Nintendo e-Reader

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Nintendo e-Reader
Nintendo E-Reader.jpg
A Nintendo e-Reader
Manufacturer Nintendo
Type Add-on
Release dateJP: December 1, 2001
NA: September 17, 2002
AU: October 2003
DiscontinuedNA: Early 2004
JP: September 2008

The Nintendo e-Reader, stylized as ereader, commonly abbreviated as e-Reader, known in Japan as the Card-e-Reader [lower-alpha 1] , is an add-on manufactured by Nintendo for its Game Boy Advance handheld video game console. It was released in Japan in December 2001, with a North American release following in September 2002. It has an LED scanner that reads "e-Reader cards", paper cards with specially encoded data printed on them.


Depending on the card and associated game, the e-cards are typically used in a key-like function to unlock secret items, levels, or play mini-games when swiped through the reader. The cards themselves contain data, as opposed to unlocking data already on the device itself.

Usage and versions

Two versions were released in Japan: the original e-Reader (without a link cable port), which could read cards to unlock game content, etc.; and later the e-Reader+ (simply "e-Reader" in Australia and North America), which came with a link cable port to connect with Nintendo GameCube games such as Animal Crossing and with other Game Boy Advance systems for games such as Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The e-Reader was only considered successful in Japan. It was announced for Europe but very few were made, as it was almost immediately canceled, and it was discontinued in North America in early 2004, due to a lack of popularity. In Japan, it sold much better and was produced up to the discontinuation of the Game Boy hardware line.[ citation needed ]

In order to add items and scan levels in games such as Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 , a player required two Game Boy Advance systems and a link cable. The gray end would go into the e-Reader GBA and the purple end into the GBA that had the game. After entering the needed point on the game, players would swipe the cards in and the data would be transferred to the game cartridge. This function does not work with the Nintendo DS due to the lack of link cable support.

e-Reader cards

Two e-Reader cards. The top card is one of the five cards needed to play Excitebike and the bottom card is the EON Ticket, a promotional card for Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire . E-Reader Cards.jpg
Two e-Reader cards. The top card is one of the five cards needed to play Excitebike and the bottom card is the EON Ticket, a promotional card for Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire .

In the U.S., e-Reader Card packs have been released that contain:

  1. NES games
  2. New levels and power-ups for Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
  3. Items and designs for Animal Crossing
  4. New trainers to battle in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire
  5. Mini-games, including an exclusive version of Mario Party .
  6. Game & Watch Cards; originally there were plans to release more Game and Watch games as a series of E-reader cards. Only Manhole-e was officially released.

There have been numerous other games released with e-Reader support in Japan.

Dot code

Data is encoded on the cards using "dot code", a specialized barcode technology licensed from Olympus Corporation. e-Reader Cards may have one or two sets of dot code on them, either a wide strip on the left side of the card, a wide strip on both the left and right sides of the card, a narrow strip on the bottom of the card or a short strip on the bottom of the card with a long strip on the left side of the card. Smaller games may require scanning only one card (two sets of dot code), while the greater NES games can require as many as five cards (nine to ten sets of dot code) in order to start the application.

The shorter sets of dot code were only used with the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Cards released in regular sets published by both Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast had dot code on the bottom side of the card. When scanned, the e-Reader displayed a Pokédex data entry for the Pokémon shown on the card. Many of the cards published by Wizards of the Coast included a left side dot code that would allow users to play mini-games, animations, and use secret attacks in the Trading Card Game or play with various songs and graphics. [ citation needed ]


The e-Reader plugged into a Game Boy Advance SP. CardEReader connected GBASP.jpg
The e-Reader plugged into a Game Boy Advance SP.

The e-Reader plugs into the cartridge slot of the Game Boy Advance like a regular game would. The end of the e-Reader sticks out from the Game Boy Advance unit to provide a slot to scan the e-Reader Cards. Electronically, the e-Reader is compatible with any console that supports Game Boy Advance games, however it may be mechanically incompatible with some systems (it simply does not fit), and the ability to link consoles may not be available.

