Seeking legal advice…

….by which I don’t mean I’m seeking input from a solicitor. It means I’m soliciting recommendations for software while hoping to avoid straying into the realm of solicitation. That is, advice which is legal. You know, this sounded far more clever in my head. Let’s start over.

OK, so here’s the deal: I’ve recently acquired an R4 card for DS. “Gasp!” you gasp. “Parish… a pirate!?” Well, no. As a coda to all this talk on pricing and value, I can’t stress enough that I believe, quite strongly, that anything worth having is worth acquiring legitimately. That’s not to say I never download ROMs of old, out-of-print games for emulation purposes, but I’ve always drawn a strict ethical line about that sort of thing. If I can acquire a game (or anything else, such as music and literature) legitimately, be it from a store or a digital content service, I will always do so. And if something seems too expensive for the amount of entertainment I expect to derive from it, I either rent it, borrow it, or just go without. Most likely the latter, actually. I have a huge backlog of games and books and even some videos I haven’t had time to enjoy yet. I don’t subscribe to the “it exists and therefore I am entitled to it, whether I pay for it or not” school of thought, and frankly there’s no sense in my hoarding illicit materials when I have plenty of paid-for goods I still need to plow through.

No, the reason I picked up this R4 is because it bugs me that there’s a healthy DS homebrew scene out there, and despite being such an avid fan of the system I don’t have access to all of those amateur projects. But, now that I actually have means to participate, I have no idea where to look or what to seek out. This is where you folks come in. I would like some suggestions on what kind of homebrew DS apps to hunt for, and I wouldn’t complain about getting some pointers for where to find them. Again, I’m not looking for pirate DS ROMs — I’m hunting for freeware and homebrew creations. Also, I own a bunch of import DS games that seem likely never to make their way to the U.S. officially, so I wouldn’t mind partaking of their fan translation projects.

So please, help a brother out, yo.

33 thoughts on “Seeking legal advice…

  1. jEnesisDS – Mega Drive/Genesis emulator. Does have problems with few things but considering what is being emulated it’s outstanding.

    NitroGrafx – PCEngine/TurboGrafx-16 emulator. Compatibility quite good, and a portable Bomberman ’93 or Final Match Tennis is nothing to scoff at.

    There’s a proper port of ScummVM supporting everything up to The Dig (Full Throttle and The Dig playable only with external RAM cartridge, but everything before that works A-OK. Also of note – NeoGeo emulator. Doesn’t hit 100% speed in Metal Slugs, but definitely playable (and much better experience than Metal Slug 7). And finally VNDS if you want to play some Japanese Visual Novels on the go (of note is a fully working port of Fate/Stay Night).

    Best source of all the homebrew/DS fan translation news is definitely GBATemp.

  2. people will suggest the Moonshell media player — it’s a much better audio player than the DSi’s default software, and it plays video, too.


    Powder (old school roguelike)
    LoneWolfDS series (ports of the Lone Wolf gamebooks)
    Peculiar Voyage: Escape from Cute (poor man’s shiren)
    You Have to Burn the Rope (for giggles)
    Tetris: The Grand Master (waayyyy awesome if you can find it)
    Snatcher Pilot DS (short demo for Snatcher)
    Game Trivia Catechism: The Secret of Mister X (buy the same dev as Snatcher Pilot Disk port)
    Anguna: Warriors of Virtue (kind of meh-ish zelda clone, but an original title at least)
    Shooting Watch DS (free and probably better than the DSiWare official version)
    Magnetic Shaving Derby (received an iPhone port not too long ago)
    Arcomage (Magic the Gathering style card game)
    So many others I’m forgetting.


    NitroGrafx (TG-16/PCE)
    NeoDS (Neo Geo)
    Gonna stop here because there are dozens of these.

    translation patches:

    Culdcept DS (near-complete)
    Hajime no Ippo THE FIGHTING! (near-complete)
    Tales of Innocence (complete)
    Cid to Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon (Very early)
    Shiren the Wanderer 2 (essential menu/item stuff, no story)
    anddd I think you’ve heard of all the other popular stuff like ASH/Mother 3 (GBA)

  3. Man, I’d love to see some more people throw their translation skills at the other DS Shiren games. The partial translation of Shiren the Wanderer 2 is usable, but I long for more. Wish they’d just let me pay money for an english version.

  4. All too often, “home brew” is code for “emulators to play pirated ROMs from other systems.”

  5. “All too often, “home brew” is code for “emulators to play pirated ROMs from other systems.””

    That’s a bit like saying all MP3s are stolen P2P files.

  6. Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp is a fun little platformer. They also released it on XBLA. You can download it for free from the Ishisoft website.

  7. Hrm, some of this stuff sounds interesting. I used to be big into the PSP’s thriving homebrew scene, but never really bothered with that of the DS.

