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S > SEGA > Game Gear   

Game Gear

In 1991 Sega entered the handheld marked with its Game Gear console to compete with Nintendo's popular Game Boy. The hardware was pretty much a direct copy of Sega's 8-bit Master System technology which was just dramatically reduced in size to fit the handheld case. There was also an adapter called Master Gear which enabled you to play SMS games on your GG. The only real difference between the Master System and the Game Gear is that the GG has a color palette of 4096 compared to the 256 of the SMS. This is pretty much the only reason why the SMS can't play GG games.

Compared to Nintendo's Game Boy, Game Gear has many advanced features like a quite big backlit color screen (3.2''), which even the original Game Boy Advance doesn't have, and a more ergonomical case design.

But this was not enough to win the handheld battle. Nintendo's console already had many good games available whereas GG had mostly conversions of old SMS games with added colors. It was also more expensive that the Game Boy due to its color screen. The battery life of the GG was also quite short with the batteries of the time (not so much of problem nowadays as batteries have improved) and it also took six AA sized batteries at once which was quite a strain on the owners wallet. The machine was also more fragile that the Game Boy and many of the machines that you can see for sale today have scratches on their screen and sound problems especially when using headphones.


Text by Taneli Lukka

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Coolest thing with the GG was that you could watch analog TV with the adapter kit. Great all crowding round the 3.2" screen in the garden.

The other problem was games - just not enough and much more expensive than SMS or GB at the time. It was also cool using the SMS adapter, so you could put the SMS cartridges in!

Originally 149 GBP, but mine still works, sadly UK TV is now digital, so the adapter isn''t able to work. If only I could get it to pick up FM radio!

Even now, it still works, and with rechargables, I get a few hours per play.

Thursday 4th April 2013
Kevin (Manchester, UK)

I have a gamegear. I am not suprised that the Nintendo gameboy was more popular, it was cheaper and had better battery life - I am lucky if I get two hours out of my gamegear! The screen is not fantastic, it does blur a lot. But still, I think it was years ahead of its time, Nintendo did not make a colour portable until the GB colour in '97/'98 and did not make a backlit portable until the GBA SP in '03!

In answer to Michael Tesh's problem:
I could not get my gamegear to have sound from the speaker, eventually I opened it up and found that the wires to the speaker were broken - I soldered them back onto the speaker and it was fine.
Some people have had more serious problems with the capacitors on sound circitury, though.


Wednesday 11th January 2006
Thomas (Kent)

The Sega Game Gear's price in 1993 was 19.995 Pesetas, or 119 Euros with the Columns game.

For Michael:

The errors you got are caused by a worn cartridge slot, because is impossible to change it, you can insert the cartridge with care and let the cartridge top as flat as posible with the console top (whatever if the game isn't fully insertet) if don't run you can move it A BIT up or down with the machine off.
Eventually you get the game working fine, and then you can got the practice to plug OK te game at the 1st attempt.

Thursday 8th December 2005
Jaume de la Vega (Spain)


NAME  Game Gear
YEAR  October 1990 (Japan), 1991 (U.S.A./Europe)
CONTROLLERS  8-way d-pad + 2 buttons + Start
CPU  Zilog Z80
SPEED  3.579545 MHz
RAM  24 KB
GRAPHIC MODES  160x144, 64 sprites max. (8x8 or 8x16 pixels)
COLORS  4096 palette, 64 on screen
SOUND  Texas Instruments SN76496 DCSG, 4 channel (3 tone channels, 1 white noise channel), built-in mono speaker, stereo headphone output
SIZE / WEIGHT  around one pound
I/O PORTS  Cartridge, headphone jack, power adapter, EXT port
MEDIA  Cartridge
POWER SUPPLY  6x AA batteries, 9v DC power adapter
PERIPHERALS  Master Gear (Master System Adapter), TV Tuner, Screen Magnifier
PRICE  Game Gear + Columns game : $149.99 (U.S.A. 1991), 119 (Spain, 1992)

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