Nintendo Spotting: A lost Nintendo peripheral appears from nowhere

Nintendo e-Reader sighting

I mentioned at the end of the latest episode of Infendo Radio that I came across an old Nintendo peripheral at my local shopping mall.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my short story of an old handheld peripheral coming back into my life.

While getting a haircut at a local mall, I was walking past a claw machine, originally used for prizes such as PSPs, Nintendo DSes, and various oversized plushes of the Annoying Orange, when I did a double take to the sole item in the machine. Turns out, this item was none other than the Nintendo e-Reader, a device made for the Game Boy Advance. I stared dumbfounded that an e-Reader bundle, still in the shrink wrap, was right in front my eyes.

Sadly, I did not attempt to win the item as I was busy throughout the day. I did, however, watch a child try to win the e-Reader. I wasn’t sure what to do: Tell the kid that he was waisting his time putting quarters into the machine, or tell him my memories of wanting this Nintendo peripheral so bad when I was 14? I walked away, and scratched my head wondering if I had hallucinated that moment.

Now, for those fortunate (okay, unfortunate, considering the device never really took off and was part of Nintendo’s failed GBA-GCN connectivity initiative of that generation), the device released in 2001 and allowed e-cards to be scanned in order to activate playable games (e.g. NES titles), mini games (A GBA version of air hockey), and extra levels for certain GBA titles (e.g. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3). Like any handheld aficionado at the time, I was suckered into this little peripheral.

Now, I’ll admit, it was fun to play around with scanning cards to play classic NES titles or add extra levels to the already superb Mario Bros. 3 (mind you, this was way before the words DLC ever graced consoles or handhelds). However, as a quirky handheld peripheral, it was later abandoned and purely meant as a one-off for Nintendo. Today, being able to play classic 8-bit titles is as easy as a click of a button on console gaming. But, just ten years ago, swiping cards to play Excitebike or Balloon Fight on my GBA seemed like the coolest technological leap at the time of my youth.

So, I ask, did anyone purchase a Nintendo e-Reader during its short run in the early 2000s? If so, what cards do you remember buying or using?

Harrison Milfeld is a writer, editor, and freelance journalist from Missouri. Ever since he could walk, Harrison has been an avid fan of the world of Nintendo. For years, he has purchased every one of the company's subsequent products (yes, including the Virtual Boy and eReader). It wasn't until he was a young teen when he bought a PS2 that he began to embrace cross-console relations, a decision he doesn't regret. When he's not gaming, Harrison is looking to break into the magazine journalism industry and realize his dream of becoming a features reporter.