The Game Boy Advance (JP) (GBA) is Nintendo's handheld portable system initially released in Japan on March 21, 2001. A part of the sixth generation of video games, the Game Boy Advance was noted as the third and final Game Boy iteration. It was succeeded by the Nintendo DS line in November 2004, which, along with the DS Lite, is backwards compatible with GBA games. This feature was removed from the DSi, DSi XL, and all Nintendo 3DS models. However, twenty games (ten GBA games and ten NES games) were given for free to those who had purchased a 3DS before the price dropped on August 12, 2011.

In Japan, the Game Boy Advance was one of the first two Nintendo systems to have its games rated by the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), whose rating system had been put to use during the system's lifetime. The Game Boy Advance is backwards compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, making it the only Nintendo console to be backwards compatible with more than one system.

The last game for the system was Samurai Deeper Kyo, released on February 12, 2008, though first-party development ended in November 2006. Production of the Game Boy Advance, along with its revisions, ceased production in December 2009, and system sales shipping ended on May 15, 2010, ending the classic 21-year Game Boy line.[5]


Technical Specifications[]

  • Length: approximately 14.45 cm (5.69 in).
  • Width: approximately 2.25 cm (0.96 in).
  • Height: approximately 8.2 cm (3.2 in).
  • Mass: approximately 5 oz (140 g).
  • Screen: 2.9 inch reflective thin-film transistor (TFT) color LCD.
  • Power: 2 AA batteries.
  • Battery Life: approximately 15 hours on average while playing Game Boy Advance games (also dependent on the Game Pak being played, volume setting and any external peripherals being used - e.g. a Worm Light or Screen Illumination Connection.)
  • CPU: 16.8 MHz 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory. 8 or 4 MHz 8-bit Z80 coprocessor for Game Boy backward compatibility.
  • Memory: 32 kilobyte + 96 kilobyte VRAM (internal to the CPU), 256 kilobyte DRAM (outside the CPU).
  • Display Size: 1.6" by 2.4" (40.8 by 61.2 mm)
  • Resolution: 240 × 160 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio).
  • Color Support: 15-bit RGB (5 bits depth per channel), capable of displaying 512 simultaneous colors in "character mode" and 32,768 simultaneous colors in "bitmap mode".
  • Colors per sprite: 16 or 256 (includes transparency)
  • Sound: Dual 8-bit DAC for stereo sound (called Direct Sound), plus all legacy channels from Game Boy. The new DACs can be used to play back streams of wave data, or can be used to output multiple wave samples processed/mixed in software by the CPU.

Design, operation, and variants[]

Game Boy Advance SP Red Model

A red Game Boy Advance SP.

Like the Game Boy Light and the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance requires two AA batteries. The Game Boy Advance is the last Nintendo handheld to require batteries and it is also the last Nintendo handheld to not have a clamshell design until the Game Boy Micro and original Nintendo 2DS.

Game Boy Micro - Grey Model

A grey Game Boy Micro.

A couple of redesigns were released including the Game Boy Advance SP (which also plays GB and GBC games) and the Game Boy Micro (which only plays GBA games due to its small design). The Game Boy Advance received somewhat some criticism, for it didn't have a backlight, and that was one of the most requested additions from the consumers. Therefore, from the GBA SP and onwards, a backlight was an essential. The Micro did not sell well as it was overshadowed by its successor, the Nintendo DS (which was released before the Micro and also played GBA games).

Game Boy Advance launched in the following colors; Indigo, Artic, Fuchsia, Black, Glacier and Spice (Japan only). Over the years, the GBA had Limited Edition in these colors; Platinum, Jet Black, Red, Gold, and Daiei.


Top Ten Best-Selling GBA Games[]


A scene from Pokémon Emerald.

  1. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (2002)
  2. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (2004)
  3. Pokémon Emerald (2004)
  4. Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001)
  5. Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World (2001)
  6. Super Mario Advance (2001)
  7. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (2003)
  8. Namco Museum (1999)
  9. Pac-Man Collection (2001)
  10. Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 (2002)


A successor to the Game Boy called Project Atlantis was originally planned in the mid 1990s. It would support 32-bit ARM CPU and would practically be able to run games like the SNES, being on par with it. This device was scrapped with the revival of Game Boy sales in the other revisions and the enormous form factor.

The actual development of the Game Boy Advance was not started until the Game Boy Color was started. It was first mentioned as a successor to the Game Boy Color in October 1999. The development cycle was relatively fast, completed within 2 years. It had the codename of Advanced Game Boy, very similar to the final name. The system was unveiled at Spaceworld 2000 on August 24, 2000.


The Game Boy Advance systems quickly became Nintendo's best-selling system of all time within a few years, accumulating a total of 81.51 million sales worldwide, including 43.57 million SP units and 2.42 million Micro units. In 2009, the Nintendo DS surpassed this and continued on its path of domination by managing to move a total of 154.02 million units worldwide.

See also[]