Last year, I made a video all about one of my favorite Super Nintendo accessories:
The Super Game Boy.
I covered just about everything.
The color palettes, the Super Game Boy enhanced game paks,
custom borders. You name it.
Now It’s time to move on to the
sequel: The Game Boy Player.
Released in 2003 as a GameCube accessory,
the Game Boy Player is the logical
evolution of the Super Game Boy
It can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color
and Game Boy Advance games.
In fact with a few modifications,
it’s the best way to play Game Boy games on your television.
So let’s learn everything there is to know about this accessory, but first,
let’s take a look at a few devices
that set the stage for the Game Boy Player.
After the Super Game Boy and before the Game Boy Player,
Nintendo had a few accessories that could play Game Boy games on the TV.
The first was the Nintendo 64 Transfer Pak.
This came bundled with Pokemon Stadium,
and allowed you to transfer your Pokemon
from the Game Boy to Pokemon Stadium for battles.
In the game there was a GB Tower mode,
which allows you to play Pokemon Red, Blue or Yellow on the television, via emulation.
However, the video quality wasn’t great
and these were the only games you could play,
so it was a pretty limited accessory.
A better accessory was the Wide-Boy 64.
Developed by Nintendo subsidiary, Intelligent Systems, the Wide-Boy 64
worked very much like the Super Game Boy.
You plugged your game into the Wide-Boy 64 cartridge slot
and plugged the Wide-Boy 64 into the Nintendo 64.
You could use a Nintendo 64 controller to
control the game,
or hook a Game Boy directly to the Wide-Boy via a cable.
The Wide-Boy 64 came in two versions.
CGB and AGB.
The Wide-Boy 64 CGB could play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.
The Wide-Boy AGB could play Game Boy Advance games, in addition to Game Boy and Game Boy Color.
However, this device was not available to the public.
It was reserved for developers to test out their games on a television,
or to capture screenshots for the Media
Consumers wouldn’t get a true successor to the Super Game Boy until 2003,
with the Game Boy Player.
While Japan got a variety of colors,
North America and Europe only got the jet black version.
It retailed for [US]$49.99.
The package contained the accessory
itself, as well as a start-up disc.
To hook up the Game Boy Player
you simply attached it to the base of the GameCube
via the high-speed port on the bottom.
Flathead screws can be tightened to keep everything in place.
On the front of the Game Boy Player is the external extension connector.
Specifically for things like a link cable, or the wireless adapter.
Below that is the cartridge slot.
On the right side is an ejector.
This is really nice since the games load somewhat awkwardly on the bottom.
They almost shoot out of the system when you eject them.
To use the Game Boy Player you need to insert the startup disk.
This disc tells the GameCube to interface with the Game Boy Player,
and contains software for playing your games.
However, unlike the Super Game Boy which was full of features, the Game Boy Player is severely lacking.
Let’s go over a few of them.
The first is frames, you can choose from 20 different designs to surround the screen.
The second is screen size,
which lets you play games at a normal display, or a bit more zoomed in.
Third is controller, which lets you customize the functions of the X, Y buttons, L&R buttons, and the C-stick.
Fourth is the screen filter. There are three options:
Normal, soft and sharp.
Sharp makes the pixels a bit sharper.
softens the image.
However, the difference is very minimal.
I could barely tell the difference in most games I played.
The fifth option and the most puzzling one is the timer.
What is it? Well, it’s literally a timer.
Got a pizza in the oven?
Want to only play for five more minutes?
Set the timer and the interface will let you know when your time is up.
The final feature is Change Game Paks.
You can select this if you want to play a different game without powering everything off.
And that’s it.
Like I said the software features aren’t much to write home about,
but the Game Boy Player does play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games,
giving you access to an enormous library of titles.
There is authentic hardware inside this accessory,
so it plays just about everything thrown at it.
The original Game Boy games boot up with a four color palette.
You can customize the palette just like on a Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance
by pressing a button combination on startup.
When it comes to Super Game Boy enhanced games,
the enhancements are gone.
The glorious colors and custom borders are missing,
as they specifically utilize Super Game Boy hardware.
Game Boy Color games show their full colors.
As do Game Boy Advance games.
The device is also region-free, allowing you to play games from anywhere in the world
However, the startup disk is not region free.
Even some of the oddball games work on the Game Boy Player.
Remember those gravitational games like
Yoshi Topsy Turvy,
technically it does work.
It’s just very awkward to play.
A few Game Boy Advance titles were able to interact with the Game Boy Player.
Pokemon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire,
added a rumble feature that was sent to the GameCube controller
One type of cartridge that doesn’t work is the Game Boy Advance video cartridge.
According to Nintendo, this was to prevent illegal copying of the video.
As far as controlling the games, you have a few options
you can use a GameCube controller
or even a Game Boy Advance via a
GameCube GBA cable.
My personal favorite however, is the Hori GameCube controller.
Just like with the Super Game Boy,
Hori designed a controller specifically
for the Game Boy Player
It’s got a nice D-Pad and feels like a
Super Nintendo controller
So what’s not to love about the Game Boy Player,
the biggest problem is the video quality.
The startup disk outputs games in either a 480i or a 480p resolution.
And neither are ideal for Game Boy games,
especially on modern televisions.
Luckily the Homebrew Community has stepped in,
and created a custom interface software to make everything look much better in a 240p resolution.
For more technical details,
I highly recommend My Life in
Gaming’s Game Boy episodes.
After watching it, you’ll know how to get the best video quality
Upon release, the Game Boy Player was well-received.
The GameCube was trailing behind Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation 2 in terms of sales.
But the Game Boy Advance was selling extremely well.
Being able to access the Game Boy Advance’s library on the GameCube,
was a welcomed feature.
Nintendo even bundled the accessory with the system.
Today, with the help of homebrew software
It’s the best way to play your
Game Boy games on a television.
The accessory itself is pretty common and inexpensive
The startup disk however, is a different story
and usually sells for way more.
Luckily, the homebrew method makes the startup disk unnecessary.
Since the release of the Game Boy Player, we haven’t seen a device similar to it.
With Nintendo now using their Virtual Console service to download older titles,
it is highly unlikely we will ever see one again.
But if you thought we were done talking about Game Boy on your television,
In a future episode, I’ll be going over some third-party devices
and see how they stack up.
Spoiler Alert! Not very well.
That’s all for this episode of the Gaming Historian.
Thanks for watching.
Funding for Gaming Historian is provided in part by supporters on Patreon.
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