1 Up! : The Gameboy Advance SP. 

With all the talk recently about the forthcoming NES mini, I’ve heard people wondering if there’s going to be a mini SNES. There’s been kind of one sitting under our noses this whole time: The Gameboy Advance SP. 

Released in 2003 as the “special” model of the Gameboy Advance, it was a big step up from it’s predecessor because of the vastly improved display, addition of the back light with the model 001 and extra bright function on the model 101, the graphical updates, better physical design and backwards compatability. 

Aside from it’s own advance cartridges the SP will play original Gameboy and Gameboy Color games, adding basic colours to the original non colour games. The shape was redesigned to feel more like the original Gameboys which I definitely preferred over the original Advance’s design and feel. 

In total there were 1074 games released for the Gameboy Advance across Japan, Europe and North America. This is where my comparison to the SNES starts, the SP is technically superior to the SNES and has just as good or better graphics, and some of the SNES game ports actually play better than their counterparts on the SNES. There’s always debate over which system had better games especially when it comes to the RPGs on each system but in my opinion the SP has the advantage on the whole as far as the variety and playability of the games. 

The Advance also saw a lot of great NES/SNES reissues of games like Super Mario World (Mario Advance 2), Mario Bros 3 (Mario Advance 4), Final Fight One, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Mario Bros 2 (Mario Advance), the Donkey Kong Country trilogy as well as some 2 in 1 series like Gauntlet/Rampart, Paperboy/Rampage and Castlevania Harmony of dissonance and Aria of Sorrow. 

Now there’s always one series that blows up on every system……


Pokémon Red/Blue, Fire Red/Leaf Green, Ruby/Sapphire, Emerald, Pinball Ruby/Sapphire and Mystery Dungeon Red/Blue rescue team were all released for the Advance along with the various booleg versions that have popped up for other Pokémon titles.The Ruby/Sapphire and Emerald games were the top 2 selling titles on the system and these games continue to really hold their value despite a lot of the other games on the system being in the $3-10 range.

The Advance SP hung around until 2007 when it was replaced by the Micro and eventually the DS. With the introduction of the DS the system was done but the games lived on with the inclusion of an Advance game slot. 

One advantage to collecting for the Advance is there’s always an abundance of games that you can find at more than reasonable prices and even the pricier titles haven’t skyrocketed like they have in other markets such as NES collecting. All in all it’s probably one of the best interations of the Gameboy and will remain a favourite of mine for road trips, etc when I want some top notch gaming with great portability, and hey it even allows me to have some of my favourite NES titles on top of the great library it has on it’s own. 

I guess I’ll kick back for a bit and catch up on some Fire Emblem the sacred stones. 

#handheldliving

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