Review: GBA ABS Shell from RetroSix

Today we’re covering the simple, yet elegant GBA shell from RetroSix. This $10 shell is an ABS solution rather than what most 3rd party shells are made with. We’ll delve more into that in a moment. I also wanted to mention that we have a tutorial on upgrading your GBA shell if you want to. You can find the article by clicking here. But for right now, let’s talk about this shell, shell we?!

Unboxing Video:

Description:

‘In 2001, Nintendo delivered the next generation of portable entertainment into the hands of eager gamers. The Game Boy Advance gives you console-quality gaming in your pocket – and its bright, colorful and finger-intuitive design is still a classic. We spent over a year developing the perfect GBA shell. Spending over £20,000 that we will never get back, in the name of perfection.

This shell is produced via casting and using ABS (from Japan), as opposed to all other shells on the market being made of injection-molded cheap and inaccurate soft plastics.

The fit, feel and tolerance on the RetroSix ABS shell is better than the original. The buttons are stronger with newer ABS and more accurate molds than the original, the buttons and triggers are ultra-responsive, the plastic is much stronger and free of any defects like those you get on injection-molded shells.

The front shell has an extra 0.6mm depth and no pillars in the way of installing new modern screens so no cutting is required for thick screens.

Once you compare our shell with all the others on the market you will never look back!’

Features:

‘The kit comes with:

  • Glass Screen Protector
  • All Buttons
  • Rubber Contact Pads
  • Light Pipe
  • Front and Back Shell
  • Battery Cover
  • Back Sticker’

Pros:

  • Design. We’ll be discussing the nitty-gritty of the ABS plastic and the glass lens here in a moment. I wanted to talk about the overall design of the shell. It’s one of the reasons that you’re here. You’re wondering if the shell is worth shelling out the money for (I’ll stop with the puns now). One interesting thing that they included was the custom branding. Instead of infringing on the Nintendo logo, they’ve incorporated their own. Not only because of that, of course. By having their own branding front and center to bring attention to their brand.
    Furthermore, there’s no custom serial number sticker. They’ve instead branded that spot. Luckily there is a small indentation where you can still put your previous serial sticker and it can cover the branding. You do get a custom grey sticker that usually mentions the name of the handheld and model number. This still has that but changes the model name and adds their website.
    With the overall look of the grey and dark grey buttons, it hearkens back to an older Nintendo. It gives me SNES feels without the purple. It’s colored more like the Super Famicom/PAL Super Nintendo. And I don’t mean it’s colored like the controller with the four different face buttons. It’s almost as if RetroSix understands that the multicolored buttons schtick has been done to death. The inspiration of the Super Famicom is real and represented accurately. I live in the US and I still have a greater love for the look of the Super Famicom than I do for the Super Nintendo. Kudos to RetroSix for really giving us a look that is classy and stands the test of time.
  • Fit. Everything in terms of assembly went together almost too good. I’m always fearful of third party shells and parts. Mainly when it comes time to snap it all together and button it up. You have instances where screws can be too big or posts that are too thin. This leads to boring out plastic or tearing the post out altogether. Thankfully, this did not end up being an issue here. Sometimes you have screws that are incredibly soft and strip out way too easily and you don’t have the screw in all of the way. That leads to a slight opening in the two halves of a shell. None of that happened here either. Nor did that crap happen where the hole on the top of the screw wasn’t deep enough. I don’t know if that’s happened to anyone else. Sometimes you can’t fit the screwdriver into the slot of the screw as it still has metal in it. Maybe it’s just me and my bad luck (let me know if the comments).
    The buttons also played nice and sit exactly as they should. Clearly they were properly modeled, but this is always another fear. The feel of the buttons as you play with them is incredible. It’s like the difference between playing a PS1 controller and a PS3 controller. While they’re similar, one is just clearly newer with better science and tech behind it. There was only one feature I couldn’t test. The one that says, “The front shell has an extra 0.6mm depth and no pillars in the way of installing new modern screens so no cutting is required for thick screens.” I can clearly see that the plastic you’d usually cut off is already gone, that’s good. I just don’t know if it fits all newer screens on the market. I’d estimate that it fits most of them.
  • Comfort. While you may say that Nintendo made this handheld comfortable, some points need to be given to RetroSix. They were able to recreate that comfort one to one. They’ve even netted improvements in the process. It’s already been mentioned in the features and in the “Fit” section. But I do have to bring up one last time that the responsiveness has been improved. The method of molding uses is more accurate than even the original made by Nintendo. That means that you have less chances of really having to force press a button to get it to respond. What you might find in your original aging buttons and shells is that they’re becoming harder to press over the years. Do yourself the favor of replacing the whole kit and caboodle. Sometimes even just replacing the rubber membrane pads under the buttons help, but this goes so much further than that. So keep your hands from cramping and buy this thing!

