Nintendo is jumping into the highly competitive next-generation game console market with its Gamecube that it will being selling in Japan in July and in the US and Europe in October 2001.
The Japanese electronic toy maker previewed the Gamecube, as well as its new portable Game Boy Advance at the Spaceworld trade show in Tokyo.
In its new incarnation, the popular Game Boy toy will have a screen size 50 per cent larger than the current product - with the 32-bit RISC (reduced instruction set computer) central processor replacing the current 8-bit model. Its screen resolution will improve by 60 percent due to a reflective TFT-LCD (thin-film transistor liquid crystal display) that uses a high contrast white pane against a color screen capable of displaying 500 colours simultaneously.
Both the 32-bit hand-held Game Boy and the Gamecube will have the ability to work together as well as over the Internet. The Game Boy handheld will hit the Japanese market in March of next year, with a suggested retail price of 9800 yen (around £60).
The portable game will be made available in the US and Europe through Nintendo's U.S. division, Nintendo of America, the following July, though the company did not disclose any suggested pricing.
Nintendo's hand-held Game Boy first went on the market 11 years ago, and the company celebrated the sale of its 100 millionth Game Boy machine last June.
Nintendo's game console announcement comes well behind the highly publicized launch plans of next-generation game consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Sega. The Sony PlayStation 2 hit the market in Japan in March and is planned to make its debut in the US in October.
Sega's Dreamcast game console went on sale in Japan in mid-July, and the company announced plans to launch a broadband Internet service for Dreamcast users by the end of August. Microsoft announced in March that it will be launching its first ever home game console, which goes under the code-name of X-Box, sometime in 2001.
Nintendo said that its Gamecube will feature a 405MHz PowerPC processor created by IBM, a graphics co-processor from ATI and 40MB of memory. Due to this set-up, commentators have called the Gamecube a Mac in all but name.
Accessories will include a 56Kbps modem with plans to introduce a broadband modem, though the company did not disclose when it would be introduced. The Gamecube will have a wireless controller; two Digicard slots for either 4MB Digicard flash memory cards or a 64M-byte SD-Digicard adapter, as well as high-speed ports and both analog and digital AV outputs, Nintendo said.