In 2004, Nintendo released the DS handheld, purportedly the “third pillar” of Nintendo’s hardware family. At the time, the verdict was still out on the touch-enabled device; consumers and the media were anticipating the next entry in the venerable Game Boy line. No one could have guessed what would come next.
At E3 2005, the Game Boy micro (lowercase ‘M’ for extra branding wholesomeness) was unveiled. Tailored for the techno-savvy, yuppie gamer, the micro was the fashion-conscious midget of the Game Boy world. You could customize the look of the micro with interchangeable faceplates and squeeze it in any pocket with enough room left for your wallet, a pack of gum, and some loose change.
Did you buy one? Of course not! Who would have? Instead of the next generation of handheld, the micro was another Game Boy Advance redesign. Its tiny form factor meant that features had to be chopped. Say so long to compatibility with Game Boy and Game Boy Color software, standard GBA cables, and GBA adapters. For $100, you were getting less functionality than the cheaper SP model still in wide availability.
Who could have love for the Game Boy micro? I have love for the Game Boy micro.
In the beginning, I was also skeptical of its benefits, but that was before I discovered this NeoGAF thread. Here, satisfied micro owners and enthusiastic hardware collectors show off a colorful cornucopia of various models and special editions. It’s essentially Game Boy porn.
If these guys have been so satisfied with their purchases, I figured, then there must be some value to the device that I have overlooked. I took the plunge last year and procured a Mario 20th anniversary, Famicom-themed Game Boy micro off of eBay. I held the thing in my hand, gazing at it, caressing it, gently whispering to it. Oh, all the wasted years! How could I have been so neglectful?
There’s no way to know what you are missing until you see the micro in the flesh. It’s a snazzy piece of tech; smooth and sleek, every bit as svelte as the latest iPod. I whipped this baby out at my local Play N Trade and was greeted with inquisitive admiration. The only concern you should have when playing the micro in public is with warding off all the hungry stares.
It feels so right in your hand. The buttons have the right amount of clickiness; they aren’t spongy like lesser handhelds, which for me… includes everything else. You would think that the tiny screen would cause text-reading issues, but as the resolution is no different than that of the original models, the screen benefits from increased sharpness. The powerful backlight doesn’t hurt either.
It’s like I’ve never played a Game Boy before! I do all my Advancing on the micro now. No, I have no love for the BC on the DS. The experience is not the same. It’s big, bulky, and superfluous. There’s an extra screen there with no purpose whatsoever. How distracting!
I take serious offense at the DS Lite’s abortion of backwards compatibility. Advance carts protrude out the bottom just begging to be knocked about. On more than one occasion, games freeze thanks to the slightest of brushes. The final straw was when I was approaching Dracula’s chamber in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance and an abrupt jiggle locked up the screen and erased my save data. Never again, I announced.
Since picking up my Famicom micro, my passion for Advancing has reached new heights. I’m always on the lookout for used deals and online offers, tracking down all the gems that passed me by. The Advance library is a treasure trove, and I wish to plumb its depths and beyond!
Do I care that the micro was and still is pricey? Does it matter that cramps are inevitable for all but the tiniest sets of hands? Hell no. This is passion. This is love. This is gaming, plain and simple. It is my fondest wish that all of you non-believers out there stand up and recognize the micro for what it is: The greatest handheld ever made.
Long live the Game Boy micro.