The Game Boy Advance was a hit during its time. Released in 2001 the console series sold over 81.51 million units worldwide by December 2009. Nowadays it’s considered a retro console but still boasts a hardcore fanbase.
The EZ-Flash Omega is the first flash card to be released for the Game Boy Advance in some time. Unlike most flashcards, the Omega features seamless on the fly patching and compatibility with pretty much most games. As well as this it has the ability to save directly to the memory card, negating the need for any manual saving key-combos like the Super Card SD.
The Omega comes in a neat little package with the Omega symbol embossed on the front. In the package is the card itself as well as a replacement shell to allow the card to fit in the Nintendo DS Lite without jutting out of the bottom. The attention to detail on this cart is unbelievable, and the EZ-Flash team have taken great effort to ensure the entire board of their impressive cart fits within the space of the DS Lite dust cover. Not a single millimetre is wasted -and the cart even sports its own on-board battery for those trickier save files.
The micro SD card slots into the port on the side of the unit. There’s no spring-loaded mechanism so it’s not likely to fail after a lot of uses but the gap between the board and the SD card slot is a little bigger than I’d like. A few times I’ve almost slid my micro SD card into the Omegas casing rather than slotting it into the SD card slot. It’s not really a huge issue, but seeing as the team have taken such great care on every other aspect of the design of this card I feel this could be an area for improvement.
The Omega is pretty much drag and drop – there’s no need to pre-patch games for them to run; save the few that require extra hardware, for example, Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hands. Even games with anti-piracy measures seem to run out of the box. In this case, the most notable examples are The Legacy of Goku games. I’ve played through a few hours of these and have yet to encounter any issues. This is a huge step up fro my now dusty Super Card SD; which not only required the games to be pre-patched but wouldn’t boot either of the Dragon Ball Games. In addition, ROM hacks seem to run just fine too. While I didn’t try many, the few that I did play had no issues that I can report.
Loading ROM files is near enough instant but there is a short waiting time which is to be expected. During normal gameplay, I found there were no slow down issues while playing and navigating the card’s menus is responsive and smooth, even with 100+ files on the memory card. If you have a game that you play on a regular basis you can write it to the Omega’s NOR memory which will allow the game to boot instantly; unlike the Omega’s predecessor, you can flash more than one ROM to the NOR memory which is a welcome upgrade for fans of this method.
Another nice addition. and one that is entirely cosmetic, is the ability to load thumbnails for each ROM on the card. The EZ-Flash team have done the hard work and created the files needed. By downloading the zip file from their website and extracting the contained folder to your memory card, when highlighting a game on the card a small screenshot of the game’s title screen will appear in the bottom right-hand corner. Again, it’s entirely cosmetic but an appreciated one all the same.
That’s not to say the Omega is free from fault. Switching off your GBA system too fast after saving will often result in a corrupted memory card and the loss of data. The EZ-Flash Team themselves advise you to wait for a minimum of three seconds or more before powering down your device. This minor inconvenience seems to fix the save issue. With that being said, I have had problems with the GB emulation side of things. Saving games like Pokemon Yellow, for example, don’t seem to take. After rebooting the console the save is nowhere to be found. While it is highly possible this is a user issue a search online didn’t fare many fixes.
Overall my time with the EZ-Flash Omega has been positive. It’s well built and the software runs well. It loads pretty much any ROM you can throw at it and has the added bonus of patching on the fly. The addition of the thumbnails is a nice touch and really gives it that polished feel. If you’re still a fan of the Game Boy Advance system – and with all of the amazing backlight mods that you can do on them now, why wouldn’t you be? – the Omega is a must have tool for your collection.
The EZ-Flash Omega used for testing in this review was kindly provided by R4iB9S.com and is currently sold for £48.80.