With each passing year, it’s becoming more difficult and pricier to find old games (and means to play them). The folks at Epilogue have released a potential gamechanger with the GB Operator. This tiny device has quickly become one of my most prized retro devices, and I’m going to tell you why you should get one for yourself if you happen to have a Gameboy collection.
The GB Operator is a small device that will easily fit in the palm of your hand and utilizes the mGBA emulator to allow you to play your collection of Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance carts on your computer. Powered with a single USB Type-C, the process to get it running is as simple as downloading the required software from Epilogue’s website and plugging in your Operator. It’s incredibly painless and quick, and you’ll be enjoying your classic games in no time—all that for $50.
First and foremost, it is important to clarify that the GB Operator utilizes an emulator to run your games and not is recreating the Gameboy hardware. The scary “E” word, a term that tends to cause discourse and debate around whether or not it is a morally or legally acceptable avenue to utilize. What makes this situation fall into the “legal” camp and perfectly fine to use is the fact that you need to use your actual game cartridges to make it work.
When you plug in your game, you are greeted by a lovely image of the game’s box art and a short description of the game. Now, if you are looking just to play your game, all you have to do is make sure your preferred buttons are set, click launch, and you’re off. The emulator functionality is serviceable but admittedly under-featured in comparison to other emulators. The lack of save states and inability to speed up or slow down the game didn’t bother me, though. The prized feature of the GB Operator is that it doubles as a backup and cartridge writing device. This means that you can begin making digital backup copies of all of your physical games and their saves with a click of the button.
The ability to make a digital duplicate of your saves, especially on those games that use batteries to maintain saves whose lives are quickly coming to an end, is huge! With this feature, you can back up your old saves, swap out the old battery with a new one, and then upload your old save back onto the cart, good as new! The fact that I could safely backup my original save from Pokemon Red nearly brought me to tears, and now I have no worries about having to replace the battery.
This writing function also applies to being able to write games to blank carts. With this, you can finally dump that imported copy of Mega Man Battle Network 4.5, apply the English patch, and upload the new translated version on a cartridge to play on your Gameboy wherever you go. These writable carts can be fairly easily found online with a quick search.
I hands-down love this device. Epilogue has managed to make an affordable and enticing gadget that anyone with a collection of Gameboy games should snatch up as soon as they can.
It was a joy to try out all my old games, from Gameboy through Gameboy Advance, and being able to play them with no issue while re-experiencing my old saves was a wonderful trip down memory lane. Now I never again have to worry about losing my GBC Metal Gear Solid, Pokemon, or Mega Man Battle Network saves again. It’s a great feeling.
The GB Operator is a game-changer and a must-have for collectors due to the ease with which you back up your library and saves and write those saves back to the carts. And hopefully, this is just the start for Epilogue, and in the years to come, we get similar devices for other cart-based platforms.
Get your own GB Operator HERE
Thanks to the amazing folks at Epilogue for providing us with a review unit.