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GameBoy Advance FAQ by NekoFever

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 03/27/03

====================================
Nintendo Game Boy Advance FAQ v1.0
By Olly Dean, olly@nekofever.com
Copyright Oliver Dean, 2001-2002
====================================

THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE USED ON THE INTERNET FOR FREE AS LONG AS THE USER
HAS EMAILED PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR (olly@nekofever.com) AND THE
DOCUMENT IS COMPLETELY UNCHANGED (UNLESS THE USER HAS PERMISSION TO MAKE
CHANGES) FROM THE VERSION FOUND AT GAMEFAQS (www.gamefaqs.com).
IF YOU ARE FOUND TO BE IN VIOLATION OF THESE GUIDELINES LEGAL ACTION WILL 
BE TAKEN.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=
1.1 CONTENTS
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
1.1 CONTENTS
  2 INTRODUCTION
  3 HARDWARE REVIEW
  4 FAQ
  5 LAUNCH GAMES
     (i)   JAPANESE
     (ii)  US
  6 SPECS
2.1 GBA vs GBC vs NGPC vs WSC
  2 FEATURES
  3 BEST GAMES ON THE SYSTEM
  4 PERIPHERALS
  5 RETAILERS
  6 DISCUSSION
  7 UNDERSTANDING THE BOX
  8 THE AFTERBURNER
3.1 CONTACT ME
  2 CREDITS

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
1.2 INTRODUCTION
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Ever since Nintendo's original Game Boy (DMG, Dot-Matrix-Game) was released
with the immortal puzzle game Tetris, there have been rumours of an updated
Game Boy. This came (sort of) in 1998 with the release of the Game Boy Color
(GBC). The GBC had a faster processor, more memory, and a colour TFT screen.
Despite these little improvements, it was inherently the same outdated,
8-bit machine.

GBC was a stop-gap for the GBA but no-one knew for sure when the DMG's true
successor would be released, but it was finally annouced and confirmed by
Nintendo on September 1st 1999. It was formally shown to the public
alongside the N64's successor, GameCube, at Nintendo's Space World 2000 show
in Tokyo on August 24th 2000.

It was released in Japan on March 21st 2001 and was released simultaneously 
in the US and Europe on June 11th 2001.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
1.3 HARDWARE REVIEW
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
The Japanese box is nice-looking and is in a nice silver colour. The console
itself is a nice size and weight.

SIZE AND WEIGHT:
The console looked quite big to me at first but it is only a little bigger
than a GBC on it's side. The weight is nice and feels very good in the
hands. 9/10

BUTTON ACCESSIBILITY:
The buttons are well-placed, and the shoulder buttons feel perfect. My only
complaint is that the Start and Select buttons are quite small and hard to
reach quickly if you have to pause in a fast-paced game. It's a good set-up
though. 8/10

DISPLAY:
The screen is the same as the GBC one but it's bigger and is in widescreen.
It seems darker than the GBC one though or is it just me? You'll forgive any
minor misgivings when you see the visuals this baby's pumping out. Look at
the FMV in Pinobee's intro to see what I mean. 9/10

SOUND:
The music is a little tinny in some games but speech is crystal clear
(hopefully it won't be as annoying as in Mario Advance in future!). Very
good overall. 9/10

AESTHETICS:
The machine looks like a futuristic Game Boy Color - which is what it is.
It's very nicely proportioned. The only real downside is that old Game Boy
games stick out the top which looks quite strange. It's no biggy, though.
10/10

OVERALL:
The perfect portable machine! Total: 45/50

=-=-=-=-=
1.4 FAQ
=-=-=-=-=
Email me any questions that you have and they'll go here and I'll reply
within 24 hours (95% of the time).

Q. When was GBA released?
A. It was released in Japan on 21st March 2001 and in the US and Europe 
   on 11th June 2001.

Q. How much will GBA cost?
A. The Japanese price is 9,300¥, which is $83 (£63). The US RRP is £99.99,
   and the UK price will probably be £99.99.
   UPDATE: The US and UK prices are now $79.95/£79.99.

Q. What colours will the system be available in?
A. The launch colours have different names in Japan and the West. In Japan 
   they're called White, Violet, and Milky Blue, and in the West they're 
   called Arctic, Indigo, and Glacier.
   UPDATE: There are now several limited-edition Pokemon GBAs available 
           from Japan on import and the Pokemon Center in New York, as 
           well as a rare platinum one, clear pink, orange, and black.

