Recently I purchased a charger for my long-neglected GameBoy Advance SP, curious if the system that defined much of my childhood could still be worth playing. The first thing I noticed was that the system feels comfortable. It’s small, but the buttons are flat and easy for my short, wide fingers to use. I can hold it in one hand easily, and reach every button except L or R (depending on which hand I’m using). From an ergonomic standpoint the SP is fantastic.
The sound quality from the single speaker is…not great. It’s tinny and a bit fuzzy. I tried using the charger slot headphone adapter and got an annoying buzz at low volume or when no game music was playing, so that doesn’t seem like the best feature, although the accessory may be more at fault than the system. Also, the poor lighting (I have the AGS 001 frontlit model) makes games harder to see outside of a precise viewing angle and specific environmental lighting.
For comparison’s sake I played the same few games (Fire Emblem, Pokemon Emerald, Final Fantasy VI Advance) on my DS Lite as well. The DS Lite feels less comfotable; the GBA games stick out, the buttons are smaller and more raised, and the extra screen is kind of distracting sometimes. The colors are noticeably brighter on the backlit screen, Fire Emblem looks almost washed out at times (mostly chapter titles and the save screen, so not a huge deal) but in general everything is easier to see. The sound quality is much better, and of course having a headphone jack is always a plus.
After all this analyzing and comparing, my real want is a system that blends the features I love about both: the backlit screen, flat buttons, and a headphone jack. The closest thing I can find is the absurdly expensive AGS-101 models that come with backlit screens, but I’m not willing to shell out $80-100 to play games I can already play on several different systems.
Have you ever wanted a game system that fuses elements from multiple systems? Let me know!