The cheekily-named Epilogue is obviously hoping to align itself with the same brand of uncompromising quality Analogue is known for, and has adopted the slogan ‘No compromises’ for its Operator series. The Romanian company’s first effort is a strong entry into the field of retro gaming, although it’s a very different product to anything Analogue has produced, and one which may have limited appeal.
The device works as a middle man; an interface between your cart collection and tried-and-true GB emulation served up in a bespoke emulation wrapper on your PC. To reiterate, without the accompanying desktop app and some modest processing power from your PC, the GB Operator is simply a flashy-looking cart stand. Plug it into your TV via USB and nothing will happen.
On opening the box, you’ll find the unit itself, an attractive little chunk of see-through plastic housing mounted on a quality strip of non-slip rubber. It’s a simple, stylish plinth in which to insert your carts and remove them as you would a mighty sword from a stone, and we enjoy the reverence it imbues in that action. These carts deserve respect, and the GB Operator provides that.
That may be disappointing to some retro enthusiasts, but Epilogue arguably makes up for the limitations with an otherwise convenient and comfortable user experience, not to mention a couple of functions that could make it indispensable to a a select group of Game Boy fans.
Casual readers would be forgiven for seeing the maker’s name on the box of the GB Operator — a neat little device that lets you play your Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance carts on your PC — and confusing the company with Analogue, the producer of such quality retro-playing consoles as the Analogue NT (SNES) and the upcoming Analogue Pocket (Game Boy).
Firstly, banish any ideas that this is a mini Game Boy emulation system that plugs into your TV like the Retron SQ; the GB Operator won’t work without being connected to a PC, for starters. It requires the use of a downloadable .exe running on your computer to function in any way at all.
The included instruction leaflet directs you to download the ‘Operator software’ from Epilogue’s website, with Windows, Mac or Linux options available. Once extracted and installed, the software searches and automatically detects the GB Operator connected to your PC via the supplied USB-C to USB-A cable (we used our Switch Pro Controller cable). A distractingly bright LED in the unit indicates that it’s powered on (Epilogue plans to address this minor irritation via an update) and it’s time to insert a cartridge of your choosing. Almost instantly the software recognised our Metroid: Zero Mission as a legitimate European cart and showed appropriate box art and blurb, which it appears to be pulling from a server.
On loading up a cartridge, the app offers ‘Play’ and ‘Data’ options, along with a third ‘Photo’ tab reserved for the Game Boy Camera, which we’ll get to later. The Play page, predictably, is where you launch the game. You rebind Gamepad and Keyboard controls here and we would have liked the option to duplicate inputs on multiple buttons, but it worked smoothly enough with our 8bitdo FC30 Pro. The app also has greyed-out options for Emulator and Device settings that will be unlocked in future updates. Hit Launch, the ROM downloads to the emulator and the game fires up.