My rediscovered Game Boy Advance is a time machine I don’t want to get out of | Games

me You recently moved into a new house and faced the most terrifying prospect: a few days without Internet access. In addition to all the other dependencies this vile and enriching invention has created on us, every game I’ve been playing required patches, updates, or someone to play against. I was, drink, no game!

Luckily, I found my old Game Boy Advance while on the move, rejected and abandoned in a freezer bag in the bottom of a box with a handful of game cartridges, no fingers for nearly 20 years. He had been my constant companion on flights from Glasgow to London when we didn’t have gaming phones, appearing in what seemed like every single one of those top 100 war movies/TV embarrassments/songs that use flowers as metaphors for sex. (And Richard and Judy.)

You’re familiar with the sensory overload that comes with games being played in 2022, yes? Firing up God of War on a state-of-the-art Sauron PC through an 85-inch OLED TV or whatever’s the latest? This is the opposite. This is the first time I have suffered from low sensory load. I literally didn’t notice anything when I turned on the Gameboy Advance. Had he lost the power of sight? Was I deaf? The machine was so dim and quiet.

Then I saw a button in the shape of a sun. Ah, this must be the backlight I guessed. And she pushed him.

The screen went dark. Oh darling. backlight already I was switched on.

Legendary video game developer Shigeru Miyamoto holds up the new Nintendo Game Boy Advance in Los Angeles, May 2001.
Legendary video game developer Shigeru Miyamoto holds up the new Nintendo Game Boy Advance in Los Angeles, May 2001. Photograph: John Barr/AP

How did we manage to play this machine? Did we have better optometrists in 2004? Was the world somehow darker, to allow this screen to stand out more?

The sound problem was easier to explain: there was none. Years of storage in freezer bags hadn’t been kind to my Game Boy Advance speaker, so tonight I’d be wearing headphones.

ah No headphone slot. You need an adapter. What!? That’s as primitive and useless as… every iPhone in 2022.

So, I played quietly. My son does that with every game, which I’ve always thought is the weirdest thing ever. But I gave him a chance.

I lasted five minutes in Mario vs. Donkey Kong. A barely readable screen and no sound made it the gaming equivalent of watching a bag get blown down a city street on a foggy day. Then an idea occurred to me: I would try it at night. No other sensory distractions.

This was better. I could see the screen now, though since I still don’t have curtains, I invited my neighbors to watch a 6-foot-1, 230-pound man inside an empty room with his face lit up by a pixelated glow, perhaps inspiring them to write a successful movie about a serial killer.

But the games were worth it. Mario vs Donkey Kong remains an exceptional puzzle platformer, the Manic Miner update we dreamed of as kids in the ’80s. Mario Golf is a gleeful return to the days when your swing wasn’t at the mercy of a joystick. tricky thumb.

Returning to The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was like finding an old pair of Adidas Gazelles that don’t smell. cool comfort Any fun that was lost by playing quietly was made up for by the fact that I named my character MY ASS, so the characters kept saying, “Where’s MY ASS?” It really is the simple things in life that please me.

Advance Wars 2 is still perfect when it comes to turn-based action strategy, and it made me wonder if we need fancy graphics and sound in games, or if we need some game released after 2004. If the 90s really were the coolest era big for original video games, wasn’t the first half of the 2000s the icing on the cake, before the age of microtransactions and constant always-on-line patches began?

Advance Wars on Game Boy Advance
Advance Wars on Game Boy Advance Photography: Nintendo

I feel a more intimate and immersive connection with these games, but that may be because my face is pressed up against the small screen in order to see it. And why are my hands suddenly 10 times bigger and clumsier than they were two decades ago? Is it monkeypox?

Although there are disappointments. Some games haven’t survived storage: Tony Hawks American Sk8land is as broken as its spelling. Super Monkey Ball has a similar brick. The biggest dagger in the heart is my broken copy of Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, which I remember as a masterpiece. Like a nostalgia trip, this is like loading up a C90 full of Spectrum games and getting an R-tape loading error. Or getting no response from the girls you liked at school in Friends Reunited.

And then I remembered a trick from the cartridge days of yore: I pull out the Shining Force cartridge and blow it. I put it back firmly and turn it on. Works! The old special move “Magic Cartridge Blow” that still works at my age gives me the greatest gaming euphoria I’ve ever experienced. My neighbors enjoy the sight of a 6ft 1n, 230lb Scotsman dancing by the light of a Game Boy Advance screen. They may never recover. But I don’t care. I’m going to the land of Rune in the kingdom of Guardiania. I’m going to 2004, and I may not want to go back.

  • This article was modified on September 7, 2022 because a previous version referred to “Puma Gazelles”, when those shoes are from Adidas, not Puma.

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