Sega Game Gear

Predecessor: -
Successor: Genesis Nomad
Release Date: 5/10/1990
Discontinued Date: 29/4/1997
Additional Sizes: -
Display Palette: 4096 Colors
Initial Price: JP¥19,800 | US$149.99 | GB£99.99
Supported Game Media:

On 6 October 1990, Sega's handheld gaming console, Game Gear, was released, launching in the Japanese market. Sega's 8-bit colored portable gaming machine will hit the US and European markets in April 1991, while it will be quite late to reach the Australian market (1992).

Sega introduced the Game Gear console in the Japanese market in 1990, and a few months later, in April 1991, it entered the US market with a price tag of $149.99. The machine was in fact a portable Master System with a larger color palette and slightly better graphics. Sega had apparently targeted Nintendo's Game Boy, which had been on the market of handheld consoles for a year, where Nintendo had already developed a monopoly. Sega lost in terms of time, so had to win in terms of progress and lures for the market. So, in fact, Game Gear was a more modern and better gaming machine than Game Boy. But that was not enough.

In addition to superior technical features and colored screen, Game Gear also excelled in ergonomics. Unlike the Game Boy, it had a horizontal layout, making it ideal for use with both hands. Beyond that, however, much more was needed to counter Game Boy. And in all of this, Sega failed: Its original price was quite high. In fact, while it was supposed to be compatible with the games of the similar home console, Master System, in order to achieve this, it required the acquisition of an additional adapter. Also, due to the rush, Game Gear was released with only 6 available game titles. Even after the end of his life, Game Gear titles did not exceed 400, while Game Boy's exceeded 1,000. The main problem of all, however, is its very small power autonomy. Where Game Boy worked non-stop for 15 hours with 4 AA batteries, the higher standards of Game Gear required much more energy, consuming 6 AA batteries in 3 to 5 hours at most.

With 11 million sales, it would not be right to call it a commercial failure. However, Game Gear did not achieve the goals set by Sega, staying far behind in sales from it's opponent, Nintendo. These developments in the market, plus the fact that Sega preferred to focus its efforts on the development of the 32-bit Saturn console, forced the company to not put much weight on the successor of Game Gear. Launched in 1995 in Japan and the United States, the Sega Nomad was a handheld version of the Mega Drive, with much less impact than its predecessor. Game Gear production was completed in April 1997.

Tech Specs

  • Processor: 8-bit Zilog Z80 at 3.5 MHz

  • RAM / VRAM memory: 8/16 KB

  • Screen: Color LCD, 3.2 inches, 160 × 144 pixels

  • Graphics: Palette 4,096 colors, 64 sprites (8 × 8)

  • Sound: 4 channels, Stereo

  • Media: ROM Cartridge

  • Autonomy: Up to 5 hours (6x AA batteries)

  • Dimensions: 209x111x37 mm