NeoFlash's Top Toy DS (TTDS) Review
Written by Brakken
The Top Toy DS (TTDS) is a new Nintendo DS Slot 1 Flashcart distributed by NeoFlash the company behind the first mass produced Nintendo DS backup and homebrew solution. A Nintendo DS Flashcart is a small cartridge which is the same size as an original Nintendo DS game, but allows you to vastly expand your portable video gaming consoles functionality allowing you to listen to music, watch videos, read books, look at pictures, run homebrew and also boot legal backups of your original games.
The multimedia functions add a lot of value to your console as you use it more like a PDA then an actual gaming console. In addition to being able to handle multimedia files there are other various homebrew titles out there including online compatible multiplayer games and applications like DSOrganize which turns your Nintendo DS into a full fledged PDA which even allows you to chat online and browse the Internet. Heck, you can even check your email using homebrew.
What's this homebrew I'm talking about? Homebrew is free programs, games and applications that you can download from various websites. Homebrew is created by amateur developers using various programming languages including C and BASIC or scripting in Lua. Homebrew is totally free and totally legal!
Homebrew is essentially "unsigned" code designed to run on your Nintendo DS. You see, to make your own games you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get "licensed" and to purchase development equipment which will allow you to produce "signed" code. Using a Flashcart like the TTDS and the free programming resources I linked to in the above paragraph you can publish your own games saving you a heck of a lot of money. Of course, these games and programs won't be mass produced in cartridge form, but there is a large homebrew community on the Internet so your hard work won't go unnoticed.
Another feature of the TTDS and flash carts in general is the ability to play legal backups of your own games. Imagine you just spent $40 on a game and you lost it, your dog ate it or someone stole it. Generally, you'd be out of luck, but using the TTDS you can easily store and access your game collection. Even more impressive is the extra features you can use when playing your backups including the use of Action Replay cheats to enhance your normal game play experience.
The Top Toy DS is an OEM flashcart which means a main manufacturing company produces it and sells it to other companies who then put it on the retail market. NeoFlash just happens to be one of these companies and have labeled the cart as the TTDS. NeoFlash ensures me it's the same as the "other" companies market and that updates for the system software which runs the TTDS will be universal so if you purchase NeoFlash's brand you won't be left in the dust.
Speaking of dust, NeoFlash, in the past has had a bad habit of producing flash carts, offering support for a limited amount of time and then releasing a new cart that offers more features and functionality. This all changed with the introduction of their MK5 flashcart as the company has stood by it's product with releasing updates as needed. I would suspect that they will stick to this standard with the TTDS - well, at least I hope they will.
* 1:1 Original small size
* Build in passme function
* not need patch, just need drag and drop,then plug and play
* support homebrew app & game
* support moonshell movie player
* support soft reset in the game
* support cheat code function, more fun now
* support wireless multi-player
* support brightness adjust in menu
* pure hardware save, never lose data
* tf menu core upgradeable
* support all roms,compatibility = 100%
* Top Toy DS Flash Cart
* MicroSD USB Reader Keychain
* Resource Disc (Mini CD)
The TTDS comes in a professional "wall display" package ready to hang on the display walls of your local Wal-Mart. It's a sturdy package with a professionally made insert describing the TTDS's features in English. The TTDS Flash Cart is made from high quality plastic. Compared to some other flash carts on the market the TTDS stands out as it's not flimsily so you're most likely not going to break it by accidentally stepping on it.
The MicroSD/HC USB Reader is very unique in the fact that it's just a little smaller then two inches. The USB port basically has the card slot almost mounted on top of it. It's a bit quirky to begin with, but after some use it seems to be well designed. It's plug n' play of course - at least on my Windows XP machines. The Resource Disc does come with some drivers which are probably for older operating systems.
Preparation / Installation
One of the major drawbacks to most flash carts I've reviewed are the lack of resources that come with them instructing you on how to properly prepare the device to function correctly. Although, the Resource Disc is an added bonus it still doesn't come with a clear and concise instruction manual.
Due to the fact the Menu Software (Firmware/OS/BIOS) isn't stored in the TTDS you must manually copy it over from the Resource Disc into the root folder of the MicroSD card you're going to be using at the time. Once you have the Menu Software copied over you'll most likely want to grab the MK6 version of MoonShell so you will be able to utilize the many multimedia functions it offers. Don't ask me why the didn't include an internal launcher for it inside the Menu Software or even include it on the Resource Disc.
You'll probably want to prepare your homebrew and legitimate backups also which isn't that hard to do. All you need to do is copy them over to any folder (directory) on your MicroSD card. You can put your .NDS format files inside of a three tree folder and it will still be read, but any deeper then that and the Menu Software won't detect it.
