GBCoid Game Boy Emulator review

Reviews 09:24, Mar 10 2010

Check out our review of GBCoid - a Game Boy and Game Boy Color emulator for Android

Having given Android users the ability to enjoy vintage machines such as the Sega Genesis, Nintendo SNES and even the humble 8-bit Master System, talented coder Yongzh has now updated his emulation portfolio with GBCoid, which replicates the experience of playing Nintendo’s portable legend the Game Boy - as well as its rosy-cheeked offspring, the Game Boy Color.

Released in 1989, the original Game Boy sparked a portable revolution which is still going strong today thanks to consoles like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. Boasting a humble monochrome display and running off four AA batteries, it hardly feels like cutting-edge technology these days but there’s a certain retro charm to those yellow-tinged images.

Of course, true gameplay doesn’t age. Titles such as Super Mario Land, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and the insanely popular Tetris prove that graphics aren’t everything and these games – as well as countless others – remain just as playable today as they did back in the ‘90s.

If you prefer your games in something a little more eye-catching than four shades of grey then you can always make use of GBCoid’s Game Boy Color support. While the visuals are of a similar quality the addition of color makes everything seem a little more up-to-date, but some would argue that the charm of the black and white titles is lost.

Like Yongzh’s other Android emulators GBCoid has benefited from a wide range of improvements over the past few months. The launch of the keyboard-less Nexus One has forced the developer to include a more comprehensive arrangement of interface options and it’s now possible to choose where on the screen you want your virtual D-pad and buttons reside.

Another addition is the ability to search for ROMs online using a link within the app itself which simply points your browser in the direction of one of the net’s many ROM-search sites. As always, you’ll need to leave your moral scruples at the door because the very notion of emulating software you don’t already own is very much a grey area in legal terms.

The biggest failing of GBCoid is something that is entirely out of its control. The standard resolution of the Game Boy is a miniscule 160 x 144 and as you can imagine the games look tiny when played at that size on an Android phone screen – especially if you happen to have a Motorola Droid, with its whopping 3.7-inch 854 x 480 display.

You can scale the image so that it fills the screen but this has the unwelcome side-effect of distorting the pixels slightly, as well as putting additional strain on your phone’s processor. However, the latter problem can be mitigated slightly if you’re running the app on device with a powerful CPU.

Once again Young has created a truly essential piece of programming which every discerning gamer should download immediately.

GBCoid info

Ease of use:

Platform: Android

Cost: $2.99

Version: 1.4.6

Developer: Yongzh

Website/Demo: N/A

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