Game Boy Advance turns 20

Two decades after its first release, the Game Boy Advance is still one of the best handheld consoles in the Nintendo library.

Two decades ago, on June 11, 2001, Nintendo released its successor to the Game Boy handheld in North America. Dubbed the Game Boy Advance and already launched in Japan in March of that year, Nintendo’s latest console arrived on the heels of a device that completely dominated the 1990s and easily overtaken rivals such as the Sega Game Gear and Nomad, as well as the infamous Game. Com.

To stay ahead of competitors like the Neo Geo Pocket and Wonderswan Color at the time, Nintendo had to think big. Gone are the vertical orientation of the original Game Boy as the Game Boy Advance preferred a more natural landscape position for its distinctive shape, with a TFT LCD screen capable of delivering a staggering 32,000 colors simultaneously with a crisp 240 x 160 resolution.

The controls were simple: an eight-way navigation pad on the left, two face buttons for actions on the right, and two shoulder buttons at the top. Combined with the powerful sound from the dual 8-bit DAC for stereo sound, the Game Boy Advance looked like a huge improvement over its predecessor.

This was true in many ways, but the console still used a pair of AA batteries to power the console, and the lack of a backlit screen made it tiresome to play at night or on a cloudy day. These issues will be corrected with the 2003 release of the Game Boy Advance SP, which featured a rechargeable battery, clamshell design and front-lit screen, with a later version finally switching to a backlit screen in 2005.

In 2005, even the tiny Game Boy Micro was released, which reduced the hardware of the highly portable console to an absurd level and whose design could be redesigned with one of several different bezel designs.

Throughout its existence, the Game Boy Advance has arguably offered some of the best games available on the Nintendo sSystem. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire have sold over 16 million units on consoles, and Mario Kart: Super Circuit has sold over 5.9 million units since its inception. Many other games have been critically acclaimed at release, such as Final Fantasy: Tactics Advance, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, and the portable strategy masterpiece Advance Wars.

It may not have surpassed the sales of the original Game Boy, but the Game Boy Advance family of consoles was a huge success for Nintendo when it officially ceased production in May 2010. Since its inception, 81.51 million Game Boy Advance consoles have been sold, the benchmark to be replaced by its successor, the Nintendo DS, when it launches just three years after the Game Boy Advance.

Game Boy Advance sales have only recently been surpassed by Nintendo’s current handheld device, the Switch, which has reached mid-life and could have a chance to drop record lifetime Game Boy sales if the Switch Pro rumors turn out to be true.

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