Review: Epilogue GB Operator 6
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Epilogue is a Romanian company which has been in the headlines recently thanks to the fact that it's currently working on a device which will allow you to play your original SNES and Super Famicom carts directly from your computer – as well as preserve your save data and check if a cartridge is legitimate or not.

There's a lot of interest in this new product, which should be out soon, but we thought it would be the perfect time to check out Epilogue's previous release, the $50 GB Operator. This device has been available for a couple of years now, but the software behind it has been evolving at quite a steady rate, making now the ideal opportunity to give it a spin.

The GB Operator is a small unit which links to your PC or Mac via a USB connection. Once connected, you have to download and install the Playback application – and that's about it as far as setup is concerned. Getting the device up and running is as painless as it could be, although there are plenty of options to tinker with within Playback (more on those in a second, though).

The GB Operator accepts Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges. Popping one into the device's cartridge slot instantly brings up the game's cover artwork and a short description within the Playback application; you're also immediately told if the cartridge is an original or a pirate copy (by the way, certain flash carts, such as those in the popular Everdrive range, aren't supported).

Games are loaded into the open-source mGBA emulator and run brilliantly. You'll naturally want to use a proper controller in this instance, but for all intents and purposes, you're taking part in 'legal' emulation when you use this device – and it's a great way to retain that physical connection with your collection whilst enjoying modern-day benefits, such as better image quality and other emulation-only bonuses.

For example, you can fast-forward to speed up slower sections of games, and Playback includes a built-in database of cheat codes which can easily be enabled prior to starting a game. You can also enable Super Game Boy borders when running compatible titles. Heck, it's even possible to download your Game Boy Camera snaps using this device.

Indeed, the GB Operator is really useful when it comes to preservation. The device allows you to dump the save data on your cartridge so you can retain it for posterity and also use it with other emulators – you can upload saves to original carts, too (even if they're from a flash cart). It's also possible to dump entire games using this thing, which allows you to create legal backups of your collection.

Another cool feature is that progress made when playing games via the GB Operator is loaded onto the cartridge, so you pick up where you left off when you pop the cart back into a real Game Boy system.

While the GB Operator's Playback software is getting better with each iteration, there are still some missing features, with save states being the most notable. Save states aren't currently mentioned in Epilogue's roadmap, but we hope that they will be included at some point in the future – however, given the device's focus on preserving 'real' on-cart saves, there's a good chance they won't, so factor that into your purchasing decision accordingly.

When taking into account what it sets out to do, the GB Operator pretty much nails it. The hardware is small and easily portable, the emulation is excellent and the Playback app is evolving into something that's packed with options and features. The issue is that this is still a very niche product – and there's no escaping the fact that, without a computer, it's little more than a paperweight.

However, if you're looking for a way to enjoy your Game Boy library when you're sat at your computer – or you're interested in preserving your collection or save data – then it makes a lot of sense, especially at such a reasonable price point.

Review: Epilogue GB Operator 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Please note that some external links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you click them and make a purchase we may receive a small percentage of the sale. Please read our FTC Disclosure for more information.