It’s time to dust off your old cartridges and get ready to play your Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance games on your PC or Mac.
The GB Operator is a new piece of kit that allows you to play, store and transfer your Gameboy games to your PC, Mac and soon the be Linux PC.
Imagine a cartridge slot in your PC, because that’s basically what it is, but with far more awesome features.
The GB Operator is made by a small team of passionate retro gamers called Epilogue, they have built the GB Operator to simply preserve gaming history and to allow Gameboy fans to use their old cartridges in new ways.
Epilogue has given Retro Dodo fans an exclusive 10% OFF using the discount code “RETRODODO” at check out!
How Does It Work?
The GB Opertaor is incredibly simple to use. Simply install the application or software to your Mac, open it, add your cartridge and wallah, you are ready to do what you want with your cartridge.
The user interface within the application is easy on the eyes, looks professionally designed and allows those that are new to this sort of stuff to be welcomed with open arms.
When your cartridge is inserted you have a number of options to choose from. The main option being “play”.
This quite simply allows you to play your Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance cartridges directly on your PC and Mac using a keyboard or a connected wired/wireless controller.
It uses an emulator called mGBA which is one of the best GBA emulators around and has very little issues when it comes to frame rates, audio quality and performance. This emulator comes with controller support, cheat support and button mapping too.
What the GB Operator also does within the application is tell you if your cartridge is official or counterfeit. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly hard to determine whether or not a cartridge is fake or real.
So the team have added a little identification light that shows whether or not your cartridge is official. This helps you find which part of your collection is real, and allows you to click your way back into eBay to give those resellers a 1 star review.
If you press the “Data” button this will take you to the section of the application that allows you to rip your Gameboy files in order to save your collection to your PC/Mac. It also allows you to keep your saved states, which is great because we’ve all been a culprit to losing our precious save states to dead batteries.
I lost a level 80 Pikachu before and still to this day I can feel the pain that my little 8 year old self went through.
GB Operator Build Quality
Seeing as Epilogue is a start-up that are diving head first into the retro scene they have done a cracking job with the build quality of their product.
It all starts when you receive the GB Operator. The packaging is designed nicely, and when you open it up, everything sits perfectly and it has the subtle Apple unboxing feel to it due to the tiny box and minimal manuals/cables.
The GP Operator itself is made with a high quality transparent plastic and it has been designed to look somewhat like a dock. Your Gameboy game will look as if it’s sitting on a throne on your desk, instantly pulling in your attention.
Because the shell is transparent you can see the internals which makes our desk look even more techy. It has a very bright LED light that indicates if it’s plugged in on or not and it will also turn green when you’re downloading the game files.
The LED light is a little too bright, in the evenings we find that it’s the brightest light in our room, so we have found ourselves unplugging the GB Operator in order for us to keep our eye sight longer than a few days.
At the bottom of the GB Operator, Epilogue has added a slab of rubber with their logo on it in order to keep your device stable on your desk. This is a very high quality rubber and we like that they’ve stayed away from tiny rubber feet. The slab of rubber adds to the quality of the product, and you can tell some time went into choosing how it sits on your desk.
The emulation is near perfect, in fact it’s so good you’ll think you’re playing on official hardware. The emulator simply rips the game, and emulates it through the software within Epilogue’s application.
Before you press play there’s a few settings which you can change, for example you can connect a gamepad which is connected to your PC/Mac. In a future update (which we have been told is coming in a week of uploading this review) you will be able to map the keys on your keyboard, and have even more emulator and device settings to tinker with.
When you press “PLAY” the game loads within seconds, the transition between inserting a cartridge to playing the game happens in 5 seconds flat, which really impressed us. Unlike the Hyperkin Retron Sq which has a fairly long wait time.
The gameplay is near flawless, no frame rate drops, no screen tearing, no delay when pressing buttons just smooth, reliable gameplay throughout all cartridges.
We did have on occasion when our cartridge kept getting disconnected, but we found out this was due to dirty connector pins. Once cleaned it worked perfectly fine.
Audio is also pretty good too, we heard the odd crack now and then but overall the audio quality sounds great.
As mentioned before, playing your Gameboy games isn’t the only thing the GB Operator can do, and this is where things get interesting for those that love to tinker.
When you go to the “DATA” tab you will be greeted with a few options. One being “download game”, which allows you to rip the game from your cartridge and store the ROM file on your Mac/PC.
Next you have “upload game”, this allows you to add your own game, or a ROM file to the cartridge you have inserted into the GB Operator. This is great for those of you that like to create your own Gameboy games.
There’s also a “download save” button which allows you to extract the saved file data, allowing you to store all of your precious saves on your PC/Mac and finally there’s an “upload save” button, which allows you to upload your save to the inserted cartridge.
All of these features combined bring a tonne of value to the GB Operator. Not only is it a perfect way to keep your games and save files but it’s also a way to extract your ROMs legally in order to move them to your best retro handhelds collection.
Overall Epilogue’s first product is an impressive start to what we think will be a highly respected company in the retro gaming space. The design looks modern, and due to it’s transparent shell it fits well with any retro theme you may have.
But where the quality really shines is deep within their software. Everything is easy to use, easy to understand for newcomers and works efficiently as it should.
Yes, we’ve experiences a couple of minor bugs since reviewing it, but we’ve been told these will be squeezed out in a quick update. The bugs are so minor it has very little effect on the performance or experience we’ve had with the GB Operator.
We’re impressed, and for $49.99 it’s a great affordable way to play, save and upload Gamebooy games via your PC/Mac.
We love it.