Pokémon: Trading again

So, I’ve finally done something about the Gameboy cable problem. It turns out that GBA cables are wired slightly differently than the original Gameboy and Gameboy Color: where the older model just has two of the wires cross over, the GBA does something tricky to accomodate plugging in another cable in the middle. Furthermore, the type of connection that a game expects depends on the hardware the game was created for, not the hardware it’s actually running on — so in order to trade original Pokemon on a GBA, you need an old-style cable. This is the sort of fact that’s easy to find documented on the web, provided you’re looking for it in the first place.

I’ve seen it suggested that an official GBC cable will fit in a GBA socket (although not vice-versa), which would solve the problem if I had an official GBC cable. But I don’t, and I’m not really willing to spend any more money on this problem (buying second GBA was about my limit for this project), so I took apart the GBA cable I had formerly called “defective” and rewired it. And it works great! I’ve pulled off my first successful pokémon trades trades in something approaching ten years, and stand ready to do more.

Of course, given my track record, I couldn’t justify asking someone to trade with me until I knew it worked. Which presents a bootstrapping problem. Fortunately, I had someone else’s Pokémon Red cartridge on hand — he wasn’t using it, so he let me borrow it. (With the stipulation that, once I got trades working, I had to take in his raichu. It’s the one pokémon that he wants to still have available if he starts over.) In short, I had to engage in some behavior I had spoken of derisively before: solo trading.

Still, this was a fairly satisfying conclusion to the whole problem, because I got to play with a soldering iron. I’ve played games where I had to read the data files in order to figure out how to win. I’ve played games where I had to read the source code, or even reverse-engineer the executable — it wouldn’t be exaggerating much to say that this is how I learned how to program. But how often does the pursuit of completion descend to the hardware level like this? Actually, pretty frequently, if you count the games that you can’t even start playing until your system meets the right specs. But this is different somehow.

2 Comments so far

  1. Jason Dyer on 2 Sep 2008

    I think the rule is once you use a soldering iron to trade Pokemon, you are no longer allowed to disparage anyone’s Pokemon trading habits.

  2. maguro on 3 Sep 2008

    Your sense of completism (probably not a word) is truly awe inspiring. I imagine that actually catching them all is your yardstick for complete in this case even if you’re just “passing time”. Taking out the iron is pretty amazing, but exactly where to find people to trade with I think is the bigger hurdle. I wouldn’t know where to start. Craigslist?

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