Despite being considered one of the greatest handheld consoles of all time, every version of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance had a problematic design flaw, from missing headphone jacks to screens that were either too small or dark. They can now all be fixed with mods, and a new aluminium housing from Boxy Pixel can even make the GBA SP match your Apple MacBook.
Of all the versions of the GBA that Nintendo released, the company seemed determined not to make it look anything like the original Game Boy. The closest version was the folding clamshell GBA SP, and if you happen to have one of those still lying around, Boxy Pixel’s new Game Boy Advance SP Unhinged housing is about the closest you’ll ever get to a Game Boy Advance Game Boy — or a GBAGB, for short.
The housings are milled from solid blocks of aluminium using a CNC cutting machine in a similar process to how Apple currently makes its laptops and mobile devices, and while you can get anodised coloured options of the Unhinged case in red, blue, pink, and black, it kind of feels like a crime to go with anything other than the natural aluminium silver. At about $120, plus $25+ for a matching set of machined metal buttons, it’s not a cheap mod considering it’s also BYOGBASP, but you’ll also never have to worry about an ageing hinge snapping ever again.
YouTuber Macho Nacho Productions managed to get their hands on the Unhinged housing and shared a detailed how-to for anyone looking to tackle this mod. themselves According to Boxy Pixel, if you’re starting with a stock version of the GBA SP (even one with an upgraded screen) you can drop all of the parts into the aluminium housing without the need for any soldering, although everything except the shoulder buttons will need to be upgraded, and you’ll need a special 3D-printed adaptor to securely hold the original battery in place.
But if you’re looking to make some other upgrades in the process, which can include enhancements like a larger battery, a USB-C port, a wireless charging coil, and a proper headphone jack, you’re going to need to break out the soldering iron and make some small modifications to the housing. (Which shouldn’t be that difficult, it’s aluminium, not vibranium.) If you’re going to all the trouble of sacrificing a GBASP and giving the Game Boy Advance a much-deserved OG Game Boy facelift it seems like you might as well go the extra mile and upgrade everything you can.
And while it’s waiting to first fill all the pre-orders for the Unhinged housing, Boxy Pixel has revealed that it will most likely eventually offer customised pre-built units as well, just don’t expect them to be in any way cheap. Buying a fully-upgraded Game Boy Advance (backlit screen, speaker amp, rechargeable battery, etc.) with a plastic housing can cost you upwards of $650, so expect an aluminium version to creep closer to the cost of a smartphone.