You're not limited to putting homebrew in the root directory as you can put it wherever you like on the card, but if the homebrew you're using requires external resource files (like MoonShell and Lemmings) you have to at least place their resource files in the root of your card. Hopefully this issue can be resolved in the future either by some sort of virtual file emulation inside of the Menu Software or by homebrew authors. Most flash carts require you to put your homebrew in the root directory and if you're like me you want to have things organized and not have a lot of extra directories all over the place.
The TTDS couldn't be more simple to use, which in itself could be seen as a good or bad thing. When you turn on your Nintendo DS it automatically loads skipping the Nintendo DS logo and brings you to a file section screen that shows all of the homebrew and games you have on the cart. There is no directory structure nor is there any way to browse the directory structure. All you get is a list of all of the .NDS files it finds on the card.
From the file list you can select "Option" in the top left corner. From this sub-menu you can toggle Soft Reset. Next you can boot a Slot 2 solution using the "PassMe Mode" option or boot a legacy GBA device using the "GBA Mode" option. Lastly, you can turn the console off or adjust the brightness of the LCD screens. Now, let's go back to the file list. Each game or homebrew title is listed with it's internal icon first, then it's name and then a "+" box. If you just want to boot the game either tap on it or hit "A" and it will boot. Loading times are fast with the largest game I tested taking only 10 seconds to load.
One nice feature of the TTDS is on the file list screen it will display icons under the game name indicating certain game features such as Soft Reset, Download Play, and Cheat Code Support.
As stated in the above chart you can enter into the options menu by using the small "+" icon. Once in this menu you'll have three options. The first isn't marked, but it will enabled or disable the rest of the functions. The second is the Soft Reset (In Game Reset). The third is to turn on any cheat codes you've selected. On the top of the screen there are two tabs - one for the general options and one for the cheat codes. On the bottom you can either save the configuration or go back by selecting "Cancel".
The Soft Reset will allow you to exit your game and go right back to the file list. Once enabled while in your game by simultaneously pushing "L+R+A+B+X+Y". I tested it with a few games and it worked flawlessly. The cheat tab will bring you to a sub-menu where you can select which game you wish to enable cheats for. It will only list cheats for the game you've selected, but it will list cheats for all of the regions. So select the region you're using and then you can select which cheats you wish to use. Remember to enable the first option and enable the cheat option for the cheats to actually work.
Usage - Legal Backups
Gameplay experience is like it should be. There is no slowdown in games, problem games which like to freeze don't freeze up, most of the download play games I tested worked fine plus the extra options such as the Soft Reset and cheat codes worked like a charm.
One problem I did run into was the fact that the Cheat Database (USRCHEAT.DAT) file was pretty outdated. Luckily, with the help of Rayder and his up-to-date cheat database I've obtained the most recent version which has twice as many codes as the database that comes with the TTDS does. Just copy the USRCHEAT.DAT file into your "TTMenu" directory replacing the old file and you're good to go.
Usage - Homebrew
One of the main reasons I like flash carts is the homebrew scene. There are so many great applications out there made by amateur developers which you can download for free I don't know where to start. You've got music players, video players, drawing applications, calculators, games and full fledged PDA applications. So I tested a few of them and they all worked like a charm.
The TTDS supports automatic DLDI patching. DLDI is an add-on for libfat (and GBA NDS FAT). It allows people to patch new interfaces for their disc devices into existing applications, provided they were built with DLDI support. Basically, DLDI makes it possible for homebrew authors to create their work and publish it without having to write in specific support for the various development units on the market. DLDI patching worked like a charm so all of the homebrew I tested worked out great (except for Linux which I can't seem to get to work with any of the recent DLDI flash cart's I've tested recently).
I'd consider this flash cart a lower end product, but due to it's attractive price range ($30-$40 USD) it's not a bad choice if you don't mind having a basic cart. Sure, the SDHC support is an added bonus and both cards I tested, a 1GB PNY and a 4GB San Disk worked flawlessly. Cheat Code support and the Soft Reset are also an added bonus. Additionally, the fact it can use R4DS saves and cheat codes could draw in some R4 users looking for a cart with the potential to store more via the SDHC support. Overall it's not a bad flash cart, but there are better ones on the market.
* Menu System Simplicity
* No File Browser
* No Directory Structure
* Lack of Intergrated Media Player
* Ease of Operation
* Great Compatibility
* Automatic DLDI Patching
* Extra Status IconsOriginal Review Location w/Pictures http://www.iso420.org/nds/ttds/index.htm