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GBA Afterburner Review

BUY The GBA Afterburner from Lik Sang

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Grab a clipboard and a pen, run down to the mall and ask everyone as they enter or leave the gaming store, "What is your number one complaint about the GameBoy Advance?" and without fail more than 99.9 percent of the answers will be, " No backlight." Why, oh why after four generations of GameBoys can't somebody do something about this? Well, settle down boys, because somebody has. Those Mental Magi over at Triton Labs have answered every GBA owner's prayers with their Afterburner internal lighting system.

The Afterburner is a do it yourself kit that lets you install a transparent lighted plate over the GBA's LCD screen. The effect is supposed to be an even and thorough illumination of the playing screen no matter what the lighting conditions.


But does it work? I'll try to show you, but no picture does this justice. It's simply amazing; the lighting is perfect. Colors are bright and vibrant no matter if the room is pitch dark or full on bright. I honestly expected some washout, but if there was any I couldn't tell. And even if the light does seem strong to some, the Afterburner comes equipped with a dimmer dial (or you can get a Stealth Dimmer Chip), so the perfect setting is never a problem. Battery consumption doesn't seem to be an issue either, as we get twelve to fifteen hour runs with the backlight at its highest setting.


It Looks Even Better In Person
But before you go out and burn your wormlight, there are some things to consider. First, you have to open your GBA to install the Afterburner, which does void the warranty. Unfortunately you've probably already done that if you've ever used any third party accessory of any kind. Second, there is some soldering involved, but it's simple work with very easy and clear directions. If you have the hand-eye coordination to play a GBA then you probably have the manual dexterity for the weld work. Third, you have to do some modification to the shell of the GBA itself. Again, there's not much to it, especially if you have a Dremel tool or something like it. Basically you're just grinding down bumps and notches so that the Afterburner screen will fit into the case; seriously, it's child's play.

The only hard part comes in the form of applying an adhesive strip of anti-reflective film to the LCD screen. The slightest, most undetectable spec of dust on the screen when you apply the A.R. film looks like a piece of street gravel when you turn it on, and I swear that the screen attracts dust from the surface of the moon when you crack open that case. The kit comes with a single sheet of A.R. film, so it's a one shot deal. Triton does sell replacement sheets for about a buck fifty a throw; I recommend getting two extra when you order your kit just in case your first attempt looks like you did it in a grain silo.

The bottom line is even though it takes a little work and patience, it is worth it a million times over the first time you switch on your GBA and the cold, flat screen bursts into actual glowing, vivid colors. The Afterburner is the single best thing that you could do for your GameBoy Advance, period. For about $25 (plus three bucks for two extra A.R. sheets, trust me on this) you can order a kit from TritonLabs.com. Do it and bring your GBA out of the dark ages.


 

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