Type Handheld game console
Retail availability 2001-2010
|Product family Game Boy line|
Generation Sixth generation
|Release date JP: March 21, 2001NA: June 11, 2001PAL: June 22, 2001CHN: June 8, 2004|
The Game Boy Advance (Japanese: ゲームボーイアドバンス, Hepburn: Gēmu Bōi Adobansu) (abbreviated as GBA) is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo as the successor to the Game Boy Color. 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 at the time were the Neo Geo Pocket Color, WonderSwan, GP32, Tapwave Zodiac, and the N-Gage. Despite the competitors' best efforts, Nintendo maintained a majority market share with the Game Boy Advance.
- Project Atlantis
- Technical specifications
- Compatibility with other systems
- Virtual Console
- Game Boy Advance SP
- Game Boy Micro
- Unit colors
- Game Boy Advance
As of June 30, 2010, the Game Boy Advance series has sold 81.51 million units worldwide. Its successor, the Nintendo DS, was released in November 2004 and is also compatible with Game Boy Advance software.
Contrary to the previous Game Boy models, which were all following the "portrait" form factor of the original Game Boy (designed by Gunpei Yokoi), the Game Boy Advance was designed in a "landscape" form factor, putting the buttons to the sides of the device instead of below the screen. The Game Boy Advance was designed by the French designer Gwénaël Nicolas and his Tokyo-based design studio Curiosity Inc.
In 1996, magazines including Electronic Gaming Monthly, 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, a 3-by-2-inch color LCD screen, and a link port—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. It was announced that Nintendo Co., Ltd. (NCL) was working on a game for the system called "Mario's Castle".
The technical specifications of the original Game Boy Advance are, as provided by Nintendo:
Backward compatibility for Game Boy and Game Boy Color games is provided by a custom 4.194/8.388 MHz Z80-based 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 using a 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.
The Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS 2D graphics hardware have scaling and rotation for traditional tiled backgrounds in its modes 1 and 2 and scaling and rotation for bitmaps in modes 3 through 5 (used less often on the GBA because of technical limitations). On each machine supporting this effect, it is possible to change the scaling and rotation values during the horizontal blanking period of each scanline to draw a flat plane in a perspective projection. More complex effects such as fuzz are possible by using other equations for the position, scaling, and rotation of each line. The "character mode" supports up to 4 tile map background layers per frame, with each tile being 8x8 pixels in size and having 16 or 256 colors. The "character mode" also supports up to 128 hardware sprites per frame, with any sprite size from 8x8 to 64x64 pixels and with 16 or 256 colors per sprite.
With hardware comparable to the Super NES, the Game Boy Advance represents progress for sprite-based technology. The Game Boy Advance has platformers, SNES-style role-playing video games, and classic games ported from various 8-bit and 16-bit systems of the previous generations. This includes the Super Mario Advance series, as well as the system's backward compatibility with all earlier Game Boy titles.
Final Fantasy VI Advance was the final licensed Japanese GBA game release. Released November 2006, it was the final Nintendo-published game for the system. The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night was the final European GBA game, released November 2007. Samurai Deeper Kyo was the final North American GBA game, released in February 2008.
Compatibility with other systems
An accessory for the GameCube, known as the Game Boy Player, was released in 2003 as the successor to the Super Game Boy peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The accessory allows Game Boy Advance games, as well as Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, to be played on the GameCube. However, some games may have compatibility issues due to certain features (for example, games with built-in motion sensors would require players to manipulate the console itself).
Game Boy Advance games are compatible with the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite handheld consoles, which feature a cartridge slot at the bottom. They are not, however, compatible with the Nintendo DSi, as it does not feature a cartridge slot.
As part of an Ambassador Program for early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS system, ten Game Boy Advance games were made available for free for players who bought a system before August 2011. Unlike other Virtual Console games for the system, players were not able to use features such as the Home menu or save states. A full Virtual Console service for Game Boy Advance games was launched for the Wii U console.
Nintendo released many addons for the Game Boy Advance. These include:
Other accessories for the Game Boy Advance are:
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.
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). 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
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.
The Game Boy Advance, SP, and Micro had numerous colors and limited editions.
Game Boy Advance
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 Micro
On December 1, 2006, Nintendo of America released launch-to-date information indicating that the company had sold 33.6 million units of the Game Boy Advance series in the United States. 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. 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.
After the Game Boy Advance's support lessened, the most popular software became mostly games oriented to younger gamers.
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. Satoru Iwata stated Game Boy Advance games will be available on the Wii U Virtual Console sometime during April 2014. 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.