Game Boy Advance SP

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Gameboy advance SP logo.svg

The Game Boy Advance SP, released in February 2003, is an upgraded version of Nintendo's 32-bit Game Boy Advance sixth-generation handheld game console. The "SP" in the name stands for "Special".

Technical specifications


  • Size (closed): Approximately 8.4 × 8.2 × 2.44 cm.
  • Weight: 142 grams
  • Screen: 2.9 inch Reflective TFT Colour LCD.
  • Light source: Frontlight (AGS-001) or backlight (AGS-101) integrated LCD.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
  • Battery life: 10 hours continuous play with light on, 18 hours with light off.

The GBA SP is slightly more than half the size of the GBA when closed and roughly the height of Nintendo's Game Boy Color when open. This model of the Game Boy can play all Game Boy cartridges including Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance carts. The clamshell design protects the screen from scratches and dust, reminiscent of two-screen Game & Watch units. However, the casing is made from a different material, making it more prone to scratches than previous Game Boy systems. The slot for cartridges has been moved to the bottom of the system, facing down. This makes using special cartridges, such as the Game Boy Camera more difficult.

The GBA SP AC adapter comes with the package to recharge its lithium-ion battery, something previous Game Boys did not have (they usually used AA batteries). This adapter is also compatible with the original version of the DS. The software library and general hardware specifications are identical to those of the Game Boy Advance.

Nintendo was planning to have the SP be 3D-compatible, but the resolution of LCD was too low, resulting in Nintendo scrapping it.


  • CPU (for GBA games): 32-bit ARM7TDMI with embedded memory.
  • Memory: 32 kilobyte+96 kilobyte VRAM (internal CPU), 256 kilobyte DRAM (external CPU).
  • Resolution: 240 × 160 pixels.
  • Color: 15-bit RGB (15-bit color space using 5 bits depth per channel), capable of displaying 512 simultaneous colours in "character mode" and 32,768 simultaneous colours in "bitmap mode".
  • Software: Compatible with all Game Boy and most Game Boy Color games. Game Boy games can be played using the same selectable colour palettes as on the Game Boy Color.

Headphone jack

Headphone adapter for Game Boy Advance SP

Nintendo removed the TRS headphone jack from the SP, which had been included in all previous Game Boy models. Headphones designed specifically for the GBA SP can be purchased, or standard headphones can be attached with an optional, stereophonic adapter that plugs into the same port as the AC adapter.

As both AC adapter and headphones use the same port, it is not possible to charge the SP and listen to headphones at the same time with the Nintendo brand adapter. There are, however, third-party solutions, such as an adapter that "splits" into two different cords; the power jack on one side, and a TS headphone jack on the other.


In September 2005, around the time of the Game Boy Micro's release, Nintendo released an improved version of the Game Boy Advance SP in North America, featuring a brighter backlit screen instead of the previous version's frontlit screen. The new model can be distinguished by the following features:

  • The box states "Now with a BRIGHTER backlit screen!" to distinguish the new model from the older, frontlit models.
  • The backlit SP has the Model Number AGS-101 on the label on the bottom of the unit, whereas the original frontlit SP has the Model Number AGS-001
  • The mini button at the top centre of the console's lower face is now referred to in the manual as the "Brightness Switch" and selects between two levels of brightness, "Normal" (Low) and "Bright" (High) with no off setting. On the frontlit models, this button turned the frontlight on or off only. With the backlight set to "Normal" (Low) the brightness still surpasses the original AGS-001 with the frontlight on.
  • When powered off, the backlit model's screen is completely black, but the frontlit model's screen is noticeably lighter.

The North American backlit version comes in three standard colours: "Pearl Blue", "Pearl Pink" and "Graphite" (a greyer version of Onyx Black). There were also two Toys "R" Us exclusive backlit models; a "SpongeBob SquarePants" model[16] and a "Limited Edition Pikachu" model.

In 2006, the AGS-101 backlit model also saw a very limited release in Europe. Few models made it to market, likely due to the release of the Game Boy Advance-compatible Nintendo DS one year prior. The European version was released in "Surf Blue" as well as re-issued in "Pink" and "Tribal" editions.

