Game Boy Micro
New look, same great games.
Question: How many times can you buy the same Nintendo product? Answer: As many times as Nintendo says so. Or at least that's what they'd lead us to believe. The unveiling of the Game Boy Micro was quite a surprise, and many were skeptical as to whether or not there would be a good enough reason to merit buying another Game Boy. Well, the Micro has arrived, and after giving it some thorough hands on play time, it's apparent that while it's nothing portable gamers need rush out to buy, it has its own little charms that make it something the intrigued gamer shouldn't ignore. Put it this way: with the release of the Micro, Nintendo has placed itself into the role of a purveyor of delicious ice cream treats. Now, the portable gamer just need answer the question of which flavor is right for them: SP, DS, or Micro. Yummy.
The Game Boy Micro is insanely small. It's four inches wide, two inches tall and weighs about 3 ouces, but these minute dimensions don't really register until you actually hold the unit. Then panic sinks in. At first the Micro feels almost too small, almost to the point of being unplayable. It wasn't until after some actual game time was underway that it becomes apparent that the design actually lends itself quite well to a portable system. All buttons are easy to get to, and though it takes a bit of familiarization and some growing pains before you get fully accustomed to the layout, after about an hour the Micro feels comfortable and natural enough in your hands for it to not be a detriment to playing.
The most impressive thing about the Game Boy Micro is its screen. While it looks to be almost half as small as the screen of the Game Boy Advance SP, the Micro screen makes up for its smaller size incredibly well. It is brighter, sharper, and generally easier to look at when compared to all other Game Boy displays. This comes as a huge surprise, as games that require a lot of text and/or reading were expected to suffer enormously, but after giving the system some time with text-intensive GBA titles it's nice to see that though the screen is smaller the resolution is still the same. After spending extended periods of time playing and reading via the Micro screen, this reviewer has no complaints about burnt-out eyes or strain.
Not only does the screen do a fine job displaying all GBA games, but it looks incredible. Half of the fun of reviewing the Micro was popping in some of the best GBA titles in our collection to see how pretty they look on this little magic box. Seeing them on the Micro screen was a world of difference. Colors are so much more vibrant and graphics are leaps and bounds sharper than how they'd appear on either the Game Boy Advance SP or the Nintendo DS. As far as screen quality goes, out of all of the GBA platforms out there (GameCube GBA Player included), the Micro is going to give you the best-looking and highest quality GBA experience you can probably find.
The biggest knock the Micro has against it is its technical design and actual construction. For starters, the unit feels incredibly cheap. One has to admit the GBA SP, even with its flip screen, feels rock solid, and if one had the awesome opportunity to pit the two in a fight to the death the SP would tear the Micro apart. However, the Micro isn't made out of plastic. Rather, the casing is actually made out of metal, and if the unit was ever dropped onto a hard surface (as tends to happen occasionally with a portable system) it feels like it wouldn't pull through as well as any Nintendo product might.
Additionally, the Micro only plays Game Boy Advance games. It's debatable whether or not people still want to enjoy crusty old GB titles, but gamers who still occasionally dust off a Game Boy or Game Boy Color game should best take note: there is no classic retro love to be seen in this gaming device. However, don't be mistaken: the Micro plays GBA games amazingly well. In fact, it even improves upon some. Wario Ware: Twisted plays a lot more solid on the Micro than it does on any other Game Boy flavor; the vibration and rotation sense is so much more effective and the Micro's compact size makes the game a bit more intuitive to play. Say what you want about the Micro, but it can't be denied that it will give your games a snazzy facelift.
The sound on the Micro is pretty weak. The speaker is nothing like the blaringly loud megaphone-grade fare to be had on the DS, so you won't be hearing any of your treasured GBA music and sound effects in environments with a lot of background noise. In all fairness, though, the Micro does come equipped with a conveniently located headphone jack, so plugging in and blocking out the real world isn't a problem. Sound volume is changed easily enough with a button located on the right side of the Micro; not the sliding volume control that GBA gamers have grown accustomed to, but it gets the job done nonetheless.
The Game Boy Micro is definitely not a must have. Whether or not you should pick it up all depends on what you're looking for. If you already own a DS or plan on getting one in the near future, you could probably pass the Micro up for the time being. Additionally, if your GBA SP is getting the job done for you just fine and you want to be able to play original Game Boy or Game Boy Color games on the go, the Micro isn't for you. Die-hard GBA fans probably won't want to pass up it up if they have the cash, as it really will breathe a ton of life into the GBA games currently in your library. The verdict? If you're not looking for a device to replace your SP or the GB-playing functionality of the Nintendo DS, hold off on the Micro for now. Otherwise, if you desire an incredibly comfortable no-nonsense portable GBA game player with a gorgeous screen and have the cash burning a hole in your pocket, the Game Boy Micro will definitely satisfy.
What's Hot: Jaw-droppingly gorgeous screen; surprisingly comfortable to hold and play.
What's Not: Not full-featured or solid enough to replace an SP; feels and looks cheaply made.