Game Boy Advance SP

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Game Boy Advance SP
Gameboy advance SP logo.svg
A Cobalt Blue front-lit version of the Game Boy Advance SP.
Manufacturer Nintendo
Product family Game Boy line
Type Handheld game console
Generation Sixth generation era
Retail availability
  • JP: February 14, 2003[1]
Introductory price US$99.99
Discontinued January 31, 2008
Units shipped 43.57 million
(as of December 31, 2015)[4]
Media ROM cartridges
CPU 32-bit 16.78 MHz ARM7TDMI
8 or 4 MHz Z80 coprocessor
Display TFT LCD, 240×160 pixels, 40.8×61.2 mm[5]
Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Predecessor Game Boy Advance (concurrent)
Successor Game Boy Micro (redesign)
Nintendo DS (successor)

The Game Boy Advance SP (Japanese: ゲームボーイアドバンスSP), released in February 2003,[6] is an upgraded version of Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. The "SP" in the name stands for "Special".[7] The SP is accompanied by the Nintendo DS (released in November 2004) and the Game Boy Micro (released in September 2005).

Technical specifications[edit]


  • Size (closed): Approximately 8.4 × 8.2 × 2.44 cm (3.3 × 3.23 × 0.96 inches).
  • Weight: 142 grams (approximately 5 ounces)
  • Screen: 2.9 inch Reflective TFT Color LCD.
  • Light source: Frontlight integrated LCD.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
  • Battery life: 10 hours continuous play with light on, 18 hours with light off; needs at most 3 hours recharging.
  • Hardware colors: Onyx, Flame, Platinum Silver, Cobalt Blue, Pearl Pink, Pearl Blue, Graphite, Midnight Blue, Charizard Fire Red, Torchic Orange, Venusaur Leaf Green, NES classic design, and Pikachu Yellow. A limited gold edition with a Triforce and the Hyrule Royal Family crest was available in Europe which included a copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.[8] In 2003, Toys "R" Us sold an exclusive gold edition (without any Zelda symbols) in the US starting on Black Friday of that year, initially with a Super Mario Advance 4 game.[9] In September 2005, a Blue edition was sold through Best Buy. A special Pokémon Emerald pack contained a limited edition Green Rayquaza SP and the Emerald game. A limited edition backlit edition exists. There is also an All Blacks edition. An Orange and red version was made as a prize for a speed run competition for Metroid Zero Mission. A red SP with a circle with an M in it was created, modeled after Mario's cap, it also came in a bundle that included the game Mario Vs. Donkey Kong.

The GBA SP is slightly more than half the size of the GBA when closed and roughly the height of Nintendo's Game Boy Color when open. This model of the Game Boy can play all Game Boy cartridges including Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance carts. The clamshell (or laptop design) protects the screen from scratches and dust, reminiscent of two-screen Game & Watch units. However, the casing is made from a different material, making it more prone to scratches than previous Game Boy systems. The slot for cartridges has been moved to the bottom of the system, facing down. This makes using special cartridges, such as the Game Boy Camera and Kirby: Tilt and Tumble, very difficult.

The GBA SP AC adapter comes with the package to recharge its lithium ion battery, something previous Game Boys did not have (they usually used commercially available batteries). This adapter is also compatible with the original version of the DS. The software library and general hardware specifications are identical to those of the Game Boy Advance.

In Japan it was released in a variety of standard colors and special packages. In most other regions it was released in Platinum Silver and Charcoal Black. Later, a Flame Red version was released. Six special editions have also been released: a NES Classics model with the same color scheme as a classic NES controller (and designed to resemble a NES deck when closed), a SpongeBob SquarePants model, a Pikachu model, and a silver model with a tattoo design printed on it, known as the 'Tribal Edition'.[10] In other regions, such as Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, additional colors have been released, such as Pearl Green and Starlight Gold.[11] Additionally, two new special versions have been released in Asia exclusive to that region.