Once installed, the link cable connector on the Game Boy Advance is obstructed, but a pass-through connection on the e-Reader allows link-up features to be used. The Game Boy Advance SP is also fully compatible, although the e-Reader does not mount flush with the SP (see picture). As the link cable connector on the SP is unobstructed, the pass-through on the e-Reader is not used. An additional cover (AGB-016) can be added to the e-reader in order to avoid damaging the 6 pin connector when linked to a GBA SP. [1]

The Game Boy Player is also fully compatible, and the e-Reader connects as it would to a Game Boy Advance (the e-Reader pass-through connector is used for connecting the link cable). The GameCube hosting this system acts as a Game Boy Advance - in order to link to a GameCube game, a second GameCube (or a Wii) running the game in question, must be used.

The e-Reader can connect to the DS Lite, but not the original DS. The e-Reader can however be modified to fit into the original DS. In either case, there is no support for linking features, as neither system has a link cable port.[ citation needed ]

The e-Reader fits into the Game Boy Micro and has a link cable port, but not a standard connector. A special Game Boy Micro Game Link Cable must be used for linking features. [2] The Game Boy Micro's non-standard link cable port can not accept the Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable, meaning it cannot link with GameCube games without modification to the cable.[ citation needed ]

Because the first version of the Japanese e-Reader did not have a link cable pass-through connector, it can fit into consoles which the later e-Readers are incompatible with. Even though the Game Boy Advance and the DS are region-free, Japanese e-Reader cards work only on Japanese e-Readers and North American e-Reader cards will only work on North American e-Readers. The system will display 'region error' on both systems if a user attempts to use another region's cards on their own device.

Game list

Classic NES Series

Each game in this series comes in a pack of five cards, each of which must be scanned twice, on both sides. There are thirteen games in this series; each is a direct port of the one-player mode of the classic NES game of the same title (minus the added "-e" suffix). Excitebike , Donkey Kong , and Ice Climber , all released as e-Reader cards, were later released in cartridge form as part of the Classic NES Series on Game Boy Advance. Also, all games except Urban Champion were included as unlockables in the GameCube game Animal Crossing, in full two-player mode where applicable, and all games except Golf were included in Wii's Virtual Console.

All NES titles released include:

Animal Crossing-e

A series of Animal Crossing cards were released for the e-Reader. When used with the post office in the game, the cards could provide items to players, unlock "town tunes", or unlock new designs to be used around the village. Some were "sibling" cards (series 2–4) with two related characters on the front. In addition to being sold in card packs, some regular series cards were distributed on a promotional basis through GameStop, EB Games, and Energizer batteries.

Pokémon Battle-e

The Pokémon Battle-e Cards, when scanned into Pokémon Ruby or Sapphire , allowed the player to load up special trainers to battle or to get special berries. In Japan, the series was sold as six sets, each with a different theme, with 10 cards in each set (8 trainers, 1 berry, and 1 checklist), while in the US, the series was packaged together to have two themes per pack. In addition, 2 promo cards, 1 for each version, were packed in with the games. The cards are loaded into Ruby or Sapphire through the Mystery Events function once it is unlocked.

When scanned and loaded into Ruby and Sapphire, a trainer would appear in a house in Mossdeep City. When the player battled the trainer, the Pokémon used in battle would not gain Exp. points, and the trainer would not earn any winnings, like in a Battle Tower or link battle. The checklist card in each set lists all the trainers for the theme of the set.

When scanned and loaded into Ruby and Sapphire, a Special Berry would be set into the game. The first time an Enigma Berry card is scanned, the player gets the berry from Norman. When a new Enigma Berry card is scanned, all the Enigma Berries in the game change into the newly scanned one. An Enigma berry cannot leave the game it was scanned into, except through Diamond and Pearl's migration system. When the berry is transferred, it changes into "Enigma Berry", no matter what Enigma Berry it was before, and gains the ability to restore the HP of a Pokémon holding it if it was hit by a super effective attack.

