Initially seen as a cheaper version of it's brother (the AKRPG), but without the nand memory, this flashcart has far surpassed all expectations (well at least mine anyway).
most people assumed that it's lack of open-source firmware would be a huge drawback but
luckily Smiths ,Normmatt and other skilled people have come together to make "AKAIO" which is almost identical to the AceKard 2's official loader, except that it has several additional features that the official build does not support.
Official Feature List:
Perfect Compatibility. No need to convert, No need to flash.
Write save file directly to TF card. No more save type selection.
Auto patching DLDI. Run homebrew programs without convert.
Support Soft-Reset. Support Download play. Support Wi-Fi.
Support SDHC microSD card. No maximum file limit.
Support Action Replay. Built-in editor.
Low power consumption. Long playing time.
Easy operation. Support pad and touch screen control.
Multi-languages. Support Customize Skin.
Support launch slot-2. Support expand package.
4 level brightness adjustment.
Support reading text files, listening mp3 and watching movie.
(according to back of package)
Packaging and Contents
The Acekard 2 comes in a plastic package with a paper insert describing the features, an AceKard brand TF reader and the star of the show: the Acekard 2 itself. One comment i have to make is that the "Engrish" on this item is some of the best I've ever seen, it is completely comprehensible and everything, it really impressed me and gave it a professional look. the insert has a list of the features (in both Chinese and English) and inside it has a list of steps to get it running (also in both Chinese, and English).
MicroSDHC TF card reader
Another comment i have to make is that i really like the fact that AceKard is shipping this item with their own TF readers instead of the standard ones which come with many other slot-1 cards (which are reported to corrupt TF cards)
The card itself is only available in black (unlucky for white ds owners) and has a shiny sticker which makes it even harder for a phone as crap as mine to take a picture of it and also make the slight chip protrusion a lot more noticeable.
The plastic casing unfortunately isn't as strong as some other carts (eg. EDGE), this is most probably because of the fact that this is meant to be a "budget card". the casing is held together by clips, instead of being either, glued together (like the EZV) or held together with screws like most other carts. Unfortunately the quality of these clips is not the best so i would recommend leaving the case on unless you have a good reason to take it off (like taking a shot of the PCB for your poorly done review). The build quality is quite similar to the original EZV (not sure about the EZV+ as i haven't handled one myself), it will creak if pressure is applied but shouldn't break if you treat it right (don't jump on it too much). it's not so weak that if dropped a clip or other integral part would warp or snap, but it's not as good as an SCDS or an official cart...
As mentioned before, there is a slight chip protrusion under the sticker (which seems to be the norm with slot-1 carts lately), this chip will not affect insertion into your DS (although it will mean a slight amount more rubbing between the sticker and DS than is present on other cards).
The card lacks the little strips of plastic between metal contacts on the backside of the card (which i find very strange) so suggest you clean the contacts with a cloth between removal and insertion (just in case some thing gets on there). Another plus is that the TF slot has a locking mechanism to make sure that the TF card cannot possibly come out during game-play unless intentionally removed.
the case can be removed from the card by prying the clips open (carefully) with a small blade), then pulling the pcb off the other side (protruding chip will be stuck to the backside of the sticker).
Setting Up & Using
For this review I will be using the alternate firmware mentioned earlier titled: "AKAIO" version 1.2 can be found here. I will be using a 2GB Japanese Kingston, along with a 2GB Chinese SanDisk. After downloading and extracting the firmware to the root of the TF card, i have a folder called "__aio", and the loader itself, "akmenu4.nds" (these files should be placed in the root of the TF card). The file structure inside the folder is like so:
The cheats are located in the "cheats" folder and can be in either .dat or .xml format, the loader has an inbuilt function to automatically update the usrcheat.dat file over wifi by downloading it directly from narin's cheat compilation (hosted on GBATemp.net), which is quite handy if you have a wifi connection.
Just like the ezv or an official cart, the ak2 will first boot to the menu (instead of overriding it), so you can see their pretty little logo every time you turn on your ds.
The first time you boot the card you will be taken to a menu with two icons. The first is an icon of a TF card, this will take you to the root of your TF. the second icon is a gba cart, this will let you use the ak2 as a passme and boot your slot 2 in ds mode.
Next up: the skinning: the AK2 is quite easy to skin (i even made this one myself) and even has a skin maker available from the acekard site (here).
The top screen will constantly display a calendar and clock and while making a skin you have an option to diplay the ds's name as well (how cool is that). the ak2's gui is basically a complete replica of the AceKard RPG's, and skins are interchangeable (rpg skins can be used on AK2 and vice versa). By pressing the "select" button will switch between icon and list mode, "A" is the confirm button, "B" the cancl, and "Y" can be used to view the file's information (Rom info, codes and an option to make a shortcut for that file). The "R" shoulder button is used to control brightness and the "L" button goes up one folder.
The coolest feature in the acekard menu is the start button (the location of this is customizable in the skinning options). Tapping the word "Start" will bring up the start menu. which will give you several options.
"Copy", "Cut", "Delete", and "Paste" do let you change the location of files and can be used to share files between TF and nand if using the RPG.
"Patches" - lets you customize settings for : download play, soft-reset, autorun (runs last game played) chets and which cheat file is used (usrcheat.dat or cheat.xml).
"System Options" - lets you change the theme, the language, the brightness, the display options (ds files+sav files, just ds files or all files), trim rom while copying (very handy) and whether you want to use the internal text viewer or a plugin text viewer
"Properties" - does the same as pressing "Y"
"3in1" - lets you customize how it handles the ez flash 3-in-1
"cheats" - takes you to the cheat menu for the selected rom
"update DB" - lets you wirelessly update you usrcheat.dat file over wifi
"Help" - show button commands for various system options
The AceKard's menu is alot quicker and more responsive than that of other carts i've used (especially the slow-ass ez4)
video of Acekard 2 running SSBR
All tests were conducted with both a 2Gb Japanese Kingston and 2GB chinese sandisk.
Firmware used is AKAIO v1.2
All roms i tried worked perfectly.
All games i tested worked great.
Feel The Magic - PASS
Pheonix Wright Ace Attorney - PASS
Jam Sessions - PASS
L - the prologue to death note - PASS
Professor layton. - PASS
Neves - >PASS
The Legend of Zelda - Phantom Hourglass - PASS
(and many others)
Auto-DLDI patching works great.
Crocodingus - PASS
DSOrganis - PASS
GBA Backup tool - PASS
NDS Backup tool 3in1 - PASS
Still Alive DS - PASS
Super Smash Bros. Rumble - PASS
BIOS Dumper - PASS
(and many more)
The acekard uses the same save type (512kb) as type as the EDGE, R4, M3 and many other cards. It saves to either "*GAMENAME*.nds.sav" or "*GAMENAME*.sav" (changable via menu)
Additional Features Auto-DLDI Patching
Works perfectly (see above). Boot to slot-2 (PassMe mode)
Unfortunately i could not test this feature as i no longer have a slot 2 (except for the 3in1). Language Support
The AK2 supports several different languages which can be changed in the system options.
To summarise, this card is a high quality cart for an extremely low price ($14), if you've got some spare cash, then i highly recommend you get yourself one of these, you won't regret it. Pros
+ easily customizable skins
+ Alot of the menu is customizable
+ Very quick and stylish menus
+ Can manage files from within gui
+ MicroSDHC compatible
+ 100% ROM compatibility
+ 100% Download Play compatibility
+ Soft Reset works 100%
+ Cheat system works great
+ Auto-DLDI patching Cons
- plastic is kind of cheap
- there have been reports of a bad batch failing after about a month (has apparently been fixed now)