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The Game Boy Advance is a departure from the previous three Game Boy models. It is oriented horizontally instead of vertically, with the screen in the middle and two new 'shoulder' buttons on top. The screen is a bit larger as well, and old games can be played either with black bars on the sides or stretched sideways. The new cartridges are half the size of the old ones, so that they don't fit in the earlier machines. It uses two AA batteries.

Now let's put in a game and turn it on. Of the first three games I'd played on it, only one was really impressive. When I bought it, a fit of recklessness left both my brother (who doesn't even have one) and me buying games at the high prices typical of most toy shops.

GT: Advance is a racing game. An advance warning: this game is not Gran Turismo Advance (I suspect that the title refers to GT64); it is a Mario Kart/F-Zero clone boxed to look like a realistic racing game. The gameplay is similar to F-Zero for SNES (= Super Nintendo), but with cheesy powerups for the 'car's. However, it is significantly better in most respects to ...

F-Zero: Maximum Velocity. Do not confuse with F-Zero for SNES, which is still undoubtably one of the coolest games of all time (Note to all who are playing it with emulators: It's way better in the flesh. Me bro bought a SNES). This is F-Zero made almost unplayable. Only two vehicles are at all drive-able, and one is way faster (20%!) than the other. My copy was preowned, and three drivers had tried their luck before me, but none had beaten more than one series. They hadn't played long, either, judging by the 'record' times. If you liked F-Zero SNES, buy GT: Advance.

Iridion 3-D is amazing. The graphics look almost as good as Playstation and N64 games (Merle:see "Galaxy Force II" on Sega Genesis), and the game is challenging and well-made. It has cool VR wire frame previews of the bosses, and is not too expensive at the right stores. It is a 'front-scroller', with a view from behind the ship and enemies coming straight at you. This game is cool.

The later games I got were generally better.

Wario Land 4 is good. There are many, many puzzles, a tutorial level to start on (no need for a manual), and then there are three minigames you can play to make the bosses easier. It's a cute little game.

Advance Wars. Now, I know why I got this system. Unquestionably one of the absolute best GBA games around. The biggest complaint is that the game requires you to finish the tutorial before you play. Fortunately, it isn't too long, and it covers what you need to know. The animation is nice, too. By the way, this game shows some similarities to an old game called "Military Madness" on the TurboGrafx-16, which was later ported to PlayStation as "Nectaris".

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: Stellar. It is a sequel to the Playstation game "Final Fantasy Tactics", and similar in style of gameplay, but the plot is completely new. What's more, the plot is a plot; it's definitely coherent, and the characters are more complicated than the average stereotype. The graphics are also somewhat improved from its predecessor, and there is a 'Support Clan' feature allowing you to cooperate with a friend who has the game.

Sonic Advance is classic Sega Genesis style Sonic. The levels are blitz-fast, with multiple paths, and the bosses could fit in nicely with those from the original. A few new features have arrived; multiple characters with different abilities, a time trial mode, and some minigames. If you enjoyed the other 2-D Sonic games, this one is their match.