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The State of DS Homebrew (it rocks!)

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the wooo-homebrew dept.

83

Justin writes "PSP homebrew always seems to get all the attention, but the DS homebrew scene is surprisingly active and robust as well. Modojo has an in-depth feature examining DS homebrew, including such things as PDA applications, indie games, and ScummVM DS (for oldschool LucasArts adventure games). From the article: 'My initial reaction to homebrew was little more than a shrug. I summed up the entire idea very simply with: Why? Why waste time on exploring less than impressive independent titles and old emulators when there is already so much new and interesting content for the DS? Luckily, at that time I couldn't have imagined the amazing world of homebrew I was denying myself.'"

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83 comments

The state of /. news: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15920341)

It lags! Joystiq FTW lolroffle

DS/GBADEV? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15920418)

Here comes tepples!

Some great stuff (2, Interesting)

monopole (44023) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920461)

I reflashed my DS Phat a long time ago and have great fun with it. I'm going out tonight to get a Max Media Dock for my DS Lite for homebrew and video (using homebrew players)

Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920539)

I'm going to buy a DS specifically for ScummVM. A little touchscreen would be way easier to use than a mouse for those games.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921012)

It is. Trouble is that I forget when to get off the bus if I'm playing Monkey Island :)
Mostly LucasArts titles and the two liberated games that work yet, but it's pretty
well ported to the DS.

The main utility of homebrew on the DS wouldn't really be games, though.
I'm looking for software/considering writing some that replaces the functionality
of my Palm. Someone has already used an opensource handwriting input library
in a demo-project (beats Palm's weird writing!), so there's hope. And twice the
screensize!

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (3, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921435)

I'm going to buy a DS specifically for ScummVM. A little touchscreen would be way easier to use than a mouse for those games.

No, it wouldn't. The problem with touchscreen is that it only can do left-clicks, no right clicks. While right-click isn't needed to master any of the LucasArts games, I find it quite important for fluid gameplay, since it removes a lot of unneeded clicking. And another very fundamental problem is that a touchscreen can't do "hover", either you click somewhere or the device has no idea where your pointer is, which means you can't hover and move around like with your mouse to find out which objects you could interact with. ScummVM solves this by letting you toggle via Dpad between over, left and right click, but it really doesn't feel all that good. Last not least there is of course also a resolution problem, LucasArts games are VGA 320x200, DS only has 256x192, not that critical, but yet another annoyancy to add to the list.

ScummVMDS is still a great little tool, but the NintendoDS is really not a very good device for LucasArts games.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921694)

I haven't tried ScummVM on my DS yet, but I can say that it rocks on my PSP. Of course if you only have a DS that's better then nothing. And to be fair I think the firmwares you get with the new PSPs are not downgradable (over 1.7 AFAIC) so it wouldn't make as much sense to get one for homebrew if you're not going to get a modchip.

If LucasArts would make a release with a bunch of adventure games on a UMD I'd be all over it. Even though I already have several of them.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921766)

The problem with touchscreen is that it only can do left-clicks, no right clicks.

Mac mouses have the same "problem", but we get the same effect by holding down a control key as we click. No reason the same could not be done with one of the DS's keys.

As for hover, that could be approximated too. The input routines could be designed such that moving the stylus across the touchscreen was equivalent to changing the mouse position, and to click the user would have to lift the stylus off the screen and then bring it down in the same place.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921882)

The right click only really annoyed me for Sam & Max, in Monkey Island I just drag across the screen to see hotspots. Might trigger an action but usually it's not a problem.

Can't say anything about the resolution, I'm using a PDA, that can display the games' native resolution when used in horizontal mode.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (2, Interesting)

media_Assassin (176375) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921999)

The problem with touchscreen is that it only can do left-clicks, no right clicks.
Not necessarily true - many touchpad applications use a double-tap method: Tap once, then tap again to the left or right of the first tap to emulate a left or right click. After just a few times getting used to it, it becomes very intuitive.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 7 years ago | (#15922079)

No, it wouldn't. The problem with touchscreen is that it only can do left-clicks, no right clicks. While right-click isn't needed to master any of the LucasArts games, I find it quite important for fluid gameplay, since it removes a lot of unneeded clicking.

 
...introducing the double tap! Oh wait, this feature has been avalible on macs and any laptop with a touchpad for well over a decade. Seems to work pretty well, or they wouldn't have been providing it as an option for all these years. also, as someone suggested, the L or R button makes an acceptable alternate click button (hold and tap for right click). I pray you never have to interfaces with an engineering department.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#15922246)

...introducing the double tap! Oh wait, this feature has been avalible on macs and any laptop with a touchpad for well over a decade.

Have you actually ever played with ScummVM-DS? I did and last time I checked there wasn't a double tab, changing mouse modes worked by Digi-Pad and nothing else, which was ok, but really not that great. If things have improved, then thats good, if not, then well, not.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15923341)

PC Laptop touchpads must confuse the hell out of you, mice do the double tap trick too, only the OS tends to respond to it as a request to launch the icon beneath the cursor, rather than mimicking the right click function. Double tapping on a laptop results in much the same effect though it also triggers left click and drag.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (2, Funny)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15923402)

I pray you never have to interfaces with an engineering department.

I pray you never have to interface with an English department.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15925181)

I pray you never have to interfaces with an engineering department.
I pray you never have to interface with an English department.
I pray you never have to interface with a zing! department.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925956)

Ah, thanks very much for this helpful info. Maybe the GP32x is the way to go for me.

Re:Three-headed touchscreen monkeys!! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921917)

A PDA combines the touch screen with the native resolution of these games, if you only want SCUMMVM that may be a better choice (of course I don't think you'll find a PDA as cheap as a DS...).

Notes & Questions? (5, Informative)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920554)

I did some investigation into DS homebrew and took some notes on the information I could find. Could anyone with DS homebrew experience verify that I am on the right track and/or suggest better ways to go?

Notes:

"Basically, the way home homebrew and ROMS work is that you have to put something in the DS game slot at top to redirect execution to the CF or SD card adapter that carries the SD or CF memory card and various software in the GBA slot at bottom. Max Media Launcher, which goes in the DS game slot, seems to have a very good success rate at booting ROMs and homebrew when combined with the M3 SD X (what about the M3 CF X?).

Other products exist to redirect execution that fit in the DS game slot at the top, although ones like PassKey require that you fit a game into the device and then the conjoined entity into the DS game slot. You can also use wifi to do this (or potentially serve up applications), but you need a wireless access point with a certain chipset to do this (does the USB Wifi Max router enable this?). You can also flash the firmware on the DS, but this option seems complex for little gain when you can just put in the Max Media Launcher, plus I believe it voids the warranty."

Sources:
http://www.iso420.com/nds/dmax/ [iso420.com]
http://www.iso420.com/nds/m3sdx/ [iso420.com]

Re:Notes & Questions? (5, Informative)

davecarlotub (835831) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920681)

Yes, you are correct. I have a DS Lite with a Max Media Launcher and M3 Mini-SD with a 1 gig mini SD card. There is a (unfortunately) Win only utility that comes with the M3 for loading roms to the M3. Most things work, however I have not had success with SylphIRC. DS roms work great. I highly recommend the M3. The wardriving app DS2Key is alot of fun.

Re:Notes & Questions? (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920928)

I didn't know there was a wardriving type ap for the DS. I thought DS2Key was for some strange gamepad emulation via wifi. They may have a server browser built in that I don't know about. I did stumble across a program that would do something similar (I really just want netstumblerDS :) called hobito's wifi setup app. Its terribly unfinished right now. Will be nice when it is completed.

Re:Notes & Questions? (2, Informative)

davecarlotub (835831) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921022)

I believe you are right, but it has a scanning mode which acts similar to netstumbler, at least it displays networks as it finds them. I am not that knowledgeable with wifi, but I know if I drive by Burger King and have ds2key running, I can see the Burger King access point, it's channel, it's ssid, it's mac address, whether wep or wga are enabled, and the singal strength with ds2key.

Re:Notes & Questions? (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921168)

Oh, then it probably has the same gui as the App I mentioned, since the author created it as a demo for other DS developers to implement and use.

Re:Notes & Questions? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921018)

There is a (unfortunately) Win only utility that comes with the M3 for loading roms to the M3.

If you're using BSD or Linux, then obviously you care about freedom of software, and you should be using homebrew rather than piracy. You don't need to patch homebrew to run it on the SuperCard or M3.

Re:Notes & Questions? (1)

davecarlotub (835831) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921075)

I am not spending $30+ to try out a game. I will try it first, THEN decide if I want to buy it.

That's what rental is for. (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921152)

I am not spending $30+ to try out a game. I will [pirate] it first, THEN decide if I want to buy it.

Given that you quoted a price in US currency, I'll assume that you're eligible for GameFly DS [gamefly.com] . Or for games published by Nintendo, you might want to go to a DS Download Station at your local Best Buy store.

Re:Notes & Questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15924912)

Awesome, and then when a GPL infringement is discovered you're first in line screaming murderer.

Re:Notes & Questions? (1)

ookaze (227977) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925463)

There is a (unfortunately) Win only utility that comes with the M3 for loading roms to the M3

This is irrelevant, as, like explained in the manual, you can just put your ROM file on the M3, and most will work.
If it doesn't work, you can just pick the right patch file found on the CD, and put it in the right directory.
So the Win only app is more convenient, but you can actually do it by hand, or just launch the app through Wine on Linux.

Re:Notes & Questions? (1)

kerrle (810808) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920767)

That is more or less correct, though it may be a bit outdated. We're starting to see DS-slot flashcards that don't require redirection and also don't require you to flash the firmware.

