Gameboy Booster & GB Hunter
I saw both of these units on sale when I was browsing around some HK Exporter's website. I was surprised and intrigued... I'd never heard of a GB-to-N64 adaptor before, only some cheap knockoff for the PlayStation. Plus, the GB Booster purported to be an N64 Action Replay Pro unit, as well. All this for only $25, when the official N64 AR-Pro sells in Japan for $60! So, I bought it, and another one in the same category. I didn't know what to expect...
Well, I plugged the GB Hunter in first, thinking it the lesser of the two (it just plays GB games, and it wasn't made by Datel, it seemed). The GB hunter logo scaled onto the screen, and (with a GB cartridge properly inserted), the "Loading..." screen came on for a second. Then, the horror began.
The GB game started running, of course, but what came out of my TV's speakers was not GameBoy sound, but a horrible screechy "song" played as a looped sample at about 4khz... So, the reports were true; this thing didn't emulate the GB sound at all. In fact, total silence is preferrable to this song... What were they thinking???
But, anyway, it emulates the Super Game Boy's borders, which is a nice touch. And the GB screen can be stretched to a huge size (even cutting off some graphics at the edges). I like the full-screen interpolated view.
So, I tried out the Gameboy Booster, since it is a Datel product after all, and... WTF? It's exactly the same thing! However, it booted the N64 in PAL! (PAL is the 50hz flickery screenmode used in Europe and most of Asia.) I was not expecting this, because the FAQ for this product over at Lik-Sang stated (or implied) otherwise. I've clipped out the relevant questions from their website:
|Q: Will this work on english (pal)
version of N64 . will it work with gameboy colour games (2002-02-21)
A: It will work with GBC games but not a PAL N64. (2002-02-28)
Q: How does this differ from the gba to n64 adapter made by EMS, and does it play GBC only games (the ones that do not work with a normal black and white gb)? (2002-04-25)
A: The N64 Game Booster will only play GB and GBC games, it does not support GBA games. (2002-05-03)
Q: Can it play GBC only games (ones that do not work on the GB pocket)? (2002-05-16)
A: No, it will only play GB compatible games. GBC only game will not work. (2002-05-17)
Q: Does the N64 Game Booster reproduce the Gameboys sound? (2002-05-14)
A: Yes (2002-05-19)
I guess this is a lesson in contradictions. It doesn't work on a PAL N64 but boots in PAL??? It plays GBC games, but it also doesn't???? (Mentioning GBC is misleading if this is GB only hardware.) It reproduces the Gameboy's sound??? I guess just as an April Fool's joke, they took all the truthful answers to their questions and switched their verity. (I searched for the option to play the Gameboy's sound, but couldn't find it. The only option seems to be the horrible screechy sampled song, just like the GB Hunter.) We've been bamboozled.
And what's more, this isn't even hardware emulation of the GameBoy; it's apparently Marat Fayzullin's famous VGB emulator ported to the N64. The "Loading..." screen is the point where the game's ROM is copied from cartridge into memory, and then emulated. The problem with this is that the software has to do the job of emulating the GB memory mappers, when the original cartridge could have done a more proper job of it. As a result, games with uncommon mappers (like the Pocket Camera, multicarts, Hudson & Taito game collections, etc...) won't run. What a half-assed effort.
The only upshot to this is that one can adjust the palettes of the GB, including the background and two sprite palettes, making the game more colourful. That's nice. Also, built-in GB Action Replay code searching is just as good as the real thing, perhaps even better (I'm thinking of those GB games such as Ocean's and Rare's which don't allow AR code hunting.)
OK, last thing, how is the N64 Action Replay function? Well, it works great! It works in PAL, unfortunately, but the game boots in NTSC, as normal. Cheat searching, saving, and memory viewing work very well. And, it also has a GFX memory viewer, which is pretty cool. So that's a good coda to a GB emulator that seemed just thrown in for kicks.
Anyway, I'm happy enough with the GB Hunter as an item of curiosity. It didn't cost too much, and the fullscreen and colouring features are nice. The Gameboy Booster is also good, but not for playing GB games, only for cheating at N64 games. All in all, I wouldn't recommend either of these if you already own an SGB, GBA with TV de Advance, or Game Cube with GB Player. But still, these items are unofficial, cheaply-made, Engrish-speeking, far-Eastern mysteries, which is the epitome of cool for me.
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