A long time ago in a console far, far away….
It was almost two decades ago that the Gameboy Advance system was released and people are still playing it. With AGS-101 backlight mods being abundant these days and plenty of flash cart options being available over the years, there is still demand for the most compatible and technologically advanced flash cartridge for the GBA.
We will see how feature packed and capable the latest flash cartridge is for this console: The EzFlash ReForm.
This is the MaxConsole Official Review of the latest Gameboy Advance Flash Cart product from China. We will cover the operation and configuration of this simple to use flash cartridge as well as testing several ROMs, including many that have been problematic to run on other flash cartridges and emulators. This flash cart is based on the Ezflash IV and supports drag-and-drop to microSD card this time as well as two methods to play ROM files and fast loading ROM configurations.
The previous model of this flash cart was a full sized GBA cartridge form factor and required ROMs to be pre-configured within proprietary software before loading onto a miniSD card to be played. This was a somewhat tedious and more advanced way to load ROMs than some competing cartridges but for some reason still proved to be a very popular choice in flash cartridges for the end user with so much increased demand for the Ezflash IV when production ceased that the Ezflash company decided to re-release the same cartridge in response. The miniSD was a rarely used format for expanded memory storage in electronics so that made the Ezflash IV somewhat an oddball in electronics altogether. The microSD however could be used in a miniSD slot when placed inside an adapter so that was not a real problem.
The small quirks that the Ezflash IV had are addressed here in the new Ezflash Reform flash cart. This flash cart not only supports drag-and-drop for ROMs but it also supports microSD natively and comes with a spare plastic shell to allow its form factor to be slim enough to not stick out from a DS Lite console. Additionally, the flash cart comes with a removable battery which is easy to access and replace without any soldering skills at all necessary (the battery just clips in). The Ezflash Reform is fully compatible with all official Nintendo handhelds and accessories that support the Gameboy Advance video game cartridge slot. This includes the Nintendo GBA, GBA SP, Gameboy Micro, Gamecube Gameboy Player, Nintendo DS, and the Nintendo DS Lite.
The Ezflash Reform’s package and contents are pretty simple.
The EzFlash ReForm ships in a box sturdy enough to withstand being shipped overseas in a bubble pack packet and comes with a transparent plastic insert. Ezflash includes a slim GBA cartridge shell that can be exchanged for the standard sized shell that the flash cart’s circuit board ships contained in. There is one Phillips screw that holds the cartridge shell together. It is a pretty basic, although very robust, kit as we will soon see and has instructions available online at www.ezflash.cn within the EZ-FLASH IV MicroSD EZ4 Kernel Download file.
This is a plug-and-play cartridge and is simple to set up and use. Game images (ROMs) are copied directly to a microSD card and that card is inserted into the Ezflash Reform flash cart. The flash cart does not have a spring loaded microSD card slot but I had no trouble getting it to read memory cards. If it is necessary to update the firmware, ezfla_up.bin can be downloaded from www.ezflash.cn and placed in the root of the microSD card. Powering up the console with the R button held will then launch the firmware update process. I found this was not a necessary step on the flash cart I received because it already had the latest firmware installed. I did not have to copy any files from www.ezflash.cn to the microSD card in order to get ROMs to work.
The EzFlash ReForm cartridge shell does not have any stickers and has a good quality EZFLASH title embossed in the matte finished plastic. The cartridge is a little bit thick and can get hung up when pulling it out of a DS phat console but it comes out a bit easier from an original GBA.
Let’s try out some games.
There are two modes for running DS ROM files. Pressing the A button launches the game in PSRAM mode which is the fastest way to load a new game. This mode requires the user to wait a while for the game to load but consecutive loading of the same game will load quicker with the files stored on the microSD card. NORFLASH mode is a slower way to first load a game but after the game is flashed into the NOR memory, it will be displayed on the root screen of the microSD card and will launch automatically upon selection from that screen. NORFLASH mode is necessary for ROMs that are larger than 128Mbit in size.
Tested DS games:
- Advance Wars 2 – Black Hole Rising
- Banjo Kazooie (disabled GSS mode otherwise L, R, Select, and Start buttons force reset)
- Castlevania – Aria of Sorrow
- Donkey Kong Country 3
- Double Dragon Advance
- Golden Sun 2
- GT Championship Racing
- Kingdom Hearts (NORFLASH mode)
- Kirby – Nightmare in Dreamland (disabled GSS mode otherwise L, R, Select and Start buttons freeze the game)
- Mario Kart Super Circuit
- Pokemon – Fire Red Version
- Pokemon Pinball – Ruby & Sapphire
- Sonic Advance
- Star Wars – Jedi Power Battles
- Street Fighter Alpha 3
- Super Mario Advance – Super Mario Bros. 2
- Super Mario Advance 2 – Super Mario World
- Super Mario Advance 4 – Super Mario Bros. 3
- Tales of Phantasia
- V-Rally 3
- Wario Land 4
- WarioWare Inc.
Some GBA titles were not working with the standard PSRAM launch method which runs the game with the global soft reset and sleep (GSS) mode. To disable this feature, the L button is pressed while pressing B to launch the game.
I was pleasantly surprised that all games I tested worked flawlessly on this flash cartridge. I had to disable GSS mode for a few games but most games worked without a hitch. Of course larger games like Kingdom Hearts (256Mbit ROM) had to be loaded in NORFLASH mode which took quite a while longer to program but it ran great.
I own a flashme modified Nintendo DS system and had to hold down Select while pressing power to turn on the system in order to get it to boot up with the Ezflash reform plugged in. This is different from my other flash cartridges that do not require flashme to be disabled before powering up. Luckily I found this out in time to finish writing this review because my GBA does not have a backlit screen.
The Ezflash Reform is an incredible flash cart especially for the cost. It runs every game I threw at it flawlessly and supports the largest ROMs that are out. It also comes pre-loaded with a simple GUI as well as a built in PDA. This flash cart is still currently supported by team Ezflash so we should be seeing compatibility and other updates in the future.
I give this flash cart an B+. This score is due to the fact that it does not support RTS (realtime saving), does not have RTC (realtime clock for Pokemon games) despite having a built in battery, and has a somewhat lackluster GUI. However this flash cart supports every game that I tried, including Kingdom Hearts which is a very large game for the system and I had very little problem getting games to work properly after reading the manual (rtfm!).
- Supports all Nintendo Gameboy Advance capable official hardware.
- Supports the full library of games (from the selection I tested, there were zero issues).
- Fully plug and play.
- Supports microSD cards instead of miniSD and up to 32GB in size.
- Drag and drop ROM file support to microSD card.
- 16Mbit of PSRAM for fast loading of games.
- PSRAM loading speeds up after loading a ROM for the first time.
- Robust 256Mbit NORFLASH built-in memory supporting even the largest ROM images.
- NORFLASH mode allows games to load instantly from the menu.
- Does not require any system files to be installed on the microSD card.
- Still supported by the company that made it.
- Easy to replace SRAM battery.
- Built-in PDA text editor.
Thanks to 3DS-FlashCard.com for providing Maxconsole with the review sample. This flash card kit normally retails for under $50 USD plus shipping and handling and definitely is a bang for your buck for Gameboy Advance games. This flash cart is still supported by Team EzFlash due to the fact that users want it.
- Slow ROM loading especially in NORFLASH mode.
- No RTC
- No RTS
- Can be difficult to remove from DS consoles.
OFFICIAL SITE: --> www.ezflash.cn
OFFICIAL RESELLER: --> http://3ds-flashcard.com/home/70-ezflash-reformnew-ezflash3in1.html