Game Boy Advance

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Game Boy Advance
Gameboy advance logo.svg
Game-Boy-Advance-Blk.jpg
1st generation Game Boy Advance
Manufacturer Nintendo
Product family Game Boy line
Type Handheld game console
Generation Sixth generation era
Retail availability
  • CN June 8, 2004
Discontinued
Units sold Worldwide: 81.51 million, all versions combined (as of June 30, 2010).
Japan: 16.96 million
Americas: 41.64 million
Other: 22.91 million[4]
Media ROM cartridge
CPU 16.78 MHz ARM7TDMI
8 or 4 MHz Z80 coprocessor
Graphics Custom 2D core
Best-selling game Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, 16 million combined[5]
Backward
compatibility
Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Predecessor Game Boy Color[6]
Successor Game Boy Advance SP (redesign)
Game Boy Micro (redesign/concurrent)
Nintendo DS (successor)

The Game Boy Advance (ゲームボーイアドバンス Gēmu Bōi Adobansu?), often shortened to GBA, is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Game Boy Color, and was the last Nintendo handheld to carry the "Game Boy" name. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001; in North America on June 11, 2001; in Australia and Europe on June 22, 2001; and in the People's Republic of China on June 8, 2004 (excluding Hong Kong).

Nintendo's competitors in the handheld market were the Neo Geo Pocket Color, SwanCrystal, GP32, Tapwave Zodiac, and the N-Gage. Despite the competitors' best efforts, Nintendo maintained its majority market share with the Game Boy Advance.

As of June 30, 2010, the Game Boy Advance series has sold 81.51 million units worldwide.[4] Its successor, the Nintendo DS, was released in November 2004.

History[edit]

Project Atlantis[edit]

In 1996, magazines including issues 53 and 54 of Total! and the July 1996 issue of Game Informer featured reports of a new Game Boy, codenamed Project Atlantis. Although the expected release date of "early 1997" would make that machine seem to be the Game Boy Color, it was described as having "a 32-bit RISC processor" and "allowing similar to Super Nintendo Entertainment System standard games-playing to be played in the palm of your hand"—a description that more closely matches the Game Boy Advance. It also may have referred to the unnamed, unreleased Game Boy Color successor prototype that was revealed at 2009's Game Developers Conference.[7]

Technical specifications[edit]

The technical specifications of the original Game Boy Advance are, as provided by Nintendo:[8]

Length: approximately 14.45 cm (5.69 in).
Width: approximately 2.45 cm (0.96 in).
Height: approximately 8.2 cm (3.2 in).
Mass: approximately 140 g (4.9 oz).
Screen: 2.9 inches reflective thin-film transistor (TFT) color LCD.
Power: 2 AA batteries.
Battery life: approximately 15 hours on average while playing Game Boy Advance games (also dependent on the Game Pak being played, volume setting and any external peripherals being used - e.g. a screen light[9])
CPU: 16.8 MHz 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory. 8 or 4 MHz 8-bit Z80 coprocessor for Game Boy emulation.
Memory: 32 kilobyte + 96 kilobyte VRAM (internal to the CPU), 256 kilobyte DRAM (outside the CPU).
Resolution: 240 × 160 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio).
Color support: 15-bit BGR (5 bits depth per channel), capable of displaying 512 simultaneous colors in "character mode" and 32,768 (215) simultaneous colors in "bitmap mode".
Sound: Dual 8-bit DAC for stereo sound (called Direct Sound), plus all legacy channels from Game Boy. The new DACs can be used to play back streams of wave data, or can be used to output multiple wave samples processed/mixed in software by the CPU.

Backward compatibility for Game Boy and Game Boy Color games is provided by an 4/8 MHz Z80 coprocessor (Game Boy Advance software can use the audio tone generators to supplement the primary sound system), while a link port at the top of the unit allows it to be connected to other devices via use of a Nintendo Game Link cable or GameCube link cable. When playing Game Boy or Game Boy Color games on the Game Boy Advance, the L and R buttons can be used to toggle between a stretched widescreen format (240×144) and the original screen ratio of the Game Boy (160×144). Game Boy games can be played using the same selectable color palettes as on the Game Boy Color. Every Nintendo handheld system following the release of the Game Boy Advance SP has included a built-in light and rechargeable battery.

