Earlier this year Majesco had anounced they had found a way to fit video on a Game Boy Advance Cartridge and that they were gonna release various TV episodes, mostly Nickelodeon properties, on GBA Video Packs. This was quite a schock as nobody thought something like that would ever be released on a handheld console, especially the GBA since it’s cartridges are so small! Seems like everyone was proved wrong!
Majesco wasn’t the only one who was gonna release episodes on the handheld. Since Nintendo owns Pokémon and knows how much it’s popular, it wasn’t very long before they anounced Pokémon episode were also gonna be released. Majesco has since aquired the rights to more franchises, a very important one being Dragon Ball, and Nintendo has released a few Pokémon video packs which seem to be quite popular. Since they anounced not long ago that they were thinking about going into the movie business, maybe we’re gonna see original content on the handheld created by Nintendo.
For 20$ you get 2 episodes. That’s quite a high price to pay for 40 minutes of video and not all episodes are available. They did make sure to pick some of the most popular ones but it would be nice if there were kiosks where you could download the episodes you want as I think people would prefer that. Still, we’re already lucky to get video on our GBA so maybe we shouldn’t complain about that.
Watching videos on the handheld is quite simple. You boot it up like a normal game and then you get a menu with 2 selectable episodes and a control menu where they tell you how everything works. Each episode has chapters just like a DVD so you can use L and R to skip chapters. The D-Pad is used to rewind or forward the video, start to pause, select to go back to the main menu and A and B to adjust brightness, even though the default setting is perfect when using a GBASP, so only GBA users might want to adjust brightness depending on how much light there is in the room.
For my review I picked a Pokémon video pack as I’m not a big fan of Nickelodeon cartoons. I also made sure to pick episodes that had a lot of action going on in them. The 2 episodes I’ve watched were of a Pokémon competition so it was all about battles. Since there was a lot going on I’d know if the video was good or not because if it wasn’t there would be a lot of pixelation.
Video is actually not that bad, and I think the compression method they use is really suited for cartoons as it looks fantastic. Sure, there is a little bit of pixelation but it seems like it was blurred a little to remove some of it. If you look at the screen from really close you’ll easily notice it but from a reasonable distance it looks OK. The only drawback is that there are a lot of details in anime drawings and because of the compression you lose a lot of them. But besides that, I was extremely satisfied with what I saw.
Sound is also not that bad but I don’t know if it’s in Stereo or Mono. Maybe there weren’t enough effects for me to judge but everything came from both of my headphones speakers so I think it’s in mono. It still holds up pretty well even when the volume is at the highest level and you easily understand everything. It’s a little bit compressed but it’s easily forgiven.
So overall, for 20 bucks, I think it’s quite worth it if you travel a lot by bus. I was really impressed and plan on getting more of those video packs. More content on a single cartridge would be cool as it doesn’t last very long, but maybe they’ll solve that problem on the DS. For now though I’ll enjoy Pokémon on my little, yet powerful GBA.