There are countless reasons why I fell hard in love with the GBA, but the reason which stands tall above others is the amount of “wow” moments it provided. Going home on launch day with a purple unit and the holy trinity of ChuChu Rocket!, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 put me in teenage nerd heaven for weeks: I’ve never owned a SNES, so having a souped-up one in my pocket set off all kinds of 16-bit fireworks in my brain.
"There are countless reasons why I fell hard in love with the GBA, but the reason which stands tall above others is the amount of “wow” moments it provided"
There were the Ninty staples that I had missed out on due to owning a Genesis, now given a second chance at soaking in. Then there were the first-person shooters, which I followed with strange compulsion: Blasting through a portable Doom was incredible in its own right, Ecks vs. Sever was incredibly ambitious if a little flawed, and I actually got to play a brand-new Duke Nukem FPS years before Forever would even think about rearing its disappointing head.
It may have been a handheld loaded with ports, adaptations and stylistic continuations, but their new-game (to me) smell hit me like a sock full of quarters.
But mostly there was Chu Chu Rocket. The sheer insanity of space cat and mouse makes me anxious just thinking about it now — yet another reason I will always love my GBA.
I loved my Game Boy Advance, but like my Super NES before it, I never got nearly as much out of it as I could. I arrived late to the party and didn't read many reviewing publications, so I stayed safely nestled within first-party offerings. For the aforementioned console that meant solely sticking to Mario games, but here I instead dived right into the Classic NES series. Before the days of the Virtual Console, it was quite a blast to play Super Mario Bros. and Zelda II on the small screen, even though I owned Super Mario Bros. Deluxe as well. This was a straight port of the NES game, and it blew my mind a bit that I could play something that re-created the experience so faithfully.
It also gave me the chance to uncover the hidden gem Xevious, which quickly became one of my favourites, even before the days of 3D Classics. During my first year of college, I must've played that every night before bed, accumulating a high score that completely blew out my competition on the IGN message boards. Granted, it was a competition of one other person, but I was still quite proud. Of course, this also meant that I spent $20 on Ice Climber and Donkey Kong, but at least my Classic NES collection was complete.