Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 11:17 am

Nintendo Switch Online’s GBA Emulator Is Only a Matter of Time

Nintendo Switch Online’s GBA Emulator Is Only a Matter of Time

Despite a somewhat mixed reception at launch, Nintendo Switch Online has given players the opportunity to experience some of the company’s best offerings from decades past. From NSO’s stellar slate of NES titles to the recent addition of Nintendo 64 games, the service has been a dream for many players. Yet, despite all the available titles for a monthly subscription fee, Nintendo’s rich history means there are always going to be obvious omissions, especially in relation to the company’s strong grip on the handheld market.

The Game Boy Advance (GBA) is currently the tenth-highest selling system of all time, and with over 80 million units sold, there are many people who likely have one hidden away somewhere. However, having released 21 years ago, it’s becoming increasingly harder to invest in its ecosystem. GBA games should come to newer hardware, and with rumors circulating that a handful of titles could be coming to Nintendo Switch Online soon, it would be a long time coming.

Time For the GBA’s Return

The Nintendo Switch is five years old. It’s a system that still offers much, and its gimmick has yet to wear off, but as Sony and Microsoft’s new generation of consoles find a place in homes everywhere, it’s becoming more obvious that the Switch hardware can’t keep up. The system is closer to its replacement than launch, and as the demand for retro titles continues, there’s less time for the company to oblige. Bringing some of the Game Boy Advance’s best games to the system is becoming more of a pressing matter by the day.

The Wii U’s failings compared to the Switch ensured that its life was cut short, and in correcting its mistakes, the Switch has surely extended its relevance far past the five years Nintendo’s Wii U received. It’s essential that Nintendo keep its player base happy, and one such way would be to bring the GBA’s best to the console. Not only would this attract new players to the system, but would also ensure that many retro gaming fans continue to use the Switch once its successor hits shelves, much like the Wii U’s virtual console is still in use today.

The Switch Has Become an Iconic Handheld

Nintendo has always held a tight grip on the handheld market. Even though the PlayStation Portable did well to capture an audience, the Nintendo DS, original Game Boy (plus the Game Boy Color), and Game Boy Advance all sold in higher numbers. Its dominance in the space is currently being rivaled by the Steam Deck, but this has a long way to go before it reaches the heights of the Switch. However, the PC/console hybrid has proven that portable gaming is still in high demand, so the Nintendo Switch could further cement its legacy by including GBA functionality. Though Nintendo has been reluctant to listen to fan feedback on many topics, this would benefit everyone, including the company itself.

The Switch Lite leans even further into the system’s portability, and because of this may very well be one of the best handheld systems of all time. Despite the Switch straddling the line between home console and portable gadget, it has developed a legacy as the go-to system for commuters, and surely including GBA titles would help justify its success.

Nintendo Switch Online’s Commitment to Retro Gaming

Alongside offering mostly stable online multiplayer and cloud saves, Nintendo Switch Online has a laundry list of games from decades past to play for a small fee. The Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as its successor the Super Nintendo and the N64 are represented with a handful of their best titles. The Game Boy Advance was where many Nintendo fans got their start with the company, so GBA support would be a popular addition.

The lack of any Game Boy library feels like a glaring omission in 2022, as the console sold better than all the three that are currently included in Nintendo Switch Online. The Switch has championed Nintendo’s characters with so many first-party titles, but while it has understood what made the company’s home consoles so great in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, it hasn’t truly reflected the company’s success in the portable market.

Game Boy Advance is Essential to Nintendo’s Success

Before the Switch and the Nintendo DS were selling at alarming rates, the Game Boy Advance proved that the original Game Boy handheld wasn’t just a fluke. It was a system that improved upon its predecessor in many ways, showing that portable gaming could be cost-effective, fun, and varied. It solidified Nintendo’s hold on the market, and as the Nintendo Switch has surpassed its lifetime sales, there’s no better time to honor the Game Boy console that showed what handheld gaming could be.

There are many must-play GBA games that could ensure the Nintendo Switch is an even better console for retro gaming enthusiasts. With Sony bringing backward compatibility and trophy support to older games on the PS5 with its new PS Plus format, it should be an easy decision for Nintendo to bring some of the Game Boy Advance’s best to Nintendo Switch Online.