* Prices may differ from that shown
The Gameboy SP (Special) is a clever improvement over Nintendo's last effort, the Gameboy Advance. Its about an 8x8 centimetre square, 2.5CM thick, that flips open like a mobile phone, separating the screen and handheld controller (available in a variety of colours such as black, silver, blue and pink as well as several special versions). What makes this fun little package such a breakthrough in handheld gaming is the strong backlight (which can be switched off for less consumption) enabling gamers to play in far more environments, regardless of lighting, that and making those awful torches that could be plugged in to the older models, redundant. The SP has 2 bumpers L & R, the standard directional 'D-Pad', a backlight button, volume and on/off switches and of course the classic buttons A, B, Select & Start. One of the only things negative that can be said of the SP is that it doesn't sport a headphone jack, so you're either fiddling with the volume to suit your needs or muting it completely (the speaker is positioned in between the D-Pad and A&B buttons and is fairly loud on full, similar to older models).
However, Nintendo very shrewdly released an official converter that plugs into the back via one of the ports at the back, the AC, used for charging the battery (the other port is for the multiplayer cable). The battery supposedly lasts up to 10 hours with the backlight on and 18 with it off. This estimation is fairly accurate, but you should also consider volume levels. It can play the first generation GameBoy, Colour and Advance cartridges, so you can relive those old classics on a much better 240 x 160 LCD display. When bought new, or with all the essential accessories, you'll receive the AC charger, the most important item. I'm not 100% sure you can still get these new from official retailers but you can always find them for staggeringly low prices online, ranging around £20 and upwards depending of the version and condition.
There are minimal problems found on GameBoys let alone the SP, but should yours freeze, it is most likely due to a dirty cartridge, that said, I have never experienced a real fault with mine, which was bought several years ago used. I'd recommend Final Fantasy Tactics Advance as well as classics like Donkey Kong Country & Yoshi's Island.
The game boy advance is Nintendo's portable 32 bit system following on from the smash hit of the game boy colour. The original Game boy advance was a very popular handheld system but there were a few flaws that did compromise the enjoyment that could found with the system.
But with this new SP model those flaws have been rectified.
The Backlit screen
The originals GBA biggest Achilles heel was the screen. The is very dark which means despite being a portable console you do have to been selective in where you play it so you could see the screen. How ever the SP's Backlit screen allows you to play your console with ease in very dark rooms and outside when its bright out
Lithium Ion Battery
The 2 AA batteries used in the ordinal game boy advance have been replaced by a lithium ion battery and which is recharged by a charger which is plugged in to a wall outlet. The lithium Ion battery can provide up to 18 hours of play far more then then a set of AA batteries
The biggest change from the original model though is the design. The SP incorporates a clam shell design. Identicle to the ones you see on some mobile phones. The clam shell design not only protects the screen from scratches and marks but it also allows for a nice amount of personalisation.
The SP still has the same backwards compatibility that the original GBA had and the L and R buttons are still on the shoulders of the console
The Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP is nearly 7 years old this year and it is a testament to how popular this little mini-handheld console was that it is still very relevant even today.
Has been overtaken by the next generation of handhelds such as the DS or PSP but you can pick these up for anywhere between £10-£20 and the GBA (as it is known for short) has such an extensive library of great software titles that i'd totally recommend getting one of these to while away those long bus & train journeys if you think the cost of a DS/PSP is too high for a handheld.
The SP was the best edition by far of the GBA - including a backlight which amazingly wasn't standard on earlier models. It's so small yet so sturdily built including a flip screen and the cartridges fit snugly into the SP without sticking out. All the buttons are nicely spaced out & the LCD screen is high enough quality that you cant just press on it causing the image to bleed.
I bought the Tribal Limited Edition version which bizarrely seems to be the most available now.Its vast collection of games is increased by the fact that the GBA is backwards compatible with the original gameboy.
An added bonus of the age of this console is the fact that cartridges are so cheap now - you can easily pick up games starting from as little as a pound on Ebay.
Gameboy Advance SP is a handheld made by Nintendo.
The handheld has been given a significant design by Nintendo it has gone back to a more square form factor with the screen on top and buttons below as opposed to on the sides with the original Gameboy Advance. The button layout is very similar to the standard Gameboy with the control pad on one side and the A and B buttons on the other with the Start and Select at the bottom.
