Game Gear turns 30, the ambitious Sega laptop that failed in its fight with Nintendo


Game Gear turns 30, the ambitious Sega laptop that failed in its fight with Nintendo

It was one of the first full-color laptops, now returning to Japan in a micro version.


Game Gear celebrates 30 years since its release in Japan, back on October 6, 1990. A turbulent time in the world of video games, due to strong competition between Sega and Nintendo. In fact, the laptop was designed in response to the legendary Game Boy , with overwhelming power for the time and a feature that made it especially superior to its competitor: having a full color screen.

You have to go back to the early nineties to understand what this meant. Although the Atari Lynx laptop also wanted to fight with its 16 simultaneous colors, Sega had a more powerful development machine, ready to compete face-to-face with Nintendo. Proof of this is that Game Gear appeared in a pack with Columns , a puzzle game that intended to repeat the success that Game Boy had achieved with its Tetris pack . The trade war was total.

An important peculiarity of the Sega laptop is that it shared hardware attributes with Master System, and even surpassed it in number of colors: Game Gear had a palette of more than 4,000. The intention was to be able to “port” the games from the home console on the laptop, or at least to facilitate the performance of the developers to feed the catalog of the new machine quickly. The inconvenient? That it was a fairly powerful console, and it ate batteries at blazing speed. The Game Boy could last for days with just four batteries, while the Game Gear needed six batteries and lasted a couple of afternoons at most.

Game Gear turns 30, the ambitious Sega laptop that failed in its fight with Nintendo

The marketing campaign launched by Sega around the world was, to put it mildly, quite aggressive. The ads focused on highlighting the Game Gear color screen, making direct allusions to the Game Boy and its users, who were shown as obese brains ( you can see it ). It was a very similar strategy to that followed by Sega with its Mega Drive, making it known as the “cool” console , the one that had the “cool” people. Of course, tables of technical comparisons were the order of the day.

However, Game Gear was never able to compete with Game Boy. The reasons were in the use of batteries, in their large dimensions, in the price, but also in the lack of support from Sega itself, more focused on its home consoles. Despite this, the machine had a decent catalog, with more than 300 video games, including some such as Sonic Chaos, Shinobi, Shining Force, Ecco the Dolphin, Tails Adventure, Ax Battler, Land of Illusion, Gunstar Heroes, Streets of Rage 2, Road Rash, etc. There was a large number of titles that were ports of existing versions on home consoles, more particularly on Master System.

Game Gear featured, as was tradition at Sega, with a good number of accessories. The most prominent were the TV Tuner , to tune television channels on the laptop, and the Master Gear , which allowed you to play Master System games. The machine did not have a short life, with between 5-7 years until the Japanese decided to stop manufacturing it. Recently, Game Gear Micro was announced , precisely in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Game Gear. Today it is put on sale in Japan as a nice souvenir for those who could one day enjoy it. Were you one of them?