Gearing up for the June 11 North American launch of Game Boy Advance, Nintendo is taking comfort in the fact that Japan saw initial sales of 1.1 million units in the first 10 days (650,000 the first day) after the system debuted there on March 21, 2001. Once the State-side rollout is underway, the console giant plans to ship 24 million units worldwide by March 2002, starting with a European launch on June 21.
The system (SRP US$99) boasts both a new look and improved functionality. GBA will be available in three colors at launch-arctic, glacier and indigo-but market feedback from Japan could see fuschia added to the spectrum sometime in July. Building on Game Boy Color’s eight-bit system, GBA sports 32 bits, meaning it can run just under 20 times faster and display more than 10 times as many screen colors as GBC. It also weighs the same as GBC and takes the same number of batteries, but has a continuous playing time of 15 hours, rather than 10.
GBA is Game Boy- and GBC-compatible, so all the old games will work on it, although 15 new titles (SRP from US$29 to US$39) will hit this month. Headed up by Nintendo’s own Super Mario Advance and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, third-party games include: Army Men Advance (3DO); High Heat Major League Baseball 2002 (3DO); Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (Activision); Dodge Ball Advance (Atlus); Fire Pro Wrestling (BAM); Top Gear GT Championship (Kemco); Tweety and the Magic Jewel (Kemco); Fortress (Majesco); Iridion 3-D (Majesco); Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (Majesco); ChuChu Rocket! (Sega); Ready to Rumble Boxing: Round 2 (Midway); and Rayman (Ubi Soft). A total of 60 will roll out by Christmas 2001.
The new system features multiplayer functionality (up to four), as well as connectivity to Gamecube, due out this October. GBA can serve as a handheld controller on the Gamecube system, and players can use the GBA screen to secretly choose plays on some games-in the case of a football title, for example. GBA has also been designed to download some Gamecube titles for portable play.
A 10-week multimillion-dollar State-side promo campaign featuring three 30-second TV spots began airing on April 30, along with in-store hype-generating displays. The bulk of the campaign rolled out on May 21, including print ads; a Gameboyadvance.com website; in conjunction with SI For Kids, an ‘Anytime, anywhere’ sampling tour hitting between 20 and 30 North American markets at events like E3 in L.A.; a mobile dance party with Teen People; a consumer tie-in promo with Oscar Mayer Lunchables and Frito-Lay for back-to-school; and a promo with DC Comics.