[GBA] What were they thinking?

Discussion in 'Other Handhelds' started by Reploid, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. Reploid

    Reploid GBAtemp Maniac

    Jan 20, 2010
    Serbia, Republic of
    GBA was a nice gaming platform for its time, but... I don't get how two huge problems came to be.

    First is sound. GBA is a portable Super Famicom in a sense. I mean it has similarly powerful hardware and many 16bit ports, or just really similar games. But when SFC was SFX powerhouse, with their super advanced audio chip GBA lacks dedicated audiodevice whatsoever. As I understood, CPU is running music, so developers had to balance running game code and playing music, which is bull. Was it impossible to miniaturize previous sound chip and to invent more modern one and put it inside GBA?

    Second is control layout. It's okay, but where are X and Y buttons? I can more or less understand how they may not found a spot to put extra audio device inside, but was it impossible to make two extra holes for two extra buttons? I'm sure they could cramped em in one way or the other. With so many 16-bit ports, I'm sure most of them could use two extra buttons. And games in general could have had more versatile control schemes in general. Like Comic Zone on GBA could be less awful a bit.

    Those two omissions are so extremely obvious, I wonder why nobody at nintendo thought "hey, I know how we can refine our device just a little bit more; it's gonna monopolize market again for a few long years, after all"
  2. kuwanger

    kuwanger GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Jul 26, 2006
    United States
    The SNES's sound chip was designed by Ken Kutaragi in secret without Sony Executive's knowledge, and by the time of the GBA Sony was competing against Nintendo. Yes, they could have designed a separate chip, but I imagine the feeling was that it would be unnecessary. Meanwhile, the SNES's CPU ran at around 1.5 MIPs vs the GBA's CPU at 15-28 MIPs (different architectures so instructions per second aren't entirely apples to apples), so I imagine they believed the CPU handling sound wouldn't be that big of a thing.

    This I most agree with, but again, I imagine they weren't originally going for GBA as an SNES porting platform. It just happened that after the success of Super Mario Advance, they realized they could port/make sequels to a variety of games. At that point, it was probably considered too late. I'd even go as far as saying Nintendo might have intentionally used less buttons precisely to discourage third parties from just porting all their SNES games over, since if that's *all* the GBA was I don't think it would have been near as successful.

    I think at the time, their main goals were (1) adding something close to full color, (2) making sure it had closer to the same battery life of the Gameboy/Gameboy Color, and (3) making sure it had a substantial performance boost in the CPU. Once they hit those, I don't think they wanted to really deviate too much for fear of alienating would-be customers.
    Pablitox likes this.