That headline had to be the most intriguing, least clickbait headline you’ve ever seen. I’m not lying when I say that today’s review is a product for PC that makes a Gameboy Advance work as a controller. It’s not even hard to use! Let’s get right into this review.
‘Wireless Gameboy/GBA Controller…allows you to use your Gameboy, MGB, GBC, GBA, GBA SP, GB Micro, DS and DS Lite as a wireless controller. Play games on your PC, laptop, RPi, etc, or use it to play games on a NES, Super Nintendo, Gamecube or Wii wirelessly using any supported Gameboy of your choice. Read more about the receivers/transmitters below.
(Note, if I use WGC, it means Wireless Gameboy Controller)
- Build Quality. I wanted to quickly speak on how great the build quality is for both halves of the product that was sent to me for review. First off, the USB receiver of the WGC wasn’t protected by a large plastic shell. No, instead Inside Gadgets saved plastic by using heat shrink tubing on the receiver. Not only is it saving plastic and probably production costs, but it still protects it from dust and such. And as I said, even the cartridge itself appears to be of a great quality as well. I’m uncertain if they’re using old Gameboy Advance shells that were gutted or if they are reproduction shells that have the official logo. Try not to get hung up by that. The quality of the shell is still great, and it has no lack of strength in the plastic or anything wonky.
- Windows. When you’re plugging the USB receiver of the WGC, the drivers seems to auto-install. Or at least maybe they did when I wasn’t looking. All I know was as soon as I plugged it in and checked it on the Game Controllers section of Windows, it recognized perfectly as just another USB controller which is fantastic. I can’t speak as to how well it functions on Mac though.
- Pairing. The USB receiver blinks every so often when you first plug it in. Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with the USB receiver. That actually just means that it is looking for the Gameboy cartridge to sync with. You don’t have to do anything special to pair it up and that is the beauty of the product. They are already paired to one another and are waiting both to have power. So once your USB is plugged into the PC and the Gameboy is turned on, the light stays steady. Additionally, there is no cross chatter so if you want to use more than one pair of WGC’s at a time, go for it.
- Updateable. Sometimes companies update their products. Whether it is in the form of a hardware revision or firmware updates. The WGC is no different here. Inside Gadgets can and have pushed updates for the USB receiver. As of writing this article, they’re already at version 1.3. I’m uncertain what gets added in these firmwares, but obviously you should check back to their page periodically to make certain your USB receiver is working. It’s great that they continue to support it. The only caveat about updating is that it is for more advanced users. You must be keen on doing the more advanced steps here. Rest assured that if that looks scary, you shouldn’t really need to update the USB as it should function as mine did, perfect out of box.
- Emulators. The WGC definitely works well with emulators I tested it on. I, of course, was using it on the GBA emulator, VisualBoy. I was playing not only GBA games, but Game Boy Color, and Game Boy original games as well. As you can expect, it works just great there. But since I have flash carts for those handhelds already, I thought it might be more fun to take the party to the SNES emulator and try out those games. I used SNES9x to test it out and again, it was an absolute blast. You sort of forget you’re holding a handheld gaming device to play on a PC. I tried it with a standard GBA and it was more comfortable overall than the SP as it’s so square. The original GBA has more of a SNES form factor to it anyway and since screen brightness doesn’t really matter, I kept using it. The NES games I played also worked impeccably well, so props to the WGC across the emulators tested!
- PC Game Compatible. I love my Stepmania and getting a new controller to make it work with also works well with Stepmania. Obviously I was using a GBA SP and the only logical way to play Stepmania was with the D-Pad, so it wasn’t quite as worth it. I think using something like the aforementioned emulators makes more sense. Or you could always use a Joy2Key type program and set it to work with certain 2D Steam games. At this point, I wouldn’t really recommend it for games that are fully 3D. You’re missing thumbsticks, you’re missing extra trigger buttons, you’re missing a ton of buttons for hotkeys. It just isn’t worth it in my opinion. Stick to emulators overall and any ones that are not 3D either.
- Lagless. When we say lagless, we truly mean there is essentially ZERO lag. As I was testing the games in the emulators, I couldn’t see with my eyes or feel with my hands any input delay. Lag also would’ve impacted Stepmania as it’s a rhythm-based game. I knew that it was going to be do or die when playing the songs. However, it came through for me. I was getting Perfects and Marvelous’s. Lag was my greatest fear with this as I always seem to get burned with 3rd party wireless solutions. Not this time though, and thank god, I can replace my old wireless SNES controller knockoff thing that sucked.
- Other Plugs. The number of console variations and combinations are crazy. Let’s say you don’t have a PC, these things still have great options available to you. You could buy other wireless connectors for different systems. Let’s say you buy the one with a Gamecube plug on it. You could technically then use a Gamecube adapter on your Switch and attach the GBA receiver to it to play Sonic Mania on it. Or if you have a Raphnet adapter to use a Wiimote connector on any various console, let’s say N64 for instance, you could get the Wii WGC receiver and start playing Magical Tetris Challenge with your GBA. The wii receiver can also work on your NES and SNES Classics. If they’re modded you could be using this to play PS1 games on a GBA! This is insane what you could really do.
- Distance. Now, I don’t mean the distance of how far away you can get with this thing. That is quite a far distance and you wouldn’t really be able to see your PC screen anymore. No, I was talking about the fact that the WGC comes from Australia. Their website informs you that these could take 2-4 weeks in transit to get to you. This might make you question if you want to even bother with that. It’s not a con of the product, but I know that some products have been deal breakers for me in the past when I had to pay for the item, then pay for the shipping, and then wait a whole month. It wasn’t worth it.
- Size. Physically, the USB receiver that I reviewed is quite lengthy. Hopefully future revisions could be maybe half-length. I was afraid someone might come alongside my laptop and accidentally bump it and either pop it out or break it altogether.
- Battery life. Normally playing games on PC is wired or the controllers have great battery life. This is running on (presumably) 2 AA batteries. If you’re using it on a GBA original model that is. You’ll have better longevity on GBA SP or using a DS/DS Lite. You could even just leave them plugged in and charging while playing if you wanted.
With regards to whether I think that this product is worth importing it from Australia or simply waiting for someone to buy some in bulk and sell them domestically. I think it’s totally worth it. If you don’t have a flash cartridge and just want to play GBA games on original hardware, this is the way to do it. You’re still getting the feel of the GBA whilst also playing the game on a PC with improved graphics and lots of other features.
Now there are some things that I couldn’t test. Does this work on Mac, again I don’t know. I apologize personally if you have one of those of those computers. If before ordering one you want to ask the good people at Inside Gadgets, you can reach out to them via email. Maybe there are driver packs they can send your way to increase the compatibility on MacOS’s. Either way, you see that the amount of positives outweigh the amount of negatives and so that get’s two big thumbs up from us!