How Game Boy Advance Works

Inside Game Boy Advance

Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance

Since Nintendo launched the Game Boy in 1989, the unit has always had a vertical alignment, meaning that the screen is on the top and the buttons are on the bottom of the unit. The Game Boy Advance is turning the handheld unit on its side -- for the first time, Nintendo is using a horizontal alignment for its handheld game. The screen is in the middle of the device, with the A and B buttons on the right side of its face and the start and select buttons on the left side. This design is similar to Nintendo's competitors and was first used on the now-obsolete Atari Lynx in 1989.

Game Boy Game Boy
Game Boy

Also new on the Game Boy Advance are Left (L) and Right (R) shoulder buttons, placed on the top of the device. It has a six-button directional pad on the left side of the unit. The device is slightly bulkier than the Game Boy Color. The Game Boy Advance is 5.6 inches (14.2 centimeters) wide, 3.2 inches (8.1 cm) tall and 1.06 inches (2.7 cm) thick. As is Nintendo's usual marketing style, the Game Boy Advance is available in several color patterns, including:

  • Indigo
  • Arctic
  • Glacier
  • Fuchsia
  • Platinum (limited edition)

The Game Boy Advance's screen is also slightly larger, at 2.9 inches (7.37 cm), compared to the Game Boy Color's 2.3-inch (5.84-cm) screen. The screen is a reflective, thin film transistor (TFT), color liquid crystal display (LCD). Nintendo has also boosted screen resolution from 160x140 pixels on the Game Boy Color to 240x160 on the Game Boy Advance.

The exterior of the Game Boy Advance is not the only thing that sets it apart from its predecessors. The internal components have been ramped up to support more complex games and allow for more interactivity with other Game Boy users. Let's take a look at the components of the Game Boy Advance:

  • All Game Boy devices made today have an 8-bit central processing unit (CPU). The Game Boy Advance generates computing speeds up to 17 times faster than its predecessors, with a 32-bit CPU developed by ARM Ltd. Game Boy Advance is capable of displaying 32,000 colors in bitmap mode or 511 simultaneous colors in character mode. It has a palette of 65,535 colors that it can potentially display.
  • The device offers 32 kilobytes of Window Random Access Memory (WRAM) and 96 kilobytes of Video RAM (VRAM). It also has 256 kilobytes of external WRAM.
  • Game Boy Advance is equipped with a PCM stereo sound generator.
  • The game's power comes from two AA disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries, which allows up to 20 hours of playing time -- that's twice as long as the Game Boy Color's battery life. An AC adapter is also available.