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 Post subject: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 11:50 am 



Joined: 01 Mar 2018
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I currently use the GBA SP, the one that folds, but I know most people prefer to play on the horizontal first model. I was looking to get one, but also want a better screen, rechargeable battery, and whatever other mods have been released for it. Other than Ebay, is there a place that sells the full kit for a reasonable price? If this belongs in a different subforum, sorry!


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:01 pm 


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Location: Montréal, Canada
https://www.retromodding.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:20 pm 


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Ebay stuff is usually pretty low tier in my experience. It's hard to filter out really excellent units.

Alternatives are Reddit
https://www.reddit.com/r/GameboyMarketplace

Some stuff shows up on Etsy and Mercari.

There are also a lot on independents with their own website, but they can be a little annoying to find. Reddit profiles, Instagram posts, Facebook, and things like that are often filled with people showing their work.

I'd figure out what you want and then either post it in the wanted section of Reddit's GameboyMarketplace or lurk through the posts to find one offering services that sound interesting to you.

https://www.reddit.com/user/crshad0w
This guy offered some of the most competitive prices of the few I got quotes from. He also had a bunch of nice up sell options to offer me, which was oddly lacking in a lot of quotes I received.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:24 pm 



Joined: 01 Mar 2018
Posts: 763
Guspaz wrote:
https://www.retromodding.com/


Right but do they sell full consoles? Their Custom Consoles section seems blank.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:43 pm 



Joined: 01 Mar 2018
Posts: 763
Gara wrote:
Ebay stuff is usually pretty low tier in my experience. It's hard to filter out really excellent units.

Alternatives are Reddit
https://www.reddit.com/r/GameboyMarketplace

Some stuff shows up on Etsy and Mercari.

There are also a lot on independents with their own website, but they can be a little annoying to find. Reddit profiles, Instagram posts, Facebook, and things like that are often filled with people showing their work.

I'd figure out what you want and then either post it in the wanted section of Reddit's GameboyMarketplace or lurk through the posts to find one offering services that sound interesting to you.

https://www.reddit.com/user/crshad0w
This guy offered some of the most competitive prices of the few I got quotes from. He also had a bunch of nice up sell options to offer me, which was oddly lacking in a lot of quotes I received.


I was able to find crshad0w's new website (cxtronic.com) where he sells custom consoles. This appears to be the best way forward for me. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:06 pm 


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ldeveraux wrote:
Guspaz wrote:
https://www.retromodding.com/


Right but do they sell full consoles? Their Custom Consoles section seems blank.


They sell full consoles either as custom or ready-to-ship. They seem to be sold out of everything, so maybe they're not offering them at the moment, I'd suggest reaching out to them to see if that's just temporary.

I've never bought one of their consoles, but I've seen them in person a few times at conventions (they're local and the owner would often sell used carts from his personal collection) and they seemed to be well built from the outside.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 4:08 pm 



Joined: 01 Mar 2018
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I contacted RetroModding. While their product looked great, they said they aren't shipping modded consoles to the US atm. So I went with a SNES styled GBA from cxtronic! Thanks all!


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 4:38 pm 


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Location: Bellingham, WA
The IPS v2 kits with the recommended shells look great. They have them cheap on Ali express.

I would recommend getting a precut case and saving yourself the hassle.

It was easy and only required a couple blobs of solder.

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/400044093 ... 640Q90.jpg

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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:30 am 


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I did one of those IPS v2 kits and it is true it wasn't that hard. But I didn't find the resulting image that much nicer than my 3ds, and the 3ds is a much nicer hand held in other ways...


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:02 am 



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xeos wrote:
I did one of those IPS v2 kits and it is true it wasn't that hard. But I didn't find the resulting image that much nicer than my 3ds, and the 3ds is a much nicer hand held in other ways...