  8. Ditto GBATemp for being the best homebrew resource.

    I realize you specifically said “no piracy,” but I find emulators to be the most useful homebrew (even, or especially, when you have purchased a game legally). Just as adding online multiplayer can enhance retro games, so too can adding mobility. A game like, say, Ogre Battle, is excellent when you can take it anywhere and use save states. On the other hand, most people don’t want to spend 100 hours in front of their television playing it on the Wii.

    I should add that the two screens work really well with emulation, because you can adjust settings and save on the bottom screen without interrupting gameplay. Again, I don’t really view this as piracy so much as added value — for me, to the point where a game that was unplayable before becomes playable.

  9. … I love seeing the full page explanation of not wanting to go pirating DS games, followed by practically all the comments listing off emulators of other systems/recommendations of games to pirate with them.

  10. Yeah, GBATemp is the best place for homebrew info, or pretty much anything. They’ve even got a pretty decent translation community, as others have already mentioned. Soma Bringer is pretty much done, Tales of Innocence is as well. And someone’s working on SaGa 2.

    Emulation on the DS is kinda sketchy, actually. NES is fine, as is Game Boy, but I’d steer clear of SNES. Not worth it. Supposedly, the Supercard DSTWO will eventually have a SNES emulator that leverages that card’s processor, but they haven’t released it yet.

    Also, make sure you use the Wood R4 firmware. The last version of official R4 firmware was around two years ago.

  11. I see others have beaten me to the punch, but I’ll add my own vote of confidence for It’s the best source of grey-market Nintendo portable information I’ve come across.

    For what it’s worth, I use a CycloDS. I don’t know if there’s better cards out since that one, but the R4 is pretty old by now (having been forced out of the market by pervasive low-quality clones).

    I appreciate your comments about software piracy, and am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I agree in theory, if not yet in practice. You might consider, however, that roms on a flashcart can be significantly more convenient than a stack of cartridges, even if you already own the cartridges. It can be a slippery slope, I’ll admit, but it is nice to never have to wonder if you brought any specific game with you. The flashcart almost never need leave the DS.

  12. I don’t mind dabbling in a little emulation, but I figure a PSP or Pandora would be much better suited to that sort of thing. Really, what I’m most interested in are things like Powder. Thanks for the recommendations, everyone!

    (Also, I tend to be the sort of person who focuses on one game at a time, so the utility of having all the games I could ever want at my fingertips is pretty minimal.)

  13. One of my posts disappeared too, but I figured it was because I included some links.

    And the only emulators I’d recommend over its PSP equivalent would be NesDS and ScummVMDS. If you can get past the scaled (or cropped at full resolution) with NesDS it actually runs a lot smoother than Nester on the PSP does. ScummVM has touch screen controls. But yeah, very little need to dabble in emulation on the DS.

  14. If there was some way to play old Sierra games on a DS, that might push me to get an R4 card. I’d stick to Sierra games that I actually own, of course, but that’s most of the EGA and VGA period anyhow.

    Otherwise, yes, I buy games or don’t play them at all. Which is why I’m contemplating whether or not Snatcher is worth the price on eBay plus the cost of a Sega CDX. (Right now, my brain is saying yes, but my wallet is saying maybe later.)

  15. Hey Jeremy, if you’re lookin’ for “homebrew”, the PC has got the most of that, and a lot of it is really good… yeah I know I won’t convert you that easily. But maybe one day you’ll get sick of them Japanese games and come on over and play some Envirobear 2000 and Captain Forever.

  16. Ah, well, maybe my comment was deleted along with the link spam, since it was simply me directing you to two threads on Talking Time about this subject.

  17. Oh awesome, a PC? Sweet, now all I need now is a portable PC that’s four inches wide, has two screens, touch input, and the ability to play Dragon Quest IX. And costs less than $200. That sounds perfect!

    Guys, the blog backend automatically deletes any post with more than two links due to excessive spam problems.

  18. I want to echo love for StillAliveDS. I am definitely very stuck on one board, but that is a solid homebrew game you shouldn’t miss.

  19. Forgot to mention eepinator. Such a great app. I’ve used it many times to move saves from a flash cart to a freshly-purchased retail cart. It’s also capable of backing up retail carts saves as well.

  20. Just so you know, emulation of any game you don’t pay for is still piracy. I’m reporting everyone here to the proper authorities.

  21. Oh, you mentioned the PSP earlier, Parish. Did you ever get that screen problem fixed? I finally got around to fixing mine. New LCDs are fun! And cheaper than a new system.

  22. Hmm…people have mentioned a lot of them, but on top of that, I’d recommend the Quake and Doom ports (I’d mention Quake2 as well, but it requires a slot-2 RAM pack since the DS hasn’t enough RAM as is), DSX86 (a 286 PC emulator for playing old computer games)…the port of NetHack, Puzzle Maniak if you can get it working, and Colors! which is a really great drawing app. DSLinux can also come in useful. There’s also a series of games by a fellow named Jay that you might want to check out. ( My favorites are probably BlockMan Gets and JNKplat.

  23. I mostly use my cart as an impromptu mp3 and podcast player, but all this homebrew stuff really helps. Thanks for asking about this, Parish!

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