In the past week, a prototype Game Boy Advance that was showcased at Spaceworld 2000 has been discovered and put up for auction at Yahoo Japan, being sold for $700.
As the years have passed, ‘Spaceworld 2000’ has become an event for the books; announcing the Gamecube and Game Boy Advance, alongside hints of what was to come, with ‘Mario 128’, the Zelda tech-demo, and much more.
But with announcements of hardware, there’s always an early version on display that gives an audience an idea of what the final product will look like, and this GBA was no different.
With that, here’s some details into the differences between this prototype and the final version that was released a year after.
Hidden under Atlantis
Known as ‘Project Atlantis’ inside Nintendo since 1995, it had seen manyiterations until its unveiling at the Spaceworld event in 2000. From an improved Game Boy Color model to a touch-screen variant, the final version was unveiled with two models.
This model, alongside another in ‘aqua-blue’, was shown off at the event where the handheld was officially announced, with games demoed such as ‘Mario Kart Advance’, ‘Golden Sun’, ‘Silent Hill’ and many more.
These plethora of announcements were a way of Nintendo finally showing their hand after Sony and Microsoft had announced and released their next-gen consoles; the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox.
By then, the Dreamcast was doing okay but there were some early signs already that things weren’t going to go as SEGA hoped. These announcement by Nintendo only sealed the fate of the console even more, and of their own ‘64DD’ expansion peripheral for the Nintendo 64. No mention was made of it during this event, seemingly confirming that it was a dead-end.
A 32-Bit Gem
There’s plenty that we could go into about SpaceWorld 2000, but for now, it’s all about that Game Boy Advance Prototype. A buyer was simply browsing an auction site, and came across a haul of different Nintendo handhelds, including this prototype.
The below video goes into much more detail, but it’s the exact same model that appears in the previous video, but with some slight differences. No ‘lip’ on the shoulder buttons for example, and every button has a different ‘click’ feel when pressed down.
Some later games in the GBA lifecycle are tested, and some graphical inaccuracies are shown, further proving that these were only meant to be at one event and one event only.
It’s very rare that any Nintendo prototype appears, so this is quite the find, and could reach a ridiculous amount of money if it was put to auction again.
But this is from a time where events were a thing, before a pandemic, and before Nintendo would bring out the monster-successes of the Wii, Switch and DS systems. It’s a time where they felt like they had something to prove after the wobble of the Nintendo 64, and this event showcased all of that.