Retro Wrap-Up: Game Gear Edition

Monday, December 14th, 2015

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SEGA Game Gear | Retro Wrap-Up

Nintendo has pretty much always had hold on the handheld market. Going back to the old Game & Watch days to the modern 3DS, the competition has been fairly scarce. The 16-bit SEGA Genesis gave the big N a good run in the home console field, so it made sense they would try their hand at making a portable system of their own.

When the Game Gear first hit the market in 1991 (in North America), the Game Boy already had two years of strong sales. Trying to compete when faced with such a disadvantage, the system’s failure was almost a certainty.

As such, the marketing for the Game Gear was…let’s just call it “adversarial.” From the commercials you can find below, you can see SEGA consistently attacking the Game Boy for being inferior for having a monochrome display, and implying its fans lack intelligence for enjoying such a system. It really was the start of a nasty string of console wars that lasted generations. The few people I knew who owned a Game Gear were insufferably arrogant about it, constantly bragging that their system was superior. To this day, fans still bicker about which system is better using technical specifications as the benchmark. To me, it’s always been about substance over style.

In reality, the color display was all the SEGA Game Gear had going for it. It suffered from a poor library of original games, a high price tag, a poor battery life, and little-to-no support–gee, doesn’t all that sound familiar to modern handheld gamers–and finally discontinued in 1997.

So, take a look at the TV advertisements for the SEGA Game Gear, unearthed by the oprainfall Retro Commercial Research Team–in other words, me. And don’t be afraid to let us know your experiences with the Game Gear in the comments below.

Here are the highlights from the past week.

REVIEWS

ORIGINAL CONTENT

NEWS

Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel, and as always, if you have any ideas or suggestions for retro commercials, let us know by either Facebook, Twitter, or just leave a good old-fashioned comment below.

About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.




  • Ragunaxl

    Uhh… I loved game gear. But this article is way off. Handhelds in general didn’t sell very well. Gameboy and Game and Watch struggled like most handhelds. There were no strong sales until 1995, 1996, when pokemon picked up, not an instant success. Handhelds were a fluke. Coleco mini arcade and tiger toys saw moderate success. But the market was flooded with Lynx, Game Gear, Game.com, the TurboExpress, Sega Nomad. Each had their own obstacles and disadvantages. Gameboy was the chincy black & white one without any games and wasn’t even back lit, every year saw a price drop. They would give them away as door prizes at school raffles. Kids would throw them away. The big question was… can handheld gaming work? The anwer was… eventually, with pokemon later gameboy color and gba. The rest was history.