Q. Is there any difference apart from superficial ones between them?
A. Some of the newer GBAs (black and orange guaranteed, others sometimes) 
   have superior Matsushita (Panasonic) screens as opposed to the older 
   Sharp ones. Not only does this make the screen sharper, it also makes 
   the GBA look better with an Afterburner.

Q. GBA is 32-bit. The SNES was 16-bit. Is the GBA more powerful than the
   SNES?
A. It's actually about the same. The GBA is limited by it's screen, 
   whereas the SNES could use a bigger TV. The GBA can use polygons to 
   make 3D graphics, but only as well as Starfox (Starwing) on the SNES. 
   It could do more if it had a 3D chip, then it could theoretically do 
   almost PlayStation-quality graphics.
   UPDATE: Since this was last updated, a group called AGB Games 
           (http://www.agbgames.com) has developed an amazing 3D Engine 
           for the GBA. It originally had a demo of the original Resident 
           Evil running on GBA, but now has Quake, Grand Theft Auto, a 
           racing game, and more. Check them out.

Q. Is it backwardly compatible?
A. Yes, it contains the CPU of the GBC so it is 100% compatible with all 
   old DMG and GBC games. About 5 games (all obscure Japanese games with 
   the exception of Disney's Tarzan) do have small sound problems but all 
   games play 100% perfectly. The GBA carts are smaller, though, so older 
   GB games stick out of the top (see a picture of this here:
   http://pocketmedia.ign.com/media/news/image/gbastuff/gbagbccartridge.jpg).
   Also, the GBA has a wider screen so old games can either be formatted 
   with borders or stretched to fill the screen by pressing the shoulder 
   buttons.

Q. Do the games come on cartridges?
A. Yes they do. The cartridges can be up to 32 Megabytes. Personally, I 
   would have preferred games on the GameCube's mini-DVD format (1.5 
   gigabytes!) or MiniDisc (250 Megabytes). There would be a problem of 
   piracy on MiniDisc however, as they are VERY easily copied, and also 
   the problem of them skipping on the move.

Q. What forms of connectivity does it have?
A. It can be connected to the Internet, or a basic form of it (like on WAP
   phones) via a cell phone in Japan via the Mobile GB Adaptor which is also
   used to trade and battle in Pokemon Crystal. It is doubtful that this will
   reach the US or Europe as cell phones are not standardised like in Japan,
   and therefore Nintendo would need a different cable for all the different
   types of phone (Nokia, Sony, Philips, Motarola, etc). It can also be linked
   to the GameCube via the controller ports. It is unclear what benefits this
   would provide apart from a screen and no need for an N64-style Transfer Pak,
   as the GBA has much fewer buttons (NGC has 11, GBA has 8) and is not
   analogue.
   UPDATE: The cell phone service in Japan has now been discontinued.

Q. What is the system capable of?
A. A lot. A demo of the N64 game Yoshi's Story has been made and seen, and
   British developers Crawfish have made a demo of Doom, the legendary
   1st-person shooter.
   UPDATE: Doom is now available on the GBA. If you want to see some tech 
   demos of what the GBA can do, see AGB Games (http://www.agbgames.com).

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
1.5 LAUNCH GAMES
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
A star (*) designates a game worth getting.

(i) JAPANESE
-------------
1ST PARTY:
Super Mario Advance *
F-Zero Advance *
Napoleon
Kuru Kuru Kuru Rin *

3RD PARTY:
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon *
Chu Chu Rocket *
Dodgeball Advance
Dungeondice Monsters
EZ Talk
Fire Pro Wrestling A
I Am An Air Traffic Controller
Konami Wai Wai Racing *
JGTO Golf Master
J-League Pocket
Megaman EXE *
Momotaro Festival
Monster Guardians
Mr Driller 2 *
Pinobee: Quest of the Heart
Pocket GT Advance
Powerful Pro Baseball
Silent Hill Play Novel
Top Gear All Japan GT
Tweety and the Magical Jewel

(ii) US
--------

1ST PARTY:
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
Super Mario Advance

3RD PARTY:
Army Men Advance
Chu Chu Rocket
Dodge Ball Advance
Fire Pro Wrestling
Fortress
High Heat Major League Baseball 2002
Iridion 3D
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Rayman
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Top Gear GT Championship
Tweety and the Magic Jewel

=-=-=-=-=-=
1.6 SPECS
=-=-=-=-=-=
These are the specifications as they come from Nintendo with a few additions
from me.

