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Game Boy Micro
Manufacturer Nintendo
Type Handheld game console
Generation sixth generation era
First available JP September 13, 2005
NA September 19, 2005
AU November 3, 2005
EU November 4, 2005
Media Cartridge
Units sold 2.42 million (details)
Best-selling game Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, 13 million combined (as of November 25, 2004)
Predecessor Game Boy Advance SP (concurrent)

Game Boy Micro (ゲームボーイミクロ Gēmu Bōi Mikuro?, trademarked Game Boy micro) is a handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. The system is the second major redesign of the Game Boy Advance, and is marketed towards the "image conscious" consumer, with emphasis placed on its small size and sleek design. According to Nintendo of America executive Perrin Kaplan, its codename during development was Oxygen. The unit also has a model name of "OXY-001" on the back.

 

 History

The Game Boy Micro was officially unveiled by Nintendo of America's (then) vice president of sales and marketing, Reggie Fils-Aime, at the company's E3 press conference on May 17, 2005. The system was released in Japan on September 13, 2005 and in North America on September 19, 2005. It was released in Europe on November 4, 2005 and Australia on November 3, 2005. It has also been released in China as "iQue Game Boy Micro" on October 1, 2005. It has also been released in South Korea on November 9, 2005.

 Design and specifications

The Game Boy Micro retains some of the functionality of the Game Boy Advance SP, losing the ability to play original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, official compatibility with the eReader and other peripherals, but with an updated form factor. It is smaller than previous Game Boy systems. Compared to the iPod mini it is slightly bigger and about two-thirds the weight. Additionally, it features a backlit screen with the ability to adjust the brightness so as to adapt to lighting. The shape itself is kept to a more simple oblong—similar to the style of the NES controller.

The Game Boy Micro features a removable face plate that allows consumers to purchase alternative designs.

The Game Boy Micro has a two-way switch on its right side for adjusting volume up or down. By holding down the L shoulder button, the switch can also be used to adjust the backlight between five levels of brightness.

In keeping with the system's target market (the "iPod generation"), Nintendo has redesigned their Play-Yan music/video adapter to better fit the Game Boy Micro. This device can play MP3 and digital video files from SD cards.

 Software

The Game Boy Micro is compatible with all Game Boy Advance cartridges, including Game Boy Advance Video cartridges. Unlike the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP, however, the Game Boy Micro does not support games made for the original Game Boy or Game Boy Color. The e-Reader card series is also officially incompatible because although the accessory can fit, the design of the e-Reader makes the "Select" and "Start" buttons difficult to access during gameplay. Its size and shape in relation to the system also make it awkward to hold. This can be avoided by removing the e-Reader from the cartridge slot after the game has loaded.

As with the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP systems, there are no regional lockouts on software, so North American games can be played on Japanese or European hardware and vice versa.

 Packaging

In Japan, the handheld has been released in four colors and styles each. The four colors are black, blue, purple, and silver. The Game Boy Micro also has four limited edition styles: one based on the original Famicom video game console's controller: a blue bodied model with a faceplate based on Final Fantasy IV, a red bodied and red faced edition for the release of the game Mother 3 and a red bodied model with a black faceplate containing the silhouette of the iconic Pikachu from the Pokémon franchise.

In the United States and Canada, the Game Boy Micro is available in two regular colors, each sold with three interchangeable faceplates included: silver with black, "Ammonite" and "Ladybug" faceplates, and black with silver, "Flame" and "Camouflage" faceplates.  The "20th Anniversary" edition was released in December [2005]], which resembles the Famicom controller.

In Europe the handheld is available in four different colors, with one matching faceplate: silver, green, blue and pink. In Australia the colors are silver, black, blue, red and pink.

There are reportedly no plans to sell additional faceplates in the US retail locations(as indicated in the letter page in issue 200 of Nintendo Power) or the UK. Nintendo of Europe cannot supply replacement faceplates of any kind, and the feature is omitted from the product's marketing, packaging, and manual in Europe. However, some third parties are manufacturing such faceplates for sale in the US and Europe, and some importers stock faceplates acquired from Japan. Nintendo of America sells some of the faceplates individually online.

 Release and sales

Life-to-date Number of units sold
Date Japan Americas Other Total
2005-09-30 0.41 million 0.29 million 0 0.70 million
2005-12-31 0.57 million 0.47 million 0.78 million 1.82 million
2006-03-31 0.58 million 0.47 million 0.79 million 1.83 million
2006-06-30 0.59 million 0.47 million 0.80 million 1.87 million
2006-09-30 0.59 million 0.47 million 0.80 million 1.87 million
2006-12-31 0.60 million 0.96 million 0.85 million 2.40 million
2007-03-31 0.61 million 0.95 million 0.87 million 2.42 million

 Price history

The system retails for US$99.99, compared to US$79 for the Game Boy Advance SP. The system was originally available in black and silver, and a red 20th Anniversary Edition was later released. During the 2006 "Black Friday" sales, the 20th Anniversary Edition was sold for US$39.99. In Canada, the Game Boy Micro retails for approximately CDN$119 but has sold for as low as CDN$29.99 beginning in July 2006. In Japan, the handheld runs for about only ¥8000. The system sells for €95/£69 in Europe, although as of September 2006 most major high street retailers in the UK are selling the system for £39.99. In Australia, although its retail price is listed as AUD$99.95, it has been selling for as little as AUD$49.95.[citation needed] And in China, it sells for RMB¥880, RMB¥212 more than the iQue GBA SP. In South Korea, it is ?.

In mid-2006 the Game Boy Micro cost €49.99 in Belgium.

As of January 2008, the Game Boy Micro is US$89.99 in North America.[citation needed]

 Reception

 Praise

The Game Boy Micro's backlit screen, which is superior to the original Game Boy Advance SP's (a later remodel added a similar high quality screen to SP systems), has been praised for its visibility. Due to a finer dot pitch, the screen is more evenly lit, and the brightness is adjustable. The smaller dot pitch has also improved the apparent sharpness of the display.

The removable faceplates have also been praised because they, "...allow for personalization and protect the high-resolution backlit screen."

 Criticism

Nintendo redesigned the ports of the Game Boy Micro. The game link port on the Game Boy Micro differs from the Game Boy Advance SP, and it is not compatible with the Game Boy Advance SP's functions without the necessary Micro-specific cables. While the headphone jack port has been restored (an omission in the Game Boy Advance SP), gamers must buy two link cables (Game Boy Micro to Game Boy Micro and Game Boy Micro to Game Boy Advance) to restore full multiplayer functionality. The Nintendo.com store lists the two cables at US$9.95 and US$7.95 respectively. Also, the GameCube-Game Boy Advance cable does not work with the Game Boy Micro. However, a hack has been found to restore this functionality.

Additionally, the shrunken power port means that the power adapter is not interchangeable with that of the other versions of the Game Boy Advance family or Nintendo DS. Consumer conversion to proprietary accessories is an idea that is no different from any other Game Boy release, as buyers generally had to upgrade their accessories along with the new unit for the releases of Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance.

The marketing of the DS left little room for Nintendo to give the Micro the momentum it deserved in the marketplace. Nintendo itself has admitted that Game Boy Micro sales did not meet its expectations, commenting it "failed to explain to consumers its unique value."