Modern GBA Retrofits/Upgrades

So, the topics about the Arduboy and the Analogue Pocket have got me thinking about whether or not I should invest in some of the fancy GBA retrofits and upgrade tech that‘s out there– things like upgraded screens, rechargeable batteries, and upgraded sound components. I thought I’d start a new thread to keep from going too OT on those other threads.

I'm in a weird spot for the GBA: I have about 100 games for it, many of which I love, and about 50 Gameboy/GBC games on top of that, none of which I can currently play since all of my GBA hardware has some issue or other.

I'm thinking in particular of Retro Six's components ( For an appalling amount of money, they'll sell you a completely upgraded original GBA (the variant I personally prefer) that includes nice quality of life things, like a modern display, a USB-C rechargeable battery, and a fancier speaker. You can also buy individual parts to do your own upgrade, which are generally cheaper.

What I was wondering was if anyone's had experience with these or alternates, and if anyone's got opinions on this kind of upgraded GBA experience as opposed to the other route of a completely brand new device that's built from the ground up, like the Analogue Pocket. Personally speaking, I don't love the third kind of alternative, devices that are just emulation boxes. I know these give the most versatile experience, but my history with devices like the GP2X Caanoo have been pretty frustrating for all kinds of reasons, mostly involving the rom and emulator upgrade and maintenance loop).

Anyway, I'd like to consider spending money on a way to play all these games I'm sitting on, and I'd love everyone's feedback on their own experiences.

I hand upgraded my GBA and it was a bug bear, but still very doable. You learn a lot getting on the inside of the machine, plus you can give everything a cleaning. The screen upgrade is well worth doing, but invest in one of the shells cut to size otherwise you're going to be spending a lot of time cutting plastic.


It's a small thing, but I don't like how Retrosix puts Retrosix where Nintendo used to be above the screen.

My solution to all these problems has been the Game Boy Player, though it's sure not portable! And also my gamecube lens needs adjustment now so my solution is wrecked.

Alternately, how about getting a DS, or one of those "half DS" instead?? It's got all those upgrades at a fraction of the price.

@exodus#5844 It‘s funny, I’m realizing I‘m an idiot because I have like three DS’s and this solution never once occurred to me, haha. But no, you‘re absolutely right! I had just been so caught up on the actual physical GBA that I wasn’t thinking about the DS at all for some reason.

@Geoff#5841 I agree completely, and I wish there was an option on the shell to get it with Nintendo instead.

@robinhoodie#5840 I am one of the world's worst electronics bodgers and despite the fact that GBAs are pretty plentiful I am 100% certain I'd mess things up somehow.

A few years back I’d ordered a backlit screen replacement and thankfully had a friend with soldering experience help to implement it in the OG GBA shell.

I just recently picked up a flash cart after hearing Frank emphasize it on a few podcasts lately and playing on that GBA has been my go-to for it. It seems like it’s burning through batteries a little faster than normal but if you’re looking into the full upgrade with rechargeable battery, it might be alright.

Seeing what you shared now has me considering grabbing something fully built instead of chasing minor upgrades myself.

I will agree with Brandon that the Gameboy Macro is an ideal way to play GBA games. I made several of them by salvaging broken DSes that game in to the Ewaste place I volunteered at. You do lose some functionality though, no regular GB or GBC games and no link cable support. But mannnn, that standard headphone jack and rechargable battery go a long way. I almost prefer the version made from the original DS as it just feels right in the hands. They're still tricky to make as so precise soldering is involved but ask around. ALSO you can put an R4 card in the DS slot and still play a pretty decent Master System / Game Gear / PC Engine emulator on just the bottom screen.


These aluminum GBAs look nice. The brass buttons looks especially nice.

Same seller also does the GBC which is more to my taste.

Is the seller … good?

How does one vet all these random mod shops?

A pre-advance Game Boy with a USB-C rechargeable battery would be nice to have.

@Geoff#5866 I generally look around on social media to vet modders. But I mostly just get my stuff done through Video Games New York who subcontracts out to ifixretro on Twitter. Not to be a shill but VGNY does good work which I've actually held in my hands and have appreciated the quality of