The e-Reader: A Look Back
Remember the days when gaming used to be filled with gimicky hardware? We certainly do, and have chronicled Nintendo's brief e-Reader history. Both the good, and the not-so good...
It's very rare that you see some kind of gimmicky add-on in the game industry these days. But back in the earlier days of gaming, it seemed pretty commonplace. The Sega Genesis saw such add-ons as the Sega CD and the Sega 32X; the Turbo Grafx 16 could be attached to a separate CD-ROM player; and even the Nintendo 64 could see expansion with the help of an Expansion Pak. The Game Boy Advance was no stranger to peculiar peripherals, but probably the most peculiar of all wasn't an overhead lamp or a link cable. In fact, it was a card reader.
Nintendo released the Nintendo e-Reader in the beginning of the Game Boy Advance's life cycle in the late 2001/early 2002 period. This accessory basically plugs into the Game Boy Advance cartridge port and allows cards to be swiped through- sort of in the same manner as a credit card reader at a grocery store checkout. However, the data being swiped from these cards is read into the GBA unit and displayed on the screen, either in the form of a classic game or a mini-game that was related to popular GBA game releases at the time.
The device met with a modest success, even to the point that Nintendo released an E-Reader bundle with a Game Boy Advance included right there in the box. However, its popularity began to waiver upon the third wave of e-Card game releases for the system, and soon Nintendo phased it out in favor of a Nintendo Classic Series collection of games, including the likes of Metroid, Castlevania, and Super Mario Bros.. It found a decent two-year run in North America, but was discontinued. The device was never launched in Europe. However, in Japan, Nintendo still releases occasional cards for the device from time to time.
There were five types of e-Cards available through its lifespan. There were NES game releases revamped as readable cards, additional levels and power-ups for Super Mario Advance 4, new items and designs for Animal Crossing, additional trainers for the Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire games, and mini-games, including an Mario Party-e card with a taste of what would be offered in the Mario Party Advance release. It seems that the biggest hits were the NES cards, although some players did find value in the supplementary game booster cards. Mario Advance 4, however, was not without its difficulty with compatibility.
Come with us as we examine the most notable e-Reader releases...