Games[edit]

With hardware comparable to the Super NES it had proven that sprite-based technology could improve and live side by side with the 3D games of the day's consoles.[citation needed] The Game Boy Advance not only has typical platformers, but also a huge collection of SNES-style role-playing video games. It has also become a popular system for old-school gamers due to the increasing number of games ported from various 8-bit and 16-bit systems of the previous eras, including the popular Super Mario Advance series, as well as its compatibility with all earlier Game Boy titles.

Final Fantasy VI Advance was the last Japanese GBA game, released November 2006, the last Nintendo-published game for the system.[10] The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night was the last European GBA game, released November 2007.[11] Samurai Deeper Kyo was the last North American GBA game, released in February 2008.

Accessories[edit]

Official[edit]

The Wireless Adapter was packed in with Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen

Nintendo released many addons for the Game Boy Advance. These include:

  • Wireless Adapter: Released in 2004, this adapter hooks up to the back of the Game Boy Advance. It replaces link cables and allows many people to link together. It markets for US$20 and came included with Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen. Because it was released so late in the Game Boy Advance's life, fewer than 20 games support this hardware. The adapter's usefulness is most evident in Pokémon, as FireRed/LeafGreen and Emerald feature a "Union Room" where up to forty people can enter to battle or trade Pokémon. A Game Boy Micro version has also been released; it can interact fully with both models of the Wireless Adapter.
  • Game Boy Advance Infra-Red Adapter: This adapter was included with the game Cyberdrive Zoids, as it is only compatible with this game and the latest GBA Pokémon games. The adapter was not sold separately. This is also currently the only Game Boy Advance accessory that has not been remade for the Game Boy Micro.
  • Play-Yan: The Play-Yan is an MP3/MPEG4 player for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. The cartridge is slightly broader than a normal Game Boy Advance cartridge and includes a built-in headphone port as well as an SD Card slot. Music or videos that users have downloaded from the Internet can be transferred onto an SD Card and slotted into the Play-Yan device. Nintendo has released several mini games for the Play-Yan that can be downloaded from their website, although Nintendo later removed all minigame functionality through a firmware update. The Play-Yan was initially available in Japan only, but was released in Europe as the Nintendo MP3 Player on December 8, 2006, with the MPEG4 functionality removed. The Play-Yan was never released in North America.
  • e-Reader: The e-Reader is a scanning device that plugs into the game cartridge slot of the Game Boy Advance. Specialized cards with codes along the side and bottom are slid through the slot, scanning the card into the Game Boy Advance. Many ideas for the e-Reader include cards that scan classic games like Donkey Kong and Excitebike onto the handheld ready to play, as well as a collaboration with Super Mario Advance 4 and Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire to have cards that unlock content. Nintendo GameCube games like Animal Crossing have cards with unlockable content as well, and the Pokémon Trading Card Game playing cards also adopt the e-Reader codes. The e-Reader works with the Game Boy Player and Game Boy Advance SP, but cannot fit into the Nintendo DS's Game Boy slot (however it can fit into the Nintendo DS Lite's Game Boy slot). Nintendo continues to manufacture the accessory and sell it at its Online Store. It is still quite popular in Japan. It was not released in Europe.
  • Game Boy Advance Video: These cartridges contain two episodes of thirty minute cartoon programs. First released in North America in May 2004, these cartridges included cartoons such as Dragon Ball GT, Pokémon, SpongeBob SquarePants, Sonic X, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Yu-Gi-Oh!. The movies Shrek, Shrek 2, and Shark Tale are also available for Game Boy Advance Video and all three movies are full. Due to the Game Boy Advance screen ratio, the three movies are in their widescreen format. These cartridges display an error when inserted into a GameCube via a Game Boy Player. The Game Boy Advance Videos are no longer available at most major retailers.
  • Cleaning cartridge: A white cartridge that has a soft cloth inside so that it cleans the connectors of the Game Boy Advance when inserted. It can also be used to clean Slot 2 of the Nintendo DS or DS Lite.
  • Mobile Adapter: The device works with Game Boy and Game Boy Advance systems to connect to mobile phones for remote play. It was released in Japan and was compatible with Pokémon Crystal.[12][13][14]

Unofficial[edit]

The Afterburner installed on a GBA, showing internal lighting.

