Multiplayer Link Cable Game Boy Tetris Hijinks

Posted by on Jul 27, 2016 in cartridge, gameboy, gameboyadvance, multiplayer
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I got curious about multiplayer link games on the Game Boy and after using one cart to have a game of F-Zero in my previous post, I wanted to try a legit two cartridge hookup and what better game to use than the original icon of handheld gaming, Tetris!

So Tetris has a two player mode, you battle for high scores or something. Not entirely sure but all I know is you need 2 Game Boys, 2 Tetris carts and a link cable. My first Tetris cart came when my old mate Dieter brought a booty load of stuff from the US a few years ago and I found a second one in Estonia from an online games dealer called Hobby Gamer. They have a nice little collection, I appreciate the market for this stuff in Estonia must be so small, so good work guys for making this service.

My first attempt involved using the same two Game Boy Advance SPs I had before. I have an official link cable for them and these machines do play the original gray carts so I gave it a shot….

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And it didn’t work! What the shit snacks! The games would boot and clearly some communication is going on but before the game would play, it would always freeze in some way.

I didn’t want to leave it at this, because I have seen other videos of this exact setup working. So I got even more curious and I tried the same thing with two original DMG-01 Game Boy units, connected via a DMG-04 link cable which I recently got in a drunken eBay frenzy.

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Much to my surprise, this did work! Wow, I didn’t actually expect this! Now I can guess what you are thinking, of course they work on an original DMG-01, the units and the carts were all made at the same time, probably something small happened when they made the Game Boy Advance SP 10 years later.

Sure, but I got more curious about the carts, because on closer inspection they are not identical. Even though Game Boy carts are all region free (as I show with my Japanese Kirby cart), the serial numbers still vary via region so one cart says DMG-TR-UKV and the other says DMG-TR-USA. So I assume the first is a UK / EURO release and the second is an American one (note: I have no idea what the V at the end of the UK one might mean). Also the artwork is ever so slightly different too. So what’s up?

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Ah these carts bring back memories! My mate had a Game Boy and I always loved it. I always remember that little logo which shows this could be linked up although we never did it because a) I only knew 1 person with a Game Boy and 2) Link cables, like everything else in gaming, was expensive where I grew up in Australia.

Upon opening the carts up you can see the internals are drastically different. I think the blob thing on the UK version is an old school way to do it. Or cheaper. I’m not sure. Also the USA version has a circuit board with serial number DMG-AAA-01, wow that’s like serial number #1. However, lets look closer at the circuit boards.

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Both of them have the serial number DMG-TR-1 on them. On the USA cart its printed on the chip and upside down to read. TR probably stands for Tetris and this would be some kind of first version of the ROM. So I reckon the ROMs are the same but the were manufacturer differently somehow and the Game Boy Advance SPs are getting tripped up on some small weird difference where the original units don’t seem to mind.

As soon as I can find a third Tetris cart which is identical to either of these, I will make an update!

 

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