There are quite a few new additions this time round which make the
Gameboy Advance SP worth trading in the original model for, most significantly they have included a backlit screen, as original Gameboy Advance owners know the screen was difficult to see in all but extremely ideal lighting conditions so this is a major upgrade. You can turn it off if you are in perfect lighting conditions which will help the battery to last longer
The Gameboy Advance SP also has a built in rechargeable battery so you can just charge it up from the mains instead of buying another set of AAs for it, brilliant! The unit is also now a clam shell design and will fold in two as to protect the delicate LCD, so you can put it into your pocket without worrying about dust and dirt damaging the screen!
The only thing they got rid of on the Gameboy Advance SP was the headphone jack, the Gameboys speaker isn't the loudest or the most clear so this was quite annoying. You can overcome the problem with the purchase of headphone adapter which plugs into the charging port and lets you use your headphones as normal.
The handheld is compatible with all existing Gameboy Advance games and is still compatible with your old library of original Gameboy and Gameboy Colour titles.
The Gameboy Advance SP makes numerous improvements which makes it a good upgrade from the original, or if you are looking to get a Gameboy Advance you should try to find an SP.
The Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP is a tiny games console that plays game boy and game boy advanced games.
It is very small and light weighted so it can be carried around with you anywhere.
This little games console has a built in light in which you can turn it on and turn it off if you want to save the battery power, i personally always have mine on as it makes the screen easier to see and makes the picture quality seem much better.
The sound on the Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP is not all that good but then this is a rather old console so you can't complain.
I brought mine second hand for a game shop in my city called "game station" for £14.99 and it was worth every penny.
If you are looking for a new handheld games console i recommend you invest in one of these.
It also has many games yo can play on it from roleplaying to platform.
The Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP was a huge improvement on the original GBA. one of the best features about the SP was its overall shape, no longer did you have to crane you're neck to get a good view of the screen, instead you could angle the screen to exactly how you want it.
But by far the best feature of this Game Boy was than if you could not get the angle just right to allow the device to be played in bright light, there was a build in back light! Fantastic, and the single reason why you should trade in your 32-bit wonder of a GBA and put the proceeds to upgrading to this.
Another great feature about the SP is the fact that the screen flips you, this protects your precious bright screen!
Fantastic piece of kit and still plays all of your favourite GBA and Game Boy games so dont be scared it would be compatible anymore.
I had this console for a good 3 years before I bought my DS and I still have it under my bed just incase I want to play on some of my older Game Boy games. Well worth the money
I've had my Gameboy Advance SP for a few years now and whilst others have replaced theirs with a Nintendo DS, I'm still happy to play mine, although it is becoming increasingly difficult to get any decent games for it without delving into the shady world of ebay trading.
I was given the 'Mario Limited Edition' version of the GBASP as a gift. The bottom section (where the button are) is silver and the top (where the screen is) is red. When closed, the red part has a large red 'M' on it to signify Mario, I assume.
I was impressed with the way the GBASP looked. It was much better looking than its predecessor, the original GBA, which was wider and did not fold. The screen is large and clear and displays the gameplay very well. The unit as a whole has a sturdy feel and the fact that, at least four years later, mine is still working perfectly is a testament to its durability.
The GBA can play all the old Gameboy Colour and original Gameboy games which is a great feature for someone like me, who had the original grey gameboy as a kid. I've got around forty games I can play on this console so there is plenty to keep a seasoned gamer like myself happy.
The GBA has an internal battery that you have to charge by plugging it in at the mains. Once charged however, the battery life is pretty good. I only ever use it for a maximum of an hour at a time but I would think that you can get up to twenty hours of gameplay from a single charge. Which is fairly impressive.
Of all the handheld games consoles I've used, this is one of the most comfortable to use, I just wish it was possible to get more games. In comparison to the all singing and all dancing Nintendo DS, this will not amaze anyone but for true game fans who are not swayed by gimmicks, you are onto a winner.
The new Gameboy Advance has been released ! This new version is better than ever before with new features and a cool new look to drive you and the world wild.
The Console: The GBA SP or Special Project as it is called is not an entire new Gameboy it is the original bestselling Nintendo Gameboy Advance repackaged to make it even better and easier to use for all us gamers. The GBA SP is available in a wide range of colours and there have been special edition releases so you will definately find one you like.