Other accessories for the Game Boy Advance are:

  • Afterburner: The Afterburner was an internal front-lighting system. The installation consisted of disassembling the system, removing some plastic from the interior of the case, attaching the lighting mechanism to the screen, and soldering two wires to the motherboard for power. Optionally, a potentiometer or an integrated circuit could be added to allow adjusting the brightness of the light. When the initial version of the Game Boy Advance SP was released, it included a very similar integrated lighting system. This was replaced in the subsequent version of the Game Boy Advance SP with a backlit display.
  • Halo Light: The Halo light was an external front-lighting system that replaced the screen protector/lens of the GBA. The Halo had an external power adapter that connected to the link port, it featured on/off functions with a dimmer and a pass-through connector so other devices could be connected to the link port.
  • Worm Light: The Worm Light was an adjustable and flexible light that connected to the link port. It had a small bulb which shined over the screen.
  • GBA Movie Player: The GBA Movie Player is a versatile gaming cartridge that allows users to play NES/Famicom games, watch movies, read .txt files, listen to sound clips, etc. The GBA Movie Player does not actually play MPEGS or MP3s directly, a freeware conversion software is needed, that converts an array of formats into GBM and GBS formats that are compatible with the GBA Movie Player. There are two forms of the GBA Movie Player with one using a CF (Compact Flash) card and one using an SD (Secure Digital) card, though different companies have made their own devices similar to the GBA Movie Player.
  • GBA TV Tuner: It makes the portable system into a portable television. There are several versions available, which are made by different companies. The most popular TV Tuner requires a cartridge inserted in the Tuner to start up. The TV Tuners can store up to 99 channels.
  • GameShark: The Game Boy Advance version of the GameShark, programmed only to work with Game Boy Advance games as making the device take Game Boy Color cartridges too would have made it expensive. This cheat device allowed users to change the code in their games to create cheats. Codes could be entered by hand or uploaded to the device itself with the provided USB cable and software.
  • Action Replay: A cheating device like the GameShark, the Action Replay was sold mainly in Europe. It has a few extra features as well as an updated interface.
  • Action Replay MAX Duo: This was an update to the Action Replay for Game Boy Advance. Not only did it function as an Action Replay, but for DS users, it could hold premade game saves or "powersaves" that could be downloaded from the Action Replay site as well as user made saves. It did not, however, function as a cheat device for Nintendo DS games; it was only for data backup.
  • Worm Cam: This device by Nyko attached to the top of the Game Boy Advance and connected into the link port of the GBA. This device functioned as a digital camera which allowed digital pictures to be taken. The snapshots could then be uploaded to a PC with the USB cable and software provided. This camera's strange shape prevented it from being used with the GBA SP.
  • DigiCam SP: This camera attachment was also made by Nyko and was essentially the Worm Cam for the Game Boy Advance SP. This add-on would slide on to the top half of the GBA SP (behind the screen) and a small plug would be connected into the link port.
  • DataBoy: This cartridge plugs into the GBA game slot and converts the Game Boy into an RS-232 data scope (also known as serial line monitor or protocol analyzer). Users can play GB games, GBC games, and GBA games on it.
  • Glucoboy: A blood glucose monitor with built-in games released in Australia in 2007 for children with diabetes.[15]
  • There are also numerous AC adapters that allow the Game Boy Advance to be used without batteries.

Emulation[edit]

See also: VisualBoyAdvance and NO$GBA

Due to its simple hardware, many popular emulators are available for the Game Boy Advance, such as VisualBoyAdvance and NO$GBA.

