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  1. #1

    Default Gateway 3DS Review

    The Gateway 3DS was released in mid-August during a time where faith was running dry and naysayers were aplenty. It looked like a backup solution for the Nintendo 3DS would never appear. Nevertheless, the Gateway team made a number of bold claims and began to distribute their ground-breaking product. Though the Gateway 3DS began as a simple device, it has received a number of large updates that continually pushed the frontier of 3DS backups.



    Limitations
    Even though it has been some time since the release of the cart, the Gateway 3DS is still considered a relatively new product for end users. The Gateway team has made tremendous progress in trying to create a user friendly, accessible backup solution, but the fact is that there is a long way to go before it has any semblance to the R4 era of the Nintendo DS. The Gateway 3DS will only work on 3DS consoles running a firmware between 4.1.X and 4.5.X. If you are below this version, you can purchase a retail game on this list and run an offline update. However, if you are above 4.5.X, then there is no way to downgrade and you will not be able to use the Gateway 3DS. Any websites advertising support for higher firmwares are referring to EmuNAND which will be referenced below; this does not mean it works with firmware 7.X.



    Hardware
    The Gateway 3DS package is quite simple. There is no text on it, just a Gateway logo and a tray inside. All that is included is two carts: "the Blue Card" and "the Gateway Card". Between these two carts, the Gateway 3DS package will let you run any DS and 3DS backup.



    The Blue Card is a copy of the R4i Gold Nintendo DS cart which will only support 3DS consoles up to 6.1.X. Essentially this is a Nintendo DS cart from the previous generation that will run DS backups (not 3DS ones). Asides from running DS backups, it has been included in the package primarily to run the exploit that will enable the use of the Gateway Card. The Gateway exploit can be run on any DS cart, but one has been included in the package.



    The much more important cart for this review is the Gateway Card. It has been shaped to look like a 3DS cartridge and colored white. Unfortunately it is more white than grey, so it isn't a perfect duplicate of a retail cartridge. It also has a few chips sticking out of the casing, so it does not feel entirely smooth. Despite this, the Gateway Card feels solidly built in comparison to their competitors. It comes with a spring-loaded MicroSD slot, thicker casing and feels like a higher quality cart that will not die over time.



    Setup
    There are a number of setup guides for the Gateway 3DS on the internet already. Sadly, a number of guides on the internet have been completely incorrect and would lead users to render their Gateway 3DS useless. In this review I will briefly outline the accurate steps to setup the device and to string together all the steps required to get onto the 2.0 version of the Gateway 3DS. The authoritative source for instructions are the ones listed on the Gateway website. They are actually quite clear on what is necessary and go into quite a bit of detail. However, they have tacked on additional instructions with their updates which does confuse some newcomers. The idea of this section is to provide a continuous set of instructions that reflect the latest update. If any points are unclear, you may comment below or refer to the Gateway website for further detail on that particular step.



    Disclaimer - Please read before setting up
    I cannot stress how important it is to follow instructions to the letter, especially when dealing with the EmuNAND which I will detail shortly. If you are not careful, it is possible to update your device to a firmware that no longer supports the Gateway 3DS. Once again, it is important to follow the steps exactly. Do NOT go back one step to double check something and then continue, you must follow the steps in one continuous sitting. If you make a mistake, it is safest to go all the way back to step 1 and redo. This process should take no longer than 20 minutes, 15 of which are waiting for the console to update and backup.

    Step 1 - Setting up the Blue Card and the exploit
    The very first step is to prepare the Blue Card. To do so, download the latest Gateway release and unzip the contents on your computer. Take all the files inside the "Blue Card (R4i)" folder and place them into the MicroSD card. They should be in the root of the MicroSD card. Insert the MicroSD card into the Blue Card and insert it into the Nintendo 3DS console.

    Once you have done that, run the cartridge in your Nintendo 3DS. Select your MicroSD card then run the GW_Installer.nds file. Follow the on screen instructions and the exploit will be complete.

    Step 2 - Entering Gateway Mode
    With the exploit is installed, you can remove the regular sized SD card from the side of your Nintendo 3DS console and connect it to your computer. Do not turn off your console. Inside the download from the Gateway website, there is a folder labelled "release" and the version number. Open that folder and copy the launcher.dat file into the root of the SD card. Once the transfer is complete, insert the SD card back into the Nintendo 3DS.



    In the Nintendo 3DS menu, find your settings, and select Other Settings, then Profile. When you are in this menu, hold the L button and then click Nintendo DS Profile. Your console will freeze up for several seconds before entering the Gateway menu. This has been known to be a little buggy, so if it does not enter a menu, feel free to restart the console with the power button and reenter the settings.



