Review by Sour
"The Handheld SNES!"
It had been a while since the Game Boy Color was released, and that itself was still only in 8-bit, just now with colors. It was time for Nintendo to step it up a notch and dominate the handheld market once again. The Game Boy Advance would be the true successor to the original Gameboy in terms of graphics and even had a couple more buttons. In addition to this, the Game Boy Advance is backwards compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, meaning you can get rid of your Game Boy and/or Game Boy Color if you wanted. This handheld also features a bunch of add-ons and accessories, such as the worm-light, the magnifying lamp, and a link cable. You can also buy a battery pack that plugs into the wall so you can recharge it, whereas the SP models came with a built-in rechargeable battery pack.
Game Library: 10/10: The Game Boy Advance has a pretty impressive selection of games. If you're a fan of the Metroid series, Metroid Fusion is a fantastic addition to the franchise, albeit a little more linear than most. For the Dragonball and Dragonball Z fans, the Legacy of Goku series was created with a bird's-eye view Zelda-like style of play. Konami got themselves a piece of the action to, and released a few Castlevania games for the little handheld, notably Aria of Sorrow which is now it's own running series and a fantastic game. Capcom released the highly anticipated Mega Man & Bass for the Game Boy Advance as well, a translated version of the Japanese-only Mega Man and Forte that was on the Super Famicom. Nintendo also made a port of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the GBA, which comes with another game on the cartridge: Legend of the Zelda: Four Swords. Doing certain things in Four Swords could influence other things to happen to Link to the Past, though Four Swords is multiplayer only, so hopefully one of your friends has the game as well. Another Metroid was released on the GBA, Metroid: Zero Mission. It's a re-telling of the first video game but with better graphics, though the original game can be unlocked as well. The Pokemon franchise also made a return on this handheld device, with the Ruby and Sapphire versions, with a few more released after that. Square-Enix also hopped on board, released upgraded ports of classic Final Fantasy games, notably IV, V, and VI. These games had better translations than the originals with some new dungeons and optional bosses added in. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was released as well, which takes place in the same world as the original Final Fantasy Tactics and plays largely the same. A Mortal Kombat game and Mario Kart game were released for the Game Boy Advance as well, so there's something for everybody on this handheld.
Game Difficulty: 6/10: For the most part, most of the games on the Game Boy Advance aren't too difficult, because the casual-gamer market was already starting to pick up, close to full swing. So plenty of the games are fairly easy, but this console isn't without it's fair share of tough games. The most notable entry being Mega Man and Bass, arguably the hardest game in the entire franchise. You get no Energy Tanks at all and the level design is pretty wild, so good luck with that one. Another notably difficult game is Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. It sort of feels like playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with Richter all over again, and the final boss is extremely tough, almost able to one-shot you with one of his many deadly attacks. Metroid Fusion is a little easier than most games in the franchise but Zero Mission is about standard as far as congruency in the series goes. A Link to the Past's extra dungeon is fairly tough as well. They also ramped up the difficulty of Final Fantasy IV, to be more true to the original "hard type" that was once only available in Japan, as the original version that we got was watered down so that it wouldn't be as tough. Plenty of games for the Game Boy Advance cater mostly to casual gamers but there are still some tough games out there for the die-hards and veterans.
Controls: 10/10: The controls are extremely easy, as there are very few buttons to do anything with, though the R and L buttons had been added, a much-need improvement over Nintendo's past hand-helds. Aside from that, you have your standard directional pad on the left for movement, and the A and B buttons for triggers and selecting actions, and what have you. You also have Start and Select on your left side, just under the directional pad. Start, like most consoles and hand-helds, is used to start your game or pause while in the middle of one. The L and R buttons are the shoulder buttons as per usual, and are often used to switch around weapons like in the Metroid and Mega Man games. Overall the controls are pretty standard and are very easy to learn, shouldn't be too much of a problem if any at all.
Graphics: 6/10: Here's where the problem comes in. The graphics look fantastic, about your typical SNES fare, perhaps a bit better. The problem here is the horrendous lighting. With all of the colors and great graphics that it features, the standard lighting just isn't enough. If you're inside and playing it, you need to be near a window where sunlight is coming through, otherwise you have to crane your neck to get just the right angle, which results in some nasty neck pain if you play it for too long. If you want to play it at night, just forget it unless you're sitting under a lamp or bought the light attachment that can be plugged into the top of the device. Nintendo later solved this problem by releasing the SP model of the Game Boy Advance, which comes with a back-light built-in just under the screen, so you can play it wherever and don't have to strain your neck. But this is the original Game Boy Advance model we're talking about here and the lighting is just atrocious. Other than that though, the graphics themselves are fantastic.
Sound: 7/10: Most of the games have wonderful music, which is a bonus. The slight problem here is the quality of the sound. It's too much for the little built-in speakers to handle so they come out sounding kind of warbly and muffled. The composers for the games did an excellent job as always, it just doesn't sound well because of the small speakers. The sound-chip used in the handheld is pretty good, it's just those darn speakers. Headphones get rid of the problem all-together if you have them. So if you do, I encourage you to use those, it'll sound much better, trust me. So all-in-all the sound quality is pretty good, akin to that of the Super Nintendo.
Overall: 8/10: It's the true successor to the original game boy with a much-needed upgrade in graphics. Sadly the lighting is a major issue, but if you have the SP model, you'll be fine. There's plenty of good games, as I mentioned earlier, and it's a pretty solid handheld all-around, definitely worth owning one. You should be able to find them in used game stores still so go ahead and get one!
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/22/10
Game Release: Game Boy Advance Hardware (US, 06/11/01)
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