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 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.

Read more:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.