update in the future though. The unit will go into sleep mode if you close the DS lid while playing a game and resume when you open the DS lid which was also another pleasant surprise.
Part 04: DS & GBA Performance
I had read some other people’s initial impressions of the DS-Link and I must admit I did not like what I read. All my concerns were put to rest QUICKLY. To get the obvious out of the way, the DS-Link does not support GBA games. It does support GBA cart linking so if you have the rumble pack or Opera browser ram pack you would be able to link up with them (I have neither so I could not test this function). On the DS game side of things the DS-Link owns all other mod carts. I was disappointed that the unit still required the patching of roms but it is a small price to pay for the amazing DS rom support. The DS-Link played every DS rom I threw at it with no slow downs at all. Castlevania, Animal Crossing, Metroid Prime Hunter, and The Rub Rabbits all played at full speed in game and full speed movie intros. I did not notice a single hiccup in video or audio. The DS-Link was also able to play all the new games like Star Fox and Mario Basketball 3 on 3 with no problems. One game that worked for the first ever for me was Ultimate Spiderman. Until now I had never gotten this game to work with any of the GBA mod carts as it would instantly freeze at the beginning of the first level. I was able to play through the 1st level and beyond with the DS-Link. Now the game New Super Mario Bro's did bring up and odd occurrence. The game itself works perfectly but for some reason the Mini Games do not. Not sure why but when I go to launch the Mini Games the DS screens go black and the unit freezes. Again the game itself works perfectly just the Mini Games do not at this point. I can’t say that it has 100% compatibility because I’m not about to go through 100 something games, but I can say it worked flawlessly with all the new games and all the games that give GBA mod carts “trouble”. I was able to connect and play online with Mario Kart, Tetris, Metroid Prime Hunters, and Star Fox with no problems. I was also able to start and play a “DS Download Play” between my DS-Link DS and another DS Lite. Wireless multiplayer between the DS Lite with the DS-Link and a DS Lite with a Supercard and M3 both worked also.
Part 05: Homebrew Performance
Homebrew was hit or miss. I will just quickly go through what I tested and let you know what did and did not work for me.
MegaETK (non fat version)
DsOrganize (tested all versions, grey,green,blue)
DoomDS (froze after the “survived graphic int”
ScummVM (loads then gives a zip not found error)
SnezziDS (black screens when choosen to load)
Lupins Zelda Platformer
Looks like homebrew compatibility is hit or miss at the moment but I was pleased at the amount of homebrew that already works. Seeing at how much homebrew currently does work im sure it wont take much to get the others working as well once the DS-Link has sometime to get out in the hands of the developers.
The DS-Link is the first DS Slot 1 mod available on the market today to use microSD or any type of removeable flash media.. No doubt others will come ( DS-Xtreme’s launch is knocking on the door and M3 already announced a version). If this is the DS Slot 1 mod you choose to go with you wont be disappointed at all. There is no English support web site but the Chinese web site easily translates with Google Translate and is easy to navigate once that is done. The DS-Links pc and DS OS software is all in English so there is no hassle there either. It would appear that the DS- Link is currently the king of the mountain when it comes to DS rom support and even though you still must patch roms, by now were all used to it and it’s a small price to pay for the amazing DS compatibility.
Amazing OS W/ Ability To Change Skin Colors
Amazing DS Game Compatibility
Use Of MicroSD Lets You Expand It’s Storage
Sleep Mode Works
Slot 1 Mod Leaves Slot 2 Open For Things Like Rumble Pack & Opera Ram Cart
No GBA Support ( Hard to call it a “con” as slot 1 is the future and that means GBA play will have to come from an emu)
No Passme Built In Which Requires Either The DS To Be Flashed Or To Do A "Swap Trick" With The MK4 Mini
Still Have To Patch Roms
Only About Half Of Tested Homebrew Works