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Eon’s GCHD MK-II Review — Unlocking the GameCube’s Full Potential

December 19, 2018 1:00:18 PM EST

Bringing the GameCube to trendy shows has by no means been really easy or appeared so good.

I really like the GameCube. I grew up on my Recreation Boy techniques and the Nintendo 64, however the GameCube outlined a lot of my gaming like to this present day. I shout the good phrase of Paper Mario The Thousand-Yr Door from the rooftops and grunt when Nintendo ignores my pleas for a religious successor. Wind Waker will all the time be my favourite Zelda recreation, even when others have surpassed it critically. I keep in mind enjoying Mario Get together with the microphone accent or being captivated by the planet of Talon IV in Metroid Prime. 

All this love has additionally been lately twisted by crippling nostalgia. I’ve a extreme case of it. Throw something from my childhood on display and I’ll possible be drawn in the direction of it. That’s why I’ve been slowly circling down the rabbit gap of resurrecting previous recreation consoles onto trendy HD shows for years now. 

My entry level to this niché pastime was a YouTube channel referred to as My Life In Gaming. Coury and Marc run the channel, creating extremely instructional movies about bringing basic consoles again to life on trendy HD TVs. I instantly jumped to their video on the greatest options for the GameCube and came upon the monetary horror related to bringing the GameCube into the trendy period. Nintendo’s official element cables value an arm and a leg, going for $250+ on eBay. To get an HDMI port on your GameCube a number of years in the past required bodily modding the system. I almost pulled the set off on a roughly $160 mod, however backed off after extra analysis and never being eager on bodily altering my childhood system.

By way of all this time in the rabbit gap, I got here throughout a brand new firm early in 2018 that was providing a plug-and-play choice for HDMI cables on the GameCube. EON created the GCHD, a tiny adapter that plugged into the digital out port on unique GameCube techniques and allowed native 480p output for $150. Identical to the bodily mod, I almost pulled the set off a number of occasions, however it was by no means in the price range. 

Ten months later EON revealed an upgraded model of their adapter. The GCHD MK-II (MK-II from right here on out for simplicity) was revealed on November 15 and provided a pair new options and refinements over their unique mannequin. We have been lucky right here at DualShockers to obtain a shopper unit a pair days forward of its official launch on December 15, 2018. Promoting for the similar worth of $150, I needed to seek out out if the MK-II is basically value the value to deliver my beloved GameCube onto my HD TV.

GCHD Colors

Earlier than we dive additional in, let’s speak specs. The GameCube is able to 480p digital output. That is because of a snazzy port on unique mannequin GameCubes that was meant for stereoscopic 3D. That tech was by no means absolutely developed, however the port provides entry to the GameCube’s lossless digital sign. That’s 5 years earlier than the PS3! The MK-II makes use of that port, together with an onboard FPGA chip with customized model of the open-source GCVideo software program, to take the digital sign and output it over HDMI with zero enter lag. This doesn’t upscale the video to 720p, 1080p, or 4K. You’ll have to make use of an exterior scaler for that. The MK-II additionally permits for analog output by way of the widespread pink, blue, inexperienced element cables meant for the Wii. There’s additionally a brand new analog/optical audio port for plugging in headphones or a encompass sound system.

The MK-II comes packaged in a tiny GameCube designed field. There are three colour decisions meant to match your hardware; purple, black, and silver. EON let me decide the black version to match my GameCube. The again of the field particulars all the options of the adapter, whereas detailing the straightforward setup. All that’s inside is the MK-II itself and a tiny instruction booklet.

I popped the MK-II out of its field and instantly went to plug it in the again of my GameCube. This adapter solely works with DOL-001 mannequin GameCube techniques, which may have the digital out port. You’ll undoubtedly need to be sure to have this mannequin GameCube earlier than shopping for the adapter. Initially, I had hassle getting the MK-II into the two ports on the again. I needed to unplug the system totally and get it in the mild to ensure I used to be lining it up appropriately. As soon as I acquired it lined up, it match completely and snuggly.

GameCube Ports

After plugging it in, utilizing it was almost a breeze. All you must do is plug in an HDMI cable and boot the system up. It mechanically works and shows the GameCube at 480i. To get 480p to work on video games, simply maintain the B button as a recreation boots up and choose “yes” to progressive mode. I discovered that the majority time the GameCube prompted me whether or not or not I held down the B button, however to ensure it, I’d advocate holding the button down. I say almost a breeze as a result of I had some hassle syncing a common distant to entry the MK-II’s settings.

I assumed I had a distant mendacity round, however it wasn’t “universal.” I went to Goal and purchased the least expensive one that they had, however it wouldn’t work both. I had to return to Goal, return the $7 distant and swap it for a $15 distant. This distant labored after I learn the distant’s instruction guide on find out how to sync the factor. This was tedious principally as a result of I didn’t personal a common distant. I used to be additionally sick at the time, in order that didn’t assist issues.

“…using it was nearly a breeze. All you have to do is plug in an HDMI cable and boot the system up.”

