Nintendo updates GBA
Updated - shape, size, weight, price, lighting, battery timing, European release date
As I type, Kristan is on his way to a Nintendo UK press conference, where the triple-A-less platform holder will unveil for the first time in the UK the brand new Game Boy Advance SP. However typically the Kyoto-based publisher has spectacularly failed to align its international announcements, so the Japanese and the Americans got the jump on us. Ah well.
Much as sources including reputed UK gaming mag Edge have been speculating over the last few months, the GBA SP boasts an updated clamshell design, improved backlighting, rechargeable batteries and a folded size of three inches square and one inch thick. Otherwise it's functionally identical to the original GBA, with D-pad, A, B, Start and Select buttons on the lower half and the cartridge slot behind and beneath the controls. Our only concern is the way the L and R buttons are secreted behind the screen when unfolded - hopefully our RSI will be up to the task.
Nintendo plans to have GBA SP on the market more or less instantly. In Japan, the system will launch on Valentine's Day, February 14th, with a US launch set for March 23rd and a price tag of $100. Nintendo's London press conference kicks off in just over an hour, so we'll let you know a firm European date as soon as possible.
We currently have no reason to suspect that GBA SP will introduce regional complications to the handheld market, so in-keeping with GBA, GBC, GB, NGPC and various other handhelds over the years, you should be able to import a Japanese one at the earliest opportunity and play whatever you like on it. With this in mind we'll certainly be keeping our eyes on our favourite importers over the next month.
Later that morning...
And we're back. Thanks to the wonder of the mobile phone, we're able to bring you the latest news from Nintendo's UK press conference in London, which just entered the question and answer stage after an address from David Gosen.
Apart from the basic details of the Game Boy Advance SP which are already available on the net, we've just learned that the console will weigh in at 143g (virtually the same as the current console), that the Lithium-Ion battery will clock up 10 hours of gameplay with the toggleable backlight turned on, 18 hours with it turned off, and that recharging the battery entirely will take three hours.
The other good news is that European gamers will not have to wait overly long for the console, as it should debut in Europe priced between 129 and 139 Euros on March 28 - just five days after it appears in the US. We've also been told that it will appear in three colours - silver ( pictured), black and blue, and will be backed by a half-million-Euro marketing campaign.
And in closing, we'd just like to point out that despite the connections that will be drawn, GBA SP is not the fabled, rumoured, hyped and generally fantastical 'megaton announcement'. As V-Jump, the magazine which started the fuss (before over-zealous Western news websites leapt on it, blew it out of proportion and then attempted to trademark it), has finally unveiled, the so-called megaton announcement is little more than a Cube version of a comic popular with V-Jump's readers. So there you go.