are confusing times for console gamers. It seems like every time you
turn around someones announcing a new game system with bigger and
better hardware specs. Heck, I wouldnt be surprised if
Intellivision and Atari tried to make a comeback. To make matters even
more complicated, old systems are being repackaged in an effort to
maintain sales and further confuse gamers (PSone anyone?). As it
stands, consumers really have 3 next-gen systems to choose from:
X-Box, PS2, and GameCube. And at $200-$300 its a pretty pricey
gamble. Do you go with the best specs, largest library, or lowest
price? I can offer no advice in this area. Fortunately, there is one
sure bet on the market with an incredible line up of launch titles:
the Game Boy Advance.
There hasnt been a whole lot of
fanfare surrounding this little guy. There have been no massive
line-ups on launch day, and no outrageous bidding wars on eBay. One
might be fooled into thinking that Nintendos little system is no
big deal in the gaming world, but hype doesnt make might. It was
pretty clear even before launch that the GBA would be the biggest
thing in the gaming community. Having spent some hours on the system,
Im even more convinced that the Game Boy Advance is the one truly
must-have system of 2001.
Ive been seeing a few complaints pop
up about the system like its price, recycled titles, and lack of 3D
support. Lets be realistic. You cant have everything and then
expect it to fit into the palm of your hand. In fact, I expect that
the limitations of the system will be responsible for fostering more
creativity and tightness in gameplay. The system is a little pricey,
but it is only a little more than the Game Boy Color.
It doesnt matter how good a system
is if it doesnt have the games (PS2 anyone?). My main problem with
earlier incarnations of the Game Boy lay in the games. One can only
play so many versions of Tetris. In the entire lifespan of the Game
Boy Color there may have been 5-6 games that I actually wanted to
play. The Gameboy Advance has already doubled that number with just their
launch titles. In fact,
I want to play as many of the launch titles as I can get my hands on.
My time with Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 has been some of the most
rewarding playtime of the year.
While some may balk at the $30-$40
dollar price range for the games, we have to remember that we are
paying for full versions of games, not watered-down afterthoughts.
Game Boy Color games were never about getting the best value for your
money. I honestly believe that a significant number of GBC games were
developed to maximize advertising dollars. I can see marketing
executives sitting around in a boardroom saying, "Well, were
taking out this full page add for the X-Men game, why dont we throw
a Game Boy version into the mix?" Whereas the GBA is a system
that people are actually excited about developing for.
Perhaps one of the reasons Im so
excited about the GBA has to do with the fact that I completely missed
out on the Super Nintendo wave. The Super Nintendo came out at that
time in my life where I was feeling just a little too old for video
games. My NES system was gathering dust, and I was more concerned
about girls than Mario. It wasnt until Super Mario 64 came out that
I realized Id never be too old for video games. So there is an
entire generation of video games out there that I have never
experienced. Some people are a little disappointed by the lack of a 3D
chip in the system, but if the PS2 has taught us anything its that
graphics do not make the game.
I still cant get over how small and
comfortable the system feels. I was surprised by how tiny the box was.
The increase in screen size and resolution is also noticeable. Making
the transition from Game Boy Color to Game Boy Advance will take a
little getting used to, but everything about the GBA makes Nintendos
older handhelds seem bulky and awkward. Every now and again I find
myself forgetting about the left and right buttons because they are so
new. My only real complaint about the system is the lack of a
backlight. It takes some work to angle the system just right to get
the maximum amount of light with the minimum glare.
I dont know whos going to win the
console war (and it will be a war), but I wouldnt be surprised if
the interconnectivity of the GameCube and the GBA becomes one of the
major selling points for Nintendos Next-Gen system. I know the
possibilities of combining the two systems have me excited. I also
know that my PS2 will be suffering from a lot of neglect as I sample
the diverse launch titles for my GBA. If you want to wait out the
console wars to see whos left standing, the Game Boy Advance will
keep you plenty entertained.