Got an original Game Boy Advance, the one with the screen off that was almost impossible to see, still in a drawer somewhere? This DIY kit allows you turn it into a standalone console connected to the TVe with HDMI and Bluetooth for wireless controllers, but without any electronic DIY know-how.
The Game Boy Advance remains one of the greatest video game platforms of all time, and not just among handhelds. It was essentially a more powerful version of the Super Nintendo and featured some of the best 16-bit games of the time, including countless ports from other systems. But the GBA came out of the gate at launch with a handheld that had an off screen that was very hard to see unless you were playing outside in the sun or commandeering a light for it. Nintendo inquired and released other iterations of the Game Boy Advance with much improved screensincluding the excellent Game Boy Microphone.
Therefore, There are undoubtedly millions of discontinued Game Boy Advance consoles out there, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to fix the flaws of the original GBA and bring it back into your usual gaming rotation, including screen swap kits and upgrades that add video output connections, but none doesn’t seem as easy to use as IntecGaming’s new GBA HDMI kit.
The kit is essentially a compact console that features a custom, smartly designed motherboard inside with HDMI and analog video output connections, power through a USB-C port, and a classic SNES controller port on the front. . The only thing missing are the electronics needed to play Game Boy Advance games, which can be a bit of a legal minefield as Nintendo doesn’t like other companies trying to replicate its hardware. Emulation is the route most consoles like this takebut the results rarely deliver as solid a gaming experience as the GBA itself. So IntecGaming’s solution is to ask users to simply transplant the brain of a real GBA handheld into its console case.
This seems like a daunting task, and although existing solutions like the GBA Comforter requires decent soldering skills for a successful GBA brain transplant, IntecGaming’s kit features clever spring-loaded raised pins on its motherboard that complete all the necessary connections to the GBA’s innards except for a single cable ribbon that is as easy to plug in as a USB cable. The kit comes with everything needed for the transplant, including screwdrivers compatible with the non-standard screws Nintendo likes to use, plus an extra PCB that can be inserted into an empty GBA shell to turn it into a gamepad compatible, although the console will also work with several third-party wireless controllers, including the range of 8Bitdo. The only other thing users will need to provide are game cartridges.
The kit seems like a great way to revive a console you’ve potentially forgotten about, but it comes with a few caveats. Macho Nacho Productions had the chance to get their hands dirty, and while they found it to be a very easy piece of kit to put together, the results on a TV screen were a little softer than alternatives like the pricier $140 GBA Consolizer offering. The $110 GBA HDMI kit is also only available via Kickstarter as a crowdfunding product, and at the time of writing, it has just passed halfway through its funding goal (just under $50,000).
Delivery for the first backers is expected as early as July this year, and while it’s reassuring to see the company already sending fully functional units to YouTube influencers, crowdfunded projects always come with the risk of unexpected delays, especially during an ongoing global pandemic that is still plagued by supply chain issues. If you are going to support it and pre-order one of the kits, do so with a lot of extra patience and a little understanding that you may have to wait a little longer for delivery.