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GBA launched 20 years ago today and GameDadGrant has a detailed history of the handheld!


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Well shit, I guess I have to now!


The Game Boy Advance (GBA) was the successor to the popular Game Boy and Game Boy Color family of game systems manufactured by Nintendo. During the development cycle, the internal code name for the new handheld has been speculated to have been “Project Atlantis.” 

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The internal hardware consists of an ARM7TDMI @16.78 Mhz Sharp LR35902 @ 8.388 MHz CPU, and stored 32 KB of internal memory. (256 external, 96 KB VRAM) The screen is a TFT LCD, that displays 240x160 pixels. It was able to produce graphics nearly on par with the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and had various ports from that system made for it. It did have better 3D capabilities, and a more advanced version of "Mode 7" which also helped with the shrinking, growing, and rotating of sprites.

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Launch games included Nintendo's own "Super Mario Advance" - a remake of Super Mario Bros. 2 originally for the NES, as well as a new entry in Konami's Castlevania series with a game known as Circle of the Moon. The popular Tony Hawk's Pro Skater also saw a release on the GBA at launch and amazingly showcased some basic 3D polygonal models for the skaters. A handheld first! The system was also backwards compatible with both the original Game Boy games, and Game Boy Color games.

 

The best-selling game was Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire, selling around 16.22 million units. The GBA itself sold around 82 million units.

 

It was later reiterated by the Game Boy Advance SP, which boasted not only a front-lit screen to play games without an external light source, but a new "clamshell" design that further supported the portable nature of the platform. 

 

The system was considered a success by Nintendo, and went on to outsell the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube (both individually *and* combined) and lives on via Virtual Console releases on 3DS (via the Ambassador Program) and the Wii U Virtual Console.

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My favorite memory of the system was that it lacking a backlight was a terrible and unjustifiable decision, one that I rectified by buying a mod kit from portablemonopoly.com

 

Aside from that, I played with the GBA at E3 2001, when it was available in Japan but before it was available in the US. There were women in flight suits who had 4 GBAs tethered to them via metal cables, and they’d walk around and let people play with the system. I want to say the game in them was F-Zero Maximum Velocity? They also were running video reels of the GBA Metroid IV that I assume eventually pivoted into Fusion:

 

 

 

 

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The Game Boy Advance also had "Connectivity" with the Nintendo home console at the time, the Gamecube. Using a special cord, players could connect their GBA to their GCN and enjoy specific modes and features for games that were supported. Some games even required the use of a GBA as a controller during multiplayer sessions on Gamecube, such as Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda: 4 Swords Adventures. It is my opinion that the best game to use Connectivity was Pac-Man VS. because it only required on GBA system and you could get it for free.

 

Speaking of Crystal Chronicles, the GBA was instrumental in getting an entry in the Final Fantasy series on Gamecube. After Square started producing games for the Playstation instead of the Nintendo 64, then-President of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi refused to allow Square to release games on any Nintendo product while he was head of the company. After he stepped down, Satoru Iwata took his place and made a deal with Square. The agreement was that if they made at least one game for Gamecube, they would be able to make games for the Game Boy Advance, which would be greatly beneficial to Square's bottom line. Needless to say, they agreed and the rest is history.

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2 hours ago, GameDadGrant said:

Well shit, I guess I have to now!


The Game Boy Advance (GBA) was the successor to the popular Game Boy and Game Boy Color family of game systems manufactured by Nintendo. During the development cycle, the internal code name for the new handheld was “Project Nitro.” 

Wrong system there. Nitro was ds. :)

 

-edit-

 

For even more clarity. The DS went Iris (single screen) -> Nitro (dual screen) -> DS -> Panda -> DSi

 

I kind of regret not making the TEG-02 proto board go missing (I actually question if they ever made it back to NOA in the first place, they sat in the corner for evere and we kept telling management they were supposed to be shipped back).

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Here is your worthless fun fact for the GBA. 

Remember those GBA Video carts and how they had a not compatible on the GB Player at the start? I was the one responsible for implementing it at the request of both the publisher and nintendo for fear of piracy that someone would want to record them. :|

 

The GB Player implementation works by the game showing a very specific logo within the first 15 seconds of the system booting. if found by the GB Player it writes some values to an unused register set which you can read from to see if they system detected the logo. You can pretty much break the whole detection system from working by just modifying the image/data in rom. It will then fail to be detected by the GB Player and boot normally.

 

...

Tune in for the DS 20th anniversary where I'll talk about the shit show that was Rayman DS.

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It was a 32 bit handheld that had ports of SNES games but was missing 2 face buttons. Why the GBA didn't have the same button amount and layout as a 1991 SNES I have no idea. I think just to frustrate fans. I bought mine at launch because my roommate dragged me to get one and I saw a Castlevania launch game so I bought one as well. That was my first Gameboy.

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I bought a masterfully refurbished GBA SP last year. Excellent quality with no scratches, hand picked highest quality screen (I forget the part number but it's the most highly sought after screen) -- everything about it feels brand new, even better than brand new since the screen doesn't have the ghosting my original unit had. Been loving it. 

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3 hours ago, Rodimus said:

It was a 32 bit handheld that had ports of SNES games but was missing 2 face buttons. Why the GBA didn't have the same button amount and layout as a 1991 SNES I have no idea. I think just to frustrate fans.


Could not agree more. The SNES games that were ported worked fine for the most part. But it was - as you said - frustrating to have Street Fighter on the system but only four buttons. 
 

Like, WTF. 

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