Game Boy Player
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7  |  Game Boy Player Review (Game Cube)
larsoncc , 7/3/2003 7:27:30 AM

Game Boy Player Attached to the Game Cube (pic) Nintendo's Game Boy Player add-on for the Game Cube is not a revolution in game play or functionality.  In fact, there are a few areas where the Game Boy Player is bound to disappoint.

The gamer that owns both the Game Cube and the Game Boy Advance will soon get over that disappointment, though.  Putting the 'gripes' aside, the Game Boy Player is a neat product in great packaging that does almost exactly what you'd expect it to do.  It is highly functional, and takes your game to the big screen, just like you want.  Wait a minute...  "Almost exactly what you'd expect it to do"?  What gives?

Player owners will be shocked to discover what the instructions say - the Game Boy Player has some asinine limitations on its multiplayer capabilities.  You can't hook multiple Cube/Player combos together for TV to TV multiplayer fun.  Why?  No reason given.  It's this reviewer's opinion that people who invest in the Game Cube AND a Game Boy Player should enjoy the full functionality of a Game Boy Advance, and that should include hooking up to an identical configuration.  When purchasing the Game Boy Player, I thought this might help with the drought of on-line games for the Cube.  SOME multiplayer, multi-system action is better than none, right?  Well, the Game Boy Player doesn't give on-line hungry gamers cross-Cube multiplayer, so it looks like we're waiting for Mario Kart.  This frustration aside, the Game Boy Player is perfectly capable of delivering multiplayer via the standard "1 Cube, 3 Game Boy Advances" configuration.  So, it's not impossible to play multiplayer games with the Player.  Just don't fight with me over the big screen.  I'm bigger than you, I'm higher on the FOOD CHAIN.  In my house, I'll be the one on the TV, and you'll be the one squinting at the GBA, thank you very much...

The second major disappointment is the lack of full screen support for Game Boy Advance games.  Nintendo seems oddly concerned with preserving the aspect ratio of the Game Boy Advance within the Game Boy Player (and hence our TVs).  If you look at your Game Boy Advance screen, you'll notice that the aspect ratio is a bit different than a TV - a TV is 'taller' than a GBA.  So, even in "full screen" mode, the Game Boy Player puts borders around the Game Boy Advance games.  To me, this is an odd move, given how the Game Boy Advance treats Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.  In the case of a Game Boy Color game being played on the Game Boy Advance, a simple flick of the shoulder button stretches the graphics to full screen, aspect ratio be damned.  And frankly, it looks good - well, if not GOOD, certainly PLAYABLE.  Why can't you do the same type of move while playing GBA games on your Game Boy Player?  I don't know - maybe Nintendo thinks that people will get mad if they see stretched Game Boy Advance graphics.  Personally, I would have liked the option, to make my own decision.

Speaking of borders, there are 20 borders to choose from while playing Game Boy Advance games on your TV.  Not bad.  In fact, kind of neat.  But let's put our thinking caps on, shall we?  How big do you suppose that shiny little disc is?  If you said 1.7 GIGABYTES big, you'd be about right.  I'd venture a guess and say there's plenty of room on that disc for more borders.  In fact, what do you think of this idea - a graphics program that lets you make your OWN border!  Or, how about this - something that lets you take an old Game Boy Camera picture, and lets you use THAT as a border.  Funny, I thought of that idea in about 10 seconds, but it never occurred to Nintendo.  Granted, my vastly evolved brain is bound to be more capable than the thousands upon thousands of employees at Nintendo, but you see where I'm going, right?  The forced border and the options for borders makes it seem like the Game Boy Player's software is a bit lacking. 

The Player, by itselfGraphics

The Game Boy Player's graphics are colorful.  On a big screen, the colors of a Game Boy Advance game appear to be bright - MUCH more bright (and almost pastel) than on the actual Game Boy.  There are 3 graphical "modes" to choose from while playing your games, as well:  soft, sharp, and normal.  The two filters do exactly what you'd expect them to do - soft makes the image a bit softer (but not anti-aliased), and the sharp filter brings a bit more definition to the lines in the game's image.  In the games that I tried these filters on (Metroid Fusion, Zelda, and a GBC Zelda game), the soft filter mostly caused screen blurring.  However, the sharp filter was good enough to become my default selection. 

There are a few other graphic selections, one of which I've already mentioned, the borders.  Additionally, there is a "timer" feature, which tells you if you've been playing too long.  When the time you specify is up, it'll display (a rather large) message on the screen that the timer is done counting time.  I'll never use that feature.  I have no idea why they included it - for parents or something?  Who knows.

One thing that I have not discovered is whether or not the Game Boy Player supports any HDTV modes, like 480p.  I don't have the means to get / test on a HDTV, but it would be interesting to discover if it is "upward compatible". 

Sound

WOW.  The little Game Boy Advance speaker, and even headphones, can't compare to the fidelity of a game played through the Game Boy Player.  The sound is amazing, relative to what you've heard out of the Game Boy Advance to date.  I would recommend a quick visit to the options screen in your games to have a listen to some of your game tunes.  You'll be pleasantly surprised to hear how nice the music is.

Game Play

The Game Cube's controller seems a bit 'funny' when playing Game Boy games.  However, it's functional, and I really don't have much of a complaint there.  It's my understanding that there are importers that are creating "SNES-like" controllers for the Game Boy Player, a move that I fully support. 

One feature that I did find interesting, and frankly, just what I wanted, was that I could plug a GBA into the Game Cube, and use that as the controller on my GBA games.  Basically, I simply wanted the ability to play the Advance on a TV, without hacking apart anything.  Here's where the Player meets my expectations exactly.

Multiplayer works well, with the exception painstakingly outlined above.  It occurs to me that most Cube owners don't own multiple Cubes, so I suppose that the TV to TV scenario won't play out too often.  In fact, as far as I'm concerned, it's not an issue at all - I can't even say "to hell with the instructions, I'm testing this out!", because I don't have the equipment to do so.  Still, it seems to be an odd limitation on the system, and we're in the land of the FREE, dammit! 

Overall

The Game Boy Player works as advertised.  It's a nice product.  It's aesthetically pleasing.  If you have a Cube, if you have some Game Boy (regular, Color, or Advance) games, it might be worth the price to you.

But there's the last disappointment - the price is $55 (USD), and for that, you could buy a used Game Boy Advanced.  To really appreciate this product, you have to be like me - you need a burning desire to play Game Boy Advance games on your TV, you need to already own a Game Cube, and you'll likely already be the owner of a Game Boy Advance.  The Player product does do what you want it to, and it performs fairly admirably.  Still, that seems to be quite a small niche that the product is trying to fill.

And those disappointments aren't helping the situation.  While I really would like to give the Game Boy Player a higher score, I have to give it a 7/10.  Average.

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