How to recover a half-flashed DS with an R4DS or M3 Simply

Posted by Dave Wickham

First off, neither Matt or myself condone piracy. Not a single commercial DS game has gone anywhere near the microSD that I use with my R4. I’ve even gone to the extent of banning Google ads from advertisers who have advertised such products with phrases such as “Download Nintendo games for free!” (when I’ve been able to determine the domain without clicking on the ad, that is). My R4 and EZ-Flash 3-in-1 are used solely for DS and GBA homebrew (such as the oh-so-addictive tetattds and luminesweeper), but the details of that are deserving of a whole different article.

Now, with that out of the way, on to the core of this post: recovering semi-bricked DSs. If you’ve come to this post from a search engine, then you probably already know what FlashMe is. For those who don’t, it’s a replacement firmware for the DS (or DS Lite) that does a number of things like let you boot DS code directly from the front slot (normally you’d need a slot 1 device such as a PassMe or NoPass, as well as a slot 2 cart), boot unsigned code via the Download and Play option, strip out the health and safety screen, and add a failsafe recovery mode. Obviously installing this completely and utterly voids your warranty.

Flashing a DS is normally a fairly painless process. With DS Lites it’s a bit harder, due to being more compact, but still fairly simple. Unfortunately, if your DS chooses to turn off during the flashing process (like mine did), you can’t boot. Thankfully, FlashMe writes a failsafe bootloader that’s just able to boot DS code from slot 1 or 2 (accessed by holding start and select at poweron), so as long as this was successfully written, you can at least use your DS for more than just a paperweight. Unfortunately, trying to run FlashMe (or, in fact, any .nds files) from an R4DS (or M3 Simply, since they’re the same hardware) when in this recovery mode results in the following:

R4 fails to load any files :(

Oh dear. Not good. Thankfully, chishm, a well-known developer in the DS homebrew community, recently reverse engineered the R4′s encryption system, producing the r4crypt tool. Now, you know the _DS_MENU.DAT files you get in the R4 updates? They’re just encrypted NDS files. Can you see where this is going? Yup, you guessed it, encrypt flashme.nds, and save it as _DS_MENU.DAT in the root of your microSD card.

To make it easier for those who just want the instructions, here’s a step-by-step guide (obviously I accept NO responsibility for anyone damaging their DS further):

  • Download r4crypt.
  • Encrypt your FlashMe file, with r4crypt -e flashme.nds _DS_MENU.DAT.
  • Copy _DS_MENU.DAT to the root of your microSD card.
  • Power on with start and select held.
  • Follow the FlashMe instructions as before (note: be sure to plug your DS in, for security.)
  • Enjoy your un-bricked DS!

You will, of course, have to put the R4/M3 Simply _DS_MENU.DAT back on to be able to use it properly again.

I hope this information will be of use to some people, and I would like to thank chishm so very much for both writing r4crypt, and for telling me how to do this on IRC.

48 Responses to “How to recover a half-flashed DS with an R4DS or M3 Simply”

  1. alex Says:

    Are there any other slot-1 cards that I can use to bring my half-flashed ds back from the dead?

  2. Dave Wickham Says:

    I would imagine most should just work – the standard recovery procedure (start+select on power on) checks both slot 1 and slot 2 for bootable DS code. (Older versions of FlashMe only check slot 2, and use start+select+A+B.) The problem with the R4DS is that you can’t boot any .nds files once booted, so you need to replace the launcher.

    If you already have a flash cart of some description, I’d recommend just trying to boot it in recovery mode, and choosing FlashMe. If you can’t boot any files, or the launcher doesn’t properly boot, search around on the web for a way to replace the launcher or auto-boot a .nds file on power on.

    If you used a recent version of FlashMe (7 and above?), and can’t get the DS to boot anything with FlashMe’s recovery combination, not even commercial DS carts, it’s possible that your DS died before the recovery code could be written – in this case, your best bet is to do some hardware modification and use ppflash, from DarkFader’s DS page. I’ve not personally had any experience of having to do this, but instructions are in the zip.

  3. Nibert Says:

    I bricked my ds because it turned off at 11% using flashme. I could get it to flash the loading screen of the R4 but nothing else then I came across this and it worked flawlessly. Thanks a lot!

  4. Richard Says:

    Please help i was trying to do something and i accidentally deleted my _DS_MENU.DAT How do i get another one?

  5. Dave Wickham Says:

    You can just grab the latest R4 kernel – it contains everything you need to have a working R4.

  6. Patrick Says:

    What if when you boot the fail safe mode with an R4 in and the loading screen is the only thing that appears at first what do you do then? Because I hold START+SELECT when I turn on my DS and all I get is the loading screen for a split second. What should I do?

