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Advance warning

Nintendo ships Game Boy Advance handheld

Game Boy Advance, Nintendo's high-powered portable video game player, made a limited debut in the US yesterday.

At around $100 the Advance quadruples the power of its predecessor, the Game Boy Color, which sells for around $30 less. There's currently no release date set for the UK, but the US release was only four months after Japan.

Game Boy Advance's predecessor, Game Boy Color, allowed users to connect their machines to their mobile phones to download software upgrades, and send and receive email. On the Advance players can now also access a central server with mobile phones to play games online, or exchange data directly with friends in the same room whose machines are also connected to their mobile phones.

The Game Boy Advance comes in three colour schemes - violet, transparent blue and white - with a 32bit processor that pumps out 32,768 colours on to a 2.9in LCD (liquid crystal display) screen.

In a radical departure from earlier portable players, the Advance mimics a console game controller for easier two-handed action. Also new for 2001 is the ability to link up to four Advance systems together for head-to-head competition.

The Game Boy Advance will be compatible with the Nintendo GameCube, a compact games console that will be released in November. Compatibility with the Advance will be an advantage for the GameCube in its upcoming battle for console dominance with Sony's PlayStation2 and Microsoft's Xbox.

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