Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the many things that was sent to us for review from RetroSix. Back in early March, we had covered a full shell replacement for the GBA from them. If you’d like to read about that beauty, just click here. In this article we’ll be discussing the multitude of glass screens/lenses that we received from them…and there’s a lot. So we’ll have three different sections. One for the DMG (original Game Boy), one for the Game Boy Color, and one for the Game Boy Advance. Let’s dig in!
GB, GBC: ‘One of the most common issues with the original Game Boy Color is the screen protector lens getting damaged, scratched or foggy over time. Grab yourself a brand new lens to improve your retro gaming! Made of glass, scratch-resistant, tough and ultra-clear. Comes with an adhesive backing so simply peel off and stick on.’
GBA: ‘One of the most common issues with the original Game Boy Advance is the screen protector lens getting damaged, scratched, or foggy over time. Grab yourself a brand new IPS screen-sized lens (larger window than regular glass) to improve your retro gaming! Made of tempered glass (unlike all other cheap copies on the market) our screens are as tough as nails, can be dropped from head height onto concrete multiple times without damage, scratch-resistant, tough and ultra-clear. Comes with adhesive backing so simply peel off and stick on. Glass opening size is suitable for IPS screens and has an extra-large opening to fit IPS screens perfect.’
I got of these lenses sent to me with a DMG shell prototype (more on that in its own separate article). So I can’t compare different lenses. Sometimes you think if you got one that it’s an accurate representation of a product. However, after doing this job for some time, I can confirm that not all products are made equal. That means even within a company. So if I had been sent multiple colors of the DMG glass lens, I’d be able to compare and contrast to see if there is a sense of similarity and accuracy across the board. But what we can compare it with is the original DMG plastic lens and a replacement plastic lens.
Okay, let’s first discuss how an OEM lens for a DMG from Nintendo feels nowadays. It’s the year 2020 as of the typing of this article, so the original parts are at worst 31 years old. I’m not certain the age of my DMG, but needless to say, the screen is weaker now than it was off of the production line. What’s worse than flimsiness is the scratches and yellowing that happens to these. Some lenses are bound to be less flimsy, yellowed, and scratched than others since they discontinued production in 2003. But the main point is, that if you’re comparing anything new to these old products, the new ones will win. So even modern-day plastic screens feel sturdier than originals. The new plastic ones out there in the world also don’t have scratches on them like buying an OEM one on eBay or something. That means, by the transitive property, if modern-day plastic ones are better than original plastic ones, then this glass one knocks it out of the park.
It doesn’t just succeed in terms of being rigid. Yes, it’s made of glass and that may seem scary. But it’s such a small piece of glass that it would take a lot to actually break it. Having a small surface area is in your favor here. This glass screen should be everyone’s go-to option at only a handful of dollars. The plastic versions may be acceptable, but they’ll also become degraded physically in the same way as the OEM ones. Not to mention that they’re going to get scratched far easier, impairing gaming visuals. The glass screen can take you lying your Game Boy upside down on surfaces. It can withstand being in a pocket with coins and keys. It can take being knocked around without breaking. I’m not saying drop the DMG down a flight of marble steps, I’m saying with standard use, this bad boy will hold up decades longer than it’s plastic counterparts. What’s best of all is the fact that they come in more colors than just the one that I was sent, so definitely check them out.
Game Boy Color:
I only received one Game Boy Color lens as well to review. The focus of the box was apparently GBA products, and we’ll get there, but some people love these other handhelds. I wanted to give them a breakdown of what to expect if buying these non-GBA lenses. So, if you’re one of those people, you can expect good things here. The surface area of the GBC lens is even smaller than that of the DMG. So the chance of the glass breaking is smaller.
It doesn’t just stop there, the print on these is impeccable. I probably should’ve mentioned it in the DMG section, but I’ll cover both of them here. I’m not certain what printing method is used, I would assume screenprinting, but I’m not going to say that is for certain the method taken. However, you can tell that the logo is an extremely accurate representation of the original. Furthermore, it’s very legible. Sometimes, cheap third party companies make things quick and dirty and the print is fuzzy or slightly “off”. RetroSix isn’t one of those companies, so you can rest assured that what you see in the pictures is what you’ll get. I received a white-colored lens with full-color text and it’s a beauty to look at. Don’t worry, there are other colors that they sell as well.
So, to cap this off. Whether you’re getting a DMG and/or GBC glass screen from them, you’ll get a sturdy product that will stay sturdy since it’s glass. And not only that, the glass is bound to repel most standard scratches and yellowing. They come in different colors for you to choose from. Furthermore, you can expect to see it look classy and have a clear, accurate print on the front. That is unless you choose a totally clear one. All of these attributes for the cost of an average plastic lense.
