Published On: Wed, Jun 3rd, 2020

Hardware Classics: Sega Game Gear

gamegear25.jpggamegear25.jpg

With a proclamation of a Game Gear Micro, we suspicion we competence like to revisit a Hardware Classics underline – creatively published in 2016 – on a genuine deal. Enjoy!


It’s easy to see a meditative behind a Game Gear, a appurtenance Sega positioned as a Game Boy-beater in a early ’90s. The firm’s Mega Drive / Genesis height was doing a glorious pursuit of hidden divided marketplace share from a aging NES, and Sega no doubt insincere it could do a same in a unstable locus with hardware that was some-more absolute that what Nintendo had to offer.

Dubbed “Project Mercury” in a early growth life and formed heavily on a 8-bit Master System console – Sega’s domestic NES challenger – a Game Gear arrived in Japan in 1990 amid a groundswell of hype and expectation, a lot of that had to do with Sega’s towering station in a attention during that time.

For those who were somewhat unhappy with a Game Boy’s dark monochrome screen, a Game Gear – like a Atari Lynx and NEC PC Engine GT – seemed like a genuine deal, during slightest on paper. Packing a full-colour backlit arrangement and a palette of 4096 colours (even some-more than a 64 colours upheld by a domestic ancestor, a Master System), Sega’s unstable really had a technical corner over a Game Boy.

Also of seductiveness was a fact that it would advantage from quick-and-easy ports from a Master System interjection to a inner design being roughly matching (screen fortitude was a biggest disproportion between a two). While many fans were unhappy that a “Micro Drive” rumours incited out to be fake (some magazines during a time speculated that a Game Gear would be formed on a Mega Drive rather than a Master System), seductiveness in a handheld was vast – interjection in no tiny partial to a implausible blurb success of a Game Boy, that had radically combined a handheld console marketplace single-handedly.

Unlike a rival, a Game Gear opted for a landscape format that Sega felt would be some-more gentle for enlarged play. As was a box with a Master System, a Game Gear has dual transformation buttons, while a rolling D-Pad creates attack diagonals really easy indeed. Unlike a Master System, a Game Gear supports stereo sound – though usually when regulating a span of headphones, as a console usually has a singular orator for audio. A liughtness dial allows we to adjust a shade backlight for a best observation experience, while an “EXT” pier is used to bond dual consoles for multiplayer gaming, usually like a Game Boy.

Initially, a Game Gear’s library was done adult of Master System ports that Sega was means to move to a marketplace fast and with a smallest of effort. Fan-favourites like Wonder Boy, Columns and Super Monaco GP were early hits and were formed on their 8-bit home console equivalents. While disdainful releases did appear, a Game Gear relied heavily on Master System ports, with big-name first-party games like Sonic a Hedgehog, Master of Darkness, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap and Streets of Rage II all being eliminated to a handheld.

While these games were excellent, seasoned Sega fans had already gifted them on a Master System and there was small reason to double-dip – outward of a ability to play on a road, of course. However, a neat effect of a inner likeness between a dual systems was a ability to play Master System carts on a Game Gear around a special adapter; while a portability of a appurtenance was impacted negatively when regulating this add-on, it became a must-have appendage for all owners.

That’s not to contend that there aren’t any decent Game Gear exclusives during all, however. The dual Shinobi games are definitely illusory and do an glorious pursuit of capturing a luminosity of a Mega Drive Shinobi outings on a many smaller screen. Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya is another must-have game, as those who picked adult a new 3DS re-release will attest. The problem is that there simply weren’t adequate games of this peculiarity to remonstrate players that a Game Gear was a estimable choice to Nintendo’s hardware, while other exclusives – such as a unsatisfactory Sonic Labyrinth – unsuccessful to light consumer interest, notwithstanding a allure of a character.

