I seem to be getting my hands on lots of different types of NES related hardware recently and I thought I’d share my latest acquisition a Gameboy Advance SP. Seeing as my focus of collecting it’s a joy to find hardware so recent that refers back to the golden age of NES gaming. Styled in a similar fashion to the NES console and pads I simply couldn’t resist picking one up.
The main problem I found once I’d discovered there was a NES version of the SP was actually finding one that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’ve seen prices range as high as £100 on Amazon and eBay so when I stumbled across an auction on eBay for £30 I just had to snap it up. The unit itself has been well used but the screen has been well taken care of and as close to new as you could expect. The top and bottom left corners of black on the control panel have been removed but in my haste I didn’t notice this on the original auction which was a bit of disappointment. At least it has been well done and no markings or scratches where these small corners were trimmed. I can only think the original owner thought it would be an improvement but it makes me wince to think of him hacking away with a pair of scissors no matter how careful he was.
The SP has a responsive D-Pad which feels similar to the NES pad, the usual Select and Start buttons, A and B with a speaker sat in the middle of the control panel. The large black button beneath the screen simply turns the screen light off which is useful for saving power when you are in a particularly bright area. Make no mistake the screen suffers in normal light just like any other Gameboy to date meaning it can be hard to see what’s going on thanks to glare so I’m in the habit of never turning the light off. The SP’s screen displays brilliantly, sharp LCD and no form of bleeding or colour clash. One of the major problems with the original Gameboy was the poor quality display that literally bled a trail of graphics whenever there was movement however that’s not to be seen on the SP. Along the right hand side is a handy on/off switch and the left holds a volume switch which does a fairly decent job when turned up to full. There is no stereo jack socket and you need to buy an adaptor in order to use headphones.
Another major benefit (and the main reason for me looking to part with my GB Color) is the ability to play any GB, GBC or Advance games. As can be seen from the pictures the cartridge slot takes all types of GB games however with the older GB titles they stick a good distance out of the unit’s base. It looks unsightly but thankfully the console is held naturally by the sides so I found the carts don’t tend to cause problems and don’t get in the way. Buy pressing the L or R buttons (hidden away round the back of the console) you whole screen shrinks or grows to fill the entire screen for GB and GBA games. With the screen filled the games do appear to look stretched so I always go for the smaller and more compact screen (as Pikachu is demonstrating in the picture).
This was also the first portable console where Nintendo did away with the need to replace standard batteries including rechargeable lithium ion battery and a charger. Since buying the console I’ve had around 9 hours play (with the light on) without the need for a recharge so the benefits are obvious.
Yes I am now a Pokemon convert. I really wanted a Gameboy title that seems to push the GB to its limits and what better to start with than Pokemon Gold, one of the first 3 Pokemon games for the system. I’m very impressed with the SP it seems perfect for on the go gaming and its NES design appeals to the collector in me. Perhaps one day I will pick up a fully boxed version despite the cost but for now I’m happy to play on with my portable NES.