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Hardware Classics: The Legend Of Zelda Game Boy Advance SP

Posted by Damien McFerran

The Triforce is strong in this one

Nintendo's Game Boy Advance is one of the company's most beloved handhelds. It had a hard act to follow, coming after the blockbuster successes of the original monochrome Game Boy and the Game Boy Color, but it managed to shift almost 90 million units globally. However, in typical Nintendo fashion, it took a major hardware revision to deliver what many players considered to be the finished article.

The original Game Boy Advance model lacked a lit screen and used AA batteries rather than a rechargeable power cell. 2003's Game Boy Advance SP remedied these problems, and also introduced a clamshell form factor which protected the screen and made the unit feel even more portable. Bizarrely, it also removed the headphone socket, requiring users to purchase an additional accessory which plugged into the charging port (and therefore meant you couldn't charge and listen through headphones at the same time).

Like so many of Nintendo's products, the Game Boy Advance SP was released in a variety of limited edition flavours. This gold-coloured Zelda example isn't particularly rare, but it's certainly one of the most visually appealing; it was bundled with a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap. Sadly, this edition of the console doesn't include the superior backlit screen (Game Boy Advance SP units with this screen have the model number AGS-101) - if it had, then this would arguably the ultimate edition of the handheld.

If you're looking to pick up a Game Boy Advance SP unit then this is certainly worth considering, despite the lack of the backlit screen. AGS-101 models tend to fetch high prices when they come up for sale online, whereas this Zelda-themed edition is slightly less expensive. It's a fantastic collectable, and goes particularly well with the limited edition Wii Remote bundled with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, we think.

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User Comments (56)



Spoony_Tech said:

That looks awesome! It's seems its strictly a collector's item though as the odd omition of a backlight kinda makes this a bit lame to play games on.



Chunky_Droid said:

I got one for Christmas last year, my girlfriend spotted it in a retro gaming shop in Sydney and somehow bought it while I was ogling Hyrulian shields...



domdom87 said:

I'm glad there are still people who know the difference between the original SP and the AGS-101 SP. I've seen so many people claim the original model had a backlit screen when it was only frontlit. I must say though, I have both variants of the SP and the backlit model is definitely well worth the price difference. However if you're looking to play in the dark in bed, it'll burn your eyes off.



Radbot42 said:

Reading some of the things this is missing makes me glad I got a micro! It has everything this was missing, and even more portable!!!



Farmboy74 said:

@Swiket, sure is I've still got the NES limited edition and it is still going strong. Thinking about things my original gameboy is still going strong as well



MitchVogel said:

I thought that symbol next to the start button was introduced in Skyward Sword. Must be a little bit older then!



ThreeD33 said:

OMG I want soo baad it would go great with my zelda collection. Hey I have two sp's, blu and pnk wanna trade? jk Seriously though...........



pashaveliki said:

The thing is this model DOES have a backlit screen.
There was a later model revision of the SP with a better/brighter screen.



Wonder_Ideal said:

The SP was the first video game system that I got as a present and not as a hand-me-down. I used the heck out of that thing, and it still works great to this day.



FullbringIchigo said:

i have one of them i used to play it all the time but now the screen is acting up, jumping all over the place such a shame but at least i still have my original GBA or my DS

my Zelda GBASP is just a show piece now



Damo said:

@pashaveliki No it doesn't. It's the AGS-001, so it's the front lit version. The superior backlit model is AGS-101.



rayword45 said:

Best Nintendo console ever IMO (though undeniably Wii had the most industry impact). Let's see if the 3DS can catch up.



Tsuchiya said:

I got mine years ago for £1 from a Cash Converters including Minish Cap! Great condition too.



TheRealThanos said:

What are you talking about? Of course it has a light, just not the best version, like mentioned in the article. You can also very clearly see the light's on/off button in the photo's. You talk as if it has no light at all. And it's not strange that it doesn't have the superior backlight, since this is an older version of the SP.



BakaKnight said:

I have that Zelda SP!

