With the Game Boy Advance celebrating its 15th anniversary this week, we thought we'd ask an appropriately-themed question. In this case, what is your favorite Game Boy Advance recollection? Perhaps it's a particular game that comes to mind, or maybe the system itself reminds you of a particular time and place. As always, we want to hear your story.
While you ponder your answer, here's the USgamer team on their favorite Game Boy Advance recollections.
Did you know Game Boy Advance saved my life, and changed my life? Well, sort of.
I imported a GBA early in 2001 as I prepared to embark on a new life, leaving behind the state I'd lived in for more than 20 years. I figured it would be a good travel companion until I settled down — though I didn't expect it to be two years before that happened. I spent a lot of time over the next few months commuting between New Jersey and NYC, and Castlevania: Circle of the Moon will always remind me of my first view of New York as a commuter: Looking up from victory with a boss to see the World Trade Center standing sternly across the water as the train approached the interstate tunnel. When I didn't find work in NYC thanks to the freshly collapsed American economy, the GBA came with me as I bounced around the country looking for a place to live. Games like Klonoa and Wario Land 4 gave me solace as I watched the Twin Towers collapse and listened to pundits on political talk shows debate not whether we should launch attacks against the Middle East but rather how hard we should attack them.
When I found myself out of work again, alone in an unfamiliar place after being dumped by the girl I'd uprooted my life to be with, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow helped me forget my bone-deep sense of despair and hopelessness until a friend hooked me up with a job on a video games website all the way on the other side of the country. When I relocated to take that job in San Francisco, Boktai's mandatory solar power requirement encouraged me to get out and explore the city, hunting for interesting and relaxing parks in sunny places where I could alternate between playing and watching the ducks as I sat at the edge of a shady patch: In Golden Gate Park, at the Japan Peace Plaza, up on Nob Hill by the Cathedral across from where parts of The Rock were shot. Meanwhile, the articles I wrote about those GBA experiences allowed me to move from bottom-rung art guy to features editor at that new games site, which eventually was christened 1UP.com.
I took my first ever professional demo with a GBA game — Metroid: Zero Mission — and thrilled to write about games like Final Fantasy V making their way to the system. I imported Japan-only greats like Rhythm Heaven and Mother 3 to gush about them on video. I wrote plenty about PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox games, too, but GBA was first in my heart, always. Well, at least until DS came along. But that's a different story altogether….
In short, I don't have a favorite Game Boy Advance memory. The GBA itself is a favorite memory.
Unfortunately, this is not a question I can answer. I've never owned a Game Boy Advance, and indeed can't even recall ever playing around with one. At the time I was way too into my PS2 and PC gaming to have any spare time to devote to it, and since I wasn't commuting on public transport, I just didn't have the need for an on-the-move gaming system.
My favorite Game Boy Advance memory is finally getting together the people and hardware to play four-player titles on the GameCube games. Perhaps that's cheating, but it's what I'm going with. Here's what was required to make this whole system work: 4 Game Boy Advances, 1 GameCube, 4 GBA Link Cables, and your game of choice.
It was during college, so my friends and I were able to coordinate the purchase of all the necessary items. We each got a GBA if we didn't already have one, I had the GameCube, and we all picked up a link cable. Together, we were able to form Nintendo's Frankenstein of a gameplay system, the arguable precursor to what would become the Wii U.
We played The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on the rig. Four Sword is probably the most enjoyable of the two, being more of a competitive spin on a classic Zelda title. All four are working to complete a stage, but each player gets ranked at the end of each level. The link mode with the GBA was used to show players when they're disappear into house or other hidden areas, but otherwise, wasn't really necessary for play.
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was the more complex use of the system, but also the most maddening. The game involved four players working together to move a bucket through different areas; think of CC as a giant escort mission. Players could use the GBA screen to cast spells and skills without halting the game's flow, but CC also moved map and dungeon information to individual systems, so you had to use the GBAs and work together to survive. You were only as strong as your weakest link.
All in all, I honestly don't think either game was worth the work we put in, but the fact that we did it at all is a wonderful memory for me.
When I was still in school, I worked campus security at night, which mostly consisted of sitting behind a deck in a dorm or an office building and doing my homework. By 2 or 3am, though, I would be way too tired and wired on caffeine to focus on my reading, so I would break out my trusty Game Boy Advance between patrols.
In three years or so I spent working for campus security, I beat A Link to the Past, Mega Man Zero, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, and Super Mario World while breeding many, many Pokemon. It was a novelty at the time because it was essentially a portable Super Nintendo, and its surplus of remakes allowed me to revisit 16-bit games I missed the first time around.
The Game Boy Advance was also where I learned to love tactics games for the first time. The friendly facade of Advance Wars quickly hooked me into its deep strategy, which then prompted me to check out Fire Emblem, and then Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. All three games have remained enduring favorites, with Fire Emblem in particular continuing to get a ton of play on my 3DS.
Mostly, though, my GBA kept me company on those very long nights where I could do little more than sit and wait for the sun to come up.
Yes, I realize Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has its issues. But back in 2003, the mere prospect of an FFT sequel was enough to get any RPG fan excited—and its status as a portable game only sweetened the deal. I mostly associate FFTA with coming off a crappy semester made even worse by a crappy relationship, with that autumn acting as a serious rebuilding of my life. There are more harrowing journeys out there, but I think we all have those times in our young lives when it's time to figure out, in our more modern terms, "How do I adult?" So, that semester, I went with my heart and changed my major to English—which some would rightly consider a terrible mistake—leading me down the path I still walk today. And it was in those months that I used FFTA as between-cass therapy, which netted me over 100 hours on the clock when I was done. And I don't regret a minute of it.
For some reason, I do have one very distinct memory of that time period. I was playing FFTA in the ten minutes before my biology class started, and the oddball professor walked into the room and snuck up behind me. "Oh, a game," he said. "I thought you were looking at pornography." Then he proceeded to tell me about the infamous old-timey Internet gross-out site rotten.com. 2003 truly was a different world.
I’ve suspected for a while that my fate and Parish’s are bound by some immeasurably long invisible thread, and our experiences with the Game Boy Advance adds another notch towards complete verification. My Game Boy Advance memory likewise isn’t with one game, but with my life experience in general.
I played a great deal of Game Boy Advance when I first got married and moved out of the house. That sort of major upheaval tends to stress you out regardless of how smooth things go, so I was thankful that the Game Boy Advance anchored me to my past in small but powerful ways.
See, the Game Boy Advance gave us Mario games. It gave us new Mega Man games. It gave us, shocker of shocker, new Metroid games (and they were excellent). Though I’d entered a new chapter of my life, old pals still dropped in to see how I was doing, and to show off their new threads.
I’ll forever appreciate the Game Boy Advance for keeping me company while I found my footing in adulthood.
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