  7. Dave Wickham Says:

    That’s what this blog entry’s all about – follow it to fix your DS.

  8. Patrick Says:

    I know that but I can’t even get to the screen where it says three options that are game, multimedia, and Slot-2 after the loading screen it just goes black.

  9. Dave Wickham Says:

    That’s why you need to follow the process I detailed, replacing the R4′s loader, for it to work.

  10. Patrick Says:

    I just tried using the r4crypt thing and I keep getting an error and I can’t use it for some reason.

  11. Dave Wickham Says:

    What error did you get?

  12. Patrick Says:

    Here’s what it says when I run it:it says r4crypt.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience. That’s what the error says.

  13. Dave Wickham Says:

    I’m not sure, then, sorry – never used it in Windows, so have no idea what would cause that. There’s another tool linked to in the thread, you could try that out.

  14. Patrick Says:

    okay thanks for trying to help anyway.

  15. Patrick Says:

    Okay I found a way to make it work now how do I encrypt to the _DS_MENU.dat file.

  16. Patrick Says:

    Nevermind I fixed my DS. That saved me a bunch of money.

  17. Bob the ninja Says:

    I cant get the .exe to open either. Can someone just post a copy of flashme thats been encrypted or some help of any kind? Thx

  18. Sam the SAMURAI Says:

    Here you go. I used flashme_stealth.nds v7 and renamed it to “_ds_menu.dat”.
    USE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK! Also, while I’m not new to computers, I have only just bought a DS myself, so I’m no expert.
    —Please report a success or failure!—
    http://upload2.net/page/download/kNNLd4kgkkbukwF/fme.zip.html

    If you get problems, put the “Msvcr80.dll” file in the same directory as r4crypt.exe
    You can create a txt file in notepad and rename it to “run-me.bat” or something. Put this line into your txt file: r4crypt.exe -e flashme.nds _DS_MENU.DAT

    Enjoy.
    —In return, could someone please post the “r4denc.zip” file from Yasu using upload2.net? The link is broken.—

  19. Sam the SAMURAI Says:

    Just realized there is a newer version of flashme. I used v7 above.

    http://home.comcast.net/~olimar/flashme/

  20. Shrekie Says:

    I bricked my ds lite!!!
    All i get is two blank screens! and start+select doesnt work, neither does Start, select A+B!!
    I think i truely bricked mine!!

  21. Matt Bailey Says:

    Have you tried the above method?

  22. Abir Says:

    ok so i got an r4 but every time i use it in any ds it shows the loading screen and then it turns off. i was wandering if there is a right way of using the r4 or is my r4 just messed up.

  23. James Says:

    i axadently deleted my ds game from my r4 chip and now i dont know how to get it back?

  24. Austin Says:

    for some reason, i turned on my ds, and it would freeze at the game select menu. then, when i checked out wat was wrong, all my games were gone, but the games that aren’t there are, for some reason, still taking up space, so now i’ve lost 1.5 gb worth of space.( i only hav 24.4 mb of space on my r4, but the properties page says that i have 1.5 gb on it) SOMEONE PLZ HELP ME!!!!!

  25. sam Says:

    can somebody make an already encrypted flashme ds menu as i dont know how to do it and it wont let me run the program my email is housam8@gmail.com

  26. Ady Says:

    I think i bricked my ds, i put in an dstt card and now nothing happens when i switch on, when
    plugging in the charger the light will briefly flash orange, i want to follow the instructions above as i have an R4 but haven’t got a clue how to do it, what does encrypt mean? also where do i get flash me?

    Please help

  27. TImothy Says:

    this is how you encrypt it. It will also avoid the errors u got.
    For XP:
    1.go to start and click RUN
    2. Type in cmd
    3.copy the files to lets say C:\
    4.type in cd C:\ (this means change directory to C:\)
    5. type r4crypt.exe -e flashme.nds _DS_MENU.DAT
    6.copy the new _DS_MENU.DAT to the root of ur Micro SD card

    For Vista:
    1.go to start and type in cmd in the search
    2.copy the files to lets say C:\
    3.type in cd C:\ (this means change directory to C:\)
    4. type r4crypt.exe -e flashme.nds _DS_MENU.DAT
    5.copy the new _DS_MENU.DAT to the root of ur Micro SD card

    good luck! and thanks Dave! it worked because i would of brought it to the repair center.

  28. Jon Says:

    Awesome! Thank you so much. You just totally saved my bacon!

  29. sam Says:

    It worked thanks! I didnt get to my ds till 2 years later LOL!

  30. Willems Says:

    Hey, just reading…thought I’d show theres interest!

    ~Steve…

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