Review by MarioKartDriver

"A goody bag of fun though Mr. Gamer beckons new content and new Zelda"

Ah yes, the Game Boy Advance. The next handheld in the long running series known as the Game Boy. The Game Boy is the only Nintendo system that gave them complete success but many people have asked, why? Many tried to topple the Game Boy over the years. The GameGear, Lynx and Neo Geo Pocket Color failed to dominate over the Game Boy. Were they bad systems? Of course not. Of how the Game Boy came through all those competitors, no one knows and probably no one will. Maybe Nintendo had the 3rd party support or just had Pokemon and Pikachu. Who knows? But the question is, is it good? Yes it is. The Game Boy Advance is a huge step from the Game Boy Color, similar to the NES and SNES. Let's go into detail.

Graphics are probably the thing about the Game Boy Advance that most people will be looking at first. They're a huge step up from the horrible graphics of the outdated Game Boy Color. The GBA is 32 bit so if you think it can do 3D graphics like PlayStation, it's doesn't exactly. The PlayStation had a 3D chip to produce real 3D sprites. The GBA uses Mode 7 to make a 3D like animation. A 3D might have been a good idea but we would've seen a farewell to 2D. The GBA can produce 32,768 colors on screen. During Gameplay, the GBA can display 511 different colors at once and also the ability to display 128 moving objects at once. The GBA's 32 bit RISC processor and 150 Kbytes of internal memory enable developers to create game that have a 3D elements that the GBC and SNES couldn't handle. The backgrounds are standard 2D but the characters have a 3D realism. Tony Hawk 2 is a perfect example. The GBA can produce a result of animating 300 polygon models of the characters using enough frames and animation to make their movements look real. That takes a lot of memory. Another benefit of powerful processing is the ability to show transparency, reflection, realistic lighting and other effects that are possible by superimposing layers. With a pallete of more than 32,000 available colors and the ability to display 511 different colors at once, the GBA system is capable of displaying rich, colorful worlds and characters.

The hardware is an advance of the handheld world today, note the name 'Advance'. The system can easily reproduce all SNES graphic effects, and then some, and it has many technical capabilities to the N64. That easy portability from other Nintendo systems has lead to the development of F-ZERO and Mario Advance. Another innovation that is immediately noticeable in the GBA is the screen size. Measuring 3 inches, the reflective TFT color LCD screen is 40% larger than the GB and GBC screens Since it is wider than it is taller, the screen is proportioned much more like a TV screen. A backlit LCD screen would be more expensive, drain your batteries much faster and have a very small viewing angle though it wouldn be a good idea . The horizontal orientation of the GBA system gives it the feel to a console game controller with a control pad on the left side, two action buttons on the right side and two more buttons on the top. The speed of the processor also contributes to the game control by allowing for the development of fast, responsive game-player interaction. Once you have a GBA system in your hands, you won't be able to tell how many years went into it. It has a comfortable and intuitive weight and shape and al of the elements that contribute to a fun, fullfilling gaming experience. Right now, GBA is available in Glacier, Arctic, Indigo, Fushia and midnight blue.

Now for an overview of the console. In addition to the control pad and the A and B buttons, the system features L and R buttons that you can reach with your index fingers. The GBA game link cable connects to the External Extension connector for multiplayer action. The power indicater LED turns from green to red when the batteries are low. The light fades as the batteries are low in power. The sound controls and output are in the lower-right area. You can listen to clean, clear mono sound from the speaker or or plug headphones in the jack. The wide GBA LCD screen is 40% larger than the GB screen. It uses reflective TFT technology to present a sharp, clear image. With a resoloution of 240x160, the entire screen is composed of 38,400 pixels. That works out to 10,000 pixels per square inch, higher defination than some HDTV sets. Two AA batteries fit in the back of the system to give to 15 hours of game playing enjoyment with one set of batteries.

Now on to the most important part, the games. The Game Boy has one of the largest librairies in video game history. It consists of 900 games to play. The GBA is also backwards compatable with all GB and GBC games. Backwards compatable is a nice feature but the new games are a bit of a problem. 3rd parties are porting half-assed remakes like Doom and Tekken. The point is that these games, well, suck. Sucky 3rd party developers like THQ also can create mediocre products like the simple Nickelodeon platformers. Let's just pray for an Invader ZIM game from Capcom or Konami :) But that's really not the part that I'm complaining at. What I'm complaining about is Nintendo's decisions and games. As some have said, since they have control over the handheld market and no competition, they can make a mediocre product and get away with it. They're releasing all these 'Mario' ports to make up for other games. The ports are nice but we need a bit more innovative games. That's what Nintendo is for, right? And there is no Zelda announced either. I think that after these Mario ports, we'll hear about some new Mario games and a new Zelda. According to Nintendo, at E3 2002, there is to be announcements on original Nintendo content. We can only wait. Until then, check out the nice games, like Mario Kart, Wario Land 4, Advance Wars and Golden Sun. They're fun.

Overall, it's not bad, but it's not being used to its full potiental. I believe after all these Mario ports, we'll see new and innovative Mario, Zelda and new games and series. Until then, its a nice buy. Really.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 12/28/01, Updated 04/11/02

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