3rd Party Game Boy Players | Gaming Historian


In previous videos, I’ve covered Super Game Boy, Super Game Boy 2, and the Game Boy Player. These are official Nintendo retail products for playing Game Boy games on your television. Well, as promised in those videos, it is time to dive in to 3rd party Game Boy Players. Yes, despite the fact that Nintendo made devices themselves, other companies took a stab at the idea as well. Today, we’ll be taking a look at four of them. Are they any better than Nintendo’s Game Boy Players? Let’s take a look. This is the GB Hunter. I’m assuming GB stands for Game Boy. This device allows you to play Game Boy games on your Nintendo 64. It was distributed by EMS industrial, a company based out of Hong Kong. The GB Hunter is identical to Datel’s GameBooster. It seems as though Datel’s GameBooster is for PAL regions, while EMS industrial licensed the device for NTSC regions. To boot up the GB Hunter, you’ll need to insert a Nintendo 64 cartridge on the back. This is to get around the lockout technology in the system, however, not every game can be used. Apparently, the GB Hunter piggy backs on a specific type of chip in these games, so some cartridges are incompatible. A few examples are Diddy Kong Racing, 1080 Snowboarding and NBA Courtside. Insert your Game Boy game, power it on, and there it is, the GB Hunter. The first thing you’ll notice right away is the music. Oh God, the music. The GB Hunter cannot properly emulate the Game Boy audio, so it endlessly plays this grinding tune. This alone should be enough to convince you not to use this device, but I will press on. To be clear, the GB Hunter uses software emulation rather than hardware. This results in some slowdown as well as some input lag. Standard Game Boy games play in black and white. Surprisingly, Super Game Boy enhanced games come with their custom borders and play in color, however, I did run into some issues with a few games, including Donkey Kong. Some of the colors were way off. Playing Game Boy games on the Nintendo 64 is awkward. The d-pad on the 64 controller was never that great, and using the analog stick is bizarre. It was made for a 360 movement, which obviously doesn’t happen in Game Boy games. Also, despite the packaging saying the GB Hunter can play color Game Boy games, it can’t play Game Boy Color exclusive games. It also will not play unlicensed games. Let’s go over a few of the options. To open the menu, hit L and R at the same time. “Game” simply takes you back to the game you are currently playing. “Trainer” allows you to search for Action Replay codes, which are strangely called “Golden Finger Codes” on the packaging. The GB Hunter comes with a bunch of built-in codes for Game Boy games, but if your game isn’t listed, you can search for codes yourself. It’s confusing at first, but allow me to explain. Let’s say you’re playing Super Mario Land. Do an initial search and it will claim it found thousands of codes, too many to list. You’ll have to narrow it down. Let’s say we want codes that give us extra lives. So, you must purposefully die. Then, you go back to the trainer and click the down arrow, meaning the value we want just went down. It will then narrow the results further. Die again and do the same thing. Eventually, it will find some codes for you to try out. Like I said, it’s confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to find all sorts of codes to try out. This is probably the coolest feature of the GB Hunter. Next up is “cheats”. This is where all those built-in cheats are stored. You could choose which ones you want to use for certain games and turn them on. The list isn’t super extensive, but then again, I’m not expecting much from this device. Finally, you have a few visual options. The magnifying glass lets you make the game go fullscreen. It’s pretty hideous, though, as it just zooms in, resulting in some serious blur. Next is border select. The default is black, but you can change the border to four different styles. The weird thing is, you can’t actually change back to the default border. So, if you like that black border, you can’t get it back. The custom Super Game Boy border? Gone once you decide to change it. You’ll have to restart the system to get it back. Weird. The GB Hunter also has custom color palettes. This gets pretty detailed, and you can make basically whatever colors you want. It uses RGB values, which are highly customizable. Impressive. But, like I said earlier, the grinding audio is seriously a deal-breaker. I would not recommend the GB Hunter at all, unless you don’t mind playing your games on mute, or do you have a strange love for the Nintendo 64. Not to be outdone, the PlayStation also had a way to play Game Boy games on your TV: the Super GB Booster. Once again this is a Datel product, brought over to North America by a company called Innovation. This is essentially the PlayStation version of the GB Hunter, and contains most of the same features. The Super GB Booster plugs into the Playstation’s parallel port in the back. Newer models of the system actually had this port removed, so the Super GB Booster is only compatible with older models. You plug a Game Boy game into the top, boot the system on, and there’s the game. Pressing L1 and R1 at the same time opens up the menu. Like I said, this is just the GB Hunter for the PlayStation, so let’s go over some of the differences. “Game” accesses the game, “cheats” lets you turn on or off cheats, and “trainer” lets you search for cheat codes. No surprises here. Next is “palette”. This is where you can modify the color palettes in the game. It’s actually not as robust as the GB Hunter. It only gives you one palette instead of three. But it is a little more fun using these paint cans to customize the colors. The “options” menu has a few… options Screen size lets you zoom in on the picture, but it doesn’t look great. Border lets you change the border around the game. The default is this rainbow