Revisions[edit]

Game Boy Advance SP[edit]

Game Boy Advance SP
Main article: Game Boy Advance SP

In early 2003, Nintendo introduced a new form-factor for the handheld, known as the Game Boy Advance SP (model AGS-001). The redesigned unit resembles a pocket-size laptop computer, including a folding case approximately one-half the size of the original unit. It also supports a rechargeable lithium ion battery, a significantly brighter LCD screen, and an internal front-light that can be toggled on and off. The redesign was intended to address some common complaints about the original Game Boy Advance, which had been criticized for being somewhat uncomfortable to use, especially due to an overly dark screen.[citation needed]

Around the same time as the release of the Game Boy Micro, Nintendo released a new backlit version of the SP (model AGS-101) in North America (commonly referred to as the "GBA SP+", SPII, or SP2).[citation needed] The switch that controls the light now toggles between "normal" (which itself is already brighter than the original Game Boy Advance SP's screen), and "bright", an intense brightness level similar to an LCD television set.

Game Boy Micro[edit]

Game Boy Micro
Main article: Game Boy Micro

In September 2005, Nintendo released a second redesign of the Game Boy Advance. This model, dubbed the Game Boy Micro, is similar in style to the original Game Boy Advance's horizontal orientation, but is much smaller and sleeker. The Game Boy Micro also allows the user to switch between several colored faceplates to allow customization, a feature which Nintendo advertised heavily around the Game Boy Micro's launch. Nintendo also hoped that this "fashion" feature would help target audiences outside of typical video game players. Unlike the previous Game Boy Advance models, Game Boy Micro is unable to support Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. The Game Boy Micro did not make much of an impact in the video game market as it was overshadowed by Nintendo's other portable, the Nintendo DS.[16]

Unit colors[edit]

The Game Boy Advance, SP, and Micro had numerous colors and limited editions.

Game Boy Advance[edit]

The Game Boy Advance was initially available in Arctic, Black, Orange, Fuchsia, Glacier (translucent blue/purple) and Indigo. Later in the system's availability, additional colours and special editions were released. These editions include: Red, Clear Orange/Black, Platinum, White, Gold, Hello Kitty edition (pink with Hello Kitty and logo on bezel), King of Fighters edition (black with images on bezel and buttons), Chobits edition (translucent light blue, with images on bezel and buttons), Battle Network Rockman EXE 2 (light blue with images on bezel), Mario Bros. edition (Glacier with Mario and Luigi on bezel) and Yumiuri Giant edition (Glacier with images on bezel).

A number of Pokémon-themed limited-edition systems were made available in Pokémon Center stores in Japan. These editions include: Gold Pokémon edition (Gold with Pikachu and Pichu on bezel), Suicune edition (blue/grey with greyscale Pikachu and Pichu on bezel, and a Pokémon Center sticker on the back), Celebi edition (olive green with Celebi images on bezel), and Latias/Latios edition (pink/red and purple, with images of Latias and Latios on bezel).

Game Boy Advance SP[edit]

  • Blue Kyogre
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Flame Red
  • Famicom 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Gold with Zelda Triforce
  • Graphite
  • Green Rayquaza
  • Green Venusaur
  • Kingdom Silver (Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Edition)
  • Spice & Lime
  • Mario
  • NES Black (UK and US only as a limited edition)
  • Onyx Black
  • Pearl Blue
  • Pearl Green
  • Pearl Pink
  • Pearl White (Limited Edition)
  • Pikachu Yellow
  • Platinum
  • Red Groudon
  • Snow White
  • SpongeBob
  • Torchic Orange
  • Tribal
  • White Rip Curl special edition (Australia only)
  • "Who Are You?" (Black with "Who Are You?" printed on the top)
  • All Blacks (New Zealand only)
  • Surf Blue (UK only)

Game Boy Micro[edit]

  • Black (included silver, green camo, and fire faceplates)
  • Silver (included black, flower, and blue energy faceplates)
  • Green (Europe only)
  • Blue (Europe and Japan only)
  • Pink (Europe only)
  • Red (Australia only)
  • Lavender (Japan only)
  • Famicom 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Final Fantasy IV
  • Lite Blue (Japan only)
  • Mother 3 (Red)

Sales[edit]

