Game Boy Advance Launch Report
Review by: Tiger (tiger@sm128c.com)

Editorial Posted: May 5, 2001

GAME BOY ADVANCE! A comprehensive report.

Do you really want to know what the fuss is REALLY all about? Because I have found out, and you will be blown away. I recently imported a Milky Blue Game Boy Advance from Japan, as well as getting Mario Advance. The minute I turned it on, I knew I was in for a treat. The startup screen was already really cool. Nothing you would expect from a normal Game Boy, even Color. To stop me from rambling on and on, I have organized this into a couple sections. Enjoy.

The First Glance

So as I quickly opened the box, I poured the instruction books out (who needs them for video games anyway? I've waited many months!), I pryed out the cardboard blockers, and out came the motherlode. The Almighty Game Boy Advance. When I first carefully examined it like a tiger to a nice piece of juicy steak (metaphor of me ^_^).

Comparisions

Time for some comparisions! I took out my GBC and NGPC, and I quickly reviewed the measurements. The NGPC is by far smaller, but a bit heavier (both having batteries and a game cart inserted) and thicker. The GBA is not as heavy as the GBC, and since I have the clear Milky Blue variety, it looks more hollow. But that is probably a trick of the eye. The screen size is much wider, it seems to be 2x wider than GBC, but it is really not.

Buttons/keys, plugs, cables, etc

The on/off, volume, and headphones outlet is on the bottom, similar to the NGPC. The on/off key is very similar to the GBC's. There is also a hole to put a carrying strap, just like the GBC. But this time it is on the back, on the right side. The link cable port is on top, which makes it more convienent than the old left-side port. The old port location made it slightly awkward for link-up battle/trade. The link port on the GBA is also "upside-down." So if you have a worm light, you must twist it all the way around. And for the Worm Light deal. If you are using it on a regular GB/GBC game, it will light up fine. But if you are using for a GBA game, it will be dimmer and the light will be weak. Another interesting note: there is no DC port (for AC adaptors) on the GBA. The AC adaptors are to be connected with a special battery case.

Controls

Now I really know the answer to the whiny questions: "Why can't they have X,Y buttons?" "I want a joystick! Why not?" "What are the functions for L,R for regular games?" These are easily answered once you get a GBA for yourself. The material the buttons are made of are different than the GBC's. It is "softer," and easier to press and feel. They feel great. The D-pad is excellent. I was once for getting a joystick, and now I understand why. The D-pad is not hard and hard to manage like how the GBC's can feel a lot.

The X,Y arguement + L,R

This is why there are no X,Y. There is no space for it. If they did put it in, it would be cramped. There is not that much space where the B,A buttons are. It has space to be comfortable. The X,Y buttons are useful, but it can be sacraficed. Fighting games do not have that much problems to it. If you have a NGPC, you know what I am talking about with Match of the Millenium. It is a game involving Street Fighter as well as King of Fighters characters, yet the controls are fine, and it works perfectly well. And the L,R buttons..are simply wonderful. They are comfortable, and nifty. Since the GBA screen is much bigger than the GBC's, you can choose from 2 different screen options for non-GBA games. Pressing the L button while play makes it "fit to screen," causing the screen to stretch. It may look pixely and ugly, but it may be useful for some games. Pressing R button while you are "fit to screen," puts it back to normal screen, but with a black border around it. During GBA play, it can act as other buttons, but limited. In Mario Advance, pressing on the L button lets you "scan" the top and bottom, like Super Mario Bros. DX for GBC. This could be utilized in other games for other options as well.

Playing Advanced Games

Oh my gosh, it is VERY nice. How can I say it? I was stunned. After scanning and probing my GBA, I quickly opened the Mario Advance box and popped it in the GBA. I turned it on, and whoosh. As I said before, even the startup screen is something really amazing. It is like a SNES in your hand. Literally, the graphics are very nice. In Mario Advance, you see the background moving, the grass moving, and little teeny-tiny details. Wow. I don't know about the other games, but needless to say, they will be great as well. But bad one thing, is that GBA games do not come with plastic cases. But, you can fit one GBA game sideways in a old GB plastic case, but it wastes space. Hopefully a game accesory company will make GBA plastic game cases.

Oldies on the Newbies

Then, I inserted an old cart (Kirby's Pinball land) to test. Nice. The startup screen is like a GBC's. I believe that the GBA has a GBC emulator in there, or something of the like, because it acts like a GBC once you put in a non-GBA cart, except for the fact that you can change screen sizes for the game. Playing a non-GBA game in a GBA is almost like playing it differently. There is something about it. But personally, I would stick to playing GBC games on the GBC. Because the cart sticks out (which can create a safety hazard to the game), and that the GBA makes non-GBA games a bit darker. This is because the GBA pixels are smaller for better detail and quality. It might be distracting to some people.

Overall Impression

So what do I have left to say? For those of you REALLY wanting it, I suggest you import one, even if you dont get a game with it. Handhelds from Japan have no territorial lock-outs, and they are exactly the same as the ones that will be later sold in America. The label on the back of the GBA is all in English, but the instructions are not. The pictures in the booklet are enough to explain the instructions, and I don't really think you want to know the Warranty Information in Japan. :) But if you have to wait until June 11 or later, it is DEFINATELY worth the wait. It will be amazing..and what do they say? One of the best parts is the waiting, the anticipation.

Last statement: (on the back of the booklet) FOR SALE AND USE IN JAPAN ONLY. ^_^

-- Tiger (tiger@sm128c.com)