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The Birth of the GBA is upon us

by Billy Berghammer - March 20, 2001, 11:06 pm EST
Source: Bloomberg

Would you camp out overnight in the streets of Japan for a GBA? Of course you would.

Camping out over night in Japan for the GBA, or any system in my opinion would be an honor. Where it all happens. To be the first in the world to nab the tiny tendo badness. Hopefully stores in the US will allow this as well. Or have Midnight sales. Special thanks for Tendo Box for pointing this one out to me.

Tokyo, March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Yoshihito Komoto, a 23-year- old college student, had to sleep on the street last night.

But his vigil paid off because by morning he found himself at the head of a line of hundreds of fans in front of a computer game retailer, awaiting the chance to buy Nintendo Co.'s new handheld player, Game Boy Advance.

The object of desire is the successor to the best-selling Game Boy. The Japan debut of Game Boy Advance is a prelude to the global release of the player in June, which the company hopes will solidify its lead in handheld game players.

It also heralds the Kyoto-based company's new game console, slated for release in July to compete against Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox.

The Game Boy Advance release is ``a challenge for Nintendo to strengthen its market share,'' said Jay Defibaugh, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston in Tokyo. ``The company should be able to maintain its dominance in this particular segment'' of handheld players.

Rekindle Interest

While Nintendo has no competitors in the handheld game machine market, it needs to rekindle diminished interest in Pokemon's game characters, which led Nintendo's software sales for several years. Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi said in a recent interview that sales of Pokemon-related goods are not as strong as they used to be.

Nintendo will start selling the 32-bit game machine in the U.S. on June 11 and in Europe and Australia by the end of the month. It expects unit sales of 1 million in Japan in March and plans to make 3 million units between April and May and 2 million units in June. Peter Main, vice president of Nintendo of America Inc., told Bloomberg News last week he expects unit sales of 1 million in the U.S. on the first day.

``Game Boy Advance is a great and fantastic game machine,'' Komoto said after he bought his own. ``You should get one even if you have to spend a night standing in line.''

The retailer, Laox Computer Game Center, opened its shutters at 8:30 this morning to start sales of the game machine an hour and a half earlier than the usual start of business.

The Game Boy Advance, which retails for 9,800 yen ($80) in Japan, can run the more than 1,000 existing games for the first Game Boy. The new player operates four times faster than the original unit and displays more sophisticated graphics and a wider array of colors. Up to four users can play together connected by cables, using one game cartridge between them.

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