The Super Memory Stick (SMS) is a fairly new device which allows you to backup your GBA game saves. The SMS contains either 4Mb or 8Mb of flash memory and is much like the USB Memory sticks on your PC. The length of the SMS is approx two and a quarter inches so its small enough to fit in your pocket, keyring or GBA case. Included in the package is the SMS and a wrist strap, no extra software is required to be installed as this is all contained on the SMS. A simple manual is printed on the back of the packaging.
The SMS is compatible with all types of saves, these include 4Kb/64Kb EEPROM, 256Kb SRAM and 512Kb/1Mb Flash. It is also compatible with both the GBA and GBA SP.
Using the SMS is very easy. You simply connect the SMS to the EXT port on your GBA/SP and insert the game cartridge into the GBA/SP as normal. When you switch on the GBA/SP you hold SELECT+START to initiate the multiboot and after a few seconds the SMS will load the software onto your GBA.
You are then presented with a menu with five options (see screenshots at bottom of this page), these are:
1. SMS File Manager - This is the main function which allows you to backup/restore/delete saves to and from the SMS.
2. SMS-SMS Copy - This allows you to copy save(s) to another SMS if you have one.
3. Cartridge Auto Detect - This gives some information about the currently inserted cartridge.
4. Format SMS - This will format the SMS
5. Run Game in Cartridge - This will start the game on the currently inserted cartridge.
GBA Memory Stick is really small
Everything on the menus is straightforward to use and I had no problems backing up/restoring/deleting/copying saves without checking the guide on the back of packaging. It does exactly what its supposed to do with no problems.
It takes just a few seconds to back up/restore a save to/from the SMS and GBA as the saves are fairly small and also the SMS uses fast Flash memory.
This would have been a short review unless some people asked some questions on the forum. So as part of the review I have answered most of these to give a better judgment of the capabilities of the SMS.
First is compatibility with Flash Cartridges. Unfortunately the SMS isn't fully compatible with these, if you have a multiboot cartridge (more than one game on it) the SMS will only recognise the first save. It works fine on a single game though. This should easily be fixed with a newer software update.
The SMS can be upgraded with new software, no details on how this is done are available at the moment but my guess is that this will be done via a Flash Cartridge and an upgrade ROM. There are plans to update the software to support more features at a later date. Again, my guess is that the very cheap price for the SMS means non Flash Cartridge owners will just buy a newer SMS.
Compatibility with programs using non standard saves. I tried a few homegrown games which use non standard save methods and they worked fine. This looks to be the way the SMS acts when reading the cartridge, it just reads whatever is in the save memory. So while it may not be efficient (it sometimes just defaults to 64Kb size when it may only be 8Kb size) it should work no problems.
I tried PocketNES and the SMS found the save size as 64Kb. It says on the SMS packaging that it supports up to 1Mb Flash Saves so my guess is that if PocketNES uses larger than 64Kb it *should* work. I copied the backed up save to another cart and the save worked fine (probably same reason as above with the non standard saves).
I unfortunately couldn't try PogoShell because I don't have any older Flash cartridges to hand at the moment (I used an EZ2 for this review). My guess is that it will see the save as 64Kb size because of the way PogoShell's save management works. This is untested but it should be possible to back up all of the saves due to the save management of PogoShell. This is done by loading a game in pogoshell so that its save bank is in the first memory block, switch off the GBA/SP and then you then back up this save as normal. If you want to back up another save then you simply load the respective game again, switch off GBA/SP and back up the save. Again, this is untested but *should* work.
Number of saves you can fit on the SMS depends on the size of the saves. The SMS uses 'blocks' as its reference of storage. The 4M version has 1899 blocks and the 8M version has 3798 blocks. A 64Kb save will require approx. 249 blocks so you can fit around seven 64Kb saves on the 4M version, on the 8M version around fifteen saves.
The SMS is a nice device, it will probably appeal more to non flash cartridge owners as they can back up their saves for a very cheap price. The SMS retails for under £10 so its a very cheap buy if you are looking for a way to back up your saves, its also cheap enough to buy as gifts for friends and what with Christmas around the corner it makes an ideal gift. My only fault with the SMS is not being fully compatible with Multiboot Flash Cartridges, hopefully this will be support in future updates/version.
I give the SMS a big thumbs up, if you want a score then its 9 out of 10.