Well, it was a slow start, but it seems like the planned major GameCube/Game Boy Advance connectivity is finally being utilized, and not just by Nintendo either. But what Iíve found disturbing is the various ways this connection is being used, and in some cases, not used. Considering my site, itís prolly best to start with Animal Crossing. For sure, if thereís one game that defines the GCN/GBA connectivity, itís this one. Letís start with the NES games. You find a NES game, you want to play it on the go, so you transfer it to the Game Boy Advance. I find no problem with this, in fact I think itís great. Itís kind of sad that larger (and, in my opinion, better) NES games like Warioís Woods, Punch-Out!!, and Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda (if weíre ever shown how to get those last three [Iím getting indications that Punch-Out!! can be gotten in the game without sending a password to The Nookíd One or a neighbor]) cannot be transferred to the GBA, but this is really not the fault of the gameís programmers. Now I spose itís possible they could oversimplify these games, such as having an option to download one level of Warioís Woods at a time, one level of SMB, one dungeon in LoZ, but itís hard to find fault with them not doing this, since I really canít say with any certainty how feasible that would be, what parts would be lost, and so on. Iíd hazard a guess that the first one would be feasible, just from viewing the Nintendo Puzzle Collection. Still, in my opinion, this is the best usage of the GBA connectivity in the game.
What is prolly an even more major part of the GBA connectivity is Animal Island. This is the first example of one of my major gripes with connectivity: the Lock and Key feature. This is basically using the GBA not to transfer data between it and the GCN, but to use it as a sort of Ďkeyí to unlock something already on the GCN disc. Animal Island, with its coconuts, islander, Hawaiian shirts and large beach house for storage, is already on your GCN disc, but Nintendo requires you to have both a GBA and a GCN to GBA link cable to access it. Basically, it grants certain privileges only to those who own both systems, thereby pressuring someone with one system to get the other (in this case someone with a GCN to get a GBA, but I think Nintendoís focus has usually been the other way around.) Now this is not the worst example by far, but I still donít like it. I say that Nintendo should stick to its advertisements, magazines, reserve bonuses, and websites to try to pressure me into buying its products, not use the products Iíve already bought to buy more products (now granted, this is not by far the only company to do something like this.) On a slightly unrelated note, it seems kind of pointless to transfer Animal Island to your GBA, if you take out the whole ďfruit to random amounts of bags of moneyĒ plan that Iíve made liberal use of, the ďbury items, give your islander the golden shovel, get rare itemsĒ plan, or the ďgive your islander a net to catch floating treasureĒ plan. The islander seems to make a pretty boring little virtual pet, so Iíve never felt the need to leave the room my GCN is at with the Animal Island program on my GBA.
Unless Iím overlooking something, last comes the Pattern Design program (oh yes, the E-reader! But Iíd rather not go into that now.) Itís quite useful to be able to design patterns away from your GCN, so no gripes there (Iíve got some gripes with the program itself, such as the amount of colors possible, but agin, not getting into that.) My problem is that you have to pay 300 Bells (yeah, I know, thatís like a quarter in U.S. money, but still) if you donít use the GBA to transfer the program. Agin, Nintendo gives privileges to gamers with the GBA, so that I have to squint at my screen rather than looking at it on my nice, large television set (well, I donít HAVE toÖ but come on, being a cheapskate is part of the game!)
Now then, letís look at some other games quickly. Metroid Prime: need Fusion to unlock original Metroid, key and lock agin, poo on that. Yes, I would highly recommend getting both games if youíve got the cash, but itís still not right for Nintendo to keep what is already on the game disc from gamers just as an incentive to buy the other game. Kudos to Datelís Action Replay (so is the SNESí old Pro Action Replay better than this thing? Iím confused on that) for letting gamers play Metroid without a GBA, and simultaneously sticking it to the Man for all of us and lining their own pockets with our cash that would have otherwise gone to NintendoÖ well, itís still cheaper than purchasing a GBA and Metroid Fusion, plus itís useful for many things, like the aforementioned Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda in Animal Crossing.
Moving on, thereís the first game to utilize a GBA/GCN link: Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. Good old Sega, jumping the gun on technology before Nintendo itself is ready to get involved, and usually getting screwed in the process (in this case, the GBA/GCN link cable actually came a bit after SA2:B and Sonic Advance were already out. But yeahÖ they probably got more screwed with Phantasy Star Online. At least our saviors at Datel finally came out with a cheap, US keyboard for the GameCube.) Basically, you can take the Chao you get in both games and transfer them to each other (also, PSO has Chao compatible with both games, though Iím not sure what the case will be with Sonic Advance 1, Sonic Adventure DX, and that Sonic Pinball Party thing and its link with these two older games.) I have little to gripe aboot with this. Itís nice to be able to raise Chao on the go, nice to be able to see them do their cute animations and grow up and evolve on the GCN, and the two places complement each other nicely. Plus, SA2:B doesnít even require Sonic Advance, the Tiny Chao Garden can be downloaded onto an empty GBAís internal memory. Itís the same program, only difference is you have to put it in sleep mode instead of saving. As for those with only Sonic Advance, there may be some longing to finally have the Chao grow up and compete in the contests in SA2:B, but the Tiny Chao Garden is in itself enjoyable, and the Chao in general do not affect either of the main games (just the opposite.) So overall, Iíd say I like the connectivity of these two games best.
