Console Review [02/18/02]

You would think a company that has a strong hand-hold on the Handheld market would grow complacent and not bother to create new things. Such could have been the case with Nintendo. They've been riding a wave of success from the GameBoy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Pocket. In fact, other than BanDai's WonderSwan (only available in Japan, or through import shops), Nintendo hasn't had much competition. So, when Nintendo decided to release an all new, all powerful handheld, gamers were overjoyed, and for good reasons (as will be explained below). After showing the new handheld off, side-by-side with their GameCube console, Nintendo released it in Japan in March 2001 and in the US and Europe in June 2001.

Out of the Box
Grade: B+
For the price ($90 at launch and now down to $70), you get a pretty good deal. While the GBA doesn't come with any games (but what consoles do nowadays), it does come with a free pair of AA batteries by which to start you first session of gaming. But, if you want to link it to other GBAs or plug it into a wall socket, you need to be sure to pick up the accessories along with the handheld.

Console Hardware
Grade: A-
The GBA is a sturdy little piece of work. It fits well in the hand and the addition of a wider screen and two shoulder buttons shows that Nintendo wants this to be a more versatile handheld. It's light and thin enough to not feel as clunky, especially for the younger gamers. The larger screen displays a lot more colors and is a lot larger, allowing for an easier view of the games. And, with the larger variety of colors, games look sharp. Throw in audio, the ability to link four GBAs together and the ability to play all of the older games and you have one nice little package. The only drawback is the fact that the screen can be a little hard to see if you don't have enough good light. In fact, a website called Pocketmonopoly has started development of an internally-lit fix for this problem.

Games - Initially
Grade: A+
Considering that the GBA launched with Super Mario Advance, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, F-Zero and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 (among other titles) and had some other awesome titles (like Advance Wars, Castlevania and Golden Sun) released since the launch, I would have to say that the GBA has an excellent line-up of games all it's own. But, that doesn't include that massive line-up of previous GameBoy games that can be played on it. Anyone who doesn't already own a previous GameBoy will get to scour through the other console's titles for games to pick up (especially the two Legend of Zelda titles released in the past year).

Games - Long Term
Grade: A
Let's be honest... There's gonna be some great titles coming out. Especially considering that so many developers want to put out titles for this little money maker. With the graphics boost to 32-bits, a lot of the newer games look of either SNES or early 2D Playstation quality. In fact, a handful of developers are building games in such ways as to fake the 3D look. If you don't already have enough games to play, don't worry because there are more coming.

I'll be honest when I say that every gamer should own one of these. The GBA plays so many games and has such a great potential. Both the video and audio aspects are well done. Fans of the old school NES and SNES days will love it, not to mention newer and younger gamers who are looking for something to play when they've got a few minutes to kill. For more information, check out the following sites: Nintendo.com | GameBoy Advance.com

- - Kinderfeld

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