Nintendo: Cartoons for the GBA

For US$20 (€) you’ll soon be able to buy a GBA cartridge containing up to 45 minutes of high-quality (well, for a 240 x160 pixel screen anyway) video and animation. Nintendo are addressing an issue that they’ve long had with their games consoles: kids keep switching them off and watching television. Admittedly, they tend to watch Nintendo cartoons, but then that might expose them to adverts for other companies’ products.

So, Nintendo have brought the cartoons to their GameBoy Advance in the form of cartridges containing between two and four episodes of popular cartoons. First up will be a selection of episodes from the Pokémon franchise, followed by other titles from other series: SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Oddparents, Dora the Explorer and Codename: Kids Next Door, and Sonic X.

“Even by the remarkable standards of product evolution that have characterized the Game Boy franchise, this is a landmark event,” says George Harrison, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications, said in a statement. “Pokémon is part of the first step in revolutionizing the nature of portable video entertainment, with eventual reach targeting all demographics.”

This is a remarkably similar idea to the ZVue player we talked about a few months ago – though since Nintendo has sold more than 20 million GBA players in the USA alone, the Zvue’s prospects look somewhat diminished.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?