Despite the fact that it’s too expensive for five year-old hardware that’s been released already in two different forms (four if you count the Game Boy Player and SP+) and doesn’t play Game Boy Color games the Game Boy Micro is a really nice bit of kit.
While the PSP and DS have to differing extents moved away from traditional gaming, the GBA has possibly the best handheld library ever and many of the games are available for next to nothing now. Similarly the newer handhelds are hardly pocket-friendly, so Nintendo have spotted a niche here for a handheld that is both small and has a very large library. The popularity of it in Japan where they seemed ubiquitous on the trains shows how astute they were.
The thing is tiny. I know there are a lot of comparisons around (the best is that it’s about the size of three GBA carts) but it still manages to feel substantial enough that you can play it fairly comfortably. It’s probably the least comfortable GBA to hold just by nature of the size but it definitely couldn’t be called unusable. In fact it reminds me a lot of the NES controller.
The definite star of this baby, however, is the incredible screen. Shrinking the pixels to make it seem sharper could be considered cheating, but does it ever work. The size coupled with the fact that it’s backlit (the old-style SP was frontlit) makes it look unbelievably sharp and vivid. It’s at least as good as GBA games look on the DS, albeit smaller, and on maximum brightness it makes even the first GBA Castlevania visible. I’d been impressed without even knowing that you could make it even brighter.
To be frank I can’t see the Micro ever attaining mainstream popularity with the newer hardware out and the relatively high price, but I’m definitely going to be using it as the most portable portable around. Coupled with the recent release of an updated Final Fantasy IV (complete with excellent Yoshitaka Amano box art), it shows that there’s still life in the old man.