Flash2Advance is a piece of hardware designed by a Hongkong-based company,
allowing to transfer data forward and backward between a PC and a Gameboy
Advance. This article will give you a quick overview of my personal
experience using it.
I had been planning to buy this for months and finally decided it was the
right time to do it as the dollar is quite low compared to the euro those
days. After browsing a few websites, I decided to order mine directly in
Hongkong as it seemed cheaper. The company I dealt with is called Success,
and the ordering process went smoothly. They use Worldpay servers when
you're at the point of paying, so Success don't actually have access to
your credit card details, or at least that's what they claim. In my case,
the delivery address and the one on my credit card details were different
as I wanted them to send the package at my workplace. Obviously that must
have sounded a bit suspect to Success, and they asked me to mail/fax them
a copy of an ID to ensure I was the actual owner of the credit card.
Finally the package reached England after 4 days, and since I chose the
UPS-delivery, I was able to track the parcel on the internet in the
meantime. Success did really a good job for me, let's hope they're as
efficient for the rest of their customers...
So what's in the box?
- a USB cable that connects the PC to the external port of the GBA ;
- a flash-memory cartridge, whose size depends on your wealth (from 64
megabit to 256 megabit - 8 megabytes to 32 megabytes for us computer
- and optionally another piece of hardware called GB Bridge (not pictured
here) that connects between the console and the flash cartridge. It's
necessary if you want to play Gameboy Colour games on your GBA or if you
have a Gameboy Colour and plan to use the flash cartridge with it (in that
case it seems you'll need a GBA anyway to flash the cartridge).
On the software side, the USB cable comes with a CD-R with the USB
drivers, the flash program and lots of freeware ROMs (mostly games, but
some scene demos as well). A CD-R? Yep, that looks a bit cheap, but I
guess as the software evolves quickly, they cannot afford to press large
amounts of silver CD. The installation went flawless, and after a reboot,
the GBA is ready to run unofficial programs!
The flash program is quite basic, but does the job. You drag and drop the
ROM files you wish to flash on the cartridge and then launch the flashing
process. Once the programs are flashed on the cartridge, you cannot alter
them... For instance if you have already 3 programs flashed and want to
copy a fourth one, you have to reflash the whole cartridge with the 4
programs. Not really flexible, but flashing a new cartridge is not that
tedious anyway: it takes around 5 minutes for 256 megabit.
By the way, in case you have several programs on the cartridge, a small
menu appears when starting the GBA and you can then choose the one you
want to run. Games are usually 4 or 8 megabytes and demos generally much
smaller, so you can fit plenty of them on the biggest cartridge!
PogoShell is another piece of software that adds a GUI and multimedia
features on top of that. So when you boot-up the GBA, not only you can
choose which program you want to run, but also display text-files (useful
to transform your console into an e-book), watch BMP pictures or even
listen to soundtracker modules! Moreover, you can create directories for
your files for increased clarity. As you can see on the screenshot, the
GUI is originally based on Windows look, but it's fully customisable. I
know there's a Workbench-like version available somewhere, so nothing
stops you to create a GEM-like interface!
I've been using the whole kit for a month, and I'm very positive about it
so far. Games or demos work perfectly, even within Pogoshell. It is
theoretically possible to copy the games saves back to the PC, but I
haven't really tried to do it yet, as it seems to be a bit tricky. They
are plenty of quality games available, be they commercial or homegrown,
and the quality of GBA demos is increasing steadily, the latest releases
being quite impressive. I know GBA emulators on PC are nearly perfect now,
but as usual, nothing beats the real thing! Moreover you will admit that
watching good demos on a device that fits in your pocket is somehow cool!
Success ask approximately 25 euros for the USB cable, and the 64, 128 and
256 megabit cartridges are respectively sold 36, 60 and 93 euros. The GB
Bridge costs 17 Euros. Note that they sell bundles with everything if you
want to save money. Postage costed me around 25 euros, quite expensive I
admit, but then it's with UPS and it's quick: it just took 4 days for me.
Another thing, a couple of weeks after I purchased my GBA kit, Success
started selling a new GBA flashing solution quite similar to Flash2Advance
(even superior on some points), but around 20% cheaper... Grrr, quite
typical! The name is EZFlash, but then I don't know how good it actually
In a nutshell, I'm really glad I finally took the decision to invest some
money in a flash catridge, as it dramatically widen the potential use of
an innocent Gameboy. Indeed, in addition to the hundreds of "free" games
you can now enjoy, it enables you to watch demos, listen to modules and
read books on it!
Finally some links you may find useful:
- Official Flash2Advance website: www.flash2advance.com
- Success mail-order website: www.success-hk.com
- Pogoshell homepage: www.obsession.se/pocket/
Do not hesitate to drop me a line if you have any question that has been
left unanswered by my article: firstname.lastname@example.org