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Nintendo Game Boy Advance/Advance SP

The Game Boy Advance became the successor to the ever-so-popular Game Boy Color.  What Nintendo had envisioned was an improved version of the GBC, in terms of processing power, graphics capabilities and aesthetics, which would remain backward compatible with older games.  This is taken care of by the Z80 coprocessor that exclusively handles running Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.  Note that the coprocessor cannot run at the same time as the main 32-bit processor, which makes sense.

The system would support sprites, allowing it to produce complex 2D animation and retain more control over individual graphical elements (sprites) within games, as well as scaling and rotation modes.  Despite the bigger and brighter screen, Nintendo decided yet again not to include a built-in backlight.  Why you might ask.  Nintendo thought it would drain too much power and increase costs.  Well, that didn't stop the Game Gear from having one eight years ago!  shrug...

Aesthetically, the GB's shape changed from a vertical rectangle with the buttons below the screen to a horizontal Game-Gear-like handheld with the arrow keys on the left and the 'A' and 'B' buttons on the right.  Two extra buttons were added to the top left and right of the unit too.  The new shape definitely made playing games a lot more enjoyable.

The GB Advance was first unveiled in Tokyo at Spaceworld 2000.  Its release came a few months later in March 2001.

An amazing thing happened In 2003.  Nintendo released a new version of the GB Advance dubbed the Game Boy Advance SP (Special Project), which amazingly included a built-in light and a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery (the previous version was powered by two AA batteries).  A decade late, but a wise move nonetheless.  Its shape changed too to a flip-type "clamshell", protecting the screen from scratches and reducing its size even further.  The SP version uses the same sized cartridges as its predecessor.

The GB Advance retailed at $99, while the GB Advance SP currently sells for approximately $119 with limited editions selling for about $149.  The one pictured below is the Famicom Edition, released to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Nintendo Famicom.  About 300 games have been released for the Game Boy Advance including Famicom classics like Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, Excite Bike, Mappy and others.

Technical Specs:

CPU: 32-bit RISC (16MHz)
Coprocessor: 8-bit Z80 CISC (8.4MHz)
RAM: 32KB WRAM, 96KB VRAM, 256KB WRAM
Screen: Reflective TFT (40.8 x 61.2mm)
Sprites: 128
Sprite Size: 8x8 up to 64x64
Colors: 32k
Resolution: 240x160 pixels
Sound: Mono from speakers (Stereo from phones -phone jack is not available in GB Advance SP)
Power:  Advance 15 hours (10 hours with pack) / Advance SP 18 hours (10 hours with light)


Game Boy Advance Game Boy SP Famicom Edition Game Boy SP
Game Boy SP Game Boy SP Game Boy SP

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