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Game Boy micro needs your affection.

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.

True story: I owned a Famicom growing up.

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?

Never mind the dust.

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.

I wish I had a better camera.

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.

The PLAY-YAN micro, what a marvelous little tool!

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.

  1. Great first piece! I’ve always wanted a Game Boy Micro; and yes, I’m really ticked off at the fact that the DSi abandoned backwards compatibility.

    Why would Nintendo allow you to play games you already own when you can re-buy them for a “mere” 500 Nintendo Points?! Same thing goes for Sony and the PS3.

  2. Tony! Nice post man! Cool to see you pop up on here.

    I actually remember coming across one of these in a Best Buy a few years ago. They had a massive cart of them on clearance…and I held one in my hands, mulling over the decision before finally putting it back. I feel like a jackass now. They were super cheap, too.

  3. Comment spam: I love your picture.

  4. Tony, while I don’t agree with your stance on the GB micro at all, your unbridled passion for it made this article a blast to read, and what makes opinion pieces exciting to read in the first place. Great job, dude! I hope this is the first of many!

  5. I have one and love how small the thing is. The only bit I didn’t like was how they had interchangeable faceplates which allowed dust on the actual screen.

  6. I just got edumacated! Thanks for the look into a handheld I never got to try.

  7. avatar Darko

    I got one of these bad boys for Christmas the year they were released. I was lucky enough to get the retro Special Edition. It is my favorite handheld period. I threw on a black faceplate and it looked awesome! (Yes, I was/am that guy sometimes.) My only complaint was the volume, but hey, look how small it is! The headphone jack works great!

  8. avatar jax

    I remember this thing! nice writeup.

  9. avatar Ferahtsu

    Neat, I always planned to eventually pick one up in the back of my head ever since I bout a DSi. I’m not just gonna get rid of my gba carts

  10. This thing looks beautiful! And somehow I never knew it existed!

  11. So I pulled my micro of my Nintendo collection shelf and am quite upset because I can’t find the charger! Also, I need a new faceplate they are damn near impossible to find.

    • avatar Praveen

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  12. avatar bobi

    not sure if they’re still on there, but i remember getting a faceplate from nintendo.com for $5 a few years back

  13. avatar Bob

    I just bought one, totally agreeing with your opinion on the DS’s awkward GBA usage. I must say it is the most satisfying little doodad I’ve owned since my iPod. It’s reenergized GBA games for me, especially Pokemon. Plus I can use it at work and slip it in my pocket when my boss looks in.

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