Lighting up the Boy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 12:00am


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THE NEW NNNTENDO GAME BOY ADVANCE SP really takes the portable gamer to the next level.

For the first time, Nintendo actually thought about how users were playing their games on the Game Boy and saw the light. More precisely, Nintendo added a mechanism that lights up the screen for the player in every type of environment.

Nintendo also introduced a flip-top design, giving the new Game Boy SP a sleek and sophisticated feel. Nintendo says the design of the SP is intended to appeal to older, mature users.

More to the point, it plays really well because of the light - no more squinting to see the Mario jump; no more holding the device under the lamp to catch the light; no more carrying a torch around so you can play in the dark.

With the SP's new design, Nintendo also introduced a built-in rechargeable lithium battery, which replaces the traditional AA batteries from previous devices. The battery lasts 10 hours with the screen light on and takes about three hours to be fully charged.

The new battery saves money in the long-run, but you will have to stop playing and find an electrical outlet once the battery runs out, whereas in last-generation Game Boys you could simply replace the AA batteries.

Besides these new breakthroughs, the SP - priced from $899 - is pretty much the same as the classic Advance system. Both have the same 32,000-colour screen, the same 32-bit processor from ARM and play the same games, which include older titles designed for the now-discontinued Game Boy and Game Boy Colour systems. The SP can also connect to other Game Boy Advance systems for multi-player games.

There are now 488 Game Boy Advance games, including classics such as Super Mario Bros and Zelda. With all the new attention on the SP, no doubt game developers will be rushing to release new games, or migrate old ones to the Advance system.

PROS: front light display, sleek flip-top design, plays existing Game Boy titles

CONS: non-removable battery pack