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Nintendo Co. Ltd. today unveiled the Game Boy Advance SP. The enhanced Game Boy Advance features a front-lit flip top screen and an ultra-sleek square design measuring eight centimeters along its sides. GBA SP will be compatible with the 1,400 existing titles in the Game Boy software library. 

"Both Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP reflect the best the video game market has ever seen in hand-held gaming," says Peter MacDougall, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Nintendo of America. "For those who must have the latest in technology and edgy design, Game Boy Advance SP delivers the ultimate in portable gaming."

Beyond the sleek design, the defining aspect of the Game Boy Advance SP from the user's perspective will be the handheld's front-lit screen - a first in Game Boy hardware. Game Boy Advance's hard-to-see screen has been the number one complaint of GBA owners since the handheld's release in 2001. The light can be turned on or off by a small button located at the top center of the handheld's base.

The unique dimensions of the Game Boy Advance SP required some notable hardware modifications. The L and R shoulder pads, located in the lower left and right corners of the GBA SP, are smaller than those found on the current GBA. The the face buttons and d-pad have been depressed so that they do not interfere with the collapsed screen. Early hands-on impressions note that neither modification is much of an ergonomic concern. The limits of hardware size did however eliminate the headphone jack. An adapter is now necessary to listen to your GBA beats with headphones.

The Game Boy Advance SP is powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The battery lasts for 10 hours with the light turned on and 18 hours if the light is not used. An AC adapter is provided with the GBA SP for recharging. Nintendo was quick to note that the battery retained 75% efficiency after hundreds of recharges.

Game Boy Advance SP is set to release in North America on March 23rd in metallic cobalt and platinum. The handheld will carry a retail price of $99.95.
Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research told AP, "The $99 price point is really a magic number. They've kept it in reach of the masses." However, the GBA SP will be significantly more expensive than the current Game Boy Advance, which retails for $69.95. Full worldwide release details follow...
Game Boy Advance SP Release Details
Japan February 14 | 12,500 ($105)
Available in: Blue, Silver, Black
North America March 23 | $99.95
Available in: Cobolt Blue, Platinum Silver
Europe March 28 | 129 - 139 ($135-145)
Available in: Blue, Silver, Black
Australia March 28 | $199 AUD ($115)
Available in: Cobolt Blue, Platinum Silver

For those of you wondering, SP stands for special. Nintendo anticipates worldwide GBA SP sales of 2,000,000 units by the end of March. More than 150 million Game Boys have been sold since the handheld was introduced in 1989. 

Game Boy Advance SP Specs
Measurements 84.6 x 82 x 24.3 millimeters
Screen Size 73 millimeters
Weight 143 grams
Battery 10 hours (w/ light) 18 hours (w/o light)
Recharge Time 3 hours

The Game Boy Advance SP marks a significant departure from the status-quo for Nintendo. The SP looks more suited for the business professional than the twelve-and-under demographic that Nintendo has traditionally held first and foremost in product development. The system's high retail price, lithium-ion battery, and mature color scheme all seem to further this notion.






Image sources randomly altered. Do not direct link.

January 7, 2003

Rick - Editor in Chief, GameCubicle


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