Special thanks to the EMS Productions Ltd. for providing the review sample used.
- Introduction -
EMS Productions creates a wide variety of niche products for gamers. Browsing their website, you’ll find the useful, the unusual, and the useless. Any adapter you can imagine is listed on that site, as well as 3rd party cameras for various consoles, controllers, etc.
The NDS Adaptor Plus isn't the only weird little gadget EMS makes.
Enough about EMS Productions, what interested me on their website was the NDS Adaptor Plus and their claims that they can backup and restore save files for any retail DS cartridge, and more specifically targeting the problematic Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver. There are other solutions on the market to complete this task, from the old NDS Adaptor to the new homebrew applications, but at the moment, the ONLY solution on the market that is able to deal with the latest Pokemon is the NDS Adaptor Plus.
The NDS Adaptor is solely for save management. Don't read further if you have no use for it.
As a user of flash carts, like many of my readers, I assume you’ll all have a puzzled look on your face as to what exactly would I do with this device. There are definitely uses beyond the obvious.
How many people on this forum even have retail cartridges?
- Build Quality -
The NDS Adaptor Plus arrived in a package that looks good enough to sell at any retail store and is pretty secure. Quickly tearing apart the package, a grey adapter about the size of a USB flash drive fell onto my table. It was a lot sturdier than I had expected, it doesn’t feel cheap, all the parts clasped together well, the slot accepts cartridges smoothly.
Very standard looking USB device, no frills.
I’m happy with how the cartridge feels. It feels just like a USB drive, a little square, but all in all, it feels like a polished product. However a few minor complaints come to mind. The first is that it is a little larger than a USB drive, so depending on the orientation of your computer’s USB ports, you might be blocking the adjacent port. It is not too big, so most other devices will fit fine, but if you happen to have another bulky device beside the NDS Adaptor, you’ll have to unplug it.
You can see that it's not a huge difference from your average USB drive.
The other complaint I have is the fact that the slot for the cartridge is completely exposed. There is no dust cover or lid. The same can be said for the USB side. Because of the size of the cartridge slot, I believe it will probably gather quite a bit of dust in time, and no doubt will cause a problem in the future.
At least it slides in and out pretty easily.
- Usefulness -
As I mentioned earlier, I’m sure most of you have the question, why in the world would you need this adapter if you are running a flash cart where you already had the ability to manage your saves, not to mention the fact that this adapter doesn’t work with flash carts. The obvious first answer is for those of you with genuine cartridges. Some of you started with a copy of Metroid Prime Hunters before moving onto flash carts and found it unbearable that you had to start all over again, so you ditched the game entirely (that happened to me), this would be a solution. Some of you, I’m sure, have a few retail games, but prefer the convenience of a flash cart so you played the game there, and always regretted the fact that your retail copy is still in its shrink wrap. The transfer of saves from computer to cartridge and back also means that you can add flash carts to the equation, which means all three devices can, at any time, exchange save files.
You need retail cartridges to take advantage of the NDS Adaptor Plus.
That’s not the real reason why I had an interest in the NDS Adaptor Plus. As some of you may or may not know, there are some DS games that are highly competitive, but rely on hours and hours of gameplay to build your characters or inventory. The example I’m thinking of is Pokemon. The label of cheaters is easily given to anyone running a flash cart simply because it is so incredibly easy to change your save files, exploit codes, etc, but you don’t accuse a retail cartridge user lightly. People who cheat with Action Replay on retail cartridges are often easily identified, but when you use an application like Pokesav and LegitChecker, you can modify your save file as you like, make sure it LOOKS real, and then load it back in. Perhaps it is not the most useful for every gamer out there, but there are plenty of people that would pay the $25 price tag for that feature alone.
Here's a nice list of save files generated from the adapter.
