GP32 is a handheld console developed by Game Park, a South Korean company, and released in 2001 in order to compete with Game Boy Advance (GPA). The games could be found on stores or bought online and the games medium was the SmartMedia Card. GP32 has many variations in design and promotional units. A lot of prototypes designed also. However, three are the main revisions of the console, having mostly display upgrades. GP32 NLU, GP32 FLU and GP32 BLU.
GP32 - Console History
Due to lot of reasons South Korea had a trade embargo with Japan. So consoles originated from Japan, like Game Boy Advance by Nintendo, weren't sold in South Korea. However, some of the handheld and home consoles were sold by local brands collaborating with Japanese companies. These consoles had different names and brands. For example, Super Nintendo sold under the name Super Comboy, but it was basically the same platform. At some point, the South Korean government decided to fund a local company in order to manufacture a handheld console that would surpass the might of Nintendo's handheld systems. This company was Game Park and GP32 was essentially produced by South Koreans tax payers money!
The production of GP32 started in 1996. However, it presented for the first time after four years in Tokyo Game Show, 2000. The impact of the presentation was small since there weren't any games manufactured at that point. In addition, the release of Game Boy Advance shaked the handheld market, so Game Park and GP32 had to compete with a technically more advanced handheld. At last, after five years of development, GP32 was released in November of 2001 with five games available. However, the biggest difference between GP32 and GPA is that GP32 games were open source and quite attractive to indie developers. Game Park hoped that games from free software developers would be produced for free. The open source nature of the console had as a result the existence of free applications that can run through the console, beyond handheld games, like file manages, emulators, even slideshows. Also some 64-bit console games were emulated and can be played with GP32. It also supports audio and video playback. In addition, the user can also listen to music downloading songs from a PC in MP3 format.
In 2002 the trade embargo with Japan was finished and Game Park had to compete locally with Japanese companies and their consoles. As a result, Game Park begun the distribution of GP32 in other countries also, specially in Europe. At the same time however, in 2002, the console still counted only 13 games. GP32 FLU also released the same year. In 2003, the game library of the console were 25 games. In addition, in mid-2004 GP32 BLU were released with a backlight. By December of 2004, only 28 commercial games were released, a number that was the final count for GP32 game library. However, homebrew games and application were released due to the open source nature of GP32.
GP32 was commercially unsuccessful with only 30,000 units sold.