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Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by Ziggy587 Wed Jun 02, 2021 4:44 pm

Up until this point, I really haven't played the GBA much at all. I know it has a vast library, with some really great games, but a few things have kept me from getting into it. Well, I aim to finally fix that. I've been playing a lot of GBA this past week. There's just too many great games for the GBA for me to keep ignoring it. I plan to use this thread to sort of chronicle my experiences playing through the GBA library.

Please feel free to make suggestions of games that you think I may enjoy!

My background with the GBA (skip if you don't wanna read a wall of text)...
I got an original model GBA when the first came out, and I really liked it. The first game I got was Super Mario Advance, and I really liked all of the added content to SMB2. But at this point, I was really sick of dealing with an unlit screen. So when I heard that the SP was coming out, I sold my original GBA to Funco Land to fund the purchase of an SP. Folding design that's more portable, rechargeable batteries, and finally a LIT screen! The only problem was, I wasn't the only one that was stoked for it, and it was impossible to find in stores for a while. I remember that I was going on a car trip, and I really wanted to find a GBA SP but couldn't after checking several stores.

By this time I was in high school, and a portable console just didn't have as much appeal to me anymore. So after not being able to initially find an SP, I just sort of gave up on the GBA. But from time to time I would read about a game, or see footage of a game, and wanted to experience all of these games that I missed out on.

I couldn't even tell you how, but I somehow amassed a good amount of GBAs since then. I now own a couple of original models, one of them was modified with a backlit screen. I own several frontlit SP models. And I own a backlit SP. I've also had a Gameboy Player for a while. I scored carts here and there, and eventually got some of the ones that I always wanted to play.

In my adult years, I prefer to game on a console rather than a handheld. Occasionally I will do some handheld gaming, maybe in bed / on the couch or at my computer desk. But generally I prefer to game on a console instead. And that's where a bunch of problems come in for the GBA. The Gameboy Player works well enough, but the stock software (the start up disc) kind of sucks. And using the Gamecube Controller for GB games really sucks. I knew about that Hori controller, but it was always an expensive option. Pelican made a clone of it, the Gamecube Retro Pad, and I found one locally. It isn't terrible, better than the official GCN controller at least, but still not ideal. Either way, you still have to deal with the kind of crappy Gameboy Player software.

And on top of that, some of the games that were at the top of my list have washed out colors. So in the early days of the GBA, since the only model had that miserable unlit screen, Nintendo compensated by brightening the colors of some games. So when you play these games on a TV, it just looks horrible. Too bright and all washed out.

So whenever I would try and get into the GBA, I was put off by the Gamecube controller options and the washed out colors in some games.

And the longer I waited, the more and more the prices were going up on the more popular carts, which made me less eager to dive into the library. I have no problem using flash carts, but the Everdrive GBA is $100 and that just seemed like a lot at the time for a console that I've had a hard time enjoying in the past.

But now I've decided to get an Everdrive GBA mini and just dive in and start enjoying the GBA library!

Here's my setup:
The details...
I just posted a thread about my 13" CRT setup, but I'll go into a little more detail about the GCN setup here.

• 13" Sony PVM - I forget the model number, but it has RGB inputs.

• PAL Gamecube - Unlike the NTSC models, the PAL Gamecube outputs RGB video. I got it solely for the Gameboy Player, so I could output RGB to the PVM. I use a North American power adapter with it.

• XenoGC mod chip installed. So the Gamecube can now play my NTSC-U games, but also burned discs which comes into play for this setup.

• Game Boy Interface (GBi) - This is a piece of homebrew software that replaces the original start up disc for the Gameboy Player, it's much better. You can read more about it here. Originally, I just burned it to a mini-DVD and played it that way. But then I finally decided to get a...

• SD card adapter - You can directly interface an SD card with the Gamecube, either a memory card slot or the bottom serial expansion slot. So since they're just simple passive adapters, they can be had for super cheap from places like eBay and Amazon. I got a memory card adapter since it allows for easier access to the SD card, and I only use 1 memory card anyway. But there's also an adapter called SD2SP2 that's equally as cheap, it's a micro SD adapter for the bottom serial port 2. Useful if you don't want to tie up a memory card slot, but later model Cubes did away with serial port 2 since nothing officially used it.

