Remember When?: An e-Reader Was This Thing

It was scantastic...

All you kids and your fancy e-readers and e-books. You think you’re cool? I have had an e-Reader for almost 8 years now. A Nintendo e-Reader that is…

The first time I heard about the Nintendo e-Reader for Game Boy Advance, it was when I saw a Japanese version of it in one of those mom and pop game stores. It was $80 and I was really tempted to get one. Luckily, that never happened, because it was region locked. It released a few months later here in North America and I got one for $40. I thought this was going to be the most revolutionary thing to hit gaming, and in some ways it was. But ultimately, with lack of support and the clunky design, it failed.

A quick history lesson for some of you who may not know what a Nintendo e-Reader was all about. It was a giant attachment for the Game Boy Advance that was able to scan e-Reader specific cards that contained encoded data. The data offered stuff that ranged from full games to special content. Full NES games were about $5 a set, and it would usually take five cards to scan to get the game started. It was a bit annoying, because the five cards would have to be scanned from the top and the bottom. That is a good ten swipes to start playing Excitebike. Thankfully, the e-Reader was able to save the game into its memory, but only one game at a time.

Pokémon cards also started incorporating some e-Reader support for a short while. It gave a great incentive to collect cards, because the combination of certain cards offered mini-games when swiped together. They also offered some neat apps and PokéDex data.

I think the e-Reader shined the most when it came to the content it offered to certain games. Animal Crossing for GameCube, Pokémon: Ruby & Sapphire and Super Mario Bros. 3 for Game Boy Advance, all had awesome e-Reader support. Animal Crossing cards offered special items and special tunes for the town. I had one card for Pokémon: Ruby & Sapphire that unlocked a special island that allowed players to catch the legendary bird that was unavailable in their version. It made it so that Ruby players were able to catch Latias and Sapphire players were able to catch Latios. I remember spending a whole day at the Pokémon Center in New York City swiping the card for all the people who wanted the other legendary Pokémon. How many kids had an e-Reader and that special card? The answer: None kids.

The Super Mario Bros. 3 cards were also very awesome. They gave you items and special levels! It is so unfortunate that the cards never made it past Series 2, because the e-Reader was discontinued way too soon. It was a great addition to one of the best Mario games of all time.

The last thing I want to share is the gem pictured above. It is Mario Party e. I never met a person who still has one of these, but if I did, I would have probably killed them to make sure I was still the only one. I bought it at the price of 8 bucks at GameStop, and in retrospect, I really wish I had stocked up on these when I had the chance.

There you have it, the OG e-reader. Kindle… Nook… They have nothing on the Nintendo e-Reader! Who am I kidding? I’m just trying to justify all the money I wasted.

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François Chang

Working on the DualShockers staff as both an editor and community manager since late 2009, François is absolutely no stranger to the videogame industry. He is a graduate from the City College of New York, and has his Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising. His next step is to obtain his Master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Before starting his career, François has been gaming since the age of 2 with Super Mario World, and he has never looked back since. Gaming may be his profession, but it has always been his passion.

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