Game Gear Micro

Did anyone else feel confused with this announcement? Seriously, it just seems so strange for Sega to do this after releasing such an awesome Sega Genesis mini. I mean, I would like a release of a Game Gear with several games on it, but 50 dollars for something so small that only has 4 games and needs an add-on magnifying glass to play is too much.

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I just saw the announcement and I just don’t understand it personally. My friend growing up had one and to be honest, it was garbage. The battery life was abysmal all things considered as the Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket/ Color seemed to have triple the lifespan and you could barely see what was on the screen.

Also for them to release 4 different colors/ versions with 4 different games when the system was never really that popular just seems short sighted at best. I think the whole mini console thing is getting out hand a bit.

They could easily put all 16 games on one and even include more for the price and then it is a maybe.

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Looks like my time has come to (somewhat) defend the Game Gear, and (somewhat) defend the Game Gear Micro. I’ve seen loads of hate for both the past few days – I feel the reaction has been greatly overblown. (But hey, this is the internet.)

Let’s at least recall what time the Game Gear released:

  • Nintendo Game Boy – April 1989 – $90
  • Atari Lynx – September 1989 – $180
  • Sega Game Gear – September 1990 – $150
  • NEC TurboExpress – December 1990 – $250

As would continue to be the case for Nintendo and handhelds for the decades to come, selling your portable consoles for cheaper would always be a key part of the winning strategy. People didn’t mind if the quality of your product was technically inferior, so long as the masses could play easy-to-jump-into titles like Tetris and Pokemon (Game Boy) or Nintendogs and Brain Age (DS), which were good fits for their respective systems.

At any rate, the Game Gear couldn’t just be a copy of the Game Boy if it wanted to stand out. The ways it could differentiate itself were obvious – just make a handheld that addressed the criticisms that the Game Boy had. The GB was monochrome, so make the GG in color. The GB screen was hard to see if it was too dark or light out, so make the GG backlit. The GB was uncomfortable/awkward to hold, so make the GG have a landscape format with a more molded-for-hands case. And at a starting $150 price point, it was cheaper than its similar competitors. Yes, it was $60 more than the Boy, but the Gear was better – it was basically a portable Master System.

Might as well address the whole thing with battery life, because those six AA batteries are the six silver bullets everyone loves to shoot at the corpse of the hapless Game Gear. According to Wikipedia, the system would last 3-5 hours – which obviously isn’t as long as what the Game Boy could last, but it sure as hell is longer than the “20 minutes” figure I’ve seen thrown around about a million times lately. I’ll just give my experience with the Sega Nomad, which was the Game Gear successor of sorts, only it played Genesis carts. The battery life for that thing was very similar, perhaps even worse to be honest. But I didn’t mind. I had an AC adapter, meaning I could play the Nomad anywhere there was a plug (e.g. in bed). And if I was on a long road trip? I had a car adapter, so I was set there too. The battery thing felt like such an overblown issue to me. I was enjoying myself.

One small fun fact: batteries you can buy today are better than the ones people could buy 30 years ago, so if you were to buy a Game Gear now and put six AAs in it, the handheld will push itself to 7.5 hours (at least according to this video). The poor little fellow, still trying its best to impress anyone.

I guess the other thing people often bring up against the Game Gear is its game library. I think people are generally approaching the system the wrong way though. The main selling point of any handheld system is to play games portable. They were almost never as good as their home console counterparts, but that was the accepted trade-off. So long as it was still fun to play, people didn’t mind if the graphics weren’t as good, or if gameplay was a bit simplified and/or choppier. People enjoyed playing Sonic, Streets of Rage, Shinobi, OutRun, Shining Force, Gunstar Heroes, Road Rash, Mickey Mouse, Ristar, and Mortal Kombat on the go. (For Japan, replace half of those titles with some of their exclusive RPGs. [And Puyo Puyo.]) Sometimes they were “demakes” of Genesis titles, sometimes they were basically ports of Master System games, and sometimes they were their entirely own new things. Maybe most folks these days wouldn’t call these games good, but I’d argue that with that sweeping of a generalization, you might as well say Game Boy games were no good either, or all of the Atari games for that matter.

And now the Game Gear Micro. Hoo boy, have people been upset about this. (Steer clear of the Sega subreddit.) The thing is I understand where people are coming from – the idea of a new Game Gear that’s a proper size to hold and can play 20-40 games is very appealing for anyone who has been picking up the various Mini/Classic consoles that have released the past few years. The Genesis/MegaDrive Mini was more or less exactly what everyone wanted in that respect. But as it turns out, Sega is taking a very different approach for this Game Gear Micro, to the point that I think it really shouldn’t be compared so directly to aforementioned Minis and Classics.

The Game Gear Micro is firmly in “novelty item” territory. And more than that, it might really just be a novelty item specifically for the Japanese audience. (Sega’s English Twitter hasn’t said a word about it, at the very least.) But regardless of whether it’s releasing outside of Japan, it’s still simply 1/8th a toy to play as an amusing diversion from time to time, and 7/8ths a collector’s item that’s just for show. It’s small and cute, and would make a good keychain for retro-loving nerds. This is just a product along the lines of Tiny Arcade and Micro Arcade, but with four games instead of one, and IMO a bit more technically impressive.

I’ll admit I’m not a fan of splitting up the game library across four different Game Gear Micros. I’m never a fan of that sort of thing, but it’s something that Japan in particular seems to love doing to encourage collectors to buy multiples of a single product. This isn’t the most insidious of cases that I’ve seen, because as a tiny trinket for your shelf or desk, the goal isn’t really to play through a whole library of classic games. But still, I would have preferred all 16 games on each Micro, so that you can pick the color system that you want.

If anyone wishes, there are ways to easily play all of the Game Gear games these days. I personally enjoy them on my GPD XD. (Been playing some GG Aleste lately, a solid little shmup.) Perhaps the nicest thing about roms is that it is now possible to play fan translations of all those games that were released only in Japan. There were a lot more than I expected! Royal Stone, Sylvan Tale, Moldorian, Magic Knight Rayearth, Coca-Cola Kid, Kishin Douji Zenki, among others.

I’ll throw out one last thought on the Game Gear Micro. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit when I first saw it announced – and then again when I saw the ridiculous magnifying glass attachment that’s as big as the system it’s magnifying. To me it feels like Sega is just poking fun at themselves, just like they did with their pointless “tower of power” attachments for the Mega Drive Mini. I find it refreshing that a video game company can openly laugh at their own history like this, and not take everything so seriously all the time. (The video game industry in general has become so damn serious the past decade.) Sega’s lighthearted tongue-in-cheek attitude goes along nicely with their new “Segata Sanshiro’s son” ads they’ve been making, which are also a hoot (and also poke fun at the Game Gear – at one point a classmate is confused about the character’s strange-looking “Switch”). I think it can be allowed for a game/toy company to goof around and make people smile at their “dad jokes” once in a while.

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Very well thought out and expressed as always. I will not try to debate as heavily as I am still at work, but I will say that I was not impressed when experiencing it all those years ago, especially when you could get a better deal (library wise, mechanical efficiency, design, compactibility to name a few). I might try to get one eventually if the prices is ever lowered and while the idea of splitting games between versions is understandable within Japan, I feel that with modern technology and advancements made, it would make more sense to provide more games, even lesser known titles to the consumer as the size of the roms is not even close to breaking any storage limits available now.

I am just wondering if there was a better way to go about this, as it is very reminiscent of the PS Classic in choices on what to include and not and the marketing aspect.

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I think you’re 100% on the nose with the Micro. I saw it as a bit of a fun item that Sega is putting out as a novelty. And I agree it’s likely for a Japanese audience that might get a kick out of the nostalgia and novelty.

Regarding the original Game Gear and the battery life. It may have been rated 3-5 hours, but that was never the case in practice. Believe me I wanted a Game Gear as soon as it was announced and my friends and I loved the idea, but it really wasn’t power friendly. Lord help the person who tried to use Ni-Cad batteries (from RadioShack no less) in that power hungry beast.

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I don’t think the two make for a good comparison. The PS Classic was a serious attempt to get in on what Nintendo had started with the NES Classic. If anything, I think this Game Gear Micro is designed as a satire of that whole craze, a gentle ribbing via a tongue-in-cheek design. I think @Reset_Tears is bang on.

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Yeah, this is the sort of thing that is hard to pin down, since there are probably multiple variables at play (such as what brand of batteries you’re using, what games you’re playing, etc). I’m sure for many people 3 hours was on the high end, rather than 5. I rarely bothered with batteries at all for my Nomad, and probably would’ve taken a similar approach with the Game Gear if I had one.

Agreed, the PS Classic was 100% meant to be the same sort of thing as NES and SNES Classic. But while I agree Sony messed up on that one in a number of ways (in regards to the hardware and emulation), I think they also had a more difficult task to begin with (in regards to both deciding on and securing its game library). It’s a shame that one didn’t work out.

I’m a bit concerned about what Sony will do from here on out actually, when it comes to Playstation games from older systems. Microsoft is doing an excellent job keeping many games from their past Xboxes available for modern ones, but Sony’s been struggling in that department. Their library of PS2 games for the PS4 for example is meager, and doesn’t bode well for the PS5.

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Such a shame. I was fortunate enough to have a Game Gear which I bought super cheap off a friend and I thought what the tech could do compared to what Gameboy was doing at the time was pretty great. BUT the battery life thing was a killer at the time. The games were never the problem as they looked, sounded and ran faster then Nintendo’s offering.

If they’d released a Game Gear Micro in a choice of colours with, say, 20+ games, with today’s battery life performance I would have been very tempted. But 4 games on a disappointingly sized screen… what a wasted opportunity by Sega. Again.

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When it comes to access to older titles I think streaming will eventually be the answer. And I think Sony knows that. So does Microsoft, but I think Microsoft has the advantage in that there is far more platform parity between Xbox generations than there is with PlayStation.

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I hardly ever used batteries on mine. Thankfully, I had a battery pack that you would charge with an ac adapter. It saved me lots of money but it was actually a burden to carry around since it was so huge.

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This video sums up what i feel pretty well. lol

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As a hardcore Sega fan I was totally confused by this too. Won’t be getting one. Shame, as if it had been bigger and/ or had more games I probably would have.

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