When we tested the original EverDrive GBA X5 flash cart back in 2016, we had plenty of good things to say about it, but the fact that it was bigger than your typical GBA cartridge was ever-so-slightly irksome. It meant that the cart protruded from the GBA’s cartridge slot – a “first world problem” without a doubt, but one which was nonetheless rather annoying.
Progress is an amazing thing, however, because creator Kirkzz has managed to shrink down the PCB and produce the snappily-titled EverDrive GBA X5 Mini – and this time, the cart is pretty much identical in size to a standard GBA game, which means its fits inside the console’s cartridge slot snugly.
Despite the reduced dimensions of the EverDrive GBA X5 Mini, none of the functionality has been lost – but nothing’s been added, either. It uses the same upgradable OS and takes MicroSD cards up to 64GB in size. Save data is supported (save states are not) and you can run also Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Master System and Game Gear games via emulation. That effectively means that an EverDrive GBA X5 Mini is capable of hosting the entire Game Boy library on a single Micro SD card. Getting things set up is a breeze too; it’s simply a case of dragging-and-dropping files to the correct folder using your PC.
The cart retains an internal battery for games that feature a “real-time clock” function, and this can easily be replaced when it runs out – there’s no soldering required. The battery is not used for game save data, so if you’re not bothered about RTC-based games, you should be able to just ignore it once it is exhausted.
While flash carts continue to be something of a questionable concept for many gamers, others see them as a vital means of ensuring that games remain accessible and enjoyable long after they’ve gone out of active circulation, and there’s a burgeoning homebrew community that is reliant on such devices when it comes to playing games on original hardware. Also, if you want to play the unofficial English version of Mother 3 on a real GBA, this is your best option.
Of course, they’re not for everyone – and at £129.99, this isn’t something you’re going to purchase on a whim. We’d also say that if you already own the original EverDrive GBA X5 and aren’t overly concerned about it sticking out of the back of your GBA a little, then it’s probably not worth upgrading to the X5 Mini. However, if you’re new to this flash cart malarky and like the idea of carrying around all of your GBA games on a single cartridge, then we can’t recommend it enough.