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Portables (Games)

The Gameboy Micro Reviewed 266

Posted by Zonk
from the pocket-sized-hardware dept.
Advtg writes "Ars Technica has a great review of the Gameboy Micro, which is now shipping in North America. The thing is amazingly small, but it looks as though worries about the screen being too small and too dim aren't true. But will it sell? From the review: 'You'd think at this point the portable market would just be saturated with Nintendo products, and the Micro carries a price tag of US$99.99. For just US$30 more you can get a DS, and for US$20 less you can get an SP with the newly brightened screen. It occupies somewhat of an awkward place in terms of price point and features.'"
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The Gameboy Micro Reviewed

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  • by joeflies (529536) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:35PM (#13717980)
    perspective, but as the iPod Mini made perfectly clear, people will pay for "small is cool". How many people on this very board says "but for only $100 you get 16G more storage". Yet it was the mini in different colors that sold.

    How many people bought a Nano even though they had a perfectly fine player at home anyways?

    People don't buy on need or feature/function alone.

    • Exactly. I have a DS and gameplay wise I think it's superior to the GBA and PSP. Great games, the whole GBA library at your disposal. As hip, though? No. So I'm a dorky 30-something with a DS. I don't care.
  • by Eightyford (893696) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:35PM (#13717981) Homepage
    For me, the biggest selling point is that it is the least toy-like in appearance of the three. The DS may be fun, but I think it looks a little too much like a kid's toy.
    • So be a kid. Most of the people that you think would be making fun of you (eg. the business guys on your commute or plain) are probably going to be more jelious.
    • Too many people want to cast off the shackles of childhood, and are afraid to do something that makes them seem even a little immature. These people are the ones that end up having less fun in their lives. Many people ended up saying that the GC was too childish, and because of this, endep up missing out on great games like Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime. If the GC looks childish because it's small and square, then I want a childish system. Because it's a lot easier to take over to a friends house th
      • Huge? Massive? What, are you some sort of puny midget who has T-Rex arms? Seriously, dude. Get over it already.

        I love my XBOX. Maybe that's because I'm not some wimpy whiney geek.
      • by cornface (900179) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:55PM (#13719227)
        If the GC looks childish because it's small and square, then I want a childish system. Because it's a lot easier to take over to a friends house than that massive XBox, with the original massive controllers. Even the XBox 360 is a huge, I thought they learned the first time that nobody wants a 7 pound console.

        Whoa! 7lbs! How can you even LIFT it? A forklift is the only way. Two forklifts, one lifting from each end. And an anti-gravity machine. Probably twelve brawny strongmen, just for good measure.

        Do you take your console over to your buddy's house on your tricycle? Does it overbalance you? Any console on the market will easily fit into a grocery sack or backpack. Do you carry your Gamecube by the handle? If so, how do you hold the games, power brick, and controllers? In a bag? Why not just stick everything in the same bag? It's a magic bag of holding!

        Yo are correct in thinking that looking childish does not make something bad. This has several obvious corollaries.

        - Looking childish does not make something good.
        - Not looking childish does not make something bad.
        - Not looking childish does not make something good.

        The lesson in all this?

        If you buy groceries, you can carry a game console. Even a big 7lb whopper! If you eat your Wheaties you MAY even show off and carry it one-handed.
      • If the GC looks childish because it's small and square, then I want a childish system.

        Psssh.
        It looks childish because it is "Atomic Purple"
        I voided the warranties on all my game systems by taking them apart and giving them a decent wood-grainy paint job to match the rest of the furnature.
        But either way, the GC stood out from the other ones that were black. So it was being rebelious and hence more teenagery than the conformist adulty platforms.
        That and it would occasionally cut class and go smoke behind the

    • "For me, the biggest selling point is that it is the least toy-like in appearance of the three. The DS may be fun, but I think it looks a little too much like a kid's toy."

      No matter how sleek, how tiny, or how shiny a portable is, you'll still look like a nerd when you're hunched over it at a bus stop. A legion of dancing silhouettes and Apple's marketing department couldn't change that.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:36PM (#13717984)
    The thing is amazingly small, but it looks as though worries about the screen being too small and too dim aren't true.