Phantasy Star Online: Episode I and II: bonus Chao for SA2:B (bummer that we had to wait so long, but at the same time itís nice to see new uses for older games), download mini little games with such Sega mainstays as Nights and Chu Chu Rocket. Definitely a great use of the game, kind of a bummer that you have to be online to get it (not that PSO is quite PSO when youíre only playing it offline, mind you), but at least this means they can make new mini-games or even short demos of future GBA games and have them downloadable off the server (at least, I THINK that the games are on the servers, not the GCN disc. I could be wrong of course. If itís the latter, making you have to go online to get them seems pretty dumb.) All in all, another sign that Sega is right behind Nintendo in terms of supporting this connectivity.
Wind Waker: Play as Tingle, blow up stuff. Not sure how much fun the other player is going to have doing this (Iíve got a feeling thereís going to be a lot of people switching back and forth between their GBAs and GCN controller), but mindless fun nonetheless. Also there will be a Tingle Tuner, used to get hints from Tingle. Bah, put it on the GCN I say, though I think Nintendoís reasoning is the same as with the lock and key idea: get people to buy GBAs. Rayman 3 is doing something similar to the Tingle bomb thing in a multiplayer mode, where the player with the GBA drops blocks to help the player with the GCN controller get across a stage. Iím not all that interested in this, but I like the teamís creativity in it.
Nintendo Puzzle Collection: play Dr. Mario, Yoshiís Cookie or Panel De Pon (Japanese version of Tetris Attack/Pokťmon Puzzle League), then when youíve got to travel you can download mini versions to your GBA (Dr. Mario and Yoshiís Cookie are basically the NES versions, while Panel De Pon has new graphics.) No complaints here, except really should only cost around 30 bucks, if not less.
Moving on to a broader groupings of games with similar features, thereís a number of 3rd party games which allow you to unlock extra areas or levels for either one game or both by hooking up the GCN game with its GBA counterpart. Agin, lock and key thing, I donít like it very much. Other games transfer a mini-game to the GBA, and though thereís some merit to having that mini-game stay on GCN, itís not all that bad an idea. A few games are using connectivity as a means of item trading, sounds good to me. Future games Iíd rather not speculate on until I know more information (such as whether Donkey Kong + is just a GCN game or a GCN/GBA combo.)
All right, enough critiquing and criticizing what we have, time to focus on what more can be done. Between AC and Nintendo Puzzle Collection, weíve got two cases where thereís a nice golden oldies collection that can be transferred to GBA, but more couldnít hurt. Some people have wondered about including online features of GBA games using the Game Boy Player, Iím all for that. But Iím also thinking of having games that, despite being for GBA (due to not needing advanced graphics, or being best portable), could somehow use the GB Player to make use of other controller slots and have multiplayer, one more complex than what transferring data using the link cable could do, without multiple game cartridges (this was done with the Game Boy version of Space Invaders on the Super Game Boy.) Still, one has to wonder if the GB Player would even allow that, and itís too late to change that now, at least in Japan (stupid putting off the due date until late June over in the US.) As for better uses of the link cable, one major concern is that no oneís used it for plays football games, or any other situation where you want to have data available only to you, not the other players. Now one problem of this is that if youíre having four people play, game designers are limited to only four buttons (six if they make liberal use of start and the ever unused select button.) PlusÖ there are not exactly a lot of sports games coming down the pipeline for GCN. Thereís also the possibility of somehow transferring a version of the entire game to the GBA to continue on the go, make progress, then continue where you left off on the GCN, but what kind of game would that be and would it be worth putting it on GCN? Praps a puzzle game could do something like this, but in that case it kind of sounds like more trouble than itís worth. In fact, now that I think aboot it, the flaws in the amount of memory the GBA has and its lack of buttons could really hurt potential uses for it in the future, making it not so much useful to publishers but as it is mostly used now, as a gimmick. Still, hereís hoping that it is used for good (doing things that couldnít be done on the GCN or GBA alone, transferring items and other data from one to the other) and not evil (lock and key method, things that really donít require any connectivity.)
Not that youíve ever seen this page.