?? A 3DS != a GBA and I want a GBA. Regardless, I purchased from cxtronic.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 9:19 pm 


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There are a whole bunch of different GBA and GBC IPS kits on the market too, it can be a bit confusing which is which, and some seem higher resolution/quality than others.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:47 pm 


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A 3ds is just a GBA with some other stuff added. And a 3ds is a much nicer gba, at least if you are comparing them as they leave the factory. you can't do gba flash carts on 3ds but don't need to, since the 3ds has the writable storage built in. And the full gba hardware is in there so all the games run with zero emulation issues.

Just saying.

It's like the ultimate answer to how to get the best deinterlacer for ps2 games is to buy an OG xbox.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:21 pm 



Joined: 14 Aug 2017
Posts: 1513
Not sure about that analogy since the best PS2 games are exclusives. But yes the 3DS is a pretty good alternative for portable GBA enjoyment. I still prefer a phat DS for GBA because I prioritize correct colors over a backlit screen. I'd jump on an IPS replacement that has a pixel grid filter option and color correction. They already made one that checks those two boxes for the GBC (though you have to dial the RGB values manually and eyeball the correct colors against an unmodded GBC).


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:02 am 


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fernan1234 wrote:
Not sure about that analogy since the best PS2 games are exclusives.


fair. But for the games that *are* cross platform the original xbox offers a far better experience on today's displays due to almost 100% support for progressive output, compared to very spotty progressive support on the ps2. For all the focus on good deinterlacing hardware (DVDO, OSSC (pro), etc), the xbox is a far better option when available, and cheaper too. yet because people are thinking about deinterlacing they often (nearly always?) neglect this alternative. Some people even go to the trouble/cost of getting an early model ps3 with backwards compatibility... and I was one of then! But honestly it looks mediocre, noticeably soft. OSSC and DVDO are much better.

fernan1234 wrote:
But yes the 3DS is a pretty good alternative for portable GBA enjoyment. I still prefer a phat DS for GBA because I prioritize correct colors over a backlit screen.

Are the colors actually wrong, or do you just dislike the upscaling (which can be turned off, resulting in an image that's still a bit bigger than the GBA screen)? DS (not sure about the phat part) can be had for much less than a 3ds so that's another bonus. But there's battery life, which is already questionable on one of the 3ds consoles I own, and seems like it would be even worse on the DS given it's age/use.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:14 am 



Joined: 14 Aug 2017
Posts: 1513
xeos wrote:
Are the colors actually wrong, or do you just dislike the upscaling (which can be turned off, resulting in an image that's still a bit bigger than the GBA screen)? DS (not sure about the phat part) can be had for much less than a 3ds so that's another bonus. But there's battery life, which is already questionable on one of the 3ds consoles I own, and seems like it would be even worse on the DS given it's age/use.


The colors on anything other than an original reflective/frontlit screen AGS-001, frontlit phat DS (NTR-001), and backlit OXY-001 (GBA Micro) are wrong, as in, they use a different color space (sRGB) than the custom color space used in the original and aforementioned models. So not just a matter of color saturation, but color matrix. Think of PC Engine raw RGB colors vs. YUV colors of the original composite output that were figured out recently. AGS-101 (backlit GBA SP), DS Lite, 3DS, etc., along with all these IPS screen replacements, all give you the wrong colors.

For this reason I do my non-portable GBA and GBC gaming either on MiSTer or a GBA Consolizer, since both have color correction options. When I want the handheld experience I go with the DS Phat for GBA games (Micro is too small and has more motion blur).


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:14 am 


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The difference in colour between the three units you've mentioned is so ridiculously enormous (like, between an AGS-001 and a micro) that it makes the difference in colour space trivial by comparison... Like, the colour on an AGS-001 and micro isn't even remotely similar! The difference is enormous compared to the small difference there might be to the AGS-101.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:35 am 



Joined: 14 Aug 2017
Posts: 1513
Guspaz wrote:
The difference in colour between the three units you've mentioned is so ridiculously enormous (like, between an AGS-001 and a micro) that it makes the difference in colour space trivial by comparison... Like, the colour on an AGS-001 and micro isn't even remotely similar! The difference is enormous compared to the small difference there might be to the AGS-101.


