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GBA Super Memory Stick




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Review - GBA Super Memory Stick
(Added 4th January 2004)


Currently, the only way you can backup, restore and share your GBA save games is with some form of Flash Card and Linker kit. Even then, the process is tedious since it requires a PC and knowledge on how to set-up and use the software.

Now, however, a new type of portable memory stick especially for the GBA has been released which doesn't require a PC or even batteries to use. Based on rewriteable Flash memory technology, the GBA Super Memory Stick (SMS), as it is called, needs only to be plugged into the GBA EXT. port for almost immediate backup and restoration of saved games.

Features Of The GBA Super Memory Stick

    - Compact thumb size for portability and easy storage. Comes in 4Mb or 8Mb sizes.

    - Uses fast Flash memory for almost unlimited write/erase sessions and speedy read/write operations. No batteries required.

    - Dynamic memory management supports all types of GBA cartridge types e.g. 4Kb/64Kb EEPROM, 256Kb SRAM, 512Kb/1Mb Flash, etc.

    - Supports easy sharing of data between 2 or more SMS.

    - Works on all versions GBA, GBA-SP and GameCube GBA-Player.

What's In The Box

The SMS comes in a blister pack. There are two sizes available, 8Mb and 4Mb. In case you want to do the math, 1MB equals to 8Mb, which in non-technical terms simply means a whole lot of storage space for your saved games.

The SMS itself looks really cool and well designed. It's no bigger than a thumb and has a cap on one end which is pulled off to reveal the connector. The other end has a hole for either attaching to a hand-strap or key-chain. The SMS actually already comes with a nice hand-strap so you can use that if you want.

The SMS and hand-strap.

Using The GBA Super Memory Stick

With the GBA switched off, plug the SMS into the Ext. port and insert the game cartridge that you want to backup the save game from into the GBA.

Next, hold down both the 'Start' and 'Select' button on the GBA and then power on the GBA. Do not release the buttons until you see the start up screen. You will then hear a short initial "dingding" sound followed by a longer "brrring" sound at which point the GameBoy logo will magically disappear and the SMS menu will appear.

The main SMS menu.

As seen on the picture above, the SMS menu has 5 options. You can choose the option you want by using the 'up' and 'down' keys on the direction pad and pressing the 'A' button to activate it. The menu system is very simple and all the information you need is displayed on the screen according to each option you choose. To manage your save games, choose option number 1 which is the File Manager.

File Manager menu.

When you first enter the File Manager menu there will be no games saved. At the bottom of the screen, you will see all the options that you can choose in this menu. So, to backup the current save game data and add it to the SMS memory, simply press the 'Start' button on the GBA.

As soon as you press the 'Start' button, the SMS program will automatically display the current cartridge information and save game data and ask if you want to add it to the SMS memory. Press the 'A' button to continue and the SMS program will then take a short few seconds to process the save data and back it up. It will then return to the main File Manager menu as shown in the picture below.

You will now see the save game data recorded on the SMS memory as item number 01. You will also see the number of save slots used as well as the amount of memory available in the SMS. If you want to backup other save games, turn off the GBA and insert your other cartridges and activate the SMS program as described earlier on.

Restoring a save game is also very easy. All you have to do is access the File Manager menu, choose the save game you want and press the 'A' button on the GBA. After asking you to confirm, the SMS program will then overwrite the save game in your cartridge. You can then start your game by choosing the 'Run Game In Cartridge' option in the main menu.

Choose the file to restore.

Since all the other options in the main menu are self-explanatory and easy to understand, I will briefly describe what each one does. Note, however, that you cannot access the SMS program while playing a game.

Option 2 - SMS-SMS Copy - Use this option to copy data from one SMS to another SMS.

Option 3 - Cartridge Auto Detect - This option will automatically detect the current cartridge and give you the game name, type and size of memory and the amount of memory that it will use in the SMS.

Option 4 - Format SMS - This option will format the SMS and totally erase everything in it. Be very careful with this option.

Option 5 - Run Game In Cartridge - This option will shut down the SMS menu and run the current game in the GBA.

What I Liked About The GBA Super Memory Stick

I liked everything about the SMS. I liked it's small form factor and I liked it's simple and intuitive interface. Aside from knowing how to start the SMS program, all the commands are on-screen and you'll never have to keep referring to the manual.

For me, save games are more important than life itself, and I especially liked the fact that the program doesn't assume to know what you want and will ask for confirmation each time you backup or delete data. This is important, because accidents can happen when you're not paying attention. It's also very fast and most importantly, it worked each and every time I backed up or restored a save game.

Another big plus point is that you can also easily transfer data between 2 SMS, in case you've filled up one, or just want to share a save game with a friend who also has a SMS.

What I Disliked About The GBA Super Memory Stick

There is nothing I disliked about the SMS. One thing I would have liked to see though is some form of password protection to access the menu, not that I'm paranoid or anything, but as a safety measure against a really dumb kid brother or sister who might accidentally or purposely delete everything. Arrgh!!!

Final Comments

The GBA SMS is for me, not only an outstanding product but also a godsend. I play lots of RPGs and save games are very important and so it's absolutely orgasmic to have something like the SMS in my pocket to do an immediate backup whenever and wherever I happen to be playing.

I really can't recommend this product enough. It's small, sexy, easy to use and for a few weeks now, has been working without a hitch. I'd like to make love to it, but since I can't, I'm giving it 5 stars instead for being such an innovative product.

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.