G6flash : GBA G6 Flash
256M 1G, 2G - backup flash card kit and linker
USB, RTC, 1M
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a guy called Danny who wanted to tell me about a new product which would become the best GBA flash device on the market. Of course I had to check that out and replied the mail, which came from a, to me, totally unknown manufacturer, called G6 Flash.
Arrangements for a review sample was made, and about a week and a half later the device arrived at my mailbox, that was yesterday in case someone wanted to know, shipped as a letter so customs didn't delay it, horray!
Out of the envelope came a rather large see-thrugh box with a shiny red and blue inlay, a quite large box for a small flash cartridge, a usb linker and a CD-ROM, which like any other GBA flash manufacturer the CD is a normal CD-R, not that it's bad in any way.
The G6 Flash cartridge and linker comes is two different colors, red and blue, not really that interesting other than it matches the Pokemon cartridges released, a plain white or gray cartridge would've been fine with me. The interesting bit though is that G6 is the first on the market to present a 2Gigabit (2048mbit) GBA flash cartridge, other available cartsizes are 256mbit, 512mbit and 1Gigabit (1024mbit).
Flash 2 Advance (gray) and G6 (red) linkers side by side
The linker design is mysteriously similar to the Flash 2 Advance USB linker, created by the remains of former Bung Enterprises fame, who had a long history of game copiers and received a lot of success for their Xchanger GB/GBC backup unit. The internals of the linkers looks different, but the G6 linker says "GBALNKR-V2 03.05 ARLEN", who knows what happened to version 1.
My suspecion of the G6 flash being somewhat of a Flash 2 Advance knock-off was, sort of, put to rest when I inserted a Flash 2 Advance Ultra 256M cartridge into the GBA and booted it. The G6 software did recognise a cartridge not being in G6 format and asked for a format, which was made and the cartridge could be detected. But sending a game image to the cartridge was corrupted on it's way.
In case you wondered, the cord of the G6 linker is slightly, about 10 centimeters, shorter than the one attached to the Flash 2 Advance linker, yeah I know atleast one of you readers wondered about that. But the 10cm shorter cord isn't really a big problem.
One thing that worries me about the G6 linker though is how hard the gba connector plug is to insert into the GBA, especially on my SP. After a few inserts it gets better, but detatchment of the linker from the isn't any easier and doesn't seem too get any easier either. You can be sure though that the linker won't accidently fall out of the GBAs connector.
The G6 cartridges are made in a way I've never seen GBA flash cartridge. The cartridge has two sections, a game flash area and a backup flash area. The backup area is 1gigabit while the game area is only 256mbit. The idea is that all games are stored in the backup area of the cartridge and they then have to be copied to the game area when it's going to be played. The cartridge menu gui will ask you if it's okay to delete whats already in the game area, but will then fail copying the new game as it claims there's not enough space. This happened when repacing a 128mbit rom with a 128mbit rom.
I surely hope that this is a nasty bug which will be fixed in a near-future update of the software, which still is in the beta stage by the way. The only way to get rid of a 0 sized file messing around in the game area is to connect to the windows software and re-format the game area of the cartridge, a simple delete of the 0 sized file won't do much good either, it'll still claim the there isn't enough space.
|UPDATE (4 AUGUST):
The bug mentioned above was fixed in Beta version 4 of the G6-Flash software, unfortunately you're still not able to choose what you want to delete in the Game section of the cartridge, the entire 256Mbit is formatted.
Copying a 64mbit rom from the backup area to the game area takes about 39 seconds (128mbit 1 minute and 20 seconds), but seriously... who wants to copy a game for that long before you even are able to play it?
When replacing a game in the game area, you're not able to choose what you want to delete, and when it claims everything is deleted, which it also is since 0 sized files exist, it still claims there still isn't enough space in the game area to copy the new game to. Again I hope that this is because of the beta software available at the time this review was written, but I also still question that people would want to copy a game from a backup area to a game area of a cartridge before being able to play, I know I wouldn't.
This means that while the G6 cart does claim to be a 1 or 2 Gigabit cartridge it is in fact just a 256mbit cartridge with a backup function, here's how G6 themselves explained it in the manual, which was included on the CD:
G6Flash card include two series: single memory series and double memory series. Single memory series: it only has the flash card of Game Flash. Game Flash is made of NorFlash semi-conductor storage media. The games stored in Game Flash (NorFlash) can be directly run and played by the player. If user chooses single memory card, he can only operate Game Flash.