    Look at the bright side: if they had called it GameBoy Nano, it would have a scratch-prone screen, so it's not so bad...
  • You'd think so... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pichu0102 (916292) <pichu0102@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:36PM (#13717985) Homepage Journal
    ...But remember what the iPod is doing?
    It's popular, and it just came out with the Nano, and even that's selling. Size matters there days, when people want to do things on the go, they like what's smallest best.
    • Re:You'd think so... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:45PM (#13718064)
      But the size of the Nano is less of an issue than the size of a Game Boy. I mean, almost no matter how small the Nano is, all you need to do is see which song/playlist you're playing, whereas the Game Boy is much more dependent on size: Awkwardness of pushing buttons and also having to see everything on the screen.

      Someone might say (and have said in other comments), "iPod Nano storage is small compared to the regular iPod". yes, but 4 gigs is enough for 60 something hours of music, which should be plenty for the average user. It's the equivalent of 60 CDs, and can be relatively easily swapped on and off the iPod from the home computer. Does anyone here can 60 physical CDs in their front pocket? ::Looks for hands::
      • by Urusai (865560)
        I would rather have my ENTIRE music collection at my fingertips, rather than some selected chunk of it. I can do that with a 40 GB player, but not a 4 GB player. And that, as they say, is that.
    • by Sartak (589317) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:32PM (#13719623) Homepage
      they like what's smallest best.

      At last, my day has come!
  • by Brent Spiner (919505) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:36PM (#13717990) Homepage
    This makes the original Gameboy [loungespot.com] seem HUGE.
  • Innovation! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Naerymdan (870497) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:37PM (#13717997) Homepage
    Neither the rain nor the wind nor consumer opinion will stop Nintendo(TM) from trying to sell us ANOTHER copy of an already existing product it seems...
    • Re:Innovation! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:31PM (#13718419)
      "Neither the rain nor the wind nor consumer opinion will stop Nintendo(TM) from trying to sell us ANOTHER copy of an already existing product it seems..."

      Funny that you should mention consumer opinion. Consumers (more respectfully known as "customers," BTW) vote with their wallets. And they have voted for Nintendo's handhelds in their various forms time and time again.

      Hoover updates their vacuum cleaner lines every once in a while. Sometimes prices change. Sometimes form factors change. Sometimes features change. Go pick the nits out of their hair. Because, just like vacuum cleaners, just maybe it's only in your silly little dreamland where you think people are expected to own EVERY SINGLE KIND. Besides, some might, and if they do, who are you to care?

      After all, the PSP grew the market to include pseudo-hipsters. The GBM is targeted at that same market. And in the same way that PSP sales HAVE NOT dented the DS market (PSP sales are by all measures separate and/or complementary to DS and GB sales), the GBM is not intended to cannibalize DS and GBA SP sales. It is intended for those who, for whatever reason, have not purchased previous GameBoys. Nintendo has very explicitly pronounced as much in public. How much clearer do you need things to be amde for you?
    • "Neither the rain nor the wind nor consumer opinion will stop Nintendo(TM) from trying to sell us ANOTHER copy of an already existing product it seems..."

      This may seem surprising, but lots of sales of the GameBoy Micro is actually an expression of consumer opinion.

      On a side note, your definition of 'copy' is a little too broad.
    • Neither the rain nor the wind nor consumer opinion will stop Nintendo(TM) from trying to sell us ANOTHER copy of an already existing product it seems...

      I don't see anything wrong with Nintendo trying to improve on a successful product, because so far they've never stopped selling the current product because a new version came out. The GBA SP has so much more going for it than the original GBA that I am glad Nintendo sees these opportunities.

      I'm not opting for a GBA Micro myself, but I will probably buy

    • But, can you use the Movie Player [shacknews.com] with it?

      I am waiting for a version of that in the PSP... but anyway, I think THIS [the movie player] is what will make me buy one of those standard ebay GBA... I just saw one going at US$20... and if you can do all that with the movie player, I am in!
  • Late much? (Score:2, Informative)

    It's been in my local Wal-Mart for over a week. Two weeks maybe even, and I live in Canada. Northern Canada.
    • Seriously. Not only that, but Ars Technica gave it a SEVEN. A SEVEN! For a slightly smaller re-hash of something that came out a couple years ago? I used to read Ars back in the day, but their stuff's really gone downhill from '00.

      Nowadays Ars is all about the shiny plastic packaging and not about the actual tech. They should call it Ars Plastica.

      Give me a real tech site like tech-report or anandtech any day of the week.

