GBA Ports of SNES Games Are Disappointing

Back in like 2003 when Nintendo started releasing ports of NES and SNES games for the Game Boy Advance, I was really excited. Especially when my most favorite game was released: A Link to the Past. But when I played it, I was turned off by Link yelling every time he swung his sword. Not to mention the excruciating sound of phasing between the Light World and Dark World. I don’t think I bothered beating it on the GBA.

But now it’s time to Somaria% this game! Well, more than that – I’m also getting screenshots of all the text and creating many save states for future use.

O.G. San is on the prowl in Hyrule once again! But lordy lordy, I’d forgotten how strange the GBA version sounded. Some pieces of the Hyrule Castle song were simply missing, so it didn’t sound as important and intimidating as it did in the SNES version. And when I fell down that hole in the beginning, Link screamed :I

And the controls! The buttons are mapped strangely because the GBA has fewer buttons than the SNES controller. I had to complete remap them before I could comfortably play it. It’s also a bit easier – my magic bar filled up as soon as I got the Lantern, which doesn’t happen in the SNES version. And the enemies drop way more hearts.

Now that every popular Nintendo game is released over and over on whatever new digital service Nintendo happens to be running, it’s not exciting anymore. It’s exhausting. I pity the poor souls whose first experience with LttP was on the GBA.

8 thoughts on “GBA Ports of SNES Games Are Disappointing”

  1. I suppose they do the best they can with those weedy little speakers, but portable conversions *always* have disappointing sound. The difference in sound quality is the exact reason why I had to pick the PS3 release of Ar Nosurge as the definitive version, even though the Vita port has a bunch of extra content; for a game as music-centric as that one, it really really matters that the PS3’s sound quality is so much better.

    Some years back I developed a game that I subsequently ported to Android, and my soundtrack was almost completely lost; I’d done a simple, bass-heavy “space rhythm” affair, and none of it came through on a phone speaker at all. So the mobile version would play the treble drone and none of the rest of it. :-/

  2. Poor souls who first experienced it on GBA? *raises hand*

    Actually, that’s the main way I’ve experienced it at this point. I’ve played a bit on the SNES classic, but other than that I only played the GBA version. To be honest, I didn’t really find the sounds all that grating…maybe it’s because I was a youngin who didn’t know any better…but not having a baseline to compare it to it didn’t really seem all that weird I guess, at least at the time (dunno the last time I played it). And stuff you mention like the controls, I find using Y for items to be weird. Most of the other games I played at the time just used A/B (original, LA, Oracles) so I’m more used to using those buttons for equipable items. R felt kinda natural for the boots/pickup actions since those weren’t equipable items like in LA/Oracles. Also, on the general ‘having less buttons’, I think that’s technically a wash because I don’t think L/R were used in the SNES version? At least for totally unique actions? I could be wrong on that, though, again I haven’t played the SNES version a ton.

    Side note on the controls thing, did you play Mario World on the SNES and the GBA? Because in that case I feel the controls are MUCH better on the GBA version. Having spin jump mapped to R is MUCH easier for me to pull off then having it mapped to ‘A’. Also, the fact that they decided to change run from B like it was in the NES games to X and Y just seemed like a weird choice…especially to then make B jump? Ugg…that game is pretty hard for me to play on the SNES classic…but I’m wondering if someone used to the SNES controls feels the opposite.

    1. Whoa. So this sounds like a case of “you’ll like whichever version you experienced first” kind of thing. Having grown up on the NES and SNES, yeah it’s pretty hard for me to get used to using the R button for items when Y feels more natural.

      I have played Mario World on GBA, but it’s been so long that I forgot how the controls felt. I probably didn’t like them, hehe.

      1. At least for controls that’s what I’d guess. Naturally you’re used to them one way, so when you need to change you’ll struggle because your brain needs to adjust. In terms of the yelling every time he swings the sword and that kinda stuff, that I could probably do without 😛 While it wasn’t something I noticed back then, it might be something I notice if I play it now (especially because after talking about it I’d be hyper-aware of it).

    2. Interestingly enough, my wife’s Mario experience started with Super Mario World on the SNES, whereas mine began with Super Mario Bros. on the NES. So when Super Mario Maker came out and offered either B/A or Y/B controls, we found that I picked the former and she the latter.

    3. The logic behind using Y for run and B to jump I think is to hold Y to run, over the B button and then lower it to touch B when you want to jump.

      However, when I played on Super Metroid on 3DS is when I realized that, despite I played Super more as a kid on the SNES, the GBA button limitations made them come up with a better control setup on the GBA Metroids.
      It is clunky to have to use Select to quickly swap weapons (on Super), especially in boss battles.
      (I know it was a leftover from the NES and GB predecessors where it probably wasn’t so bad since you only had two weapons available at a time.)
      Though the developers at least where thoughtful to add a button to quickly switch back to the beam.
      Holding R to turn on the missiles when needed is far more convenient.

      But on New 3DS where the Select button is underneath the main action buttons, that is an uncomfortable layout.

      Although on the SNES I usually swapped the buttons to the SNES standard of B jump and Y shoot, for the 3DS I found myself using the game’s default of A jump and X shoot due to the 3DS’ larger size meaning it can’t be held in quite the same position as a SNES controller.
      Combining those two factors, I needed those extra missiles and energy tanks to cover for the resulting reduced playing skill. 😛

  3. Another case of “SNES ports to GBA are disappointing”
    I don’t think I got very far into the GBA version of Mega Man & Bass. Couldn’t do the dash easily as I couldn’t get down the button timing. Why they couldn’t do Down+A (as I recall, one character could slide and the other could dash, so there wouldn’t have been a conflict).
    I think Double Tap To Dash is just as bad as Up To Jump. 😛

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