Nintendo was planning to have the SP be 3D-compatible, but the resolution of LCD was too low, resulting in Nintendo scrapping it.[12]


  • CPU: 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory.
  • Co-processor: 8-bit Zilog Z80
  • Memory: 32 kilobyte+96 kilobyte VRAM (internal CPU), 256 kilobyte DRAM (external CPU).
  • Resolution: 240 × 160 pixels.
  • Color: 16-bit RGB (16-bit color space using 5 bits depth per channel), capable of displaying 512 simultaneous colors in "character mode" and 32,768 (215) simultaneous colors in "bitmap mode".
  • Software: Compatible with all Game Boy and most Game Boy Color games. Game Boy games can be played using the same selectable color palettes as on the Game Boy Color.

Headphone jack[edit]

Headphone adapter for Game Boy Advance SP

Nintendo removed the TRS headphone jack from the SP, which had been included on all previous Game Boy models. Headphones designed specifically for the GBA SP can be purchased, or standard headphones can be attached with an optional, stereophonic[13] adapter that plugs into the same port as the AC adapter.

As both AC adapter and headphones use the same port, it is not possible to charge the SP and listen to headphones at the same time with the Nintendo brand adapter. There are, however, third-party solutions, such as an adapter that "splits" into two different cords; the power jack on one side, and a TS headphone jack on the other.

Backlit Model (AGS-101)[edit]

The pearl blue AGS-101 GBA SP model that featured an improved backlit screen.[14]

In September 2005, around the time of the Game Boy Micro's release, Nintendo released an improved version of the Game Boy Advance SP in North America, featuring a brighter backlit screen instead of the previous version's frontlit screen. The new model can be distinguished by the following features:

  • The box states "Now with a BRIGHTER backlit screen!" to distinguish the new model from the older, frontlit models.
  • The backlit SP has the Model Number AGS-101 on the label on the bottom of the unit, whereas the original frontlit SP has the Model Number AGS-001[15]
  • The mini button at the top center of the console's lower face is now referred to in the manual as the "Brightness Switch" and selects between two levels of brightness, "Normal" (Low) and "Bright" (High) with no off setting. On the frontlit models this button turned the frontlight on or off only. With the backlight set to "Normal" (Low) the brightness still surpasses the original AGS-001 with the frontlight on.
  • When powered off, the backlit model's screen is completely black, but the frontlit model's screen is noticeably lighter.

The North American backlit version comes in three standard colors: "Pearl Blue", "Pearl Pink" and "Graphite" (a greyer version of Onyx Black). There were also two Toys "R" Us exclusive backlit models; a "SpongeBob SquarePants" model[16] and a "Limited Edition Pikachu" model.

In 2006, the AGS-101 backlit model also saw a very limited release in Europe.[17] Few models made it to market, likely due to the release of the Game Boy Advance-compatible Nintendo DS one year prior. The European version was released in "Surf Blue"[18] as well as re-issued "Pink" and "Tribal" editions.

Unlike the North American release, the European box does not feature any prominent text to distinguish the backlit models from the older frontlit models. In addition, only the "Surf Blue" color was unique to the AGS-101, the other two colors "Pink" and "Tribal" had already been released as frontlit models - for these reasons it can be very difficult to identify a European backlit SP. Apart from the AGS-101 model number on the base of the unit, the only other obvious distinguishing feature of the European backlit model is the large picture of the Game Boy Advance SP featured on the front of the box. (The European frontlit models of "Pink" and "Tribal" only feature small pictures of the Game Boy Advance SP on the sides of the box and Flower/Tattoo patterns on the front respectively.)


"M. Wiley" of IGN called the Game Boy Advance SP "a step in the right direction for Nintendo", praising the system's new redesign over the original GBA and highlighting its inclusion of a backlit screen and rechargeable battery, although minor criticism went towards the system's omission of a headphone jack.[19] Engadget gave it a global score of 84 out of 100, also praising the new features of the redesign while noting the system's lack of a headphone jack.[20]

Sales information[edit]

As of June 30, 2009, the Game Boy Advance series has sold 81.48 million units worldwide, of which 43.52 million are Game Boy Advance SP units.[21]

