This week we have been celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Game Boy Advance. It was the last handheld of the Game Boy era, and is fondly remembered for vivid graphics, multiplayer gameplay and for the portable gaming experience that it offered.
To round off our GBA celebrations, we’ve invited some of our writers to share their memories of the handheld.
Growing up on handheld gaming, I can remember how excited I was when the Game Boy Advance launched. The detailed graphics, the alluring colour spectrum that it was capable of displaying, the promise of great games: it was all perfect. Thankfully, and this isn’t often the case, I was never let down by that little purple machine. Through its entire lifespan (and even beyond that) the GBA has been, in my humble opinion, one of the best gaming consoles of all time.
The one thing that I specifically remember about purchasing the GBA at launch was how fascinated I was with the startup screen. That’s right, the display when you turn the GBA on and the words “GAME BOY” fly onto the screen and reflect an arching rainbow at you. It may seem like absolutely nothing now, but the idea that so much care and effort was put into crafting a simple startup screen was a mark of the quality that Nintendo had put into this handheld. Like most Nintendo products, the Game Boy Advance was a device of pure excellence.
I spent uncountable hours with the GBA, exploring dungeons, training Pokémon and winning races. The shape was a little awkward, but that didn’t stop me from pocketing it wherever I went (later on I switched to a Game Boy Micro for extra portability, but that’s beside the point). All through high school and even into my college years, well after the DS had launched, I still played my GBA regularly. Between the Golden Sun series, Pokémon, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, I became a pretty big fan of RPGs. I literally clocked over 200 hours into FFTA between my Junior and Senior years of high school, and it’s still one of my favourite games to this day. I’m not overly proud to admit this, but there were even certain college lecture courses that I would sneak my GBA into and play on some of the more boring days. Like I said, it literally went everywhere with me.
"It may seem like absolutely nothing now, but the idea that so much care and effort was put into crafting a simple startup screen was a mark of the quality that Nintendo had put into this handheld"
More than anything, the Game Boy Advance is a symbol of independence for me. It was the first gaming console (handheld or otherwise) that I actually purchased by myself without the help of my parents or anyone else. I pre-ordered it at the local toy store and stood outside waiting for the shop to open on launch day. It wasn’t just about getting the gaming console though; it was about sharing the experience with fellow gamers. I spent that time talking to complete strangers about what colour console we were getting, which launch titles we would pick up, other favourite games, and speculating about the approaching launch of the GameCube.
It’s odd to think about, but the Game Boy Advance has had a pretty big impact on my life. While I don’t play it too often anymore, I still consider the GBA to be one of my favourite gaming consoles of all time. From its variety of games, to the console itself, the Game Boy Advance was a great piece of gaming history that should not be dismissed or overlooked.