Homebrew solution: CycloDS Evolution

CycloDS Evolution
Slot-1 (All-in-one)
Also needed:
MicroSD card
Price: $53
Find it: Real Hot Stuff

Though it's well regarded by many for its high compatibility with commercial ROMs, the CycloDS Evolution is also gaining popularity for the ease with which one can install and load homebrew games and applications using the slot-1 cart. Its capabilities and dead-simple features come at a premium, and you will need to buy a microSD memory card to use with the cart (we suggest 1GB+), but you'll find very few people who're unhappy with the Team Cyclops product.

So you bought the CycloDS Evolution -- what now?

As with the R4, the CycloDS Evolution kit includes a USB microSD card reader/writer which you can plug into your computer. Both the slot-1 cart and the card reader/writer lack spring mechanisms for popping out the microSD cards, so you'll need to pull them out with a fingernail. This isn't as awkward as it sounds!

The first two things you'll want to do is make sure you have the latest firmware and the MoonShell media player. The official CycloDS Support and Downloads page has links to the latest versions for you to download. Unpackage the files and drag everything into the root of your microSD card (do not rename the "moonshl" folder).

The next time you run the CycloDS cart on your DS, you'll receive a prompt asking if you'd like to update the firmware. Make sure your battery light is green -- you might even want to hook the system up to its charger -- and press A to start the process. It's imperative that you do not turn off your system during the update. After the firmware update is complete, you'll need to restart your DS. The firmware upgrade file will be automatically deleted.

That's easy enough, but how do I set it up for homebrew?

Running homebrew off this cart couldn't be any easier. With the CycloDS' automatic DLDI-patching, you should be able to run most games and applications without having to patch the software. Just drag and drop the NDS files you've downloaded, and you're good to go. It's suggested that you organize your files into folders if you plan to keep a lot on your cart, as the cart's file browser will only list 128 ROMs in a single directory. As the folder named "/CycloDS" is a system folder, make sure not to drag any homebrew files that you plan to play into there.



Once you've started up your Nintendo DS, tapped past the Health and Safety screen, and selected "CycloDS Evolution" from the initial menu screen, you'll be greeted with the simple user interface pictured above. In case it's not obvious, the DS icon will bring you to a file browser that will load the software you've copied onto the microSD card. The headphones icon will open the Moonshell media player for any compatible photos/music/text/video files you have. The third icon, a briefcase, will let you configure different settings, including your DS's current LCD brightness.

How do I customize the CycloDS's main menu?


Ever wanted to see your true love, Sasuke, as soon as you turned on your DS? Or maybe you'd just like a sleek menu screen to match your iPhone? Here's your chance to make your system's graphical user interface really feel like yours!
  1. Find and download a skin you like -- try NDS Themes or the skins section of the Team Cyclops' forum
  2. Unzip the skin folder from the file you've downloaded (e.g. LePetitPrince.zip -> "/LePetitPrince")
  3. Open the "/CycloDS" directory in your microSD card
  4. Create a "/Skins" folder in "/CycloDS"
  5. Drag the skin folder you downloaded into the "/Skins" folder (e.g. "/CycloDS/Skins/LePetitPrince")
  6. Slap the microSD card and CycloDS cart into your DS
  7. Load the CycloDS Evolution cart from the DS's initial menu screen
  8. Head into "Settings/Misc" from the CycloDS menu
  9. Select the "Skin" line and hit the A button or use the directional pad to pick your skin
  10. Voila! You've added and enabled a new CycloDS skin!
What about this "Enhanced Mode" I've been hearing about?

The CycloDS has a unique "Enhanced Mode" menu which users can access at any time, even while playing a game, by hitting A + B + X + Y + L + R buttons simultaneously. The menu offers some really slick options, some of which we'd love to see implemented by Nintendo for future versions of the DS -- LCD brightness adjustments, an in-game reset for returning to the CycloDS main menu without restarting the DS, real-time saving for saving/restoring game states at any time, cheat code toggling, variable slow motion, and a display for the current time.

Unfortunately, at the time of this guide's posting, this Enhanced Mode is only available for commercial games and not for homebrew software. If you're the type to crank up Aerosmith and live on the edge, Team Cyclops currently has a public beta for its new firmware (v1.4 Beta 2) adding an in-game reset for homebrew games and applications, allowing you to return to the CycloDS main menu without restarting the DS. It's not as impressive as the full Enhanced Mode, but the soft reset is still very useful!

Why are some people choosing the CycloDS Evolution over the cheaper R4?

While it's onboard firmware, microSDHC support, and Enhanced Mode offerings are all significant advantages for the CycloDS Evolution, the biggest reason why many are happy to pay $10-20 extra for this cart is its excellent, English-speaking (this is a huge deal!) support staff. In addition to providing great technical support and firmware upgrades with new fixes/features, Team Cyclops keeps an active presence in its own forums. You would expect these points to be standard with most flashcart teams, but it's rare to see a group support its cart this well.

Where can I go to for more in-depth information on the CycloDS Evolution?


Try Team Cyclops' CycloDS Evolution Reference Manual or The CycloDS Wiki!

Features: Automatic DLDI-patching with excellent homebrew compatability, media player (Moonshell), user-friendly and skinnable interface, OS built into onboard flash memory, Enhanced Mode, auto-boot and auto-execute options, and microSDHC support
Accessories: EZ-V 3-in-1 Expansion Pack
Language support: English, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Latin American Spanish,
Korean, Dutch, Greek, Indonesian, Malaysian, Russian, and Tagalog


Jargon flying right over your head? Check out our homebrew glossary for more information!





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This article was originally published on Joystiq.