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Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Game Boy Micro Makes Solid Debut

Nintendo's new mobile phone-sized game console, Game Boy Micro, attracted better-than-expected orders on its debut on Tuesday, though less than Game Boy Advance SP had done, retailers said.

Nintendo, known for software titles featuring characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong and Pokemon, launched what it claims to be the world's smallest console in Japan a week before the U.S. launch.

Nintendo 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 the PlayStation Portable of Sony, which will introduce new white consoles in Japan on Thursday in an effort to boost sales.

Nintendo, 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 new compact and stylish devices.

The Micro is available in Japan in silver, purple, black and blue, with a fifth "limited edition" design in the colour of the once-popular Famicon game console aimed at attracting adults who played with the Famicon as children in the 1980s.

An electronics store clerk in Tokyo said it received advance orders for 70 percent of its stock of the Micro, most for the limited edition.

Orders were brisk but less than when the Game Boy Advance SP made its debut in 2003, the clerk said. The store sold all of the SP consoles through advance orders at the launch.

Nintendo aims to sell 4 million units of the Micro worldwide by the end of its business year next March 31.

Nintendo spoksmen indicate that the Micro would compete well with games played on mobile phones, which are increasingly popular in Japan, because it has better quality and stylishness.

However, the price of 12,000 yen ($110) -- over 2,000 yen more than the Game Boy Advance SP in Japan -- is too high.

The Micro, whose screen has adjustable brightness levels, will play the same games as the current Game Boy Advance SP. It weighs just 80 grams (2.822 ounces), although heavier than Apple Computer's new iPod nano digital music player, which weighs 1.5 ounces.

Nintendo released three Mario games, featuring the popular character from "Super Mario Brothers", on Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the release of the original "Super Mario" game.

Nintendo plans to release the Micro in Europe on Nov. 4 in silver, pink, green and blue, at a recommended price of 99 euros ($122).

U.S. versions, due on Sept. 19 for $99, will be available in black and silver with three removable faceplates to customise them. The prices are the same as for Game Boy Advance SP in those markets.

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

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