In the late 90s, Nintendo was already hard at work on their successor to the Game Boy. However, the handheld console being produced was not the Game Boy Advance, but of a device only known by “Project Atlantis”. A lot was revealed, so feel free to check the information out with the bullet points provided below.
- “Project Atlantis” is usually regarded as the GBA’s codename, but the GBA was actually codenamed “Advanced Game Boy”.
- “Project Atlantis” was a Game Boy successor that Nintendo developed around 1995. Rumours about it started in early 1996. It was supposed to be a 32 Bit color handheld, to have four buttons and to have a screen bigger than the final GBA. The media reported that Nintendo intended to release it in late 1996.
- Rumours suggested that “Project Atlantis” had power comparable to the Nintendo 64 and used a 160 MHz processor, which it would have made it way more powerful than the final GBA. The battery time was supposed to be 30 hours.
- Nintendo confirmed the system’s existence in mid-1996, but it was never released and brought to the market. Nintendo delayed its release to the end of 1997 when Nintendo’s newly released Game Boy Pocket sold well enough to warrant the delay. Nintendo eventually decided that the system was simply way too big, too power-consuming, too expensive to manufacture and Nintendo apparently wasn’t satisfied with it’s performance.
- DSi lead developer Masato Kuwahara participated in the development of “Project Atlantis”. Kuwahara showed the prototype in a GDC 2009 lecture. Here’s the picture he showed, with a DSi as a size comparison.
- Bonus fact 1: Kuwahara showed an unreleased Touch Screen Adaptor for the Game Boy Color that he developed in 1998. His picture shows the prototype attached to a Game Boy Advance SP.
- Bonus fact 2: The dev team experimented with a fold up model for the Game Boy Advance, similar to the GBA SP and the DS. Back then the system would have been too thick, so they discarded the idea.
- Bonus fact 3: The development of the final GBA didn’t start until the Game Boy Color was released. It only took about two years.