The people at Majesco Games are quite the developers. They are always looking at new ways to extend video games systems, especially the GBA. First they created some wireless links (which can be read about here). Then they created some wireless messengers for the GBA that allowed users to communicate wirelessly, similarly to the DS’s PictoChat. While these are both great inventions, their biggest hit is probably the technology that is built within each of their video cartridges. Majesco has created a compression rate that transfers video footage into a format the GBA can understand. [p]Majesco has been pumping out video carts for quite some time now. Pokemon, Sonic X, and even Strawberry Shortcake are just some of the many TV shows that have been converted to video carts. Read more about the video carts here. [p]Fitting 20 minute TV episodes into a GBA cartridge is one thing, but converting entire movies is another. Most GBA video carts contain two 20 minute episodes. This means that most video carts will only house about 40 minutes of footage. However, movies are usually more than double the length of two TV episodes. Majesco has managed to fit entire movies onto a single GBA cart.[p]Majesco was kind enough to supply mygamer with a copy of Shrek the movie but they have also ported Shrek 2 and A Shark’s Tale to GBA video as well. [p]This Shrek video cart contains about the same compression rate as Majesco’s TV show carts. Do not expect DVD quality video and sound here. The GBA has a screen size of 40.8mm x 61.2mm, has a resolution of 240×160 pixels, and has a color display of 32,000 colors. But as everyone knows, DVD quality stuff is a lot higher than these restrictions. However, considering how much information Majesco has managed to cram into each one of these little carts is very respectable.[p]When first watching the movie, immediate and noticeable frame loss and sound compression will make viewer wince in pain. This is due to the fact that the general public is becoming so accustomed to high definition games, TV, and movies. However, after watching the first five minutes, viewers will become used to the quality at hand. The frame loss and color pallet is restricting, but the compression rate is still respectable considering you are watching a movie on your GBA’s screen.[p]Video isn’t the only thing that is compressed. The audio is as well. In all honesty, the sound coming from this video cart is pretty horrific. And unlike the video, viewers won’t really become used to it. The GBA’s mono speaker just doesn’t cut it. Majesco probably knew this unfortunate task. That is why they included a free set of headphones bundled with the video cart. Watching the movie with stereo headphones is really the only way to watch these video carts. With headphones on, the sound quality is much higher when compared to the single GBA speaker. Headphones make the audio tolerable. [p]Every GBA video cart will work with the original GBA, the SP, and even the Micro. However, it will not work with the Gameboy Player. Majesco probably thought that if the GBA player could play these video carts, there would be no reason to buy the corresponding DVDs or watch the shows on TV. It is unfortunate, but it is easy to understand why as the compression would also be much more noticeable on a big screen.[p]The GBA’s buttons act as your remote control. The shoulder buttons will skip forward or backward between chapters while the "A" and "B" buttons will adjust the brightness of the screen. Left and Right on the D-pad will also act as a fast forward and rewind buttons. Start will pause the movie and Select will bring the viewer back to the main screen. Controlling movies is very convenient and easy to use. [p]Nintendo recently announced that the cost of producing a GBA cartridge has dropped. That is why developers and publishers are now re-packaging two or even three GBA games into one GBA cart. This is most likely the reason why Majesco was able to produce these video carts that sport an entire movie. The cost of the larger sized cartridge is now more affordable than ever. [p]The biggest downfall about these video carts is the price. Each cart retails for $19.99. Yes, it is cool to watch full length feature films on my GBA, but I can’t look past the fact that I could buy the DVD for the same price (if not for less) and get extra features as well. These video carts feature no extended scenes or extra footage. What you see is what you get. I completely understand why Majesco charges this price for each video cart as compressing, getting the rights to publish the movie, and the actual cost of the cartridge itself can be costly. Just like the PSP’s UMD movies, you pay more and get less. The extra cost is only justified in the portability of the product. [p]If a child has a GBA and if parents don’t want to shell the cash for a portable DVD player, then purchasing these GBA video carts are a great alternative. Plus, many of the TV show carts have been collecting dust on store shelves for a while now and are making more appearances in bargain bins. Purchasing one of these video carts could prove quite entertaining for the lower price or $10 or even $5 bucks. Either way, Majesco once again demonstrates their ability to remain one of the more unique game publishers today by producing more than just games. GBA video carts are cool if you are willing to pay the cost of admission.
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