Tagged: Game Boy Advance

My e-Reader Card Collection: Nintendo’s Last Straw.

I have made a fair share of questionable purchases over the years. Back when I was still a Nintendo apologist, during the heydays of Gamecube puttering along way behind the PS2 and when the Game Boy Advance was king of all portable gaming, I had bought stuff that in hindsight wasn’t that useful. Such as the GBA-GC link cable that connected a GBA to a Gamecube to transfer data, or in the case of games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, have all the action take place on the GBA.

Nintendo-e-Reader

Doesn’t this look neat at first glance? Oh, if only.

But that isn’t nearly as much in terms of questionable purchasing decisions as me buying into Nintendo’s e-Reader. Not to be confused with an eBook reader, the e-Reader was a Game Boy Advance add-on where you could scan cards with codes printed on the side to get cool goodies. It sounds like a good idea on paper, but the execution was poor: Games sometimes needed 3-10 codes scanned to play something, you could only hold one thing on the e-Reader’s memory at a time, and you needed a GBA link cable if you wanted to transfer anything from an e-Reader to another system, or the Gamecube.

It was a mess. Needless to say, Nintendo of America wasn’t having more of this and discontinued the thing around 2004. Thus leaving me with a bunch of cards I had acquired that I didn’t really have much use for anymore.

20180717_104226

52 e-reader pickup (digital photography, 2018)

Over 15 years after the e-Reader came out, I still have the damn cards. And I’m gonna show some of them off here. Now, these aren’t the most rare, or the most valuable, these are just cards I find interesting, because they have a story to them. Note I’m only gonna list cards I personally own, as much as it would be interesting to write about Japanese exclusive e-Reader cards, I don’t have those.


20180717_102537

Props to Nintendo for using the original Famicom cover art, at least.

Donkey Kong Jr.-e

One of the two pack-in classic games – the other being Pinball – this was part of the “Classic NES Series” which featured almost nothing but early NES games, the ones you see crop up everywhere on Nintendo platforms: Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, even much-maligned brawler Urban Champion got the e-Reader treatment.

The first card shows how to play the game, with each subsequent card giving some important tips on how to play and eventually master the game. It’s nice considering people even of my generation never grew up on the older NES catalog, but them not being based on more “powerful” NES games like Super Mario Bros. really made this particular series only interesting to diehard Nintendo fans.

It also didn’t help it came on five cards, with one set of two dot codes each. That’s 10 codes I had to scan to play this thing. Worst off, if I wanted to play any other game, I had to remove the game from memory, thus requiring me to scan all ten codes again if I wanted to replay it.

Funny enough, some of these games later got treatment as part of a brief stint of a different “Classic NES Series,” which was on traditional cartridges. These featured more of the NES classics you’d be familiar with, like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. Why scan 10 codes of Ice Climber when you could buy the same thing for a higher price on a traditional cartridge? Nintendo probably didn’t think that one through too well.

I’ve seen some of these Classic NES Series card packs on sale during the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and I sometimes get the temptation to get another one of these. Then I realize I’d have to scan 10 codes, and I could play that game elsewhere with less hassle.

…Have I mentioned I hated having to scan 10 freakin’ codes yet?

Continue reading…

Need for Speed Carbon on the Game Boy Advance: Time to Own the City!

There are many things that I’m always fascinated by, and one of them is portable versions of big console games. It’s surprising to see studios small and large try to squeeze as much power out of handhelds and hopefully make a good game out of it. I collect these on a rare occasion, and thought I’d dig one out of mothballs I bought awhile back and give it a spin.

As opposed to what, Own the Parking Lot?

Let’s hop in a ride and drive the mean streets, because we’re checking out Need for Speed: Carbon – Own the City for the Game Boy Advance. I mentioned buying this in an old “I Bought Stuff!” post from a year ago, and I wanted to see what a racing game looks on the ol’ GBA.

This is an EA Canada product, and came out on the GBA, PSP, and DS as the spinoff portable title alongside the main game on the bigger consoles. Usually the portable version is different in some ways than its console brethren, so let’s check it out.

The story’s fairly silly: You were in a race alongside your brother Mick, and a multi-car pile up by some unknown assailant caused the death of your brother and caused amnesia in you. What follows is a typical revenge plot as you work with Sara and Carter, Mick’s former crew members, as you climb your way back to the top and dominate districts and “Own the City,” as it were.

