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Friday, 22 June, 2001, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Nintendo fight back
The Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance has been successful in the US
By the BBC's David Gibbon

In the early 90s, Japanese video game giant Nintendo was at the very heart of the global games business.

The firm built a solid reputation for its cute characters and fun games and it was once said that Super Mario was more well known by American children than the president.

Nintendo also did well on the hardware side with their Super Nintendo Entertainment System becoming a best-seller.

But when Sony launched their PlayStation console in 1995, Nintendo lost their place in the industry and this year announced a 42% drop in profits.

One area that has been a goldmine for Nintendo, however, is portable gaming. The company launched their Game Boy machine in 1989 and it has since gone on to sell over 100 million units around the world.

The machine has completely dominated this lucrative sector and now Nintendo has released its successor, with high hopes it will perform even better.

Twelve game titles are launched with the machine
Twelve game titles are launched with the machine
Called the Game Boy Advance, it went on sale in America earlier this year and instantly became the fastest selling game system ever to launch - with over 500,000 snapped up in less than a week.

Powered by a 32-bit processor - the same as the one in a PlayStation - it looks impressive.

Yet, the running speed of the Game Boy Advance processor is less than half that in the PlayStation so its power is not going to worry Sony's more established home console.

When you realise the original Game Boy only had an 8-bit processor inside it, it becomes apparent how much of an improvement this is over its smaller cousin.

The sound quality has been updated and it comes with a screen that is 50% larger than the original.

It is a shame that Nintendo did not give the screen a backlight, however, as the result is a dark, often difficult to see display.

Using the Game Boy Advance in well-lit places, though, does prove a very enjoyable experience.

An extended battery life means it will play for up to 15 hours without needing a change and it comes with two extra buttons to allow for greater gameplay.

A total of 12 game titles is launching with the 89.99 machine, including the superbly colourful Rayman Advance.

Other stand out titles includes Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Castlevania, Super Mario Advance and F-Zero Advance.

Mouthwatering

All of the main games publishers are backing the Game Boy Advance in their droves - with some mouthwatering titles on the horizon such as Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles.

Plus, all of the 700+ titles for the original Game Boy will work on this new system - so an extensive catalogue is available from day one.

Nintendo is hoping the GameCube - its next home video game console - will help it regain a strong foothold in the $20 billion games industry.

But for now it has other things on its mind.

There is little doubt that the Game Boy Advance is a giant leap forward from the original and the firm's domination of portable gaming looks set to continue.

Game Boy Advance is manufactured by Nintendo, 89.99 and goes on sale in the UK on 22 June.

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