- Ease of Use -
Asides from initial setup, the NDS Adaptor Plus runs like a dream. It takes seconds to do the transfer, the program is literally a loading bar and two big buttons, you really can’t screw up. However, the initial setup is a tad difficult. Anyone who is remotely computer literate should be able to pull it off fine, but if you do have any problems or questions, feel free to give me a PM. Check their website for all the latest software.
The initial setup involves installing a driver, as with all USB devices. However, because the NDS Adaptor Plus is unsigned, you have to install in manually rather than let Windows search for it on its own. The driver is straight off of the disk that comes with the NDS Adaptor, so when Windows fails to find a driver, it will ask you to find it yourself, in which case you browse to the “drivers” folder that is on the included disk and Windows should do the rest for you. It seems that if you are running a 64bit Windows, you require another piece of software called “Driver Signature Enforcement Overrider” to install the driver.
After the driver, you need to update the firmware for the NDS Adaptor Plus.
Afterwards, you can run the program with ease. Keep in mind the NDS Adaptor Plus does receive updates, so the program that came in my disk was not the latest version. The program essentially consists of two buttons where you either choose to go from computer to cartridge or the other way around. After click the button you have to select your save file (either save to that file or to write from that save file). It is a very simple program that anyone should be able to grasp in a matter of seconds.
It works nice and fast and it is easy to use.
- Functionality -
This video should demonstrate how the NDS Adaptor Plus works.
Simply put, the adapter works as it should. The program takes a few seconds to transfer on either trips, and the end result is a raw .sav file. For various flash carts, you may need to turn to a save trimmer or converter, but this is beyond the scope of what the NDS Adaptor Plus does. It simply pulls files in and out, and it works well.
The save file is raw, so it doesn't default to 512kb, you need to convert for various flash carts.
To be completely honest, I have a very limited amount of genuine cartridges to test. As much as I’d like to whip up the usual tests consisting of how many hundred games, this particular review only entailed fourteen tests, which were fourteen different games. They do span the whole spectrum of the DS’s lifespan, so this should be a decent sample enough. If it helps put your heart at ease, I know of two other reviews that rate the NDS Adaptor favourably and hadn’t hit a problem yet. Needless to say all fourteen of my games worked.
The games tested were:
Etrian Odyssey II
Final Fantasy Tactics A2 – Grimoire of the Rift
Final Fantasy XII – Revenant Wings
Hoshigami – Ruining Blue Earth
Legacy of Ys – Books I and II
Luminous Arc 2
Metroid Prime Hunters
Pokemon Soul Silver
Rhapsody – A Musical Adventure
All fourteen games work, so I am happy with the results. I did have a copy of the problematic Pokemon Soul Silver to test, and it worked great, you can Pokesav your old file and load it back in with a shiny new legendary or perhaps with about a dozen more Master Balls, definitely helpful for me.
Pokemon Soul Silver works just fine!
If you happen to have any games that you have and would like tested, please do give me an email or PM as shipping a cartridge alone should be cheap enough and I’d be happy to do a quick test.
- Conclusion -
I’d like to say that the possibilities are limitless, but let’s face the facts: the NDS Adaptor Plus is aimed at a very narrow audience. Not everyone needs one of these, and if you aren’t one of them, this review shouldn’t have really swayed you either way. As great a job EMS Productions did creating this device, it essentially backs up and restores save files, and that’s all.
At $25 this is a pretty fair deal.
It has a simplistic program, it currently works with all the games I’ve tested, and it is fully updatable, so in the unlikely event a future game is problematic, the NDS Adaptor Plus should be able to overcome this obstacle.
In all, the NDS Adaptor has surprised me, it is a well-made kit that does what it is supposed to. I highly recommend this device over any other method of backing up your saves. If you are sick of fiddling with homebrew programs to backup your saves or just want one for the sake of Pokemon, the NDS Adaptor is selling at a reasonable price of $25 at the EMS website.
Very solid device that works fine, what is there not to like?
- Score -
Build Quality - 5/5
Usefulness - 3/5
Ease of Use - 5/5
Functionality - 5/5
Tilt - 5/5
Overall - 23/25