|ADVANCE GAME PORT|
|DATELS GAMEBOY PLAYER FOR GAMECUBE|
From the GameBoy Advance's initial release with its "dark" screen people were crying out for a way to play their GameBoy Advance games on TV. Several third party companies produced devices like the TV De Advance that involved taking your GameBoy Advance to bits to install, while they worked very well it was not the sort of product the "average man on the street" would feel happy installing. With the release of the GBA SP people could at last see the games they were playing, but a demand to play on a large screen TV at home was sill present. Earlier this year Nintendo released their solution to this the GameBoy Advance Player, which received very favorable reviews, and did exactly what it set out to do. A lot of people expressed their disappointment at the price of the device, which left the market open for a cheaper alternative......
The Advanced Game Port from Datel is an updated version of the Gamebooster device, which previously graced the Nintendo 64 and Playstation. While the Nintendo GameBoy Player actually contained the important hardware of a GameBoy Advance to ensure the best compatibility possible, Datel have produced a software solution, based upon Marat Fayzullin's VGBA emulator. While the Nintendo GameBoy Player can play original GameBoy, GameBoy Color as well as GameBoy Advance games, the AGP can only play GameBoy Advance games. While this clearly cannot be a limitation of emulation as there are many GameBoy/GameBoy Color emulators around, it would appear that Datel did not want the extra cost of licensing a second emulator (and possibly extra hardware in the AGP hardware).
Opening the box we find a two page A5 manual, the AGP hardware dongle that plugs into your GameCube memory card slot, and finally the GameCube disk, which comes in a paper CD sized case. Packaging wise this is very poor, all three items were rattling around inside the case with very little protection, and it's a shame that Datel could not manage to use a hard body case to hold the disk.
Setting up the AGP proved fairly easy, plug the AGP hardware dongle into the GameCube memory card slot B and the disk into the cube. Having booted the disk after a brief logo we see a screen asking us to insert a GBA cartridge and press A. Having done so the content of the cartridge is copied into the CameCube's memory and emulation begins.
Once running, the game is displayed on screen with a fairly bland border around the game. There are no options to change the border for a better one, or to zoom the game to full screen, the only option available (accessible by pressing Z) is to change to another cartridge.
The emulator does a fairly decent job of all the games we tired, running them without any noticeable flickering or slowdown, however the sound was not so well emulated, sounding very distorted in many games. While not being able to test every single GameBoy Advance game, we tested a wide selection, all of which worked acceptably.
Important to note here that having tried a wide selection of Flash cartridges, the only one we could get to work with the AGP was the FA Turbo 128. Most Flash cartridges would load and then the game crash as soon as emulation began, while other cartridges produced an error saying there was no cartridge present.
The design of the Hardware Dongle meant that it was physically impossible to use a Action Replay/Gameshark with the device, but I suspect it would not work due to extra hardware built into the cheat device. We managed to insert the E-Reader into the Hardware dongle, and while the E-Reader software ran quite happily on the emulator it was impossible to read E-Cards with the hardware. However any NES game already loaded into the E-Reader would play without problem.
Unfortunately this product will be compared to Nintendo's own GameBoy Player, and fails to either meet the standard set or improve on them. Lack of GameBoy / GameBoy Color compatibility while not being a major issue is definably not a selling point. The sounds emulation problems are understandable with it being a software-based product. Having a lack of borders or the option to zoom games up to full screen is frankly unforgivable.
It is a shame that the opportunity to build extra functions in to the product were not taken, Datel produce the Action Replay for the GameBoy Advance, surely including a built in cheat system should not of been beyond Datel's development team?
To sum up, if you want to play your GameBoy Advance games on your GameCube buy the official Nintendo GameBoy Player, it offers more features and you will not suffer from any compatibility problems.
- Easy of use/setup
- Slightly cheaper than GameBoy Player
- Lack of support for GameBoy / GameBoy Color games
- One border and no full screen game support
- Sound emulation problems