Also, the encryption required for the DS to launch DS-slot software has been figured out, so you don't have to piggy-back a real game anymore even if you're going to use a GBA slot flashcart - the new pass devices are basically the same as real DS software.

Once a DS is flashed, it can run DS software from the GBA slot without needing a passcard of any sort in the DS slot.

Re:Notes & Questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15924421)

There's also a wifi utility [aaronrogers.com] that allows you to broadcast small (approx 4 meg) ROMS for DS download play. It requires a wireless card with a certain chipset. I flashed my DS this way without using a passkey and it was a breeze. The trick is, it only works on older systems as I'm told. The cool thing is, you can wirelessly dump data to unmodded DSes with this. The other big advantage is that you can buy the card, use the utility and return it to the store for a refund and you won't have to wait for anything in the mail.

PDA!! (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920664)

From TFA:
DS Organize
The features of a standard PDA make their way to the DS in the DS Organize application. The program offers a bevy of possible uses including a calendar/day planner, address book, to-do list, scribble pad, file browser, text editor, image viewer, song player, WAV recorder, scientific calculator, and multi-language support. Talk about all-inclusive. This is a DS homebrew must-have.
This is from the so-natural-it-hurts department. I never liked PDAs enough to get one, but just the thought of being able to do PDA stuff on a DS makes me want to get into this action. Imagine Joe Businessman whipping out his DS at a business meeting, and getting away with it...

Re:PDA!! (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920950)

It not a terribly good PIM app, but it isn't bad. A little more work and a few more apps, and it could replace my Zaurus (which has some pretty bad PIM apps as well)

wasn't quite there for me yet (4, Informative)

Frag-A-Muffin (5490) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920667)

I think homebrew stuff is kewl. I love it. However, I don't like how you have 10 things hanging off a DS for it to work :)

With that said, I saw this [engadget.com] on engadget last week. It looks promising for a simple *UNOBTRUSIVE* homebrew experience. Which is what I want :) I could use it like a regulary old DS cartridge and not have weird things dangle off my DS for homebrew fun.

Re:wasn't quite there for me yet (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920952)

The DS-Xtreme seems to be just what we needed and it seems they've made it so it shows up as a mass storage device... So my guess would be that it will work with Windows, OS X, Linux, etc...

I might just buy that instead of waiting for Opera DS... Surely someone's already ported Firefox to the DS already. ;-)

Firefox needs more RAM (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921245)

Surely someone's already ported Firefox to the DS already. ;-)

The Nintendo DS has less than 5 MB of RAM, including VRAM and various caches. Even Opera needs a 10 MB Expansion Pak in the GBA slot to work. How the h*ck will you fit the larger footprint of Firefox into a DS?

Re:Firefox needs more RAM (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926224)

How the h*ck will you fit the larger footprint of Firefox into a DS?
Like everyone's supposed to know the specs required to run Firefox... I thought they could remove plug-ins, features, etc...

Re:wasn't quite there for me yet (2, Informative)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921059)

Once you've flashed a DS, you're not going to have anything weirder than a GBA cart 'dangling' from it.
Most of the carts that you stick into it now have the form-factor of a GBA game *or less*. The device on
Engadget only has built-in flash, which isn't as hot as my gigabyte SD chips filled with music :)

Direct USB connection and claims of not requiring flashing are great, though. Hope they release one
that can have a CF/SD/mini-SD card of your choice.

Re:wasn't quite there for me yet (5, Informative)

Noishe (829350) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921539)

That looks like quite the nice piece of hardware, if only it had sd card or cf support.

I bought a DS Lite a couple of months ago, and decided to get one of the homebrew enabler devices for it.

This is how they work.

What you've got to have is basically three things. One, you need some memory. This memory can be flash, a harddrive, ram, it doesn't matter. Most solutions I've seen either use flash that can only be upgraded with a special usb interface, or they use a standard sd card / cf card / mmc card interface. Two, you need an application ( an OS if you will) that will read this memory and select files in the memory to run. Three, you need to trick the DS into thinking it's allowed to run DS code. If the ds doesn't authenticate itself for running ds code on startup, then you'll be stuck running GBA code only.

The solution I bought is two things, a mini-sd card memory interface and the OS built into a gba cartridge, and a seperate DS authenticator that goes into the DS slot. How does the authenticator work? Well you've got three choices. You either flash your ds so it doesn't do a security check, put in a piece of hardware that uses a seperate commercial cartridge to fake the security check, or you use a newer device that knows how to do the security check all on it's own. I bought the newer type of device, and it fits into the ds slot without protruding at all.

The gba cartridge i bought is from a company called SuperCard. There are other manufacturors, mainly the people who make the movie player, a company called m3. Supercard makes three different cartridges for sd type cards. One for SD, one for mini-sd, and one for micro-sd a.k.a. trans-flash. The sd version protrudes a little from a normal DS, while the mini-sd will fit perfectly into a normal DS. The micro-sd version wasn't available yet when I purchased mine, it fits perfectly into the DS-Lite without protruding. It came out a week after i bought mine. Since I have a DS-Lite, I was just a lil annoyed.

