The Nintendo DS Release Standards v1.0

The Nintendo DS scene started out as an extension of the Gameboy Advance scene,
and carried forward with mostly the same set of rules.  However, as the years
have progressed, it has become clear that a formal set of rules tailored
specifically to the Nintendo DS console would be useful.  The goal of this
document is to establish a clear and concise listing of what should be expected
of a valid Nintendo DS release.  Having an official list to reference should
prevent needless nuking, and clean up what is at present a cluttered and
confused scene.

I. Basic Release Requirements

A release must consist of at least two things:

1) A Nintendo DS title _OR_ a patch for a Nintendo DS title


2) An Information File (.NFO)

II. Nintendo DS Title Specifics

The title must be dumped from a retail cartridge, and the dump must be complete.
It is essential that we define "complete", as this has lead to confusion in the
past.  An NDS title is defined as being complete when all used assets and
resources are included.

This includes the ARM executable binaries and overlays, all files within the
NitroFS, and the banner for the title.  The secure area must be decrypted.

This excludes unnecessary padding.  Needless bytes of 00 or FF at the end of
files serve no purpose and may be removed.  Header bytes with no game
functionality are also unnecessary for a complete dump.

The release must work.  If a title has protection, it must be cracked prior to
release.  Non-working releases should be nuked.  If a title is non-obviously
protected, and it is discovered to need a crack only after an uncracked version
has been released, the uncracked release may be nuked.  A later _CRACKED_
release will take precedence, and is a valid proper.  Groups are expected to
release working content, and will be held liable as such.  Uncracked titles
should be released as INTERNAL or _UNCRACKED_ or not at all.

III.  Patch Specifics

A patch may be either a trainer, crack, language selector, save fix, or some
other modification or tool.  This definition is intentionally open-ended to
leave open the possibility of new types of patches in the future.  While .BDF
and .IPS are the most common formats, any format of patch is legal, so long as
there is a working and publicly available patcher.  Including a patcher and
.BAT file to automate the patching process is recommended, though not mandatory.

Patches must not break game functionality.  The .NFO must include which cart(s)
and relevant firmware the patch was tested on.  If it is later discovered that
the patch does not work on the cart(s) listed, the patch may be nuked as broken.
If the patch does not work on some cart, and it was not stated that the patch
was tested on that cart, this is not grounds for nuke.  It is unrealistic to
demand that groups purchase every variation of available cart to test their
patches, and they should not be punished as if this were the expectation.

1.  Trainers

Trainers are still subject to dupe rules.  If a trainer has already been
released, a trainer released afterwards with an equal or fewer number of
options is a dupe and should be nuked.  A trainer released afterwards with more
options is valid.  The exception is by game region.  If a patch works only with
a particular region release of a game, a later patch that works with different
regions of the game is valid.  Any subsequent trainers for the new region are
subject to dupe.

2.  Cracks

If a crack only partially removes protection, it is incomplete and may be nuked
as broken.  Cracks should be tested, and it should be stated within the .NFO
which cart(s) the crack was tested on.  Cracks can not be nuked because some
carts can't properly handle the save routines.

IV.  .NFO Specifics

The release must include a .NFO.  The file must be a plain-text document and at
least include the name of the title (or the name of the title that the patch
corresponds to).  Other suggested items to include are region, file size, file
name, title description, and date which the release is pre'd.

While it is not required, .NFO's for patches should include a full description
of the function of the patch, and instructions on how it may be applied.  The
.NFO should make reference to the directory name of the intended release to be

V.  Packing

Releases must use compression.  While maximum compression is recommended, any
level of compression higher than "Store" is acceptable.  The compressed archive
must contain the Nintendo DS file or patch.  Passworded archives are forbidden.
The .NFO must be included within the directory, outside of the archive(s).
Releases may be packed in one of two ways:

1) ZIP

There must be a single .ZIP, and it must contain the entire game or patch file.
The release must also include a .NFO and a FILE_ID.DIZ  The .DIZ file is a
plain-text document that must contain at least the game name.

2) RAR

The .RAR must be split into 5,000,000 byte parts.  Included within the
directory must be a .SFV file corresponding to the archive(s) and a .NFO file.

VI.  Directory Naming

The directory name must include the full name of the title, the text "NDS", and
the group name.  As all Nintendo DS releases are region-free, region labelling
for the first English release of a title is optional.  However, if a release
does not contain English as a selectable language, or contains English but has
been preceeded by another release that also contains English, the directory
name must also specify the source region of the title.

Directories may contain the following characters:


Sample directory names:


VII.  Valid and Invalid Releases

This section should not be necessary, but the recent prevalence of many
unnecessary nukes has made it clear that there is some confusion about what is
and is not valid.  With the exception of flat-out dupes, anything that follows
all the necessary clauses listed above is a valid release.  What this means is
that anything that is not listed is not relevant to whether or not a release is
valid.  The goal is to release working copies of Nintendo DS titles.  Intros
and cracktros do not prevent a release from playing, and their inclusion is not
a valid reason for a nuke.  The same goes for "inaccurate" headers, trimmed
releases, remastered filesystems, and any other modification, intentional or
not, that does not affect the functionality of the title.  Demanding 1:1 copies
would lead to games being broken and unplayable.  As evidenced by recent
movements to redump hundreds of titles to "correct" their headers, it would
also lead to countless re-releases of already-working titles.  There is no need
for this.  We hope that this document will make it clear what is expected of
releases, and provide some much-needed structure to a disorganized scene.

All releases released before this ruleset is not subjet to these rules.

These rules have been agreed upon and will be followed by the following groups: