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Interview with Portable Monopoly
Author: Michael Ahlf Date: April 11th 2002

Every now and then...

Somebody takes it on themselves to fix a bad product. Or at least, a defective one.

This time around, it's been Triton Labs and the Portable Monopoly project, who have been taking preorders for the Afterburner kit for a little while now, after tons of queries and lots of research.  I can't possibly summarize their work, nor would I want to when they've done that so well on their own... so in lieu of that, I'll just link to their site at Triton Labs.

Be that as it may, I did manage to get in a few words with Adam Curtis, the project lead, over email, which I'd love to share. My comments are in blue, Adam's in tan.

1. Considering that the majority of console/handheld-modding units are the usual PSX/PS2 modchips, how do you compare your idea with theirs?

I'm not sure what kind of comparison you're looking for.  In terms of ease

of installation, I would say that the two mods are at nearly the same
difficulty level.  Otherwise I would say the Afterburner has the one-up on
mod chips since its operation isn't based on piracy.  Of course the mod chip
I installed was used only for backup purposes. :)
2. How many times did you have to hunt down that *perfect* spot to
play your GBA before the idea occurred to you?
Once - immediately after playing my GBA for the first time on launch day I
realized that I was not satisfied with its quality.  The actual idea of
installing a light into the system came a few months later, however.
Believe it or not I'm not this intolerant about everything in my life.
3. How do you think Nintendo will feel about:
     -- Someone putting out a mod kit that vastly improves the GBA?
I think they'll follow suit with a new GBA that implements the same exact
technology in about one year.
    -- Hundreds if not thousands of consumers willingly voiding their warranty to fix Nintendo's big mistakes?
If our project hasn't been a huge red flag showing Nintendo that consumers
are not satisfied with the GBA, I'd be more than surprised.  Truthfully I
think they are happy with our product/project - to them it's been one big
(free) market research study.
4. Is it only a matter of time until Nintendo fixes the frontlight/backlight problem, or even just their ridiculously shiny plastic protector,  or do you expect to be the only real solution to the problem?

They will come out with an internally lit system within a year or two. If not I'll be there selling Afterburners until they do!

5. How many of your customers wasted $20 to $30 on a

wormlight/fliplight system, before realizing it was no good, and are now going for your kit instead? (If you haven't been counting, start with me as 1 :)

I think about 99% of them.  I would bet that lights are sold on an almost 2:1 basis to GBA systems.  Ironically, none of the lights on the market right now are worth their salt in my biased opinion. 6. Always keeping in mind user friendliness: we know that YOU think the installation should be fairly painless. How about for those  users who've never taken anything apart before? We are very up front on this matter in our FAQ - this is not a "simple" modification and someone with absolutely no electronics experience will likely run into problems with the soldering process.  At the same time, I am confident that beginners who are eager to learn (and perhaps more importantly have an electonics saavy friend nearby) can slowly tread through the installation process without ever really "screwing up".  All but one or two steps in the process are very forgiving and can be undone for all intents and purposes.

7. What's your favorite game on the GBA?

Advance Wars, although it looks like Shining Soul will take the crown when
it's finally released.
 8. Have you tried Doom with the lighting system yet? It's probably the
 darkest game the GBA has right now.
That's actually one of the few games I haven't tried with the Afterburner.
Castlevania, another dark game, looks great.  I actually notice a lot of
details in the background that I never noticed before.

That's the interview - short, but they've been EXTREMELY busy taking orders and surviving the server crashes when everybody all tried to order a kit at once. Soon enough, I'll have my hands on a kit, and then I'll be able to say for sure whether the Afterburner kit is worth it, though if their screens are even close, I'm going to love this.

Good luck guys!



Afterburner (Portable Monopoly) Interview

Added:  Thursday, April 11, 2002
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf


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