- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Here’s a look at some hardware and software now available:

Game Boy Player, by Nintendo for GameCube, $49.99. The home of Pokemon and the Mario Brothers has come up with another way to blur the line between its self-contained hand-held system and its entertainment console, while keeping fans of both pieces of hardware happy.

A complementary relationship already has been firmly established between the two consoles. A cable link allows data to be uploaded and downloaded between the devices, providing extra bonuses and action in titles such as Metroid Fusion.

Now, the Game Boy Player allows its owner to play almost any of 1,300 Game Boy titles through the GameCube. The player essentially acts as a device to perfectly parse video and audio from the Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges into a normal-size TV monitor.

Installation of the square unit is a breeze — the owner simply connects the slab to the bottom of the GameCube using two screws and the high-speed port plug. A disc that comes with the player must be running in the GameCube console to enjoy the games.

Players can use either a GameCube controller, a Game Boy Advance or Game Boy Advance SP unit — connected via a special cable sold separately — to take command of the onscreen action.

While on the topic of compatibility and handy configurations, one player can even play the game on the TV screen while others can play simultaneously via their Game Boys to provide a multiplayer event.

Players also can choose to size the game to fit the TV screen or select from 20 on-screen borders to add a unique touch to the experience. Two game-play screen sizes are available with no graphics degradation.

Overall, the Game Boy Player really shines, but it would be nice if data could be transferred from the unit to the GameCube the same way the hand-held device works in tandem with the console via the cable linkup. If Nintendo wants to offer the ultimate marriage between mediums, this would seem to be the perfect fit.

The Game Boy Player is a welcome peripheral, basically for the player who hates straining his peepers on a 2.5-inch-wide screen but still wants to play some of the best Game Boy titles or the youngster and his friends in need of a multimedia immersion.

Note: For those who do not own a GameCube or Game Boy Advance SP, now is the time to buy. For a limited time, they can receive a free Game Boy Player when they buy a Nintendo GameCube system ($149.99).

Donkey Kong Country, Nintendo, rated E: content suitable for ages 6 and older, $34.99. My first attempt to take optical advantage of the Game Boy Player succeeded handsomely thanks to a couple of legendary apes.

Veteran gamers who used the Super Nintendo System back in 1994 will remember a “must have” side-scrolling extravaganza that revolved around Donkey and Diddy Kong, who roamed around Kong Island in search of their stash of bananas, which had been swiped by the evil, reptilian Kremlings.

Well, it’s back and reduced to being played on Nintendo’s hand-held system. Silliness abounds as the player starts with Donkey and can work in tandem with Diddy, who joins the action as he battles multiple beasts and villains through ground slaps, cartwheels, jumps and rolls.

The game offers plenty of environmental challenges through six lively worlds as the pair of primates swing, swim and ride atop animals while collecting fruit and exploring plenty of secret passages.

Even a few extra challenges are available, one at Candy’s Dance Studio in the vein of Dance Dance Revolution, and the other a timed fishing adventure as Donkey sits atop Eduarde the Swordfish to hook some fish.

A combination of jungle sounds, primal grunts and silly music along with active creatures and more than 30 levels make the title very endearing. Two players also can work together, one as Donkey and one as Diddy, to work through the areas.

The simplistic brilliance of Donkey Kong Country will give the entire family plenty of reason to monkey around.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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