• Swiss - Swiss is a sort of all-in-one homebrew utility for the Gamecube. I'm simply using it to launch the Game Boy Interface from an SD card, pretty much just to save wear and tear on the disc drive.

• Everdrive GBA mini - Enough said.

• Raphnet-tech controller adapter - I'm using Raphnet's SNES to GCN/Wii controller adapter. It has different button mappings, one of them being specifically for use with the Gameboy Player.

• GBA SP (AGS-101) - I have an SP with a backlit screen, so I can always switch to portable if the mood strikes. I also have an original model GBA with a backlit screen, so sometimes I use that instead.

Anyway, now I finally have a good setup to play Gamecube games on the TV!

Here are some games that I have already played in some capacity. I will follow up with more details in a later post.

Super Mario Advance
Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2
Mario Kart Super Circuit
Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga
Sonic Advance
Pokemon FireRed
Metal Slug Advance
Castlevania Circle of the Moon
Pitfall - The Lost Expedition

And here are some games that I haven't tried yet, but want to...

Castlevania Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance
Cruis'n Velocity
Donkey Kong Country 3
Frogger (series)
Golden Sun
Kirby Nightmare in Dreamworld, Amazing Mirror
The Legend of Zelda - The Minish Cap
Mario VS Donkey Kong
Metroid Zero Mission
Metroid Fusion
Sonic Advance 2 and 3
Top Gear
Wario Land 4

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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by Ziggy587 Wed Jun 02, 2021 5:53 pm

OK, so here are some thoughts on the games I have played so far...

Super Mario Advance -
This is the first game I ever owned for the GBA, and I always wanted to 100% it. SMB2 is such a unique platformer, and I always thought it was very fun. One problem though is that this is one of those games that uses bright colors to compensate for the early GBA with a non-lit screen. So it looks awful when played on a TV. Luckily, there's a patch that fixes the colors. The patch says it's only 70% complete, but everything looked alright to me.

Some of these conversion games, you can feel some screen crunch because of the GBA's smaller resolution. But this game always felt fine to me. I'm sure there is some crunch going on, but it never stood out to me. Perhaps because of how the game scrolls vertically.

Some of these conversion games take a hit in the music department, but all of the instruments sounded good to me. There were none that I heard that stood out as bad.

Some people hate the added voices (there's a patch for that, too) but I don't mind them. With the exception of Birdo, I found that to be annoying. Especially because the game pauses and you encounter many Birdos in the game. I don't mind when it happens to the other bosses, though.

I love the new added content. The new HUD is great. And I love that there's 5 red coins to find in each level. Then after you roll the credits, there's 2 Yoshi eggs in each level, hidden in subspace. I I just rolled the credits last night, now I think I'm going to go for a 100% file and get all of the Ace coins and hidden Yoshi eggs.

The camera is a little jerky when you turn left and right, making the controls feel a little slippery at times. It's not too bad, but it can be annoying. It's my only real negative.

Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World -
This one I have wanted to play for years, but the bright compensated colors and screen crunch has kept me from getting into it! Luckily, there's a patch to fix the colors, and another patch to fix some of the instruments.

I just 100%'ed the game using both of the above patches, and I rather enjoyed it! I've played SMW on the SNES many times, but I always wanted to check out this GBA version for the added content.

So as is typical with these conversion games, there can be screen crunch, and the graphics and music can sometimes take a hit. The screen crunch was also super apparent to me, but perhaps that PLUS the bright colors was just too much for me to handle when I'm so use to the SNES version. But the above patch makes it look very nice.

The game sounds mostly good. Overall, the music sounds pretty good. Although there were a few instruments here and there that just sound bad. Namely, the bass slide in the Valley of Bowser map music.

Again, people don't like the added voices, but I think they're funny. I love the added Boo Buddy laugh from Super Mario 64, that was a really nice touch.

I love the added content. The new cutscenes are fun to watch. I like that it now tracks your progress of collecting the Dragon Coins. And you get proper screens to let you know that you've collected all of them, and that you've found every exit. And I really love how after you unlock beat the various levels in Star World, the different color Yoshi will randomly generate in Yoshi eggs in regular stages. That was a lot of fun, because on a typical playthrough of the SNES version you don't see a whole lot of colors outside of green. I don't think this'll be my go-to version to replace the SNES version, but I'll definitely play through it again.

