Translations from Game Lab Vol. 197 -- January 2012 Issue

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Photo Caption P.133 (left): When he was engrossed with "Pacman", Mana-Sama made his own walkthrough map.

Photo Caption P.133 (right)
Pacman Love

Mana-Sama's Nostalgic Game inferno
~Part 10~

Sega Produced 2 Mobile Game Consoles

Mana's Hardware Collection
(left) Game Gear
Company: Sega Enterprises
Release Date: October 26, 1990
Retail Price: 19,800 yen

(right) Nomad
Company: Sega of America
Release Date: October 1995
Retail Price: $180 USD

Last time and the time before that I talked about the age of NEC when they came out with the PC Engine Portable Series. So this time how about I introduce their rival at that time, Sega's portable machines.

Sega put their heart and soul into the Game Gear, but the performance was……

In 1990 at the same time as the release of the PC Engine GT, Sega launched their color liquid crystal portable console "Game Gear" into the market (Since the PC Engine GT was released in December, it [Game Gear] was practically in the lead). The PC Engine GT and Game Gear color portable consoles then broke out into a war.

The Game Gear and PC Engine GT were both indomitably equipped with a "TV Tuner Pack" so you could use them by watching them on TV. In one way, the PC Engine GT was different, games were exclusively provided by a ROM cartridge.

Shifting our attention to performance, the graphics resolution [of Game Gear] was a lower 160 x 144 pixels (The PC Engine GT was 400 x 270 pixels), further more the color liquid crystals were badly blurred on the screen. At that time I was really unhappy with it. As for the design, the body was a larger size, and its form was somewhat lacking style so it was not very good.

Although, the retail price was 19,800 yen which was extremely cheap in comparison to the PC Engine GT which was 44,800 yen. Sega had to have been aware that the Nintendo "Gameboy" was conquering the market at that time. The Gameboy was 12,800 yen, but the liquid crystal was monochrome with a resolution the same as the Game Gear. When comparing to that, the Game Gear might have had an advantage since it was in color.

The conscious awareness of the Game Gear's existence was "Pacman"

I might have written quite relentlessly, but actually I used Game Gear habitually. It was a special-purpose machine mostly used for "Pacman". At that time I got caught up with "Pacman" and I'd frequently visit game centers to play it. Then the PC Engine came out with "Pac Land" instead of "Pacman". So, it became a dream of mine to be able to play "Pacman" on a portable machine.

To my digression, I completely mastered "Pacman" all the way to the ending "key level". Even now I have a "Pacman walkthrough map" I made myself that I keep safely at my house.

You can play Mega Drive games outside!?

As far as the console itself is concerned, Game Gear was a disappointment. However, I want to introduce Sega's headlining portable machine that satisfied me. It was the "Nomad" which appeared in 1995.

Perhaps for everyone as a whole, the Nomad is something not a lot of people have heard of. The reason is, it was a console that was mostly sold in North America, so at that time I bought it at an Akihabara maniac game shop.

If I were to say something cool about the Nomad, it would be that you can play Mega Drive cassette ROM games on it. Its possible to say that for a Mega Drive fan this was the best portable machine ever. However, since this Mega Drive was overseas version Genesis portable console, in order to play domestic games you needed a converter.

The console design followed that of Genesis. With the black color, the adult design was cool. The LCD was 3.25 inches so it was by no means big, but the best thing was I was able to play my favorite Mega Drive game, " Ghouls'n Ghosts".

When I showed the Nomad to people, I remember they were amazed that you could play Mega Drive games on a portable console and they would say things like "This machine is so cool!"

Although it wasn't without faults. Since the Mega Drive ROM cassettes were a little bit big, they would jut out from the body of the Nomad. That gave the appearance a bad balance. On that note, I can't say the Hu Card looked very nice when it was put in the PC Engine GT and LT.

Also, you needed layers of 3 batteries making 6 [batteries] in total, and it intensely consumed the batteries, so it was a harsh reality for portable game consoles.

But having said that, since I was able to play the Mega Drive outside on a single machine, it really became a priceless treasure for me.

I wonder why this console was never released in Japan……. . The overseas version Genesis turned out to be a good thing, so was it that business was slow for the Mega Drive in the domestic market?

However, there was no mistaking at that time that the materialization of a 16 bit portable machine made an impact.

Translated by Sarah @