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The GP32 is a handheld console created by a Korean company called GamePark. It was released in 2001, and is currently distributed in Korea and Japan, although there are some importers, such as Liksang.com, who will ship the console to other countries. Having been in development for a number of years, and its existence announced in 2000, the final design of the console was unveiled at KAMEX 2001, a Korean trade show. The console currently retails at about $160 USD.

The GP32 is an impressive piece of kit. Technically superior to the Game Boy Advance, it has a number of unique features that make it particularly special. The first of these is GP32's media format. While most handhelds use cartridges, the GP32 uses a more accessable, and openly available format - SmartMedia (SMC). This choice of format has quite a few benefits. SmartMedia cards come in a variety of sizes, and are also compatible with any system that has a SmartMedia flash card reader. This is where the GP32's next novel feature comes into play. There is USB connectivity between the console and a PC. This allows you to download and upload files to and from the GP32, onto the flash card inserted in the system.

One of the first benefits of these features is the GP32's ability to play MP3 files using its built in MP3 player software. It can pump out your tunes either through headphones, or using its twin stereo speakers, situated on either side of the front of the console. As well as MP3 capability, you can also download games and other software to use on the console.

The GP32 doesn't need cables to link up consoles either - it uses RF connection to wirelessly network consoles to allow multiplayer gaming. RF capability comes in the form of an 'RF Module', which has a 10m range, and allows four groups of four people to link up. As well as this, you can also hook up a mobile phone to the system, to allow the potential for online gaming, and Internet access. The GP32 also features one of the best LCD screens since the NeoGeo Pocket Color, and also has a stick-like D-pad, that puts the GBA's spongy buttons to shame.

All of these awesome features can't compare to one massive benefit of the GP32 platform. GamePark have created the system to allow for easy development of software. Through their GP32 Development website (http://www.gameparkdev.co.kr/), you can download SDKs, and development documentation, and begin to create your own games and demos! In the short period of time that the GP32 has been available, talented people have working hard creating their own stuff (mostly clones of Tetris and what not), and some have even ported some excellent titles such as Doom, Heretic and Wolfenstein to the console, which really show what this handheld is potentially capable of. There is even a Spectrum emulator available. Official professional development hardware from GamePark comes in the form of EPI's JEENI devkit.

First-party titles released by GamePark are of varying quality, although they all seem to suffer from frame-rate problems (which don't seem to occur in software created by amateurs, strangely enough). Highlights include the beautiful, but Korean language-laden RPG, Astonishia Story R, the interesting but shallow beat'em-up Little Wizard and the Worms-like game, Rally Pop. Mentionable forthcoming titles include Street Fighter Zero 3 and Rockman (known as Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Megaman in the West) from Capcom, and King of Fighters by SNK/Azure.

An emulator called GeePee32 is available. And an interesting fact: The GP32 outsold the Xbox during March (the Xbox's launch month) in Japan by about 50,000 units, selling about 240,000 units in total.

Full specs:
Screen: 320x240 3.8" TFT Reflective LCD, 64k colours.
Sound hardware: 16bit PCM, four channel mixing, MP3 support, Midi/Wave stereo (128 melody instruments and 500 percussion instruments, according to Edge), two speakers, earphone jack.
Processor: 32bit ARM920T processor (CPU speed selectable: ~67MHz is standard, up to 130MHz when running from internal cache only seems possible), 16kbytes Instruction cache, 16kbytes Data cache, RTOS, 8Mbyte SDRAM, 512kbytes Flash ROM.
Interfaces: SMC, IIC-bus, USB.
Dimensions: 157mm wide, 71mm high, 28mm thick (6.2 x 2.9 x 1.1 inches).
Power: 2 AA batteries should last 12 hours.
Chipset: Samsung S3c2400x01-eer0 CPU, Samsung LPC3600 LCD timing controller, Hynix HY57V641620HG 8mbyte (16bit wide) SDRAM, Atmel AT49BV040-90VC 512k byte (8bit wide) BIOS flash, Samsung S524LB0X91 32kbit IIC-bus EEPROM, Phillips UDA1330A stereo filter IIS-bus DAC, 74HC14, LM324, Samsung LTS350Q1 LCD Display.

Sources of information:
GamePark's website: http://www.gamepark.co.kr/ | http://www.gp32.com
Jeff Frohwein's Devrs site: http://www.devrs.com/gp32/
Liksang: http://www.liksang.com
My wonderful friend Steve, who owns one of these cool systems: http://www.softnfuzzy.freeserve.co.uk
Edge Magazine: www.edge-online.com

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