Every(?) Nintendo 3DS cartridge banner in one video

The Nintendo 3DS is/was a beloved console with an incredible library of games. While a vast number of digital-only games that will disappear when Nintendo closes its 3DS and Wii U stores, we still have the physical copies and the little banners when you insert them which kkclue painstakingly put together in this video. Here’s why it was painstaking:

I would just like to take a moment to tell you that this project was cursed. The fact that I was able to get this video out at all is a blessing.

This is a sequel to a video I made in June 2020 called Please insert a disc, where I showcased Wii banners.

I started hypothesizing about what could come next, and doing a video on Nintendo 3DS banners seemed like the logical next step.

About a month after working on the original video, I started planning for the 3DS video. Little did I know the amount of work it would take (and the money I would have to spend) to make this idea happen.

Emulation was a no-go, because Citra’s Home Menu emulation is very poor and very unstable, to say the least. I even tried vvctre, another 3DS emulator, in which the Home Menu support was better, but I couldn’t get a solid 60FPS out of it. And even if I could, installed titles wouldn’t show up on the Home Menu, so I couldn’t view the banners.

Wirelessly streaming the screen through softmodding looks horrible. It’s compressed, it’s slow, it’s extremely inconsistent, and you’re losing a lot of frames through the process.

So, my next option was to hardmod a real 3DS to capture video from it.

First of all, capture boards are expensive. All the big names have disappeared, and the only ones left are tiny, indie businesses, and they can hike up their prices all they want, because they know there’s no competition. I ended up spending around $200 just on capture boards/cables, including shipping.

Long story short, hardmodding a 3DS is…difficult. I handed them off to someone with tons of experience that I trusted greatly with hardware modding, and even in those extremely capable hands, the lives of two New Nintendo 3DS consoles were lost that week.

Now, the problem is, they don’t make Nintendo 3DS consoles anymore. They’ve been discontinued for a while now. The consoles I had were in very good condition, and could’ve gone for $300-400 each. They were reduced to scrap during surgery.

So, now I’m out the money I spent on capture boards, and I don’t have a single Nintendo 3DS to my name. After a few months of mourning the loss of my handhelds, I felt like I wasn’t ready to end this story on a sour note.

Looking on eBay, there are always a few pre-modded 3DS consoles with a capture board, for comically insane prices. Like, $2,500-3,000, come on.

After months of looking, I got in contact with a person on eBay that was willing to sell me a New Nintendo 3DS LL (a Japanese 3DS XL) that was pre-modded with a capture board. It was somewhere in the ballpark of $750. Still horrifically overpriced, but I couldn’t pass it up, after getting this far.

I receive the 3DS, but the problem is, it’s a Japanese 3DS. It can’t play my USA region games. So, I have to softmod it — nothing I haven’t dealt with before. I make that happen, and ditch the region lock. Another problem. All of the game’s banners are in Japanese, because it’s still a J-region unit.

Nothing that can’t be fixed with a little softmodding, right? So, I do a CTRTransfer to change the system region over to USA.

Things are looking up. I dump the home menu, and edit it to remove all the extraneous data from the top screen (date, time, steps, internet connection, battery life, etc.) to prep for recording. I create a theme to replace the background with a flat blue-grey color, so the 3D cartridge background wouldn’t look so jarring when the video cuts.

I reached out to the developer of the 3DS tool custom-install, ihaveahax, to ask if it would be possible to install a title to the database with the game’s banner and nothing else, since mass-installing games with their entire romFS takes a long time, and wastes a lot of space. He was kind enough to edit custom-install to do exactly what I needed. If you’re reading this, this project wouldn’t have been possible without you. Thank you so much!

There’s another problem. The console is horribly unstable. I don’t know if it was the region change, the home menu editing, the dummy titles — but sometimes, seemingly at random, the console will hard crash with an exception error. The console will no longer boot until you restore a NAND dump. The Nintendo 3DS is a very delicate creature.

Every time the 3DS booted up without crashing was a blessing. Now that this project is done, I don’t have to live with the constant anxiety that this 3DS is going to die before I’m done recording.

And even then, I still had to edit the whole thing. Organizing all the clips, syncing up the video with the audio in a satisfying and natural way, etc.

I’m releasing this video to compensate for everything I lost while making it. Thank you for the ad revenue.

Video description for the above

Yikes. Well, you heard them: go watch!

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