The Power is in the Cards
Who knew that one day we would be playing video games from scanning cards? With Nintendo’s device, the future of gaming is taking a step forward. Not only can you scan cards to play classic NES games, but you can also link it up to your Nintendo Gamecube or GBA and unlock new things within games.
About the e-Reader:
This simple device plugs into your GBA game slot like any other game. It is about the height of the original Game Boy Advance. This awesome device reads a dot code programming language and if enough data is gathered, a full game or application can be accessed. Each e-Reader card is the same size as a regular baseball card and can hold about 24 kilobytes of data. With the use of these magical cards, classic NES games, Pokemon card battles, Game & Watch gallery games, and other applications can be played.
Once plugged in and powered on, a nice title screen will pop up. At this title screen, if the select button is pressed, a Credits screen will scroll showing the designers names. If the Start button is tapped, you are taken to the main menu screen. It is here that you have three options: scan a card, link to GC or GBA, or access your saved data.
If Scan Card is chosen, the user can take an e-Reader card and swipe it through the top of the device just like a credit card at the store. It doesn’t matter which side or way you scan the card. This makes for a great amount of convenience as either lefty or righty people can use it with ease. For the most part, game cards have two stripes of dot code, each on the longer side of the card. Other cards use the shorter side of the card as well, but that side doesn’t hold as much data because of the smaller size.
Once the proper series of cards have been scanned, that application or game will be saved in the e-Reader so you don’t have to keep re-scanning each time you want to play. If you want to play a new game, just scan the new cards and an option to override the previous game or application will be asked. The American version of the e-Reader even has a female voice that guides the user. This friendly informative voice, will read the instructions that are labeled on the bottom of the screen.
What Comes With the e-Reader?
Many extras come with the device when you purchase it. Inside, players will find a series of three Pokemon e-Reader cards, the classic Game & Watch game ManHole card, an Animal Crossing card, and a choice of one of two NES games in the package. The purchaser will have the option of choosing Donkey Kong Jr. or Pinball as their NES game, but no matter which package you buy, everyone comes with all those other extras. Besides those two NES games, many more NES games can be found at your local store for a messily $5.00. The e-Reader itself has a purchasing price of $39.99.
Each pack of NES games you buy contains a series of five cards. So if you want to play a NES game, you must make 9 or 10 scans because each side of the card must be swiped. Each card is clearly numbered in the top left corner but it doesn’t matter which order you scan the card. This is a handy feature. On the cards themselves, is a map of the controls and game tips that you can read about to help you perform in the game. Each card also supports a screen shot of the game that goes with the game tip. The controls are always mapped out on the first card. If the player wishes to go back to the game’s title screen, the L and R buttons can be pressed simultaneously. For the most part, these NES games stay true the origins of the NES from which they came. However, the only noticeable difference is the some game’s graphics seem to be a little squashed. This is due to the fact that the NES was played on a television screen while the GBA has a pseudo wide screen format. This means that the NES has a different resolution setting simply due to the fact that it wasn’t played on a wide screen.
NES games are not the only thing that can be played on the e-Reader. Pokemon cards also make use of the e-Reader. Each pokemon e-card has a dot code on one of the long sides of the card and one on the short side. If the short side is scanned, a Pokedex of that Pokemon’s card will appear revealing information regarding that particular Pokemon. In addition, if the proper cards are collected, mini games can be played. The best example of this lies in the Machop series of cards that come with the purchase of the e-Reader. If the long sides of the cards are swiped, a mini game will be active. These games may be simple, but they all have nice bright graphics and they even have music. That’s a lot a game for a few card swipes.
Another hefty feature lies in the connection to the GameCube game, Animal Crossing. Players can use the e-Reader to obtain new items in Animal Crossing’s virtual world. Packs of Animal Crossing e-Reader cards are also at your local stores and are about $2.99 in price. New items, town tunes, design patterns, and mini games can be played or obtained through the use of these cards. Currently, there are several series of these Animal Crossing cards. Any player of Animal Crossing should not be without the e-Reader as you can unlock so much with it.
Nintendo also designed its own handheld version of Mario Party. This game may seem somewhat childish, but adults will have a blast playing it too. In this game, players try obtain three pieces of Mario’s costume, which consists of his hat, overalls, and his shoes. The e-Reader will be used when a Challenge card comes into play. It is here that the player drawing the card will compete with another opponent in a mini game played through the GBA with e-Reader cards. Just swipe one card through and you’ll be playing a simplistic mini game that gives a card game an innovative touch. The game even offers a Practice mode before you can play for keeps. This is very fun, and easy to learn game. Up to four people can play this game at a time.
Despite being a great product, the e-Reader could have used just a few better features. The most needed feature that didn’t make it into the final product is the lack of a multiplayer link option. Only one player can play a classic NES game. This takes away from the fun in games such as Ice Climbers and Balloon Fight as those games are meant to be played with two players. The top of the e-Reader has a link port on it to link to the Gamecube, but another player should be able to download the NES game to his GBA using this link port. The only other problem with the e-Reader is that it doesn’t work fully with the GBA SP. If you notice, when you plug the e-Reader into your original GBA, it takes up the cartridge slot and the link port. It uses the link port to download the data into your GBA when you scan a card. Since the SP’s link port is at the opposite end of the system, the player can only play saved data games on the SP and not scan cards. Plus it is bit awkward to hold with the bulkiness of the e-Reader sticking out of the bottom end of the SP. However, the e-Reader came out before the SP did, so the designers cannot really be blamed for this inconvenience.
The e-Reader is a fantastic extra that brings a whole new element into your GBA and your Gamecube. The e-Reader is a great way to experience old NES classics. At five dollars a game, you can’t go wrong. This device can also be used in the newest Pokemon games and it is in the player’s best interest to use it in Animal Crossing as you can unlock and do so much with it. The only thing bad with this device is that you can’t play two player NES games and it doesn’t fully work with the GBA SP. Nintendo has confirmed that the Gameboy Player will work with the e-Reader. This device allows players to play GB, GBC, and GBA games on their televisions through their Gamecubes. No matter how you look at it, the e-Reader is one of the coolest peripherals that Nintendo has ever released and anyone with a GBA should own one as you can get so much more out of games. Let just hope that Nintendo doesn’t forget about this super cool device like it has with ROB, the powerpad, and the N64 Transfer Pak. Hopefully, it will be used a lot more in the future as it has a lot of potential.
Follow Me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zackgaz