Back in the days I was happy with my GBA and thought "SP? Naaah, not wanna waste moneys, my old GBA works fine for me >O>" , but when the Zelda version came out.....
Damn! I couldn't resist!!! XD;



SilentJ said:

I had the NES one until it was stolen but I don't remember the Zelda one at all.



Ras said:

I have the NES one. I didn't know about the later revision, but, yeah, the front lit screen doesn't look that great. And my original DS Lite that could play GBA games has a fritzy screen.



Wintendo said:

I have the Pearl Blue AGS-101 model. I just happened to get a charging cord (Along with pokemon silver ) last week, so I'm playing my SP for the first time in about 3-4 years. I love this thing.... and will be picking up some of the games I missed



Jstar269 said:

I got the LE Shrek GBA SP from 2004, still working great. XD But I found my Charging Cord recently, after about 2 years.



RetroGBHippie92 said:

I really wish I had the LE Zelda GBA SP, I own The Minish Cap, ALTTP and NES Classics The Legend of Zelda, why don't I own this model??



Stratostar said:

What a great retrospective article. Just a few weeks ago I replaced my old GBA SP with a new one from Amazon.



XyVoX said:

So how would i go about getting a superior backlit model is AGS-101 from eBay then and would i be right in saying that this model would have the best screen to play GB & GBC games then ?



DaveGX said:

Interesting...never saw this 1 before. Though I do still have my original gameBoyAdvance Sp, as well as the NES edition 1, too. Both still in very good condition.



Omega said:

@XyVoX: Yes, you're right. The GBA SP AGS-101 has the best display and is compatible to GB and GBC games. (The only official licensed thing that can have a better, bigger and brighter display and is also compatible to all sorts of Gameboy cartridges is the Gamecube with a Gameboy Player. - Depending on your TV.)



arderin64 said:

Still have my treasured Nes edition SP which helped fight the boredom on hungover days during my first semester of university. I couldn't afford a tv for my room so that was the autumn of Mario Advance 2,3 & 4, Zelda LTTP & Metroid Fusion & Zero Mission. I got a tv/DVD combi for Christmas so I could watch films & hook up my Gamecube in the second semester. But I'll always have fond memories of my little grey, red & black friend & the times spent with it when I should have been studying. Don't think I could sell it at any price.



StarDust4Ever said:

I have the NES edition too!

Only problem with the GBA-SP is it was too tiny. Very painful to play if you have large man-hands. I actually picked up a launch model with a worm light, and played the heck out of that one instead.



Holly said:

Probably the Nintendo handheld that I'm most nostalgic about. I got a cobalt blue SP for sixth-grade graduation, which was, shall we say, a few years ago.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I don't really have any oher limited editions so that must be why it feels so great to see it.
Still the best way to play GameBoy games.



Vriess said:

Yeah, got that golden SP. Together with Minsh Cap, LttP/Four Swords, Zelda 1 & 2 (classics), Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons and Link's Awakening DX. I might sell the whole lot.



MeloMan said:

I still have my NES GBA SP... I still whip it out every once in a while... and give it a good charge up. Great system while it lasted.



DaveGX said:

@StarDust Other than it being small, which kinda wasn't a huge problem for me, the only other thing that bugged me was how the backlight appeared to show off gamma light or whatever the whitish light was when you need it in dark areas.



FabioSMASH said:

@Swiket Still use mine on a regular basis. I keep a copy of Wario Ware Twisted permanently-loaded at all times.

Shame this version is merely "side-lit".



Tasuki said:

The only SPs I had were the silver one which was stolen from me and the dark blue one. I always wanted to get the NES retro looking one but when it was available I didnt have the money and now I fear they are very expensive to get.



Moviefan2k4 said:

I bought a backlit 101 SP for $60 a few months ago, but the shell is scratched up. If anyone's interested, the Gaming Generations website sells replacements.



Jmw042008 said:

@Vriess I know you probably got a lot of this since you posted this message, but, any chance you would sell the zelda sp? And if so for how much?

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