Anyways, it works great. Every commercial rom I've tried works, and as a result I bought mario and luigi partners in time (I didn't realize it was similar to SuperMario RPG), and a casino game, and decided super princess peach was garbage. I can also use my DS now to play mp3s, videos (after a lone encoding process that I do while I sleep), and tv shows. And of course, there's all the homebrew stuff as well. When I start school in september I'll be seeing if I can do some programming of it on my own.

Re:wasn't quite there for me yet (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 7 years ago | (#15922550)

If you haven't yet you might want to check out Mario and Luigi - Superstar Saga for the GBA which will play just fine on your DS. It's the perquel of sorts to Mario and Luigi Partners in Time. There is also the Paper Mario series on the consoles which is simular to Mario RPG but not as simular as the Mario and Luigi games. Paper Mario 2 for the Gamecube is still an awesome game those and worth playing though.

Re:wasn't quite there for me yet (3, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921656)

I think homebrew stuff is kewl. I love it. However, I don't like how you have 10 things hanging off a DS for it to work :)

With something like SuperKey [supercard.cn] and a SuperCard lite, which uses MicroSD, you won't have anything hanging out of a NintendoDS lite, it as the same size as a normal NDS Module and does no longer require to plug an original module in, like a PassMe does and it doesn't require flashing the NintendoDS either.

Re:wasn't quite there for me yet (1)

funkify (749441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928527)

You don't need 10 things hanging off it, or 2. The information in TFA was obsolete. Old DS passkeys were huge, and required a DS cartridge plugged into them. New DS passkeys are the same size as a normal DS cartridge, and they don't even need to flash your DS. I use a Max Media Launcher that I got for like $20. Works perfectly, didn't need to flash my DS Lite. Max Media Launcher [codejunkies.com]

You need a GBA flash cart. These are available in various flavors. Mine is the SD version of the M3. I chose M3 because it has removable memory, good reviews and compatibility (haven't found anything yet that it won't run), and I chose SD because it is common, cheap, and smaller than CF. There are also CF and mini-SD versions of M3. M3 Adapter Home [m3adapter.com]

The M3 SD does protrude a tiny bit from my DS Lite. However, there are brand new products (G6 Lite [modchipman.com] , as well as DS Xtreme [divineo.com] ) that eliminate any protrusion at all, with the tradeoff that the storage capacity is relatively limited and memory is not removable.

I should add that I didn't have any problem getting my equipment to work perfectly. IMHO the only problem when getting into NDS homebrew, which hopefully shouldn't be a problem for most people here, is sifting through the blind-leading-the-blind dumbass tutorials such as the one in TFA (which abound due to NDS's capability of playing pirate ROMs) and finding truly helpful info.

Why Bother? (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920726)

Why would you want to jump through the hoops to get DS homebrew working when you can get a faster handheld designed specifically for homebrew, the GP2X [gp2x.de] ? 200MHz CPU with 200MHz second core, 64MB of RAM, SD slot takes up to 4GB of storage, runs Linux. What more could you want?
"A touchscreen" you say? Just get a PDA. Any idiot can develop WinCE applciations, and anyone with half a brain can install Linux on it to run craploads of OSS games and apps.

Re:Why Bother? (3, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920782)

Because people aren't aware of this or don't want to jump through the hoops, whereas they already have a DS. Don't trivialize the importance of marketing, i.e., letting people know your product actually exists. How many consumers have a DS? How many have a GP2X? How many have heard of the DS? The GP2X?

When the open source community understands the importance of actually *reaching* people, and bringing the products *to* them, they will have a better understanding of why so few home users use Linux-based OS's or FireFox, or OpenOffice.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

ookaze (227977) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925509)

Because people aren't aware of this or don't want to jump through the hoops, whereas they already have a DS

These are only a few of the reasons actually.

Don't trivialize the importance of marketing, i.e., letting people know your product actually exists. How many consumers have a DS? How many have a GP2X? How many have heard of the DS? The GP2X?

Which company makes the DS ? Which makes the GP2X ? Do you really think the company making the GP2X has as much marketing money as Nintendo ?
What makes you believe the people making the GP2X trivialize the importance of marketing ?

When the open source community understands the importance of actually *reaching* people, and bringing the products *to* them, they will have a better understanding of why so few home users use Linux-based OS's or FireFox, or OpenOffice

You're just a stupid troll.
How come "open source community" came into this discussion, are you actually believing "GP2X = open source community" ?
You also believe that the community is not reaching to people and bringing the products to them ?
FYI the open source community understands pretty well what prevents home users access to "Linux-based OS's or FireFox, or OpenOffice" (like preventing any OS to be preinstalled on new computers), and no, that's not because they're not trying, that's all because of one company.
Nintendo is not behaving like this evil company at all, but GP2X just doesn't have the money, the features, the price, the quality, and the brand of Nintendo handheld.
Your cheap shots at FOSS community are just pathetic.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926150)

These are only a few of the reasons actually.