image. Border one is just the option menu background, and border two is the color palette background. And that’s it. The Super GB Booster also supports the custom Super Game Boy borders. Color mode lets you turn on or off the Super Game Boy custom color palettes and border. Video sync seems to make everything run a little smoother… maybe, it’s hard to tell what exactly this option does. The manual doesn’t mention it at all. Frame skip does what it says. It can skip frames up to 5. This can come in handy if the game you’re playing is running extremely slow. Save backup is a mystery to me. I’ve tried everything to get this to work, but it usually errors out. Sometimes it saves, but I’m not sure what it saves exactly. I’m assuming it makes a save state of your game on the PlayStation memory card. The manual doesn’t mention anything either. Who knows? And finally, there is CD player. Rather than loop an awful audio track over and over, Super GB Booster emulates no audio at all. However, the Super GB Booster allows you to listen to CDs while you play. That’s kind of cool. If your library of Game Boy games doesn’t satisfy you, the Super GB Booster has a built-in game. Yes, it’s called Rebound. To play, you just plug in the device without a Game Boy game. Your goal is to pass this ball back and forth while getting around these blocks in the middle. Not great. Not bad. It’s a game. And that’s the Super GB Booster. If you wanted to play your Game Boy games and you only had a Playstation, this device will do it. Otherwise, pass. Here we have yet another accessory from Datel, the Advanced Game Port. It seems Datel was committed to playing Game Boy games on your television. Datel licensed the product to Intec for distribution in North America. It retailed for $30, about $20 less than Nintendo’s Game Boy Player. It also came out six months after the Game Boy Player. The Advanced Game Port plugs into the second memory card slot in your GameCube, and, along with a special disc, allows you to play Game Boy Advance games on your television. And that’s strictly Game Boy Advance games. This thing can’t play Game Boy or Game Boy Color games. Just like the Game Boy Player, it also can’t play video cartridges. While Nintendo’s Game Boy Player used hardware to play your Game Boy games, the Advanced Game Port uses software emulation. This results in some compatibility issues and subpar quality. But overall, it’s decent. Borders are non-existent. The default purple and white border is it. You can zoom into the screen or adjust the screen position, but nothing else. One cool feature is that you can create save states of your games using the GameCube memory card. This is handy for games with no save feature. Unfortunately it takes about 50 blocks to save, which is insane! My gray memory card can save exactly one game state, and that’s only if I have nothing else on here. The Advanced Game Port also offers 10 built-in games. These are… well, don’t expect much. They remind me of Newgrounds flash games. A few shoot-’em-ups, puzzle games, There’s even a Buster Bros clone called Papon. Just like Datel’s other products, the Advanced Game Port has plenty of cheat codes, and the ability to find cheat codes. For several GBA games, you can activate codes during gameplay by pressing Start, and selecting which codes you want to use. If your game doesn’t have any codes, you can make your own using the Cheat Construction Kit. This is essentially the same as the trainer tool in the GB Hunter. You look for values, let the tool know when those values change, and narrow the results from there. Included with the Advanced Game Port is a tutorial DVD. A man with a charming British accent explains how to create your own codes. “You use the built-in code generator to create your own powerful cheat codes.” Unless you absolutely love cheating, the Advanced Game Port is not as good as the Game Boy Player. Let’s wrap up with the GBA TV Converter from Innovation. This was originally released as the TV de Advance by GameTech in Japan. With a simple mod it converts your Game Boy Advance to have composite output, so you can hook it up to a television. Unfortunately, actually getting it to work is a problem. To install, you’ll have to replace the back cover of your GBA with this. Inside is a ribbon cable that has a push on connection to the Game Boy Advance’s video out. And the connection is bad. It’s totally dependent on whether the connectors are touching. This results in really poor video quality. Once you get the back cover on, you hook this into the back, which locks into the battery compartment. Plug in the AC adapter, power on the GBA and the converter, and there you go. There’s also a picture switch that will make the image bigger on your television. The good news is, this device plays everything the Game Boy Advance can. GBA games, Game Boy games, Game Boy Color games, and yes, you can finally make illegal copies of your favorite video cartridge. In theory, the GBA TV Converter is a neat idea, but the cable connection is so bad, you’ll be lucky to get it working. And when you do, the quality is subpar. Alternatively, you could solder the connection in, as recommended by the site RetroRGB, but that’s just not worth it to me. According to the price sticker, this thing cost $54.99. Yikes! I’ll stick with the Game Boy Player. Well, there you have it. 3rd party Game Boy Players. Are any of them worth getting? Absolutely not. If you want to get the best experience for playing Game Boy games on your television, the Game Boy Player with custom homebrew software is the way to go. You can play the entire Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance game library. It’s very customizable and the quality is outstanding, especially if you have access to the GameCube component cables. But, for nostalgia purposes, I always like to play my original Game Boy games on my Super Game Boy 2. 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. Thank you.