The New Features: The new GBA SP has several new innovative features to its name, with the old GBA you would forever be accidently scratching the delicate plastic screen by leaving it in a back pocket, Nintendo have given us a clamshell design with the SP which helps keep the screen in top condition. Playing in the dark would be near impossible with the old GBA even with a special light, the new SP contains a built in backlight which lights up the screen in the darkest of conditions and makes general viewing less heavy on the eyes. Last but not least a new power system has been introduced, gone are the days of buying AA batteries at £4.99 a pop the SP features a rechargable battery which plugs straight into the mains. Looking good.
The Graphics: The graphics on the GBA SP are identical to those on the original GBA handheld, the graphics do rely on the game though, for example Star Wars: Attack of The Clones feature poor graphics but Spyro Season of Ice features vibrant colourful graphics sometimes even 3D, most impressive is Rayman which is graphically identical to the PlayStation original. However with the light on the GBA SPs screen seems to shimmer sometimes.
The Sound: The sound is at best OK you can get the Star Wars music piped through and the sound is quite good with the orchestra sounding excellent but it is distinguishable from a CD player, the speakers are very small so getting Stereo quality sound is not possible, the sound has been improved though with the GBA SP being slighlty louder than the GBA but to enjoy stereo sound you can purchase a decent pair of earphones.
The Games: The games are widely available and come in many different varieties, you have adventure games such as Spyro, a strategy game such as Advance Wars, a full RPG such as FF Tactics, Film tie-ins such as Spiderman but best of all you can get the Nintendo classic titles such as the old Mario games and Zelda.
Ease of Use: The GBA SP has not be overcomplicated using exactly the same buttons as the GBA, the A and B buttons, the D pad, the L and R trigger buttons and the Start and select buttons. Although the buttons have been kept the same the GBA SP feels slightly less comfortable to hold than the GBA.
Accessories: There are hundreds of accessories for the GBA SP, the main accesories are link cables which enable you to link 2 or more GBA consoles together for multiplayer action, carry case to carry your GBA in style, magnifier to magnify the on-screen action, stereo headphones to listen to your GBAs sound in full stereo, games wallet to store your games and dont forget to pick up a GBA to Gamecube lead to unlock the special features of certain Gamecube games.
The Price: The GBA SP is available for a cut price of around £50 due to the launch on Nintendos new handheld the DS and is becoming hard to find. Games are widely available and retail for around £10-30 depending on how recent the game is. You can purchase an accessories kit with everything you will ever need for around £20. The GBA SP is available from all good video game stores and ofcourse eBay.
Nintendo Support: The GBA SP comes with a 1 year warranty and support is available on the nintendo website, you can also register your GBA SP and get Nintendo Stars which are basically reward points you recieve them for buying Nintendo consoles and games, when you have enough stars you can claim a wallpaper or if you have enough a new game.
So Should I Buy It ?: Thats a tough question, if you already have the original GBA I dont think it is worth upgrading just yet, but if you can find it at a low price then go ahead. If you want to play current games get yourself a DS or DS lite both of which are compatible with GBA software. If you dont have a GBA then rush out and buy the SP now!
I've owned my SP for nearly three years now. This console was released in Europe over three years ago, on 28th March 2003 and in America just a week before while in Japan it was released in February 2003. This console seems to have been overshadowed by the DS recently, but its still well worth buying.
Its design is a big advantage over the original bulkier design of the Gameboy advance. The console features a flip-top design with the screen on the top half and controls on the lower half. Closed over, it measures 3.3" high, 3.23" wide and the depth is 0.96". Its compact, light design makes it easy to travel with so you can pass the time by playing it during long journeys. There are packs available with small pouches to carry the console around in, as well as to protect it from being scratched. When opened, the design is also similar to that of the original Gameboy, only much less bulky and with better graphics. The size also makes it easy to store. It features the original controls with the D-pad, use for moving around, on the left and the A and B buttons to the right. The Start and Select buttons are nearer the bottom of the control pad, below a small speaker. There are two buttons on either side of the top of the control pad: the L (left) and R (right) buttons. As well as all this there is a small button just below the screen for changing the in screen light. The volume is controlled by a sliding button on the side of the console.
The light is one of the best features of this console as by using it you can easily play in darker lit areas without having to buy an additional light to stick on. The screen is difficult to see without it, although it does wear down the battery more. Recently, a new model was released with a much brighter screen.