They're by far the most significant ones.

Which company makes the DS ? Which makes the GP2X ? Do you really think the company making the GP2X has as much marketing money as Nintendo ?

WAHHHHHHHH!!!! MOMMY!!!!! It's not FAIR!!!!! We can't sell a product because THEY have more money than we do!!!

Do you really think any business starts, or becomes huge, relying on only the money contributed by its founders? They can issue what people with a clue call "bonds". They can sell "shares". There's a whole body of knowledge on how to raise money for a venture. It's called "finance". If they really have a superior product, they can do what everyone else does and raise the capital to market it.

What makes you believe the people making the GP2X trivialize the importance of marketing ?

The fact that I (except a few times in passing), and most people, hadn't heard of it, while I, and most people, have heard of the DS. (Before you whine again, the difference can't be accounted for merely by release date difference. Any significant marketing effort should have penetrated by this time.)

How come "open source community" came into this discussion, are you actually believing "GP2X = open source community" ?

I didn't say GP2X = open source community. What I said (or rather, implied) was that the GP2X is an instance of an open source product trying to gain market share with consumers.

You also believe that the community is not reaching to people and bringing the products to them ?

Um... yeah. I haven't seen a commercial for a Linux-based PC. I haven't seen a marketing campaign to introduce to indifferent mouth breaters the advantages of a Linux-based OS. I haven't seen seminars for laymen explaining to them how to convert. I *have*, however, seen Linux distro forums tell newbies, "SHUT UP!!! You're getting our help for FREE!!!! You have NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN if something goes wrong. If you can't figure it out it, you can just go to hell." (What they *should* be saying to newbies is "oh, you want to try out a Linux-based OS? Great! Now, would you prefer the facial option, or that I swallow?")

FYI the open source community understands pretty well what prevents home users access to "Linux-based OS's or FireFox, or OpenOffice" (like preventing any OS to be preinstalled on new computers), and no, that's not because they're not trying, that's all because of one company.

No, that's you whining again. Informing people of a product is real work. Making it so they can use it off the shelf is real work. Getting retailers to stock it is real work. Microsoft does that. Linux companies don't (for home users). Getting a Linux-based PC for your home is a geek's odyssey, not something the average consumer wants to handle. Microsoft does not have control over EVERY possible distribution channel. Get a manufacturer to install it, and sell it direct to home users like Gateway or People's PC did.

Nintendo is not behaving like this evil company at all, but GP2X just doesn't have the money, the features, the price, the quality, and the brand of Nintendo handheld.

Uh...huh. Because Nintendo has always had those things. Someone GAVE them brand recognition. Someone THREW free money at them. Someone IMPLEMENTED free features for them. Someone MADE it high quality for them. Someone TOOK THE RISK of the large scale production necessary to get the price down for them.

The makers of the GP2X are free do everything Nintendo did, but they don't. They -- if you consider yourself an informed advocate of their position -- prefer to just bitch about how unfair life is.

The open source community thinks that if they make the software just a li'l better, or if Microsoft botches another release just one more time, everyone will flock to Linux. But they won't. They're lazy. The software is fine. The marketing isn't. But your treatment of those willing to tell them the truth is duly noted.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920816)

Because it's a Nintendo DS -- it has awesome games. You don't buy it so it can be your PDA, you buy it for playing games. ...but once you have it, "Hey, look, I can also use it as a PDA... and a web browser, and to play LucasArts adventure games and...".

Re:Why Bother? (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920974)

My initial response was going to be: can any of those play the very excelent DS games :)

I love my ds, and I was excited when I got the hardware to do other things (and play some of the pretty good homebrew thats out there)

Re:Why Bother? (1)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921190)

I had been thinking about the DS for a while, but decided I should save my money (I'm a poor student, working and paying my way through college so I can't afford to spend money on fun). When I looked into the homebrew stuff and found all the other things I could use the DS for, it made me rethink buying it. ...now I'm just waiting for some new colors to come out (come on Nintendo, it's just plastic, you already have those colors in Japan!) and I will probably order one.

D-pads? Mobile2Market? (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921067)

"A touchscreen" you say? Just get a PDA.

What PDA has a decent gamepad for programs that use traditional gaming controls? Or do you claim that hobbyists and shareware companies should make games similar to Kirby: Canvas Curse and Meteos instead of traditional platformers and puzzles?

Any idiot can develop WinCE applciations

And test them how? The latest version of Windows Mobile allows the seller of a device to lock it down such that only Mobile2Market-signed apps will run. And no, "any idiot" can't necessarily afford the annual fees and per-application fees of Mobile2Market.

Re:D-pads? Mobile2Market? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15922202)

Don't forget that PDAs are slow for games as they lack specialized hardware and the OS probably interferes. Even without the control issues I have doubts that my PDA could play e.g. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow at any decent framerate.