    • I saw it at Target the other day and hadn't realized it was brand new.
  • Looks great to me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RichardX (457979) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:41PM (#13718030) Homepage
    One feature of the micro which may seem trivial but, to me is a great idea, is the replacable faceplates.. it's not so much the customisation aspect, though that is pretty nifty, but the fact that the faceplates include a transparent screen cover.
    That means you can stick it in your pocket/bag/whatever, and not worry about screen scratches. When too many scratches accumulate simply change the faceplate for a new one.

    This is probably the only portable gaming system I'd consider getting. All the others just seem too bulky for me.. and as an ex Atari Lynx owner (stop laughing!) I'd really rather not go through all that again. The micro looks truly "take anywhere", perfect for those 5-minutes-here, 10-minutes-there gaming sessions, especially if you put one of those backup card thingies in it and load it up with emulators.
    • Finally, the article points out(at the end) the faceplates cover the screen. Everything I've read uptil this point just talked about the color. Now I'll actually consider buying it. I'll still have to try it out before I buy it though.
      I have replaced a couple of faceplates on non-flip cell phones including a Sony that have cracked or been scratched. Why other manufacturers of small items don't follow suit is beyond me.
    • Even better!! (Score:4, Informative)

      by jxyama (821091) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:44PM (#13718514)
      The battery is replaceable too. And the standard headphone jack is great, compared to SP. The only drawback is that it only plays GBA games, which is fine by me, but I'm sure others would have loved the ability to play GB/GBC games.
    • Yeah, I owned the Sega Game Gear [wikipedia.org]. While not quite as rare as they Atari lynx, it had all the same flaws. It ate batteries, and was a lot of trouble to carry around. Also, they just tried to put too much technology into too small a unit. At least for those days.
  • IGN Gameboy's Review (Score:5, Informative)

    by dividedsky319 (907852) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:41PM (#13718034) Homepage
    gameboy.ign.com's review of the Micro is actually pretty positive [ign.com]

    Here's the ending summary of it: The GB Micro isn't exactly the ideal way to enjoy Game Boy Advance games, but don't misjudge it by its size. Given the choice between toting a GBA SP in our backpacks or a GB Micro in our pockets, we'll take the Micro. It's tiny, its screen is amazing, and it is surprisingly comfortable to hold.
  • Price Point Products (Score:3, Informative)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:42PM (#13718038) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes they are virtually throwaway products to get you interested, then think 'gee for just a few bucks more...'.

    Not quite 'bait and switch' but damned close.. More like 'bait and pull'...
    • The critical difference being that the choice to give in to that impulse is entirely in the buyer's hands, which is not true in a real bait and switch scenario.
  • The Bad (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:43PM (#13718048)
    Your girlfriend will make it pink. Fair warning.

    Haha, he assumes too much.
    • Assumes too much? that you might have a girlfriend?

      Maybe some girl will go for the overweight, pasty white, socially oblivious guy!

      Nah, you're right, you have no hope...
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EdwinBoyd (810701) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @06:58PM (#13718154)
    Although the main problem with the original GBA was the backlight, it was also very prone to getting marks or scratches on the screen. When the SP came out it cleverly removed this problem with the clamshell design.

    The only real complaint with the SP was that the controls weren't as easily accessible as on the original. The shoulder buttons were very small and the thin square design wasn't the best for some hand sizes.

    Now nintendo is releasing the micro, which keeps the form factor of the original GBA (more or less) but sidesteps the scratching issue with a better protective layer and most importantly removable faceplates.

    Yes nintendo is a fan of releasing the same product over and over, but each iteration always has something new to offer and is rarely a step back. Nice to see the standard headphone jack return as well.
  • by TheGreatGraySkwid (553871) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:00PM (#13718182) Homepage
    The guys at iPod Lounge did a comprehensive review [ilounge.com] of this little guy some time ago, with lots of pictures comparing it to the various iPods and previous GameBoys for perspective. Worth checking out.
  • by blonde rser (253047) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:01PM (#13718187) Homepage
    For just US$30 more you can get a DS, and for US$20 less you can get an SP with the newly brightened screen. It occupies somewhat of an awkward place in terms of price point and features.

