Gear Review: Gameboy micro Review [GBA]
I found the Gameboy micro very playable once I got used to the size and the button configuration. Unlike the GBA SP, the L and R buttons do not activate when pressing them from the outer corners. They must be pressed on the long flat area on the top of the unit. If you're the type of person who must press your L and R buttons with your fingertips, this makes your fingers end up in a nice, natural stretched out position instead of curled up. If you're the type of person who used the inside of your finger joints to push the corners of the L or R buttons, though, it'll take a little time to teach your fingers where to push down. The Start and Select buttons are a bit more troublesome; they lie on the bottom side of the unit rather than on the bottom part of the surface, so you have to move them from the face to the underbelly. However, I found it to require the same learning curve as the DS and PSP, both of which have the Start and Select buttons lying on the face but with their own awkward attributes. (The DS' Start and Select buttons lie in an awkward position above the face buttons, and the PSP start and select buttons are incredibly tiny, sit inconspicuously among a whole row of other buttons, and don't give much of a kick when you press them.)
Comparing the screen size of the Gameboy micro to something else, it's actually exactly the same size as my cell phone's screen. The micro's screen is bright and displays colors vividly. It massacres the GBA SP's front-lit screen, but as of yet I have not been able to compare it to the new back-lit GBA SPs. I will say that the screen size does NOT hinder your ability to read text; Riviera: The Promised Land, which has incredibly tiny text in some areas of the game, was not at all difficult to read. The size of the screen also makes everything so beautifully crisp due to the smaller pixel size. The screen was surprisingly easy to adjust to; in fact, the moment I first turned it on, I never had to adjust to the size at all. I was able to dive right in and stare at the screen naturally.
Here is where the decisions and recommendations are made. When I leave the house, sometimes I have no need for a bag of any type and yet my desire to carry a portable gaming device requires it. I won't jam my DS or PSP into my pocket. It's uncomfortable and clunky. The GBA SP comes sort of close, but ever since I began using the Gameboy Advance series of products, I still found that storing either the SP or the regular GBA in a pocket wouldn't allow me to store anything else - like a cell phone, wallet or an iPod. When I'm outside, I want my music and my money, dammit. The micro easily shares pocket space with my iPod or wallet, and in an effort to not tote a bag around everywhere, was the deciding factor in me purchasing one. So I guess you can say that I got suckered by the whole size advantage thing. (Hell if I buy an iPod Nano, though; $249 for one-fifth the storage capacity of a device $50 more is different than paying $20 more for a much more portable Gameboy Advance game player minus the backwards compatibility...)
Odds and Ends
The retail package comes with two additional faceplates and a little carrying pouch. It also comes with a little plastic tab that makes removing the faceplates much easier than using your fingernail. It takes a couple of seconds to figure out where to punch the tab in at first, but out of nowhere you'll hear a little "pop" and you'll see the faceplate loosen up. Removing it and then placing a new one in its stead is very easy. You can see that the faceplate has a clear area that actually covers the physical screen; so any damage you do to the surface of your GB micro won't affect the real screen, so long as you're not lame enough to play the micro without a faceplate on.
The faceplate does smudge easily, almost but not quite as bad as the PSP screen or an iPod surface. You'll want to protect it all with the included pouch, which also has a drawstring, is soft and can act like a cleaning cloth for the fingerprints you'll undoubtedly leave on the unit. Unfortunately since it's just a pouch, it's not going to protect your micro's faceplate if you crunch it violently against something else in your pocket or drop it. This is where one would miss the clamshell design of the SP.
If you value your classic Gameboy games, obviously the micro won't satisfy your needs there. It offers no backwards compatibility and will render your backwards library unplayable. Also, I've heard rumblings that games like Wario Ware Twisted - with the oversized cartridge with the motion sensor - will be a bit uncomfortable at first. The cartridge slot is not in the middle of the device but rather over to the right hand side. Praise the lord, the micro has a headphone jack. Unfortunately, it also has a proprietary connector for the AC adapter so you can't use any of your old GBA peripherals. Hey - I wasn't kidding when I said it offers no backwards compatibility.
Should you buy a Gameboy micro? Here's who should:
Here's who shouldn't:
The Gameboy micro is a really cool device if only for its sheer size, but for $20 less you could get a GBA SP - now rolling out with backlit screens. The backlit SP simply presents the best option for someone who's simply interested in playing GBA games - it's small enough to be reasonably portable, it plays all old Gameboy games, its screen is larger, and its clamshell design makes it more durable. Did I mention that it's cheaper? It's really hard to "not recommend" the Gameboy micro because it suits me incredibly well, but this will probably be the first device that I really like that I would not recommend as a general recommendation. Only get one if you fall into the small niche that the micro is appropriate for, not because it's actually "better" - because it isn't.
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