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The GBA was basically SNES2 and the pinnacle of 2D game design - change my mind

molasar

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Not only that, the GBA probably had the most under rated and under appreciated gaming library of all time. If you look at this very excellent list of the Top 25 best GBA games, you'll realize the GBA was chock full of amazing 2D games of all types whose ingenuity and fun probably hasn't been surpassed yet. The GBA wasn't all just all Pokemon. It also had arguably the best 2D Metroid, Zelda, Mario, Dragonball, and Castlevania games ever made.


Here's just a sample of amazing GBA games people may not have heard of:


What criteria do you (OP) use?

Some of mine:
1. The best system to handle 2D graphics - current hardware is more than enough for it
2. The pinnacle of 2D game design - my favorite one:
- sprite based - Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (CPS3 Arcade)
- pixel art (minimalism) - Aliens: Infestation (DS)
3. The highest quantity of favorite 2D games designed for one system (I do not count ports here) - almost everything for CPS2 Arcade
4. Favorite current days 2D artists:
- pixel art - Henk Nieborg
- sprite based - Luis Martins

It should be mentioned here that a push for 3D graphics in late 90s knocked down a 2D art in games into niche and less artists specialized in it at the top level.
 
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pramod

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Okay, OP, I will try to change your mind.

I do agree that GBA felt like an SNES sequel. It preserved a lot of what made SNES so good. Plus, it was a handheld, and I've noticed that Nintendo doesn't put out as much b.s. on their handhelds. Games must be snappy and to-the-point, even RPGs and strategy titles. I spent many hours on the GBA. In particular, the platformers and the RPGs did a nice job of taking what worked for the SNES iterations in those genres and leaving behind the clunk and the fat. If you were are a fan of the SNES's platformers and RPGs, GBA was like heaven.

However, the pinnacle of 2d game design -- under these same criteria -- is the DS. As good as the GBA is, the DS had that little bit of extra hardware power to truly surpass what the SNES (and GBA) were capable of in terms of 2D design.

And I know that it doesn't relate directly to the graphics, but the bump in sound quality on a pair of headphones from GBA > DS was significant.

In an arbitrary "deserted island challenge" where I was only allowed to have one system and all of its 2D games, well... I'd probably pick a Saturn or a PS2, but DS would be my next pick. GBA would be somewhere in the Top 10 for me, to be fair.
Yes the DS had better hardware but by that time the heyday of 2d was already past. Most of the best DS games were 3D as a result bcuz that's what devs focused on.
 

PhoenixTank

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Completely disagree. The music was terrible compared to Super Metroid's, which is like 33% of a Metroid game, the dialogue cut scene crap with the AI was irritating. The best thing about it were the legitimately creepy moments with the SA-X.
Pretty sure that screenshot was from zero mission.
 

Belmonte

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Disagree. DS's 3D is 5th gen perfected. It allows for very specific cute artstyle. Your screenshot is blurred.
The art of the DS Zeldas are not horrible, they are very playable and can be cute at times, but Minish Cap is gorgeous.
 
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zenspider

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I think it was underappreciated and was the pinnacle, but I don't think the Nintendo DS needed it's GBA slot to reach a higher pinnacle.

Honestly, unless you're restricting to pixel art or specifically 2D blitter engines, I think today is a new golden age of 2D gaming that has yet to peak (maybe 2018). There are superlative titles in almost every genre (and plenty of new or more developed ones) that can go toe to toe with any era's output, if not outright surpassing them.

Still, a great post for an underrated machine from an era when handheld was truly a "ghetto" and was ignored or maligned by critics. Seeing Astro Boy get due propers always makes my day.
 
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PhoenixTank

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You're right. ZM basically had the same problems only it was less atmospheric.
Eh, different problems, IMHO. Less linear and scripted but still a remake, new section notwithstanding. There are only a few Metroid games I don't like so I have a bit of bias.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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Yes the DS had better hardware but by that time the heyday of 2d was already past. Most of the best DS games were 3D as a result bcuz that's what devs focused on.
I disagree that the heyday of 2d was already past (I mean, it's still going strong...).

The three DS Castlevania games stack up very favorably to the GBA ones, and there's a clear winner when it comes to graphics.

The two Mario & Luigi games stack up very favorably to the GBA one, ditto for graphics.

DS felt like it picked up where the GBA left off on 2D titles. There's no denying that GBA had a lot of 2D gems, but the DS is the system that could actually run them properly, especially the RPG ports (DQ 5, Chrono Trigger, et al).
 

DunDunDunpachi

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To be fair, GBA has one weak point. Only one and not enough for the GBA lose the crown of portable consoles, but a weak point regardless: no original Super Mario Bros. I was too happy playing classic Marios to be bothered but it is lame how there isn't any original one to be played. Game Boy had Super Mario Land 1 and 2 + Warios and DS has New Super Mario Bros.



It is true that DS had more hardware power but in many cases it resulted in worse art because they put more in their mounth than the DS can chew.













This is entirely fair, but you're specifically picking 3D games when the "contest" is about 2D games. No doubt DS had its share of stinkers, and one might even gripe that they took formerly-2D games like FF3 and FF4 and turned them 3D (another debate for another day, perhaps).
 
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Manus

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It's my favorite console behind SNES for a reason. The SP was just such a classic design and was so portable.

I was at that sweet age of 13 when the SP came out so I got to enjoy it to the fullest. Just disappointed we never got a original Mario game on it.
 
