GB Micro US store-bound, selling big in Nippon

New Game Boy from Nintendo breaks SP's sales records in Japan. New backlit SP also released.

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Think of it as Game Boy Nano. The newest handheld from Nintendo, the Game Boy Micro, has shipped to North American stores, according to the company. At an E3 filled with next-gen news, the Micro took center stage at Nintendo's press conference this year.

The 4-inch wide, 2-inch long portable plays standard Game Boy Advance cartridges and has interchangeable faceplates. The Micro comes in two colors, silver and black. Each version comes packaged with three faceplates that vary from solid colors to vibrant patterns.

Though a press release has announced that the Micro has shipped, retailers have said otherwise. A clerk at a Bay Area EB Games store said the handheld would arrive next week. "We get the silver on the 26th and the black on the 27th," he told GameSpot.

Apparently, it may not be an isolated case. With regard to when gamers can expect to get their paws on the tiny machine, "every store sets its own in-store date," said one Nintendo rep.

While it's difficult to tell if the Micro is selling well in America, it's clear as day in Japan. According to the latest figures by Dengeki Online, the handheld sold 148,000 units in the week of September 12, accounting for approximately 55 percent of hardware shipments. Its launch numbers have surpassed those of the Game Boy Advance SP's, which sold 110,000 units on its first week when it was released in February of 2003.

The system's success may be more because of its attraction as a collectible rather than its function. The unit was released in five models in Japan, with the retro Famicom-themed Micro accounting for almost 40 percent of overall sales, according to Dengeki. Other reports attribute as much as 60 percent of Micros sold in the country were the Famicom version.

According to retailers, the release of the Game Boy Micro is also recovering sales of Game Boy Advance games, especially those targeted toward older audiences, such as Earthbound 1 + 2 and Game Boy Wars Advance 1 + 2. While industry watchers are questioning whether the Game Boy Micro will continue to sell steadily, since now it seems like it's riding nostalgia, there's no question the new portable machine has gotten off to a good start.

Though no announcements by the company were made, Nintendo is also shipping a new version of the Game Boy Advance SP, the Micro's predecessor. The new model, which comes in graphite or blue, is coming with a new backlit screen. A box, spotted in stores, simply reads "Now with a BRIGHTER backlit screen!" GameSpot will have more info on the new SP as details come in.

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