HISTORY OF THE GAME BOY ADVANCE
After making sales records with the GameBoy and GameBoy Color, Nintendo set their sights on development of a newer, more powerful handheld. That handheld would be the GameBoy Advance. It launched in 2001, months before Nintendo’s GameCube launch, at a price of only $99.99 ($134.64 today adjusted for inflation). Launch titles included mostly ports of home console games like Earthworm Jim and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, but did have a couple noteable original titles like Rayman Advance. It had practically no competition during its lifespan as the only other handheld that even came close to decent sales numbers was the failed N-Gage. Being that it was cheap, impressive for the time and had no competition it is no wonder that the GBA sold 81 million units worldwide over its 7 year life span.
The GBA is a 32 bit console and does a great job of emulating the games of the SNES era. A large chunk of its library are basically ports of the best SNES games, which most people were pleased to have. There were a handful of other new and well reviewed titles for the GBA like Advance Wars, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Golden Sun, Metroid: Zero Mission and Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire. The system was smaller than its predecessor but managed to simultaneously be far more powerful. After a few years Nintendo released a new version called the GameBoy Advance SP which featured a flip up display, much-improved lighting and overall smaller desing. In 2005 they did a second redesign called the GameBoy Micro which was basically the original design but a bit smaller and skinnier.
PERSONAL HISTORY WITH THE GAME BOY ADVANCE
The GBA is my second favorite console (behind the SNES), my favorite handheld. I still remember getting it for Christmas. Levi and I each got one, mine the Arctic White color and Levi’s the original Purple. We got Mario Kart: Super Circuit (still one of the best Mario Karts ever), Super Mario Advance, Rayman Advance and Pokemon Sapphire with them. At that time most of those games were older and thus our parents were able to buy those affordable used copies. I’ve talked in previous posts about taking long monthly drives to Indiana and back, along with my long daily 3 hour round trip bus rides to school, so as you can imagine I got a lot of hours in with my GBA. I oftentimes saved up my farm work money for weeks and then when we visited dad monthly in the big city of Indianapolis I would have him take us to GameStop so I could afford a couple used games. I also replayed all my favorite original GameBoy/Color games, especially Pokemon Red and Silver. I love the console to death and still play it quite often, usually the SP version.
COLLECTING FOR THE GAME BOY ADVANCE
Arguably the best thing about the GBA is its low initial price of system and games. Low cost plus high sales numbers during production equals great news for us collectors! Both the original and SP versions are quite cheap, found regularly under $50 for ones in great shape. The original versions may need some cleaning when you first buy them as gunk tends to form around the crevices near the buttons over time. If you only care about actual performance I definitely recommend getting an SP version instead (as I’ll talk more about in my review next week). Games are quite cheap. I would say the average game I’ve bought was between $10-20, with only a handful being over $20 like the Metroid titles, Minish Cap and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. Complete-in-box collectors will have a harder time since GBA was still in the cardboard box era of gaming but you can expect to only see about 200-250% mark-ups off used prices. If you collect for handhelds in any capacity whatsoever you must collect for the GBA.