The folding GBA SP was a huge upgrade over the original Game Boy Advance, if only because it introduced a side-lit screen you could actually see. It wasn’t perfect — Nintendo still included some weird design quirks — so the team at the YouTube channel Macho Nacho Productions gave the GBA SP a much-needed upgrade, which includes some modern technological conveniences.
With just a 600 mAh pack inside, the battery life on the original GBA SP wasn’t amazing. The modders at Macho Nacho Productions created a spacious 3D-printed replacement backshell to fit even more upgraded junk in the trunk, bumping that capacity to 1,600 mAh to provide hours of extra gameplay. The new shell adds about 10mm of extra thickness to the bottom half of the GBA SP, but what the console loses in portability, it gains in added functionality.
Instead of relying on the GPA SP’s proprietary power adaptor, the upgraded battery can be recharged using either a newly added USB-C port or a wireless charger. The modders managed to squeeze a Qi-compatible coil inside the add-on, too. Over the years, various third-party companies have created USB charging cables that work with Nintendo’s various handhelds, but the switch to USB-C means you can just use the ever-growing pile of cables you’ve probably already got sitting in a drawer.
If there was one thing worth complaining about the GPA SP, besides the lacklustre side-lit LCD colour screen that Nintendo eventually replaced in later models with a backlit panel, it’s the lack of a built-in headphone jack. Players had to use a headphone adaptor that plugged into the GBA SP’s power port, which meant that you couldn’t charge the handheld and use headphones at the same time. It was a bizarre design decision on Nintendo’s part, which this expanded mod solves with both the addition of a headphone jack (eventually) and a Bluetooth module that enables the handheld to work with wireless headphones.
Macho Nacho Productions has shared a fairly detailed breakdown of how the GBA SP THICC mod came together, including an extensive list of parts and tools used in its creation. The only thing that appears to be missing is the 3D model for the expanded replacement backshell that would enable anyone to 3D-print their own. The video also doesn’t go into details about how to install the 3.5-millimetre headphone jack, due to the wrong part being ordered, so there will likely be a follow-up that (hopefully) includes everything needed for anyone to perform this upgrade themselves.