Version tested: GameBoy Advance
The Game Boy Advance is a modern miracle and truly should be cherished. Long haul flights, boring train journeys, or even those irritating tube journeys go in a flash once you fire up one of the many classics available for the system. But once in a while, wouldn't it be nice to continue those long sessions of Advance Wars or Mario Kart Super Circuit on your fat TV?
The forthcoming Game Boy Player, happily, makes those dreams come true, allowing for TV output via your GameCube as well as acting as another Game Boy, meaning you have another system capable of multiplayer link-up action. Available from June 20th, the add-on is expected to launch for around £40 or €60.
Plug and play
The device basically sits underneath your Cube, and connects to the high-speed port. Installation takes all of, ooh, five seconds, and once you've tightened two screws, popped in the supplied system disc, and switched on the Cube, you're able to plug in any Game Boy or Game Boy Advance title and have it displayed in full, big screen glory.
Due to the GBA's 16:9 aspect ratio, it fits widescreen TVs perfectly, and the previously tinny audio will now output with oomph. Lovely. Not only that, you can utilise the GameCube controller, making for a far more comfortable gaming experience. As much as we love our GBAs, those D-pads cripple your thumbs after a few hours.
There are, of course, options. Lots of options. By hitting the Z button on your Cube joypad, the Game Boy Player menu screen appears across the bottom of the screen, giving you the ability to modify various areas. 'Frame' allows you to cycle through 12 different colours of the screen's border, 'Screen Size' gives you the option of Full or Normal, 'Controller' offers two sets of button configurations, 'Screen Filter' gives you the choice of Soft, Normal or Sharp (although it was hard to tell the difference), 'Timer' allows you to set an alarm to let (presumably parents) know when your gaming time is up, while 'Change Game Pak' gives you the ability to swap over cartridges while the machine is still switched on.
A handy eject button is placed on the right hand side of the player, while an expansion port is placed on the front for accessories, such as the GBA link cable. It's a simple, straightforward addition, and is about as hard to install as a light bulb.
Modern TVs are not kind to handheld games
Putting the Game Boy Player through its paces, our giant 36" widescreen telly wasn't especially kind to the GBA's 240x160 resolution. Certain games, notably Doom and Duke Nukem Advance were a blizzard of hideously ugly giant pixels when blown up on a big screen, so be aware. The games which worked best on TV were the system's leading lights, such as Mario Kart, Rayman 3, Yoshi's Island, Sonic Advance and other straightforward 2D titles.
Being able to play GBA games with a decent controller is certainly a boon. Super Monkey Ball Jr, for example, was a much more playable game with the benefit of an analogue controller, but in all honesty why would you bother when, presumably, you'll have the vastly superior original in your collection?
If you don't mind shelling out another £40 for what is essentially a Game Boy TV adaptor that offers network gaming possibilities, then go for it. It's a nice addition that gives you the chance to play all those GBA titles in the comfort of your living room on a big TV, but be aware that the novelty will, most likely, wear off pretty quickly.
7 / 10