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Ah, venerable Nintendo. Always charming in its multiple stabs at the gaming market - be it the portable or stationary - despite the recent arms war with Microsoft and Sony in which the company has decidedly fallen behind. But so what? Slowly but surely, it's starting to dawn on people that Nintendo thinks a bit differently when it comes to gaming, of which the Nintendo Revolution and its motion sensitive controller is a perfect example. Enter the Game Boy Micro, which is really more of the same.
Say hello to my little friend
Sure, hardcore gamers are more likely to go for the wirelessly enabled Nintendo DS or even the Sony PlayStation Portable - but the 101 x 50 x 17 mm, 80 g device doesn't cater to those. Instead, it caters to casual gamers who just want to fire up a quick game in a tenth of the time it takes the PSP to load a Ridge Racer level, or who quite simply cannot be bothered to lug around the several-times-larger DS or PSP.
Small enough to clip on a key chain, the Game Boy Micro trumps the vast majority of mobile phones yet sports a truly brilliant 2-inch display which, alongside that of the DS, is Nintendo's best to date despite its 32K colour limitation. Granted, it's a bit small, but it still assumes the majority of the front of the device - also host to the venerable Game Boy setup consisting of a four-way controller as well as A and B buttons; shoulder buttons in chrome are also part of the line-up.
Although quite good, the controller setup of the Game Boy Micro leaves a bit to be desired in the tactile department as there is no proper distinction to acknowledge when a button has been pressed. One thing we're particularly pleased to see, though, is the inclusion of a dedicated earphone 3.5 mm jack; begone the combo charger/earphone ports and required dongles of yesteryear - the Micro lets you listen and charge at the same time.
It's all about the games
So what makes Nintendo think a system as ancient as the Game Boy Micro - compatible with the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy SP - can survive being alongside the aforementioned PSP and DS? For one, the games. With a back catalogue of over 500 titles, the Micro has access to one of the most solid libraries of games ever to be published; many low on graphics, but high on gameplay.
Then there's the issue of simplicity, with the casual gamer long having been neglected. Where the PSP and DS offer up gaming sessions that can go on for hours (cramps aside), the Micro is perfect for a sneaking a quick fix everywhere and anytime - due in no small part to its size as well as a combination of simple controls and its ability to get a game afoot in no time at all.
And, as if all of that wasn't enough, it also offers a competition-slamming battery life of more than 8 hours. Who said cartridges were no good?
The Nintendo Game Boy Micro is now available worldwide, shipping for $100 USD and €100 EUR in North America and Europe, respectively. Nintendo Game Boy Micro
In a world of high-powered portable gaming consoles, the comparably low-tech Nintendo Game Boy Micro manages to stay surprisingly competitive courtesy of its focus on simplicity. Its miniscule size, easily accessible controls and massive back catalogue of games with a focus on gameplay over graphics makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to escape the constraints of mobile phone gaming. Let's face it: who could resist getting their Mario on with this little Micro marvel?
Superbly small; excellent screen; massive back catalogue of titles
3D graphics and complex interaction traded for simplicity.
OVERALL Score: 78%
Written By Jørgen Sundgot, Wednesday 14 December 2005