XGflash2 GBA & NDS Backup Cart
XG2 TURBO GBA COPIER
Hello again, and welcome to yet another GBA copier review by 64scener. This time we're taking a look at the quite famous XG2 copier which we newer got around to review back when it was released. But recently the makers of XG2 changed the linker a little and our chance to review the unit was renewed, a few months later a couple of samples arrived.
PACKAGING So here we are, looking at the XG2, also known as XG-Flash 2, packaging. A long time ago, when the XG2 was about to be released, the makers of XG2 held a competition where your objective was to create packaging for their XG2 product. A guy called Lars Thun won the contest and the XG team still uses his packaging eventhough the name has changed slightly from XG-Flash2 to XG2, the latest version being called XG2 Turbo 2005. The box claims that a free GBA Crystal Lens is included, but there's no such thing included anymore, instead there are 3 batteries for the cartridge included and that's it, no drivers or manual, just the flash cartridge and now the new-style linker called "USB Slim Loader III" and a USB extension cable. WINDOWS SOFTWARE So, the driver has to be downloaded of the internet from xgflash2 and that's not really a problem, besides who would want to install an outdated driver included in the package instead of the latest less bug free driver right from the developers website.
There are two pieces of software for the XG2 Turbo/Pro series of carts, first one is called "USB Slim Driver" and is probably the most used, but also the most over fancy and buggy software, in my oppinion.
XG2 Pro Windows Software
The other program for use with the XG2 Turbo/Pro carts is called XG2 Pro just lige the cartridge, but it also supports Turbo carts now. It's undergoing a lot of changes at the moment, I think there has been 5 revisions within the last month, but all for the better - better support. I like this program a lot more than the Slim Driver, but to be able to use the cartridge with the XG2 Pro program you have to format it first, else the program is unable to detect the cartridge, it says, but it's able to detect it when you hit the "format" button and after that the "detect" button also works. The XG2 Pro program has compression build in, just like the slim loader, but also features Gold Finger support (cheating), something called "Soft Reset" as well as a really nice looking GUI. But that's not all, with this program you are also able to manage the SMS, game save section, of the cartridge, unlike the Slim Loader software. A hidden feature is zip support, actually I don't think it was meant to be hidden, but you're not able to pick zip files unless you choose "all files *.*". It would be nice to know that it actually supports zip files by showing it in the list of file types. The following carts are supported by XG2 Pro:
XG2 Pro 256M
XG2 2005 (Turbo) 1G
Some XG2 2005 (Turbo) 256M and 512M carts are reported to work with the program, but it was not able to detect my XG2 2005 Turbo 256M cartridge. But all is not fine and dandy with the XG2 Pro software yet, revision 4 and 5 managed to reboot my PC (running Windows2000) while I was writing this review and formatting a cartridge in the background using the program. Also, I didn't succeed much using compression, or manage to get the cart GUI show in english for that matter. But despite all that I still like it better than the USB Slim Loader. Please note though that eventhough I like the XG2 PRo program best, the rest of the review was made using the Slim Loader software. THE CARTRIDGE The cartridge is not so surprisingly regular GBA cart size, it's been a very long time since GBA flash carts weren't. The battery in the XG2 cart is changable though, which isn't seen in any other GBA flash cartridge. I can't really see the reason for this though as I've never had a battry in a flash cart die, but I suppose it's a good idea as they most likely will die later on and then you won't have to disassemble the cart. The XG2 Turbo comes in pretty much all memory sizes, from 128mbit to 1 Gigabit. Uploading 32Mbits to a 1Gigabit cartridge using USB V1 took 51 seconds, which seems rather slow. The fastest upload time was made with the XG2 Turbo 256Mbit version, only 28 seconds to upload 32Mbit, now that's great speed, surely compared to the XG2 Pro cart which used 88 seconds to upload 32Mbit :-) A funny thing about the cartridge "slim loader" menu is that it says "GBA Magic" at the top of the screen, GBA Magic was the name of an older GBA copier, also known as EZF-Advance II, why they used that name and not XG-Flash2 is beyond me but doesn't really matter anyway. According to the manufacturer it was just a random name picked during the development. There's not much to configure in the menu user interface on the cartridge, in fact there's nothing at all so it can't get any easier, though it would have been nice to be able to manage save games right from the cartridge GUI as well as setting the RealTimeClock (RTC). When uploading NES roms to the cartridge, you first need to collect all NES games you want on the cartridge in a directory on your PC and then add the games to the cartridge at once, else a rom image for each NES game will be added to the cartridge. This is of course also the case for GB and PCE roms. The reason is that the games are merged with an emulator, PocketNES for NEs games, Goomba for GB games and PCEAdvance for PCE games, and it works quite well and is quite easy to do. One of the nice features of this product is the use of compression, which means that you can cram more games onto this cartridge than any other normal GBA flash cart. THE LINKER Team XG recently changed the Linker cable with a real "stand alone" linker, called "USB Slim Loader III". I personally think this was a step in the right direction as the cables were driving me crazy, including having to have the GBA running when uploading games. The loader really is slim and probably the smallest on the market, but once a GBA cart is inserted it looks just like the rest. The Slim Loader works, and it was nice of the manufacturer to include an long extra cable for the loader in the package, as it only has about has about 2cm of cable otherwise. The small piece of cable can be folded into the back of the linker which is a really nice idea, you don't have to run around looking for a missing cable.
