Game Boy Advance

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Game Boy Advance
Gameboy advance logo.svg
Indigo Game Boy Advance
Also known asiQue Game Boy Advance (China)
Developer Nintendo R&E
Manufacturer Nintendo
Product familyGame Boy [1]
Type Handheld game console
Generation Sixth generation
Release date
Introductory priceUS$99.99 [6]
  • JP: Q4 2006
  • PAL: Q4 2008
  • NA: Q1 2008
Units sold81.51 million (as of June 30,2010) [7]
CPU ARM7TDMI @ 16.78 MHz, Sharp LR35902 (8080-derived) @ 8.388 or 4.194 MHz
Memory32 KB internal, 256 KB external, 96 KB VRAM
Display TFT LCD, 240 × 160 pixels, 40.8 × 61.2 mm [8]
Power2 × AA batteries
Dimensions82 x 144.5 x 24.5 mm
Best-selling game Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, 16.22 million units [9]
PredecessorGame Boy Color [10]
Successor Nintendo DS

The Game Boy Advance [lower-alpha 1] (GBA) is a 32-bit handheld 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 the PAL region on June 22, 2001, and in mainland China as iQue Game Boy Advance on June 8, 2004. The GBA is part of the sixth generation of video game consoles. The original model does not have an illuminated screen; Nintendo addressed that with the release of a redesigned model with a frontlit screen, the Game Boy Advance SP, in 2003. A newer revision of the redesign was released in 2005, with a backlit screen. Around the same time, the final redesign, the Game Boy Micro, was released in September 2005.


As of June 2010, 81.51 million units of the Game Boy Advance series have been sold worldwide. [7] Its successor, the Nintendo DS, was released in November 2004 [11] and is backward compatible with Game Boy Advance software.


Contrary to the previous Game Boy models, which have 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. [12] [13]

News of a successor to the Game Boy Color (GB/GBC) first emerged at the Nintendo Space World trade show in late August 1999, where it was reported that two new handheld systems were in development. An improved version of the GBC with wireless online connectivity was codenamed the Advanced Game Boy (AGB), and a brand-new 32-bit system was not set for release until the following year. [14] On September 1, 1999, Nintendo officially announced the Game Boy Advance, revealing details about the system's specifications including online connectivity through a cellular device and an improved model of the Game Boy Camera. Nintendo teased that the handheld would first be released in Japan in August 2000, with the North American and European launch dates slated for the end of the same year. [15] Simultaneously, Nintendo announced a partnership with Konami to form Mobile 21, a development studio that would focus on creating technology for the GBA to interact with the GameCube, Nintendo's home console which was also in development at the time under the name "Dolphin". [16] On August 21, 2000, IGN showed off images of a GBA development kit running a demonstrational port of Yoshi Story , [17] and on August 22, pre-production images of the GBA were revealed in an issue of Famitsu magazine in Japan. [18] On August 24, Nintendo officially revealed the console to the public in a presentation, revealing the Japanese and North American launch dates, in addition to revealing that 10 games would be available as launch games for the system. [19] The GBA was then featured at Nintendo Space World 2000 from August 24 to 26 [20] alongside several peripherals for the system, including the GBA Link cable, the GameCube - Game Boy Advance link cable, [21] a rechargeable battery pack for the system, and an infrared communications adaptor which would allow systems to exchange data. [22] In March 2001, Nintendo revealed details about the system's North American launch, including the suggested price of $99.99 and the 15 launch games. Nintendo estimated that around 60 new games would be made available for the system by the end of 2001. [23] [24]

Project Atlantis

In 1996, magazines including Electronic Gaming Monthly , [25] Next Generation , [26] issues 53 and 54 of Total! ,[ citation needed ] and the July 1996 issue of Game Informer [ citation needed ] featured reports of a successor to the original Game Boy, codenamed Project Atlantis. Although Nintendo's expectations of releasing the system in at least one territory by the end of 1996 [25] [26] would make that machine seem to be the Game Boy Color, it was described as having a 32-bit ARM processor, [25] [27] a 3-by-2-inch (7.6 cm x 5 cm) color screen, [25] [26] and a link port [25] — a description that more closely matches the Game Boy Advance. Electronic Gaming Monthly reported the processor to be an ARM710, clocked at 25 MHz, [25] while Next Generation claimed it to be a StrongARM SA-110, possibly supporting 160 MHz. [27] Both were designed by Advanced RISC Machines (ARM), which also created the CPU for the Game Boy Advance (and all Nintendo handhelds up to the Nintendo Switch). In terms of software, it was announced that Nintendo of Japan was working on a game for the system called Mario's Castle, ultimately unreleased. [25] Nintendo suspended the Atlantis project sometime in 1997, since the original Game Boy's 80% of the handheld market share was considered too high to merit the release of a successor. [28]

