I’m going through Second Adolescence. (Although there are those who would say that I never emerged from adolescence the first time around.)
Anyway, I’m currently working my way through Nintendo’s entire Legend of Zelda series. A lot of the titles are available on the Wii Virtual Console (including the truly awesome Ocarina of Time and mind-blowing Majora’s Mask). Other titles are available for the GameCube (and can be run on the Wii, if you get a GC controller and GC memory card). But four titles are only available for the Game Boy (Link’s Awakening, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Minish Cap). And you need a GBA (or SP) and a link cable if you’re playing Wind Waker, and you want to use the Tingle Tuner.
So I bought a used Game Boy Advance for around $25 off of ebay. I chose the GBA over the SP for the following reasons:
- Compact form factor. (The GBA is a single block — the SP looks like a mini-notebook.)
- Batteries. (The GBA uses AA batteries — the SP uses a rechargeable lithium battery. Because the GBA doesn’t have a lighted screen, the batteries last a lot longer.)
- Earphone jack. (The SP doesn’t come with an earphone jack.)
Pretty cool, huh?
When my GBA arrived, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I put in the batteries, loaded in my Oracle of Seasons cartridge, and turned on the juice.
The screen image was unbelievably dark. And no matter how I tried to light my GBA, the screen image totally sucked.
At first, I thought that my GBA was defective — but an internet search revealed that *everyone* thinks that the GBA screen is too dark.
There are a whole bunch of GBA lighting systems out there, the best ones including the Radica Gamester Flood Light, the Halo GBA Light, and the Afterburner. But after having spent $25 on the GBA, it seemed downright perverse to spend another $25+ to light the thing — especially when you can buy a used SP for $30.
But then, inspiration struck. I bought an LED headlamp at Target for $14 — problem 100% solved. I look totally insane when I’m playing Zelda on my GBA, but that’s beside the point. Wearing the headlamp, with all 4 white LEDs on, and with the headlamp tilted just right, the GBA screen roars to life, with vivid colors and sharp contours.
I got an Energizer:
It looks even geekier when it's attached to a human head.
I think just about any headlamp (or headlight, as it is sometimes called) should work, as long as:
- It uses at least 3-4 ultrabright white LED’s.
- It has a variety of settings (including a “spot” setting and a “flood” setting).
- It has a reasonable battery life (50 hours or more).
- It is reasonably light weight.
- It uses AAA batteries.
- The lighting elements can be adjusted by tilting.
BTW — the top brand name is Petzl — you can get a Petzl meeting the above criteria for around $36 or so. (Now I know what I want for my birthday!)
Best of all, the headlamp has an infinite number of uses that have nothing whatsoever to do with your GBA!