2007-07-27

CycloDS Evolution

The CycloDS Evolution was finally released a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been waiting for this slot-1 flash cart since it was announced - the features, like automatic DLDI patching and unpatched ROM support, sounded much better than anything provided by either my Supercard SD or M3 Perfect. I decided to buy one this week, just as all of the online shops ran out of stock.

Gahh.

Divineo still had some, though, so I had a brief look around to see what other options there were. The Supercard ONE seems to be tricky to get hold of in the UK. The R4 is reputed to be picky about homebrew, which is a major problem as all I want it for is homebrew. I’ve heard vaguely negative things said about the M3 slot-1 cart (nothing specific, just a general “urgh”). In the end, I opted for the CycloDS.

One of the things that initially put me off the CycloDS was Supercard’s claim that the previous CycloDS (the slot 2 cart) was just a duplicate of their own hardware. Ignoring for a moment the irony of a pirate cart company complaining that someone has pirated their hardware, this put me off a little - if all the Cyclo guys were doing was making a cheap version of another card, what happens when Supercard explicitly prevent the CycloDS from running new firmware updates? They haven’t made this claim about the slot-1 cart, though, so I decided this wasn’t a major concern.

The CycloDS Evolution comes in a neat metal tin; a bit small and flimsy, but a metal tin! Who’d have thought it? In the box you get a lot of foam packing, the cart itself, and a generic micro SD USB card reader (the photos all over the web show a custom-made CycloDS reader; in fact, you get a cheap transparent blue thing).

Anyway, the hardware itself. It’s made of cheap, flimsy white plastic, and isn’t quite the right size, so it can be tricky getting it to catch in the DS’ slot. Once the micro SD card is fitted into the CycloDS it can be difficult to get out again, partly because it’s so small, but mainly because the slot isn’t spring-loaded. I’d guess that this is because springs that small wouldn’t be any use anyway.

The first thing I did was upgrade to the latest firmware - this just involves downloading the archive from the internets, copying the new firmware to the root of the SD card, then switching everything on. The CycloDS detects the file and takes you through the upgrade process. Once this has been done, you have to remove the SD card from the DS and delete the upgrade file. In the manual, it says that this is done automatically - lies, all lies. The upgrade couldn’t be simpler (apart from the deletion thing, and the duplicitous manual).

The card runs all of the DLDI software I’ve tried (PicoDriveDS, LemmingsDS, DSMasterPlus) without any patching or problems at all. More importantly, it runs PALib games with no issues, and I don’t need to fire up Parallels any more in order to run the Supercard or M3 patching programs in order to turn *.NDS files into *.SC.NDS or *.NDS.DSQ files. Fantastic.

The only problem I’ve had with it so far is that it occasionally disappears from the DS’ slot-1 boot menu. This is probably related to the fact that it doesn’t quite fit the slot properly, but it may just be that my DS hasn’t had much use recently and the slot might be full of dust.

This post seems to have turned into a minature review, so here’s a summary of the CycloDS - cheaply made, great features.