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Was this tiny Nintendo console really a huge design fail?

A photo of the Game Boy Micro in a hand
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Game Boy Micro was a rare design misstep by Nintendo, and it came about because Nintendo of America was 'forced' to release it, according to former president of NOA Reggie Fils-Aimé in his book ‘Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo’.

Nintendo has built a reputation for astute design decisions, not least with the success of the Switch and Switch Lite, find out why in our Nintendo Switch versus Nintendo Switch Lite feature. If you are keen on old consoles like the Game Boy Micro take a look at our guide to the best retro game consoles.

As reported by VGC (opens in new tab) the former Nintendo exec has revealed some interesting facets about the development and launch of the Nintendo Game Boy Micro, a rarely spoken about console.

A photo of the Game Boy Micro

(Image credit: Evan-Amos)

In his book Fils-Aimé critiques the tiny console's design: “From my perspective, the concept of Game Boy Micro was a nonstarter. The hardware was exceptionally small, not only were the control buttons difficult for any reasonably sized adult to manipulate, but also the screen was tiny. This ran counter to current consumer electronics trends of making screens larger."

The micro handheld console's design recalls Nintendo's successful Game and Watch series from the 1980s, but it lacked sales, selling less than a million units in its first month on sale in 2005. While the company should have been focused on the then recently launched Game Boy Advance, a more advanced product, Nintendo of America was tied to this peculiar design choice.

Yet, all these years on we kind of love the design of the Game Boy Micro – its tiny form and retro styling feel almost modern. It's compatible with Game Boy Advance games and older Game Boy cartridges, so it has its uses. You can get one for around $180 / £150 so unlike some retro consoles this obscure design 'failure' from Nintendo isn't overpriced for collectors – yet.

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Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & Design at Creative Bloq. Ian is the former editor of many leading magazines, including digital art focused ImagineFX and 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. Ian launched the magazine X360 in 2005 and has relaunched many others. In his early career Ian wrote for music and film magazines, including Uncut, SFX, and assisted on The Idler. With over 25 years' experience in both print and online journalism, Ian has worked on many leading video game and digital art brands. With a passion for video games and art, Ian combines his loves to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq. In his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5.