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Sega Game Gear

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About This Platform
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About This Platform:  Sega Game Gear was Sega's first handheld game console.  It was first released in Japan on October 6, 1990.  It was released pretty much everywhere else in 1991, and Australia in 1992.  It was the third commercially available color console; Atari Lynx was first in 1989, TurboExpress (from NEC) was second in 1990.  Of these three, Sega Game Gear was the most successful.  Sega discontinued the console in 1997.

    Sega Game Gear was a moderate success for Sega; not a runaway smash.  Japan gamers generally hated the Game Gear.  One reason was for the too large size and overall "clunkiness", which is one of my complaints.  I have huge hands, and I still find the Game Gear hard to hold on to.  The buttons are on the sides of the screen, rather than below, which is not very handy.  The unit takes 6 AA batteries and eats them up faster than a fat man eats a Big Mac.  Even Duracell (which I think is the best battery in the land) doesn't last long in the Game Gear.  The rechargeable battery pack accessory would be a good thing, but it adds extra size and weight and also doesn't hold a very long charge.  Another beef I have about the Game Gear is that its screen is usually too dim or too bright.  It's a good thing there is an adjustment dial on the side, but you might have to mess with it quite a bit during the course of a game.

    When the Game Gear first came out, its advertising angle was "we're better than Nintendo Game Boy".  Technically, Sega was always superior to Nintendo, especially in the 1980s and 90s.  However, there have always been certain drawbacks to Sega's technology that hampered its success.  Although Nintendo was not as neat and flashy as Sega, that company was always king in the video game market.  At the time, the Game Boy was the hottest handheld console in the land.  It's big disadvantage was that it was "colorless".  I do like the Game Boy, but I will admit that Sega Game Gear has its advantages.  Color is a big plus for any video game system.  On top of that, Game Gear's games have a more arcade feel and are generally better made games.  People take a pot shot at Game Gear's graphics; early Game Boy's graphics were not great, either.  I thought Game Gear's graphics were better than a lot of Game Boy's games and, in some cases, were downright excellent.

    A Game Gear unit was much more expensive than the Game Boy (@$150 to @90), so that hurt sales.  Another reason Game Gear didn't catch on like Game Boy was that Sega didn't hire as many great, popular game developers like Nintendo had.  Due to this, it was believed that Game Gear didn't have as many games.  Throughout the Game Gear's run, there were 390 official titles produced (only six games were available at the time of its introduction).  The Game Gear was really just a portable version of Sega's Master System (Sega's first home console) with a lower resolution screen.  The similarities between the Master System and Game Gear lead to people porting games from the Master System to Game Gear cartridges.  Later on, a Master Game Converter was officially developed to allow classic Sega Master System home games to be played on the Game Gear.

    At the time, the Sega Game Gear was second in commercial success only to the wildly popular Game Boy.  It really didn't take any success away from Game Boy, but it DID successfully push the Atari Lynx (1989-1994) out of the market.  Lynx was another great color console, but it had the same basic technical problems Game Gear had.  The Lynx's greatest problems was that there were too few games and a very weak marketing campaign.  If there is one thing you can say about the Game Gear, it's that it was very aggressively advertised.  No one knew the Lynx was out there!  I like the Lynx, too, but the unit and its games are VERY hard to find nowadays.  Since video game technology has improved so much over the years, there really isn't a point to finding the Lynx unless you're a hardcore collector.

    The Game Gear is great for what it is, but it's a weaker version of the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis home consoles.  There are some Game Gear games that I like better than games for the Master and Genesis.  However, you're better off with the Genesis.  The Genesis really is "standard Sega" and is technically more superior than Master or Game Gear.  I recommend the Sega Game Gear for casual gamers or collectors.

Games:

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Cheese Cat-Astrophe Starring Speedy Gonzales

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

Ecco the Dolphin

Jurassic Park

Ristar

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos

Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble

Streets of Rage 2

Super Columns
X-Men



Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse


Cheese Cat-Astrophe Starring Speedy Gonzales


Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine


Ecco the Dolphin


Jurassic Park


Ristar


Sonic the Hedgehog 2


Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos


Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble


Streets of Rage 2


Super Columns


X-Men
-  1993, Sega.  This is a fun adventure game featuring the X-Men characters from Marvel Comics.  You start out with Cyclops or Wolverine and your choice of three different missions to complete.  Upon completing a mission, you rescue a member of the X-Men team.  Once that member is rescued, you can use him or her as a playable character.  The game is over when you run out of X-Men.  Playable X-Men characters include: Cyclops, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine.

    Excellent graphics by Game Gear standards.  Easy to operate.  Scrolls in all directions.  I'm not a great fan of the X-Men comics/cartoons, but I love this game!  In my opinion, Cyclops is a better playable character in this game than Wolverine.  His eye lasers are handy for attacking villains from a safe distance, and they're multi-directional.  Wolverine has to get close for his claw attack.