The company, based in Japan's old capital city of Kyoto, has reached the landmark after breathing new life into the platform with the launch of a color version of the handheld games machine last year. That launch and the popularity of the company's Pokemon characters and games helped sales in the year ended March 31, 2000, to hit 17.5 million units making it the most successful year of sales to date, Nintendo said in a statement.
In early 2001, the company plans to yet again renew the format with the launch of the Game Boy Advance. The new machine will pack a 32-bit RISC (reduced instruction set computer) central processor in place of the current 8-bit model, improved audio and a screen capable of displaying 500 colors simultaneously.
In contrast, Nintendo rival Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. claimed the top spot in sales of TV console systems for its PlayStation games machine with worldwide shipments of 73 million units.