This card is seen as part of this set as it is scanned through the same method. See "Other" below for more info.

There were additional Battle-e card sets for Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen and Pokémon Emerald in Japan, but because the e-Reader was discontinued in the US, they were never released outside Japan, and the e-Reader functionality was removed from all non-Japanese versions of the games as the e-Reader proved unpopular.[ citation needed ]

Pokémon Colosseum

In Pokémon Colosseum, there is a Colosseum at the back of Phenac City. There are 2 large doors, which in the English version lead to the same arena. In the Japanese version the right door goes to the arena, while the left door leads to a special e-Reader area where players can scan in extra cards to battle additional trainers and capture three more Shadow Pokémon.[ citation needed ]

Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire

There were five cards that were released that were compatible with the Japanese version. These cards do not add any new features to the game, they merely tweak the difficulty levels or increase odds of certain events happening.[ clarification needed ]

Card IDCard TitleCard EffectPromotion
09‑A001Bonus Stage CardAllows players to play the bonus stage of their choicePokémon Scoop (Summer 2003); Pokémon Festa 2003
09-A002GET Special Guests CardUnlocks one of the following Pokémon for capture: Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile or AerodactylDemo cards placed in selected stores in Japan throughout September 2003 (not for distribution)
09‑A003Ruin Area CardAllows players to start their games from the RuinsDistributed to customers who purchase the game at Pokémon Centers
09‑A004DX Mode CardAllows players to start with 9 balls (lives), Master Ball and 99 coins; in addition, Pichu rescuer will always be enabled throughout the gameDistributed to customers who purchase the game at Pokémon Centers
09‑A005Encounter Rate UP CardThe likelihood of encountering Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile and Aerodactyl increases.Distributed to customers who purchase the game at Pokémon Centers

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3-e

There are 36 cards, divided into two series: 18 for Series 1 and 18 for Series 2. In each package of 18 cards there are five demo cards, five level cards, eight power-up cards, and a promotional card without data strips which only contains an advertisement for the Pokémon Battle-e cards. More were released in Japan, however they never saw American release due to the discontinuation of the device.

Two promotional cards came packed in with every US and Australian copy of the game sold. Five additional cards were released for a very short time and were packed in with the game and sold exclusively at Walmart stores in the US. These five cards have become extremely hard to find, as the e-Reader had been discontinued in North America not long after the release of the game. The two e-Reader cards that were initially bundled with Super Mario Advance 4 have since been discontinued.

Rockman.EXE and Rockman Zero 3 cards

The Japanese Rockman games for GBA (known as Mega Man outside Japan) used Card Reader e+ cards to customize their game with the e-Reader +. The cards caused various effects as, such as Base HP, Abilities, Buster Changes, Charge Shot Modifications, B+ Back Abilities. There are even Item Cards which can give out sets of Battle Chips, Sub Chips, BugFrags, Zenny, and even Navi Customizer Programs (Only introduced in Rockman EXE6 Modification Card Part 1 & Rockman EXE6 Modification Card Part 2). They could also cause negative effects ('Bugs') to happen, causing such effects as causing Rockman to lose health and move the wrong way, or causing the player to be unable to control it. As for the Rockman Zero 3 Cards, they change the Resistance Base and add an overhaul of new things to it as well as Weapon Upgrades and Bullet Appearances to make an actual Buster Shot look like a real bullet that an actual gun fires.

These cards cannot be used on the English version of the games. The only way to gain the cards' effects in the English versions is through various cheating devices, such as Code Breaker, Action Replay and GameShark (although in Megaman Battle Network 6 all e-Reader content was removed from the European and American versions, and can no longer be accessed).

F-Zero: Legend of Falcon

Exclusive to the Japanese version, e+ cards could be used to unlock:



  1. Japanese: カードeリーダー Hepburn: Kādo-Ī-Rīdā

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  2. "GBA Accessories".