Re:D-pads? Mobile2Market? (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15923440)

And test them how?

Er, by running them on a WinCE device? Failing that, use the CE device emulator that comes with Visual Studio 2005?

The latest version of Windows Mobile allows the seller of a device to lock it down such that only Mobile2Market-signed apps will run.

Who the hell would buy a PDA that won't let you install apps on it?* (Or is this more commonly used with Windows Mobile phone devices? I assume not as the original poster mentioned PDAs, but maybe you meant WM phones.)

* ok, ok, don't answer that :-(

"PDA, hold the phone" "Sorry, we don't carry that" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15923587)

Er, by running them on a WinCE device?

Do they still sell Windows CE devices that aren't built into phones?

Who the hell would buy a PDA that won't let you install apps on it?

Somebody who walks into the store looking for a PDA, finds only PDAs built into phones, and walks out with a phone.

Re:"PDA, hold the phone" "Sorry, we don't carry th (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926175)

Almost any tech store you walk into carries multiple normal PDA models. Asus MyPals, HP iPaqs, Dell Axims, etc. Circuit City, Office Depot, Fry's, CompUSA, Best Buy. So, bzzt, try again.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#15923432)

Last time I checked, the gp2x didn't have wifi. That was pretty much the dealbreaker for me. The DS got on my wlan with zero problems, which is more than I can say for most of my linux machines.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924648)

That was one of my biggest complaints as well. But with a USB wifi dongle all is well.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927772)

I'm not walkin' around with my dongle hangin' out in the wind.

For serious tho, having a big usb thingie sticking out the side of the device is kind of obnoxious.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 7 years ago | (#15935538)

AFAIK the wifi dongle plugs into a PC which can either be on a LAN or w-LAN, which then acts as a gateway for the DS to connect to (using its built in WiFi device.) So the DS keeps the same formfactor that we all know and love, AND it gets teh internets from the PC.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#15935778)

it's the gp2x that needs a dongle. the DS picks up my wlan perfectly - you only need a DS usb dongle if you don't have a wireless ap already.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

ookaze (227977) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925520)

Why would you want to jump through the hoops to get DS homebrew working when you can get a faster handheld designed specifically for homebrew, the GP2X? 200MHz CPU with 200MHz second core, 64MB of RAM, SD slot takes up to 4GB of storage, runs Linux. What more could you want?

What more ? Let me see :
- touchscreen
- dual screen
- microphone
- protected screen
- better price
- quality (hard to break, good lit screen)
- smaller
- being able to play new innovative games
- have a high chance of being compatible with one home console and games for this console (the Wii)

Is this enough ?

"A touchscreen" you say? Just get a PDA. Any idiot can develop WinCE applciations, and anyone with half a brain can install Linux on it to run craploads of OSS games and apps.

But I have all that on my DS, why on earth would I go with 2 items, when 1 is cheaper and better ?

Re:Why Bother? (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926654)

What more ? Let me see :
- touchscreen

Yes, this has advantages. I wish the GP2X had one. The single feature I miss most moving from a PDA to a GP2X for handheld gaming.

- dual screen
As opposed to just having one higher resolution screen? Of dubious value. 2x 256*192 is barely better than my single 320x240 screen, and 320x240 means I can run a lot more games that require/desire a standard resolution.

- microphone
Eh? I have seen many times in this thread that most games don't provide voice chat. It's a neat feature and all, one I would have probably built into the GP2X given the choice, but for now I will be happy with my USB mic.

- protected screen
Like the GP2X? Which, fyi, has a standard screen size, so you can apply any of a hundred brands of PDA screen protectors.

- better price
Barely. And not at all once you buy the extra addons required to get homebrew working. The GP2X is ready for you to upload your own games, media, and applications right out of the box.

- quality (hard to break, good lit screen)
Ditto.

- smaller
Negative worth to me. Any handheld smaller than the GP2X is too small for me, both in terms of screen and button size. The original GBA was about as small as I will ever be willing to go on a handheld console.

- being able to play new innovative games
You have a dozen great new games. I have ten thousand almost-as-great older games, and given support in the homebrew community I can run almost any new non-3D linux game. I ported Enigma [nongnu.org] last week, took a few days, and only that long because the original devs hard coded a lot of widget placement based on a minimum 640x480 screen size (which WORKS, with hardware scaling, on the GP2X, but I wanted native resolution graphics).

- have a high chance of being compatible with one home console and games for this console (the Wii)
I'll believe it when I see it. And if I see it then I will buy a DS, at the half price it is sure to drop to when included in Wii bundles.

And since this entire thread is about homebrew, you can't just gloss over the fact that the GP2X is extremely much faster and has more RAM, larger storage options, more external connectivity options, and a larger existing ported software and emulator base. I have emulators for maybe 30 systems on my GP2X. The DS has a total of what, a dozen?

