The Sega Game Gear was Sega's first portable gaming system.
The Sega Game Gear was a handheld game console and was Sega's response to Nintendo's Game Boy.
Work began on the console in 1989 under the codename "Project Mercury", and the system was released in Japan on October 6, 1990. It was released in North America in 1991, and Europe and Australia in 1992.
Design and technical features
The Game Gear was basically a pocket Master System, but allowed a larger color palette, and therefore potentially better-looking graphics. Unlike the Game Boy, the system is held in a "landscape" position, with the controls at the sides, making it less cramped to hold. One of the more famous and unusual peripherals for the Game Gear was the "TV Tuner Adapter", a device that plugged into the system's cartridge slot, and allowed you to watch TV on the Game Gear's screen.
Because of the similarities between the Master System and the Game Gear, it was possible for Master System games to be burned directly onto ROMs in Game Gear cartridges. Similarly, an adapter called the "Master Gear" allowed Master System cartridges to be plugged in and played on the Game Gear. The reverse (playing a Game Gear game on a Master System console) was impossible due to the Game Gear's aforementioned larger color palette.
Rivalry with the Game Boy
When first launched, a memorable TV advertising campaign was used to promote the system as superior to the Game Boy. One commercial featured a dog looking back and forth at both portables, with a narrator saying, "If you were colorblind and had an IQ of less than twelve, then you wouldn't care which portable you had. Of course, you wouldn't care if you drank from the toilet, either." Another showed a gamer hitting himself in the head with a rigid, dead squirrel in order to see color on his Game Boy.
Although its color, backlit, screen made it technically superior to the Game Boy, the Game Gear did not manage to take over a significant share of the market. This can be blamed partly on the perception that it was too bulky, and on its poor battery performance: the device required six AA batteries, and the backlit screen consumed these in three to five hours. However, Sega's biggest problem was that it failed to enlist as many key software developers as Nintendo, so the Game Gear was perceived as lacking quality games.
Today, the Game Gear is widely considered to have been a failure, and unlike the Game Boy no newer versions were released. The Game Gear, however, did better than other portable systems that tried to compete with the Game Boy, such as the Atari Lynx. Support ended in 1997, but Majesco released a "Core" version of the Game Gear in 2000 for a reduced price. A short-lived successor, the Genesis-based Sega Nomad, was even less successful, and was never released in Europe.
The Majesco Core Game Gear was technically a failure, with only Sonic Chaos and Golden Axe released.
- Main Processor: Zilog Z80 (8-bit)
- Processor Speed: 3.58 MHz (same as NTSC dot clock)
- Resolution: 160 x 144 pixels
- Colors Available: 4,096
- Colors on screen: 32
- Maximum Sprites: 64
- Sprite Size: 8x8 or 8x16
- Screen Size: 3.2 Inches
- Audio: 4-channel tone generator
- RAM: 8 KiB
- Console Database (http://www.consoledatabase.com/consoleinfo/segagamegear/index.html) - Sega Game Gear info and FAQs