Life-to-date Number of units sold
Date Japan Americas Other Total
2003-03-31[22] 0.82 million 0.83 million 0.46 million 2.10 million
2003-06-30 4.84 million[23]
2003-09-30[24] 2.33 million 4.32 million 2.38 million 9.04 million
2003-12-31[25] 3.14 million 7.82 million 4.34 million 15.30 million
2004-03-31[26] 3.68 million 8.78 million 4.70 million 17.16 million
2004-06-30 19.33 million[27]
2004-09-30[28] 5.02 million 12.46 million 6.21 million 23.68 million
2004-12-31[29] 5.94 million 16.13 million 8.67 million 30.73 million
2005-03-31[30] 6.00 million 16.69 million 9.10 million 31.79 million
2005-09-30[31] 6.16 million 18.08 million 10.08 million 34.32 million
2005-12-31[32] 6.35 million 20.40 million 10.64 million 37.40 million
2006-03-31[33] 6.42 million 20.95 million 10.86 million 38.23 million
2006-06-30[34] 6.46 million 21.30 million 11.08 million 38.84 million
2006-09-30[35] 6.48 million 21.95 million 11.37 million 39.79 million
2006-12-31[36] 6.50 million 23.06 million 11.78 million 41.33 million
2007-03-31[37] 6.50 million 23.47 million 11.95 million 41.92 million
2007-06-30[38] 6.50 million 23.78 million 12.14 million 42.43 million
2007-09-30[39] 6.51 million 24.01 million 12.31 million 42.82 million
2007-12-31[40] 6.51 million 24.01 million 12.51 million 43.02 million
2008-03-31[41] 6.51 million 24.00 million 12.71 million 43.23 million
2008-06-30[42] 6.51 million 24.00 million 12.89 million 43.41 million
2008-09-30[43] 6.51 million 24.00 million 12.97 million 43.49 million
2008-12-31[44] 6.51 million 24.00 million 13.00 million 43.52 million

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Game Boy Advance SP". IGN. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP review". CNET. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "N-Europe News: GBA SP Press Release". Ashley Jones. 2003-03-07. Archived from the original on 2010-02-06. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  4. ^ "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. February 3, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Nintendo Company History". Nintendo of America Inc. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  7. ^ Nintendo - Customer Service | Game Boy Advance SP - Frequently Asked Questions
  8. ^ Harris, Craig. "Legend of Zelda GBA SP". Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "TRU Exclusive Gold GBA SP/Super Mario Advance 4 Bundle for Sale". 
  10. ^ Tribal Edition GBA SP for Europe
  11. ^ Gameboy Advance SP Star Light Gold Toys R Us Limited Edition (GFF-3663) Archived July 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Iwata Asks. Retrieved on 2014-02-21.
  13. ^ "Game Boy Advance SP | Corporate | Nintendo". Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP Review - Consoles". CNET. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  15. ^ AGB/AGS/OXY: Game Boy Advance
  16. ^ GBA SP Gets Brighter Archived June 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Brighter SP coming to Europe
  18. ^ Gameboy Advance SP - European AGS-101 Model (Backlit) Unboxing
  19. ^ M. Riley (March 20, 2003). "Game Boy Advance SP". IGN. Retrieved December 6, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP review". Engadget. Retrieved December 6, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2009-07-30. [permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2003-05-22. p. 27. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  23. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2003-08-05. p. 4. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  24. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2003-11-13. p. 27. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  25. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2004-01-29. p. 4. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  26. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2004-05-27. p. 33. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  27. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2004-07-28. p. 7. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  28. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo Co., Ltd. 2004-11-25. p. 25. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  29. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2005-01-26. p. 7. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  30. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2005-05-26. p. 39. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  31. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo Co., Ltd. 2005-11-24. p. 25. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  32. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2006-01-26. p. 7. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  33. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2006-05-25. p. 30. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  34. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2006-07-24. p. 9. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  35. ^ "Consolidated financial highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2006-10-26. p. 28. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  36. ^ "Consolidated Financial Highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2007-01-25. p. 8. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  37. ^ "Consolidated Financial Highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2007-04-26. p. 8. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  38. ^ "Consolidated Financial Highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2007-07-25. p. 8. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  39. ^ "Consolidated Financial Highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2007-10-25. p. 22. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  40. ^ "Consolidated Financial Highlights" (PDF). Nintendo. 2007-01-24. p. 8. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  41. ^ "Consolidated Financial Statements" (PDF). Nintendo. 2008-04-24. p. 22. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  42. ^ "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. 2008-07-30. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  43. ^ "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. 2008-10-30. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  44. ^ "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. 2009-01-29. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 

External links[edit]