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Comments

  1. Apologies in advance if my narration sounds a little…off. I was dealing with some serious congestion after being sick! The show must go on, as they say. Thanks, and hope you enjoy!

  2. Those unofficial GBA games included in the GBA software emulator, are the exact same .gba roms included in the max play unofficial retail disc for PS2. As a kid i tryed to replace the roms in that disc making my own Copy, but without success. The game disk was made by Datel and Development Limited. Too bar they never released a hardware device for the PS2 for emulating the gba

  3. The Super GB Booster was my freaking Holy Grail when I was a kid. I spent years trying to find one. Some days I wondered if I had imagined hearing about this amazing device that let you play GB games on a Playstation. Thanks for clearing up a 20 year old mystery for me!

  4. Hot take: GB Hunter's music loop is a banger and has a rad as hell chord progression overall. If it weren't so damn scratchy, I'd imagine people would probably like it more. Also comparing it to Crazy Bus is an inherent fallacy, since Crazy Bus's "music" is a randomly generated atonal mess vs the very intentional albeit perhaps half-assed GB Hunter music.

    Y'all should listen to more weird music, that loop is barely anything.

  5. God damn it Norman, your channel is one of the few that have remained intact over the years, with entertaining as hell content. Please don't sell out like so many others have, we love your videos, keep on going, you're doing a great job!

  6. I am stunned that there was a market for playing GB, GBC and GBA games on your television …….. I played GB and GBC back in the day, but hell I never wanted to play any of those games on my TV since they are inferior to actual normal Nintendo Consol games…..why would anyone ever want that!?!?!?
    Baffling!

  7. Appreciate we're almost a year after this video was made but I currently play GB games on my TV using the Retrofreak by Cybergadget. It's amazing and has option for viewing various colour options, filters and turning surrounds on/off. It also has some cheat codes that are much more explicit about what they do!

  8. my GB Hunter didn't work.
    Either it was defective right out of the box, or all the '64 games I had didn't work.
    I only had a few – Quest 64, Castlevania 64 (the first one), and Pod Racer, conquor's bad fur day. Oh and shadows of the empire.
    I think I only tried it with one of my cartridges and since it dind't work, i didn't try with the others.
    I dind't know some games wouldn't work. I figured it was just a waste of money and I shoudln't have been upset at buying some Chinese knock-off product.

  9. OK, but here's a question, was there anything that could let me, oh, I don't know, play GBA games on my TV via my Wii? Also was there ever a device that would let me play games from the DS series, (original to 3DS), via my Wii U on my TV? That'd be cool! Rockatoa, Brickticks out!!!

  10. Man, Datel was such hot garbage. I'm so glad I never got the GB Hunter. I would have been so excited to get it as a kid, and so disappointed by it…

  11. I had the GBA TV Converter. Since I was a PS guy by then, it was my best alternative. I did have someone solder the thing on my GBA though.

  12. The trainer is like using cheat engine for some flash game and some indie/late 2000s games. With the basics, you can search for values (lives/money/health/etc.) and change/freeze them. Then people build cheat tables for cheat engine… which I have little knowledge on but I do prefer them over actual trainers.

  13. @Gaming Historian Can you please tell me what game that is at 11:59? I remember it for the Mac but I don't remember the name.

  14. I just stick with emulation if I want to play Gameboy games on my TV. I'm pretty sure some SNES emulators even have the option of running the Gameboy roms through a Super Gameboy rom.

