How to watch movies in Game Boy Advance

My first ever portable game player was a Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP. I got it back in 2004. I actually wanted a PSP but my father could not afford it so opted to the Gameboy instead. At the time, having a color display screen in palms of my hand excited me. I used to fall asleep while playing Pokemon Saphire on it. I was 10 years old at the time. I always wondered whether it is possible to watch movies on it. It turns out that you can.

There are actually three ways to watch movies on Game Boy:

Option 1: Buy a Game Boy Advance Video cartridge

These were a set of limited run Gameboy cartridges with actual movies in it. There were released between 2004-2005. You only select few popular children’s cartoon and movies. There were only 3 feature-length movies which are Shark Tale, Shrek, and Shrek 2. You would basically buy this from your nearest Gamestop like every other Gameboy cartridge, insert and play. Now you can get these rare gems on eBay. The video quality is really bad and laggy.

Option 2: Play-Yan cartridge

Play-Yan or Play-Yan Micro is basically media player sold in a Gameboy cartridge. It has a special adapter to insert SD cards packed with MP3 and MPEG-4. This was the most convenient way to play a movie on Gameboy. However, this has a very specific MPEG-4 compression requirement that makes annoying to put modern movies into it. The video quality is much better than the Game Boy Advance Video cartridge. This was only launched in Japan. It cost about 5000 Yen ($46) at that time.

Option 3: GBA Movie Player

This is similar to Play-Yan but bulkier and less convenient. It reads both Compact Cards and SD cards. This supports the Nintendo DS as well. It comes with an NES emulator. You can even load Gameboy ROMS onto it. The only downside, music & movies have to be converted to a very specific from a conversion software that is difficult to find.

If I was ever given a choice to watch a movie on Gameboy, I’d pick option 2 but Play-Yan cartridge costs about $100 on eBay.

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