Re:Why Bother? (1)

Gattman01 (957859) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927012)

And since this entire thread is about homebrew, you can't just gloss over the fact that the GP2X is extremely much faster and has more RAM, larger storage options, more external connectivity options, and a larger existing ported software and emulator base. I have emulators for maybe 30 systems on my GP2X. The DS has a total of what, a dozen?


If someone is serious about homebrewing, then maybe the GP2X is the way for them to go.
If someone is more concerned with playing commerical games and maybe try dabbling in homebrew, a DS would be a better course then GP2X.

This is essentially the same thing as asking if Linux or Windows is better for a personal computer.
They both have their advantages.
The GP2X maybe be easier to work with and port things too.
The DS has some interesting features though, two screens, built-in mic, touch screen, and built in WiFi.

How does Nintendo feel about all this ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15920770)

Are they cool with it, or Sony with it ?

Nintendo DS has tightened the screws only once (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921121)

Sony has shown itself to be much more active than Nintendo at locking out homebrew. GBA homebrew from 2001 on a flash card from 2001 still works on the DS Lite. Nintendo has had about six releases of the DS firmware, numbered v1 through v6 by the homebrew scene, and only v4 (released nearly a year ago) tightened the screws on DS homebrew. Sony, on the other hand, has had PSP firmware 1.0, 1.5, 1.51, 1.52, 2.0, 2.01, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8, each update timed to fix holes in the previous version.

Re:Nintendo DS has tightened the screws only once (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921742)

'course, at this point, there's little Nintendo can do, anyway, given that the cartridge encryption has been cracked.

Re:Nintendo DS has tightened the screws only once (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#15923165)

This article is about Nintendo, not Nintendo and Sony.

Sorry if there was any confusion.

NethackDS (4, Funny)

remembertomorrow (959064) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920911)

I plan to purchase a DS, just so that I can play Nethack on it. O_O

http://xs205.xs.to/xs205/06333/NethackDS1.JPG [xs205.xs.to]

Re:NethackDS (2, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#15920992)

The arrow pad on the screen in that picture worries me. Don't tell me the game doesn't recognise the D-Pad? Also, the keyboard on there looks a bit dodgy, why not just list out the available actions instead of forcing people to memorize the keys again? I know there's a lot of available actions (it is nethack after all), but it seems like you should be able to get them to fit on there somehow.

Re:NethackDS (1)

predakanga (788419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921043)

It does use the arrow pad, but sometimes it's just easier to do *everything* with the touchpad.
And as to listing all the actions on screen, how the would the user select items in the inventory? Not to mention that each action takes a whole lot more space than a key, you'd have to scroll through an enormous list of actions to get to what you want.

Re:NethackDS (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926769)

I don't see the inventory on there now. Really, although nethack has a ton of commands, most of them are used only rarely, I can easily see a popup for rarely used commands. I'd also implement an inventory popup (all of this is on the touchscreen BTW), where you click the button and get a list of your inventory. Then just click the inventory item to use it (or do whatever action you specified). From the looks of the screenshot however you should be able to fit all or nearly all of the common commands easily enough on the bottom screen. Just because it's nethack doesn't mean it has to be arcane.

Re:NethackDS (1)

SoapDish (971052) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928217)

Have you ever played nethack?

1. Almost every key on the keyboard is used for a command.
2. For some commands you need to use the shift key (w is wield, W is wear), or another modifier ie. ^D the d.
3. There are also extended commands where it's necessary to type # then the name of the command.
4. Inventory lists are long. I've had more than 26 items in my inventory before.
5. Why change the interface, and make it harder to play for experienced users?

Homebrew rocks! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15920916)

But I really don't see what this article has to do with Distilled Spirits. 'Round here we just call it moonshine.

Re:Homebrew rocks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15922569)

lol +1 Funny

Be careful what you choose... (2, Informative)

ShawnDoc (572959) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921088)

When looking at running homebrew, you need to stick with adapters like the M3 or the GBAMP that use CF cards for storage. Right now many homebrew apps are unable to save or load files from SD or Mini-SD based adapters. I'm sure this will change in the future, but it leaves me unable to play Sam & Max on ScummVM DS as its can't read my M3 MiniSD. I can still play games, but I have to combine them via a .zip file with the emulator which limits the file size to 32 megs total, and you need more than that for the games with talking. If I had a CF I wouldn't have this problem. And this affects almost all homebrew, not just ScummVM.

PSP's better for homebrews (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15921177)

Ya know why PSP gets more attention? Because you can put full length movies, PSP games, and all sorts of other stuff on that tiny little memory stick duo. I invested in a 4gb card and I pirated games to my heart's content.

It's easier to do, you can plug your psp right into your computer. As long as you don't get those worthless firmware upgrades Sony spews out. Death to Sony, they eat babies.

Re:PSP's better for homebrews (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 7 years ago | (#15923037)

Ya know why PSP gets more attention? [...] I invested in a 4gb card and I pirated games to my heart's content. [...] As long as you don't get those worthless firmware upgrades Sony spews out.