    Step 3 - Using EmuNAND
    If you wish to begin using your Gateway for older games, you may simply enter Gateway mode and move on to Step 4. However, the latest games will require EmuNAND. In short, the Nintendo 3DS firmware is stored on the internal memory of the Nintendo 3DS (also known as SysNAND or NAND). This will have to remain on version 4.X.X for the Gateway to run correctly. However, newer games such as Yoshi's New Island requires firmware 7.1.0. The solution to this problem is to run a separate copy of the firmware (hence Emulated NAND). This copy of the firmware is stored on the regular sized SD card, and can be updated to the latest version without affecting the use of the Gateway. Please follow these instructions closely because you do NOT want to update your SysNAND, but you do want to update the EmuNAND. It is a common mistake.



    The Gateway menu has a number of options, but for now we will focus on the actual setup. The very first item is to backup your SysNAND. In the menu, select Backup System NAND and wait it out. This will wipe your SD card, so if you have taken photos on your 3DS, back them up on the computer first. The process takes roughly 10 minutes. When the process is complete, move three icons to the right and select Format EmuNAND. This process will take about 5 minutes and will store a second copy of the firmware in your SD card.



    Restart your Nintendo 3DS and enter the Gateway menu again by entering the settings menu, holding L then selecting the Nintendo DS Profile button. When you select Boot Gateway Mode, you will be running on EmuNAND. However, since it is a copy of your current firmware, it is running on 4.X.X which is not very useful. So, ideally we would update to the latest firmware in the settings menu. When you enter the settings, confirm that you are running on EmuNAND by checking the top screen where your firmware version is listed. It should say GW3D before the firmware version. If it does not, then redo Steps 2 and 3. If you have checked that it is correct, go straight to the update by going into Other Settings and on the 4th page, you can perform a System Update which will bring your EmuNAND to the latest firmware. Please be advised that if you exit the settings and go back in, you will no longer be running EmuNAND. Simply check for the letters GW3D, then go straight to the update. The update generally takes 5 minutes to perform.



    Step 4 - Preparing your Gateway Card
    At this point, everything is setup, you only need to put your backups on a MicroSD and into the Gateway Card. The Gateway 3DS supports both FAT32 and exFAT file systems, but urges users to format in exFAT for faster loads and future support for games that are larger than 4GB. This also means that the Gateway 3DS supports all MicroSD, MicroSDHC and MicroSDXC sizes up to and including 128GB. If you purchased a new MicroSD, chances are it is already in FAT32, if you can't wrap your head around what was just said, there's really no issue with just dropping your backups straight into your MicroSD and popping it into the Gateway 3DS. However, you can format your memory card to exFAT by going into My Computer, right clicking your MicroSD card and selecting Format. From there you can change the file system to exFAT. Do keep in mind this will erase the contents of your MicroSD card.



    Usage
    The Gateway 3DS is quite a minimalist device. Unlike the previous generation, there are few times when you are looking at a fairly clunky menu to setup. Instead you are jumping straight into a retail game. Once you've set up the device and placed your backups into the Gateway 3DS, you enter Gateway Mode from the Gateway Menu and plug in your Gateway 3DS. The very first time you boot your Gateway 3DS, it will be a blank icon where your retail game normally sits. But when you click select, you will be greeted with Gateway 3DS's new multi-rom feature on the top screen. It is a very basic menu that lets you cycle through games left and right. Once you've selected a game, click A and it will appear as if it were a retail cartridge.



    Tips and Tricks
    One of the annoyances of the Gateway 3DS is that it relies on an exploit that is wiped when the console is shut off. Every time the Nintendo 3DS turns off, you must reenter the Gateway Mode by heading over to settings and going through the Nintendo DS Profile again. You do not need to go into the actual Gateway menu, so do NOT hold L, just tap the Nintendo DS Profile and you are all set. It is NOT necessary to set up the Blue Card and go through Step 1.

    Retail games do not run in Gateway Mode. So you can still use them by entering the Gateway Menu, selecting the Classic Mode and playing them that way. While all games work, and even online features work, newer games that require firmware 6.X.X or higher use a new save encryption. What this means to a regular user is that once the game is started on a Gateway console, the save will no longer work on a real console and vice versa. The save may be erased or corrupted.

    With EmuNAND installed, apps such as MiiVerse and Nintendo eShop work. You can go online, download patches, etc. However, some programs downloaded from the eShop use a new 7.X.X encryption which is NOT supported. At the moment, this includes YouTube and Pokemon Bank. They freeze on load. This is a concern for the future viability of this product.



    Save files are stored on your SD card. That is the large card found in your Nintendo 3DS console that holds the Launcher.dat file. The save files do not share the same name as your backups, but instead uses the internal titleid of the game. The titleid is unique for every game, and you can Google it to ide
    ntify which save belongs to which game. When you save in game, the Gateway 3DS automatically writes your save file onto the SD card, there is no need to reenter the menu like with some of the competitor's products. These saves can be stored on your computer as backups and restored just be overwriting the file on your SD card.