NAME: Game Boy Advance
LCD: Reflection (non-backlit) TFT Colour Liquid crystal
SCREEN SIZE: 40.8mm x 61.2mm
RESOLUTION: 240x160 pixels
DISPLAY ABILITY: 32,000 colours
CPU: 16MHz 32bit RISC-CPU + 8bit CISC-CPU
MEMORY: 32KB WRAM+96KB VRAM 256KB WRAM
SOUND: Speaker (mono)/Headphone (stereo)
LINK PLAY: Up to 4 players on 1 cartridge
POWER: 2x AA batteries or Special (rechargable) battery adaptor
BATTERY LIFE: 15-20 hours on 2 AA batteries
SIZE: 82mm length x 144.5mm width x 24.5mm thick
WEIGHT: About 140g
CARTRIDGE: 34.5mm x 60mm x 9.5mm (Maximum 256 Megabit/32 Megabyte)
PRICE: $99.99
RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2001

-------------------------

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.1 GBA vs GBC vs NGPC vs WSC
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Out of these 3 portable consoles - Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, the
sadly-departed Neo-Geo Pocket Color, and Bandai's Wonderswan Color - we all
know which is going to be most powerful. But by how much? Let's compare
specs (the abbrieviations are taken from above apart from the bottom one,
number of games):

     GBA            GBC             NGPC             WSC
L: as above   | same as GBA   | same as GBA    | same as GBA   |
S: as above   | 2.3 inch diag | 45x48          | 2.1 diag      |
R: as above   | 160x144       | 160x152        | 224x144       |
D: as above   | 56 colors     | 146 colors     | 241 colors    |
C: as above   | 8-bit Z80     | 16-bit Toshiba | 16bit 3.072   |
M: as above   | 4KB           | ???            | 512k          |
S: as above   | same as GBA   | same as GBA    | same as GBA   |
L: as above   | same as GBA   | same as GBA    | 1x AA         |
B: as above   | 15 hours      | 40 hours       | 20 hours      |
S: as above   | 75x133x27     | 130x80x30.5    | 128x74.3x243  |
W: as above   | 183g          | 145g           | 95g           |
C: as above   | not as good   | GBA size       | ???           |
P: as above   | $69.99        | $69.99         | $60           |
R: as above   | Nov 1998      | May 1999       | December 2000 |
G: 25 + 1000+ | 1000+         | 30-50          | 20            |

Therefore the best in each category is:

L: GBA/GBC/NGPC/WSC
S: GBA
R: GBA
D: GBA
C: GBA
M: WSC
S: GBA/GBC/NGPC/WSC
L: GBA
B: NGPC
S: WSC
W: WSC
C: GBA
P: WSC
R: N/A
G: GBA

And so the final scores are, in order:

GBA: 9
WSC: 6
NGP: 3
GBC: 2

GBA WINS!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.2 WHY YOU WANT ONE
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Here is a list of all the reasons why you WILL get a GBA:

32-bit
SNES conversions
Mario Kart!
Over 1000 GB games
Widescreen
Games from Sega!
Mode 7 graphics
GameCube connection
Cell phone connection
4-player with one copy of a game
Less than $100
20 hours on 2 AA batteries
More action buttons
3D graphics
Different coloured casings
Over 60 developers
At least 40 games in the first year
Namco games
Yoshi's Story
Crash and Spyro
No territorial lockout
Pokemon (ahem)
It's Nintendo!
Relive the SNES days

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.3 BEST GAMES ON THE SYSTEM
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
At the Japanese release, the the pick of the litter that are available are:

Super Mario Advance
F-Zero Advance
Kuru Kuru Kuru Rin
Castlevania: Cirle of the Moon
Chu Chu Rocket
Konami Wai Wai Racing
Megaman EXE
Mr Driller 2

The most eagerly awaited games are:

Mario Kart Advance
Sonic the Hedgehog Advance
Super Street Fighter II
Breath of Fire
Mario Advance 2
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.4 PERIPHERALS
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
GBA Communication Cable:
This is the Link Cable by another name. Halfway along the cable is a small
box to plug in another cable so that you can have 4-player games on one copy
of the game (you would have needed 4 copies with GBC), but potentially
there's no reason why by plugging in more copies of the game and more cables
you can't have 8+ player games. This will be essential for those multiplayer
sessions on Chu Chu Rocket or Mario Kart. You'll still need 2 copies of the
game for 2 player on your old DMG or GBC games. It will probably cost between 
20 and 30 dollars, but will only work on GBA games. Keep a GBC cable for 
those games.

GBA to GCN Cable:
This will allow you to link the GBA to the GameCube. It allows interaction
between the machines with the GBA acting as a private screen or controller.
No games that use this feature will be available before 2002.
UPDATE: Games that support the link include, but are not limited to: Sonic 
        Advance/Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Animal Crossing, Legend Of Zelda.

