Finest Of 2020: All Hail The Sport Boy Micro, The Sexiest And Most Impractical Sport Boy Ever

Game Boy Micro© Nintendo Life

Over the vacation season we’ll be republishing a collection of Nintendo Life articles, interviews and different options from the earlier twelve months that we take into account to be our Better of 2020. Hopefully, this offers you an opportunity to compensate for items you missed, or just get pleasure from trying again on a 12 months which did have some highlights — sincere!

This characteristic was initially printed in September 2020.


Earlier than we dive in, let’s start with a number of phrases on the subject at hand when it was raised within the Nintendo Life workplace: “Such a neat little machine.” “I’ve at all times needed one.” “Someway I ended up with two.” “Essentially the most satisfying strategy to get carpal tunnel.”

We have been, in fact, discussing the beautiful Sport Boy Micro. The diminutive console launched in Japan fifteen years in the past this week (13th September 2005, and 6 days later within the US) and launched arguably essentially the most fascinating type of the Sport Boy Advance {hardware} at a time when the system was already properly into its sundown part.

Fascinating, sure, however practical? Solely within the sense that it is genuinely pocket-sized — essentially the most transportable console Nintendo ever made. The Sport Boy Pocket could have simply slipped into the dishevelled skater denims of the typical ’90s teen within the earlier decade, however even that system was a porker in comparison with the magnificence of this minuscule miracle.

The Sport Boy Micro, codenamed ‘OXY’, adopted the now-familiar custom of Nintendo releasing beautiful {hardware} revisions late in a console cycle to tempt anyone who held off from buying initially, or folks like us who cannot resist an attractive piece of equipment regardless of how superfluous to our necessities or gaming assortment. In spite of everything, the Nintendo DS — famously marketed as a ‘third pillar’ to help the prevailing GBA and GameCube consoles — launched in 2004 with the in-built capacity to play GBA carts. We did not want the Micro. Oh, however how we needed it!

Though exhausting to ponder in hindsight given the astonishing success of the DS line, Nintendo was understandably reluctant to place the ever-reliable (and worthwhile) Sport Boy model out to pasture and wager the farm on a brand new dual-screened experiment. With the GameCube struggling in opposition to PS2 and Xbox, this ‘third pillar’ technique was marketing-speak in case the corporate needed to fall again as soon as once more on its tried-and-true handheld enterprise. Rejuvenated by the worldwide success of Pokémon, the Sport Boy model had stored the ship crusing full-steam forward for nearly a decade as Nintendo 64 and GameCube carried out under expectations within the face of robust dwelling console competitors. Within the transportable area, although, Nintendo was nonetheless the king of the hill, and killing the Sport Boy model with an unproven different would have been foolhardy at that stage.

The launch of the Sport Boy Micro in 2005 appeared to again up Nintendo’s continued dedication to the GBA, though the DS was in ascendance and the discharge of Nintendo DS Lite the next 12 months (coupled with the Contact Generations model video games spearheaded by the outstanding Mind Age) within the West actually scrawled the writing on the wall for Nintendo’s venerable transportable model. The Micro {hardware} carried out under the corporate’s expectations and could be the ultimate new {hardware} (so far) to hold the identify ‘Sport Boy’.

The Sport Boy Micro represents Nintendo pushing an concept to absolutely the limits of sense and practicality, a very beautiful and unreasonably fascinating piece of nonsense

Nonetheless, what a strategy to go! In some ways, the Sport Boy Micro epitomises Nintendo’s handheld ethos pushed to absolutely the excessive; to the purpose of impracticality. For one factor — as we highlighted earlier — it really is handheld. It sits in your palm like a snack-size chocolate bar. The diminished actual property of its tiny two-inch display screen (which contains a backlight with adjustable brightness) makes the GBA library look crisper than ever earlier than. Throw in a spread of switchable faceplates and it is obtained nearly every part you need from a Nintendo console: magnificence, novelty, and a software program library to rival the easiest of any console ever made.

Nonetheless, its diminished proportions meant non-essential {hardware} needed to be ejected from the design, so it might probably’t play unique Sport Boy and Sport Boy Coloration software program. And anybody who complains concerning the small textual content in Change video games would wish a jeweller’s loupe to learn the textual content of GBA’s spectacular RPG catalogue. Then once more, we won’t think about many gamers have the stamina to play greater than thirty minutes on a Micro anyway — anybody over the age of six (or with normal-to-large sized palms) will doubtless succumb to crippling hand and wrist ache inside minutes.

Given all of the Micro’s caveats, then, the beautiful GBA SP nonetheless has a legit declare to being the ‘finest’ Sport Boy ever. The AGS-101 (which launched similtaneously the Micro with the improved backlight over the unique SP) continues to be the perfect, most sensible strategy to play your Sport Boy library on official {hardware}, and its clamshell design saves its display screen from getting scratched by keys, cash and different pocket detritus. Despite its faults, although, the Micro stays essentially the most coveted Sport Boy ever – if the opinion of the broader Nintendo Life crew is any indication, anyway.

We noticed the ‘three pillar’-style spiel return years later with the launch of Change; apparently, the brand new console would complement the 3DS somewhat than substitute it. Clearly, Nintendo was going to say that — standard, confirmed {hardware} will proceed to be offered indefinitely as a funds different on a regular basis there’s demand. Even with the stellar success of Change, the 3DS has nonetheless clung on for pricey life due to its aggressive value and unimaginable software program library. The arrival of Change Lite, and the very fact Nintendo has stopped forecasting {hardware} gross sales, signifies that Change’s handheld predecessor has now, lastly, gone into retirement and the corporate now has however a single console ‘pillar’, now complemented by a cell ‘pillar of revenue’ (Nintendo loves pillars).

It is tempting to see the ultimate iteration within the 3DS household of programs, the Nintendo 2DS XL, as a contemporary equal to the Micro. It is definitely a high-quality piece of {hardware}, nevertheless it’s manner too sensible — manner too wise — to rightfully examine. The Sport Boy Micro represents Nintendo pushing an concept to absolutely the limits of sense and practicality, a very beautiful and unreasonably fascinating piece of nonsense. It is Nintendo being extra Nintendo than ever, and we love it.

The truth that we won’t play a Sport Boy Micro with out creating micro-fractures does not cease the members of Staff NL talking wistfully of their time with the console and cradling it often of their palms (and people of us who by no means obtained round to choosing up an more and more expensive Micro from trawling eBay sometimes).

Is it sensible? Definitely not, however practicality be damned. You do not purchase a Ducati or a Ferrari as a result of they’re sensible. Is it a console we play typically? Goodness, no — we won’t survive quite a lot of minutes in its firm. However it’s nonetheless the sexiest little bit of equipment Nintendo has ever produced and we’ll endlessly get a wistful, faraway look in our eye, and a bit scorching below the collar, on the point out of its identify.

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