The Stargate 3DS Flash Card is considered to be a one-size fits all device for Nintendo 3DS owners, with the ability to run backup 3DS ROMS, Nintendo DS ROMS as well as allow users to unlock their consoles with the power of customer firmware through the NTRBoot exploit.
Glacier Gaming does not condone piracy. The review of this product is for backup and informational purposes only
I should first begin by stating that the review sample of the Stargate 3DS I received is not a true reflection of the final product. I was warned that the retail version of the final product would be of higher quality. But that’s not to say the sample I received felt cheap. It feels sturdy enough to last and unlike many other flash cards, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart anytime soon.
The unit comes packaged in a small box with the card’s logo emblazoned on the front with bright colours and a clean matte finish. The packaging is surprisingly well done and has a nice premium feel to it. A good start in my opinion. Though ultimately, the packaging isn’t what we care about here. In the box comes everything you need to get going – bar a microSD card. Of course, the Stargate 3DS flashcard is there, along with a microSD card USB reader and a short micro USB cable; presumably for firmware updates and the like in the future. Like most flashcards I’ve ever tried the Stargate 3DS does not come with an instruction manual, so for most users setting it up will result in visiting the cards official site for pointers.
The Stargate 3DS has three modes of use, which is a lot of tech to fit into such a small cartridge. Owing to this the unit felt heavier than your standard 3DS game but doesn’t have any extra bulk. Initially, I found my cart would stick in my N2DS XL console but this was due to the thickness of the sticker; something the team has stated will be altered on the retailer production so it’s not really a major issue. Other than that the cartridge fits snuggly in my console without connection errors room to move about.
Looking at the cartridge itself, it’s nothing too special. An off-white in colour with a microSD card slot on the rear. I’ve noted that a few users seem to be complaining that it’s not spring loaded, but personally, I prefer the manual feel. Adding too many moving parts means a greater chance of something going wrong. The microSD card fits nicely in place and doesn’t protrude from the device at all so there’s no chance of accidentally catching it during gameplay. On further inspection, you’ll also be able to see a mini USB slot; which again I presume to allow firmware updates to the card in the future as well as two buttons. Used to change the loaded 3DS ROM or to switch to the DS mode for the card.
The Stargate team advertise the device as a plug and play card. And for the most part, it is. Once you’ve downloaded the DS firmware files from their website you can drag your 3DS and DS ROMS onto your memory card and begin playing straight away. Scrolling through 3DS ROMS is fast and responsive using the buttons on the top of the device and I didn’t encounter too many issues when copying new ROMS to the card. I found on the odd occasion the device wouldn’t recognise a new ROM unless I removed the Stargate 3DS from my console and reinserted it, but I suspect this is due to the card creating the save data and is the same issue I encounter with my Sky3DS+.
The main issue I encountered was a reoccurring error where the console would flag up “This game card cannot be used”. I found this to happen on a number of my older backups, but not my newer ones. I found that this was due to the ROM file not having a valid header file. After injecting my own private header file, this fixed the issue nine out of ten times. In the other instances, I found that re-ripping my ROMS helped. Interestingly enough this is not an issue I’ve ever encounter with my Sky3DS+ but due to the Stargate’s plug and play nature I assume, there had to be a trade-off somewhere along the line. The same I found was true for online play; if the ROM was missing the correct header information then the dreaded 002-0123 error would flag advising the game card could not be played online. Again, injecting my own private header file back into the ROM fixed this issue. (I will be writing a tutorial on this in the near future to assist with any other users).
Tapping both buttons on the card together switches it into DS mode. From here the card operates just like any other DS flashcard. Booting up the “Alex Rider” icon which now shows boots the card into what looks like a skinned version of the Wood R4 Kernal firmware. Not only does the card list the DS ROMS on the microSD card, but it also lists your 3DS ROMS as well. Selecting a 3DS game soft resets the console and loads that ROM into the card’s memory to play, a handy feature if you have a fair few stored and don’t want to shift through each ROM one by one using the buttons.
DS game compatibility is pretty much what you would expect in this day an age. The only game I had issues with was Pokemon White 2 which wouldn’t load for me. My understanding is this can be bypassed using a cheat code to deactivate the games built-in AP check but I couldn’t for the life of me find the correct one. The other games that I tested worked fine, Golden Sun Dark Dawn, Pokemon Soul Silver, Digimon World DS, Mario Kart and Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift; all ran without any issues or slow down.
The third mode of the Stargate 3DS is the built-in NTRBoot functionality. I won’t go into detail on how it works as there are plenty of guides available online, other than to say it works just as advertised. Using this method and the Stargate 3DS I was easily able to install custom firmware onto my console. But with this being said, at the moment this is a downside to the card itself as the DS mode does not currently run under custom firmware.
My final point I feel is worth mentioning is the effect the card has on the battery life of a standby console. Advertised as a low power consumption device, I found that it was quite the opposite. While in standby from a fresh charge I found the Stargate 3DS drained the battery of my N3DS in a little under twelve hours, in comparison to my Sky3DS+ where the battery lasted nearer the thirty-six-hour mark in standby. In both cases, I used the same memory card, loaded the same ROM into the card’s memory and disabled the WiFi on my console. While it’s not a major issue but I imagine it will catch out some users.
Overall I found the Stargate 3DS card to be a decent piece of hardware. It’s well built and feels sturdy enough to last normal day to day use and it does exactly what it advertises. It’s not quite as plug and play as I imagined it to be but I imagine this is a limitation of the exploit used to trick the 3DS console into thinking it is a legitimate card. If you’re like me and you have a lot of 3DS and DS games and you like the convenience of being able to keep your backups on a single game card then I can certainly recommend it to you; on the other hand, if you’ve already got a DS flash card and are running custom firmware already you may not see the benefit.
The Stargate 3DS Flashcard used in this review was kindly provided by the Stargate 3DS team.