Last year, Ubisoft news editor and game industry veteran Mikel Reparaz offered up an interesting take on the Game Boy Advance during an episode of his Vidjagame Apocalypse podcast. When discussing the newly announced Switch remake of Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Reparaz asserted that “GBA graphics, for the most part, have aged terribly.” Beyond just the resolution limitations of the 2001 handheld, Reparaz took particular aim at the system’s “aesthetics” and “distinctive look.”

“It’s sort of like Donkey Kong Country sprites, but blander. Like, you can tell, like, this was 3D rendered and then turned into sprites, and it just looks kinda bad,” Reparaz said.

Having seen almost unanimous praise for the Game Boy Advance and its visual capabilities in my own corners of the internet, I found Reparaz’s opinions on the system’s graphics a tad provocative. For as long as I can remember, fans have both championed the visuals of the system’s best-sellers and applauded the machine’s capacity to offer SNES-caliber experiences on the go. The idea that GBA graphics had aged poorly over the past two decades seemed an ideal premise for a debate.

Now, I personally do not agree with Reparaz’s assessment. (If you see anyone insinuating that I do in the comments, you’ll know that they didn’t read beyond the headline.) While I do stand by my belief that the Game Boy Advance’s sound capabilities have aged somewhat poorly over the years, with its noticeably high compression, I think the system’s visuals, especially in its higher-profile first-party releases, have held up remarkably well. Classics like The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Metroid Fusion, and Pok√©mon Ruby & Sapphire, in my opinion, represent a peak in blockbuster pixel art, a peak the industry has only just recently approached again. I definitely wouldn’t use the word “bland” to describe these games, especially when compared to the jittery polygons of the PlayStation or the muddled browns & grays of the Xbox 360.

But what do you think? Have Game Boy Advance graphics aged poorly? Do you defend the system’s visuals? Join the debate in the comments below!

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