I finally broke down and bought a GBA SP. I could go into a big spiel about my reasons for avoiding it until now, and for getting it now, but I'll spare you that. At any rate, I realize I'm about a year and a half behind the curve, but here are my first impressions - keeping in mind that the most recent console I've played is the Sega CD, and the most recent portable the Game Gear:


- The LCD is pretty amazing. By which I mean that I never would have thought they could make something so small that's capable of rendering in 32,000 colors. I'm not exactly sure how many bits per pixel that comes out to, and I don't feel like figuring it out right now, so bleah. (At first, I got a little concerned at what appeared to be the screen shaking. However, this was apparently part of the opening to Donkey Kong Country.)
- It is pretty damned compact. I remember having the original Game Boy - it was about the size of your average mass-market paperback. The Game Gear was almost the size of one of those portable DVD player (and ate six AA batteries approximately every four hours). When this thing's folded up, it's less wide than my wallet and only a little thicker and longer. (Okay, that sounded really bad. Moving on...)
- It uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts 10 to 15 hours per charge, which is nice. Saves money on batteries... at least in the relatively short run.
- It plays games from the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color. Now, if only I could find the old Game Boy games we had... maybe we sold 'em.
- It's relatively simple to use; e.g., you don't have to remove the battery to change games (Nokia, I'm looking at you).


- The way it's made (with the folding and everything) probably makes it easier to break than the older versions.
- There's no goddamn headphone jack. Penny Arcade did a joke about this a while back, but for some reason I thought they just meant that it used one of the less popular audio connectors for some reason. Nope. There's *nowhere* to put the headphones. Oh, I'm sure there's an adaptor you can buy to hook it up to the extension port, but that means if you wanted to use the port for anything else - say, multiplayer - you're screwed.
- Volume slides suck. Give me a volume dial or give me death!
- Recharging takes three hours. I realize that's not really Nintendo's fault, but it still sucks.
- You apparently can't use the AC Adaptor to power the GBA while playing, only to recharge it. Never mind, I'm an idiot. If I had actually read the manual instead of briefly skimming it, I'd have known this was incorrect.
- This isn't really an issue with the system itself, but it kinda irks me that games don't come with cases. Just another way to bilk money from you, I suppose.

Overall, the pros do tend to outweigh the cons, which are mostly annoyances rather than real problems (well, except for the thing about it being easier to break).

I played a little of Donkey Kong Country. It's kinda fun, but I find it infuriating that there's no kind of life bar or anything, just one-hit deaths. Even Sonic had his rings. Although it is reminscent of the early Mario Brothers games (which I also disliked partially for this reason)....
I also picked up Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Metroid Fusion. I think I'll try out the former once I'm done writing this.


- My parents found out last week about my brother's sexual predilictions. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but it turned out that they were mostly upset about him being out way past midnight on a couple occasions. Which is good, because I've seen some of the porn Dad has on his computer, and I don't like hypocrites much.
- I'd been trying to read T.H. White's The Once and Future King, but it had taken me two or three weeks just to get through the first two books. I've put it to the side in favor of a collection of short stories by Poul Anderson. I'll try to go back to it after that. If I still can't get into it, then I think I'll continue my quest to read every Hugo-winning novel.
- Good News: Bad Religion is coming here on June 30th. Bad News: It's at Warped Tour. Besides costing about fifty bucks, there are no other bands there I really like, only a couple I like *anything* by, and several I actively hate (e.g. IMA Robot and New Found Glory). On the other hand, I really want to see Bad Religion.
- Remind me never to buy Astronomy magazine again. Besides half the pages being advertisements, the mag is really more about amateur telescopy than actual astronomy. Feh.