The Game Boy Advance was a console that certainly lived up to its name. Compared to its predecessor, the GBA was a powerhouse console. At least from the perspective of a child. The graphical upgrade was amazing and games utilised colours to a far greater extent than the console named after such a visual mechanic. Combine this with the cavalcade of games, both old and new, and you’ve got yourself a handheld that saw the Game Boy era to a powerful end.
In the mix of awesome games that made this console, such as Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire and Emerald, Dragon Ball Z: Buu’s Fury, Sonic Advance 3 and (obviously) Bionicle: Maze of Shadows, there was one game that stood out to me more than any other: Zoids: Legacy. Terribly translated and damn near indecipherable for anyone who had not seen the series, Legacy was a hot mess of an adaptation. And boy did I love it. Still do. With Zoids games few and far between, I am so glad that I said yes when my Mum offhandedly asked if I wanted it for Christmas. Having completed it top to bottom more than any other video game ever, it is hard to go past Legacy as one of my most important gaming experiences, brought to me by the loveable GBA.
The GBA also stands out particularly strongly in my mind due to the fact that I never owned one. You see, after saving up for what a younger person would consider infinity, I was finally going to buy my very own GBA, purple of course, the default colour of Nintendo. Remember that? I woke up before the sun that day, leading to hours of impatient waiting due to the fact that shops open later than that. Jerks. Finally, time was in my favour and I found myself in Toys-R-Us, because that’s where the best deal was, face to face with the pictures displaying the available deals for GBAs…and the announcement for the Game Boy Advance SP. Damn. Hours, upon days, upon weeks, upon friends who owned the console and I found myself with a choice. Do I buy the GBA and enjoy games now, or do I wait two more weeks and enjoy the fresh concept of a handheld that flips closed? I waited. IT was tough, it was sleepless and it was worth it. Because when all was said and done, who was the kid who could play games at night? The guy with the backlit GBA SP.
The moral of the story? Zoids: Legacy is an awesome game and I don’t even care that they called Brad “Ballad” and have no concept of proper grammar or sentence structure because you can play as nearly every character in the anime and have an Organoid who is a leopard and your very own Whale King and save every single timeline at the same time and also have a super cool tiger robot who shoots lightning and was a present from yourself from the future. Nothing else needs to be said…also there are giant laser cannons.
Shaman King: Master Of Spirits
2004 was a great year for me as a gamer. The Game Boy Advance was my console of choice, and the number of games that I purchased and completed still, to this day, has remained unrivaled. Unlike my present self, a younger Frank ran with the “I like it, I buy it” mentality: If a video game cover featured even a single element that I though was “cool” at the time I would purchase it without hesitation. In the modern era we have a great access to the internet wherein which we can not only investigate literally anything we can think of but also get the opinions of others in regards to said “thing”. Thankfully 2004 was a year that saw me untouched by the influence of the digital collective consciousness so the “I like it, I buy it” method was still very much affective.
The grandest takeaway from that year was the Game Boy Advance video game Shaman King: Master Of Spirits. Walking into a Toys R’ Us one fine afternoon I noticed what I then simply called “Anime” on the front cover of a strange and mysterious video game, which was all I needed to commit to a full-priced purchase. Now, at this point in my life, I had no idea about Hiroyuki Takei’s Shaman King Manga, nor the Shaman King Anime that followed. To me, this was just a game that happened to have an “Anime guy” as it’s protagonist, and that was more than enough to sway me into a purchase.
Master Of Spirits, for those of you who haven’t played it, is essentially a Castlevania clone set in the world of Shaman King. Essentially, it is your favorite Castlevania title with a fairly intricate Shaman King skin, that’s the long and short of it. Shaman King: Master Of Spirits blew me away. Big time. I had never experienced a game belonging to the “Metroidvania” sub-sub-genre so, for me, Master Of Spirits was ground-breaking. It was also, in short, just a really good video game that was hard enough to keep you on your toes but not too hard as to inspire you to never play it again. Funnily enough it would be some twelve years before I actually gave myself the opportunity to experience Shaman King‘s original Manga, and I wouldn’t have ever bothered unless I had thoughtlessly picked up this game, so I have the Game Boy Advance to thank for what has quickly become one of my favorite Shonen Jump series’…ever!
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
I’ll be honest here, of all the Nintendo handhelds I have owned (Virtual Boy doesn’t exist, hence it can’t be remembered for Nintendo Memories!) the Game Boy Advance was my least favourite despite it having an immense library of games covering nearly every genre. Starting with the fact that my GBA was orange, not the cool purple or other translucent colours that all the other kids had. So I was the weird kid in school with the orange GBA.
That, and the device itself wasn’t really all that great, as the screen was just awful to work with and so those who waited for the backlit models got a much better experience (yes Kane, the sleepless 2 week wait for the GBA SP was worth it). I think the GBA also reminds me too much of what were the lousiest years of school, with that one jerk who also had a GBA and was one of those friends you just couldn’t get rid of. Plus turning 13 just felt wrong, but I digress.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, a launch title for the system and the first game I played on it, is easily my favourite GBA game if not one of my top 3 Castlevania games. Great music, great atmosphere, addictive RPG elements, and that signature Castlevania gameplay at its best. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon not only took the Metroidvania innovation of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to the next level, but also redefined it to start a whole new trilogy on the GBA, followed by another great trilogy on the DS. Six amazing Castlevania games on Nintendo handhelds, and I wish they would make more. However, the game that started this tradition of portable Metroidvania experiences, Circle of the Moon, still remains the best of the best.
As both a writer and a gamer I am at a loss. The Game Boy Advance completely passed me by. Whereas most of the SnapThirty peeps hail it as the best console of their youths (ed: not Chief Khan). I honestly don’t know what happened, I owned a Game Boy Advance and I used it as a sub for when my Game Boy Color carked it. To that point I don’t even remember if I had owned an actual advance cartridge for the thing. I am lowly and feel ashamed. So to make this segment interesting we are going to pretend that I was in Japan for 2001 and played the greatest game on the console (and definitely not the remake on the DS some years later) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
Take That! And by that I mean a compelling story with many twists and a soundtrack that could bring a smile to the face of someone who needs to smile really badly. Like your Grandfather, when is the last time you visited?
Hold It! And by that I mean hold the supreme feeling Game Boy Advance console as you whittle away your hours attempting to press every inch of the screen because you can’t remember if you inspected the clowns wigs or not, or in what order you should have done so.
Objection! And by that I mean Objection!! An objection to all of you that say I can’t pretend I played the original rather than the remake and play it off as if it was a strong memory, I just did!
Golden Sun: The Lost Age
The Game Boy Advance was quite the revelation to young me. Imagine playing Super Nintendo caliber games in the palm of your hands. At the time it was an incredible feat.
There were so many games that I played on the GBA back in the day but one that sticks in my memories is none other than Golden Sun, an epic RPG that really defined the Advance era of JRPGs in a major way.
I spent hours upon hours on both Golden Sun and its sequel, fell in love with the characters and world completely. Just talking about it makes me want to revisit it. Golden Sun was a golden example of the GBA at its finest.