I was reminded of Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times, so I’ve been playing that lately. It’s good. Underrated. I like the dialogue and characters and stuff:
There are a couple of sequels that really flesh things out (untranslated, unfortunately), but this first one had a lot of ideas and was kind-of-unfairly dismissed as a bog standard Animal Crossing clone at the time. Worth a look imo. Konami-published, developed by a studio that assists with a lot of Boku no Natsuyasumi games, with music farmed out to Vanpool.
I’ve also been playing DQM Joker, which (predictably) rules. It’s, like, technologically at a level Pokemon is only just catching up with. But on the DS.
So R4 used to be a specific brand of flashcart waaaaaaaay early back in the DS hacking days. It was one of the early, no-frills carts, and it was pretty heavily cloned for a long time. The original one was super basic, limited to 2 gigabyte SD cards, really rudimentary compared to later cards like the Acekard 2, Supercard DSTwo, etc. that would come with additional features like co-processors, SDHC support, more bells and whistles for homebrew, and a whole bunch of other gimmicks. However, the R4 was still the biggest name in the market, and the hardware was well understood enough that there were legions of clone cards using the R4 name, and tacking a whole bunch of marketing fluff onto it. So while the original was simple and understated:
Nowadays you have a very packed clone market, producing things that look like this:
So these things predictably had a reputation for being junk during the peak years of DS homebrew, but eventually they sort of settled into being reliable-enough cards at around the $10 price point. One of the bigger complaints at the time was that the clone carts didn’t get AP-patches as fast as the big names like Acekard and Supercard, but nowadays you’ll find R4 clones running Wood R4, a modified firmware based off of the original Acekard All-in-One firmware. Those are the ones you want. You’ll need to do some research to see if the one you’re looking at is a decent clone (some of them were built to die on a timer so you’d have to buy a new one) but there are good options out now. There are also Acekard 2 clones, but I don’t know for sure if those support the (unhacked) DSi or not.
Personally, my recommendation for playing DS games in 2023 is to import a DSi from Japan. They skew cheaper than the ones in the US and in my experience going through Japan, you’re much less likely to get a barely-held-together unit that’s been abused by a kid. I don’t think you can change the system language, but you’re going to want to install Twilight Menu anyway to load roms straight of the SD card. It’s the nicest revision of the hardware, and all-told you can get away with spending under fifty bucks, which is killer.