Click here to download the PC-Linker Windows program.
Help for the unlicensed gameboy developer has come around, not long ago the UFO Company announced and released a new
accessory for the Gameboy(Color), called PC-Linker. The PC-Linker was developed by Bung Enterprises, under the name
Coder Jr., and was supposed to be the entry price for everyone who participated in their latest Gameboy coding competition,
but the Coder Jr., dissapeared and everyone received a PocketVoice cartridge instead.
Fortunately UFO picked up the Coder Jr., and released it under a different name. The PC-Linker is different from anything else seen before, you don't need a "cradle" for the cartridge, which is 16mbit by the way, as the linker comes with a cable that connects to the parallel port of your PC, no USB connector exist, and the other end plugs directly into your Gameboy / Gameboy Color / Gameboy Advance, although please note that the PC-Linker does not run games and demos created exclusively for the GBA, but it will let you run your GB/GBC stuff on the Gameboy Advance. This also means that no batteries are needed, except for those your Gameboy system requires.
The unit comes with a small 2 page manual, one side being in english and the other in chinese, I believe. Included is also a CD containing over 100 homebrewn games and demos, 128 to be exact. The manual was a bit short i think, as there was no trouble shooting. It took me awhile before I had the unit up and running, I had a bit of touble getting a connection between the GB and the PC, finally realizing that is was the parallel connector on the PC-Linker which caused me the trouble. To be able to connect the parallel connector you had to fasten it with two screws, one on each side of the connector, unfortunately these screws could'nt get far enough into each side of the parallel port, causing a bad connection. But with a second cable, the one I used for my Xchanger, back in the days, and a gender changer (female-female) I was able to get a connection between PC and Gameboy, no matter what mode my parallel port was. For those who doesn't have a gender changer, you could just pick the easy way and just cut off those fastening screws. If you don't do either, the unit isn't worth much.
Unfortunately this wasn't the end of my beginner problems, first it looked like it wasn't able to clear the Flash completely as 3 games remanined on the menu, however the word on the street is that UFO loaded these onto the cartridge in a seperate bank, not messing with your 16mbit. I didn't get any commercial games running on the unit, and even most of the demos and homebrewn games I tried running crashed, I eventually started thinking that I maybe have a faulty unit? which later was verified by another PC-Linker owner, my unit is defective.
Sending a 16mbit file takes around 200 seconds, manual says 160, which isn't excatly the fastest I seen, but how it's done, and judging by how small most homebrewn stuff is, it's pretty good.
The program used to send the games is called Coder PC, is written in delphi it seems and does'nt run under Windows 2000, and very similar to any other PC program made by the Bung staff. It has a lot of options there is no use of, how about a cart size where you can choose between 1, 4 and 16mbit, the PC-Linker is only released as 16mbit. Another feature is called "check file", according to the manual "When the check file is set to on, only files in gb/gbc format can be dragged into the lower dialogue box", well I thought it only accepted GB/GBC roms?
Besides these two features, there's the typical LPT selection, buttons which lets you send the rom, a merge button which lets you copy multiple roms into a single file, for what purpose I have no idea really.
Well to sum up on things, I started out quite positive about recieving this unit, but must admit that it turned a bit to the wrong side along the way. Most games/demos I tried running crashed totally, after loading the titlescreen, because of a bad unit?, and is this a typical problem?, they put 3 games in the cart which couldn't be erased, but forgot to inform about it.
It wasn't all bad though, the idea of connecting GB and PC is great and very handy for developers, the 16mbit limitation is somewhat ok for the usual game player as you're able to store most games, and nothing to worry about for the developer. If you got a working unit you're able to run commercial as well as homebrewn games. The speed of sending was very good if you're sending small files, but can become a pain with larger files (16mbit). And the fact that you do not need to worry about batteries, except for the Gameboy unit, is another plus in the big book. The price is just US$50, which includes shipping worldwide, you can't get anything cheaper than that elsewhere!
If you're a game developer this is definately the item to pick up, it's cheap and handy, however if you're just here to play the games, I would probably spend a bit more money and buy a GameJack, or GB Xchanger, that is if you're able to find one these days. The PC-Linker should be treated as a developer tool, but are you out to get a cheap rom playback media for your Gameboy Color, remember it doesn't play Gameboy Advance games, then it's quite nice at cheap too.
I would like to thank the UFO company for providing a sample of the PC-Linker, and their positive attitude towards 64scener. Click here to visit their site for ordering the PC-Linker, and information about their other products, such as the newly released AGB Xchanger.
The PC-Linker comes packaged nicely in this blisterpack-style box.