During a panel discussion at 2009's Game Developers Conference, a cancelled "Game Boy Advance predecessor" was shown on-screen, which looked like a bulky Game Boy Color. While not named, Joystiq concluded this device was most likely Project Atlantis. [29]


Technical specifications

The technical specifications [30] [31] [32] of the original Game Boy Advance are, as provided by Nintendo: [33]

SizeApproximately 145 mm (5.7 in) x 82 mm (3.2 in) x 24 mm (0.94 in) (WxHxD)
WeightApproximately 140 g (4.9 oz)
Screen2.9 inch reflective thin-film transistor (TFT) color liquid-crystal display (LCD)
Display size 40.8 mm (1.61 in) by 61.2 mm (2.41 in)
Framerate 59.727500569606 Hz [34]
Power2× AA batteries [35]
Battery lifeApproximately 15 hours on average while playing Game Boy Advance games (varies depending on the Game Pak being played, volume setting and any external peripherals being used such as a screen light [36] )
CPU16.8 MHz 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory; 8.388 or 4.194 MHz Sharp LR35902 (8080-derived) for Game Boy Color and Game Boy backward compatibility
Memory32 kilobyte + 96 kilobyte VRAM (internal to CPU); 256 kilobyte DRAM (external to CPU)
Resolution240 × 160 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio)
Color support15-bit RGB (5 bits depth per channel), capable of displaying 512 simultaneous colors in "character mode" and 32,768 (215) simultaneous colors in "bitmap mode"
SoundDual 8-bit DAC for stereo sound (called Direct Sound) facilitated by AMP IR3R60N, plus all legacy channels from Game Boy. The DACs can be used to play back streams of wave data, or used to output multiple wave samples processed or mixed in software by the CPU.
  • Eight-way control pad
  • Six action buttons (A, B, L, R, Start, Select)
  • Volume slider
  • Power switch
  • Serial I/O ("Link cable")
  • Cartridge I/O

Backward compatibility for Game Boy and Game Boy Color games is provided by a custom 4.194/8.388 MHz 8080-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. [21] 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 2D graphics hardware has 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). [37] On each machine supporting this effect, it is possible to change the scaling and rotation values during the horizontal blanking period of each scanline[ clarification needed ] 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. [37]

Color variants

The Game Boy Advance has been available in numerous colors and limited editions throughout its production. It was initially available in Arctic, Black, Orange, Fuchsia (translucent pink), Glacier (translucent blue/purple), and Indigo. Later in the system's availability, additional colors and special editions were released, including: Red, Clear Orange/Black, Platinum, White, Gold, Hello Kitty edition (pink with Hello Kitty and logo on bezel), The 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 Yomiuri Giants 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).


The Game Boy Advance Game Pak Nintendo-Game-Boy-Advance-Cartridge.jpg
The Game Boy Advance Game Pak

With hardware performance comparable to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Game Boy Advance represents progress for sprite-based technology. The system's library includes platformers, SNES-like role-playing video games, and 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. While most GBA games employ 2D graphics, developers have ambitiously designed some 3D GBA games that push the limits of the hardware, including first-person shooters like a port of Doom , racing games like V-Rally 3 , and even platformers, like Asterix & Obelix XXL .

Some cartridges are colored to resemble the game (usually for the Pokémon series; Pokémon Emerald , for example, being a clear emerald green). They are also compatible with Nintendo DS and DS Lite (but see the Compatibility with other systems section for limitations). Some Advance cartridges have built-in features, including rumble features ( Drill Dozer ), [38] tilt sensors ( WarioWare: Twisted! , Yoshi's Universal Gravitation ) [39] and solar sensors ( Boktai ). [40]

In Japan, the final game to have been released on the system is Final Fantasy VI Advance on November 30, 2006, which is also the final game published by Nintendo on the system. [41] In North America, the last game for the system is Samurai Deeper Kyo , released on February 12, 2008. Lastly, in Europe, 2 Games in 1: Columns Crown & ChuChu Rocket! is the last game for the system (and also the last one released on the system overall), released on November 28, 2008. The Japan-only Rhythm Tengoku , the first game in what would eventually become known outside Japan as the Rhythm Heaven/Rhythm Paradise series, is the final first-party-developed game for the system, released on August 3, 2006.

