The GB Operator

The GB Operator

Epilogue’s GB Operator - July 10,  2021 (new edit Nov. 28, 2022)

I joined the ranks of portable gamers when I was in my early 20ies working in a department store. Public transit meant that I had 25 minutes to kill and cell phone games like Plants VS Zombies and Fruit Ninja weren't a thing yet. My favourite console has always been the Super Nintendo and buying the Gameboy Advance was like a dream. It had all the features of the SNES, a great library and a decent color screen. 

I was incredibly happy when they released remakes of some of my favourite rpgs and even some that never saw the light of day in North America (like Final Fantasy 5).

Lets fast forward to the future. I still love portable gaming but now I want to record gameplay or just want to sit on the couch and play with a controller. I'd even take playing on the computer as an alternative to the TV. Thankfully there are many companies out there that make playing retro games a possibility. 

There are a few options our there, like the Retron and the Analogue Pocket to name a few. However the coloration of GBA games through the Retron is really saturated and I had missed the initial Pocket pre-order. That's when a friend told me about the Epilogue GB Operator

It sounded like a cool little device so I ordered one. This only set my back $50 USD which is not bad. I think I must have bought the tail end of the first batch because when I received it the box was marked as a ???launch edition??? 

Here's a list of what it claims to do: 

Like a cartridge slot for your computer
Insert a game and play it via emulator on the PC and even download it as a rom

Never lose a precious save again
Pokemon fans and anyone who’s ever needed to sacrifice a saved game file to change the battery will love this

Find your inner photographer (with the Gamboy Camera)
Download Gameboy Camera photos onto a computer

Develop homebrew and play it on original hardware
Download homebrew games onto a blank cart and play on a Gameboy

Counterfeit cartridge detection
Detect those pesky repros

Cross Platform App (Mac, Windows, Linux)

Why to get one

With the previously mentioned features the GB has amazing potential. The first of which is the ability to download your carts as ROMS. There are many benefits to having the ability to make  a ROM backup of your own collection. For example, say you were going on a trip and you wanted to play some Gameboy but didn’t want to bring $600 worth of Nintendo games with you. On top of that you would have to choose between your toiletry bag or your Gameboy bag. If you already had to bring your computer than you would just download the rom files to play with an emulator. Another example would be if somehow your original game suffered mysterious circumstances and was destroyed. Having a rom backup would allow you to make another physical copy. Making roms from your own games means not having to go to rom websites which are littered with pop ups and triple download links (you’re just asking for malware).

The save transfer feature is probably the best reason to buy the GB Operator. Image all those hours of playing Pokemon and your battery giving out on you causing you to lose all that progress. With the GB you can download the saved game file, swap the batter in your cart and then upload the saved game back to the cart. This also means you can switch back and forth between the original hardware and the pc just by transferring your saves.

The ability to download your photos from the Gameboy camera is a nice bonus feature. Though I doubt many people would use it. However you’d be able to print out those black and white photos on something other than the Gameboy printer.

For anyone who makes homebrew games the GB allows you to download your game into a blank cart.

As a game collector, even with experience, it’s not always easy to determine the fakes from the authentic games. The GB has a fake detector which will tell you if a game is a reproduction or not. This can be useful when purchasing a rare find from an individual, marketplace or vendor.


Inside the Box

Inside the box you get the GB Operator, a USB cable and a basic instruction pamphlet. The GB itself is nicely design with a smooth transparent shell that lets you can see the heart and soul of the devise, it’s circuit board and card slot. It also has a bit of weight to it which is always a good sign to the quality of materials used to make the product.


The GB Experience

In order to start your gaming experience you have to download the software from Epilogue’s website. You’ll probably notice here that the application version is only at 0.6beta. It’s pretty bizarre to ship out a product where the software isn’t complete yet. This of course means that not all the functionality will be up to par and some features might not even work. With the application installed and the GB plugged in you can now plug a game in the cartridge slot. Upon doing so a screenshot of the box art, the title and game info will appear in the window. From here you can play, transfer saves and download the game as a rom.

If the GB is not plugged into your computer the application will not start it will just continue to look for the GB. If you were planning on using the software for it’s emulator you’ll have to have the device hooked up.

I thought it wise to test a variety of games to check on the readability and the fake detection. Out of 20 games there were at least 8 that wouldn’t load past the opening screen. Even if the Epilogue GB Operator loads the game art and title it’s possible the game itself won’t load in the emulator. If it doesn’t load then you can’t download the rom either. I found this was the case with larger games like Zelda and Metriod where as simpler games like Tetris and Bugs Bunny had no problems. The fake detection was a bust because all 3 repros I used passed authentication. This leads me to believe that if it gives false authentic it’s possible to get false repros. The save download/upload feature also didn’t seem to work. As for the Gameboy Camera and homebrew options I’ve yet been able to test them but when I do I’ll update this section of the review. 


Final thoughts

Overall as much as I like the concept of the GB Operator the fact that the software is still in beta is a major let down. Epilogue should have waited to release the product until both, the hardware and software, were finished. Either that or promote only the features that are solid and add more over time. This in turn would give the GB a longer shelf life and keep the interest longer. At the moment this is not a product I would recommend however I do look forward to seeing what Epilogue will do next to finish the software and add to this device.

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