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Should you buy a Gameboy Advance SP?

Released back in Feb. 2003, the Gameboy Advance SP is an upgraded version of the original Gameboy Advance. It housed a great library of video games and was backward compatible with Gameboy and Gameboy Color games. The Gameboy Advance series sold 81.48 million units worldwide and 43.52 million of these units were Gameboy Advance SP units. But should you buy one today?

What do I like about the Gameboy Advance SP?

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The Gameboy Advance SP is extremely slim; when closed it is about 3.3 x 3.2 x 1 inches. It has 10 to 18 hours of battery depending on the brightness of the screen and also had a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This was a huge leap; the regular Gameboy Advance required two AA batteries. While the Gameboy Advance did get a decent charge, constantly having to use AA batteries and spending extra cash then sucks.

Around September 2005, Nintendo released an upgraded Gameboy Advance SP. This upgraded version featured a brighter screen and is widely known as the AGS-101 model. Like the original Gameboy Advance, the SP is also backward compatible with Gameboy and Gameboy color games; however, they stick out of the system.

What do I think about the design of the Gameboy Advance SP?

The Gameboy Advance SP looks like a slim mini square when folded. When I flip the screen up, it reminds me of those old school flip phones. The volume rocker is on the left side of the SP while the power button is on the right side of the SP. This button placement feels very normal and not out of date.

The L and R button are at the top of the SP. However, the L and R buttons are a little smaller in comparison to a PSP,  DS, and 3DS. I personally do not have a problem with the button size, however, I could understand why one may. With modern consoles like the PS Vita and, Nintendo 3DS, these smaller buttons do feel a little dated. The D-pad can be found on the left side of the system. Right next to the D-Pad is the A and B buttons. These buttons are not bad either.

The speaker is right below. The SP has only one speaker which can be found at the center of the SP. Considering how small the SP is, I could understand how one can accidentally block the speakers with there hands. Right underneath the lone speaker is the start and select button; they function as they should.

The final button is the screen brightness button, at the top. This was a cool feature at the time, however having a decent screen on a handheld today is a must. The screen brightness button made it easier to play Gameboy Advance games in the dark.

As previously mentioned, the SP is extremely small and shaped like a square. However, the small size is one of my complaints. I find when gripping the system, my fingers have very little breathing room. In comparison to the 3DS and the Switch, the system does not feel as comfortable.

What about that headphone jack?

The SP does NOT have a headphone jack. You can buy headphones designed specifically for the SP or you can use an adaptor that can be used with standard headphones. If you decide to use an adaptor, be aware that the adaptor needs to plug into the same port as the AC adaptor. Thus, you cannot use headphones and charge your device at the same time. You can buy a third-party adapter to fix this, however, is it okay to be spending extra money on something that should have been included? I guess Nintendo beat Apple to the dongle life.

The Gameboy Advance, Color, and original Gameboy all included a headphone jack. This makes it even more confusing on why Nintendo would skip out on including the headphone jack. Most modern and older handhelds included the headphone jack. It honestly does not make sense to me why Nintendo did not include one. I would have to imagine it would have to do with space. A headphone jack still would have been appreciated.

What about the games?

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The games still hold up and the SP has a great library of games. Plus, the Gameboy and the Color have a solid library of games. I personally have not played a ton of Gameboy Advance games, but the few games I have played have been enjoyable and extremely fun.

Here are some of my favorites and games I enjoyed:

  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Metroid Fusion
  • Fire Emblem Sacred Stones
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red Team
  • Pokémon Emerald, Ruby, and Sapphire
  • Pokémon FireRed and Leafgreen
  • Warioland 4
  • Krazy Racers
  • The Megaman Battle Network games
  • Megaman Zero
  • The Legend of Zelda four swords

Should you buy a Gameboy Advance SP?

SP’s generally start at about ~$35 and this is generally for the version with the weaker screen. The AGS 101 model is about $50~$60.

Gameboy and Color games are also easily accessible on the Nintendo eShop. You can access these games easily on your 3DS, a more modern system. Plus, Color and Gameboy systems don’t have rechargeable batteries, thus you can possibly lose all your save progress.

The DS seems like the better choice because the DS can play Gameboy Advance games and includes a headphone jack. While I previously stated my opinions about the DS and how it felt dated, I do think the DS is a great system especially if you want to utilize the Gameboy Advance slot. The DS is also about the same price as a Gameboy Advance SP, if not sometimes cheaper.

So, do you think the Gameboy Advance SP is worth picking up? What do you like about the Gameboy Advance SP? Let us know in the comments below.

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