As soon as the distant was synced, I used to be capable of entry the settings for the MK-II. Its function listing isn’t too in depth, nevertheless it does supply some fascinating decisions. There’s a line doubler for when the GameCube shows 480i content material, to assist create an image high quality extra akin to 480p. You possibly can activate scanline to simulate a CRT TV. Whereas barely nostalgic, scanlines actually shine on the GameCube’s uncommon 240p video games and GBA video games. You might modify the brightness, distinction, and saturation. There are even choices for tweaking the MK-II’s on-screen show (OSD) settings, which is for the settings. Truthfully, it truly is plug-and-play prepared, with just a few settings chances are you’ll need to tweak for particular video games.

GCHD Menu

The primary recreation I booted up was The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. I assumed the recreation’s shiny colour palette and cel-shaded visuals can be a fantastic check level. I’ll let the recreation converse for itself.

It’s as if the old-fashioned yellow, pink, white composite cables have been smearing Vaseline over the recreation footage, dulling the colours and shapes. It blew my thoughts to see it in motion. It took what I keep in mind the recreation wanting like and put it on show. And didn’t simply clear up Wind Waker. All of my GameCube video games, from Tremendous Smash Bros. Melee to Metroid Prime to Paper Mario, have been being displayed the means that the builders meant it to be seen. It jogged my memory of once I placed on glasses for the first time: There was an entire world of readability I used to be lacking out on and I didn’t comprehend it.

As I discussed above, the MK-II additionally permits for element output. Once I first heard this was one in every of the new additions, I questioned its inclusion. Why add the help for analog video? After mulling it over and having the MK-II in individual although, its addition is sensible for the GameCube’s lively and diehard group. Having these two ports permits for simultaneous, lag-free output. This makes stream/seize setups easy at occasions and tournaments. The GameCube and its video games have been additionally designed for previous CRT shows, as HD was getting into its infancy. Together with element permits for the highest high quality analog output for purists who need to play on CRTs and PVMs the means the designers meant. It lets customers have their high-quality cake and eat it too. 

Metroid Prime 480 Comparison

However this analog path might convey up a standard question- why pay $150 to have my GameCube in 480p over analog once I might simply use a Wii and its element cables? All first era Wii techniques have backward compatibility with GameCube video games. It actually comes down to 2 information. The primary is that the Wii output is only analog, with no entry to the lossless digital sign. Utilizing the MK-II provides us that pure sign, giving us a greater image by way of HDMI or element. The second reality opens an entire new platform of video games—The Recreation Boy Participant.

“It reminded me of when I put on glasses for the first time: There was a whole world of clarity I was missing out on and I didn’t know it.”

Again in 2003, Nintendo launched the Recreation Boy Participant, an adjunct that hooked up to the backside of GameCube techniques and allowed Recreation Boy Advance, Recreation Boy Colour, and Recreation Boy video games to be performed on the TV. As a child, this blew my little thoughts. I acquired one for my ninth birthday and it hasn’t left my system since. Now at 24, the Recreation Boy Participant (truly its software program) leaves a lot to be desired. 

There are homebrew software program options, like the Recreation Boy Interface (GBI), that put Nintendo’s software program to disgrace. That’s an entire totally different rabbit gap, however combining that GBI with the MK-II results in unimaginable outcomes. 

If the GBI isn’t an choice, the MK-II does an honest job cleansing up the official Recreation Boy Participant software program. You possibly can see that the smaller textual content turns into legible and the general picture is barely sharper. The GBI is the place the crispness of the MK-II shines with GBA video games. Even with a CRT filter over the recreation, it’s a higher image than the official software program.

GCHD MK-II GBA Comparison

Relating to the audio output, the MK-II matches the format of the video output technique. Digital when over HDMI and analog when utilizing element. There’s a three.5mm auxiliary jack for analog output to headphones. I think about this was carried out for Melee tournaments or simply event environments.  Tune out the environment and actually hear the recreation. The audio nonetheless outputs to the TV, so spectators, streaming/capturing setups nonetheless get the recreation audio. Even headphone splitters work!

The three.5mm jack additionally doubles as a mini-TOSLINK optical audio jack, offering entry to digital encompass sound. I examined this out on my encompass sound system with Wind Waker and Metroid Prime, each video games that help Dolby Encompass Professional Logic II. The video games sound fuller popping out of three audio system and a subwoofer. Sound didn’t come out of my two different audio system, which is probably because of the video games not benefiting from 5.1 encompass sound. I’m not totally positive.

“As a piece of hardware, the MK-II is sturdy, full-featured, and straight up easy to use.”

So is all this value it? That’s in all probability why you learn this far. Is $150 value accessing the untapped potential of your GameCube? That’s all going to actually depend upon you.

As a bit of hardware, the MK-II is sturdy, full-featured, and straight up straightforward to make use of. It breathes new life into GameCube methods and is one piece that may assist the console adapt to trendy TVs. However how a lot do you’re keen on your GameCube? Do you play Melee competitively? Do you might have a Recreation Boy Participant and need to play your assortment on the TV? Is the GameCube your favourite Nintendo system? In the event you answered sure to any of these and also you really need the greatest image that your GameCube has to supply, I feel the GCHD MK-II is value each cent. It’s versatile, highly effective, and easy-to-use. Most significantly, it makes the video games I really like appear and feel their easiest in a approach I simply didn’t assume was attainable.

December 19, 2018 1:00:18 PM EST