While the world waits for Nintendo do something - anything - constructive with its enviable back catalogue of games on its latest console beyond giving us a few dusty old NES titles, there's a burgeoning community which aims to harness the power of vintage hardware to experience the best titles that gaming has to offer with modern-day benefits.
Some of these options are multi-platform, such as the Open Source Scan Converter, while others are system-specific. All have a single purpose in mind: to make it as easy as possible to play legacy consoles on modern televisions, and they're becoming more elegant and hassle-free with every release.
We've already seen the GC Video Plug n Play 3.0 adapter for the GameCube which simply plugs into the back of your console and delivers crisp visuals on your flatscreen telly without the need for intrusive internal modifications; now, there's another option on the market by the name of GCHD, and while it offers very much the same experience, it does have some additional benefits.
For starters, it looks a lot prettier. The previous adapter was 3D-printed and looked rather ugly; it also felt a little delicate, especially when the HDMI cable was inserted and it was slotted into the back of the GameCube; the whole assembly stuck out the back of the console in a rather unsightly fashion. Mercifully, the makers of the GCHD have taken note of these shortcomings and have created a unit which is a lot easier on the eye, as well as more agreeable from an installation perspective.
The unit is bigger than the previous GC Video Plug n Play 3.0, and slots into both the Digital AV Out port and the Analog AV Out port. However, the connection to the latter is merely for stability; it doesn't interface with the Analog port in any way, but rather uses it as a means of making the unit more sturdy when it's locked in place, and less likely to be accidentally dislodged.
A friendly LED tells you when the unit is working, and the HDMI port is located on the side rather than on the back – which will come as welcome news to those of you who experienced difficulty getting your Plug n Play 3.0-enabled GameCube to fit into the cramped media unit beneath your TV set.
Beyond that, this does appear to be almost identical to the Plug n Play 3.0. It takes the digital signal from your GameCube and converts it to HDMI; no upscaling is applied so you're very much at the mercy of how your TV handles sub-HD images. We tested this unit on a 42-inch HD Sony Bravia and 46-inch 4K Panasonic set, and found the image on the Sony looked ever-so-slightly better. Compared to the signal you'd get from composite or even RGB SCART, it's a definite improvement and is even better than the near-legendary quality the fabled (and insanely expensive) component cable delivers. It's not quite as crisp as the image we're used to from our beloved OSSC, but that device upscales sub-HD video and costs a lot more to purchase. Considering there's no upscaling and therefore zero lag, what the GCHD cooks up is impressive.
You can pair the device with pretty much any remote control you have lying around the house and access an on-screen menu from which you can tinker with various settings, the most interesting of which is the scanline option. Most GameCube owners will have played their consoles on old-fashioned CRT sets back in the day, so applying scanlines may give you a more authentic image; closer to the one your memory recalls, anyway.
While there's not a lot different here from the Plug n Play 3.0 we reviewed a while back, we do prefer the vastly improved design which fits more snugly into the back of the console. Outside of that, however, there's little reason to upgrade if you already own the Plug n Play 3.0; this device is recommended instead to those who have yet to take the plunge into the exciting world of HDMI adapters for legacy systems.