Review by FFM


The videogame market is a rather odd thing. Handhelds, like the Neo-Geo Pocket Color, were excellent, but faded away due to bad marketing strategies. Others, such as the N-Gage, failed as a result of both too much marketing and an overabundance of lackluster games (Yes, like all 6 of its launch titles.) With the new revolution of handheld gaming, the Gameboy Advance (GBA) seems to have a rather strong lead against all competitors. The ONLY reason for its success that is logical is the fact Nintendo has strong roots in gaming’s past.

Hailed by fans of the system as the champion of all handhelds, the GBA has made itself the epitome of all sales in the gaming world. What strategies did Nintendo employ to become the distributor of the system that‘s the best selling in the world? Simply (re-)release a plethora of Nintendo and Super Nintendo hits onto it. Throw innovation out the window, remove all real gaming concepts from the picture, and replace them all with lackadaisical rehashes of everyone’s favorite games from the Sixteen/Eight-bit era. What old, nostalgic fan doesn't want to play Super Mario Brothers 3 (GBA Name: Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario 3) for the third time on its re-release?

Let’s talk about that title “Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario 3.” What does this tell you? It tells you that the first 3 “Mario Advances” probably weren’t original either (Using logic and realizing the fourth was just a revamped version of an earlier game.) Nintendo, in all their wisdom, realized that who they’re marketing this system to. They’re marketing it to the same witless fools that incessantly fill my inbox with e-mails that are over-encumbered with informalities such as “u” and “b/c.” These people run out and buy a new game based off its “special features.” Wake up, “special Features” doesn’t constitute your thirty dollars. I‘m not calling people that have buying habits like this stupid (Well, to a degree I‘m not), I’m simply criticizing the criteria they use to judge if a game warrants a purchase or not.

Very rarely you’ll come across a game that’s both new and idiosyncratic enough to cause hype. Specifically note how I said idiosyncratic, so you don’t infer the notion that every new re-release that receives hype is good. These games are few and far in between, and a breath of fresh air for the jaded Nintendo fan. A small amount of these games that I can name off the top of my head are: Advanced Wars, Golden Sun and Megaman Battle Network.

Most other games on it have been done before and better. Final Fantasy Tactics is better than Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Pokemon Red/Blue are better than the Sapphire/Ruby. Castlevania: Symphony of the night is better than all of the GBA‘s Castlevanias, the list goes on. People fail to realize that the continuations of the series that they get are unsatisfactory and below the originals in almost all aspects. The problem lies in the fact the gameplay is usually dumbed-down, controls suck, and the screen is crap.

If this isn’t enough, the machine is practically rendered unusable by its pathetic ergonomics. I realize most people that read this review won’t understand what the word “Ergonomics” means, so I’ll elaborate for them: says: The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.

Somehow get an image of the GBA in front of you. Look at it. If you have big hands, you’re basically exempted from playing its games. If you do persist to play, you’ll have to quit because your wrists will start to hurt and more pains will set in shortly thereafter. Playing games that involve maneuvering your fingers around at quick speeds will be near-impossible to play. Long fingers? Have fun reaching those two shoulder buttons on the top without crippling your digits in the process. I’m sure someone will send me an witty e-mail stating something like this:

“Hey man, I’m 6-foot-9 and a basketball all-star, I can play the GBA without having to have my fingers amputated”

No one cares. Shut up, you’re not funny.

Moving on, another one of my valid arguments against the reprehensible machine is that its screen is too dark. I’m sure most people that have heard this complaint before. If you’re playing a game that’s dark in contours, then you’ll have a hard time being able to depict anything. If a game requires you to distinguish the difference between colors, have fun, because they’ll just mesh together, leaving you frustrated. The only real solution to this is if you sit under a huge light. People want convenience , GBA does not give this to them.

This problem was so apparent that a company took up the task of fixing the problem by installing backlighting. All Nintendo did to cure this problem simply released the “GBA-SP.” Good move, make even more money off your mistakes.

The GBA is essentially Nintendo's device to get the masses into buying their old software again. I see through their scheme. Little Johnny will not see through it. Little Johnny will keep feeding Nintendo its easily earned money. It’s Nintendo’s ability to take this money from someone that doesn’t know better that angers me (and the controls, screen, etc.) If they worked hard and put out more original titles, it’d be alright. Maybe I’m just a child’s rights activist, who knows.

Fans blind to the truth will disagree, they’ll argue out that the GBA has some kind of redeeming quality or merely regard the speaker of such negativity as a “Fanboy.” They don’t realize what they’re currently supporting is jacking them for all their money with games they‘ve already experienced. What they’re defending is garbage and has been done before and better, but just didn‘t get the notoriety.

Final - 2

Reviewer's Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

Originally Posted: 11/24/03, Updated 11/25/03

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