Rumours circulated in specialist magazines as early as 1996, with news of a 32-bit handheld that would perfectly replicate the experience of playing SNES games on the move.
The Game Boy Advance (let’s call it the GBA from now on) was eventually launched in 2001 to great fanfare. The machine featured a design that called for the user to hold it horizontally, which made things easier for those gamers with huge hands that had struggled to get a grip on the old Game Boy’s ‘portrait’ format factor.
The full colour TFT LCD screen was undoubtedly the biggest talking point and rightly so: it generated gorgeous, blur-free visuals that had hitherto been unseen in the video game arena.
The only issue was that the display relied solely on external light sources, which meant that it either had to be played in direct sunlight or beneath some kind of artificial illumination.
This irksome issue caused serious headaches for purchases of some of the early titles: true to form, Konami’s Castlevania: Circle of the Moon featured some suitably moody gothic locations, but these were almost illegible unless you happened to be standing under a particularly bright flood light.
Despite this, the machine was a massive success. Backwards capability with existing Game Boy and Game Boy Color software allowed users to effortlessly make the technological step up without rendering their entire games libraries obsolete and a steady flow of AAA titles - including the inevitable Pokémon entries - ensured that demand for the new console was sky-high.
The complete lack of a rival machine on store shelves also helped: Nintendo literally had the market to itself.