Step aside the emulation, I fixed my old Nintendo console instead

Game Boy Advance SP with Pokemon

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

When I was twelve years old, my first brush was fresh game console It was with Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance SP. It wasn’t the first video game I played, but growing up in India, it was rare that I had access to the latest and greatest in gaming hardware.

The Game Boy Advance introduced me to a new world of power-ups through Super Mario, epic storytelling through Final Fantasy IV, my own quest to be the best thanks to Pokémon, and I spent hundreds of hours of entertainment planning my next move in Advance Wars. However, as life progressed, somewhere along the line, my childhood companion was left behind bigger and flashier things.

As fate would have it, I found my old console during a recent home renovation project. Time was clearly not kind to Nintendo’s best. The broken screen was the first in a long line of console-related issues. If you’re anything like me, you’ll understand my nostalgia for old-school electronics and why restoring them has been a lifelong passion of mine. This presented the perfect opportunity to return the broken Game Boy Advance SP to its former glory.

Have you thought about restoring an old game console?

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A world of options to restore or upgrade

Gameboy Advance SP with parts scattered around

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Repairing electronics of any kind can be daunting, but the first thing you need to know about repairing a game console is that it’s a bit like playing with Lego. Precise engineering, for the most part, means you don’t have a lot of cables and pulleys to figure out. In many, but not all, cases, the fix can be a simple swap. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park either.

Unlike computers or smartphones, restoring a console usually involves swapping out modular components.

Initially with a console repair job, my first task was to determine the exact model I was using. Most brands tend to beautify their TV and portable consoles over their lifetime. the play stations Variants are slim, upgraded Nintendo Switch With better battery life, and the Game Boy Advance SP with a brighter screen, they are all examples of consoles that are technically similar, but different enough to require close examination of the exact model number.

With the model number selected, it’s time to delve into the vast world of customization.

handheld gameboy legend sp plug

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Retro gaming as a hobby has only grown over the years and decades, and there is a thriving community to cater to users who want to restore and upgrade their consoles. Searching a major storefront for console parts, portable legendIt’s mind-boggling to see this kind of innovation in play.

Original and OG, or outfitted with RGB lights, the choice is yours.

Want to give your old hand a glow with a new shell and buttons? easy. What about the LED-lit buttons? Not a problem. I want USB-C Game Boy Advance powered? Definitely. How about adding a color screen to a console that didn’t even ship with one? You got it!

In my case, I wanted to keep the experience as close to the original as possible, so I decided to keep the upgrades minimal and give my old Game Boy Advance SP a brighter screen. I also decided to add new buttons and a new sharp shell to the order, after which it was just a matter of waiting a few weeks for the products to ship. You may also need some specialized tools available to access the console of your choice. For example, in the case of the Game Boy Advance, or in this case, most Nintendo consoles, you’ll need a Tri-wing screwdriver on hand to open it. I recommend getting it off Amazon while you wait for the rest of the components to arrive.

If your console is too far from working, it may be time to contact the professionals.

When you get to repairing the actual console, the process can be somewhat trivial or very involved depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. It goes without saying that if your console is a bit too far to boot, it might be time for some professional help.

Patience is key when repairing a console

GameBoy Advance SP put on a magazine

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Once you open your video game console, another thing to consider is the location of the screws. Deep in the puzzle-like process of opening the console, it can be somewhat difficult to keep track of where each screw is. my suggestion? Photograph each step of the process, and keep the screws separate for each section of the console.

Older consoles tend to be fairly modular in construction, and swapping parts can be a simple take-and-replace experience.

Most keyboards are fairly modular in their approach. It makes sense that companies had to ship millions of them on launch day. This makes most components relatively easy to take apart and replace. However, you’ll want to be especially careful around bits and bobs like shoulder buttons and hinges. Many older consoles use tension-loaded springs, which are surprisingly difficult to get into the correct position. Be patient, use tweezers, and don’t be afraid to take a break if you find it too stressful. You definitely don’t want to be in a position like mine where you accidentally scrape a component on the motherboard or lose a spring, necessitating weeks of waiting for a replacement. I went there and did it. stuck somewhere? Follow the video guide.

I cut my teeth fixing video game consoles as a hobby and for pocket money as a kid, so it didn’t take me more than an hour to strip the console, give the internals a nice dusting, and replace all the external bits. The process is straightforward enough that it shouldn’t take a beginner more than a Sunday afternoon.

Is it worth the hassle?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra GameCube Emulation with Xbox controller in hand

Now some of you may be wondering why I had to undergo such a long process, the expense of repairing a long dead piece of technology. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and for me, having my first memory of a video game console in pristine condition was reward enough. However, there are other reasons to start using a retro console. For one, as much as some The best video game console emulators Come on, they can’t replicate the flaws associated with consoles from a bygone era. For those of us who played on the originals, those warts are part of the experience, and a perfect OLED experience can often rule out the magic.

Emulation has come a long way but it can’t replicate the feel of the well-loved D-Pad, or the sheer perfection of a low-resolution screen.

Then there’s the matter of controls, and in this case, portability. Maybe I’m looking through rose-tinted glasses, but even so The best portable controllers The well-loved D-Pad touch cannot be duplicated on an original console. There’s also the small issue of carrying another device with you if the simulator is your jam. In the case of my Game Boy Advance, the non-slip approach to the cartridge and getting games is a big plus. No notifications, no distractions, just games.

Nintendo Game Boy Advance with broken screen

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The million dollar question, of course, is whether it’s worth it. The only answer to that is yes to the right person. Modern day emulation has reached a point where most casual gamers would be excited to load up a legally obtained copy of their old favorites, slap on a handheld console, and call it a day. However, for those who want the real deal, an old-school experience, or want to take a trip down memory lane, the joy of reviving a beloved piece of technology that has brought them hundreds, if not thousands of hours of joy will cut it. I know which camp I’m in.

Now, to fix that other Game Boy I picked up from the junkyard.

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