Friday, 23 March 2012

Retro Friday: The Gameboy Advance

The 21st century was not very kind to Nintendo, consoles such as the Playstation 2 and Xbox tried taking their thunder and to some extent took a lot. One thing Nintendo has still reigned king in however, are portable consoles and boy did the Gameboy Advance solidify that for Nintendo.

When a company released a portable back in the 90's - 2000's they always tried making a portable console which could replicate what the home consoles could do. This allowed heavy graphics and 3D environments on small displays but resulted in worse games as the gameplay almost felt like an afterthought. Most of the times the games just felt clunky and unnecessary on the devices, feeling crammed onto a smaller device. Whilst people at first ran to stores, buying their N-Gage's and looking at games like Tomb Raider on their portables, they soon noticed the crappy controls and realised that they could be playing a brilliant Tomb Raider game on their home consoles. This thought quickly travelled across people and took away any identity the other portables had, who remembers the flagship games on an N-Gage? Oh wait thats because most games on the N-Gage were either terrible or were poor ports of Playstation games. Nintendo had direction with the GBA they knew what type of games they wanted on the console and this helped them triumph. The GBA had its own identity seperate to the home consoles because it had its own unique games. Even though a lot of the time people looked at the GBA to get some nostalgic 2D sprite action, the GBA had its own library of games which oddly enough wouldn't have worked out on home consoles due to their intricate game design. Fit for short bursts, bright colours and satisfaction in minutes. The GBA has one of the best library of video games ever made. Also mentioning that the GBA was backwards compatible with the original Gameboy games only made the deal sweeter.

Going back to the point about direction, when the GBA launched, Nintendo wasn't messing around with its specs. The GBA boasted 32 bits, full colour with a battery life of over 14 hours, something I wish Nintendo would still do (3DS anyone). Nintendo knew what games they wanted on their systems, they knew that everything they had learnt from the NES and SNES era was to be translated into the GBA since the home consoles were not going to be using those games anymore. Nintendo knew that as Mario had to become 64 on their home console, their portable could still enjoy the 2D sprite fun of Super Mario World. This created a 'win win' situation because fans got both types of games and Nintendo was able to have more games to create. Everything learnt from the bit days was now coming back, Castlevania, Mario, Pokemon and so much more. This was the perfect time to be a fan of Nintendo, both the joys from the past and new ones from the future were present at once. Whenever games on the newly introduced 3D systems got too clunky all we had to do was turn the little beast on to play some Zelda!

Over time the GBA had an update to its hardware. People were tired of the lack of a front light, dark screen and overall clunky design. It was 2003 man and everyone was singing 'Seven Nation Army' while skateboarding down town. They didn't want a clunky piece of unattractive hardware sticking out their pockets. They complained and Nintendo listened, adapting to a laptop-like flip design, the Gameboy Advance SP was made.

"My favourite portable console to date"

This design was perfect, the GBA SP fits into your pocket perfectly, had a front lit screen giving a fine view on whatever your playing, fit well into your hands and had easy button accessibility. This was it, the Gameboy craze was back in black with the SP and carried till the DS. This console has perfect design, you really need to play it in order to feel how perfect it is.

Since I keep mentioning the series every time I look at retro games, Next week we will look at the NES & SNES days of Castlevania!


  1. "Since I keep mentioning the series every time I look at retro games, Next week we will look at the NES & SNES days of Castlevania!"

    Sweet, I look forward to it. ;)

    1. I finally got around to castlevania :P , thanks for reading :)


    1. lol,I was a bit too lazy to take a picture of my own gameboy but yh I still got mine too :P