Game Boy Advance SP : Hardware Review

Will the backlight eat up the battery? Our Review.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

It's out but it's sold out almost everywhere. The new Game Boy Advance SP hit store shelves on Sunday.

You can get one in either Cobalt (blue) or Platinum. I got the Platinum version and I have been playing Wario Land 4 for hours on end, surprised at how much my gameplay experience is enhanced with proper backlighting. You can buy the best worm light available for the regular Game Boy Advance, but nothing compares to having a backlit screen.

That's right. No more angling your Game Boy to get that perfect light to obtain 50% visibility. No more cursing because you couldn't see an enemy that was dark-colored. The backlight is softer than you'd expect, but makes the screen more visible than you'd expect.

One reservation I had before using the new SP was how comfortable it would feel given the new square layout. Surprisingly, it was comfortable. Even more so than the original GBA! The L and R shoulder buttons feel natural, and the hardware feels very sturdy, a trait Nintendo is known for.


The GBA SP comes with a rechargeable battery pack. That's right. No more batteries to buy ever! Nintendo claims that when fully charged (which takes 1-3 hours) you can get ten hours of life while backlit and 15 hours turning the backlight off (I guess if you were in the sun you wouldn't need it.) So did I really get 10 hours out of a full charge? Actually, I got more like 12 hours of play. 12 hours!!!

The speaker sounds the same as the original, with a slider for volume versus the old wheel. It works with all old Game Boy games. This is NOT meant to replace the Game Boy Advance, but rather coincide with the GBA as a backlit alternative. With an MSRP of $99.99, $30 more than the GBA, it is definitely worth the extra dough to have a backlight. I don't know how I could ever go back to the regular GBA.

Remember when you tried broadband for the first time and then tried to use 56k again? Yeah exactly. Much is the same notion when you try to go back and use a non-backlit Game Boy. Game Boy Advance SP, you rock.

Overall Rating: A