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Vader1

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For me best 2D games are DKCR and DKTF. With LttP, LBW, SMW, NSMBU, and Super Metroid also close behind. The original DKC trilogy too from the looks of it, though I haven’t played them.
 

molasar

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For me best 2D games are DKCR and DKTF. With LttP, LBW, SMW, NSMBU, and Super Metroid also close behind. The original DKC trilogy too from the looks of it, though I haven’t played them.
DKCR and DKCTF are 3D games (characters, objects, enemies, etc. are rendered in real time) with 2D gameplay.
 
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TheDuskwalker

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GBA was just the worst, I never bought games for it......

Okay, it was pretty good little device.



Heh, never did open the copy of Capcom Classics I found.

Also little emulations I got.


The far superior demake of Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night is criminally underrated, also I got the Mega Man Zero's on DS before someone asks. :messenger_grinning_sweat:
 
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HeresJohnny

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I don't know, I could never see the damn screen to tell lol. Seriously, though, I had one of the first GBA iterations, and it was a cool little device, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a SNES dude.
 

Belmonte

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This is entirely fair, but you're specifically picking 3D games when the "contest" is about 2D games. No doubt DS had its share of stinkers, and one might even gripe that they took formerly-2D games like FF3 and FF4 and turned them 3D (another debate for another day, perhaps).
Yeah, I didn't explain myself properly.

I don't disagree with what you said. The DS has more beautiful and polished 2D than the GBA. I was pointing out that, unfortunately, this fact didn't translate in a better console for 2D games since major franchises, Zelda and Metroid specially, tried to use the extra hardware for 3D graphics.

To add insult to the injury, other franchises which continued to use 2D, like Seiken Densetsu: Children of Mana and MegaMan ZX, despite being more beautiful, were lesser games than their GBA iterations, Sword of Mana and Megaman Zero series.

I'm glad Castlevania had awesome 2D games in DS at least.
 
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Vader1

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DKCR and DKCTF are 3D games (characters, objects, enemies, etc. are rendered in real time) with 2D gameplay.
I thought they were 2.5D. If it’s just 2D, then it would have to be the SNES for my favorite system
 

Bakkus

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It also has the best Mario Kart (Super Circuit).
You can't be serious. That's easily the worst MK
Completely disagree. The music was terrible compared to Super Metroid's, which is like 33% of a Metroid game, the dialogue cut scene crap with the AI was irritating. The best thing about it were the legitimately creepy moments with the SA-X.
You were discussing Zero Mission; Here you are talking about Fusion
 

EightBit Man

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I forgot they ported Jet Set Radio to the GBA. It's pretty impressive how they were able to animate Beat and the other skaters to move like they were in a 3D space.
Yes, it's quite incredible what they did with that port. The game also feels like the original. One wouldn't expect a nice transition into 2D, but it works out well I think.
 
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Doctor Van Nostrand

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I thought it was pretty great. It came out back when I was in the military and so it got a lot of travel time. I greatly enjoyed the Castlevania games, RPGs.....even the SNES ports that I did have some disappointment with (lower res, sound different), but it was all good. Put a lot of hours into Aria of Sorrow, FFT Advance, Tactics Ogre, and the Mega Man Battle Network games. That was also on top of all the GB and GBC games I already had, plus Dragon Quest III got a GBC release not too long after the GBA came out.

My only complaints with the hardware itself was the dim screen like others have mentioned. I never did get an afterburner (I did have like several of those damned worm light things), but at one point I bought a kit that you could install inside the GBA, and it added the capability of hooking it up to the TV. Of course a couple of years later (I think), the GBA Player came out and rendered that useless. Got the SP when that came along and both the GBA and the Wonderswan Color (got it for the Square games) really put their time in for me.

I don't have any of my GBAs anymore, they gave their lives to entertain my daughter years ago, but I certainly enjoyed them and was glad the DS and DS lite supported the games. I'd be really happy if some of those games could show up on the Switch or something but ah well. Great portable console for what it was.
 

EightBit Man

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Can't it be a requirement to post the game title above screenshots? I feel like i'm back to old GAF annoyances with this.
I'm sorry.

Elevator Action Old & New
Final Fight One
Golden Sun
Lode Runner
Lunar Legends
Shin Megami Tensei
Shining Force
Sword of Mana
Wario Land 4

Advance Wars
Boulder Dash EX
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Gradius Galaxies/Advance
Magical Vacation
Mega Man Zero
Mother 3
Tales of Phantasia
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Kuru Kuru Kururin
Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland
Double Dragon Advance
River City Ransom EX

Bubble Bobble Old & New
ChuChu Rocket!
Dr. Mario & Puzzle League
F-ZERO: GP Legend
Initial D : Another Stage
Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced
Krazy Racers
Metalgun Slinger
Mr. Driller 2

Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms
Boktai: The Sun Is in Your Hand
Donkey Kong Country 2
Advance Guardian Heroes
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Sabre Wulf
Space Invaders
Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Steel Empire
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis
Virtua Tennis
WarioWare, Inc.: Minigame Mania
WarioWare: Twisted!
Jet Set Radio
 
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Manus

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Best version of ff6 is on GBA so that makes it the best system ever! I'm kidding... Sorta, it's the best version though.
Ehhh. I prefer the original translation and the superior music. It was great though having a portable version.
 

EightBit Man

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I really loved playing these enhanced Final Fantasy games too. The redone music sounded incredible in Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls. Didn't get a Bandai WonderSwan Color, so this was surprisingly good for me at the time.

It was the first time I got all 2D Final Fantasies minus III.
 

Vader1

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The GBA had a much wider color range than SNES and that made its original games prettier, just look at how pretty Minish cap looks in comparison to ALTTP.
I actually like the look of SNES games, and LttP, a lot more.