Game Boy Advance:
Now this section will be longer. So pause your N*Sync, put away your VCD copy of Jurassic Park III, and stop your installation of Windows XP because we’re going to have a nice, long talk about a product from 2001, baby!
All jokes aside, the Game Boy Advance came out in 2001 to a grand reception. People loved it so much that Nintendo put out a few revisions of it until they eventually changed over to the DS. Hardware-wise though, the original Game Boy Advance had the favored form factor. To this day, people still prefer that one over the GBA SP. The only reason most people own the SP is to have the backlit screen on the 101 models. Nevertheless, people are buying and modding more and more of the original form factor. Why not give it an updated shell/buttons, a backlit IPS screen, and a bitchin new protective lens? I agree, so let’s talk about the MANY GBA glass lenses that Retrosix sent over to me.
So first, let’s talk about the colors. I was sent multiple colors for review. I received standard black with silver text, an entirely clear one with zero text, a Pickachu/Pichu design with silver text, a pearl white with reflective text, and a Super Famicom design with grey text. As I had mentioned before with the other glass lenses, there are always more seemingly being released. So if there isn’t a color that you see that you want, follow @retrosixuk as they tweet new products all of the time. My favorite lens out of all of them so far has to be the black with the reflective text, it’s classy with a hint of futuristic-ness.
Now let’s talk about the fact that they’re tempered and what that means over standard glass. We’ve all heard tempered glass before, you see it primarily in vehicles due to its durability. In the event of a car accident, the glass won’t shatter into pieces putting them at risk. It’s more likely to just get scratched or cracked. We can apply that same mentality to having a smaller scale here. Except in this scenario, you’re not backing into another GBA in a parking lot. The likelihood of anything scratching or breaking this is quantifiably lower than standard glass or tempered glass in a safety scenario. The reason tempered glass is so strong is because of how it’s made. Here’s is the best explanation I could find on the internet, “Opposite of standard glass, when cooled, tempered glass is annealed slowly. How slow is slow? Tempered glass is allowed to cool naturally allowing the glass to become stronger.” The annealing process is basically the process in which the heated glass solidifies and cools into a stronger, less brittle product.
Now we can talk a little bit about the print. It seems to be the same process used on the GBA lenses as the GBC and DMG lenses. RetroSix deserves props for finding a way to make a solid black border that has the words cut out with great precision. I’m uncertain how the words are filled in or if maybe it’s the inverse. Maybe it’s the words are printed on first and then the black is laid on. Either way, they have found a process that would make Nintendo jealous. They’ve also managed to make the Pikachu/Pichu be picture perfect without a pixel out of place. Pokemon fans can rejoice that there is an option for an option that doesn’t look like a Chinese knock-off. Last off all, I’ve already mentioned the reflective print, but it bears repeating. There’s something to be said about the light catching the edge of the kaleidoscopic colors as you’re holding the GBA between your hands. If it was any larger or more reflective like a mirror, it would probably be too tacky.
The GBA is a larger size of glass compared to the DMG and the GBC. As we covered before, since it’s tempered, even at this larger size, you should have no real fear of it breaking. What does matter in size is how RetroSix covers you for no matter what kind of screen is in your GBA. If you have a default screen in there and you don’t want to update it, no problem. Are you using the AGS-101 backlit screen in your GBA, you’re covered. Maybe you’ve gone full 2020 and updated to the IPS backlit screen, you’re still taken care of. RetroSix understands that your field of view matters. The other third-party solutions out there generally just sell a “GBA lens”. They don’t specify and the ones that I found that do require that you buy a whole replacement shell with it. If you’re just in it for the lens, look no further than these.
Do I think there is any room for change or improvement? Well, no I think what could be done is offer a matte option for every glass lense, no matter the color. Modern HDTVs and computer monitors feature a matte surface to stave off glare and reflections of light. I think it could be the next generation of improvements for a GBA. Maybe I’m wrong, but you can already get matte glass screen protectors for cell phones, so the technology can’t be that far off. But even if it isn’t possible, these glass lenses are absolutely grand the way that they are. I’m just spitballing some new ideas!
They promote the GBA glass to be tempered glass on their website, but not the Game Boy/Game Boy Color lenses. Either way, I love the feel of the glass. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; I love 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. But also, having glass just does something to the look. Unfortunately, pictures/videos don’t really do it justice. You have to have it in person and see the look of it and give it a good knuckle rap. Not only does it look better and have better clarity, but you also have a thicker lens that doesn’t bow if you press in on the middle of it. Best of all, glass is far less prone to scratches. Welcome to the world of truly extended life for your favorite handheld!
(If buying a GBA lens, make certain it fits your specific field of view. It says at the bottom of each page if it’s for an IPS screen or not. Also, if you’re buying from the US, remember to set your currency to USD.)