Digging up information about the original unreleased successor to the Game Boy

Everyone knows that the GBA was the first TRUE successor to the Game Boy, but Nintendo didn't always have that as the plan. There was originally another piece of hardware in the works that was planned to take over for the Game Boy, but Nintendo shied away from it and instead went with what we now know as the GBA. Check out some details on this unreleased successor below.

– "Project Atlantis" is usually regarded as the GBA's codename, which is NOT true – the GBA was codenamed "Advanced Game Boy"

– "Project Atlantis" was a Game Boy successor that Nintendo developed around 1995. Rumours about the system started in early 1996. It was supposed to be a 32 Bit color handheld, to have four buttons and to have a screen bigger than the final GBA. Media reported the system was supposed to release in late 1996.

– Rumours further suggested that "Project Atlantis" had power comparable to the N64 and used a 160 MHz processor – it would have been way more powerful than the final GBA. Also, "Project Atlantis's" battery time was supposed to be 30 hours.

– Although Nintendo confirmed the system's existence in mid-1996, "Project Atlantis" never got released. The newly released Game Boy Pocket sold well enough so that Nintendo delayed the release of "Project Atlantis" to the end of 1997.

– Finally the system never came to the market. The reason was that the system was simply way too big to be a Nintendo portable system. Also it was too power-consuming, too expensive to manufacture and Nintendo apparently wasn't satisfied with it's performance.

– DSi lead developer Masato Kuwahara who also participated in the development of "Project Atlantis" showed the prototype in a GDC 2009 lecture. Here's the picture he showed, with a DSi as a size comparison: http://nintendo-online.de/upload/images/2016/03/09/110326906656e03cc6097c88-22465637.jpg

– Bonus fact 1: Kuwahara also showed an unreleased Touch Screen Adaptor for the Game Boy Color that he developed in 1998. His picture shows the prototype attached to a Game Boy Advance SP: http://nintendo-online.de/upload/images/2016/03/09/136120641356e03cc6097de3-91806791.jpg

– Bonus fact 2: The dev team also experimented with a fold up model for the Game Boy Advance, the like of which the GBA SP and the DS are. Because back then the system would have been to thick, they discarded the idea.

– Bonus fact 3: The development of the final GBA didn't start until the Game Boy Color was released and only took about two years.

Thanks to Nintendo-Nerd for the heads up!

Categories: Portables
Tags: game-boy, gba


I remember next-generation-online breaking this new sometime in 1996. I think a 32-bit successor to the GB was certainly real and as shown in the GDC comparison picture it was quite a bit larger than what we're used to with Nintendo handhelds, but several details in this report don't add up.

1996 was the year N64 launched. Nintendo could not have been able to miniaturize a system with power similar to its power in 1995 while simultaneously developing the N64, a much larger home console that didn't have to worry about battery power.

This also leads to the 30 hour battery life being a bit suspect, THOUGH it could simply be a theoretical battery life if the system is on sleep more or some such.

It's instructive to note that the next-generation online story mainly focused on the 32bit nature of the system. To be quite honest, I think the Atlantis had comperable power to the GBA, though possibly had a 3D chip of some sort and a faster CPU. But considering the GBA arrived 5 years later and came in a form factor that we're more used to, and they still had to use an un-lit TFT screen to get the unit's price down, I would think that 5 years with some corners cut is what it took to get the Atlantis from the monstrosity we saw in that GDC picture to what we finally got.

The 30hour battery life/ equivalent power to the N64 stuff simply don't ring true. I'm not even sure what sort of CPU the Atlantis could have used to run at 150+ mhz back in 1995 when the N64 CPU itself was downclocked to just around 100mhz from its initial specs, due to heating issues.

The development of the final GBA didn't start until the Game Boy Color was released and only took about two years.

Seems consistent with all systems they have ever made. Taken into account that Dev Kits for the NX came out last February, it would be consistent for it's release to happen in 2017, around March I'd speculate.

What was not mentioned here, was launch games produced. It's assumed however that it would be around 2 years as well.

Functional portable factors are as followed:

The Size of a Hard book.
The Size of an Invite Envelope. (This appears to be their preferred size for portables.)
The Size of a Wallet.
The Size of a Finger Nail.

Anything bigger or smaller than that wouldn't work well, for handling reasons. I assume that the Atlantis, may have been book sized, which still would have worked.

These days though, what with tablets, the largest to still be considered portable would be the size of a lunch tray.

Nintendo apparently wasn't satisfied with it's performance.

And yet, that did not stop them from producing and even supporting under running games for the original 3DS. Also didn't stop them from producing the Game Boy Micro; screen sizes below Wallet size are impractical.


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