    When talking about things like palms this sort of note makes sense since really everyone would rather have the most expensive palm for the cheapest price. Same story when it comes to the same line of mp3 player with different storage capacities. But here I don't think that is the case. It seems these 3 products have different values for different customers. If somebody wants something small there aren't going to go for a DS even if it is the same price as the micro. If someone really wants the DS features instead of the extra portability they'll get the DS. And for someone like me who doesn't want something as big as a DS but finds the SP more comfortable to play they will get an SP, even if again all 3 are at the same price.

    Instead of having 3 compromises of price and features Nintendo actually has 3 different products, although clearly they are competing against each other. but at the same time prefers the size of the SP
  • by Phantasmo (586700) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:24PM (#13718361)
    Apparently if you want to play multiplayer with an SP or connect the Micro to your Gamecube you need to buy a converter cable [nintendo.com].
    I'm disappointed that they couldn't keep with the standard connector. It's not the end of the world, I'd just prefer not to worry about one more tiny accessory.
    • Can it connect to the Gamecube at all?

      I can find no possitive or negative info for that fact.

      Well it could be taken as negative confirmation on Nintendo's page mentioning the link and saying "Note: Does not apply to Game Boy micro." on their connctivity page.

      But still, no real warning saying it is impossible, and considering it seams obvious that it would work with an adapter I am courious.

      Unfortunatly for me this is a deal breaker, (having a second GBA for Chrytal Chronicals could give me an excuse to buy
  • Personally, I chose the new SP instead of the Micro, after looking at both units. I don't really feel there's a huge size difference between the SP closed and the Micro. The SP is more comfortable for my large hands and the screen is brighter, larger, and easier to see.

    Not to say the Micro didn't tempt me. Aside from the size, I liked the built-in headphone jack, and the response time of the Micro's screen seemed a bit better.

    But, in the end, the new SP is just too cool. I always really liked the SP f

  • FYI... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jxyama (821091) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:37PM (#13718463)
    Some of the things I've found out since I've had it for a few days...
    • The "black" version comes with the silver faceplate and the "silver" version comes with the black faceplate. (It confused me for a while...)
    • Battery lasts about 10 hours. (This was hard to find surprisingly...)
    • The shoulder buttons are pushed down on the inner side, not at the corner.
    • It's easier to hold than SP since the direction pad and A/B buttons are further apart.
    • Screen's crisp and gorgeous - you can "read" pretty much all text. Not much ghosting.
    • The one speaker is a bit on the light side. (Yeah, what did I expect...)
    • Volume control does not get in the way.
    • Headphone jack is a standard one (unlike SP) and does not get in the way even when plugged in.
    • The battery can be replaced on our own.
  • by Darius Jedburgh (920018) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:58PM (#13718607)
    ...discretely playing Golden Sun 2 on my GBA Micro wondering how anyone could have problems imagining why they'd be popular. Any time I want a break at work off I go without even the slightest telltale bulge in my pocket to give away what I'm doing. Unfortunately I think the person in the next stall might have just spotted the laptop that I'm using in here to post this comment...
  • by dynooomite (920368) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @08:10PM (#13718672)
    This just means more confused geriatrics wandering aimlessly around an electronics store searching for that "new fangled game thing my grandson wants." That isn't good for anyone.
  • by Stalin (13415)
    I have never really liked handheld gaming. The only reason I own a Gameboy is because my brother wanted one of the original Gameboy's for Christmas when they first came out and my father didn't want to get him one and not me. I think I played Tetris and one Raiden like game on the thing; I just never really liked it. To this day, the only portable game system I have owned is that original Gameboy. However, I now find myself wanting a Gameboy Micro. I want one to play all of the classic SNES games (e.g. Supe
  • I bought one (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shaleh (1050) <shaleh@speakeas[ ]et ['y.n' in gap]> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @08:37PM (#13718837)
    I am 28. It fits easily in my blue jean pocket. The screen is a wee small but damn bright and clear. The sound (via headphones) is really impressive. Was playing metroid on it the first day and was in love.

    Yeah, its small. But I played for over an hour the other night, holding the right shoulder button through Toularian (Mother brain land) almost the whole time.

    No regrets. No AA batteries to replace.

