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Game Boy Advance family

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Game Boy Advance family

Top: Logo of the Game Boy Advance
Middle: Logo of the Game Boy Advance SP
Bottom: Logo of the Game Boy Micro
Product familyGame Boy family
TypeFamily of handheld game consoles
GenerationSixth generation
Units sold81.51 million
MediaGame Boy Advance Game Pak
PredecessorGame & Watch series
SuccessorNintendo DS family

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The Game Boy Advance family of battery-powered handheld game consoles by Nintendo consists of the Game Boy Advance and its revisions. As of June 30, 2010, 81.51 million units have been sold worldwide.[1] Part of the Game Boy line, it was succeeded by the Nintendo DS line in 2004.

All models of the Game Boy Advance family combined have sold 81.51 million units.[2]


Timeline of release years
2001Game Boy Advance
2003Game Boy Advance SP
2005Game Boy Micro

Game Boy Advance[edit]

Game Boy Advance

In Japan, on March 21, 2001, Nintendo released a significant upgrade to the Game Boy line. The Game Boy Advance (also referred to as GBA) featured a 32 bit 16.8 MHz ARM. It included a Z80 processor and a switch activated by inserting a Game Boy or Game Boy Color game into the slot for backward compatibility, and had a larger, higher resolution screen. Controls were slightly modified with the addition of "L" and "R" shoulder buttons. The system was technically likened to the SNES and received successful conversions such as Super Mario Advance 2, Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords. There are also new exclusives, such as Mario Kart: Super Circuit and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity. A widely criticized drawback of the Game Boy Advance is that the screen is not backlit, making viewing difficult in some conditions, but this can be solved via modding. The Game Paks for the GBA are roughly half the length of original Game Boy cartridges, and so older Game Paks would stick out of the top of the unit. When playing older games, the GBA provides the option to play the game at the standard equal square resolution of the original screen or the option to stretch it over the wider GBA screen. The only Game Boy Color games known to be incompatible with the system are Pocket Music[3] and Chee-Chai Alien.[4][5]

Game Boy Advance SP[edit]

Game Boy Advance SP

First released in Japan on February 14, 2003, the Game Boy Advance SP—Nintendo model AGS-001—resolves several problems with the original Game Boy Advance model. It featured a new smaller clamshell design with a flip-up screen, a switchable internal frontlight, a rechargeable battery, and the only problem is the omission of the headphone jack, which requires a special adapter, purchased separately. In mid-September 2005, around the same time of the Game Boy Micro's release, Nintendo released a significantly improved Game Boy Advance SP model known as Nintendo model number AGS-101 in North America, that features a high quality backlit screen instead of a frontlit, similar to the Game Boy Micro's screen, but larger.

Game Boy Micro[edit]

Game Boy Micro

The third and final form of Game Boy Advance system, the Game Boy Micro is four and a half inches wide (10 cm), two inches tall (5 cm), and weighs 2.8 ounces (80g). By far the smallest Game Boy created, it has approximately the same dimensions as an original NES controller pad. Its screen is approximately 2/3 the size of the SP and GBA screens while maintaining the same resolution (240×160 pixels), but now has a higher quality (than the original SP, not the improved SP) backlit display with adjustable brightness. Included with the system are two additional faceplates which can be swapped to give the system a new look. Nintendo of America used to sell additional faceplates on its online store. In Europe, the Game Boy Micro comes with a single faceplate. In Japan, a special Mother 3 limited edition Game Boy Micro was released with the game in the Mother 3 Deluxe Box. Unlike its predecessors, the Game Boy Micro is unable to play any original Game Boy or Game Boy Color games, only playing Game Boy Advance games except the Nintendo e-Reader.


Comparison of the Game Boy Advance models
Name Game Boy Micro Game Boy Advance SP Game Boy Advance
Console Nintendo-Game-Boy-Advance-Purple-FL
Release date
  • JP: 13 September 2005[6]
  • NA: 19 September 2005[6]
  • AU: 3 November 2005
  • EU: 4 November 2005[6]
  • JP: 21 March 2001
  • NA: 11 June 2001
  • PAL: 22 June 2001
Launch price ¥12,000[6]






Units shipped Worldwide: 81.51 million (as of December 31, 2013).
Best-selling game

Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, 13 million combined (as of November 25, 2004)[10]

Display 2 in (51 mm) 2.9 in (74 mm)
240 × 160 px[11][12]
511 simultaneous colors in character mode
32,768 simultaneous colors in bitmap mode[11]
Backlight - 5 brightness levels Frontlight On/Off toggle (AGS-001)
Backlight Bright/Normal toggle (AGS-101)
No backlight
Audio 6 channels
(two 8-bit "Direct Sound" PCM channels, plus the 4 channels from Game Boy)
Single mono speaker[13][14]
Stereo headphone jack
Stereo headphone jack
(for headphones specifically designed for the GBA SP or by using the headphone adapter)
Stereo headphone jack
Processor 16.8 MHz 32-bit ARM7TDMI
16.8 MHz 32-bit ARM7TDMI
4 or 8 MHz 8-bit Z80 coprocessor for Game Boy and Game Boy Color emulation, and as a tone generator in Game Boy Advance games
Memory 256 kB WRAM (outside the CPU)
32 kB + 96 kB VRAM (internal to the CPU)
Physical media Game Boy Advance Game Cartridge (2-32 MB)
Input controls
  • D-pad
  • A/B, L/R, and START/SELECT buttons
Batteries 460 mAh lithium-ion battery 700 mAh lithium-ion battery[16]
  • 18 hours (AGS-001 light off)
  • 10 hours (AGS-001 light on)[7][8]
2 AA batteries
  • 15 hours