USB Slim Line Burner Windows Software
There were absolutely no problems installing the driver and software, eventhough part of the installation seemed to be in chinese, the windows program is available in both english and chinese. On top of that it's very... ehh... colorful, but fortunately these colors can be changed. Out of the box, the program accepts PCE, GB and NES ROMS, loaders for all of these are included. The zipped rom feature is also included, good job there as some of the more recent windows programs for other GBA copiers doesn't. The USB Slim Driver offers the most basic features and works doesn't always tell you if it does what you tell it to, like if you press "Format ROM", it does absolutely nothing, it seems. One problme I've found is that it sometimes doesn't detect the cartridge inserted in the slim loader.
USB Slim Loader III
There are a few bad things about the loader though, it feel cheap, very light... too light, and I'm sorry to say but it's sometime a struggle to insert insert a cartridge. SAVE TYPES SUPPORTED Saving is of course important and I've decided to give the XG2 Turbo the same test as the EZ-Flash III was given, so let's see how well it does in the test shall we? The cartridge used for this test was a XG2 Turbo 1G cartridge. The XG2 carts all have a so-called "Super Memory Stick" (SMS) built-in for storing savegames. The size of the SMS depends on the size of the cart.
SAVE TYPE GAME USED RESULT
(4k EEP) Super Mario Advance Save working, no problems noticed
(4k EEP) Rock'n Roll Racing Save working, failed to boot one time
(64K EEP) Legend of Zelda - The Minish Cap Save working, game hang once
(64K EEP) Mario & Luigi - Superstar Saga Save working, no problems noticed
(64K EEP) Legend of Zelda II - Adv. of Link Doesn't boot (save problem)
(64K EEP) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 - Battle Nexus Failed to boot
(Flash) Urbz, Sims in the City Save working, no problems noticed
(Flash) Sonic Advance 3 Save working, no problems noticed
(1M Flash) Super Mario Advance 4 - Super Mario Bros 3 Hangs after "Gameboy Player" logo
(1M Flash) Pokémon - Fire Red Version Save working, no problems noticed
(Sram) Kirby - Nightmare in Dreamland Save working, no problems noticed
(Sram) F-Zero GP Legend Save working, no problems noticed
There's not much negative, or positive for that matter, to say about the save support, it saves alright, but still not as impressive as the EZF-Advance III which saved and booted everything tested, unlike the XG2 Turbo. FINAL WORD So what are the good and bads about this product, well the packaging and support at great, the manufacturer seems to be very serious about support and there are frequent software updates, with that said though I've never quite understood their software releases as there are tons of them with various names probably depending on which of their many cart releases you've got, but they're pretty much all called the same. Right now there are two pieces of software being made for the XG2 series, the "USB Slim Loader" software, used for XG2 2005 carts, these are called Turbo carts though and doesn't say 2005 anywhere but probably means carts manufactured in 2005, but it can also be used for the XG2 Pro series of carts. Second piece of software made is called "XG2 Pro", just like one of their cartridge series. This software seems to be much more configurable and nicer than the Slim Loader software, which is my oppinion is a bit too fancy and buggy, until recently this could not be used with that many types of XG2 carts, but compability has improved a lot recently. Bottom line is that the XG2 Turbo/Pro is average in performance, except from speed and support, where they by far are the best as you're able to speak directly with the XG team, unlike any other GBA copier manufacturer at www.xgflash2.com.
+ Speed, very fast 256M (Turbo version) cart while the 1G is quite slower.
+ The support from the manufacturer is great, lots of software updates.
+ Average save support, like the majority of recent GBA copiers.
+ Features compression, cram more games into the cartridge.
+ Windows software supports zipped GBA roms.
+ Very nice cartridge GUI, but needs a little work still.
+ Backup battery is cangable, might become handy in the future.
+ Stand alone Linker (not crappy cable)
- Why so many different programs? why not combine them?
- Buggy software, will make Windows crash.
So why should you buy an XG2 instead of one of the other GBA copiers? Well a lot of todays GBA copiers have buggy software, so it's nice to see that Team XG works hard to eliminate such in their software, and the support is also worth a lot, they've got a good forum going on their website.