Hands-on: GBA e-Reader

We have new details on and impressions of Nintendo's latest accessory for the GBA.

We recently got our hands on Nintendo's e-Reader accessory for the Game Boy Advance. This peripheral attaches to the top of the handheld much like an oversized game cartridge, and it lets you scan in and play a number of classic NES and Game & Watch games using a barcode-like scanning mechanism. These games actually come in the form of trading cards that are similar in size and packaging to collectible baseball cards. These cards usually come in packs of five, and each one has artwork that pertains to that particular game on the front and a pair of "dot code" strips along the back. When scanned into the e-Reader, these codes load the actual game into the e-Reader's memory, which then enables you to play it on your Game Boy Advance.

Currently available e-Reader games include such NES classics as Excitebike, Tennis, Donkey Kong Jr., and Balloon Fight, all of which are exact representations of their original counterparts, as well as Game & Watch games like Manhole. Larger games like Excitebike require that you scan the dot codes located on both sides of all five cards, whereas the simple Game & Watch games only come with a pair of dot code strips. The e-Reader seems to be able to hold one NES game and one Game & Watch at once. If you scan in any additional games, you'll be prompted to overwrite parts of the peripheral's memory. Games are stored safely in the e-Reader's memory even if the device is removed from the Game Boy Advance.

The e-Reader is available in stores immediately for around $44.99, and it comes bundled with either Donkey Kong Jr. or Pinball. Individual card packs sell for only $4.99.

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