On December 1, 2006, Nintendo of America released launch-to-date information indicating that the Game Boy Advance series had sold 33.6 million units in the United States.[17] In a Kotaku article published on January 18, 2008, Nintendo revealed that the Game Boy Advance series has sold 36.2 million units in the United States, as of January 1, 2008.[18] As of December 31, 2009, the Game Boy Advance series has sold 81.51 million units worldwide, of which 43.57 million are Game Boy Advance SP units and 2.42 million are Game Boy Micro units.[19]

After the Game Boy Advance's support lessened, the most popular software became mostly games oriented to younger gamers.[20]

Legacy[edit]

Nintendo did not initially release GBA games for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, but later made ten titles available to the platform as part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program.[21] Despite this, no plans have been made to release the games to the general public.[22] Satoru Iwata stated Game Boy Advance games will be available on the Wii U Virtual Console during April 2014.[23] On April 3, 2014, the first of the announced GBA games (Advance Wars, Metroid Fusion and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga) were released for the Wii U Virtual Console.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Game Boy Advance: It's Finally Unveiled". IGN. August 23, 2000. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ Fielder, Lauren (May 16, 2001). "E3 2001: Nintendo unleashes GameCube software, a new Miyamoto game, and more". GameSpot. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  3. ^ Bramwell, Tom (March 21, 2001). "GBA Day: June 22nd". Eurogamer. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  5. ^ Rose, Mike (October 15, 2013). "Pokemon X & Y sell 4M copies in first weekend". Gamasutra. Think Services accessdate=July 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ Umezu; Sugino; Konno. Nintendo 3DS (Volume 3 – Nintendo 3DS Hardware Concept) (Transcript). Interview with Satoru Iwata. Iwata Asks. Nintendo. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ GDC 2009 Nintendo Reveals Unreleased Nintendo Handhelds. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  8. ^ "GBA Technical Specifications". Nintendo. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved December 5, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Game Boy Advance Frequently Asked Questions". Nintendo. Retrieved September 6, 2007. 
  10. ^ Search:. "Final Fantasy VI Advance Release Information for Game Boy Advance". GameFAQs. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  11. ^ Search:. "The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night Release Information for Game Boy Advance". GameFAQs. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Game Boy Advance Mobile Adapter Compatible? - News at GameSpot". Gamespot.com. January 12, 2001. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Pokémon Crystal/Mobile Adapter GB Announced". Rpgamer.com. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Game Boy Mobile Adapter Delayed". Rpgamer.com. January 27, 2001. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Top 10 Strangest Health Gadgets". PCMag.com. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Nintendo Co., Ltd. - Corporate Management Policy Briefing – Q&A". Nintendo Co., Ltd. p. 3. Retrieved December 6, 2008. "The sales of Micro did not meet our expectations ... However, toward the end of 2005, Nintendo had to focus almost all of our energies on the marketing of DS, which must have deprived the Micro of its momentum." 
  17. ^ Behrens, Matt (December 1, 2006). "Nintendo sales through end of November revealed". N-Sider Media. Retrieved December 1, 2006. 
  18. ^ Michael McWhertor (November 12, 2013). "Who's Winning The Console War In The US?". Kotaku. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008. "UPDATE: Nintendo was nice enough to forward on GBA figures, just so we can see how the other last-gen, still-on-the-market platform is holding up." 
  19. ^ "Consolidated Financial Highlights" (PDF). Nintendo Co., Ltd. April 26, 2007. p. 8. Retrieved April 26, 2007. 
  20. ^ Kohler, Chris (January 18, 2009). "Top 10 Games of December 2008, By Platform". blog.wired.com. Retrieved January 19, 2009. 
  21. ^ "NINTENDO 3DS PRICE DROPS TO $169.99, AS GREAT VALUE AND NEW 3D GAMES COME TOGETHER". Nintendo of America's press release. July 28, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2011. "By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games. These include games like Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. These games were made available exclusively to Ambassadors, and Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future." 
  22. ^ Brendan Sinclair (2011-12-16). "3DS Ambassador GBA games released". Gamespot.com. CNet. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  23. ^ Wii U - Official Site at Nintendo
  24. ^ Michael, Jay (31 March 2014). "Wii U Virtual Console News: GameBoy Advance Classics Arrive in April; Nintendo Announces Metroid Fusion, Advance Wars, and More". Christian Post. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 

External links[edit]