    Technically not the most ethical approach, but I personally own most of the hardware I emulate anyway, but I like having the option to speed up gameplay during grind sessions in games like Pokemon Red/Blue. I don't have time for that stuff like I used to lol

  15. for the sound with the GB Hunter, just play the games on mute, and play the game's sound track on YouTube with your phone and earphones in.
    for the PlayStation thing, play the game's soundtrack CD album.

    i agree, i'll stick with a GameBoy Player two.

  16. in regards to the playstation one, it connects the same way the gameshark did. my gameshark had multiple memory cards built in, but to use them you could not have a normal memory card in slot one.

  17. 5:00 "or if you have a strange love for the N64"

    Missed opportunity to say "I'm looking at you, Nathaniel Bandy."

  18. The wideboy 64 shows that n64 can handle even GBA games. I mean the one thats only sold to special people. Pikasprey Yellow made a video on this actually.

  19. Why not just use a Homebrew'd PSP to play GBA and GB games with a component cable and a component to HDMI upscaler box?

  20. That GB Hunter cheat tool sounds like Cheat Engine for the PC. Cheat Engine is pretty interesting to play around with.

  21. that save backup feature sounds to me like it would back up the battery back saves on some game boy cartridges to your Playstation memory card. Pretty handy if you ask me. Assuming that's what it does.

  22. in hong kong (perhaps Taiwan too), people call external cheat device as "golden finger".  The website below suggests the name is from the gold color pinout of the Famicom/Nintendo cartridge.  i think "golden finger" is actually "action replay"  the address because they use the same format. anyway the code you got from 3:43 is called "golden finger" code.  https://www.zhihu.com/question/22208198   (sorry it is in Chinese language).

  23. I never understand why someone wound what to rip an GBA video cart wean if that had an laptop with an DVD drive you could get better video.

  24. One thing about the Gameport is that Its the only way to play gameboy games on the Wii, albeit only on the wiis with gamecube compatibility.

  25. Here's a little table I made to show how many times you can save game states on the Advance Game Port. The number of times depends on the size of the Memory Card.
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ayTLCUx5x9qZhHg18DHf6L-YB3TwAdbRDbuFRjUZrSU/edit?usp=sharing

  26. the best AVGN episodes was where he'd go into something that wasn't a specific game. Nintendo Power, NES Accessories, and the Pong Consoles

  27. Hi there, I am a triggered millennial SJW- and your constant use of the word "gameboy" is sexist microaggressions. Please change this video so all mentions of gender are removed. It should be called "gameperson", and only until we liberals decide that "person" is also not politically correct.

    Also please respect those with transgender game"boy"s.

    I am a cosmic tree gender, and if you dare call me a white male, I will sue you. Doesn't matter what my chromosomes say- you still have to pretend with me, yes even JOIN me in my imagination, or I will sue you for being a hater who practices hate speech.

    Gosh I love earth in 2019.

  28. I'm curious if you'd be interested in doing an episode on the Cheat Engine – a program that functions extremely similarly to the cheat code finder and trainer system you mention here. I'm actually fascinated by the fact that similar terminology is used – I'm very curious how that culture and language came about from seemingly entirely unrelated products.

  29. I always thought it would be cool if Nintendo made an add on for the Wii U that let you play DS and 3DS games on the TV. It probably would have made sales a bit better, even if not by a lot.

  30. The "code finder" works exactly like "WoW Glider: check for changes in memory registers and then lock them. Except, World of Warcraft moved the memory registers on each use, to prevent cheating by simply freezing the same memory location every time. You have to work for it!

  31. The GBA had a total memory of 384 KB. At 8 KB per block, that's 48 blocks for a memory dump. Add 2 blocks for whatever overhead is required, and that explains the 50 block usage for a save state.

  32. The PlayStation one lets you play other music while you play on this thing. That's what I do anyway when I'm playing my N64 or my Gameboy.

  33. i remember looking that ps1 one as a way to save few pennies on batteries, back when pokemon red was the biggest reason why my allowances went towards new batteries.
    i remember it costing around 120mk (around 20€) at the time, luckily i never got one as playing pokemon without the sound emulation would have made me return that thing back to the store in the same day.

  34. i'm wondering if you put that cable in alone or with t he GBA's lcd.
    i've used that kit several times under a few names.
    and if you unplug the LCD and plug in the cable (without the lcd cable in there to) it does get glitchy as all heck.
    The kit was designed to have it's cable squished in with the lcd's cable.

    with that i never had a problem with it.

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