Original Post

Back in 2004 IGN made an April Fools article that didn’t fool too many. They promised a new special edition GBA SP to follow up the NES version: a Virtual Boy version

This article peaked my interest as I’m a rather big fan of the ill-fated Virtual Boy. So I decided to make one myself.

Items I needed:
A Flame Red GBA SP
A Charcoal Black GBA SP
A Silver GBA SP (I used a backlit version cause that screen is much better)
A pin
A tri-wing GBA Screwdriver
A regular small Phillips Screwdriver

After using the pin to remove all the rubber stoppers on the lid of the GBA SPs, using the phillips screwdriver on the batter cover, the tri-wing screwdriver on the lid and the bottom (including in the cartridge slot and under the battery), and after removing the motherboard with the phillips screwdriver, detaching the screen ribbon, and removing the ribbon cover with the phillips screwdriver, the the GBA SPs should be in pieces.

The hard to figure out part is detaching the bottom half of the lid from the top half of the base. When you look inside there are four prongs holding a round clip in on either side of the hinge. Clamp these together and push the hingepin out with a tiny necked screwdriver and it will pop partway out. Then close the lid of the SP and the hingepin should just slide out.

Mix and match the pieces of the SPs to make your combination. To make a Virtual Boy SP use the two top half pieces of the red SP, the two bottom pieces of the black SP, the L and R buttons from either red of black, the A, B, light and d-pad buttons from the NES SP, I use the lighter coloured Start and Select buttons the Silver SP for a little authenticity (the VBs start and select buttons were a lighter colour than the L and R buttons). Also I grabbed the power switch from the silver SP to make it look much more like the VB controller. I coloured the switch in the on position red, which mimics the VBs on switch, just for an extra level of geeky detail.

I also took the brighter SP screen and motherboard (the screen WILL NOT work with a regular SP motherboard and vice versa, make sure you keep track of which is which, I used a sharpie to mark the motherboards and the SP2s screen is black instead of grey like the regular SPs).

And no, it’s not in monochrome red :P.

I got all my pieces of SPs from buying broken and heavily scratched SPs from Ebay. Because of this the red part of my VB SP is rather scratched up. If someone has a pristine red SP they want to get rid of, send me a PM.

Notice the matching buttons (the L and R buttons are a darker grey on the back of the controller, my battery died so I didn’t bother taking a pic)

Once I finally get a nice looking red top cover for my SP I’ll be painting a small VB logo onto it like what’s on the front of the VB itself (black logo on red).

7 Replies

Nice going there. It’s really cool to see how creative people can be at times 😀



Wow, I like it! ….But how much did it cost you for all the SP’s? It looks expensive…..

Black one was a gift.
NES version cost about $20 (off of ebay).
Red also cost about $20 (also off of ebay).
The backlit version was actually comprised of two broken backlit versions; one with a broken screen, one with a broken motherboard. Both were free from some friends.

In total, cause my parents bought me a black Sp way back when and because I have neat friends who break things and give them away, only $40 were spent on this. Others may not be as lucky as me though.

It did take me a while to compile the parts though. Patience is a virtue.

Man, how do you get SP’s for $20 on eBay? (Of course, I shouldn’t complain; I just bought a PSP for $66 on eBay, and my gamecube only cost me $40, both of which work fine. ) Anyway, like I said earlier, I think it looks great. See, now someone just needs to make a GBA Virtual Boy emulator like PocketNes is for NES, and then your VB Advance would really pwn 😉 .

I just looked for some rather beat up GBAs that no one noticed had fixable problems.

The main thing is to look for ‘new brighter screen’ writing on the pics of the boxes. Often people don’t mention the backlit screen in the auction (especially when the screen is broken).

GBAs with broken screens are a dime a dozen but you look for auctions that say ‘won’t hold charge’ THAT’S one you need to grab. That usually means that the screen is intact, but the motherboard is fried. Combine that with one with a broken screen (again making sure the box or auction says ‘brighter’) and you can have a perfectly good SP2.

As for getting them for $20, I just bid enough to win the auction, with shipping, at $20. Often people will outbid you but every once in a while people will ignore the auction and you’ll be fine.

I did the same thing with a gamecube once. Found one where the controller port was smashed (someone must have dropped it on it’s front) but the laser was ok. Combined that with parts from a GC with a burned out laser and you have a working cube.

I’ve been pushing for a VB emu on GBA for a while now but no one seems up to the task. And coders HATE people wandering up to them and saying “You should make this”. But someone managed to port a Vb emu (red dragon I think, not sure, don’t feel like looking it up) to Xbox so you never know…

Hmm… I’ll keep that in mind if I ever want an SP. Is part swapping pretty much just snapping parts in and out or does it require soldering? (Because all soldering irons hate me.) Anyway, it’s one of my not-so-secret secrets but the way I got my stuff is purposefully misspelling searches/looking in the wrong categories. My Gamecube (which came with 4 games, two controllers, and a memory card) was listed under “Entertainment Memorabilia” and my PSP had “PSP” nowhere in its title. You can also get some decent stuff by searching for ninetendo, nentendo, nintindo, nintend, nintedno…..

I used to find good things under ‘gamboy’ and ‘metriod’ but ebay corrects most words these days.

No there’s no soldering. All parts are swappable.


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