The screen crunch IS noticeable, but it's not too bad. There's a few spots where the screen crunch really hampered the gameplay, and it would have been frustrating if I didn't know every level like the back of my hand.

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 -
This was another one of those conversion games that I was afraid to get into because of screen crunch and the hits they sometimes take to graphics and audio. But this is probably the best conversion of the Super Mario Advance series.

I'm not sure how it was done, but I don't feel any screen crunch going on. Everything felt great. The new HUD really works. It seems super skinny at first, but it grew on me. I wish the NES/SNES version had that slimmed down HUD LOL.

There's also a color patch for this game, but you don't really need it. This is one of those games that detects the Gameboy Player, and automatically switches to the correct colors. There's a patch anyway, it forces the Gameboy Player colors.

All of the instruments sound great. I especially loved the percussion and slap bass. The only thing that suck out as bad was the World 7 map music, that vibrato effect is just bad.

The new item inventory system is really neat. And I like how you can move right away in Toad houses. Something about the picture puzzles though, I had a really hard time solving them. Also, the item box at the end of the stage. Everyone knows that if you fly into it at an angle you always get a star, but I found it harder to get a star in this version.

There's lots of small touches that I liked. Collected a coin makes a nice sparkle effect that looks really good. I like that when you're at full P speed, the sound effect is lower if you don't have the ability to fly. And once again, I don't mind the voices. Although Mario's voice seems to not fit as well to the SMB3 sprite as it does to the SMW sprite. But I love that Boo Buddy sound from Super Mario 64.

Do some levels have new backgrounds? I thought I noticed that, but I can't tell unless I do a visual comparison (and I'm too lazy to do that). But I think some levels have a new background, and they look very nice. Specifically the underwater stages, they background looks very nice and it's also animated (IIRC the SNES version was not animated).

When Nintendo put out the e-Reader levels for the Wii U, someone made a patch for the GBA game that adds them. So I rolled the credits on the main game already, but I think I'll try and play all 38 e-Reader levels too.

Donkey Kong Country (1) -
This one I'm a tad disappointed with.

This is also a game with bright colors to compensate for the until GBA screen, but luckily there's a patch to correct the problem. I definitely used that patch!

Overall, I would say that the game just doesn't play very nice. There isn't really a screen crunch problem, I think because they reduced the size of all the sprites. But even still, there's something that just feels off about the game. There's a few areas where the margin to get through is reduced from the SNES version, making it more difficult. For example, the Zinger circling the N in Platform Perrils, it's much harder to get that N in the GBA version. It also doesn't seem to control very good. There's something sort of slippery about it. I had a trouble in a few spots, and this is a game that I can blow through the SNES version of. Hit detection can also be annoying at times.

The graphics aren't horrible, but a huge step down from the SNES version. Compared to something like Super Mario Bros 3, where it looks dead on to the SNES version. I know, not exactly a fair comparison. There's some added foreground effects though, and they can look nice.

The music overall I thought was very good. The sound effects are pretty bad, though. Very Looney Tunes sounding. I know the DKC SNES trilogy always had a very cartoon aesthetic going on, but never over the top. Some of these sound effects just put it over the top. A lot of them have the mouth harp sound going on. Like Winky hoping or Rambi jumping, it sounds like the pluck of a mouth harp. It's kinda irritating.

I like that the bonus barrels now have a B on them, like they do in the two sequels. And bonus rooms now have an intro screen like the two sequels. It really ties the games together. Although some of the splash screen for the bonus screens seem awkward. Some DKC1 bonus rooms are like 2 seconds long, but you have a 5 second splash screen telling you to find the exit. Diddy's fail animation is sped up, and that's appreciated.

I like the screen transitions, it feels like DK64.

DK Attack (time attack and high score) is neat, it makes it feel more like DKC Returns.

Funky's fishing game is a little lame, but I found it fun. Candy's rhythm game though, I don't know what the deal is but I just can't land the timing. I mean, I see the icon pass through the indicator to press the button, and I press it on time, but it always says I fail. So I just didn't bother with them.

