Guest Blog post by: Robert @ C4ke
During the lifespan of the Game Boy we've seen numerous iterations of this device brought to us by Nintendo. It all started with a tiny monochrome display with its distinctive olive green colour scheme. While the competition used high-end processors and colour displays Nintendo used cheap and readily available components. With an impressive 10 to 30 hours of battery life and games such as Tetris and Super Mario Land 2 the Game Boy's success definitely did not short-lived.
One of the key elements for the Game Boy's success is simultaneously also its biggest flaw, which is the non-backlit display causing many third-party add-ons to improve the experience in low light conditions. Who doesn't remember the Worm Light? This problem kept existing on the GB's redesigns and its successors, with the exception of the Game Boy Light (only released in Japan) and the Game Boy SP.
One of my personal favourite handheld gaming systems is the Game Boy Advance. I like the way it fits in my hands just as a normal controller. Though released in 2001 it still had a poorly lit display. Not much later after the official release of the GBA we saw the release of probably one of the first modkits in 2002, the Afterburner modkit. With this modkit you were able to add a frontlight inside the GBA that greatly improved the screen visibility.
At the end of the Game Boy's lifespan we received the infamous AGS-101 model, the official Nintendo GBA SP handheld device with a backlit display! This screen is absolutely stunning to watch and enables the player to almost play anywhere anytime no matter the lighting conditions. Thanks to the modding community we are now able to combine best of both worlds; The original GBA with an AGS-101 backlit display giving us excellent ergonomics with a stunning display! I've been able to get one of these modded GBA's myself recently.
It's a modded Game Boy Advance with the AGS-101 backlit display built-in, retaining the original buttons all housed in a brand new aftermarket shell with a scratch resistant glass screen. This is the GBA how it should've been and made me re-play many of my old games. I've been original GB games such as Super Mario Land 2, Kirby's Dream Land etc. as well as Game Boy Color classics (e.g. Tetris DX) and they all look excellent on the modded GBA. And due to the GBA's ergonomics I'm now able to re-play these old games for a much longer period of time.
If you're interested in getting a modded GBA yourself there are two options, modding it yourself or buying a pre-modded one. There are great online tutorials with instructions on doing this mod. I opted to get a pre-modded one as I don't have any soldering skills myself. They're mostly provided by individuals doing the mods and sell them online, e.g. Ebay. The price might be a bit steep, but that's mainly due to the rarity of the AGS-101 SP screen. Overall, I'd say it's definitely worth the price.
Besides getting a modded GBA, there are also alternatives available such as the Revo K101 Plus or the GB Boy Colour. Both are nice alternatives with decent displays but have a slightly different screen ratio.
Guest Blogger: Robert V @ C4ke
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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