DVD on GBA
Think the GBA is only capable of playing games? Think again. Majesco has managed to squeeze entire episodes of popular cartoons onto one easy to use GBA cartridge.
In my opinion, it was only a matter of time before something like this was going to happen to the GBA. Since DVD players are everywhere nowadays, why not try to extend this feature to the popular and massively sold GBA system. DVD players are everywhere in today’s society. Not only is it possible to watch DVD movies in your own living room but also people can now be entertained inside bathrooms and even automobiles. DVDs can go wherever you go thanks to handheld DVD players that come complete with their own personal screen. These GBA carts are taking this handheld, DVD route.
To play these movies is quite simple. Just insert the cart just like any other game and turn the power on. Once booted up, the user can choose from two episodes from a cartoon series. What makes these carts truly user friendly are the control features. Just like a DVD movie, it is possible to fast forward and rewind, instantly go to the next or previous chapter, change the brightness, and go back to the main menu.
These control features are well thought out and work very well with the GBA’s buttons. Once the movie begins, the shoulder buttons (L and R) can instantly take the user to the next chapter in the episode. Holding Left and Right on the D-pad will cause fast forwarding and rewinding. “A” and “B” will adjust the brightness and contrast of the screen. The latter feature is very helpful considering users might be using an original GBA or the SP version. Just like in any video game, the Start button will instantly pause the movie. The Select button will go back to the previous menu. If the user holds Up on the D-pad for three seconds, a button Lock feature will be implemented.
Majesco has been granted the license to produce many different cartoon franchises. In stores right now are the following cartoon series on GBA carts: Dora the Explorer, Sonic X, Strawberry Shortcake, and the Fairly Odd Parents. Many more cartoons are on the way. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pokemon, All Grown Up, Cartoon Network Collection, Codename Kids Next Door, Dragon Ball Z GT, Yu-Gi-Oh, and the Adventures of Jimmy Neutron have all be granted permission to be supplied on these GBA carts. Many different volumes of specific series will also be released. Pokemon, Sonic, Fairly Odd Parents, and Strawberry Shortcake will all have at least two volumes.
While I believe watching cartoons on my GBA is a nifty feature, I do have a few problems with this idea. First off is the price. Each one of these GBA carts has a retail value for $19.99. I think this price is a little steep considering you only get two episodes per volume. Granted, I know that each one of these video carts has to be at least a 512-megabit cartridge. The higher sized cartridge will obviously cost more to produce so I can understand why the price is steep. However, entire seasons of TV shows can be bought in one nice, neat package for anywhere between $20 and $40 dollars on DVD. It just seems a little expensive considering you can buy an entire season for almost the same price as one of these two-episode GBA carts. Also, these cartridges are specifically designed to be played in your hand. Meaning, these carts are not compatible with the GameBoy Player. If these cartoons were played on your TV, I fear that two problems would occur. First, why would you buy the full version DVD of the same cartoon series when you can already watch it on your TV screen? Second, I think that the video compression would create heavy pixelation on a TV screen.
Sound and video compression are a big factor when watching these cartridges. For the most part, I think the developers did a good job with the video and audio compression. People who watch these cartoons on their GBA need to remember that they are watching them in a handheld device that was meant to play video games. Do not expect high definition video with surround sound capability. Considering all this, the video compression is well done to fit on a single GBA cart. At times, the viewer will witness some pixelation, especially when there is a lot of movement on screen at once. The sound quality is also well done for a GBA movie cart. However, it is strongly encouraged to buy a set of headphones when watching these movies. You will not get the same quality when using the single speaker of the GBA system.
Most of these video paks can be found in your local electronic store today. Look for them right next to the GBA games. While I think it is cool to watch cartoons on your GBA, I think the price is a little high considering you only get two episodes on each cart. However, I am keeping in mind that each cart is at least a 512-megabit cartridge so the cost to produce a higher sized cart will be slightly more expensive. The control features are well thought out and closely resemble an actual DVD remote control. Plus the sound and video compression are nicely done considering you are playing them on a GBA and not a high definition TV. More cartoon series are going to be released soon, along with newer volumes of series that have already been released. Being a slightly older gamer, I think the choice of cartoons are not the greatest selection (bring on Spiderman and those old X-Men cartoons) but young kids today will probably appreciate them. I feel that $10 or $15 bucks would better suit the price tag for these cartoon cartridges, but the $20 dollar bill might be worth it if you are a parent worried about your son or daughter playing violent video games or if you want them to shut up for a short period of time.