Out of all the things they changed, I wish they changed the animal buddy tokens. Whenever I play the SNES version, I just try and avoid getting them. They're just as annoying in this GBA version. It stops the gameplay, and you usually wish it didn't. Then when you finish the bonus game, it returns you sometimes really far back in the level. It's especially annoying to get 3 of a kind at the end of a level and then be returned to the checkpoint barrel.

I rolled the credits, but I'm not sure how much I enjoyed it. I definitely wont be going for 100%

Donkey Kong Country 2 -
Haven finished 1, I'm playing 2 now. 2 seems like it might be a tad better, but I still have all of the same complaints. Something just feels off about the gameplay, and I don't like the way it plays. I feel like I have a hard time controlling a game that I use to be awesome at. It's not a good feeling.

The sound effect for Rattly's hop sounds AWFUL! It has this "boink" sound, like in a Looney Tunes when someone pulls out a hair. But as you hop, it just goes boink boink boink boink boink. Very irritating!

I'm not really enjoying playing it, to be honest. But I want to check out some of the new content in DKC3. I heard there's a new group of levels, and that they're not super great but I'd like to check them out anyway. And DKC3 had a sort of bass heavy soundtrack, ut since that wouldn't work well on the GBA speaker, David Wise made an almost entirely new soundtrack for the game. I definitely wanna check that out! But I feel like I should play DKC2 first...

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga - I got this on the Wii U Virtual Console. I played it for a few hours, but for some reason lost interest. The game seems awesome though, so I'm not sure why I put it down. I just started up a new game, I'm a little over an hour in so far. It's definitely fun in a Super Mario RPG kind of way. Lots of little things to like about it. Hopefully this time I don't lose interest.

Mario Kart Super Circuit - I played the Mushroom Cup on 50cc. It's pretty neat, I like how it resembles the SNES graphics. But why should I play this? It seems like it would have been awesome, being the first time you could have a Mario Kart game on a portable. But why play it now? It doesn't seem to play that great.

Sonic Advance - I just played through the first zone, and it seems OK. This trilogy usually gets positive reviews. The level design seemed OK. I really don't like the modern Sonic sprite. Should I bother more with this game? It seems to play alright, but something about it just seems flat in a "been there, done that" sort of way.

Pokemon FireRed - This one I played through a few years ago. I enjoyed it OK. I might want to play it again, only use a patch that makes all 151 obtainable. But this is way down on the list, there's other games I want to check out first.

Metal Slug Advance - I played up to Mission 3. This game is awesome! The lack of blood and gore kind of sucks, but I figured as much since it's on a Nintendo console.

Castlevania Circle of the Moon - I played this one a couple of years ago. I made it up to the Underground Waterways and lost interest. I wasn't a fan. Maybe I'll come back to it one day, but I'd rather check out the other two Castlevania GBA games first.

Pitfall - The Lost Expedition - I played just a few minutes of this game, but it seems like an awesome platformer. I'll definitely have to check out more!

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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by Raging Justice Wed Jun 02, 2021 8:09 pm

Some suggestions off the top of my head

Counter Punch - It's basically like Punch Out. I never finished this one, but I had fun
Drill Dozer - EXCELLENT platformer, like seriously. Drill Dozer is one of the best platformers on the system (or any system). This one I consider a must play
There are two Klonoa games on there that are really good. Puzzle platformers basically, a bit more puzzle focused than the Playstation entries
CT Special Forces series - Kind of like Metal Slug games, but not as ball bustingly hard
Dragonball Advance Adventure - Platform/beat 'em up game. Didn't finish this, but it seemed fun from what I played of it
I think Konami has some decent TMNT games on the GBA too
There's some ports of the Disney's Magical Quest series.
There's a version of Rock n Roll racing on the GBA
I don't really like schmups, but Invader is supposedly really good (and hard to find)
Ninja Five-O - In the same vein as games like Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi. This is one the GBA's holy grails, hard to get a hold of, but really good
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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by fastbilly1 Wed Jun 02, 2021 11:19 pm

Always willing to throw some GBA love

Saberwulf - action puzzle platformer
Car Battler Joe - Vehicle battler/RPG
Shining Soul 1&2 - excellent lootbased Action RPG series
Guardian Heroes Advance
Fzero Climax - the last fzero
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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by Anapan Wed Jun 02, 2021 11:21 pm

I enjoyed reading your progress so-far.