So let’s take a look at how this looks on the Game Boy Advance…

If you think it looks bad on a screenshot, imagine this in motion!

Oh. Oh dear. I’m not a graphics snob by any means, but this game looks pretty bad, even by GBA standards. Screenshots really do not do this justice, it looks like a blocky mess of a world on a platform that shouldn’t be running stuff like this. Feel the thrill of going 100 mph while feeling like you’re going half that speed!

Now I know the Game Boy Advance is not a 3D powerhouse, but something is really wrong when even playing it at top speed feels like a casual drive through a city than an actual racing game.

It doesn’t help that I can barely see anything. It’s very hard to see what’s ahead of you, and most of the roads are made of 90 degree angles that make it difficult to make good turns with slamming into the buildings. It doesn’t help that this perspective also makes swerving past traffic and opponent racers difficult.

Playing one of the Hunter races. One of the few modes where being in first isn’t guaranteed a win.

But enough about how it looks, here’s how it plays. A accelerates, B brakes, L activates Nitrous – provided you’ve unlocked it, and R is handbrake. There are four race types: Circuit, Sprint, Elimination, and Hunter. Circuit and Sprint are your standard races. Elimination removes the last place driver at each lap. Hunter is a strange one: Every skill or trick you do fills up a health bar, but hitting anything or stopping loses health. It’s less about finishing first and more about finishing with style.

Continue reading…

Nintendo Power’s August 2005 DVD Special: With Zelda and a bunch of bonus stuff.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I collect a bunch of unusual things, such as demo discs and promotional DVDs. I covered a Nintendo Promo DVD from 2002 last year, and mentioned that I had other promo discs that I intend to write about. Well, here’s another one of these.

Oh boy! Twilight Princess with DOLBY DIGITAL AUDIO!!

This is a special promo DVD from Nintendo Power, released around mid-2005. 2005 was a dark age for Nintendo. The GameCube was literally on its last legs, the DS was floundering and the GBA was the only success for the big N. This was before the Wii (or the “Revolution” as it was called) was even revealed. Like the 2002 promo, this disc is chock full of demos for the hottest new games on Nintendo platforms.

Naturally, the biggest game on display was the E3 2005 trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I never enjoyed the 3D Zelda games, and know little about this game except Midna, Wolf Link, and 8.8. (Giant Bomb and old school GameSpot fans will know what the last one means.) Nintendo Power was so proud to have this trailer that they boasted it being in DOLBY DIGITAL! You can literally be amazed at the audio quality, provided you had the audio setup.

Continue reading…

The 2002 Nintendo Preview DVD: Featuring Metroid Prime, and a whole lot of Gamecube.

Anyone who follows the blog may know I collect large amounts of video game-related crap. (For those who are visiting the site for the first time: I collect large amounts of video game-related crap.) Most of the time, it’s video game trinkets and items from press events, magazines, and demo discs, among many other things. This time, I’m gonna look at a preview DVD.

Oh no Samus is bursting out of my gamecube

It’s a Nintendo Preview disc from about mid-2002. Mostly an ad for the forthcoming Metroid Prime, it also features other flagship Nintendo GameCube games like Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Party 4, Animal Crossing, and Star Fox Adventures, along with some advertising for the Game Boy Advance, including the ill-fated e-Reader add-on. One of these days I’ll get around to covering that e-Reader, it’s a strange part of Nintendo history.

I remember this DVD being available at a Game Crazy (RIP), and took one home to watch at all the reasons for me to ask for a GameCube that Christmas. Nowadays the only reason I still have my GameCube is because my Wii doesn’t support the Game Boy Player add-on, one of the best damn hardware add-ons out there.

The most information about three Metroid games that you can pack onto a DVD.

Each of the highlighted Nintendo games get a few trailers for the games, most with typical sizzle reel fare. One for Star Fox Adventures is voiced by freakin’ Don LaFontaine for crying out loud. There’s also bonus features for each of them. Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Party 4 have tips and tricks videos. Metroid Prime has a feature called “The Metroid Legacy” which covers the history of the franchise – weird, considering that Metroid had only three games by the time of this DVD’s release – and Animal Crossing comes with a special set of commercials that are parodies of The Real World.

Back then, these were slightly funny commercials, nowadays they’re pretty cringe-worthy. Keep in mind this was the era when Nintendo thought having Yoshi beating up Pikachu to the tune of The Turtles’ “Happy Together” was a great way to advertise Super Smash Bros.

Continue reading…

%d bloggers like this: