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The Game Boy brand was one of the most powerful in gaming during the 1990s with the original system and its iterations. Though the Game Boy Color offered some enhanced power, it nevertheless took an exceptionally long time for a true successor (aside from the ill-fated Virtual Boy) to arrive. The Game Boy Advance made its debut in Japan on 21st March 2001, meaning it's now 15 years old; it arrived in North America and PAL regions in June that year.

If the Game Boy was - very loosely talking - an 8-bit machine, the Game Boy Advance was technically 32-bit and with performance that (to a gamer's eye) was certainly at the Super NES (16-bit) level. That allowed it to play host to an impressive range of ports from the NES and SNES era (albeit with resolution limitations), along with portable games on a level that had been the stuff of fantasy on the original Game Boy models. It was also a relatively bold design shift for the Game Boy brand in going for a landscape approach, while the SP model of 2003 improved lighting on the screen and incorporated a clamshell design; the Game Boy Micro (which was an Advance despite the name) arrived rather late and was tiny, but won some fans due to its gorgeous design.

It was revolutionary in some aspects of its operation, too - it had a wireless adapter to replace link cables, could be linked to a GameCube (with a cable) for extra features and content, and had the underutilised e-Reader with which you could scan cards for extra content.

The Game Boy Advance was, ultimately, a notable success. It had a memorable games library (which we'll be celebrating very soon) and its various models sold over 80 million units. When the DS rolled into town it was initially pitched as a new pillar of Nintendo hardware, but its runaway success ultimately put the Game Boy brand in the shade, effectively retiring it in the process. Its games do live on with new generations, though, with a growing library on the Wii U Virtual Console.

Here's to the Game Boy Advance, a wonderful system and a worthy end (so far) for the Game Boy family.

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