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Started by NFG, July 01, 2003, 01:33:14 AM

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Here's a little rough draft of the GP32 writeup I'm planning.  It's off the cuff and off the top of my head, so it's as likely to be totally unrelated to the finished product as not.  This article will make many comparisons to the GameBoy Advance because it is the most similar piece of hardware available, and it's something most every reader has experience with.


The GP32 is a little-known handheld made by a Korean company not known for anything but the GP32.  Funded through a special government program for technology entrepeneurs, GamePark had in mind a portable companion to the PC.  A kind of mobile programmable platform.  They had in mind simplicity and ease of use without any custom hardware and without sacrificing speed.  The result is fantastic: A cheap portable console that rivals the GameBoy Advance in most every technical way possible.  Where the GameBoy Advance was more or less completed by Nintendo back in 1996, (but was shelved when the expected slump in GameBoy sales never occured)  the GP32 is purely modern.

To start, it has a much better screen - easier to see in weak light, and the 320x240 resolution is 50% higher resolution than the GBA.  The screen is larger, and it displays twice as many colours.  The GP32 is more advanced in other ways as well.

Consider the CPU:  Both units utilize ARM CPUs,however the GBA runs at a mere 16MHz and the GP32 at variable speeds from 32MHz to a blazing 133MHz (And faster, although these lofty speeds are not guaranteed to be stable).  The GP32 has much more RAM as well, a huge 8MB compared to the paltry 256kB in the GBA.  

The GBA uses cartridge slightly smaller than the GameBoy did, with a max size of 32MB (so far).  Anyone wishing to program for it must buy an expensive flash cart and 'linker' to transfer data to and from a PC.  Since these are primarily used for piracy they're not always easy to find, and Nintendo makes a policy of suing people that sell them.  The GP32 is much friendlier, using industry-standard SmartMedia cards, and each GP32 includes a USB cable for connecting the unit to a PC for transferring software and data.  As a bonus, the GP32 can be used as a portable MP3 player right out of the box (although it's not really a feature you'll use...)  The USB transfer software for the GP32 is fairly unfriendly however, and anyone considering a GP32 would be wise to pick up a cheap SMC USB drive for transfers.

The GBA is designed for small hands, and can be a little awkward for adults to hold and use.  The D-pad is very small and the shoulder buttons take a while to become comfortable.  The GP32 uses a clicky pad similar to the NeoGeo Pocket's, which is easier to use but has a habit of being a little sloppy.  It's too easy to hit a diagonal with the GP32 when you don't mean to.  The buttons are a little larger as well, which is very nice.  Still only two buttons on the face, as well as the Start and Select buttons though - GamePark could have really pushed the envelope with two more.

Both units run on two AA batteries, but where Nintendo's product requires an additional purchase before an AC adaptor can be used, the GP32 is ready to rock.  The GP32 has an expansion port as well, though no products are known to use it at this time.

Where the GBA kicks ass is the software: Most of the commercial software for the GP32 is hard to find, expensive and nearly without exception, crappy at best.  Two years ago there was absolutely no reason to consider the GP32 over the GBA, but now there's one very good reason, and it's the only reason you need:  Emulators.

The homebrew scene is really starting to take off with the GP32, and emulators are leading the charge.  Nearly flawless emulators are now available to run PC Engine, Master System, Commodore 64 and Atari 800 games on the GP32.  As well many other emulators are in development, ranging from completely playable with a few glitches like the NES emulator with poor sound but otherwise excellent performance, to the not-quite-ready Super NES emu.


After this I hope to have links to some sites offering necessities like the Free Launcher, some GP32-specific news sites, some dev-sites, fan-sites, and whatever other resources I can find.

If you have any corrections, suggestions or resources, please post 'em below!


don't forget to check my shit out.  I've more GP32 interviews and features than anyone.  Plus the only GPI info on the net.  If you need specific stuff, just email me.

But as for stuff to add, you might want to talk about the fact that Gamepark is actively *encouraging* homebrew groups, and distributes some of the better programs on their web-based games downloading sites.

Also, there's a $5 movie player, and the system can support SMC up to 128 megs in size (confirmed) and probably anything above that (only guarantee on that, according to GP is if it's made by Samsung, who made the chip).

And it's coming to Europe by the end of this year, or it's planned to, at least.


Quotedon't forget to check my shit out. I've more GP32 interviews and features than anyone.
Actually yeah.  I kind of immediately forgot what my point was when I started writing that article.  When I got my GP32 moons ago there was basically nothing available, support was near zero, and information was korean-only.

I'm gonna change tacks entirely soon enough, you've done a better job than I could have hoped to.



hehe...thanks.  but even so, if you need any help, let me know.

You know holeman was planned for a racing game on GP32?  Dunno if it'll still happen - it's release is set to 'undetermined' at the moment.

And your sig - a cinema professor at my university does that.  He's the highest paid 'teacher' we have.  why??  WHY???


QuoteAnd it's coming to Europe by the end of this year, or it's planned to, at least.

Yep, though you can get one from this UK based company for �99.99, and they have them in stock:


Sadly, from a retail standpoint, distribution of the GP32 in Korea is still quite limited.  Gameboy stuff imported from Japan can be had anywhere.  Actual stuff from Nintendo for the Korean market is new (the new GBA model being the only product sold with any Korean on it) appear randomly in places.  Wonderswan stuff randomly as well (old stock I imagine, I was under the impression that it was discontinued), but GP32 is hard to find.

Of the game stores I visit more than once every six months actually carries the GP32.  None of the department stores do in the area.

Of the stores that do carry the GP32, it's got quite a bit of stuff out these days.  But the company that makes the GP32 is tiny and can't do guaranteed sales, thus it's hard to get anyone to carry it or the games.   Thus they can't really light a fire to ship it everywhere, or even start an overseas marketing campaign.


QuoteSadly, from a retail standpoint, distribution of the GP32 in Korea is still quite limited.
I don't doubt this.  It seems clear that GamePark is unwilling to attempt a head-on fight with Nintendo, and for good reason.  Add to that their weak encryption, open-platform approach and cheap media and you've got a piece of hardware that no developer in his right might would support seriously, and you end up with a system no store can expect much profit on from subsequent software sales.

As a specialty and mail-order product it's a sure bet, as long as they can keep their costs low, supply up and the hobbiests occupied making software for it.  As a shareware platform perhaps it might succeed also, but as a 'legitimate' contender it's a non-starter.

That said I love mine, and wish I didn't ruin the anti-glare coating when I washed it the other day.  <cry>


Quotedon't forget to check my shit out...
Yeah, er, don't forget to post that shit url, eh? I'm intrigued by the GP32. Pass it on.

Edit => Never mind, clicked your .sig. :P