Do-it-yourself? Hell no. Billy got his GBA modified by ABHQ, and put it to the test.
One of the best and worst inventions last year would have to be the Afterburner Kit from Triton Labs. The whole key to the Afterburner’s success is a proper installation. I am very good at electronics, but when it comes to my Nintendo hardware, or video game hardware modifications, I’ll let someone with more experience handle all the pain. Just like you, I’ve invested lots of time and money into getting my machines, and the thought of damaging them in any way has discouraged me from going at it myself.
So when I received reports from friends, fellow staffers, and numerous people on the net that the installation was an absolute headache, I searched through message board after message board to find the best person to install my Afterburner. I came across some pictures of the modification with the brightness dial was located on the left side of the GBA instead of being crammed next to the power switch. I was sold. I contacted this person and told him I was interested in getting both of my Game Boy Advances done, and I needed an additional Afterburner. I sent them both off, and waited patiently to receive my bright and shiny babies.
After around 10 days I got my GBAs back. As for the Afterburner itself, it was absolutely what I was looking for. Sure the colors of the games are washed out, but that’s expected because the GBA wasn’t designed to have a light inside of it. At first glance you could barely tell that the GBA was modified. The brightness dial is sunk in perfectly. The dial is far enough in so you can’t bump it accidentally during play, but not too far in that you won’t be able to access it. Nicely done.
The Afterburner installations were solid, but not totally perfect. In fact, I had to send one back to get the screen re-done on one of my GBAs because there was a weird smudge on it. I didn’t even notice it until I played a very dark game (Pinball of the Dead), but I’ve sent it back to get redone, free of charge. There was also some light leakage through the outer plastic cover of the other GBA, but was only noticeable in very low-light situations, or complete darkness, and didn’t hinder gameplay.
Why am I so thrilled? Well it does exactly what it was designed to do. It allows you to play your Game Boy Advance absolutely anywhere. Gone are the days of a sore neck and tilting your GBA towards a bright light bulb. I can lie on the couch or on the bed and hold the GBA in front of me. Totally relaxed. Totally comfortable.
You do need to look directly at the face of the GBA now to see everything the best, and at angles there’s some distortion. When we tested Madden’s connectivity, we used this GBA, and it looked awesome, regardless of how worthless this feature really is. We propped the GBA up against a book so it stood upright on the coffee table, and we could watch all the zany action (note: sarcasm) that took place on the GBA. Just thinking about future GameCube/GBA connectivity makes me pant in anticipation.
If you are using regular batteries, power consumption is also an important issue. On a regular set of good AA batteries (Duracell Ultra) you’ll get around 9-10 hours of battery life. If you play your GBA constantly, another accessory that I would highly recommend is either a solid pair of rechargeable batteries, an AC Adapter, or a GBA cradle like the Mad Catz GB Advance Power Station. An investment of $20-$30 dollars will save you piles on wasted batteries.
I would highly recommend having an Afterburner professionally installed on your current GBA, or buy a GBA with one pre-installed. If you need an installer, I recommend ABHQ. Shipping times are questionable, but the quality of the installation is good. This is also the same installer Lan Kwei uses for their pre-installed GBAs. The Afterburner is an absolutely wonderful product, and I couldn’t imagine playing without one ever again.