Double memory series: it has both Game Flash and Backup Flash in its flash card. Backup Flash is made of NandFlash semi-conductor media and features high capacity, the player can not directly run and play the games stored in Backup Flash (NandFlash), he should first copy the game files from Backup Flash to Game Flash. The storage capacity varies with the type of flash cards, ranging from 1G~2Gbits.+
One thing I like is the GUI of the cartridge menu, although it seems rather useless, yes you can manage your saves, create a new and such, but you cannot see how many saves you have on the cartridge. You can delete your game saves and backup area saves, but I'm missing the option to delete what's in the "game area" of the cartridge without having to transfer a game to the game area at the same time, but also the option of not having to delete everything in the game area whenever you want to copy a new game over from the backup area.
G6 Flash SuperWriter software for Windows
As mentioned, the software is still in beta while I was writing this review, hopefully a lot of functions are to be added, such as being able to open and add zipped roms to the cartridge, a feature every GBA copier software offers, so why G6 decided to go without it in the beta stage is beyond me. However the software is quite easy to use and the installation was not a problem on the Windows 2000 test machine.
There's not much else to say about the software really, it works alright, although I did manage to get the windows software to stall when sending or deleting a game from the flash cart totally unprovoked. Your only option is to kill the program from the task manager, as the program doesn't seem to be able to time out on the task it's processing. Now that's where the fun begins, as the application process won't die along with the program termination. I managed to kill the process aswell and started up the program once again, only to realize that it couldn't detect the linker.
So I shut down the program and tried to run it again, only now the program process wasn't terminated eventhough the program was shut down correctly this time and not though the task manager. So I wasn't able to kill the program process, what else was there to do than restart windows, however this couldn't be done due to the G4 Flash SuperWriter process running.
A hard reset of the PC and a not so nice reboot of Windows. That didn't make things better as windows now complained that there was an USB device which drivers wasn't installed properly. An uninstall of the USB device from the device manager, an unplugged and re-inserted linker cable into the USB port and everything was fine and dandy again... urgh!
Also, the SuperWriter will most likely eat up most of the CPU power of your PC, it sure did on the 1Ghz test machine.
Again, being beta software stuff like this should be expected and I'd once again like to mention that the software is missing some very important features, such as the zip support, but it would also be nice to be able to do a mouse right click in say the computer windows of the software and from there add or remove games which are to be uploaded to the cartridge, oh and what about verification of data sent to the cartridge?....
On the back of the box a list of cartridge features are mentioned, here's you'll be presented to some of them:
AUTOMATIC SUPER MEMORY STICK (ASMS)
In my opinion this isn't as advanced as they claim, there are more features in the old Super Memory stick, not to mention that you're actually able to maintain saves that are no longer used by a rom on the cartridge, a feature the EZF-Advance II cartridge manages to give you. In fact I don't see at all how this feature is related to the Super Memory Stick.
It does have the feature of being able to have a max of 3 differen't save files for one game isn't a totally bad idea, but I honestly don't see what use people could draw from it other than if more than one person is using the same game on the same gameboy and you wouldn't want to overwrite eachother's saves. Other than that, pretty useless if you ask me.
REAL TIME CLOCK (RTC)
I haven't bothered to test this feature, I doubt it's much different from any other flash cartridge, all newer ones seem to offer this feature, useful when playing Pokemon games I've been told.
AUTOMATIC HARDWARE SAVER
Supports the follwing save types: 4k EEPROM, 64k EEPROM, 512k Flash, 1024k Flash and SRAM. Same save support as the Flash 2 Advance Ultra series. A test was made with Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga as it uses a newer save method, the cartridge passed the test without a problem.
IPS SUPER CHEAT CODE (GAME HUNTER)
Using IPS patches for cheats, just like Flash 2 Advance,
Other features are mentioned such as User Friendly Interface (yeah yeah), Secret Code Function support, not to mention "real speed playing" whatever they mean by that.
This being a new device and all, I won't give my final decision on this unit just yet, there are lots to be done about the software and cartridge menu to correct some errors. But if G6 fails to get this working I'd go as far as to saying that this must be one of the worse GBA flash carts I've ever tested, sorry to the guys at G6.
But again, I'll update this review when the software is updated and who knows, this could become a killer product eventhough I have my doubts, here are the pro's and con's as I see them:
+ Linker being USB 2.0
+ Easy to install
+ Great save support
+ IPS files "cheat" support
+ Innovative, nice to see a flash cart which isn't like the rest.
- Very buggy software right now
- 1 and 2Gigabit carts actually a 256mbit with an "X" Gigabit backup section
- Unable to run games directly from the Gigabit backup section
- Have to copy game from backup section to game section to be able to play
- Long copy time between sections.
- Unable to manage or view list of saves on the cartridge.
- Missing zip support in software.
- Linker cable hard to attach/detach from GBA SP.
G6 is the first Flash Card to use Dual memory
Normal, flash card consists of only NOR-FLASH semi-conductor.
