Obviously I’m a 2D gaming nut. And even though I have plenty of old-school options I can now play on a modern TV, the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance libraries have some solid games that I want to play on the big screen (without depending on emulation all the configuration that brings)
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 fallen in love with good compromise that lets me experience Advance Wars, Metroid Fusion, or so many other classics on the big screen. Also, my young children now have a ton of cheap and kid-friendly games to binge in our living room. All this with great video output options and controller options. The Gamecube’s Gameboy Player (eBay / Amazon) is an oft-overlooked accessory that I think is incredibly valuable to anybody who enjoys old-school games.
The Basic Hardware Setup
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.
The Game Boy Player Software
While it doesn’t increase the resolution of the games, the Game Boy Player’s software manages to make the games look nice and gives your a variety of display options.
If you’re interested in taking output to the next level with some home-brew software (or you don’t have the original Nintendo Player disc), Game Boy Interface gives you some nice output and setting options that will make video geeks quite happy.
If you want to really dig into Game Boy video quality, including some details on the player software, the wonderful team over at My Life in Gaming have a great video on the topic(although if you mostly care about the Gamecube’s Game Boy Player, start 28 minutes in).
Taking Game Progress Wherever You Go
Sure, the Nintendo Switch makes the this concept ultra modern and futuristic, but the Nintendo Gameboy Player is possibly the best old-school predecessor to the concept.
The fact that you can pop out your Game Boy cartridges out of the Gamecube and then pop them in a Game Boy compatible system on the road, really beats out on almost all GB/GBA emulation setups.
If you emulate 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.
Modern Video Output: Component and HDMI
If you’re wanting to make your Game Boy games (in addition to your Gamecube library) look pristine on your modern display, you’ve always had those hard-to-find/afford Gamecube Component cables up for grabs.
As of this past year, we’ve also had a new contender enter the ring with rock-solid and lag-free HDMI output.
Eon’s GCHD Adapter isn’t exactly cheap, but they do a good job of keeping units in stock most of the time. They also put out outstanding video quality, have the blessing of the GC Smash Bros tournament community when it comes to avoiding lag, and it’s a pretty polished package in general. I have been running the adapter for a month now and have not had any concerns.
Not only can you plug in a real GBA via a cable to use as a controller (mentioned above), the controller masters at Hori built a specialized Gamecube controller called the Gameboy Player Controller (eBay / Amazon) . It’s hard to find in the wild in North America, however.
Minor Complaint of Swapping Carts
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.
Flash Cart / Everdrive Options
While to this date, I have been playing exclusively with original game cartridges, I have to admit I have occasionally considered picking up a Flash Cart or Everdrive for the GBA. These would let me store game ROMs on a single cartridge. This would obviously help me resolve my grip above while also letting me try out some games before buying an official cartridge. However, trying out different game is actually a relatively minor concern for me at this point as I have a healthy collection already and there’s lots of affordable titles.
For those that are interested in shopping for a flash cartridge, my portable gaming buddy, Vlad offers the following advice:
“Unfortunately there isn’t a perfect one for the GBA… the Everdrive is physically bigger than an original cart and thus sticks out of the gameboy (less of a problem for the gamecube) but also cost over $100. The cheap EZFlash IV is 30-40$ but is kind of slow to load up new games into memory (but that ones that get stored in memory load up quick), which i know is just nitpicking. “
Highly Recommended for Nintendo Fans
If I haven’t sold you enough on this great device, I’ll just emphasize that the Gamecube’s Game Boy player is a very simple and cost-effective way to play many of your great Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and original Game Boy games just like it was on a normal console.
If you have a Gamecube already, I would put it high on your wishlist. If you don’t the system’s library teamed with the GB library is phenomenal — especially now that we have a solid HDMI output option.