Launch games

Title JP NA EU Notes
Army Men Advance Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgYes check.svg Top-down shooter
Boku wa Koukuu Kanseikan Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Simulation game
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon Yes check.svgYes check.svgYes check.svg Platform game in the Castlevania series
ChuChu Rocket! Yes check.svgYes check.svgDark Red x.svgPort of the 1999 Sega Dreamcast game
Earthworm Jim Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgDark Red x.svgPort of the 1994 platform game
EZ-Talk Shokyuuhen 1-6 Kan SetYes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg
Fire Pro Wrestling Yes check.svgYes check.svgYes check.svgTop-down wrestler
F-Zero Maximum Velocity Yes check.svgYes check.svgYes check.svg Racing game, First F-Zero game to be released on a handheld game console, First game developed by NDCube .
Golf Master: Japan Golf Tour Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Sports game
GT Advance Championship Racing Yes check.svgYes check.svgYes check.svg Racing game
Iridion 3D Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgDark Red x.svgQuasi-3D rail shooter game
J. League Pocket Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Soccer game
Konami Krazy Racers Yes check.svgYes check.svgYes check.svg Kart racer
Kuru Kuru Kururin Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgYes check.svg Puzzle game
Mega Man Battle Network Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Real-time tactical RPG
Momotaru MatsuriYes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Role-playing game
Monster GuardiansYes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Role-playing game
Mr. Driller 2 Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svgPort of the 2000 Arcade game
Namco Museum Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgDark Red x.svgCompilation consisting of Ms. Pac-Man , Galaga , Galaxian , Pole Position , and Dig Dug .
Napoleon Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Real-time strategy game
Pinobee: Wings of Adventure Yes check.svgYes check.svgYes check.svgFirst game developed by Artoon .
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgDark Red x.svgPort of the 1994 platform game
Play Novel: Silent Hill Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Visual novel
Power Pro Kun Pocket 3 Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Baseball game
Rayman Advance Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgYes check.svgPort of the 1995 platform game
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgYes check.svgPortable version of the 2000 boxing game
Super Dodge Ball Advance Yes check.svgYes check.svgDark Red x.svg Sports game
Super Mario Advance Yes check.svgYes check.svgYes check.svgRemake of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Bros.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Dark Red x.svgYes check.svgYes check.svgPortable version of the 2000 skateboarding video game
Top Gear GT Championship Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgYes check.svg Racing game
Total Soccer ManagerDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svgYes check.svgSoccer manager
Tweety and the Magic Gems Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgYes check.svgLast Looney Tunes game published by Kemco
Winning PointYes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Horse racing game
Yu-Gi-Oh! Dungeon Dice Monsters Yes check.svgDark Red x.svgDark Red x.svg Dice-driven tactics game

Compatibility with other systems

Clockwise from left: A Game Boy Game Pak, a Game Boy Advance Game Pak, and a Nintendo DS Game Card. On the far right is a US nickel shown for scale. Nintendo Game Cartridge Size Comparison.jpg
Clockwise from left: A Game Boy Game Pak, a Game Boy Advance Game Pak, and a Nintendo DS Game Card. On the far right is a US nickel shown for scale.

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 requiring extra hardware. For example, games with built-in motion sensors (such as Yoshi's Topsy-Turvy ) would require players to manipulate the console itself.

The GBA is the last of the three Nintendo handheld systems to bear the Game Boy name, games developed for it are incompatible with older Game Boy systems, and each game's box carries a label indicating that the game is "not compatible with other Game Boy systems". However, games designed for older Game Boy systems are conversely compatible with the Game Boy Advance, with options to play such games on either their standard aspect ratios or a stretched fullscreen.