Although this is an upgrade of the original Gameboy Advance, there are no games which can only be played on this version. The SP has the ability to play Gameboy Advance games as well as Gameboy colour games and the original Gameboy games. When you play one of these colour or original games, you have the option of keeping the screen size the same as it would have been on older models, or expanding it to fill up the screen, the same as you can do with the original Gameboy Advance. The graphics do get a little stretched when you do this, but you at least have the option of trying it.
It has a lithium ion rechargeable battery and comes with a mains charger. The battery is estimated to last about 10 hours of continuous play with the screen light on or 18 hours without the screen light. It takes about 3 hours to re-charge. This, in my opinion, is the only disadvantage of this console as you really need to use the light if you want to see the screen clearly, unless you sit directly underneath a strong light. However, 10 hours is still a good time and you get indication when the battery is running out. The light on the side of the console will turn red, a sign that you should probably save your game progress in case you end up losing it. Also, unlike with Gameboy advance, you no longer need to keep buying new batteries which ends up costing a fortune.
Game progress is saved on game cartridges, which fit into the bottom of the console with the exception of earlier games, which do stick out from the bottom as they only fit half way in. Although this looks a little strange, its still great to be able to play the older games. This way, theres no need to buy older consoles to play them, unless youre a collector like me!
The console is available in various colours, like Arctic Blue, Pink, Red, Silver and even a limited edition gold with a Triforce (from Legend of Zelda) on the back, which was released in a pack with the Zelda game Minish Cap. There is also a classic NES edition, designed to look like the original Nintendo Entertainment System controller from the 80s.
The graphics are the same as Gameboy advance graphics, only brighter with the use of the light.
As with all Nintendo consoles, there is a wide variety of games available. There are countless Super Mario games, such as Mario Kart and Mario Party which was the first game in the Mario Party series to be released for the Gameboy. Mario Kart is a racing game, which also has other versions available for the N64, Super Ninendo and Gamecube. Fans of the series will love Super Circuit, this version for the Gameboy advance and it's also great for first time gamers, as it isn't too difficult to start off with. You can also play games from the brilliant Legend of Zelda series, including Links Awakening and the Oracle series. The Legend of Zelda series is often regarded as one of the best game series available, and there are plenty of them to choose from for this console. The SP offers not only every game since the original Gameboy was released, but also future releases for the console. Although the DS has a lot of new releases, many games are still being released for gameboy advance, some are different versions of DS games. Some of the first ever Ninendo games have been re-released for gameboy adavance, such as the first two Legend of Zelda games and the original Donkey Kong games. You can also play multiplayer games with up to four people at once, with the use of a link cable, and unlike the gameboy advance, only one game pack is needed. As well as all this, it can also be used as an extra controller for the Gamecube. Theres enough games available to suit people of all ages and abilities.
Overall this console is a big improvement on the Gameboy Advance.
The SP is still available to buy in shops for around £50-£60. Second hand, you can probably get one for around £30. I recommend the Amazon marketplace, or ebay but either way make sure the seller has tested the console first, and also remember to check their feedback to be sure they are trusted sellers.
Nintendo's original 32-bit Gameboy Advance (GBA) was a fine upgrade to the popular 8-bit Gameboy Color but as good as the portable system was the GBA was far from perfect. Although it had tons of great games available with improved graphics and sounds, the wider GBA screen was so bad and so reflective that you needed the perfect view and right light just to see what was even going on. You want an example; just play games like the CastleVania Circle of the Moon on the old GBA and you'll know what I mean. To silence the critics Nintendo finally gives us a new flip top Gameboy with an optional light feature so you can finally see those games in dark situations plus it also comes with its battery charger so you don't need to buy loads of batteries any more. The system is called the Gameboy Advance SP.
The SP is no different, technically, then the GBA, lets get that right off the bat. It is still a 32-bit machine that will play all the older Gameboy titles as well as the more advanced GBA games. What has changed however is the design itself is totally different. You can now open and close the system up just like a mini laptop computer, one side has the screen one side has all the buttons. That was part of the reason why I bought yet another Gameboy (hey, believe it or not I'm not made of money so that's why I didn't get one right away), my brother's Gameboy Advance was all scratched up and the buttons don't work as well as they used to (sorry Jeremy). I needed a new Game boy and thanks to this fold away feature means I wouldn't scratch up as easily now.
