- XG2Lite 128M Flash
Cart with USB Writer
17th July 2003)
The XG2Lite is one of those Game Boy Advance flash
linker devices that's well known to programmers, game
developers, and emulation enthusiasts. Not being any
of those, I'm reviewing this product from the point-of-view
of an average consumer who just happens to be curious
about gadgets like these.
Basically, a flash linker is a device that lets one
write data onto an erasable cartridge, usually in the
form of files called ROM images. An important function
of these devices is to test and run hundreds of freeware
ROMs that can be found from other sources--these consist
of various GBA demos to very good homebrewed games.
Unfortunately, said ROM images also encompass commercial
games, of which the issue of legality becomes a very
touchy subject that's constantly open to debate. Since
is this just a plain hardware review, we're not touching
on the legal aspect here. An important caveat about
this device is that it is not an official product that's
supported or endorsed by Nintendo, and its use is for
backup purposes only; similar warnings are also plastered
on the XG2Lite box itself.
XG2Lite Feature List
* Supports Plug&Play on Windows 98/ME/2000/XP.
Small USB Loader - 61 x 62 x 21mm.
* Fast download
speed - 360 Sec for 256M ROM image.
* Power Saving
- Over 15 hours continuos use.
* Upgradeable Firmware.
Built-in high capacity 3.6V rechargeable battery.
The XG2Lite also supports various utilities that
can extend the capabilities of the GBA. These utilities,
most of which are written by hobbyist GBA coders, include
programs that will allow you to watch videos and photos,
listen to music or even read electronic books on your
GBA. These programs are usually free, can be found easily
on the Internet, and are only limited by the capacity
of your Flash cart.
What's in the package?
The basic XG2Lite package contains the writer, one
blank flash cart, one USB link cable, and a floppy disc
containing the drivers and software;
there's even a free Sun Filter lens for the standard
GBA included as a bonus. First thing I noticed right
off the bat is that XG2Lite writer is small and compact
as compared to other flash devices; it's roughly the
size of two GBA cartridges laid side by side, and the
entire thing is even smaller than a closed GBA SP.
XGWriter, XG2Lite Flash card,
and supplied USB cable.
comparison of the XGWriter
and a GBA SP.
Installation & USB Connection
Installation should have been easy enough, but there
are no printed instructions anywhere in the package,
making this process bewildering for neophytes. I also
hit a snag when I attempted to copy the drivers and
Manager program onto my PC's hard disk--the .zip file
on the included floppy was corrupted and couldn't be
read. So off to the XG2 web site I went, and promptly
downloaded the latest version (v2.20) of their drivers
and manager program. Remember, it's
always advisable to get the latest driver and software version
for your Operating System.
Once everything was copied to a folder in my hard
drive, the next step was to plug the writer to your
PC's USB port. Immediately Windows detected this new
USB hardware and installed the proper drivers for it.
The only thing left to do was to launch the XGFlash
XGWriter in action, with the XG2Lite
flash cart inside.
The XG FLash Manager
Using the program was straightforward enough; just
add whatever ROM image you want to flash on the cart,
and press "Write all" once you're done. The
selected ROMs will display their corresponding ROM size
and Saver size, and there's also a handy indicator at
the bottom bar that tells you how much space the cart
has left so you can keep track.
XG2 Flash Manager program, showing ROMS
be written to the cart.
Flash times are somewhat of a breeze, thanks to the
USB connection, and the software includes an easy to
use menu generator that's enabled by default--this menu
pops up after you load the cart into your GBA. The data
flashed on the cart is highly reliable, including precious
saved game data, thanks to the cart's rechargeable battery.
I've flashed and reflashed data on the cart lots of
times now, with the data always intact; I've yet to
encounter any problems with it.
Menu displayed on the GBA SP.
The XG2Lite is not without its problems though--the
USB connection to PC isn't always that good. Most of
the time the XGFlash Manager program will detect both
writer and cart, but sometimes it doesn't. At times
it will detect the writer but not the cart, and sometimes
it detects the cart but not the data stored inside it,
which can be rather frustrating.
Now I'm not a techie guy, I'm more of a "plug
& play" type of person, and I've connected
all sorts of devices to my PC via the USB port--infrared
adapters, multi-card readers, bluetooth dongles, etc.--all
without resorting to reading manuals or consulting web
sites. But this is the first time I've encountered a
USB device that the PC doesn't always detect. I can
say that every time I launch the Manager program, it
detects the writer & cart about 70% of the time.
The problem can't be the device itself, since its
status light is always "on" the moment it's
plugged in, and checking Windows' Device Manager shows
everything about the device to be OK, drivers and all.
I even tried this on another PC, and the results were
the same, so I'm perplexed as to what's causing this--The
cable? The software? The Windows 98 OS on both test
Another thing about the software, if you flash several
ROMs on the cart, the next time the Manager program
reads the cart, only the first ROM will be shown, with
the remaining ROMs nowhere to be found, causing me to
think that the Manager program itself is somewhat buggy.
In spite of these, the XG2Lite does what's it made
for really well, and that is to function as a backup
flash writer. It's small, unobtrusive, and compact,
with an easy to use Manager program. Its USB connection
provides speedy flash times without the use of an external
power source, and a rechargeable battery in the flash
cart assures you that save data is retained without
The only thing that's keeping me from giving this
device a 5-star rating is the weird connection problem
I've encountered, which could probably be also limited
to my unit.