Nintendo Game Boy Micro Review

Review

Hardware

The Game Boy Micro is more compact than its predecessors, It’s a minuscule 4 inches wide, 2 tall, and 0.7 deep! which makes this console live up to its name.  The horizontal design is a departure from the squarish clamshell of the SP; in fact, the Micro looks more like a downscaled version of the old Game Boy Advance. There is a 2-inch-diagonal screen with a resolution of (240×160 pixels) and has a backlight with adjustable brightness. The screen is very bright, and looks much better than the original Game Boy Advance and Advance SP, but the improved Game Boy Advance SP (AGS-101) still looks better in my opinion.

There’s L+R trigger buttons at the top, along with a a new proprietary connector, centered on the top edge between the shoulder buttons. The connector provides a connection for the AC power adapter to recharge the battery, and for connecting Micro-specific accessories. Unfortunately you won’t be able to use Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP accesories with the Micro, and will need to purchase seperate ones instead.

On the front – there’s a D-Pad to left, two main A/B control buttons on the right and a small speaker underneath the control buttons. Below you will find the power button, cartridge slot, start and select buttons and a standard 1/8-inch headphone minijack. The re-introduction of the standard headphone jack corrects the most glaring flaw of the Game Boy Advance SP, which needed a small dongle to connect standard headphones to its proprietary port. The rocker buttons on the right-hand side are used for controlling the volume, along with increasing and decreasing the screen brightness.

Design

At first glance, the Game Boy Micro slightly resembles a classic NES Controller; or even a miniaturized Game Boy Advance. The design is nice and minimal, and looks rather stylish too. I would even go as far to say that the Micro feels like a premium device, and something you would be proud to carry around in your pocket.

The Game Boy Micro loses the clamshell design, which provided screen protection for the SP. This means that it’s more prone to cosmetic scratches and scrapes on the surface. The rest of the casing is metal, however that can still easily be scratched or scraped – so definitely get yourself a case to protect the device from any potential damage.

There are 8 different colours to choose from, and 6 limited editions to collect. The Micro features a removable face plate, and designs with special faceplates were sold as a customization feature.

Ergonomics

 

The Game Boy Micro isn’t designed for comfort in mind, it’s made to be as compact as possible. This means that it won’t feel as comfortable to use compared to the Game Boy Advance, or the Game Boy Advance SP. I definitely wouldn’t reccomend using this for extended gaming sessions, however for short periods of time it will be fine.

Battery Life

The Micro has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, up to 5 hours of battery life with top brightness and sound or 8 hours with both features on default.

Software

Unlike the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP, The Micro is not backwards compatible with the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, due to design changes. It does have the required Z80 processor and graphics hardware necessary to run games from older Game Boy systems, but lacks other internal hardware necessary for backward compatibility. It’s also incompatible with the Nintendo e-Reader and other peripherals due to similar design issues.

History

The Game Boy Micro was first released in September 2005 as a compact redesign of the Game Boy Advance. The system is the last console in the Game Boy line. Unlike its predecessor, the Game Boy Micro lacks backward compatibility for Game Boy or Game Boy Color games.

Technical Specifications

  • Dimensions: 50×101×17.2 mm (2×4×0.7 in)
  • Weight: 80 g (2.8 oz)
  • Processor: 32-bit 16.8 MHz ARM processor (ARM7TDMI)
  • Case Colors: various
  • Screen: 51 mm / 2 inches, backlight with adjustable brightness.
  • Resolution: 240×160 pixels
  • Colors: 512 (character cell mode) or 32,768 (bitmap mode)
  • Battery: built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, up to 5 hours of battery life with top brightness and sound or 8 hours with both features on default
  • Headphones: standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

Final Verdict

The Micro is definitely the most compact one out of the entire Game Boy line, and is the perfect travelling companion for when you’re on the go. The device fits nice and snugg in your pocket, and is also nice and stylish to look at. The D-Pad and two A+B buttons feel much better than its predecessors, and the glowing start and select buttons at the bottom look rather cool too. The L+R trigger buttons don’t feel as good as the ones on the Game Boy Advance, but slightly better than the trigger buttons on the SP.

The screen is nice and bright, and being able to control the brightness is a great feature on this device. The 2inch display takes some getting used to, especially if you’re upgrading from a Game Boy Advance or SP, which both have a larger display.

The sound is rather disappointing on the Game Boy Micro, and I can barely hear it most of the time. This is most likely due to the fact that Nintendo needed to use a smaller speaker in the Micro to help reduce the size. I would suggest bringing a pair of headphones along with you, unless you’re fine with putting up with mediocre sound.

Speaking of sound – I’m glad Nintendo has brought back the normal headphone jack on the Micro, it means you will no longer need to purchase a small dongle to connect standard headphones to a proprietary port. Removing the standard headphone jack was one of the most glaring flaws with the Game Boy Advance SP, and re-introducing it with the Micro finally solves that flaw.

The lack of backwards compatibility with the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games is a bit dissapointing, but design changes meant this would no longer be possible. Only the Game Boy Advance or the SP are backwards compatible with these games, and I would suggest getting one of those if you’re wanting to play older games.

My final verdict is if you want the most compact system to take on the go, the Micro would be the best choice; with its small form factor. The Micro fits nicely in your pocket, and packs a lot of good features for something so damn small. If you’re wanting something a bit more comforable to use for extended periods of time, and includes backwards compatibility for older games – the Game Boy Advance or SP would be the best option.