Game Boy Advance
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Game Boy Advance (often shortened to GBA) is a handheld video game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the popular Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001; in North America on June 11, 2001; in Europe on June 22, 2001; and in the People's Republic of China on June 8, 2004 (excluding Hong Kong). Its codename during development was Project Atlantis.
Game Boy Advance SP
In early 2003, Nintendo upgraded the Game Boy Advance giving it an internal front-light that can be turned on or off, a rechargeable lithium ion battery, as well as a folding case approximately half the size of the Game Boy Advance. It was designed to address some common complaints with the original Game Boy Advance which was criticized for being very uncomfortable.The GBA SP also came with a new & much brighter LCD screen for improved playability.
Around the same time as the release of the Game Boy Micro, Nintendo released a new backlit version of the SP in North America (commonly referred to as the GBA SP+). 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 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 offers the user to switch between several colored faceplates to allow customization, a feature which Nintendo advertised heavily around the Game Boy Micro's launch. Unlike the previous Game Boy Advance models, Game Boy Micro does not support Game Boy or Game Boy Color titles.
The technical specifications of the original Game Boy Advance are, as provided by Nintendo: 
- Size: Approximately 3.2" H x 5.69 " W x 0.97" D
- Screen: 2.9" Reflective thin-film transistor (TFT) color LCD
- Weight: Approximately 5 ounces
- Power: 2x AA batteries
- Battery Life: Approximately 15 hours (using alkaline batteries)
- CPU: 16.8 MHz 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory
- Memory: 32 kilobyte + 96 kilobyte VRAM (internal to the CPU), 256 kilobyte WRAM (external to the CPU)
- Resolution: 240 x 160 pixels
- Color support: Capable of displaying 511 simultaneous colors in character mode and 32,768 simultaneous colors in bitmap mode
Backward compatibility for Game Boy and Gameboy Color games is provided by a 8.4 MHz Z80 co-processor, 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 cable.
Nintendo has released many add-ons 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 up to each other. It markets for $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; 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. The adaptor 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 bigger than 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 mini-game functionality through a firmware update. The Play-Yan is currently available in Japan only, but a European release has been confirmed for early 2006. Since Play-Yan did not have a U.S. release to coincide with Game Boy Micro as rumored, an American release has been speculated for 2006 as well.
e-Reader - The e-Reader is a rather bulky 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 slit, scanning the card into the Game Boy Advance. Many ideas for the e-Reader have included 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 Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire to have cards that unlock content. GameCube games like Animal Crossing had cards with unlockable content as well, and the Pokémon Trading Card Game playing cards also adopted 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 (it will however fit into the Nintendo DS Lite's Game Boy slot). It was discontinued in America in early 2004, but is still quite popular in Japan. It was not released in Europe.
Game Boy Advance Video - These highly popular cartridges contain two episodes of 30 minute cartoon programs. First released in America in May of 2004, they cost $19.99 and included cartoons such as Pokémon, SpongeBob SquarePants, Sonic X, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The movies Shrek, Shrek 2, and Shark Tale are also available for Game Boy Advance Video and all three movies are in full. These cartridges display an error when inserted into a GameCube via a Game Boy Player. They have since decreased in popularity and can be seen being sold for as low as $4.99.
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. Model Number: AGB-022
GBAMP - The GBA Movie Player is a versatile gaming cartridge that allows people to play NES/Famicom games, watch movies (e.g. MPEGs), see .txt files, hear sound clips, etc. The GBA Movie Player does not actually play MPEGS or MP3's 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.
Game Boy Advance TV Tuner - It makes the portable system into a portable television. There are several versions (made by different companies) available. The most popular TV Tuner requires a cartridge inserted in the Tuner to start up. The TV Tuners can store up to 99 channels.
Unofficial Game Boy Advance flash cartridges are also available. While they enable the distribution of homebrew applications and content, they may also facilitate the illegal distribution of copyrighted games.
Game Shark - The Game Boy Advance version of the Game Shark. Programmed only to work with Game Boy Advance games as making the device accept Game Boy Color cartridges too would have made it expensive. This cheat device allowed you to hack your games. Codes could be entered by hand or uploaded to the device itself with the provided USB cable and software.
