Game Boy Advance Box Guide

Written by George William



I’m excited to share one of many collector articles to be published this year. This one comes from George Treviranus, an extremely knowledgeable and passionate collector who dedicates his free time to writing educational content on his personal blog Not only will this guide be helpful to those in search of Game Boy Advance variants, but I hope this guide inspires other collectors to research and write guides of their own. Enjoy! – Dan Gomez


Box Types

Just like Game Boy and Game Boy Color before it, Game Boy Advance (GBA) boxes bring their own set of nuances that can make collecting unique and challenging. Thankfully, there are only a handful of box variants. At a high level, you can expect to see these three main types of boxes: Y-fold, double-ended, and cross-fold. This guide won’t cover odd-sized games, such as WarioWare Twisted (which happens to have a Y-fold box, but I digress). Also worth noting, is these box types aren’t strictly unique to GBA games – you’re very likely to encounter both Y-fold and double-ended box styles on GBC, and Y-Fold largely on the original Game Boy.

Y-Fold Box

Not to be confused with a Y-fold seal on most modern games, the name “Y-fold” here simply refers to the shape of the folds on either side of that bottom fold. The top uses a “flat” top lid without dog-ears (more on dog-ears in the next section). This type of box is mainly manufactured in Japan and the cardboard is typically higher quality than the other box types, as it typically has a cardboard inlay to hold the paperwork and cartridge into place.

This box type is quite common as it comprises most of the earliest releases of the handheld. (Photos: eBay)

Of note with this type of box, the inner-flaps (under the top lid) serve less functional purpose as they don’t interlock with the lid, but will often contain a date or other manufacturing data printed for identification purposes. It’s hard to read, but the example above says:





The date is typically in International Standards Organization format (ISO), which is YYMMDD. December 27, 2001.


Double-Ended Box


This second box type is also fairly common. It gets its name from, you guessed it, having two lids on either end of the box.

This box became much more common for titles mid- to late-lifespan, starting as early as 2003 and continuing beyond 2005. This is likely due to Japan slowing down its manufacturing of GBA games around 2005 as Nintendo DS took the forefront.

On the topic of box quality, the downside of this box style is its less resilient design: no cardboard inlay! This cut in materials might have lowered costs, but for collectors who are condition-conscious, it usually results in bowing of the top and bottom lids when the seal is too tight. Likewise, if the game is subtly sandwiched in a stack of other games, bowing is more likely.


Unlike the Y-fold box’s top lid, these have small “dog-ears” to lock the lid down with the inner flaps. (Photo: eBay)


Cross-Fold Box

The third and last type of box, as mentioned earlier, is the “cross-fold” box (this is a term WATA has adopted for documentation purposes). Rather than two folds on either side, there is one diagonal fold across the length of the bottom.


While it isn’t clear if these boxes have a distinct print time frame, very few games with this box style have crossed Wata’s hands:


Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games

  • Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy

Publisher: Blizzard

  • Blackthorne
  • Rock n’ Roll Racing

Publisher: Sierra

  • The Hobbit: The Prelude to the Lord of the Rings

Interestingly, each game with a cross-fold box has a top lid with dog-ears, rather than the flat lid of a Y-fold box. The cross-fold boxes seem to be linked to specific publishers thus far. It’s also interesting to note that the three publishers listed above are interconnected. 


Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, GBA doesn’t have much complexity, as it mirrors much of the same designs as its Nintendo handheld predecessors. The key takeaway for a collector, however, is noting the peripheral differences as the style and box quality can inform condition rarity. Some games came in multiple styles, and some just one!