GAMEBOY ADVANCE: The Boy Wonder

E3 EXPO 2001 COVERAGE
Reported by: Kyle Suggs
ThotMedia Freelance Writer
GAME TECH INFO

CPU: 32-Bit ARM with embedded memory
MEMORY: 32 Kbyte + 96 Kbyte VRAM (in CPU), 256 Kbyte WRAM (external of CPU)
SCREEN: 2.9" TFT reflective screen; 240x160 resolution; 32,768 possible colors
SIZE (mm): Width 144.5mm X Depth 24.5mm X Height 24.5mm)
WEIGHT: 140g
POWER: 2 AA batteries (Alkaline only)
BATTERY LIFE: 15 hours
SOFTWARE: Cartridge format - Game Boy and Game Boy Color compatible
M A Y . 2 0 0 1  |  L A , C A , U S A

Let's take a short quiz.

What game system has over 600 titles more than any other system in history? With 100 million units sold, what is the world's best-selling video game system? What System has the longest life span of any game system (14 years)? Which system despite its technical inferiority beat all competing games systems and monopolized the market?

What was your guess?

Atari 2600…? nope.
Sony Playstation…? nope
The Original Nintendo Entertainment System…? nope but close.

How about Nintendo's GameBoy?

Hmmm, are you surprised? Think about it. When you think of handheld game systems you don't think about the word “handheld” as you would lets say a “laptop”; you would most likely think of the word “gameboy”. GameBoy has become synonymous with ALL handheld gaming systems. If you don't believe me try this on. Major airlines now announces that you must turn off all Cellular phones, pagers, CD players, and gameboys. Wow, how did Nintendo put themselves in the position for such free advertising?

Since it's introduction in Japan in 1987 (1989 in the US), the GameBoy has been a gaming sensation and a cash cow for Nintendo. The GameBoy has so dominated the market that no other handheld system is around to compete with it. This is even more impressive when you consider the systems that it had to do battle with. Until 1997, the GameBoy was only in greyscale (black and white) while every other system (Atari Lynx, Sega GameGear, Neo Geo Pocket Color) had full color. These competing systems also had way more power, back lit screens (screen shines in the dark without additional hardware), and television tuner attachments. On paper this would seem like a mismatch, however, Nintendo had the right formula for a handheld game system and they exploited it. The formula goes something like this:

Small Size + Low cost + Long Battery Life + Ease of Use + Addictive Games (remember Tetris?) = MAD CASH

The late GameBoy inventor Gumpei Yokoi, realized that people are not interested in bulky, expensive, complex systems that drained the batteries 3 hours after opening your gifts on Christmas morning. People want a GameBoy.

Yet with all of the success that the GameBoy has had, Nintendo who is never known to sit on it's own success, has developed the most innovative and drastic change to it's beloved system. AT E3, the world finally got a chance to play it. The system is called the GameBoy Advance (GBA) and it promises to revolutionize gaming as we know it.

My buddy and E3 travel companion, Maurice bought his GBA from Japan the moment it was released there roughly a month ago. I got my first glimpse at it on the plane to Los Angeles. Its size and the comfort that it gave to my hand impressed me. I am quite sure the GBA will improve on the success that its predecessors had built.

SYSTEM SPECS
CPU: 32-Bit ARM with embedded memory
MEMORY: 32 Kbyte + 96 Kbyte VRAM (in CPU), 256 Kbyte WRAM (external of CPU)
SCREEN: 2.9" TFT reflective screen; 240x160 resolution; 32,768 possible colors
SIZE (mm): Width 144.5mm X Depth 24.5mm X Height 24.5mm)
WEIGHT: 140g
POWER: 2 AA batteries (Alkaline only)
BATTERY LIFE: 15 hours
SOFTWARE: Cartridge format - Game Boy and Game Boy Color compatible

FEATURES
  • All GameBoy games work
  • Screen is 50% larger with television quality resolution
  • Two additional shoulder buttons
  • 50% more battery life
  • Cartridges are 50% smaller than GameBoy and GameBoy Color
  • Multi-player mode: Four GBAs and connect and play using only ONE game cartridge
  • GBA can be used as a controller to the Nintendo GameCube
  • TV add-on is optional

GAMES
Since the GameBoy's primary audience is people under the age of 18, almost all GameBoy games are family friendly. I must caution a few titles such as "Mortal Kombat", "Zelda", and "Pokémon", which contain questionable material concerning violence, and the occult. Also, since the graphics on the GameBoy Advance is just below the quality of a Sony Playstation, you may expect to see more graphic titles.

FINAL COMMENTS
While many things will remain unchanged in this new GameBoy generation, many new things will be possible. The fact that the GameBoy Advance can be used as a game controller for the GameCube leads people to speculate that you no longer need a television to play your GameCube. This possibility will create new challenges for parents so far as monitoring what our children are watching is concerned.

Just like Batman has his Robin. The GameCube has its own boy wonder.

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