GBAtemp has published their Review of SKY3DS flashcard this morning,
let’s see how Professors think about it!
Exterior of the cartridge
The sky3DS cartridge is very well-made. The plastic isn’t too finicky and although the molding process isn’t perfectly uniform, the casing does its job just fine. The connectors are protected with a grill, much like on an original 3DS cartridge, so it’s clear that the makers of the cartridge paid a lot of attention to detail. On the lip of the cartridge you can see three things – the microSD card slot (which is not spring-loaded, thus more reliable that its spring-loaded counterparts), a red plastic button for switching games and a blue LED light which signifies whenever the cartridge is switching games. On the front of the cartridge you can see the sky3DS logo with some Trasfo– *cough* *cough*, I mean, robots, some robots in the background *wink*. Build quality is on-par with similar products on the market, there’s little to complain about in that department. The cart took quite a bit of persuasion before I managed to open it up, here’s what treasures I found inside, for all the PCB lovers out there:
The DiskWrite utility in action
Setting up the cartridge could not be much simpler. The cartridge is not drag and drop, however the tools provided by sky3DS are pretty self-explanatory and effective at what they’re supposed to do. Before you start, you’ll have to download two things: the sky3DS DiskWriter and their current Template file, both can be found at http://www.sky3ds.com/download.html. Once you have those two files in one directory, you have everything you need.
The sky3DS DiskWriter tool is used to format, manage and flash games onto your microSD cards. The Template file is a text file containing TitleID’s and their SHA1 checksums. To use the DiskWriter, right click on its icon and Run it as an Administrator to make sure that it has all of the necessary privileges, then select the microSD reader you’ll be using. DiskWriter will then ask you to format your microSD card and once you’re done with that, you can start flashing games onto the microSD card by selecting the Write option from the File menu. Should you wish to format the microSD card again, you can always re-format by selecting the Format option from the file menu. All of your currently flashed games will be displayed in the DiskWriter’s window, as seen in the screenshot above. It is important to note that the DiskWriter will refuse to flash any image that is not covered by the Template file, which has happened to me once during testing. Fortunately, the sky3DS team is diligently updating their Template file, so be sure to always use the latest one in order to avoid any problems when using the software.
Better safe than sorry – set the DiskWriter up to work in Compatibility Mode and As An Administrator to avoid issues!
I would like to add that the DiskWriter utility did not work correctly when used in a Windows 8.1 environment. If you are also faced with that problem, make sure to change its compatibility settings by right-clicking on the icon, going to Preferences and adjusting the Compatibility tab. In my case, setting the program to launch in Windows XP SP2 mode fixed all of the issues I encountered, so that’s the option I recommend. You can also set it to always Run as an Administrator in the same tab to avoid having to right-click on the application every single time you need to use it.
With our games flashed and ready, it’s time for the fun part – booting the games! This is what I like about the sky3DS – it’s completely plug and play and hassle-free from this point onwards. Once you’ve put your microSD card into the flashcart and inserted it into your 3DS, you’re done – the first game will automatically show up like a normal cartridge would and you can cycle through the list of games by pressing the red button. There’s no fiddling with exploits, no worrying about SysNAND or EmuNAND – the cartridge just works, and that’s a huge advantage in my book. In this regard, the device is very user-friendly – anyone could use it.
Cycling the list of games is relatively quick – it takes aprox. 5 seconds for the cartridge to switch to the next game and this process is signified by the flashing blue LED. Each of the games has its own separate save file embedded into the flashed ROM, so there’s no worries about one game overwriting another’s save file. At present the DiskWrite utility does not feature an option to backup the files flashed to the microSD card, but I was told that this option will be included in a future update of the utility.
The flashcart operates as well as a standard cartridge would – I haven’t noticed any significant slowdown or issues when testing it using my two Class-4 microSD cards. In fact, I was surprised to see that the games I have tested all worked Online without having to use any additional utilities! I did not have to fool around with converting between .3ds and .3dz or looking for headers, the games just work as-is – once again the sky3DS proves to be a very user-friendly device.
So far the cartridge sounds like an ideal solution, but the sweetness of being able to boot ROM’s on 4.5+ firmware comes at a bitter price. The sky3DS only supports 10 games total per flashcart, and that means 10 total with no option to change the ones you’ve flashed. You can remove them from the microSD card, but the flashcart itself has their information saved on its on-board memory which has 10 non-rewritable slots. You have to keep that fact in mind when choosing which games you want to play, because once you’ve flashed and booted one, there’s no going back – the slot is now taken. Fortunately, you cannot fill two or more slots with one game by re-flashing it – the Template file is used to keep track of games that have been installed, so it will not install the same game twice.
In addition to the slot limitation, the sky3DS does not circumvent the 3DS’ Region Lock – you not only won’t be able to boot any ROM that is not native to your console’s region. I was told that such unbootable games will not count towards the overall total of 10 games, however in the interest of saving your time, exercise caution and make sure that the ROM’s you want to use are compatible with your system.
As far as Homebrew is concerned, the sky3DS does not support it in any shape or form at present – it is only capable of booting officially licensed games.
With all of the positives and negatives out of the way, time to do some testing!
- Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (EUR) – PASS (Including Online)
- Resident Evil: Revelations (EUR) – PASS
- Bravely Default (EUR) – PASS
- Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney (EUR) – PASS
- Mario Kart 7 (EUR) – PASS (Including Online)
- Animal Crossing – New Leaf (EUR) – PASS (Including Online)
- Work in Progress – More games to come as I test them
The sky3DS is a hard product to judge. On one hand, it does everything a convenient flashcart should do – it works on up-to-date firmware, it works online and it’s easy to use. On the other hand though, it doesn’t support Homebrew applications, it does not circumvent the pesky Region Lock and most importantly, it only launches the first 10 games you install on it and nothing more, making the choice of ROM’s to use more important than ever. I choose to judge it on what the developers promised to deliver, and delivered they have.
This flashcart is a great choice for all of those users who don’t feel like trying to hunt down a 4.5 3DS just for the sake of using a flashcart – that’s definitely its biggest advantage. Its plug and play nature makes it ideal for a newbie user who just wants the device to work. If you’re interested in storing a couple of your favourite games on one cartridge and don’t feel like going through too much hassle, the sky3DS is something to be on the lookout for. It’s also the flashcart of choice for current and future adopters of the New 3DS, as it has been confirmed to work on that system as well. With that being said, if you already own a 4.5 3DS and a flashcart, this might not be a product for you. Flashcarts currently available on the market offer a wide range of functionality unavailable on the sky3DS due to the nature of how it operates. This flashcart is designed to support 4.5+ firmware – that’s its primary selling point, so future buyers should make their decision based on that.
More details you can fin it in GBAtemp here: