Last Update: April 16, 2008
I have owned a Nintendo DS for a couple months now and I have been very impressed with the homebrew scene. I purchased a Supercard DS Lite and the Superpass card for my DS. I have loaded on some very cool apps.
This is a recap of the “must haves” or “must try” at the least. I will include a bit more info about how to do it as well. If you don’t know what homebrew is, it is applications and games written by people on their own time that are available freely on the internet. There are some great developers out their that have some very cool projects on the go. You will be surprised.
This page is divided up into the following sections:
- How Can I Run Homebrew?
- Great Applications
- Great Games
- Excellent Resource Sites for Nintendo DS Homebrew
How Can I Run Homebrew?
The simplest way is to shell out the cash for a the hardware. This is a flash card. There are a million out there. You will hear about Slot-2 and Slot-1 solutions. Basically, Slot-2 uses the Gameboy Advance cartridge slot as well as the DS cartridge slot and the Slot-1 just uses the DS cartridge slot.
This is a multimedia application. I have used it to view pictures and play mp3’s. I just got it to play video finally. I download the latest version 1.71 and it works just fine. Video is nice and smooth too.
The video/audio player has lots of features too. The graphics are slick. You can set the playback of a file to loop, go the next song, stop, or even turn off the DS itself.
Also included is the option to open a file as text. Might be handy to read a text file if you want. If only you could use it to edit now and be able to delete files on the fly.
I just found this application in August of 2007. Update: A new version has come out in September of 2007. It is absolutely fantastic. A painting program that is simple to use, yet has a lot of control. It is even pressure sensitive to the stylus being pressed against the screen. It give you a more natural control over how dark your paint brush stroke is.
Your paint can even have opacity to let the other layers show through. This is definitely worth loading up just to play with it. There is a gallery with some very neat pictures in it.
Check out this sample image I pulled from their site.
PDA type software for your DS. Makes it that much more functional. The little calculator is awesome. It gets better and better every time I try it. I just downloaded the latest version (3.1) and they have vastly improved the configuration options to make it very simple. There is a built in IRC client that worked without changing a single setting (I already set up wireless access to my router via Mariokart) and a web browser that can read text pretty good. I can read my blog fairly easily. No pictures, but the content is all there.
An email client. Supports SSL. I have not been able to get it to work yet, but others have so I am including it in this list.
Warcraft Tower Defense
My personal favourite game so far. I loved this custom map on Warcraft 3 and this guy has done an amazing job for the DS. Some of the maps are super tough too.
The basic idea of the game is to create a guantlet to kill enemy units as they pass through. Each map has a predefined path for enemies to walk along. The map includes a schedule that sends groups of monsters of various abilities down the path. Each enemy that gets to the end of the path subtracts one from your life. You basically need to find the right combinations of defense towers and place them in the spots that will give them maximum exposure to the enemies.
The only thing left is to wait for multiplayer and it will be a fantastic game.
This is the most polished homebrew game I have yet played. It is second only to Warcraft Tower Defence as a homebrew game in my opinion. It is basically a very polished, simple version of Civilization. It feels like a commercial game because he has done all the bells and whistles for this game. Here are some of the features:
- Free Play Mode where you can just practice by your self.
- Versus CPU to challenge a computer opponent. First to 100,000 population or destroy the other island.
- Scenarios where you have to complete a specific task. i.e. Grow the population to 500 before the time runs out.
- Save your game! If you have SRAM on your homebrew cart.
- Save your replay. You can watch your game. Same SRAM requirement.
- Nice menu system with more options to turn off music and sound.
Note: For those of you just getting start with the homebrew scene, this is the simplest game to get running. It does not need file access in the game so it does not need DLDI patching (if you don’t know what that is, I explain it in an article. Just search for it.). It also runs on both the emulator (no$gba for me) and NDS with minimal effort.
This is the version of Quake for the NDS right now. It has a number of advantages over DSQuake.
The author has also ported Quake to the DS amazingly well. I downloaded the file, renamed it, put it on my memory card, and started playing. It is really that easy.
The file you download includes the shareware version of the game. It works quite well too. The graphics look good, there is sound, and the frame rates are excellent. Hopefully there will be music eventually and the sound and graphics could be cleaned up a bit as there are some funky noises and you can see through walls sometimes. I noticed my weapon will disappear sometimes even though it is actually still there. QuakeDS (listed above) is definitely the superior version, but this is worth a mention.
Fantastic port of Descent. The frame rates are smooth, it does not crash very often (at least for me), and there is sound (music and effects). He has the explosions working too. I don’t even know what else he needs to implement other than stabilizing, because it feels finished.
This is pretty cool. A hack and slash genre. Basically you run around a kill these gray wolves with your sword. The environment graphics are the most impressive. The gameplay is starting out pretty good. It will be interesting to see where it goes. The only good link I have found so far to download it is here.
Play Super Nintendo ROMS on your DS. Awesome, really. Just find yourself a whole bunch of ROMS. Yes, this is not legal, but who cares anymore. It is a 15 year old system. Some ROMS are flaky, but you can check the compatibility list or try it our yourself.
A Touch of War
This is what the DS needed from the get go. A real-time strategy game. If Blizzard or Westwood Studios could ever republish some of their classics like Warcraft, Starcraft, Command and Conquer, or even Dune, I would be one happy man. Speaking of Dune…AmplituDS is working on a real time strategy engine and has a video of it running Dune II. Unfortunately he is not releasing it.
This is a very cool game. Not much to explain other than it involves cool music and timing your button presses and movements to hit targets on the screen. Successfully hitting series of targets turns on music tracks for a time and increases your score. Seriously try it out. This is my second favorite game right now.
Everyone needs a chess game. This one is based on an open source chess engine called Fruit 2.1. The chess board is on the touch screen so you can drag and drop pieces. When you click on a piece it shows you the available move locations as well. Recommend a move is also implemented. It is small, simple, and very easy to use.
Excellent Resource Sites for Nintendo DS Homebrew
- Wikipedia Entry on HomebrewCheck it out. It will be updated more frequently than this article.
- Drunken CodersThis is one of my favorite sites right now. They offer an RSS feed and keep fairly up to date on the latest releases.
- Dev-Scene’s NDS Homebrew CatalogGo here first for browsing the different releases. These guys are the best source for finding applications thus far.
- Nintendo DS Emulation NewsA few too many ads on their site, but you can get some good news articles on there and information if you want to take the time to look around.
- Neo FlashThey have competitions for homebrew games and applications. Check them out periodically for news.
- DSFanBoySame thing as above. Good news.
- NDS HomebrewGood site. There is a downloads section, but the performance can be slow at times.