(dependent on the Game Pak being played and volume setting)[17]

Connectivity Fourth generation link port Third generation link port
Weight 80 grams (2.8 oz) 142 grams (5.0 oz) 140 grams (4.9 oz)

101 mm (4.0 in) W
50 mm (2.0 in) H
17.2 mm (0.68 in) D

84 mm (3.3 in) W
82 mm (3.2 in) H
24 mm (0.94 in) D

144 mm (5.7 in) W
82 mm (3.2 in) H
24.5 mm (0.96 in) D

Colors and styles List of Game Boy colors and styles
Regional lockout No
List of games List of Game Boy Advance games
Backward compatibility N/A[18] Game Boy
Game Boy Color[11]

Game Paks[edit]

The Game Boy Advance Game Pak

Game Boy Advance cartridges use a physical lock-out feature. Notches are located at the base of the cartridge's two back corners. One of these notches is placed as to avoid pressing a switch inside the cartridge slot. When an older Game Boy or Game Boy Color game is inserted into the cartridge slot, the switch is pressed down and the Game Boy Advance starts in Game Boy Color mode, but a Game Boy Advance cartridge does not touch the switch and the system starts in Game Boy Advance mode. The Nintendo DS replaces the switch with a solid piece of plastic that allows Game Boy Advance cartridges to be inserted into Slot 2, but prevents an older Game Boy cartridge from being inserted fully into the slot.

Advance cartridges (also known as class D) are half the size of all earlier cartridges and are compatible with Game Boy Advance and later systems including the Nintendo DS. Some cartridges are colored to resemble the game, usually for the Pokémon series; Pokémon Emerald, for example, being a clear emerald green. They are also compatible with Nintendo DS and DS Lite (but see the Reception section for limitations). Some Advance cartridges have built-in features, including rumble features (Drill Dozer), tilt sensors (WarioWare: Twisted!, Yoshi's Universal Gravitation) and solar sensors (Boktai). The product ID of games on advance cartridges starts with "AGB".


The Game Boy Advance, as with many other consoles, has had a number of releases from both first-party and unlicensed third-party accessories.

Game Boy Player[edit]

The Game Boy Player is a device released in 2003 by Nintendo for the GameCube which enables Game Boy (although Super Game Boy enhancements are ignored), Game Boy Color, or Game Boy Advance cartridges to be played on a television. It connects via the high speed parallel port at the bottom of the GameCube and requires use of a boot disc to access the hardware. Unlike devices such as Datel's Advance Game Port, the Game Boy Player does not use software emulation, but instead uses physical hardware nearly identical to that of a Game Boy Advance.


The Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite are able to play the large library of Game Boy Advance games. However, the DS consoles do not have a GBA game link connector, and so cannot play multiplayer GBA games (except for the few that are multiplayer on a single GBA) or link to the GameCube. Like the Game Boy Micro, the DS and DS Lite cannot play original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. The Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DSi XL, and all the Nintendo 3DS models do not have a GBA slot.

In addition to several Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, certain games released for the Game Boy Advance are available via the Virtual Console service on the Nintendo 3DS. Ten Game Boy Advance games, along with ten NES games, were released to Nintendo 3DS ambassadors, as in Nintendo 3DS owners who bought a 3DS, logged into the 3DS eShop, and updated the system before the major August 2011 price drop. The Virtual Console GBA features of releases are limited, and there are no plans to release them to the public. However, starting from April 2014, Nintendo has been releasing Game Boy Advance games as Virtual Console games via the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U.

See also[edit]


  1. "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. 2010-07-28. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-19. Retrieved 2014-07-19. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. "Consolidated Sales Transition by Region" (PDF). Nintendo. January 28, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. "Gameboy Genius  » Blog Archive  » Pocket Music GBC version GBA fix". Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  4. "プレイ日記 ゲームボーイ最強伝説 ちっちゃいエイリアン 近所のオバチャンに聞いたら「あのメグ・ライアンが絶賛した」とか言っていた!??". Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  5. "中古 [ゲーム/GB] ちっちゃいエイリアン (ゲーム... - ヤフオク!". ヤフオク! (in 日本語). Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Game Boy Micro gets Japanese, European release dates". GameSpot. 2005-08-18. Archived from the original on 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2013-01-26. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Game Boy Advance SP". IGN. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP review". CNET. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  9. "Game Boy Micro US Packaging". IGN. September 12, 2005. Retrieved January 26, 2013
  10. "Consolidated Financial Statements" (PDF). Nintendo. 2004-11-25. p. 4. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "GBA Technical Specifications". Nintendo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Nintendo Game Boy Micro specs (Black)". CNET. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  13. "Nintendo GameBoy Console Information - Console Database". Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Nintendo GameBoy Color Advance Console Information - Console Database". Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  15. "Nintendo GameBoy Color Console Information - Console Database". Archived from the original on 2011-07-02. Retrieved 2011-02-19. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. "Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP specs (Platinum)". CNET. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  17. "Game Boy Advance Frequently Asked Questions". Nintendo. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  18. Game Boy Micro Instruction Manual, Page 10". Nintendo. Retrieved on 08-20-09.

External links[edit]

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