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Happy 20th Birthday To The Game Boy Advance, A Stunner Of A Handheld

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Happy 20th Birthday To The Game Boy Advance, A Stunner Of A Handheld

There are few handheld consoles capable of matching the brilliance of the Game Boy Advance. First released in Japan on March 21, 2001, Nintendo's successor to the Game Boy Color was an absolute powerhouse of a machine - one that would go on to sell well over 81 million units worldwide.

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With an incredible library of brand-new games at its disposal, plus the ability to play all your old Game Boy Color games, the Game Boy Advance quickly became the must-have item for... well, pretty much everyone. 20 years on, the Game Boy Advance (or GBA to its friends) remains as beloved as ever, and a peak example of what Nintendo can do when it's firing on all cylinders.


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Personally speaking, the Game Boy Advance came along at a time when I was just starting to really appreciate how transformative video games could be. I remember being blown away by the bright and vibrant Hoenn region the first time I played Pokémon Ruby. I'll never forget feeling my heart in my mouth anytime the SA-X chased me through the corridors in Metroid Fusion, or the sense of adventure that swelled in my heart every time I booted up The Legend Of Zelda: Minish Cap.

Quite aside from being a platform that offered some of the best new games in many of Nintendo's historic franchises, it also opened up completely new experiences we never saw coming. Having missed Super Mario RPG as a kid, I was amazed to see how well the plumbers took to turn-based battles in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. And playing Sonic Advance and its two sequels on the GBA? Wow. I was too young to remember the majority of the whole "Nintendo vs SEGA" stuff, but even I knew that Sonic being on a Nintendo console was a pretty big deal. It's a good thing the Sonic Advance games were absolute fire, too.

But the GBA was also a hugely important console for anyone wanting to learn more about Nintendo's illustrious past. Thanks to some excellent enhanced ports, the GBA was my window to classics like The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Super Mario World, Super Mario Bros 3, and Yoshi's Island. We also got some truly incredible ground up remakes via Metroid: Zero Mission and Pokémon LeafGreen/FireRed, which I maintain are still some of the best entry points into their respective franchises.

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To sum up, the GBA slapped. It slapped hard. Nintendo proved with the original Game Boy and the Game Boy Color that it knew how to make a damn good handheld. The Game Boy Advance was all the confirmation we needed that the Big N was the indomitable rule of handheld video games. It's a title the company has continued to hold onto from the Nintendo DS all the way to Nintendo Switch, and long may it continue.

Featured Image Credit: Nintendo

Topics: Features, Nintendo

Ewan Moore
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