    Compatibility
    Compatibility on the Gateway 3DS has been excellent since the start and with the latest update, it has finally reached perfect compatibility with physical cartridges. I've tested 65 games (with 20 from different regions) and none of them have failed in the latest update. However, it is important to mention that the Gateway team had left users hanging for some time with a few critical titles including Animal Crossing and Pokemon X. These games used a new save type which took almost 5 months for the Gateway team to address. While this addresses all games dumped to date, there is some concern with the 7.X.X save encryption found on some eShop titles that may affect future cartridges.



    Gateway 3DS updated quite quickly to support eShop games. There are also a number of eShop tools that were released and I do not believe they work with any solution at the moment. They are in a completely different format. However, several eShop exclusive games such as Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies and HarmoKnight were released. Those do work with the Gateway 3DS.

    The Gateway 3DS currently does not support online multiplayer. An error occurs any time you try to connect over the internet. However, local multiplayer does work and this includes download play. I was able to trade several Pokemon through local multiplayer and complete matches with Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, etc with retail cartridges and other Gateway 3DS carts.




    Gateway 3DS is currently the only way to run 3DS games region free. The Nintendo 3DS is a region locked console, so for North Americans, it is impossible to play Japanese cartridges and vice versa. The Gateway 3DS allows you to bypass this and run backups of another region, it seems compatibility is not affected at all with region changes and has been perfect in my tests.



    Updates
    This is a segment of particular importance because of the novelty of the market. As I've stressed, the Gateway 3DS is hardly a mature product. It does what it advertises, you can run backups, however, the Gateway team seems determined to bring additional features to the cart to make this the solution for the masses. Already we've seen the cart evolve. In the previous updates, the Gateway team slowly added features such as region-free playback, EmuNAND, and most recently, multi-rom support. It has certainly been a slow pace, but the Gateway team has delivered on every promise they've made so far and appears to be working on new updates.



    However, the Gateway team did itself no favors by reportedly implementing a brick code into its Launcher.dat file. Because the Gateway 3DS had to fend itself off almost perfect clones such as the R4i Gold 3DS Deluxe and the Orange 3DS, it was rumored that the Gateway 3DS included code that would destroy the Nintendo 3DS consoles of people using a competitor's product. Unfortunately this affected legitimate users of the Gateway 3DS as well. My thoughts are that there were so few reports that the odds of it happening were quite low to begin with and it seems to be triggered by running the diagnostic mode of the cart which to me indicates a bug rather than intentional design. Nevertheless, Gateway suffered incredible backlash from the rumors and responded rather poorly. As of the latest update, I'm quite convinced that it is safe to use. I've ran the diagnostics test a dozen times and have rebooted the system numerous times with no results. Whether you want to take the risk is up to you, but my personal opinion is that the situation has been exaggerated and that the odds of a brick are incredibly slim.



    The main competition of the Gateway 3DS is the MT-Card. It is obvious that the Gateway team is the driver behind the innovations, and pretty much all carts are based on their design, however the MT-Card is the only alternative that has offered something new and different. They implemented a hardware solution to multi-rom before the Gateway team did. Their solution is a physical button that would cycle through the games. Other than this feature, they remain almost identical. The fork in development suggests that the MT-Card is not a mere clone, but another capable team. Since the last update, the Gateway 3DS looks a little more favorable because they have been the first to virtually all other features and is now competitive with the MT-Card.



    Conclusion
    Even with the amazing 2.0 update, the Gateway 3DS is still an early entry into the 3DS scene. There is no way to circle around the limitations and the truth is that there are still a number of critical features on my wish list. But if you have a console running firmware 4.X.X and are willing to wait for a dedicated team to slowly add in new features, then welcome to the forefront of 3DS backup solutions.



    The Gateway 3DS is the best cart you can buy currently and the team certainly intends to stay relevant in the near future with a slew of fantastic updates in their history. Nevertheless, this is not an easy one size fits all solution yet and it is understandable if regular consumers shy away and wait for a more user-friendly solution in the future.

    Please visit our sponsor www.Card-NDS.com to purchase your own Gateway 3DS!

  2. #2

    Default

    I tried to play 3ds games such as Adventure Time - Finn and Jake Investigations, and The_Smurfs on my 3ds V4.2.0-8U with gateway 3ds.
    The game list did show after I inserted the red card and press A to BOOT GATEWAY MODE, but when I choose to play these two games, it won't let me.
    So what's the 3ds games that can not be played with gateway 3ds flashcart ?
    Is it true that gateway 3ds supports playing those older games while not supporting the newer games ?

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