Nintendo Brings Multimedia to DS, GBA

Shock announcement of media capabilities for both Nintendo DS and GBA - full details inside.

In relatively surprising news, Nintendo has fired the latest shot in the handheld battle by quietly announcing via its Japanese website that it will be possible to power up both Nintendo DS and GBA with multimedia functions.

Despite maintaining a strict games-centric philosophy, and deliberately aiming to avoid any media attention with the news, the company revealed a device the size of a regular GBA cartridge that slots into your handheld, which in turn has a slot for an SD media card, containing video and audio data.

The revelation has to be an eyebrow-raiser for Sony, which launched the fully multimedia-enabled PSP in Japan on Sunday, although it's unlikely to cause a full-scale upset. PSP has the ability to play full-length movies from its unique UMD disc media, while also offering the ability to play back MP3 audio and other video formats from a Memory Stick of up to 1GB.

This prototype was demonstrated in Japan this morning.

Conversely the SD media format, most commonly seen in its 256MB variety, will be able to hold maybe an episode of The Simpsons in MPEG4 format. But news of the device, known as Play-Yan, is a welcome addition to the suite of DS features, and offers consumers yet more choice when it comes to gaming on the move.

Superbly, the cartridge also features a built-in headphones jack, which will come as great news to those wanting to use the gizmo with the GBA SP, which infamously has no headphone jack to speak of. It also has a fully integrated media browsing front-end.

The device launches in February in Japan at a cost of around £25 - roughly the difference in price between the DS and the PSP. However it hasn't been announced outside of Nintendo's home territory, and remains unlikely for the time being.

Adam Doree
Editorial Director, Kikizo.com

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