You have to be going by memory to say this, and memory often fails us. The difference in colors between AGS-001 and AGS-101 is very big. Seeing this thread and the posts by pokefan531 will make it very clear and undisputable: https://forums.libretro.com/t/real-gba- ... s/1540/142

Now of course OXY-001 and AGS-001 look very different because of the back light on the latter, but the actual colors are actually not that different, as it is obvious that for some reason whoever handled its design over at Nintendo realized that they needed to operate on a non-sRGB color space to approximate the colors of the original. You can argue the extent to which they succeeded, but looking at games where the differences are most obvious makes it clear that the OXY-001 gets much more closer than any of the sRGB screens.

BTW, this problem affects all GBA titles, as well as some early DS titles which were produced with the frontlit DS phat in mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:36 am 


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So how accurate are the colors of the V2 IPS mods that everybody is doing on their GBAs then? I'd be surprised if they tried that hard to match the color space, let alone saturation and gamma, etc. If anything there's an incentive to oversaturate to make people really notice how much "better" it looks.

Having played thru all 3 GBA Castlevania games on the 3ds, the colors looked fine, but I only briefly played one of them on an actual front-lit GBA 15 years ago so I have no ground truth comparison. I imagine that whatever color differences there are only really become irritating when you have a well formed memory of the exact appearance of the GBA game on the original hardware. Certainly we aren't' talking red appearing green and vice versa. I'd be much more concerned about black crush etc which you see all over the place with crappy 480i upscalers and really obscures the fine shadow detail.

For that matter the original super Mario Bros never looks right when I play it now, because my first NES experience was on a CRT that had a serious tint distortion that massively desaturated the blue color signal but when you never saw it any other way that's what seemed "right".


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:58 am 


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fernan1234 wrote:
Guspaz wrote:
The difference in colour between the three units you've mentioned is so ridiculously enormous (like, between an AGS-001 and a micro) that it makes the difference in colour space trivial by comparison... Like, the colour on an AGS-001 and micro isn't even remotely similar! The difference is enormous compared to the small difference there might be to the AGS-101.


You have to be going by memory to say this, and memory often fails us. The difference in colors between AGS-001 and AGS-101 is very big. Seeing this thread and the posts by pokefan531 will make it very clear and undisputable: https://forums.libretro.com/t/real-gba- ... s/1540/142

Now of course OXY-001 and AGS-001 look very different because of the back light on the latter, but the actual colors are actually not that different, as it is obvious that for some reason whoever handled its design over at Nintendo realized that they needed to operate on a non-sRGB color space to approximate the colors of the original. You can argue the extent to which they succeeded, but looking at games where the differences are most obvious makes it clear that the OXY-001 gets much more closer than any of the sRGB screens.

BTW, this problem affects all GBA titles, as well as some early DS titles which were produced with the frontlit DS phat in mind.


I'm not disputing that the colourspace is quite different, and that much was obvious when I added the colourspace transformation to the CGB emulator I wrote. My point is that the image appears so radically different between some screens that it becomes a bigger difference than the colourspace. I'm just saying that the image you get out of the unlit or front-lit screens is so terrible that colourspace accuracy is irrelevant. Ideally you'd be able to get the corrected colourspace in the display controller used for the IPS kits...


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:25 pm 



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xeos wrote:
Having played thru all 3 GBA Castlevania games on the 3ds, the colors looked fine, but I only briefly played one of them on an actual front-lit GBA 15 years ago so I have no ground truth comparison. I imagine that whatever color differences there are only really become irritating when you have a well formed memory of the exact appearance of the GBA game on the original hardware. Certainly we aren't' talking red appearing green and vice versa. I'd be much more concerned about black crush etc which you see all over the place with crappy 480i upscalers and really obscures the fine shadow detail.