They spew firmware upgrades to stop morons like you from stealing their profits.

DSLinux (5, Informative)

stsp (979375) | more than 7 years ago | (#15921212)

From TFA:

DS Linux is a port of the Linux operating system to the Nintendo DS. The project hopes to bring the full capability of Linux to the DS, but is still in the developmental stages. The project supports a full keyboard on the touchscreen, and will allow users to send and read email, chat online, and play text-based games. (emphasis mine)

We are actually a bit further than that. Two IRC clients are available (tinyirc and bitchX). BSDgames and other text games are mostly working. The article forgot to mention highlights such as working wifi support, ssh/scp, an algebra system (mathomatic [wikipedia.org] ), and text-based web browsing. (To be fair, they contacted us for an interview before writing the article but it seems we were to busy to respond :P)

The biggest limitation is the lack of an MMU, which means neither paging nor swapping is possible. Hence DSLinux is a port of uClinux to the DS, not of the vanilla kernel. Our current kernel version is 2.4.16-hsc0 with an awful lot of patches and lots of new drivers to support the hardware of the Nintendo DS itself and various add-on devices (mostly storage devices using CF or SD cards).

At the moment we are stuck with 4MB RAM, which makes things a bit tricky. There is work going on to expand the available RAM from 4MB to up to 32MB for storage devices that sport on-board RAM, for example the Supercard. We also have someone on the team capable of building custom RAM expansion carts for the DS's GBA slot. Once we have more memory we'll have much more possibilities (there's talk about a GUI, for example, but that is still far off). Accessing RAM through the GBA slot involves gcc modifications, which have already been made. We still have to rewrite some of the assembly code in the kernel and the C library (uClibc). You can read more about this here [dslinux.org] if you are interested.

As you can see, this project is quite fun and challenging. Tasks on the TODO list [dslinux.org] range from shell scripting and cross-compiling applications to hacking ARM assembly in the Linux kernel. Progress is slow because we only have 3 very active developers at the moment (myself included), and some people who occasionally send patches. There is a lot of work to do. Get in touch if you are interested in helping out.

Re:DSLinux (2, Informative)

stsp (979375) | more than 7 years ago | (#15922404)

Our current kernel version is 2.4.16-hsc0

Doh, it's actually 2.6.14-hsc0...

PSP homebrew??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15921545)

Homebrew is a good thing!!! For the PSP had more firmware updates than games...

My experience with DS homebrew (good and bad) (4, Informative)

gtmaneki (992991) | more than 7 years ago | (#15922685)

I bought a used Nintendo DS about 6 months ago, because I liked Nintendogs and I wanted to be able to play my old LucasArts games on it. Here's what I did to get things working:

Step 1. Ordered a SuperPassKey and SuperCard SD off the web. The SuperPassKey goes in the DS card slot at the top between the DS and a game. The SuperCard goes in the GBA slot in the bottom and holds an SD card up to 1 GB in size. The SD card must be FAT16, I think. You can also get an adapter for a CF card.

Step 2. Went to the SuperCard SD home page (eng.supercard.cn) and downloaded a firmware update and a program called SC that patches ROMs and other homebrew to work with the SuperCard. (Unfortunately, this step isn't mentioned in the packaging.)

Step 3. Got some homebrew working. My favorites are MoonShell (read .txt, play .mp3 and .ogg, watch videos, view images) and PocketNES (NES emulator).

Step 4. I got tired of the SuperPassKey sticking out of the top, so I downloaded FlashMe and flashed the DS. Not only do I not have to use SuperPassKey anymore, but FlashMe also gets rid of that warning screen when you boot up. This program has gotten hard to find on the net, though.

I haven't tried ScummVM DS yet, since it the current version can have some problems with SD cards. Also, I was hoping to get to play some Genesis and SNES games, but those emulators are still works-in-progress.

On the whole, the state of DS Homebrew is great from the standpoint of a user -- the hardware is easy to use, and there's a lot of useful and fun software. The online documentation for various things can be confusing, though, so beware. It helps that the DS can run programs designed for the Game Boy Advance, too. My only disappointment so far has been the Genesis and SNES emulators, but I'm sure they'll eventually work around their challenges.

So whats the best Passthrough hardware? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15922926)

I've been looking around for a long time and seen a great deal of DS and GBA cards to choose from. ( http://wiki.pocketheaven.com/Category:DS_Flash_Car ds [pocketheaven.com] )

The Max Media player look interesting but then I saw one that instead of the DS passthrough and the flash on the GBA card that there was a new DS cart that had flash memory on it.

For Those Interested in DS Homebrew (4, Informative)

Croakyvoice (986312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15923100)

Those of you interested in Nintendo DS Homebrew and Emulation should check out Nintendo DS Emulation [dcemu.co.uk] , which has to be the most updated site for DS Related News, also Drunkencoders [drunkencoders.com] is another great site for Homebrew news. Those 2 sites are all you need to keep fully up to date with all the latest homebrew releases and news.
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