The Gameboy SP has all the same buttons as before but now they are even flatter and smaller then ever so people with bigger hands may have trouble with the tiny controls. The SP has only one new button and that is the Light switch. If you are having problems seeing the screen at anytime then you easy turn it on to see if it helps. Using this Back lit option will eat away at your standard 18 hours of battery life but at least you have option to turn it off on the fly just in case. That moves me to another big change; this thing doesn't even need those annoying AA batteries anymore. Since the SP doesn't have to take the traditional batteries, Nintendo threw in an AC Adapter that automatically charges the new internal rechargeable lithium battery if it runs low on power. You can even play the SP while it's charging up, it will just charge slower while in play.
The GBA SP still has some problems that you should be aware of. First off, the SP doesn't have Headphone jack like the original Gameboys did. I was one person who never used any headphones personally (mostly because I'm not a big fan of the Gameboy's mono sounds anyway) but that doesn't mean that they didn't serve a purpose. With headphones you could still listen to the action while others around you don't have to plus a lot of games these days require that you hear what's going on while playing (i.e. games like Splinter Cell and Activision Anthology's Skeleton Plus). You can still buy an special adapter or custom made headphones if you want but be prepared to shell out some more cash. The SP also doesn't need batteries to work anymore and sure that will save you a lot money but if you can't get at a power outlet (like during a Black out or if you're a price that doesn't have electricity) to charge the unit then you're pretty much screwed.
One of the main reasons why the Gameboy has been so successfully over the years is because it has a huge library of great games. Here is just a few examples:
Star Soldier's personal GBA Top Ten
1. Phantasy Star Collection
I would have been happy to get Phantasy Star alone on this cart but if Sega and THQ want to give me two other grand scale games then that's easily fine with me. "Phantasy Star Collection is the ultimate package for RPG freaks!"
2. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
With its already superior level design and list of add ons, Super Mario Brothers 3 for the Game boy Advance is a excellent edition to anyone's library.
3. Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
What makes AW2 so appealing is that you can do so much here like fight the computer, unlock new missions, buy more maps, and you can even fight your friends in the Versus game. If only real war was this user friendly and cute then maybe you'll have a lot more people wanting to enlist?
4. CastleVania Circle of the Moon
COTN is a great game for fans of the series because its not only a challenging, non linear game that will take weeks to finish but it also includes a little of everything from all of the past games. There are even secret codes you can enter once you finish the game to add to the replay value.
5. Activision Anthology
The only issues I have is the games are a little slower now and the TV commercials are gone but these are very minor complaints since you are getting 40 plus Atari 2600 games in one cart. If you're a hardcore retro gamer, it doesn't get much better then this!
6. CastleVania Aria of Sorrow
The story was interesting, the sounds were impressive, and the list of items you can collect over this is simply outstanding.
7. Metroid Zero Mission
Although I was a little disappointed in the game's new more linear design and overall short length, Zero Mission still adds a lot to the plate thanks to all the secrets to discover. This title even gives you 8 slightly different endings and the original NES Metroid as well.
8. Mario Kart Super Circuit
The controls are right on, the graphics look amazing, the sound is there, and the multi player rules! You won't regret picking this kart racer up unlike all the other copy cats out there.
9. Wario Ware Micro Game$
Even though a lot of these second long mini games are very familiar in design after a while, Nintendo still did a great job of mixing things up. It's a weird concept true but it's still very crazy and intense fun that's great for players of all ages.
10. CastleVania Harmony of Dissonance
I also miss the mystery of the Card system from before and there are very little surprises in this magic system which is kind of disappointing as well. The game is still a must though!
Also be sure to look for other great Black and White or 8-bit Color games like Tetris DX, Super Mario Bros. DX, Pokemon, Mario's Picross, and many more. There is no shortage of titles for this system.
Bottomline: The Gameboy Advance SP isn't a huge improvement over the original GBA especially since it still plays all the standard 1,000 plus Gameboy games like the older Gameboy's do but the new features of this little beauty are just too impressive to ignore. The cool flip top feature now protects your LCD screen getting major scratches, the Back lit option lets you finally play in the dark, and the unit can even save a lot of your money because you don't have to buy those stupid AA batteries anymore. Although Nintendo has already named a successor to the SP (The Dual Screen) and Sony has a cool portable system themselves, still the Gameboy Advance SP is such an improvement over the previous unit it may be the best portable gaming unit I ever played.
Overall Gameboy SP rating: 89/100
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Ryan Genno 2007