Game Boy Advance games are compatible with Nintendo DS models that support them with a dedicated GBA cartridge slot beneath the touch screen, (specifically the original model and the Nintendo DS Lite), although they do not support multiplayer or features involving the use of GBA accessories because they do not have the GBA's external peripheral port that these features require to function. The Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL do not have backward compatibility with the GBA and a few DS games that use the GBA slot.

Virtual Console

As part of an Ambassador Program for early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS system, ten Game Boy Advance games, along with ten Nintendo Entertainment System games, were made available free for players who bought a system before the price drop on August 12, 2011. [42] Unlike the other Virtual Console games for the system, features such as the Home menu or save states are missing, since the games are running natively instead of in emulation. 3DS systems that have custom firmware installed can also install the ten available games available to Ambassador Program members. Many other Game Boy Advance games can also be played via custom firmware by injecting a different game into one of the released Game Boy Advance games.[ citation needed ] Satoru Iwata stated Game Boy Advance games will be available on the Wii U's Virtual Console sometime during April 2014. [43] 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's Virtual Console. [44] A Virtual Console library of Game Boy Advance games was launched for the Wii U console. Similar to the original DS and DS Lite, all of the Virtual Console releases are single-player only, as they do not emulate multiplayer features enabled by Game Link cables.



The Wireless Adapter was packed in with Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen. Game-Boy-Advance-Wireless-Adapter.jpg
The Wireless Adapter was packed in with Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen.

Nintendo released various addons for the Game Boy Advance, which include:


Other accessories for the Game Boy Advance include:


Game Boy Advance SP

Game Boy Advance SP Game-Boy-Advance-SP-Mk1-Blue.jpg
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. [53] [54]

Backlight model (AGS-101)

Game Boy Advance SP (model AGS-101) Gameboy-Advance-SP-Mk2.jpg
Game Boy Advance SP (model AGS-101)

Around the same time as the release of the Game Boy Micro, Nintendo released a new backlit version of the SP (model AGS-101). 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.

Game Boy Micro

Game Boy Micro Game-Boy-Micro.jpg
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, the 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, which also played Game Boy Advance cartridges. [55]


Upon its North American release, IGN praised the Game Boy Advance's graphical capabilities and battery life, but criticized the system's shoulder button placement and noted the system's high price tag which "may be a tad bit too high to swallow," ultimately scoring the system with an "8.0" out of 10. They also pointed out the system's lack of a backlight which occasionally got in the way of playing games. [56] ABC News praised the Game Boy Advance's graphics, grip and larger screen, stating that "You've never had as much fun playing old games." [57]

Reviewing for CNET, Darren Gladstone scored the system with a 7.0 out of 10, praising its graphical performance and backwards compatibility, but being considerably critical of the system's lack of a backlit screen, noting that it makes it "nearly impossible" to play in normal lighting conditions. Gladstone ultimately suggested the sleeker and backlit Game Boy Advance SP over the system despite noting that its cheaper price may "appeal to gamers on a lower budget." [58] Despite ending support in 2010, ROM hacks, fan games, and Homebrew games are still being developed by indie communities for the GBA.


Nintendo hoped to sell 1.1 million Game Boy Advance units by the end of March with the system's Japanese debut, and anticipated sales of 24 million units before the end of 2001; many marketing analysts believed for this to be a realistic goal due to the company's lack of major competition in the handheld video game market. [59] Within the first week of its North American launch in June, the Game Boy Advance sold 500,000 units, making it the fastest-selling video game console in the United States at the time. In response to strong sales, Nintendo ordered 100,000 units to ship to retail stores, hoping to ship another half million of them by the end of June. [60] The Game Boy Advance also became the fastest-selling system in the United Kingdom, selling 81,000 units in its first week of release and beating the PlayStation 2's previous record of 20,000 units. [61] In 2004, the system's sales in the United Kingdom surpassed one million units. [62]

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. [63] In a Kotaku article published on January 18, 2008, Nintendo revealed that the Game Boy Advance series had sold 36.2 million units in the United States, as of January 1, 2008. [64] As of December 31, 2009, the Game Boy Advance series has sold 81.51 million units worldwide, 43.57 million of which are Game Boy Advance SP units and 2.42 million of which are Game Boy Micro units. [65]

After the Game Boy Advance's support lessened, the most popular software became mostly games oriented to younger gamers. [66]

See also


  1. Japanese: ゲームボーイアドバンス, Hepburn: Gēmu Bōi Adobansu

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