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May 2015 Retro Gaming Article


May 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Visteon added Game Boy Advance support to their in-car DVD entertainment system

Visteon logo Sometimes at night I get a glimpse of a back-seat LCD screen and wonder what movie the kids are watching. As a driver, I get no such in dash satisfaction beyond the dull GPS screen.

These days people think it's OK to gab on the phone or text while driving. I imagine these idiots would also try to watch a film if it were available to those in the front seat. A guy was recently cited for futzing with his iWatch while driving. Just drive, Dammit!!

A friend of mine installed a headrest LCD pannel and connected a PS2 to it for his kids. I had a lot of respect for him as a Dad, but wondered why so many of these entertainment systems were primarily DVD oriented. No games? I'd have loved to pass the time as a kid with a controller in my hand. The option to watch a movie or play GBA on a larger screen seems tempting from a kid's perspective - kid's don't pay for stuff like this. :)

Visteon Dockable Entertainment System The folks at Visteon decided to incorporate Nintendo's Game Boy Advance into their in-car entertainment solution - the Visteon Dockable Entertainment System. If you are going to entertain.. do it right! Incidentally, they legally licensed Nintendo's GBA hardware, which was an unusual move for Nintendo since they rarely licensed hardware.

I'd never heard of this company, nor their hybrid DVD/GBA system. They weren't a gaming company. They were an auto parts supplier that was created out of the Ford Motor company in 2000.

The Visteon Dockable Entertainment System didn't come to market until July of 2006. Keep in mind that the Game Boy Advance hit retail shelves in 2001. Even the latter GBA PS model with a hinged clam-shell design was out in North America in March of 2003.

One wonders why they didn't incorporate the newer Nintendo DS, but I imagine the cost to license the GBA tech was a good deal cheaper once the DS line was released. Still the Visteon product carried a $1,200 MSRP! Most similar systems were considerably less expensive.

Visteon Dockable Entertainment System Looking like an average portable DVD player, the Visteon unit has a Game Boy Advance cartridge slot as well as a serial port to connect up to 4 other GBA systems for multi-player games. It comes with a proprietary wireless game controller and wireless headphones. It sound pretty cool but it's primarily based around DVD standards like a cinematic aspect ratio of 16:9. It's 10.2 flip-down screen probably looks nice for movies, but I wonder how it handles the GBA's 3:2 aspect ratio. I've heard it didn't fill the screen which is contrary to marketing materials that didn't show that shortcoming.

Visteon may have been a better auto supplier than game company. Their triangular controller seems oddly shaped and has 2 "A" buttons, but their docking scenario is compatible with previous players and they'll sell you another dock so you can bring you entertainment along in more than one car. Additionally, the ability to remove the battery powered unit lets you take it anywhere from home to car to coffee shop... as needed. Most of it's best features revolve around non-gaming elements.

This seems like an innovative device. So few gaming systems were integrated into vehicles - most were DVD movie oriented. The price of the Visteon seems prohibitive considering the Game Boy Advance is already portable and an in-car DVD player is nowhere near the Visteon's $1200 price tag. Some consumers will sacrifice price for convenience, but I'm not sure I see the market for a very expensive portable GBA.

Visteon Dockable Entertainment System features Visteon Dockable Entertainment System features In today's world where automobiles are starting to be sold with in-car wifi capability, it shouldn't be long before gaming enters the scene. I'm sure someone will create the ability to "find" players in nearby cars so your passengers can engage in multi-player scenarios with other passengers while everyone jets down the highway at 60 MPH. Sounds as safe as those shiny touch screens they put in some dashboards. There's a reason most driver controls have a tactile feel... It's so we do NOT have to look at a screen while driving.

Mobile gaming has taken on several attributes unique to being on the move and not tethered to anything. I'm curious to see what feats of brilliance game devs can add to a scenario where gamers may be mobile and traveling at high speed!

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