The Game Boy Player is an accessory for the Nintendo GameCube that allows use of Game Boy games on a TV.
I got a Game Boy Player yesterday, and I can confirm that it works beautifully as a Game Boy with TV output.
Differences from Super Game Boy
The Game Boy Player's support for monochrome Game Boy games is identical to that of the Game Boy Advance system's, which is based on that of the Game Boy Color. Unlike the last incarnation of a GB->TV adapter, the Super Game Boy accessory for Super NES, the Game Boy Player isn't advertised as something that will enhance your existing games. In fact, the Game Boy Player does not support special Super Game Boy enhancements encoded into some carts; it plays them as a Game Boy Color system would. Here are the main differences:
- Runs almost all Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color games (except as displayed below)
- Game Link connector (missing in SGB, present in Japan-only SGB2)
- No high-quality sound channel for GB games, so Pauline's cry of "Help! Help!" in Donkey Kong '94 sounds as it does on GBC (badly done with tone generators), not as on SGB (a sample)
- No access to (real or emulated) Super NES (Space Invaders "arcade" mode is missing)
- Colors on SGB games are based on the twelve or so palettes that the GBC uses for monochrome games rather than being possibly cart-controlled
- No support for single-TV multiplayer (as with some of the Bomberman games for SGB) unless, as in Puyo Pop, all linked Game Boy systems display the same thing
- No known support for cart-controlled borders
The term "multiboot" most often refers to single-pak multiplayer, where the GBA system with the Game Pak netboots the other systems. Multiboot between the Game Boy Player and my GBA system works in both directions. Nintendo recommends against linking several Game Boy Players in a chain, but I'd assume it's possible.
There also exist cables such as MBV2 that connect a PC to a GBA in order to send small (250 KB or smaller) programs to the GBA's memory. Those cables work fine with the Game Boy Player.
It runs my games (such as Tetanus On Drugs) just fine from flash and from MBV2. Let me put to rest all the speculation about flash cart detection: Nintendo put no extra copy protection into the thing beyond the header check that all Game Boy systems have done since 1989. (However, whether it is possible for GBA-side code to read or write GCN memory through the GB Player, as the
SGB did for Space Invaders, remains an open question.)
With the video zoomed in, the screen looks a little like the result of the
"blurry" default interpolation filter used when running VBA in 2x or 3x
mode on a machine with 3D hardware. There is no 2xSaI-type smart
interpolation (which would have been nice). The "screen filter" in the
Z button menu (Z == R1) actually turns motion blur on or off.
Bass (low frequencies, not fish, and not Mega Man and Bass) came through beautifully. The tone generators sounded almost as
good as they ever had on the NES. But frequency aliasing on the GB
Player (audible as beats between the square wave generator frequency
and the PWM DAC's sampling frequency) sounds exactly like that on the GBA:
not noticeable in practice, but with high-pitched test tones, I can
still coax it out.
It works with both Balloon Kid for Game Boy and my copy of Hello Kitty World
for PocketNES in PogoShell. I demonstrate to parents that they're the
same dang game. However, when using scaled mode, use the "Soft" motion
blurring mode so that the PocketNES graphics engine's fake
interpolation can work properly.
Yes, this means that all
major Nintendo consoles plus the GBA can run many popular NES games. Independent manufacturers have sold NES adapters for both the Super NES and the
N64, and the GameCube Game Boy Player runs PocketNES.
I use a Sony Dual Shock 2 controller with a nYko Play Cube adapter. For games that use the digital pad (e.g. all Game Boy games), the DS2 has much better feel than the controller packed in with the GameCube.
Left on control pad + right on control stick just canceled out. The
only controller I have that's capable of generating left+right on the
control pad is a PlayStation dance pad. Apparently, the nYko Play Cube adapter
doesn't recognize PSX digital controllers, so I couldn't test it.
Flashing with MBV2
The MBV2 cable is capable of writing a ROM image to some models of GBA flash cart inserted into the GBA. Select+Start (on the GCN, Y is the select button) works to enter
multiboot slave mode with a Pak inserted. I have tried to use my MBV2
cable to flash a Visoly cart inside the GB Player, and it worked.
However, using the -e option to execute the cart immediately after programming it
produced a glitch once, but it was fine upon reset. Best to flash the
cart and then reset the GBA (which is mapped to the GCN's reset
Games that don't work
- Workboy (GB) (Also breaks on GB Pocket, GBC, GBA, GBA SP) This early PDA requires a peripheral whose plug was designed to fit into the original Game Boy system's larger Game Link port. All GB systems since the Game Boy Pocket have used a smaller connector.
- Game Boy Camera (GB) (Also breaks on GBA SP) Unlike on the Super Game Boy, where the camera lens faces forward, the GBP is oriented such that the camera lens faces downward. In order to face it forward, the player would have to tilt the entire GameCube system onto its handle or turn the GBA SP system upside-down. The same caveats apply to an independently manufactured GBA Mini Camera.
- Kirby Tilt 'n Tumble (GBC) (Also breaks on GBA SP) The player has to tilt the Game Pak slot, which is fused with the rest of the game system, in order to control this game. The tilting motion is reversed on GBA SP, and tilting an entire GameCube would likely harm its fan and disc drive assemblies.
- Boktai series (GBA) This game requires real-world sunlight, not the artificial light from an incandescent bulb, fluorescent light fixture, or television, to charge the player's weapon. Consoles that connect to a TV are typically played far from sunlight.
- GBA Video titles (GBA) These lock up if they detect the GBP. Unlike the PlayStation 2 and Xbox game consoles, the GameCube is not capable of outputting a Macrovision video copy protection signal, and Nickelodeon and other owners of copyright in animated TV shows licensed the video content to Majesco on the condition that recording the Cube's output on a VCR wouldn't work.
I started with the following:
Then I added the following, in order:
- MBV2 cable
- Visoly Flash Advance parallel linker and one Flash Advance 256 Mbit cart
- PlayStation digital controller with EMS USB2 adapter (I bought it for my dance pad, and now I use it for VBA as well)
- Game Link cable (for use with borrowed Game Boy)
- Sony Dual Shock 2 controller with nYko Play Cube adapter
Game Boy Player (now I don't have to borrow somebody else's GBA to
develop multiplayer games, and I don't have to run VBA to show off my