Game Boy Advance Why should I bother?

Gamestyle Archive intro: written on the eve of the GBA release, Gamestyle considered whether it was worth picking up Nintendo’s new handheld. Did we? Yes.  Writer JJ, published June 2001.

It’s under a week to go before the replacement for the longest serving piece of hardware becomes available in Europe.   The Game Boy has been with us now for a decade and yet continues to sell either in colour or monotone.   The handheld console has seen off challenges from Atari, Bandai, Neo Geo, Sega and many more during its long history and only now does the bell toll.      Although some of the recent software for the Game Boy has been exceptional for instance recent examples such as Grand Theft Auto, Alone In The Dark, Perfect Dark and Pokemon, the general feeling is that no more could be done on the system.   We can only take so many platform, puzzle or poor license releases.   The arrival of its 32bit successor should be a day to remember in Europe but this seems not to be the case.  In fact the general public seem more anxious to experience the new look Gamestyle website that launches on the same day.

Consumer apathy is pretty widespread when it comes to the GBA and it’s all down to the price.  The price point of £89.99 has been widely adopted by retailers which seems fine until you compare that the same machine in Japan costs 9800 yen (£58) or in America $99 (£73).   No discounts either for buying several titles or link cables.  That makes us easily the most expensive place on earth to buy the next generation handheld.   Yet the reason for this isn’t solely down to Nintendo, Gamestyle point the finger of blame at the retailers.   The reason is quite simply Nintendo have recommended a retail price of £73 to £79 for launch day but no one is listening, why?   The fact of the matter is all the main high street retailers are experiencing lower revenues from videogames in general.   The N64 is frankly dead, the Dreamcast has almost joined it and the PS2 continues to disappoint with its lack of quality software.  The GBA is seen very much as a cash cow and therefore we’re going to have to pay a bit more for it.   Of course Nintendo aren’t entirely free from blame, almost all of the titles will retail for £29.99 with the exceptions being Nintendo titles that will come in at £34.99.   If anything the Nintendo games should be cheaper as all the royalties go to the Japanese firm unlike 3rd party titles where they take a percentage.

Even with the price issues high in our mind Gamestyle would still buy the GBA on day one, not because we’re millionaires or Nintendo are giving us freebies, no we’ll be down in that queue with you come Friday 22nd June.  One of our team already has the machine on import and hasn’t been seen since its purchase.   Not only do we have to buy the latest bit of kit with the excitement and thrill of it all in our minds – it’s an essential purchase.   What many have overlooked is that the GBA represents the first piece of Gamecube hardware to become available.   Not only are you buying a handheld but also a controller with extra qualities for the home console.  The inbuilt ability to link up to three other GBA’s and play certain games from only one cart should lighten the blow to your pocket.   The thoughts of hammering the rest of the Gamestyle staff at F Zero will soon become reality, then Mario Kart, then the world!

We all moan about the various formats and exclusive games across many systems.  In order to play the best you need to buy several systems and the argument for a single format has been with us for sometime.   The Game Boy and of course the GBA are the only format to own when it comes the handheld market.  If your favourite game developer is going to release a spin off handheld version chances are it’ll be on Nintendo’s machine.   Unless you’re Squaresoft that is, who are still paying for their allegiance to Sony after the SNES, you’ll have to import a Wonderswan for their games.  By buying a GBA you’re almost guaranteed hundreds of forthcoming handheld games from all the developers across the globe.   Added to this is the backwards compatibility with the Game Boy and Game Boy Colour games so no need to lose that Tetris cart.

Sega are now on board and from day one you’ll be able to buy Chu Chu Rocket, a fantastic game that any Dreamcast owner should be familiar with and a Sonic game to follow.   Only Microsoft and Sony are missing out on the party, rumours do persist that both are working on handhelds of their own.   Most think that Sony are untouchable when it comes to the number one position in the console market, compared to Nintendo and the handheld market they’re in weak position.   Such is the domination of Nintendo and its number one brand.   Mobile phones and Palm handhelds are often projected as being the future of the handheld market but are so far behind its not worth even mentioning them.   Another game of Snake or Tony Hawks 2, that is all we need to say.

At the end of the day we all make our own decisions but after you’ve seen the GBA in action it will prove hard to resist.   Gamestyle will be covering the system in our usual way with news, previous and reviews shortly.

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