  • Assembly. This is simple and they didn’t add or subtract anything to change it. So if you’ve assembled a GBA before, this should be no different. Again, we’ll be posting a tutorial article complete with video soon, so stay posted.
  • Glass Lens. They really hit this on the nose. RetroSix could’ve included a plastic lens for the $10 price point and you would’ve been totally okay with that. Inversely, they could’ve made this kit more expensive because the glass lens is present. I love the feel of the glass and how it adds a layer of classiness to the overall look of the GBA. If you have a backlight GBA and still have a plastic lens, you’re missing out. Having glass just does something to the look. Unfortunately, pictures don’t really do it justice. You have to have it in person and see the rainbowing effect of the Gameboy Advance logo at the bottom. Not only does it look better and have better clarity, but you also have a thicker feeling lens that is much more scratch resistant. While I doubt that it’s hardness level is 9H, I know it can be in your pocket with keys and survive.
  • ABS. Now we’re going to talk about ABS plastic and why it’s just better. Remember all of those plastic toys you used to have that would eventually become brittle and break? Yeah ABS doesn’t do things like that. It’s used nowadays since it’s far more durable, costs less, and has the ability to be used in all types of molding processes. You won’t be seeing your GBA shell be near as brittle over time and it will be able to take bumps and bruises better than Game Boys of the past.
  • Parts. This comes with every part that you could possibly need. We’re not just talking buttons, but also the rubber membranes (as those break down over time). The kit also includes a light pipe as well, my friend. That means you don’t have to source your previous light pipe from Nintendo. Really you won’t have to source anything from your original shell. Now, if you want to remain as “pure” as possible, sure you can use this kit to only replace what’s necessary. But that’s really not what this kit is for or about. It’s supposed to be a whole new home for your GBA to live in, like how a hermit crab chooses a new shell.
  • Cost. All of that, for only $10. Now, full disclosure, there is a shipping cost. However, you shouldn’t be afraid of buying from a website that ends in co.uk. Just because it’s a UK based website does not mean that you have to pay $20+ for shipping and wait 2 weeks. If you buy one of these right now, your shipping should be $6.

Cons:

  • Instructions. This is something that is near and dear to my heart. While it is easy enough to swap the parts, not everyone knows how or is comfortable doing so. Maybe those people need to swap parts but are too anxious to open up their handheld. And yes, there are people online who have taken the time to make instructions, but that doesn’t mean that everyone knows that. I think that there should at the very least be a link or QR code printed on a slip of paper with the kit. Or even more than that, a link to any given video on the GBA shell product page. Here is a link to our official guide complete with a video.
  • Colors. Having multiple options in terms of variants isn’t a requirement, far from it. I would just like to extend the idea of having extra colors to RetroSix. You’re likely to sell more shells as not everyone enjoys grey. The quality and the kit overall is supreme. I think introducing more colors would be a win/win. As of writing this, they do not have any extra colors. But I did see that someone asked if there were any other colors available. RetroSix had this to say, “We are in the process of creating possibly up to 4 more colors in the coming weeks. So far thinking black, crystal clear, hot pink semi transparent and maybe toxic green”. So here’s to the future…if these come into fruition.

Overall Thoughts:

At just $10, this thing is a no brainer. I could just stop there, but I want to reiterate what that get’s you. It gets you a carefully crafted ABS shell, it gets you buttons that are recreated one to one with the originals. It also gets you a unique color scheme that comes topped off with a custom sticker for the back. And best of all? My favorite part, the glass screen. Usually, glass screens have to be purchased separately and the cost is almost $10 or is $10. So please, jump into the world of an all in one custom package like this. Gone are the days of having to buy the good stuff in parts.

Purchase Link:

Want one of these? Click here to buy one. Before buying, set your currency in the upper right-hand corner of the product page.

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