This little gem has been out there for a while, but I haven’t seen very much written about it, so I wanted to give it a try for myself. The Qbus is a USB PC gamepad and a Gameboy Advance flash writer that comes with software for downloading, burning and playing ROMs.
It sounds pretty sweet, but how well does it actually work?
What’s In The Box
We have the Qboy (which looks just like an old-style Gameboy Advance! Sweet!), a USB-to-Mini-USB cable, a 256M cartridge, the software and two sheets of instructions that have one word of English between them.
What Does It Do?
The included CD installs the Qboy software, which connects to the ROM site and gives you a list of all the ROMs that are available for download. The number of ROMs is somewhere in the area of 2000, and includes all the games that I own, a few that I want to own and a whole lot that I’ve never heard of. The ROMs aren’t just games, either; they have GBA movies and a few different sets of MP3s. While some of the movies are in English, don’t get too excited about the MP3 selection — there are only 5 choices, and they’re all Chinese.
Browsing and downloading are a snap. After the ROMs are downloaded, you can either play them in the included GBA emulator or write them to the cartridge. After the cartridge is written, you can pop it in your GBA and you’ll see a boot menu of all the ROMs that are on it. If you only write a single ROM to a cartridge, it goes directly into the game like it’s the real thing.
What’s Good About It?
There is a lot of upside to this device. I really like using it as the controller for the GBA emulator. The buttons and directional pad on it are very close to the real thing, and it is a very good experience. The emulator is very well written and has a convenient Cheat menu. Not that I’d ever use it…
The whole searching/browsing/downloading/writing process works really well, also. The user interface is very shiny, but still easy to use, and lets you have a good idea of what you’re putting on the cartridge before you take the time to write it.
What Could Be Better?
You can only use ROMs that are in the Qbus format. It would be good to be able to get other GBA roms and import them, but the software won’t recognize them.
Also, it would be nice to be able to build your own ROMs with your own selection of MP3s. Regardless of the fact that I’m not a big fan of Chinese pop music, I doubt there are going to be many pre-packaged MP3 sets that I would really want to take the time to download and write. I would like to make my own.
This is a slick little device that works very well as a controller for a very good Gameboy Advance emulator and makes the process of getting and writing ROMs very easy. It’s a very nice buy for the casual user, or the person that doesn’t have any saved ROMs. The hardcore user will probably already have a flash writer (though not one that looks like a Gameboy Advance, I’d wager), and a large collection of GBA ROMs that won’t work with this one, and wouldn’t necessarily find a lot of value in it.
Overall, I’d say it’s a keeper. If you need a good PC game pad and a good GBA emulator and a good flash writer, then pick this baby up.
The Qbus Flash Writer is available at Merconnet