Hardware Classics: Game Boy Micro Famicom Edition
Posted by Damien McFerran
For more than a decade, the name "Game Boy" was as synonymous with handheld gaming as "iPod" is with portable music playback today. Following the launch of the original monochrome Game Boy console in the late '80s, Nintendo ruled the market with total dominance thanks to an incredibly popular line of million-selling systems. When the Game Boy Micro was unveiled in 2005 - almost a year after the launch of the Nintendo DS - few could have predicted that it would be the final machine to bear the legendary name. Even Nintendo itself talked of a "three pillar strategy", with the Wii, DS and Game Boy Advance working in unison to cover all bases.
As history has shown, the DS ended up being even more successful than the Game Boy, possibly surprising Nintendo itself in the process. The Micro on the other hand struggled at retail, and by 2007 had only sold around 2.7 million units globally. Satoru Iwata lamented that the Nintendo DS "must have deprived the Game Boy Micro of its momentum", and added that Nintendo had "failed to explain to consumers its unique value".
The console's failure is a real shame, because in many respects it's one of the most perfect pieces of technology ever to emerge from Nintendo's Kyoto HQ. With dimensions of 50×101×17.2 mm, it's the smallest handheld system every produced by Nintendo, and gives fresh meaning to the term "pocket-sized". The 2-inch back-lit screen might seem a little pathetic by today's standards, but back in 2005 it offered a pin-sharp image and impressive brightness. Although the Micro isn't compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color software (the original Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP both offered this functionality), the rich catalogue of Game Boy Advance software is more than enough to keep most players happy.
Like most Nintendo consoles, the Game Boy Micro experienced several different limited edition variants, including the Famicom version seen here. The colour scheme is taken from the original Famicom controller in Japan, and - like all Micro systems - it comes with a removable faceplate. Shortly after release this edition of the system - along with other Game Boy Micro variants - could be obtained for very little cash, but that situation has now drastically changed. Even a vanilla edition will set you back around £40 to £50 (approximately $65 to $80) if it's in good condition, and the Famicom version shown here is worth anything from £100 to £180 ($160 to $290), again depending on overall condition and packaging. It's well worth seeking out, however; as we said before, this is one of the most perfect hardware releases in Nintendo's illustrious history, and the arguably one of the greatest portable gaming systems ever seen - even if it didn't manage to convince the general public of that fact.