Yeah you can get by perfectly with the raw RGB colors and not know any better. We were fine with the RGB modded PC Engine colors for years :mrgreen:

But when you do see comparisons it becomes pretty obvious what was intended, and many games do look objectively better with the "correct" colors (either on the original screen which is subject to the type of light you use, or using color filters that try to approximate it). The most famous example is probably Golden Sun, where it becomes pretty obvious right from the start scene inside the protagonist's house indoors and outside. Funny that you mention the Castlevania games, because it was Harmony of Dissonance in particular that made me realize something was off when I first played it on a backlit SP. A lot of colors were so garish, I thought the designers were going for a trippy look, but looking it up and seeing old shots of it running on the old VBA emulator, which was probably the first to have color correction, opened my eyes to the whole problem:

Image

A picture indeed says more than 1000 words.

edit: this old reddit thread also shows good examples of how the Micro tries to correct the colors with the known Golden Sun case: https://www.reddit.com/r/Gameboy/commen ... ght_color/


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:01 pm 


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fernan1234 wrote:
Funny that you mention the Castlevania games, because it was Harmony of Dissonance in particular that made me realize something was off when I first played it on a backlit SP.


I'd say that neither is ideal - too oversaturated vs too dark and desaturated. BUT... I have to admit my 3DS looks closer to the oversaturated version - about 75% of the way toward your oversaturated example. Having played thru all 3 that way, my 3DS fine to me though, and perhaps its' telling that I think neither of your examples looks good. But consider that many of the background details in the "correct" example are nearly invisible... Also I've read that the Castlevania games didn't attempt to match the GBA pallet, perhaps because there was already ample source material from the playstation game - but that was just some random dude's opinion, so who knows.

PS. there's some real potential for confusion here about terminology. Color space can definitely mean wrong colors, or differences in saturation, or even *just* gamma. Rather than trying to educate y'all on the terminology (I'm a retired vision scientist) let's just very to be very specific about what we mean and more verbose rather than less.

The differences below appear to be differences in primaries, saturation, and gamma. BUT keep in mind that all are being displayed on a sRGB display (your phone/monitor) which itself is a color space which may distort what the true source looked like (as well the camera used if these were from the real world, but I'm inferring both are actually emulators). In the end you really need to see the actual game machines side by side to know, and also check your vision to make sure you aren't color blind ;-)


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 Post subject: Re: Where to get a GBA?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:13 pm 



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xeos wrote:
I'd say that neither is ideal - too oversaturated vs too dark and desaturated. BUT... I have to admit my 3DS looks closer to the oversaturated version - about 75% of the way toward your oversaturated example. Having played thru all 3 that way, my 3DS fine to me though, and perhaps its' telling that I think neither of your examples looks good. But consider that many of the background details in the "correct" example are nearly invisible... Also I've read that the Castlevania games didn't attempt to match the GBA pallet, perhaps because there was already ample source material from the playstation game - but that was just some random dude's opinion, so who knows.


Yes both of those are not perfect examples or representative of what you get. The "corrected" shot on the right is the old VBA emulator's correction, which is not very good indeed. Better filters in libretro cores have been improved over the years by Pokefan531, and is still working on it. The correction on the GBA Consolizer is very good too IMO.

And yes, you are right about primaries vs. saturation vs. gamma. Many people believe that the issue is mainly about saturation (many emulators and the MiSTer core only had "desaturation" options for a while), but it is indeed about primaries/color space. Additional gamma correction can be helpful if you really want to get as close as possible to what you see on whatever screen you use as reference (such as original reflective screen under daylight, frontlit DS phat, or an OXY-001).

xeos wrote:
In the end you really need to see the actual game machines side by side to know, and also check your vision to make sure you aren't color blind


Yep, I always encourage people to compare with their own eyes if possible. What I can say for sure is that I can never go back to screens that show the raw colors without at least some attempt correction (and not just desaturation, which will simply look worse).


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