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Game Boy Advance "PLAYS ON DS*" box print guide


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Hi folks! This is a small guide to an obscure corner of Game Boy Advance print history: the PLAYS ON DS* boxes. Here are, I think, most of them:


These are US boxes from very late in the GBA's run that have "PLAYS ON DS*" in a circle on top of a triangle at the top left corner of the front, instead of the more common "ONLY FOR" on a triangle. The "PLAYS ON DS*" blob is a lighter blue than the "ONLY FOR" triangle.

The Nintendo/TPC-published games - the bottom six in the picture - also have ©2007 Nintendo on the back bottom right; the previous print of each game had ©2006 Nintendo there, except Emerald, which had ©2005 Nintendo. Those six also say "Game Boy Advance game plays on Nintendo DS in single player mode." at top right on the back, below the black box showing system and peripheral compatibility.

For Word Safari, Math Patrol and Petz: Hamsterz 2, this is the only known US box print. They were all late 2007 releases. My guess is that all these boxes were printed in mid 2007 and put on shelves for the 2007 holiday season.

There is at least one game I know of that I'm missing - Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. There is definitely a "PLAYS ON DS*" box print of that game, per https://www.reddit.com/r/gamecollecting/comments/mkwqlc/every_na_release_of_super_mario_advance_4_all/ but I have not managed to find one for sale yet. Since SMA1, SMA2 and SMA4 have a "PLAYS ON DS*" print, you'd expect SMA3 (Yoshi's Island) might do as well, but if so I have not seen one yet.

I have looked through all 2007 and 2008 releases, and the top three games are the only ones I found that released in this box style. Many late 2006 and 2007 releases use a different style where the "ONLY FOR" triangle is simply removed, and the left bar just says "GAME BOY ADVANCE". I have not cataloged those yet, there are quite a lot. Several still had the "ONLY FOR" triangle, including the very last GBA release, Samurai Deeper Kyo, from 2008.

It's possible there are other games that were re-released in this box style; they are quite uncommon and hard to search for. If you know of any others, ideally with photos, please let me know! In fact, if you know anything at all about these boxes that isn't mentioned here, please let me know 😄

Note that there were also some cases where games in a "ONLY FOR" or no-blob box were released with a "PLAYS ON DS" sticker applied to the shrinkwrap. This sticker looks slightly different; it has two lines of text, the lower line says "in single player mode." I don't count those among this set as they are not actual box prints. See https://imgur.com/gallery/OQbA2H8 for an example (on the right).

Here are the known games and related details, in no particular order:

Pokémon: Emerald Version - AGB-BPEE-USA

Print code: AGB-BPEE USA-1 (print #2)
Cartridge: AGB-BPEE-USA (no ROM revision)
Manual: AGB-BPEE-USA-2

Pokémon: FireRed Version - AGB-BPRE-USA

Print code: AGB-BPRE USA-2 (print #6)
Cartridge: AGB-BPRE-USA (revision A)
Manual: AGB-BPRE-USA-2

Pokémon: LeafGreen Version - AGB-BPGE-USA

Print code: AGB-BPGE USA-2 (print #6)
Cartridge: AGB-BPGE-USA (revision A)
Manual: AGB-BPGE-USA-2

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team - AGB-B24E-USA

Print code: AGB-B24E USA-1 (presumed) (print #2)
Cartridge: AGB-B24E-USA (no ROM revision) (presumed)
Manual: unknown

Super Mario Advance - AGB-AMAE-USA

Print code: AGB-AMAE USA-2 (print #3)
Cartridge: AGB-AMAE-USA (no ROM revision)

Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World - AGB-AA2E-USA

Print code: AGB-AA2E USA-2 (print #3)
Cartridge: AGB-AA2E-USA (no ROM revision)
Manual: AGB-AA2E-USA

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 - AGB-AX4E-USA

Print code: AGB-AX4E USA-2 (print #4 - e-reader card print, Wal-Mart print, no e-reader card print, this print; one must have a duplicate or non-sequential code)
Cartridge: AGB-AX4E-USA (revision A)
Manual: AGB-AX4E-USA-1

Petz Hamsterz 2 - AGB-AJHE-USA

Print code: AGB-AJHE USA (presumed) (print #1)
Cartridge: AGB-AJHE-USA (no ROM revision) (presumed)
Manual: AGB-AJHE-USA (presumed)

Word Safari: The Friendship Totems - AGB-BB8E-USA

Print code: AGB-BB8E USA (presumed) (print #1)
Cartridge: AGB-BB8E-USA (no ROM revision) (presumed)
Manual: AGB-BB8E-USA (presumed)

Math Patrol: The Kleptoid Threat - AGB-BIYE-USA

Print code: AGB-BIYE USA (presumed) (print #1)
Cartridge: AGB-BIYE-USA (no ROM revision) (presumed)
Manual: AGB-BIYE-USA (presumed)


Edited by AdamW
adding details for SMA4, because I got a copy
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  • 1 month later...

Finally found me a copy of SMA4! Details updated. Interestingly the box code is -2, so one of the earlier prints must have a non-sequential or duplicate code (I'm guessing it's the Walmart one). Cart is rev A. Does anyone know what the difference between the original and rev A ROM is for SMA4? I can't find anything about it on the internet. For packins it has DMG-USA-14 (health and safety), T-AGB-USG-USA (the Coral Pink DS Lite ad that's common in late GBA games), and the game-specific Nintendo Power ad AGB-AX4E-USA.

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