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Wings Over Sealand

Public service announcement

Posted on August 28, 2011 by RevStu

There are two groups of videogamers in the UK (and perhaps the world) whose Venn diagram has a surprisingly small intersection. In Group A we have "People who own a Nintendo DS", and in Group B there's "People interested in buying a Nintendo 3DS".

In fairness, this may be because Group B is so small it'd be a tiny intersection even if it was entirely contained within Group B, but that's neither here nor there. In any event, because WoSland loves Nintendo so much, we're going to try to help increase it a bit.

If you're an existing DS owner – and there's a very good chance that you are – one of the things that might be putting you off upgrading is that you can't use your existing DS flashcart to carry around your collection of legitimately-backed-up game ROMs and/or splendid homebrew applications such as Manic Miner – The Lost Levels.

(And who could blame you? We'd no sooner be without arm's-reach access to MMTLL than one of our own dear and precious kidneys.)

Nobody wants to drag two slightly bulky handhelds around with them, after all. And also, if you have to hang onto your DS Lite to play Manic Miner (which in this impartial reviewer's opinion is the finest neo-retro 2D platformer this side of Naughty Ones), you can't trade it in to offset the cost of the new machine.

Fortunately, the ever-alert world of third-party enhancement hardware is on the case, and has already come up with a solution, in the form of new flashcarts that bypass Nintendo's sour huffery and work in the 3DS. (To run ordinary DS games only – you can't play 3DS games with the flashcart.)

That's all well and good, but since the heady days of the mid-2000s the flashcart market has splintered so spectacularly – with the "R4" name that became synonymous with DS flashcarts suffering particularly badly – that attempting to find one that supports the 3DS is a bewilderingly complicated and difficult task, and finding the right firmware to run on it if you do is twice as hard again.

So WoSland is here to help. Once again, readers are of course reminded that this information is provided only for lawful purposes such as those described above, and if we find out anyone is using it to play games they don't own legally, we'll come round and give them such a pinch.

The card you more than likely want is the R4i Gold. There are about 650 other variants of the R4 and R4i out there, so for heaven's sake be sure you know what you're buying. What you're looking for is something like this, which we imagine would cost just over £12 in Her Majesty's money including recorded delivery, and take about a week to arrive.

When it arrives, you'll need to add a micro-SD card (if you didn't buy one with it), and copy the card firmware onto it. This is where things might get a little confusing and dismaying, because the firmware available on the seller's page, we suspect, doesn't work at all.

You might, for example, have to spend an entire Saturday reading badly-translated web pages and watching useless YouTube videos just trying to work out which kind of firmware the card actually wants, far less where you might actually be able to download it, until after many frustrating hours of trying countless different sorts you finally stumble across the right one, which would probably be the first link at the top of the page.

Having retrieved it, you'd almost certainly want to unzip the file's contents to the root of your memory card (along with your copy of The Lost Levels), plug it into the flashcart and insert it in your 3DS, where it might try to throw you off the scent by appearing under the name "SpongeBob's Atlantis Squarepantis", but we're confident you'd be too wily to be fooled by that and would click on it anyway, at which point you'd encounter a charming wood-effect menu screen which you could navigate in order to enjoy some of Miner Willy's subterranean antics.

We gather from our investigative research that the cart will happily support pretty much any game you care to throw at it, as well as offering a whole bunch of advanced features that we haven't bothered looking into yet, and that it is actively and frequently updated to take account of any "security" measures that may arise.

Thus empowered, you could then enjoy a leisurely stroll in the beautiful summer weather we've been having to visit the kindly and generous people at your local branch of CEX or Gamestation, who would gladly take your old DS off your hands in order to provide it with a loving new home, and furnish you with a substantial discount on the price of a 3DS that would take it comfortably below the £100 barrier.

Whether that increases your level of interest in owning a 3DS or not, WoSland doesn't know. Nor do we have a particularly strong opinion either way on whether we'd recommend such a course of action, although we personally are moderately looking forward to Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions and Super Mario 3D. We provide this information merely for academic purposes, and entrust that viewers will use it in such a spirit.

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8 to “Public service announcement”

  1. romanista says:

    i guess my cyclods evolution should work with new firmware 2.1+ too, i'll check when i know somebody with a 3ds

  2. quirky says:

    The sad thing is that Nintendo will release a no-feature update to the 3DS firmware that will disable the exploit the R4i is using, and you’ll be stuck until the hackers work out another fix. The DSi has been in this boat for the last year or so. The solution to this mess would be for Nintendo to embrace the iOS thrid-party software model and let the Manic Miner guys release the game legitimately on the e-shop. Never going to happen though.

  3. RevStu says:

    I'll just switch wifi off so I never have to update the firmware. Got no reason to ever use it anyway.

  4. Hero of Excellence says:

    Manic Miner Lost Levels is superb. It's like an Amiga game, in the positive sense, from when the Amiga was the unofficial successor to the Spectrum, being host to quirky and innovative British games software. It is unfortunate that the Amiga ended up becoming a format that was a dumping ground for terrible clones of console platforming games and crap  Doom wannabes.

  5. Derek says:

    It will undoubtedly depend on if they start adding it to new games.

  6. Ben Paddon says:

    The solution to this mess would be for Nintendo to embrace the iOS thrid-party software model and let the Manic Miner guys release the game legitimately on the e-shop. Never going to happen though.
    This is, oddly enough, the approach Nintendo takes to the WiiWare store. A handful of original Wii homebrew apps have since made the jump over to the downloadable service. So don't rule out the possibility of something similar happening with the eShop (assuming that isn't already the case).

  7. Irish Al says:

    WRT switching off the Wifi and never updating the firmware, that's all fine and dandy until games start to appear requiring a particular firmware version, surely?

    Anyway, wouldn't an enhanced MM:TLL be great if updated to use the 3D capability …

  8. ???? says:

    but i think this one can not support the 3D game,need about one or two years

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