This isn't a story that starts in all that exciting a fashion. Over the weekend, I went searching for a USB cable. See, I told you it didn't start well. However, it ends well, with the single best bit of gaming hardware Nintendo ever released.
On a shelf, I thought I saw the end of a USB cable, just underneath a small stack of loose Lynx games, which I cautiously lifted. Yes, I need to organise my stuff a whole lot better, but past mistakes have taught me that stuff will come crashing down at a second's notice if I'm not careful.
Underneath the Lynx games, wasn't a USB cable.
It was something better.
It was the the Gameboy Micro, arguably the best piece of console hardware that Nintendo's ever made.
I've just spent most of the free time I had over the weekend proving this true (to myself), but I realise that this is a big call, and I probably do have to justify it to you as well, especially as, with the possible exception of the Virtual Boy, the Micro's probably the worst selling bit of console hardware Nintendo ever produced. Heck, I can't lay claim to having purchased one at full retail price; my own Blue Micro came from a Gametraders that was shutting down in Glenelg, and was purchased mostly on a whim, given I've already got a few other devices that'll play GBA games.
The Gameboy Micro excels above the rest of Nintendo's fare simply because it's simple.
There's just about nothing wrong with the device, and I can't entirely say that about any other bit of Nintendo hardware. Leaving aside the obvious duffers such as the Virtual Boy or Gameboy Printer, even the "big" consoles have their issues. The Wii U lacks games. The Wii's full of waggleware. The 'Cube is lovely, but the library is small. The 3DS' 3D gimmick is just that — a gimmick. The DS family comes close — and obviously some models can play the same GBA games that run on the Micro — but they're bulky compared to the Micro, which just slips into a pocket. I did have a moment's pause for thought around the Super Nintendo… until I realised that many of the games I'd spent the weekend playing on the Micro were indeed SNES games. So it's a SNES… but better. The PAL NES is an ugly toaster of a box, whereas the Micro is incredibly precisely built and designed. Everything works, nothing is excess... it's just simple gaming in all its glory.
Why point out how good the Micro is on the eve of E3? Largely because I think it's a great subject lesson in simplicity, and why that can be the best thing about a games machine. As the XBox One, PS4 and Wii U vie for supremacy, they're largely getting away from the things that make them games machines in the first place. The Gameboy Micro is so particularly awesome because it get absolutely nothing wrong.
Well, maybe just one thing.