The Wii-U controller may look a little like an iPad with thumb sticks, but it isn’t the first time that Nintendo has courted another market. First the clam-shell GBA SP and then the diminutive Gameboy Micro were sold, at least partly, on the basis of their similar form factor to cell phones of their time.
I can testify to this, having recently purchased a Gameboy Micro ($58 on Amazon) for my youngest son. He had spotted the device in a second hand shop window a few months ago and was convinced that it was the next new handheld device from Nintendo. He even came up with a whole hand-drawn comic strip conspiracy story about how the new device had fallen into the hands of the shop and why it was so reasonably priced — a tale to equal even the leaked iPhone 4 from last year.
He was so convinced that he was happy to complete no end of chores to up his savings and raise the $60 price tag. A month or so later he had saved enough and proudly trotted down to the store to make his purchase. Happily it was still there in the window — a testament to how overlooked the little console is — and he could finally take his prized possession home.
I was ready with a whole range of explanations for him once his starry-eyed wonder turned into the realization that this wasn’t in fact a new device at all and was simply a different way to play GBA games. Strangely this never happened.
Perhaps taking pity on my son’s enthusiasm the shop kindly included a couple of games with the console: WarioWare Twisted and Super Mario Advance 2. These, he tells me, are proof that this must be a new device because they are “too good to be on the DS.”
Credit where it’s due, I can see his point here. A combination of the small super-bright screen, the unusual game-play of the tilt-and-rumble-enabled WarioWare Twisted and the deep interactive land of Mario World do outshine most of his DS games.
He has even managed to convince his older brother, who finally agreed when he discovered that the Gameboy Micro wouldn’t play the few original Gameboy games we have in the house. “They always stop supporting the older games when they bring out a new one,” I heard him telling his younger brother.
The icing on the cake was when he snuck it to pre-school with him (not the hardest thing in the world due to its small size) and got the whole class asking their parents for the new Gameboy Micro for Birthday and Christmas presents.
Regardless of all this, my son’s enthusiasm for the old device has actually got me hankering after a new way to play some of my GBA favorites. I’m sure Advance Wars and Warioland 4 would look super cute on the Micro’s little screen. I’m also more than a little taken at this 20th Anniversary NES style Gameboy Micro.
Apart from the few upgraded GBA SPs that were shipped with the similarly bright screen (identified by the model number “AGS-101” and the fact they fetch $300) the Gameboy Micro is the best way to play original GBA games on a bright screen. It’s also helping me avoid spend too much money in the 3DS eShop buying electronic copies of games I already own physically.
One little tip we recently discovered that also extended the battery life: you can adjust the screen brightness by holding down the Left shoulder button and pressing the volume buttons. My son also says that makes it easier to play under the covers at night without it being too bright.