G6 Flash – 1G / 2G has both NAND-FLASH and NOR-FLASH. This dual
memory configuration is a breakthrough technology in GBA flash
card. NAND-FLASH semi-conductor media features high capacity,
it widely use in MP3, PDA and other portable storage. However,
user cannot directly run and play the games stored in NAND-FLASH.
Thus, we also consist of 256M NOR-FLASH for running games. This
size is the maximum memory size for GBA console. More than this
memory size cannot be run by GBA directly. Such memory just used
as sub-storage. One of the greatest advantage by using NAND +
NOR configuration is its price. It is only half price by comparing
with the same capacity flash card in the market. The only one
drawback is that it needs to spend a few seconds to load a game
from NAND to NOR. For instance, it takes 17 seconds to load a
32M game from NAND to NOR.
1G = 1 Giga bit = 1024 bit = 4 X 256M = Store up to 32 games
2G= 2 Giga bit = 2048 bit= 8 X 256M = Store up to 64 games
G6Flash has implemeted virtual hardware saving - benefit are:
As the development is simple, so most flash cards in the market
support game saving by means of patches, now only a fraction
of flash cards use hardware IC to save files, G6 FLASH uses hardware
IC to save over 99% games. (We've tested 1520 games, 1517 games
are playable without using any patch method.)
Hardware saving is a way in which the backup rom read from the
original card can be directly run, no need to make patches (or
make patches in a hidden way).
Full hardware saving provides following benefits:
I. Unless the original manufacturer introduce new formats of
saving way in games, it is no need to regularly update the software
to support new games, so user can instantly play latest games
without waiting for software updates or patches.
II. Virtually run the games you write, for example, you have
written a program supporting EEPROM, G6 virtually runs the program,
no need to wait till other patches have amended the program you
III. It has flexible ways of hardware saving, it can directly
support various saving ways through hardware, or support future
game saving ways by means of software upgrade.
- Big volume product, with 1G, 2G, 4G products
on a single USB to GBA link port cable. G6flash
Likker most portable fashion device for your package, GBA and
GBA SP compatible. (Use the same Flash
Advance Linker that EZF Advance used so if you have it you
only need the new G6flash GBA Flash Card and software.)
- RTC - Realtime clock and calendar built-in, perfect for Pokemon,
Golden Sun and future RTC compatible games that need to keep
track of the time, and also ideal for third-party PDA-like
- Full Hardware Save Game support, perfect support for all
kinds of current and future game save types, and all games.
- Auto Super Memory Stick for Save Games -
SMS function is embedded in G6flash cart. Total
saver size is only limited to the volume of
cart. And game saver is backuped to Flash automatically.
Users don't need to worry about saver lost during battery
- In G6flash, games can be deleted and replaced
by another gba rom file randomly. Not like
previous flash cart required you to erase
all of the gba roms to be able to add new
+ Inner battery charges while laying GBA
+ Can be used for NON gba files.
+ Good power consumption
+ RTC - RelaTime Clock
+ 1024Mb version and bigger
+ Cheat support
+ Innovative cart concept
- No Pogoshell support
- Not a real 1G card (256M for playing roms
/ 1G for storing roms) in 2G, 4G, 8G the memory for playing roms
is still 256M but rom storage memory is bigger.
Review GBA G6flash 1G EZF Advance Features:
|Finite Power ASIC Design
|Nand Flash + Nor Flash
+ Innovative and Evolution
- Longer copy time between sections, 22ses for 32M……
- Unable to run game directly from 1G/2G Memory……
|USB 2.0 Linker
||+ Easily installation
+ User Friendly
+ Access to picture of Game before copying game
- Serious bug
+ ASMS and Backup function, convenience, automated memory
- Cannot see how many saves on the cart
- Without Window Zip Support
+ Beautiful and outstanding
- A bit of big packing, except to smaller packing
||- Hardly insert the plug connector into some
USA version GBA
- 1 Gbit of flash memory (it's a lot space for many games and
- This is the next generation of best seller EZF Advance, made
by same people and factory.
- GBA and GBA SP compatible.
- Operates on a single USB to GBA link port cable.
- NEW! Games can be deleted randomly (not
like in previous flash carts).
- Real time clock and calendar built-in, perfect for Pokemon
and future RTC compatible games, and also ideal for third-party
- Play small games no greater than 2M directly via cable, no
cart needed, best solution for developers, FC emu games and
- Hardware saver support, perfect support for all kinds of
current and future saver types, and all games.
- ASMS (Auto Super Memory Stick) function is embedded in the
cart. Total saver size is only limited to the volume of cart.
And game saver is backuped to Flash automatically. Users don't
need to worry about saver lost during battery power lose.
- Support for logo image update.
- New (only in 3rd gen G6flash cards) - support for NDS ROMS if used togather with the PassKey Nintendo DS mod. NDS Multi-Rom support on G6flash 3 cards.