Battery Pack/AC Adaptor:
If you want to play your GBA without buying batteries every few weeks then
the rechargable battery pack is your saviour. It will allow 10 hours of play
from a 2 hour charge. The Japanese price works out at 34 dollars. As for the
AC Adaptor, this will let you plug into the mains at home for infinite play
time (assuming you have electricity). This will probably cost $10-$15. It is
a very neat little thing, though.

E-Card Reader:
I'm not sure how this will be used but special Pokemon trading cards can be
swiped through this and give data to the GBA. This could be used for a
sequel to GBC's Pokemon Trading Card Game where you have to add special
cards to your deck by buying them in real life which would be quite a nifty
feature.

Mobile GB Adaptor:
This will allow downloading and playing online through a cell phone. It is
available in Japan for GBC for the new Pokemon Crystal in which players can
trade and battle online. It probably wouldn't work brilliantly for 'twitch'
games like shoot-em-ups, though. It has been confirmed that Mario Kart
Advance will utilise the adaptor to allow online racing. The network will be
provided by a Konami/Nintendo company called Mobile 21.

GBA Infrared Communication Adaptor:
As you probably know, the GBC has a built-in infrared comms port which was
very underused due to it's low bandwidth and the fact that the GBCs had to
be 3cm apart to read each other. Therefore the feature was cut from GBA to
keep costs down, but it will be available as a seperate peripheral.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.5 RETAILERS
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
You can get import GBAs from the following stores:

The Video Game Centre (UK), £159.99
http://www.videogamecentre.co.uk

National Console Support (US), $275.00
http://www.nscx.com

Computer Exchange (UK), £20 deposit, approx. £179.99 total
http://www.cex.co.uk

Buy Rite Video Games (US), $249.99
http://www.buy-rite.net

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.6 DISCUSSION
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
This is a list of Message Boards where you can disscuss GBA. Email me any
good ones and I'll add them.

GameFAQs GBA Message Board
http://cgi.gamefaqs.com/boards/gentopic.asp?board=169

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.7 UNDERSTANDING THE BOX
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
For those of you who imported a GBA with a game (or three), the box is
probably completely indecipherable unless you speak Japanese. As a
semi-Japanese speaker I thought I'd help you out with the important info on
the back that doesn't have a symbol to show it's meaning. The main thing
that you'll notice is that huge box with X and O in it. This is to show you
what Game Boy's it is compatible with. Here is my translation (not literal):
__________________________________
| GBA | GBC | DMG | Super Game Boy |
|_____|_____|_____|________________|
|  O  |  X  |  X  |      X         |
|_____|_____|_____|________________|

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
2.8 THE AFTERBURNER
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
For the uninitiated, the Afterburner started life as a small project found 
at http://www.portablemonopoly.com to make an internal light for the GBA. It 
grew and grew, until eventually the long-awaited Afterburner internal light 
modification was released from their new site, http://www.tritonlabs.com 
(they were forced to change after copyright issues with Hasbro over the use 
of the name Monopoly).

You can see pictures of the kit in action at http://members.aol.com/~vindogg1/ 
and you can see some pics and a movie at 
http://www.cv-games.com/afterburner/afterburnerprev.html.

The Afterburner is apparently difficult to install and should be done by a 
professional (that way they're obligated to replace your GBA should they 
break it), but the payoff is worthwhile. It provides by far the best light 
for the GBA, and can be modified so that it is always on, has a dimmer 
switch, an on/off switch, or even a special dimmer that works with the 
action buttons to dim and brighten (http://www.division-6.com).

There is a small catch though - the Afterburner can look very poor on older 
GBAs with the Sharp screens, and looks far better if you have a GBA with a 
newer Panasonic screen. To be guaranteed of getting a new screen get a black 
or orange GBA - you can get a black or orange (spice) premodded GBA with a 
dimmer switch fitted from Lan Kwei for only $105/€119.70/£66.40.

-------------------------

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
3.1 CONTACT ME
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Email me at olly@nekofever.com with any questions, suggestions, or
contributions to this FAQ. I will elaborate on anything in this FAQ that you
may be confused by and will gladly accept any additional info or any
corrections that you may want me to add.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=
3.2 CREDITS
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Thanks to Nintendo for making such a great system and games. May the Game
Boy Legacy live on forever!

Thanks to Lindy M for correcting me over the cart size (megaBYTEs not 
megaBITs!).

-------------------------
Game Boy: Over 100,000,000 addicted.

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