Of course, program was usually partial of a emanate – battery life was roughly positively a some-more dire regard for intensity customers. While a Game Boy’s small final meant that it could mislay as many as 30 hours of gameplay from usually 4 AA batteries, Sega’s console indispensable 6 AAs to offer between 3 and 5 hours. This wasn’t an emanate singular to Sega’s machine; a Lynx and PC Engine GT both suffered from terrible stamina and this singular their intensity as unstable devices. Anyone who owned a Game Gear during a early ’90s will remember being tethered to a wall hollow in sequence to save income on batteries, rather defeating a intent of carrying a unstable system.

Despite this vivid problem, Sega’s offered during a time focused strongly on highlighting a technical cove between a Game Gear and a Game Boy, a latter of that was derided as being back and simple. Print advertisements in a US showed a dog holding a Game Boy, with a aphorism “If we were colour blind and had an IQ of reduction than 12, afterwards we wouldn’t mind that unstable we had.” Commercials on North American TV – one of that starred Ethan Suplee, who would after find celebrity in Hollywood cinema such as American History X, Without a Paddle and The Wolf of Wall Street – poked fun during a Game Boy’s monochrome display, citing a shade on Sega’s complement as a vital offered indicate while conveniently ignoring a fact that it dramatically impacted battery life.

In a UK, Sega’s promotion debate was reduction confrontational and was built around a judgment of a code being cooler than all else on a marketplace – an proceed that would strech a culmination with a iconic “Sega Pirate TV” debate for a Mega Drive. In a following commercials, a impossibly sexy “Jimmy” (played by Peter Wingfield, many famous for his description of a Immortal Methos in a Highlander TV series) shows off another of a Game Gear’s pivotal offered points – a discretionary analogue TV tuner that could renovate a handheld into a radio – something Nintendo’s hardware could never wish to replicate, given a grayscale display. Sadly, a TV tuner is of small use currently as analogue radio signals are no longer used in many countries.

While a Game Gear struggled to compare a unusual sales of a Game Boy, it did exist a colour-screen rivals. Sega was still producing program for a console as late as 1997, and in a same year would strictly pause a height – not a bad lifespan for a appurtenance that usually managed to sell around 10 million units worldwide. In contrast, Atari and NEC’s consoles had turn small some-more than a apart memory by that point.

Sega would lapse to a handheld marketplace with a luckless Nomad, that used a Mega Drive hardware as a bottom though was usually as voracious when it came to immoderate batteries. By a time a decade was sketch to a close, a association had started a withdrawal from a unstable zone by ancillary opposition handhelds such as a SNK Neo Geo Pocket Color and Tiger Game.com.

The Game Gear’s standing as a Sega complement and a comparatively vast library of 363 games has ensured that it stays in direct with collectors today. Thankfully, it’s not an costly appurtenance to collect for; hardware is comparatively cheap, even when entirely boxed and in good condition. There are a handful of titles that attract high prices – Compile’s high Power Strike II being one important instance – though on a whole, it’s probable to assemble a decent preference of games for really small cash.

Of course, if you’d rather take a easy choice afterwards you’ll be gratified to learn that a Game Gear is one of a many retro systems to advantage from a possess Everdrive cartridge, that can be sourced from resellers like Retro Towers. These cartridges concede we to store ROMs on a MicroSD label and radically lift around a whole Game Gear library but carrying to worry about swapping out cartridges.

This is indeed some-more of a advantage than we competence expect, as one of a biggest flaws with a complement is that a cartridge container is impossibly inconstant – it’s mostly required to mislay and insert a diversion several times before it loads properly.

Another hardware emanate with Game Gear consoles is low audio volume and low screens, a effect of a ageing capacitors inside a complement failing. Thankfully it’s probable to have these replaced, radically returning a console to as-new levels of performance. For a truly dedicated, shade modifications are accessible that reinstate a console’s wanton LCD shade with a some-more new offering, drastically improving visible quality. While a Game Gear’s default arrangement was considerable for a time, by complicated standards it’s a bit of a mess, with becloud transformation and bad observation angles being dual critical issues.

About the Author