Untitled Document Nintendo’s newly released Game Boy Micro is cool.

It’s just four years too late.

The Micro, a tiny, redesigned Game Boy Advance, doesn’t bring any new features to the table. It’s just standard GBA technology crammed into a case smaller than a pack of cigarettes.

Not too little, but too late:

The screen is smaller, too, although very sharp and extremely bright.

After spending numerous hours with a review model the last few weeks, I can say that if the Micro had been available when the Game Boy Advance originally launched in 2001, I’d have heartily recommended it.

The simple interface is about as idiot-proof as you can get: control pad on the left, A and B buttons on the right, screen in the middle.

There’s a nifty volume button on the right that beeps softly when the volume is adjusted, and the start and select buttons on the bottom blink blue when you put the Micro into sleep mode.

Overall, the system is sleek, the construction feels solid, and games look great.

If you have big hands, it’s easy for the Micro to kind of disappear in your grip. But the Micro’s controls bother me less than the pinched control pad and analog stick on the otherwise massive Sony PSP.

While Micro is a little cramped, the screen really is exemplary, and the Micro slips easily into your pocket, making it the most portable handheld game system ever.

Bang for the buck:

But at $99, it’s hard to imagine why anyone with that kind of cash wouldn’t already have a more high-tech alternative.

For just $30 more, the cost of one game, you can buy a Nintendo DS, which has bigger screens and can play both next-generation DS games and regular Game Boy Advance games.

At the other end of the price spectrum, the older clamshell-style Game Boy Advance SP can be had for $79. The screen on the GBA SP isn’t as bright or sharp as that on the Micro, but it is bigger.

And the Micro isn’t flawless.

The shoulder buttons only work if they are pushed down in the middle. Push them at the corners, and they won’t activate. You’ll get used to it, but shoulder button technology was perfected years ago. There’s no reason it should be getting worse.

© 2005, The Dallas Morning News.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.