Ushering in a new era of gaming, the Game Boy Advance was launched 15 years ago today. Though obsolete now, the Advance was a huge step forward in the video game world for its time, and proved to be an extremely important piece of gaming history.
The GBA was the first handheld to use the landscape format for its screen (which we still enjoy today on the 3DS), as opposed to its Game Boy and Game Boy Color predecessors, which used a portrait format. Additionally, the handheld could run games comparable to games that ran on the SNES, which was unheard of at the time for portable gaming. It proved to be an immense progression for sprite-based technology, as anyone who owned a GBA will remember the distinct style the games had.
Another incredible feature that started on the Game Boy Advance was the idea of ports from other consoles. The Game Boy Advance saw ports of Mario and Zelda games from the NES and SNES days, as this was the first console by Nintendo that could confidently run the software from any previous device it’d put out. While it doesn’t quite compare to the Virtual Console that we have today, the ability to purchase and run old games on a new system, especially while making old non-portable games portable, was a massive leap forward and an exciting one at that.
The Game Boy Advance was also the first system to feature wireless communication– with the launch of Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen came the Wireless Adapter, which allowed players to communicate without the hassle of a link cable. Additionally, it was the obvious basis for the Game Boy Advance SP, which was the first handheld by Nintendo to feature the clamshell design that’s become a standard among the company, as well as a backlight and chargeable battery.
The Advance is still known today for some of its notable and even historical games, some of which were even given to select 3DS owners as part of the Ambassador program. These games have still not been put out on the public Virtual Console, making their mark in history an even more prominent one. Games like Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, which introduced a number of mechanics to the Pokémon franchise, FireRed and LeafGreen, which were the start of the “Pokémon Remake” tradition, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, which was only the second Fire Emblem game to be released outside of Japan and is now nearly a relic in its physical form, and a host of other games that made an impact were all introduced throughout the GBA’s lifespan, and were even still playable afterwards thanks to the DS’s backwards compatibility.
While plenty of Nintendo fans nowadays may not have even owned a Game Boy Advance, its legacy has certainly influenced the games and 3DS systems that they’re playing on today. There’s still something fun about going back to the 32-bit pixel graphics the GBA offered, and its games definitely still have an air of charm to them that just isn’t matched by the DS or 3DS.
Happy birthday, Game Boy Advance!
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