    Why not buy the DS? Never buy the first edition of a Nintendo product -- they always come out with a better version in 6 months to a year. Compare the original GBA to the new SP. The DS is currently molded like a kid's toy, but I expect that to change. For now I have a large library of GBA titles available to me. When a new, improved DS comes out I can give the micro to my wife (-:
    • Not to burst your bubble too much, but the Micro *IS* the first edition of a Nintendo product. It might have the GameBoy label, but that doesn't mean it won't suffer the same pains as every other first edition ever created.
  • I bought it because the screen was significantly better than the original Gameboy advance (The fact that the GBA screen was WORSE than my Gameboy Color was what prevented me from buying one at first).

    I bought it because it was smaller, it fit in a shirt pocket, or well, any pocket. A GBA wouldn't have (in fact I think the GBA SP was the first portable system that would).

    I bought it because of the clamshell design, which protects the screen when not in use.

    The Gameboy Micro does two out of three better than the SP. That ain't too shabby.

  • by sracer (534850) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:50PM (#13719198)

    I'm very interested in testing the GBA Movie Player [movieadvance.com] cartridge on this new device. It works fine on bot the GBA and GB/SP but the screen on the GBA is pitifully dull, and the lighted GB/SP screen isn't bright enough.

    For those who don't know what the GBA Movie Player is, it is a GBA cartridge w/Compact Flash slot. It can play videos, music, images, ebooks, and NES game ROMs. Not bad for a $15 cart.

    If this works as well as I hope, then it'll make a nice little mobile entertainment system. ;)

    • Go to Lik-sang.com and get a play yan or a play yan micro cartridge. The cartridge is only slightly larger than the standard game cartridge but incorporates an SD flash socket and an additional headphone jack with added amplification and less distortion than the preexisting jack. It works with beautifully with the micro and the rest of the GBA series and beats the hell out of the movie player in terms of image quality and framerate not to mention size. Use the 3GP converter with the trancscoder files from t
  • I own a PSP and its to big to bring around every day in my pants pockets, since it requires some sort of case due to the fact that it is rather delicate and has a huge unprotected screen, it usually has to go into the backpack. Add to the fact that its a pain to get in and out of my pants the fact that it takes time to boot up and play games, I actually want a Gameboy micro, since I can bring it anywhere and get my game on quickly. I actually cant wait for winter in New York because that means I can wear a
    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:05AM (#13719738)
      ...the fact that its a pain to get in and out of my pants... ...without having a huge bulge in my pants....

      Is that a Gameboy Micro in your pants, or are you just-

      Wait a second...

      This was easy... a little... *too* easy...

      (looks around and backs away slowly)

      ...at least a shrunken version...

      Gah! It's a trap!

      (Runs away, firing blindly over shoulder)

  • "he thing is amazingly small, but it looks as though worries about the screen being too small and too dim aren't true. "

    Ok, I can accept making it smaller. I can accept repackaging for the next generation. But what I find hard to accept is a price point of $99 ??? I mean honestly, you're saturating your own market with three different versions of the same piece of hardware. It's only going to be a matter of time before somebody figures out a few inches here and there really doesn't make that big of a differ
    • Its just a question of providing choices. Personally I have no interest in the Micro (already owning two original model GBAs and a DS), but it appeals to a certain crowd: the tragically hip. You know those people who bought PSPs at launch and never bought a game for it (that happened a lot actually, the PSP had a shockingly low tie-in ratio). People who use a portable video game system as a fashion accessory... or like those people that buy an iPod and have maybe 5 songs on it and keep it tastefully in a b
    • I think you answered your own question. It's the same hardware... so why make 3 different price points? The Micro and the SP are the same unit (roughly speaking, since the Micro can't play GB games), and are targeted at different customers. It's not like you need to buy both to take advantage of the whole "gameboy" experience. People will pick the one that suits them best, and go from there. If people hated choice, we'd all be driving the same car, wearing the same clothes, and eating the same food. Ni
  • It reminds me a lot of the old Game & Watch series.

    http://philippe.legrand10.free.fr/photo 029.JPG

    All it needs is a built-in digital watch, and it'd be complete!!
  • I've looked at pictures of this thing, and for the life of me, I can't find anything resembling a port for gamelink cable (or wireless adaptor). does the micro not support that?
  • It's a Gameboy Advance Micro. Maybe I've just not been paying enough attention, but I assumed from then name that this was going to be a tiny, cheap Gameboy or Gameboy 'Color', not a tiny expensive Gameboy Advance.

    Since the review doesn't mention batteries, can I assume it's got a built in rechargeable, and Nintendo are going to be facing a class action lawsuit in about 2 years when they all die?

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