Game Boy Advance SP

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Game Boy Advance SP
ゲームボーイアドバンスSP Game Boy Advance SP
GBA SP, displaying the Game Boy logo.
Release dates
Japan: February 14, 2003
North America: March 23, 2003
Europe: March 28, 2003
Australia: March 28, 2003
South Korea: N/A
China: N/A
Hong Kong: N/A
Taiwan: N/A
Technical specs
  • 32-Bit ARM RISC 16.78MHz processor with embedded memory
  • 2.9" TFT reflective screen - 40.8mmx61.2mm - 240x160pixels
  • Uses rechargeable batteries and has a battery life for 15 hours (900 minutes)
  • Compatible with Nintendo Game Boy Color and Game Boy games.
  • More below
Related information
Console generation: Sixth generation
Pokémon generations: I*, II*, III
Console type: Handheld
Cobalt Blue
NES Edition
Pearl Pink*
Pearl Blue*
External links

The Game Boy Advance SP, also called the GBA SP, (SP standing for Special) is Nintendo's 32-bit handheld gaming system that succeeded the original Game Boy Advance. It was released in Japan on February 14, 2003, North America on March 23, 2003, and in Australia on March 28, 2003. It is part of the Game Boy line, succeeding the Game Boy Advance, with a few minor changes, while being succeeded by the Game Boy micro. Game Boy Advance SP's best selling games are the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions.


It was first released in Japan on February 14th, 2003, first retailing at ¥12,500. The next month it was released in North America (March 22nd, 2003) where the price of one unit was set at US$99.99 before dropping down to US$79.99 in September the next year. Released in Canada the same day as the US, prices were CA$149.95. Six days later, it was released in Europe and Australia (marketed at €129.99 and AUS$199.99 respectivley).

Sales records show that by the end of March 2003, the number of sales in Japan were a modest 0.82 million units, with the Americas at 0.83 million, with the rest of the world totalling 0.46 million. However, by the same time the next year, figures had jumped past the 2 million mark in Japan, while in America the sales were more than double that of Japan. By this time, over 17.6 million units had been sold worldwide. As of September 2008, global sales of the GBA SP are at 43.49 million.



  • Size: 8.4 × 8.2 × 2.44 cm when closed
  • Weight: 142 grams
  • Screen: Reflective TFT Color LCD.
  • Light source: Frontlight integrated LCD.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
  • Battery Life: 10 hours (light on), 18 hours (light off)

The Game Boy Advance SP has a clamshell design which helps protect the screen from scratches. When open, it is almost the same size as the Game Boy Color, but slightly thinner. The screen is a Reflective TFT Color LCD with an integrated frontlight enabling game play in dark places without the use of an external light source. The user has the option to turn the light on and off. In late 2005, Nintendo released an updated version of the GBA SP, with a backlight instead of the usual frontlight. This new lighting system allowed the user to enjoy games in better color and brightness; however, it also causes a half-pixel screen lag.

Unlike previous Game Boys, the GBA SP does not require normal batteries. Instead it uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery which can be recharged using its own AC adapter. The battery can last up to ten hours with the light on, and only takes three hours to recharge fully. The SP's charger input also is the same as that of the Nintendo DS, so the chargers can be used interchangeably. However, the GBA SP is incompatible with the Nintendo DS Lite charger.

Just like its predecessor, it is compatible with all Game Boy Advance games as well as Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

Unlike other Game Boy models, the SP does not have a headphone jack. Instead, a special adapter converts the extension port into one. Nintendo also released headphones made specifically for the GBA SP that plug into the charging port.

To play a video game on the GBA SP, the player needs to buy a game separately. The games come in small "cartridges," or as Nintendo sometimes call them, Game Paks, which are small boxes that have chips inside them. The cartridges have to be put into the hole at the front of the system, to make it possible to play the game. The actions or characters in the game are controlled with the directional pad, or D-pad, which is on the inside bottom of the console, just below the screen.


  • CPU: 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory.
  • Co-processor: 8-bit Zilog Z80
  • Memory: 32 kilobyte+96 kilobyte Video RAM (internal CPU), 256 kilobyte Dynamic random access memory (external CPU).
  • Resolution: 240 × 160 pixels.
  • Color: Can display 511 simultaneous colors in character mode and 32,768 simultaneous colors in bitmap mode.
  • Software: Fully compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

Pokémon games

Title Genre Release
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Main series RPG 2002
Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire Pinball 2003
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Main series RPG 2004
Pokémon Emerald Main series RPG 2004
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team Dungeon crawler 2005

By backwards compatibility

Due to backward compatibility, all Pokémon games from Game Boy and Game Boy Color are also playable.

Title Genre Release
Pokémon Red and Green Main series RPG 1996
Pokémon Blue Main series RPG 1996
Pokémon Red and Blue Main series RPG 1998
Pokémon Yellow Main series RPG 1998
Pokémon Trading Card Game Card game 1998
Pokémon Pinball Pinball 1999
Pokémon Gold and Silver Main series RPG 1999
Pokémon Puzzle Challenge Puzzle 2000
Pokémon Crystal Main series RPG 2000
Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR! Card game 2001
Pokémon Picross Picross Unreleased

Pokémon Limited Editions

  • Pokémon Center 5th Anniversary Limited Edition: On April 11, 2003, Pokémon Centers in Japan started selling Limited Edition SPs to celebrate their 5th Anniversary. These Game Boy Advance SPs are orange in color and features a Torchic on the front. [1]
  • Pokémon Groudon Limited Edition: On December 15, 2003, a limited edition Pokémon Groudon SP was released. It was colored red and featured a Groudon on the front. [2]
  • Pokémon Sapphire Limited Edition: Like the Pokémon Groudon Limited Edition, Pokémon Sapphire Limited Edition instead featured a large Kyogre on the front and was colored blue. [3]
  • Pokémon Charizard FireRed Limited Edition: To celebrate the release of FireRed and LeafGreen Versions, the limited edition Pokémon Charizard Fire Red was released featuring a large Charizard on the front and a smaller Charizard next to the D-pad. The Game Boy Advance SP was colored red. [4]
  • Pokémon Venusaur LeafGreen Limited Edition: Like the Pokémon Charizard Fire Red Limited Edition, Pokémon Venusaur Leaf Green Limited Edition was released to celebrate the release of FireRed and LeafGreen Versions. It is green and features a large Venusaur on the front and a smaller Venusaur next to the D-pad. [5]
  • Pokémon Pikachu Edition: On March 5th 2005, the Pokémon Pikachu Edition was released exclusively to Poké Centers in Japan. The SP is colored yellow and features a large Pikachu face on the front cover. [6]
  • Pokémon Emerald Limited Edition: On August 16 2004, the last limited edition Pokémon SP was available. It featured a silhouette of Rayquaza on the front and was colored green to celebrate the release of Pokémon Emerald. [7]

Related articles

Game systems with Pokémon games
Nintendo handheld consoles
DS (LiteDSiDSi XL) • 3DS (XL2DSNew 3DSNew 3DS XLNew 2DS XL)
Nintendo home consoles
SNES (BS-XSGBNPSGB2) • N64 (DD) • GCN (GBP) • WiiWii USwitch
Sega consoles