Rumors abound about a new Game Boy Advance with a backlit screen. Is it reality, or a dream?
GBA News is "reporting" on retailers suggesting that a new Game Boy Advance is to be released in Japan in December. The kicker is, this one is to have a backlit screen. (Actually, to be more accurate, a "front-lit" screen.)
Not ones to to just accept any old rumor as fact, we've done a little checking around. As it turns out, there are already GBA's floating around Nintendo's offices with a built-in light. Nintendo had told us that they needed to find out how viable battery life would be if the screen had a light source.
There is a light reflector that sits on top of the GBA's reflective screen, and is lit from the top (or it could be the bottom ... our source was non-specific). There are a series of "slats" in the light reflector, giving the entire screen a good amount of light. If you've ever seen a Compaq iPaq handheld, it's the exact same sort of technology.
The great part about it is, since the screen is still reflective, you can use it without the light on in direct sunlight, preserving battery life. This means a switch to turn the light on or off, as an ambient light sensor would add more to the cost. If it's anything like the electroluminescent Game Boy LIGHT that was released in Japan, probably a three-way power switch (Off, On, Light).
It's possible that Nintendo will add room for one or two more AA batteries to help account for the drain, though if they keep the current case design, there only appears to be room for one.
Then my Nintendo source told me something very interesting. "Remember that we inexplicably changed the GBA to GCN link cable at the last minute. Remember that the change would preclude the use of any external light source with the GBA connected to the GameCube. What are you going to do? Drag your entire setup into the bathroom?"
Our source refused to say any more, but we have to admit that it makes a LOT of sense. This leaves a lot of unanswered questions though. What is it going to cost? Considering that GameCube is going to be $199, we can't see Nintendo pricing the new GBA any higher than $149. We also have no guaranteed timeframe. There's no word out of Japan that this is indeed happening, so that December date is still rumor at this point.
While the thought of a new Game Boy Advance this soon is no doubt disturbing to some of you, just know that Nintendo has heard your complaints about the dim screen, and had heard the requests for a backlit version (and damn the batteries!).
We'll have more as this story unfolds in the coming months.