Growing up in the 2000s, almost everyone had a Game Boy Advance. Whether it was the original or the SP revision, Nintendo truly struck a chord with gamers around the world with their 32-bit follow-up to the Game Boy.
It was no secret that Nintendo was the king of handhelds at this point of history, practically having a monopoly on the market. The Game Boy itself also had an extended shelf life, with its initial 1989 release being stretched out thanks to revisions like the Game Boy Color and massive hits like Pokemon Red and Blue.
Needless to say, at the turn of the millennium, it was about time for Nintendo to introduce something new to the market. It’s crazy to predict that Nintendo would top their own records with the Game Boy Advance, but it did come pretty close.
Not only was the Game Boy Advance an innovative piece of technology that also had a stellar lineup of games backing it up, but in many ways, it was also the product that kept Nintendo afloat during a turbulent time in their history.
If the Game Boy Color was an NES that gamers could fit in their pocket, then the Game Boy Advance is an on-the-go Super Nintendo. This notion is supported by Nintendo themselves, with ports for SNES games like Yoshi’s Island on the Game Boy Advance.
In any case, it was a stellar and major step in the development of handheld consoles, the absence of backlit screens on the base Game Boy Advance notwithstanding. Either way, the Game Boy Advance was capable of handling amazing 2D visuals and a handful of 3D experiences as well.
Even with all these technological advances, the undisputed reigning franchise of the Game Boy Advance was Pokemon, with Ruby and Sapphire, FireRed and LeafGreen, and Emerald being the three top-selling games on the system.
Through special cartridges, added functionalities could be added to the Game Boy Advance, like WarioWare: Twisted and its added motion control or the Game Boy Advance Video series that let gamers watch movies and cartoons, albeit in very compressed versions.
It’s no secret that at this point in time, Nintendo was not the market leader in terms of its home consoles as it faced stiff competition against more powerful hardware like the original PlayStation, the PlayStation 2, and the first Xbox.
The Nintendo 64 did fine enough, thanks to its stellar line of games like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The console’s emphasis on multiplayer was also substantiated by games like GoldenEye and Mario Kart.
In many ways, the successor to the Nintendo 64, the GameCube, followed suit with everything that made the 64-bit console a moderate success. Yet, it couldn’t stand a chance against the likes of the PS2 and Xbox even with much faster loading times and exclusive games. Thankfully, the Game Boy Advance didn’t have to worry about this and offered their own line of unique games.
Compared to the GameCube, the Game Boy Advance sold almost four times as much, with just over 80 million units sold in its lifetime. At the time, no other console manufacturer was making handhelds which definitely contributed to the Game Boy Advance’s dominance.
Despite their best efforts, Nintendo earned the reputation of being a brand for children, as the more cartoony Mario and Zelda games of the time couldn’t exactly stand up to the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Halo.
So while the GameCube suffered because of this, the Game Boy Advance thrived as it introduced games that were perfect for all ages and were portable as well. It also helped that the Game Boy Advance was also backward-compatible with previous Game Boy cartridges.
From then on, Nintendo refocused both their handheld and home console offerings which led to the Silver Age of Nintendo with the Wii and Nintendo DS at the forefront of it all. This was when Nintendo was back on top, leading the way with motion control games that appealed to all ages.
Even now, Nintendo fans and indie developers look fondly at the age of the Game Boy Advance, and we are all waiting for the day Nintendo releases the Game Boy Advance library onto the Nintendo Switch Online service.