The Silent Majority 02.07.03

Imagine, for a minute, that the Game Boy Advance did not exist. Odds are, you wouldn’t lose a tremendous amount of sleep. After all, any game worth anything would just be made for the GameCube. In this way, you wouldn’t really be missing anything.

While you’re imagining this, also consider what keeps the Game Boy Advances flying out of stores. It’s got a lot of great games going for it, but it also benefits greatly from old Nintendo classics that have been ported to it. The very same games we grew up with are now available in a portable forum, changed very little from their original incarnation.

Now, put two and two together. In today’s gaming climate, you can have your cake and eat it too – you get hot new games along with the same games you used to play. If you took away the Game Boy Advance, you’d probably still get the new stuff. Old games, though? On the GameCube? Unchanged?

HA!

Let’s face it. Even if they put out one GameCube disc with every Super Nintendo game ever created, you can bet that they’d add crap wherever possible. I’m talking updated graphics, revised control schemes, and maybe even new features. Things, in other words, that you don’t quite remember from ten years ago. As a nostalgic (as we all tend to be nowadays), you realize that maybe this isn’t the best thing.

This is where you thank the Lord for the Game Boy Advance. You get what you got back in the day, and that’s meant in the best way possible. Do gaming purists really want Mario to be able to spin jump in the original Super Mario Bros? Not really.

See, the Game Boy Advance is sort of like a CD player, and the older games are like digitally remastered re-releases of classic records, with the bonus tracks being odds and ends like multi-player in Zelda. Nothing that would get in the way, but a nice addition that will cause some more casual fans to plop down the dough.

You might not realize it, but the Game Boy Advance might be the best thing that could ever happen to video gaming. Why, you ask? Three simple reasons.

1)Nostalgia. Pure and simple, every one of us strives to be a kid again. That’s why we play video games in the first place – we refuse to grow up. Getting these classic ports reminds us of why we became game fans, and why we will continue to be, in spite of all the crap games we might see out there.

2)Simplicity. The old games you’re seeing on the GBA were from the NES or Super Nintendo. This means that they weren’t very hard to figure out due to the relatively simple controller setup. Could you imagine trying to play Mega Man, potentially the easiest game in history to pick up and play, on a GameCube controller, with all kinds of enhanced graphics in your face? I think not. These games remind us of a simpler time, and I think we need that in an era when every controller has like twenty buttons and you need a map to figure it out.

3)Preservation. Much like re-releasing the entire AC/DC back catalog will ensure that future generations of rockers will be able to hear some of the finest music ever recorded, the Game Boy Advance guarantees that Nintendo’s greatest games of the 16-bit era will not be forgotten. Instead, they will be embraced by younger gamers who were not around for the game’s first go-around. Much like the 60’s Batman series managed to attract everybody (adults for its humor, kids because it was Batman), the goldmine that is Nintendo can hook any gaming fan it wants. Those of college age and over will buy to relive old memories, while kids will pick up the game because it’s today’s “thing”.

I’ll admit – I don’t own a Game Boy Advance. I’m waiting for the new one to come out so that I can have a light on it. However, I’ve bought a GBA for my girlfriend, and it’s a delight to see her enjoy the same games I loved as a kid. She doesn’t care much for the new home system games like Vice City, but give her Super Mario Advance and she’ll be playing it for a week straight. Somehow, I think there are others who think similarly. People tend to like what’s familiar, and even if you’ve never played the old Nintendo classics, you can bet that they’ll become familiar very soon. There’s something about those old games that’s so very homely, and as gamers, we owe the Nintendo and the Game Boy Advance a large debt of gratitude to keep this homeliness intact.