Nintendo Game Boy Advance

Nintendo's new Game Boy Advance (GBA) boasts a horizontal design and the addition of a left and right button, is backwards compatible with existing Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, is an easy fit in your pocket and weighs just 140g.

The GBA's two-AA battery life has been increased to 15 hours, and it's also claimed to run 17 times faster than the Game Boy Color while displaying 500 times as many on-screen colours. The 2.9in reflective TFT display has a resolution of 240x160 and can show 511 simultaneous colours in character mode and 32,768 colours in bitmap mode. In addition to a new 32-bit processor with embedded memory for saving games, the GBA now features scaling, rotating and transparency effects.

Nintendo's core audience of early to mid-teens will appreciate current titles including Pokemon, Super Mario Advance, F-Zero and Tony Hawk, as well as many others in production. For multi-player games, four GBA units can be linked together with an optional cable, offering four-way play using only a single game cartridge.

Nintendo has decided not to go with a backlit display, meaning that unless the GBA is used under direct light, it can sometimes be hard to see, especially from an angle, even outdoors. So, until Nintendo provides a light booster pack as with the original Game Boy, there'll be some torches found under the covers of a few kids' beds. Parents will be pleased to know that a headphone jack and a volume control is still incorporated into the GBA's design.

The GBA can plug into Nintendo's soon-to-be-released game console, the GameCube, for use as an additional screen and controller. In this case, the separate screen would add the ability to choose options in a two-player game without the other player knowing - such as selecting plays in a sport game.

The Game Boy Advance is available in four different case themes: Arctic (white), Glacier (translucent blue), Indigo (violet), and Fuchsia (translucent red). Its software cartridges will retail for around $70 and the game link cable will retail at around $20.

Nintendo Game Boy Advance; Price: $199.95; Phone: 1300 362 746; URL: www.nintendo.com.au

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