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During the past years we've seen "MP4 Players" being released in all sizes and shapes, capable of running everything from NES, to Genesis to Gameboy roms. But recently the pirate outlets of China have begun manufacturing actual copies of the Gameboy Advance, both in the SP and regular GBA shapes. The one I'm going to take a quick look at on this page is a copy of the original GBA.

Retailing for just under $50 you can find the Chinese GBA knock off on the internet. I've seen it being sold in 4 various colors sofar, being black, translucent (glacier), blue and pink. What you get in the box is obviously the unit itself, a charger (US style), a manual and last but not least a special USB cable. The last mentioned cable is where this thing gets interesting...

The box it all is packed in is a copy of an American GBA box with some modifications, a detailed description of what the device is capable and notice that it has 2 gigabyte memory built-in. Actually the box mentions 2G, 4G and 8G on one of the box sides, but I have only seen the 2G being sold.

But that's not all, usually if you power on a GBA with no game inserted you won't get past the white GBA logo screen, well the clone takes you a step further as it actually has a small menu system built-in, multi lingual too! and that's where the 2 gigabyte memory comes to use and it's where this unit becomes highly illegal as it's packed with no less than 498 roms! of these 498 roms, one is actually a full Pokemon movie, 97 of them are GBA games and the remaining 400 roms are NES ones each merged with a NES emulator for the Gameboy Advance. A full list of games can be seen here.

By using the included USB to GBA Expansion Port cable, the games can be changed as the 2G storage pretty much worked like a USB stick. The internal 2G storage also works as save space for games, so saving is indeed available. The GUI is very nicely made with small screenshots from each of the GBA games, but this means that you also have to add screenshots yourself if you replace or add games.

Another thing that makes the clone different from the regular GBA is that the screen is backlit and it's actually very bright and clear, so you get a great quality image on the screen, something I wouldn't have thought it would be able to. As a matter of fact, the clone is very well built, it looks EXACTLY like a Gameboy Advance, even the battery is replaceable - although I havn't tried. The only bad thing I can find is that the buttons, including the D-Pad, are a little too stiff/hard to press down, but other than that it feels exactly like the real deal.

The clone of course also has a cartridge slot and here the cheap knock off also smells a little because it's actually a bit difficult to get a cartridge to slide all the way into the slot, it needs a little persuasion, removal it not a problem though. Having tested some games with another GBA knock off that didn't do well, I'll get back to that one another time, I decided to give this one the same test.

Most games run just fine, but games like "Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge" didn't run on the other GBA knock off, it just gave a black and white bar after booting the game. This one however runs BK just fine. Another that didn't work on the other knock off was Banjo Pilot, again this GBA runs it just fine. I did manage to find one game that both knock offs refused to boot, being Super Mario Advance which just gives an save error and then refuses to start. but a 99,somthing% compatibility isn't bad I'd say.

When the first version of the GBA was released it was compatible with GB/GBC games and while GB carts do fit in this knock off, GB/GBC games will not run. It will simply not detect the game and direct you to the pirate user interface with the 498 games available. A funny side note is that I have a couple of GBA pirate carts, okay that's not the funny part, but the knock off also refuses to run some GBA pirate carts like a 3 in 1, 102 in 1 or a Mario Cart (HK original) that I've tested, the knock off just resets itself over and over.

I'm actually surprised that Nintendo hasn't put a stop to the sales of these units yet, I think it's been some 6 months since I ordered mine, to see what it was, and they are still out there, so if you'd like one try doing a search for "buy gameboy advance 2G" on google, but remember.. you aren't doing Nintendo a favour by buying one.