GameBoy Advance SP - Cover pic

Introduction to the Nintendo GameBoy Advance SP (AGS-001)

The GameBoy Advance SP (or GBA SP for short) is the immediate successor of the GameBoy Advance. The device was released by Nintendo in 2003, two years after the . The SP in it’s name stands for special, denoting that it is a special version of the standard GameBoy Advance. It’s predecessors include all of the previous GameBoys in Nintendo’s lineup: the classic GameBoy, the GameBoy Pocket, the GameBoy Light and the GameBoy Color. In terms of hardware, the GameBoy Advance SP and the GameBoy Advance are very similar with both consoles featuring similar button layouts, 32-bit CPUs and a 240×160 pixel screen resolution that could display up to 32,768 different colours simultaneously. The difference in the latest console lies in it’s clam-shell design, which made the console smaller and overall more portable. Further welcomed upgrades include a front-lit screen, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which allowed for 10 hours of gameplay with the front-light on and a charger input which it later shared with Nintendo’s DS (Dual Screen) handheld console. The 3.5mm headphone jack on the GBA was removed and instead the new charger port used for connecting a headphone. Proprietary headphones and 3.5mm headphone adapters were sold separately. This meant that the GameBoy Advance SP did not support simultaneous charging and connecting headphones.

The GameBoy Advance in this post is the Famicom Color special edition which was released in Japan to commemorate the Famicom home console, which is the Japanese equivalent of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Famicom Color special edition was only released in Japan.


  • Product name: GameBoy Advance SP
  • Model number: AGS-001
  • Manufacturer: Nintendo
  • Product line: GameBoy line
  • Release date: February 14, 2003 (Japan)
  • Console Generation: Sixth generation
  • Game format: GameBoy Advance cartidges, GameBoy Color cartridges, GameBoy cartridges
  • Region lock: no
  • CPU: 32-bit
  • Screen size: 1.51 inches (4.08cm) × 2.41 inches (6.12cm) with a diagonal length of 2.90 inches (7.36cm)
  • Screen resolution: 240×160

The Box

The box of the GameBoy Advance SP Famicom Color edition features a picture of the device itself, as well as what seems to be a scrennshot of the NES/Famicom classic game Super Marios Bros. In the screenshot Mario is leaping off a pipe with a Piranha plant peeking out the top. Furthermore, a Goomba can be seen trotting in on the bottom right corner as well as the iconic question mark box in the top right corner.

The standard GameBoy Advance SP box art for Japan looks very different and is far more simplistic. The GameBoy Advance SP Famicom Color more closely resembles EU and US box art styles.

GBA SP Famicom Color Box - front

The GameBoy Advance SP was released with the following colors:

  • Onyx, Flame
  • Platinum Silver
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Pearl Pink
  • Pearl Blue
  • Graphite
  • Midnight Blue

More colors were added throughout the console’s lifetime.

Inside the Box

GBA SP box contents

A new Pokémon Suicine edition GameBoy Advance from Japan comes with the following box contents:

  • 1x GameBoy Advance SP device
  • 1x manual
  • 1x charger

The Device

Front (open)

With the GameBoy Advance SP opened it immediately reminds oneself of the GameBoy Color. There are some slight differences, such as the additional light button to toggle the front-light on and off, the now circular start and select buttons, the lowered button profile and the now centrally located speaker. Nonetheless the overall button layout is clearly inspired by the GameBoy Color, with D-pad, A and B buttons as well as the start and select buttons positioned very similarly to the Color. Furthermore, the device sports two LEDs, the top of which is a battery indicator which functions similarly to the GameBoy Advance battery indicator, and the bottom LED is a charge indicator, which lights up when the charger is plugged in.

Front (closed)

The front of the device is very simple, with only a Nintendo logo revealing it’s true nature as a gaming handheld.


The back of the device is the battery compartment which is shut tight with a screw. This is where the lithium-ion battery is housed which allows for up to 10 horus of gameplay with the front-light on, and 18 hours with the front-light off. Device info can also be found here on the sticker above the battery compartment. Finally, the game cartridge slot is located at the bottom of the device (or the top of the above image) and accepts classic GameBoy, GameBoy Color and GameBoy advance games. At the bottom two holes are located to attach safety loops to, to prevent dropping the device.

Right Side

GBA SP right

The right side of the console has a power switch which is lowered, so that it does not interfere with playing.

Left Side

GBA SP left

The left side of the device has a lowered volume slider.


The top of the handheld device is where the shoudler buttons are located. It also includes an EXT. port, which is slightly different to the one which can be found on the GameBoy Color and GameBoy Pocket models. On both sides of the EXT. port are two small empty rooms, which allow for devices to be connected and hooked to the device. One such device is a wireless dongles, as were bundled with Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeadGreen, that allowed for the communication between two GameBoy Advance devices. A second device which made use of the hooks was the GameBoy Advance to GameCube connection cable, which allowed for communication between the device and the Nintendo GameCube gaming console. These two rooms are also connected to the safety loop openings on the back of the device. Finally, the top is also where the charging port of the device is located, which simultaneously acts as a connector for headphones.


On the GameBoy Advance SP the bottom of the device is where the game slot is housed. It is here where classic GameBoy, GameBoy Colo and GameBoy Advance games can be inserted.

Images by, facts and trivia from the GameBoy Advance SP manual (as provided with the device),, and the GBA SP Wikipedia page.