Game Boy Advance: A Collectro-spective

I was poking through my chest of forgotten video games, systems, and accessories the other day, just looking around at things. No practical reason or whatever. Just the semi-annual “maybe I’ll find my lost GBA SP this time” rooting around. During this particular adventure, I pulled out the Ziploc baggie that holds all of my GBA cartridges. Wanting to look at the beautiful collection, I spilled them out onto the floor and lined them up. What I found was nothing short of shocking.

Somehow, I only own nineteen Game Boy Advance games. As someone whose GBA was as good as attached to his hands, I find this very hard to believe. I know that those were days when I was poor, rentals existed, and far fewer video games were actually being made, but it still seems unreasonably light. At some point I could have sold some to lighten the load, but… these are GBA cartridges. They take up virtually no space, so there’s no big incentive to sell, other than desperation for cash.

Racking my brain, I came up with a few notable omissions. Mega Man Zero and its three sequels are not here, but I’m sure it’s because I sold them off when I bought the MMZ collection cartridge for DS. There were two Ninja Turtles games and that I distinctly remember selling because they were meh, same for Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge. Here is the list of games that I know I owned, but I cannot account for why they are missing:

  • Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
  • Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Metroid Fusion
  • Metroid Zero Mission
  • Super Mario Bros. Advance

You could make a case for most of the list that I sold them off and just forgot about it. But it seems highly unlikely that I would have sold the Metroids, and I can’t imagine myself ever getting rid of any Zelda game. It’s possible that I let go of Metroid Fusion and Minish Cap because I got free digital copies of them on 3DS for being an early adopter of the system, but where is Zero Mission, then? Where is Zero Mission!?

Eagle-eyed readers may also notice that the original Mega Man Battle Network also appears to be missing. But it’s not. I actually never bought that one, because I did not warm up to the idea of Mega Man becoming an action-RPG about anime kids saving the internet until the second game rolled around. Nor did I ever go back to purchase Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. That one came out at GBA’s launch, and was much too dark to, you know, see on the original GBA’s screen. By the time the GBA SP rolled around, Aria of Sorrow was only a couple months away, so I saved my dollary-doos for the newer game.

Speaking of Aria of Sorrow, I actually have two cartridges of it. The second one (not pictured), I bought on eBay when I lost the original. Turns out it was a pirated version, which I did not realized until it showed up in the mail and had the wrong artwork on the sticker. Fortunately, I did find the original cartridge when I was cleaning out my room to move out of my parents’ basement. At some point it had fallen behind my bed, and got wrapped up in a rather monstrous dust bunny.

And while I’m writing about games I’ve purchased twice, that copy of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is not my original copy. No, the original was lost with my beloved Game Boy Micro many years ago. I tried to replace both through the wonders of the internet, but was only able to secure the game. Second-hand Game Boy Micros were going for what seemed like a totally unreasonable $70-100 back in 2013. Of course, stupid me didn’t consider that prices were only going to inflate dramatically over time. Now you’re lucky if you can find one for $200. Whoops!

Every once in a while, I’m reminded that I used to be a really big fan of the mange/anime Shaman King. Usually it’s when I look at my half-complete collection of Shaman King manga, but this time it was when I saw the game cartridges pictured above. Shaman King: Master of Spirits and its sequel are Metroidvania-style games that were developed by Konami, but somehow aren’t nearly as good as the Castlevania games that sit right below them. Go figure. I didn’t finish either of them, and I think the only reason that I didn’t sell them is because to this very day, I’m convinced that eventually I will pick up at least one of them and power through to the end.

I could probably tell individual stories about each and every one of these game cartridges, but it’s probably best to wrap this one up here. As a final note: in my humble opinion, Mega Man & Bass isn’t very good.


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