The GBA’s incredible slate of games deserves more love and re-releases on modern consoles

As I play through the Castlevania Advance Collection, it occurred to me that the Game Boy Advance still lives vicariously through modern platforms today. As with the legendary platforms from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, Game Boy Advance has carved its own legacy.

Source: YouTube.

As a handheld, it offered some of the best games of all time, like Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Metroid Fusion, and Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade. In addition, it also offered loyal ports of classics like Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Today, we owe it to M2 for porting both the Game Boy Advance titles to the Wii U eShop as well as handling the recent Castlevania ports.

With that being said, Castlevania Advance Collection marks a step in the right direction. Seeing publishers re-release their classics from the 32-bit handheld means returning fans to some of their favorite games. It also invites an entirely new fanbase to try these games for the first time. For those who aren’t looking to emulate titles, this is a chance to support the developers and publishers.

Konami brought this treat from out of nowhere. But what about other developers? Square-Enix recently released the Final Fantasy I-VI Pixel Remasters. Re-releases of the NES and SNES versions of these titles, they omit all the content introduced in the Game Boy Advance re-releases. As such, it feels like a step back. Even Final Fantasy IV on PSP kept the Advance version content that was missing from the DS remake.

Many fans think Minish Cap deserves a remaster. Source: Nintendo Life.

Where Are The Classics?

Unfortunately, it feels like Game Boy Advance fans are given scraps. Outside of the Wii U eShop’s release of GBA titles, have you seen Kirby and the Amazing Mirror on any system since its release? If you don’t own an Ambassador 3DS, chances are you haven’t. The Golden Sun titles and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap also remain trapped on the Game Boy Advance and Wii U eShop. If you own a Wii U, you can still grab them until the Wii U eShop closes next year.

What does this say about the argument for digital preservation? Fans even downloaded Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission off the Wii U eShop thanks to Nintendo dangling it in their faces while hyping up Metroid Dread. Keep in mind that Dread is the sequel to Fusion released 19 years later.

There’s no telling whether these downloads came from longtime Metroid fans or new fans trying these titles for the first time. With that said, if NES and SNES titles can be released across multiple platforms, then I certainly believe there’s room for the Game Boy Advance as well.

One of the Mario Kart 8 DLC tracks pulled from the classic GBA title. Source: Mario Wiki.

The GBA in Today’s Gaming World

Alone, I’ve already covered Castlevania, Final Fantasy, and Metroid being referenced in some capacity due to titles released all within the last year. If you played WarioWare Gold or Rhythm Heaven Megamix, both released on the 3DS, then you might have noticed several mini-games stemming from their respectively GBA releases as well. Capcom also released Mega Man Zero + ZX Legacy Collection which features four titles straight from their GBA library.

Most recently, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe got a Booster Pass DLC release which features tracks from the GBA’s Mario Kart: Super Circuit like Sky Garden. Meanwhile, WayForward is prepped to release Advance Wars 1+2: Boot Camp — remakes of the original titles — later this year for the Switch.

Even today, developers, particularly Nintendo, pick from the Game Boy Advance’s library and release heartfelt references in their current titles. However, fans still want the actual release of these games to appear on the Nintendo Switch.

Even third-party titles, such as Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Final Fight One, or Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, could find a home on other platforms as well. Castlevania Advance Collection may have been the start of what could be a revolution: normalizing the re-release of Game Boy Advance titles on modern-day platforms.

Source: TechRadar.

Final Thoughts

The Game Boy Advance is unabashedly one of, if not my favorite, gaming platforms of all time. Its library introduced many amazing 2D platformers, JRPGs, and mini-game compilations, It also introduced me to Fire Emblem, a series I still enjoy to this day.

It’s the system 2D Sonic went to when his home console releases, like Sonic Heroes, were struggling. It’s where 2D Mega Man continued its legacy when the mainline series titles paused and the Mega Man X series struggled. By blending ports from the NES, SNES, Genesis, and its own amazing, unique library, the GBA proved to be a handheld console that would last for decades to come.

I only hope publishers will continue allowing companies like M2 to port their classics onto platforms. Not just for longtime fans but I believe new fans would truly cherish and enjoy playing these games for the first time as well.

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