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Thursday, August 18, 2005
Game Boy Micro due in September

The new mobile-phone-size game console, will be released in Japan on Sept. 13 with a price tag of 12,000 yen-- just under $110--about a week before the U.S. launch.

Nintendo, known for software titles featuring characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong and Pokemon, dominates the portable game industry with a market share of about 94 percent, and aims to strengthen its grip with the Micro as it goes up against Sony's PlayStation Portable.

The company, based in the western Japan city of Kyoto, hopes to draw women and casual gamers--those unwilling or unable to spend hours playing games--with the compact and stylish devices. It said Micro was the world's smallest console.

The Micro, whose screen has adjustable brightness levels, will play all of the same games available for the current Game Boy Advance SP.

But some analysts wonder if the price--more than $18 (2,000 yen) higher than the Game Boy Advance SP device in Japan--is too high.

"It's not cheap," said Hiroshi Kamide, a Tokyo-based analyst for KBC Securities. "It'll keep up the interest level of the Game Boy franchise, but it's not the must-have product for Christmas."

Nintendo said earlier this week that the portable, which weighs just 2.822 ounces--about 20 percent less than Apple Computer's iPod Mini music device--would be available in the United States on Sept. 19 for $99 and in Europe from Nov. 4 for a recommended price of 99 euros.

The prices are the same as those for Game Boy Advance SP in those markets.

Nintendo has forecast sales of 4 million Micro units worldwide in the business year to next March. Kamide said Nintendo should easily meet the target, considering it sold more than 15 million Game Boy Advance devices last business year.

In May, the company said it expected to sell a total of 10.2 million Game Boy Advance devices worldwide this business year, including Game Boy Micro.

Nintendo said it will launch four colors in Japan--silver, purple, black and blue--as well as a fifth "mystery" design.

The company will also release three Mario games, featuring the popular character from "Super Mario Brothers," on the same day as the Micro launch in Japan, set to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the release of the original "Super Mario Brothers" game.

Nintendo plans to release the product in four colors in Europe--silver, pink, green and blue. U.S. versions will be available in black and silver with three removable faceplates to customize the machines.

Source: [Reuters]

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