E3 2005: Game Boy Micro

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Electronic Theatre Image            The Game Boy Micro. Nintendo’s latest bid in the recently re-opened war for handheld dominance takes the Game Boy series into the extreme style territory. Pausing for only a moment to gasp at the clarity of the tiny screen fused into the device, it’s the size of the unit that gets you going.             Sporting a sleek, silver design at purchase, the Game Boy Micro features customisable faceplates. Only four inches wide, two inches tall and 0.7 inches thick, the Game Boy Micro is no bigger than the average mobile phone and about the same size asElectronic Theatre Image the iPod Mini. Weighing in at 2.8 ounces, “about the weight of 80 paper clips” states the Nintendo press release, the Game Boy Micro lives up to its name.            The system supports play of all Game Boy Advance games, although it’s unlikely the system will be backwards compatible with other Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. The backlit screen is only two inches wide, but delivers incredibly clarity. The in-built  lithium-ion battery reportedly offers seven hours of gameplay – three less than the Game Boy AdvanceSP, but still more than any train ride your likely to take the system on (although it would certainly fall-short on the ten-hour plane ride the Electronic Theatre staff had to endure to witness the machine’s unveiling and later play on the device).            Featuring all the standard buttons seen on the Game Boy AdvanceSP – although the jury at the Electronic Theatre is still out on those L and R Triggers, which don’t seem to feature the secondary click that the original Game Boy Advance and SP models demonstrate – the Start and Select buttons now act as clicks and shimmer with the same shine as the rest of the system. The D-pad and buttons return to the original soft-pad design of the Game Boy Advance, as opposed to the click function seen on the Game Boy AdvanceSP and NintendoDS.            “We’re making the gorgeous Game Boy Micro for image-conscious folks who love video games, the ones who want the look of their system to be as cool as the games they play on it,” says George Harrison, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications. “Because of its diminutive size and industrial-hip look, Game Boy Micro immediately identifies the person playing it as a trendsetter with discriminating style.”            While Nintendo’s target audience is clear, I can’t help but feel they’re out-of-their-depth in a market with the PSP sitting side-by-side the Game Boy Micro. There’s no denying it’s a very nice looking piece of kit, however it’s nothing particularly new. With no price-point currently available, I’d worry about the viability of retailers stocking the product in the UK without a sub-£50 price-tag. A very nice product that very easily could either expand Nintendo’s audience, or become their first Game Boy-“N-Gage”.  -END-

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