Unlike the North American release, the European box does not feature any prominent text to distinguish the backlit models from the older frontlit models. In addition, only the "Surf Blue" color was unique to the AGS-101, the other two colours "Pink" and "Tribal" had already been released as frontlit models - for these reasons, it can be very difficult to identify a European backlit SP. Apart from the AGS-101 model number on the base of the unit, the only other obvious distinguishing feature of the European backlit model is the large picture of the Game Boy Advance SP featured on the front of the box. (The European frontlit models of "Pink" and "Tribal" only feature small pictures of the Game Boy Advance SP on the sides of the box and Flower/Tattoo patterns on the front respectively.)

It is also the final Nintendo handheld to have backwards compatibility with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.


Game Boy Advance SP - Cobalt
Game Boy Advance SP - Pearl Blue (backlit)

Basic colors

  • Cobalt - frontlit (2003)
  • Platinum - frontlit (2003)
  • Onyx - frontlit (2003)
  • Flame Red - frontlit (2003)
  • Pearl Blue - backlit (2005)
  • Graphite - backlit (2005)
  • Pearl Pink - backlit (2006)

Limited Edition colors

  • All Blacks (NZ)
  • Banana Yellow Donkey Kong Edition (JP, 10/2004, Limited to 1,000)
  • Black "Who are you?" Edition (Walmart, US, 2004)
  • Blue Marble (JP, EU, 2004)
  • Bokura no Taiyou (JP, 2004)
  • Camo Gray (JP)
  • Camo Green (JP)
  • China Dragon (CN, 11/2004)
  • Classic NES (US, 2004)
  • Disney Channel Promo Cobalt Blue (NA, 2003, AGS-001, TV contest)
  • Toon Disney Channel (NA)
  • Toon Disney/Jetix (NA, 2008, AGS-101, 200 made for TV contest)
  • Disney Channel Graphite (NA, 2005 or 2006, AGS-101)
  • Dual Platinum/Onyx (US, 2004)
  • Famicom "The 20th Anniversary Edition" (JP, 10-2003, limited to 1,000)
  • Famicom 2 (JP)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics (JP)
  • IBokura no Taiyou : "Jango Red & Black" (JP, 07-2003)
  • Indigo (AU, 2004)
  • Kingdom Hearts Deep Silver (All, 2004)
  • Lime/Orange limited edition (US, 2004)
  • Mario vs Donkey Kong (UK, 2004)
  • Naruto Orange (JP 07-2004)
  • Pearl White (US, JP, 2004)
  • Pikachu "Toys 'R' Us"(US, 2004)
  • Pokémon Emerald Bundle, Dark Green (AU)
  • Rockman EXE 4 Tournament Red Sun (JP, 12/2003)
  • Rip Curl (AU, 2004)
  • Samus Satin (JP)
  • SD Gundam G Generation "Char Aznable Custom" (JP, 12/2003)
  • Seiken Densetsu: "Mana Blue Edition" (JP, 08-2003)
  • Surfblue (US, 2004)
  • Swarovski (US)
  • Swiss Gamer (Switzerland)
  • Target Branded Lime (US, 2003)
  • Toys 'R' Us Gold (US, 11/2003)
  • Toys 'R' Us Japan Limited Edition "Star Light Gold" (JP)
  • Toys 'R' Us SpongeBob SquarePants (2004, AGS-101)
  • Toys 'R' Us Pearl Green (US, 2004)
  • Tribal (All, 2004)
  • White (All)
  • Zelda: Gold with Triforce and Hylian crest (EU, 2004)


  • Yellow (Toys R Us 2005, Pokémon Center Japan)
  • Pokémon Center Limited Edition "Charizard Edition" (JP, 02/2004) - Fire Red
  • Pokémon Center Limited Edition "Groudon Edition" (US, JP, 12/2003) - Ruby
  • Pokémon Center Limited Edition "Kyogre Edition" (JP, 12/2003) - Sapphire
  • Pokémon Center Limited Edition "Rayquaza Edition" (JP, 09/2004) - Emerald
  • Pokémon Center Limited Edition "Torchic Edition" (US, JP, 03/2003) - Orange
  • Pokémon Center Limited Edition "Venusaur Edition" (JP, 02/2004) - Leaf Green