Friday, June 22, 2012

Game Boy Advance

The one and only portable console to own. Nintendo has done it again, BRILLIANT!!!
Review By Kael
This is introduction is going from memory, just so you know, so some of the dates may be slightly wrong….  The original GameBoy came out in 1989, it was grey, chunky and FUN. In no time at all the userbase for the Nintendo GameBoy was well into the millions. The GameBoy remained the number one portable console. It took Nintendo until 1996 to finally update the Original GameBoy, this time with the GameBoy Pocket, it was much thinner and had an improved screen. But some people were not happy with the update, as essentially it was the same internal hardware as it had been way back in 1989. People began to think that this mere update of such dated hardware in the portable would not last the test of time. Soon talk spread of a color version of a GameBoy in the works, sure enough it turned out to be true.

In late 1998 Nintendo released the GameBoy Color, it was a tiny bit larger than the GameBoy Pocket, and had a colored screen (same resolution as the GameBoy Pocket and original GameBoy). This time I found myself thinking “I wonder how long before a truly new GameBoy comes out, this is again just an update of aging technology”. Again, talk had spread that another GameBoy was on the way, and sure enough it turned out to be true. On June 22nd, 2001 Nintendo released the GameBoy Advance in Australia (I live there or here, whatever :). This time the GameBoy had truly been changed rather than just updated. The screen was now twice as big, the graphics were infinitely better, it had “grown” another 2 buttons and was now played horizontally. Finally, the 1989 GameBoy technology was no more, and a truly new GameBoy was finally out. And it took only 12 years. By the time the GameBoy Advance had been released, there were something over 120-130 Million GameBoy users around the word. Nintendo plans to have sold about 24 Million GameBoy Advances by this time next year worldwide (June 2002). That will take the amount of GameBoy users to a staggering 150+ Million people. It’s almost unthinkable. Did Nintendo deliver not just a new console, but a powerful, fun and all out excellent portable?
You are about to find out..

SCREEN: The GameBoy Advance sports a nice new screen that is now twice as big as the Gameboy Color’s, and is widescreen with a ratio of about 2:3. The screen has a very high resolution for a portable console, and can display some awesome graphics. The only niggle I have with the GBA’s screen is not so much of a flaw, but just a tiny annoyance because unless played under a direct light source the screen tends to be a little dull. This isn’t a major problem though, because outside has the sun (unless you want to play at night) and indoors has lights. There are also GBA lights you can buy that plug into the link cable socket and do a great job of keeping the screen well lit.

CONTROLLER: The GBA has an 8 directional Digital control pad, start and select buttons, A and B buttons and L and R shoulder buttons. All of the buttons fell nice, but seem slightly too small for my liking (but then again, most of the people playing the GBA are not adults). The L and R buttons are a little bit on the “soft” side (you’ll have to have played the thing to understand) and I would have preferred if Nintendo had have used N64 style shoulder buttons. Also, it would have been nice if there were 4 action buttons on the face of the GameBoy Advance, instead of just two…...but who am I to complain?

BATTERY LIFE: GET AN AC ADAPTER, NOW! There I’ve said it. Although the GBA batteries will last you over 15 hours, it’s such a great console that you will spend so much time playing it at home near a powerpoint that it is just plain logical to have an AC Adapter. In no time at all you will have saved the AC adapter money’s worth in batteries. The batteries themselves last for ages when you think of how powerful the GBA is and how draining it should be on a mere 2 AA batteries, but an AC adaptor is an extremely wise investment, because in the long term it will save you a good bit of money.

GAMES: Already, just 2 weeks after the GBA is out it has loads of great games, in many different genres. I can just tell that the GBA will be filled with at least 1000 games, covering every imaginable genre and sub genre of game. Some of the notably great games already are Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (all of which I own) and many great games are on their way including a brand new Mario Kart game (Mario Kart: Super Circuit) which I just know will turn out to be 100% awesome, and loads of SNES ports plus updates of classic games. The outlook for the GBA is looking awesome in terms of both great quality games, and a huge selection.

GRAPHICS: AMAZING! Once you have played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 you will see what I mean….(I’m sure soon it won’t be the most graphically impressive GBA game, but at the time of writing this it certainly is). Seeing a portable running at 60 frames per second, with characters made up of 300 polygon’s each is mind blowing when you realize you are just playing on a portable. The GBA’s graphical capabilities are amazing, to say the least. I can’t wait to see what games look like a year from now.

SOUND: Bleeps and Blops in portables are no more. The GBA has great sound capabilities due to the greatly increased cartridge sized (up to 512 Megabits so far, which is the same size as the Resident Evil 64 cartridge, which has all of the FMV seen in the playstation version). We can now hear some speech, and much clearer sound effects, as well as greatly improved music. Plug in a pair of headphones and you will hear things in stereo (yes, most GBA games are coded in stereo now too). Top notch sound, especially when you consider again, that you are hearing a portable, and a cartridge based one at that.

DESIGN: The GBA is a well designed system, that is certain. It may be a little on the small side of things for older gamers, but it’s nothing too serious, on occasions you will find yourself wishing the buttons were a tad further apart, but that’s about it. Hey, at least that means it still fits in your pocket. Another great feature is the power light. It is normally bright green when the GBA is turned on. But once the batteries are almost flat the light turns red, which is in brilliant idea because it tells you to pretty much finish up what you are doing, save and get more batteries. Although most smart people will end up with an AC adapter, and will only ever see the red light when they are out and about, or in the car on a long trip for example.

OTHER STUFF: This is where I tell you stuff that doesn’t fall into other categories. The Game Boy Advance is able to link up to the soon to be released GameCube. You will be able to use it as an extra controller, to select secret strategies in sports games that your friends can’t see, view special maps in games, take your character off you GameCube RPG and level it up, and/or use it on the GBA version of the game while you go on holidays and then put it back on the GameCube version and much, much more. The outlook for the Game Boy Advance to GameCube link-up is looking great. Perhaps you will even be able to use the Game Boy Advance online through the GameCube……who knows?

PROS:
*Amazing graphical capabilities
*Great sound
*Relive some of your most cherished 2D gaming moments
*Already big selection of mostly great quality games
*Affordable
*HUGE 3rd party support
*Screen is twice as big as the Game Boy Color’s and can display very crisp and sharp graphics
*Very, very smart power light, that changes color when it is about to go flat
*Nintendo is keeping 2D well and truly alive
*The one and only portable console to own, Nintendo has the portable market well and truly covered
*Long battery life

CONS:
* I can’t really think of any cons as such, just a few very minor annoyances, like the soft shoulder buttons, slightly dark screen and lack of 4 action buttons on the face of the GBA. These may be slight annoyances, but the GameBoy Advance’s good points FAR outweigh it’s bad points.

OVERALL: The GBA has very impressive graphics, great sound (especially for a portable), it designed well, has long battery life, a huge library of games, is excellent for multiplayer and is by far the best portable console so far.

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