Action Replay - The successor to the Game Shark. Had 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 DS games, it was only for data backup.
Sales and marketing
As of September 30, 2006, the Game Boy Advance series has sold 76.79 million units worldwide, of which 39.79 million are Game Boy Advance SP units, and 1.87 million are Game Boy Micro units. On December 1, 2006 Nintendo of America released launch-to-date information indicating that the Game Boy Advance series had sold 33.63 million units in the United States.
The Game Boy Advance has become the modern flagship of sprite-based games. With hardware superior to the Super NES it has proven that sprite-based technology could improve and live side by side with the 3D games of today's consoles. The Game Boy Advance not only has one's typical platformers, but also a huge collection of SNES-style RPGs. It has also become a popular system for old-school gamers due to the increasing amount of games ported from various 8-bit and 16-bit systems of the previous era. Through the use of flash cartridges and emulators the Game Boy Advance can even play NES and PC Engine games, as well as AGI-based Sierra On-Line PC adventure games. Another thing worth commenting on is the GBA's original concept games.
Standout original titles include:
- Advance Wars
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
- Drill Dozer
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
- Fire Emblem
- Golden Sun
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
- Mario Kart Super Circuit
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong
- Mega Man Zero
- Metroid Fusion
- Metroid: Zero Mission
- Mother 3
- Pokémon Ruby / Sapphire
- Pokémon FireRed / LeafGreen
- Pokemon Emerald
- Sonic Advance
- Tales of Phantasia
- WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$
Some of the most popular emulators for the Game Boy Advance are No$GBA, Rascal, and VisualBoyAdvance. No$GBA and Visual Boy Advance both support the loading of a BIOS image, but can run, albeit with lower compatibility, without one.
As usual Nintendo finds it's biggest rivals in the Sega Corporation, Sega's Nomad was released in the mid-1990's, but posed a minimal threat to the Game Boy Advance. Sony's Playstation Portable was released in 2004, but by this time the Advance's successor, the Nintendo DS had been released. The Ericsson Red Jade was scheduled to compete with the Game Boy Advance, but was never released and the Game Boy Advance remained unchallenged.
Homebrew Software Development
Many people have developed their own software to run on the Game Boy Advance. This is typically tested using emulators, and later written to flash cartridges to run on real consoles. Most such developers use a version of the GNU Compiler Collection (gcc) and program in either C or C++, though recently some developers have started using FreePascal. The most common homebrew development kits are:
- devkit advance, an older kit
- devkitPro/devkitARM, a newer multiconsole kit that has supplanted devkit advance
- HAM Gameboy Advance Development Kit, a development kit built up around the closed-source programming library HAMlib.
Various other development libraries are available, besides those that come with the development kits listed above. One example is SGADE, an open source software (BSD-style) library that provides a number of predeveloped functions to simplify game development and HEL Library which is an extension library for HAMlib.
Web sites such as gbadev.org and GBA developers provide information for such development.
- June 2001 - March 2003 $99.99US
- March 2003 - September 2004 $79.99US
- September 2004 - November 2004 $59.99US
- November 2004 - August 2005 $54.99US
- August 2005 - current random prices: only used versions available
- ^ a b CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS (PDF) 28. Nintendo Co., Ltd. (2006-10-26). Retrieved on 2006-10-26.
- ^ Kris Graft (2006-12-07). UPDATED: Nov. Game Industry Sales Up 34%. next-gen.biz. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
- ^ GBA Technical Specifications. Nintendo. Retrieved on 2006-12-05.
- ^ Behrens, Matt (2006-12-01). Nintendo sales through end of November revealed. N-Sider. N-Sider Media. Retrieved on 2006-12-01.
- ^ Wheeler (2006-10-05). Nintendo GameBoy Advance (GBA) Programming Tips for Homebrew Software Development (English) (html). Retrieved on 2006-10-05.
- List of Game Boy Advance games
- List of Game Boy colors and styles
- List of Player's Choice games
- Nintendo DS
- Nintendo DS Lite
- About.com Guide to Game Boy - All things Game Boy: News, reviews, history, culture and development. Updated several times a week.
- GBA Website - The official website
- Pocket Gamer - Specialist handheld games news and reviews site, with dedicated Game Boy Advance section.