Game Boy raises bar for hand-helds

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Here’s a look at some hardware and software that’s available: Classic NES Limited Edition Game Boy Advance SP from Nintendo, $99.99. With the battle cry of onward and backward, Nintendo’s popular hand-held entertainment unit continues to evolve as a multipurpose micro entertainment center.

Under the category of onward, Majesco should capture dollars from the 170 million Game Boy Advance owners worldwide by offering a selection of Nickelodeon, 4Kids Entertainment and Cartoon Network programs viewable, in their entirety, via a standard Game Boy Advance cartridge.

Gamers who own Hasbro’s Video Now Player (which allows viewing black-and-white cartoons through a non-backlit device on a 1.7- by-1.3-inch LCD screen) as well as a GBA are going to be bummed about wasting money on the Now Player. For $19.99 a cartridge, the GBA gives them access to color ‘toons, including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Fairly OddParents,” “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Dora the Explorer” on a 2.5-by-2-inch screen.

Majesco’s magical revolution involves multipatented technology that squeezes 45 minutes of video, or 2,500 megabytes of uncompressed data, into a 1-by-2-inch plastic container.

The non-backlit GBA and backlit GBA SP are mimicking mini-DVD players by using the units’ controls to fast-forward, rewind, select from animated chapter menus and skip chapters. The reproduction quality is excellent, and using stereo headphones provides quite the multimedia experience.

Majesco is even pushing to release a cartridge with 90 minutes of content.

Nintendo also has jumped aboard the video-playing feature by releasing two Pokemon cartridges containing two episodes each of the hit show.

Under the mission of backward, Nintendo gives retro gamers a trip to the 1980s with its Classic NES Series for the GBA SP.

In addition to offering a special edition of the SP that resembles a 3.5-square-inch version of the Nintendo controller from 1985, the company has re-released a variety of titles catering to anyone who still can hum “Addicted to Love.”

For $19.99 each, players can take on the road pixilated powerhouses such as:

• The Legend of Zelda — The 1987 version of the adventure title mixes side-scrolling and vertical shooting as the hero Link must collect pieces of the Triforce that have been scattered across Hyrule.

• Super Mario Bros. — The 1986 tale of two plumbers is reproduced perfectly with plenty of Goomba head-stomping required as they traverse the lands of the Mushroom Kingdom.

• Donkey Kong — A plumbing protagonist goes on a daring quest to save his love, Pauline, from a giant ape in 1981, and the rest is history. The king of the side-scrollers offers three levels of climbing, jumping and elevator riding to declare that chivalry is not dead.

Mega-Man Anniversary Collection from Capcom for PlayStation 2 and GameCube, $29.99, rated E: Content may be suitable for persons ages 6 and older. On the topics of legends and retro gaming, a little boy robot known for conquering Dr. Wily and saving the world over his 17-year history returns through an anthology disc collecting his excellent side-scrolling adventures.

Players get all eight of the classic Mega-Man games encompassing graphics built for the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, PlayStation and arcade systems, as well as two Mega-Man arcade games — Mega-Man the Power Battle and Mega-Man 2 the Power Fighters — never before seen by U.S. fans.

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