I think CotM is solid, and I've played through it more times than the other two. It was my first GBA game and I remember having a hard time finding the right way to sit throughout the afternoon so I could see everything well. It translates to full-screen the best of the three. I disliked the music in HOD, but enjoyed. There's a Patch that adds multiple characters including Megaman that's a great addon. I used to keep its .TXT file along with the rom in Moonshell. I also really loved AOS and played through it a couple of times. The strongest GBA title, but I still love CotM better. I made a crap Alucard hack of AOS back in the day but never fixed the arm-sprite palettes because it was too much work.

I agree with Raging Justice about all his suggestions. Drill Dozer in particular benefits from having the original cart with the rumble motor. I'd trade you for something off your list if you want to fully experience it. One of the few games I appreciate having that mostly annoying feature... Edit: Just looked it up and it supports Gameboy player controller rumble - neat!
Last edited by Anapan on Thu Jun 03, 2021 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by nightrnr Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:59 am

Hey, I think CotM was one of my 1st games too (stands to reason, as it was a launch game).

I think Super Dodgeball Advance was my 1st game though. Then I got Konami Krazy Racers (a game I no longer have, but it's easily on par with Mario Kart). Tactics Ogre the Knight of Lodis was the other game I remember buying right off (and oddly have not played through beyond the starting battle).

I am absolutely obsessed with the GBA though. I have 6 at my bedside at the moment: 1 original, 2 frontlit SP's with GBA movie players in them, 2 Backlit SP's with a Super Card and an EZ Flash IV, and one semi-broken SP with a bad backlight and unreliable triggers (gets great battery life though :wink: , makes a decent rechargeable GBC).

I like that they ported the Final Fantasy games on GBA. They always amaze me playing on that small screen.

And Castlevania will never get old for me. I must have played through AoS at least a dozen times (and am considering looking into trying randomizer hacks for it).

Concerning Sonic:
Sonic will never be better than it was on Genesis. I have come to accept that. But it's still fun to play semi modern attempts. It's strange that I own Sonic Advance 2 and 3, but not the original. I might play it on N-gage instead just for the hell of it.

Alternating playing GBA, DS, and 3DS right now. I might be opposite Ziggy at times, in that I have a particular fascination with portables. But I've been known to game on both TV and handhelds, as my circumstances allow).
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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by Ziggy587 Fri Jun 04, 2021 2:11 pm

Thanks for the game suggestions, I'm definitely going to check some of those out!

I've been primarily focusing on Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga right now. I'm definitely enjoying it. It's very much in the same vein as Mario RPG. Is there more cutscenes / dialog than Mario RPG though? They're at least amusing, the way Mario RPG's are. In fact, this game is oozing with charm, the way you would expect a Nintendo game to be. I love when Mario and Luigi speak in their Italian gibberish. The A and B buttons controlling the characters kind of confused me for a while. Mostly because I'm using a SNES controller, so GBA "B" is SNES "Y" and GBA "A" is SNES "B". So when the screen prompts you to press "B" I would often get confused. But I'm 2 or 3 hours into it now, and getting the hang of it.

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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by MrPopo Fri Jun 04, 2021 2:39 pm

I'm hoping your next journey is into music, so the thread can be "Ziggy Played Guitar".
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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by Ziggy587 Fri Jun 04, 2021 2:45 pm

MrPopo wrote:I'm hoping your next journey is into music, so the thread can be "Ziggy Played Guitar".

:lol: Actually, this Ziggy does play guitar. And The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is probably my favorite Bowie album.

(That orange thing in the pic is a guitar amp)

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Re: Ziggy Versus the Gameboy Advance

by Gucci Sat Jun 05, 2021 1:55 am

I'm new to the board but hopefully my recommendations are sound. If you're looking for something totally off the walls, I recommend seeking out the Boktai games. I wanna say that there were two released stateside (third game did not release here). Fitting since it's the summer time and there's plenty of sunlight out. Also, WarioWare Twisted. Always a game I recommend. I look at that game as a precursor to some of the whacky stuff later found on the DS.
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