Gamecube Gameboy Player: Essential Retro Hardware

 Obviously I’m a 2D gaming nut. And I’ve also been known to complain that there are rarely any 2D games being released for the normal consoles. All the game developers seem to assume that if a game is 2D, it should be developed for a portable system. (See my post, “Sega, I Dare You” for additional ranting)

While I do enjoy 2D gaming on the go, I enjoy being able to sit down and play 2D games on a big screen. Luckily, I have found a good compromise that lets me play many of the latest 2D games on a modern console with wireless controllers (I love my Wavebirds). The Gamecube’s Gameboy Player is an oft-overlooked accessory that I think is incredibly valuable to anybody who enjoys old-school games.

The device looks like a little square platform that sits under the Gamecube and allows you to insert your favorite Gameboy carts. The player comes with a Gamecube disc that contains the GBA emulator, and of course, it supports Gameboy and Gameboy Color games in addition to Gameboy Advance software. Games can be played with the Gamecube’s own controller, or if you hook up your GBA to the system with the already-released GC-GBA Link Cable, you can play with the actual Game Boy Advance controls.

Up to four players can play multiplayer games through a standard GBA link port included on the front of the device. You’ll also be able to create a mini-LAN by linking together multiple Cubes, each with a Gamecube Game Boy Player.

Advance Wars ScreenshotWhile it doesn’t increase the resolution of the games, the emulator makes them all look very nice and give your a variety of display options. It’s so great to play Advance Wars or Metroid Fusion on the big screen and my wife is still absolutely hooked on the Dr. Mario/Puzzle League combo cart.

There is also one feature that beats emulating GBA games: If you like to play games both on your TV AND play on the road, you can take your game saves with you. If you emulate GBA games, your game saves are on a separate file on your emulation machine. But when you use the real cartridges on the Gameboy Player, you will have the save game saves whether you play them on the console or your portable.

My only complaint is that it can be a little tedious to eject and swap carts when I want to play something else. In most cases, it requires you to pick up the Cube and such. Not as easy as swapping Cube games. The cool thing is that you can take out the boot disc and put in a normal GC game without having to eject the GBA cart.

Anyway, it’s a very simple and cost-effective way to play many of your great GBA games just like it was on a normal console.

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Rob says:

The best controller for the Game Boy Player is not the WaveBird (unless you need wireless), but the Hori Game Boy Player Controller. This offically Nintendo-licensed product is basically a GameCube controller (minus analog stick) in the SNES controller form factor. Very nice, and works with anything that doesn’t require the stick. Its a bit hard to find (I got mine at the Nintendo World store here in NYC), but it’s pretty much a must for any GCN retrogamer.

racketboy says:

Yeah I’ve seen those before and been interested in them, but honestly, I’m addicted to wireless.

It’s sad, I know.

Mozgus says:

I thought it was handy, but so many GBA games are designed for handheld play, and to be experienced in short spurts. I really would have liked it if they had true fullscreen, with no border at all. Not even the tiny one. Also some graphical and aural enhancements would have been great. 2xsai and 44khz isn’t too much to ask is it? An emulator just seems like the better option for those who own GBA flash carts.

racketboy says:

actually, I wish more console games were designed to be played in short spurts. A lot of times my wife and I will play on the Gameboy Player for a little while, flip it to the TV, and then flip back to a game.

As for the enhancements, I wonder what our chances of a Revolution device for something like this are?

neozeed says:

just wanted to mention that the player supports progressive scan mode.since I made a vga cable for my cube I got in the habit of testing games to see if they support it.I was very surprised to see the GBA player supported it.

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