Needless to say, it didn't do quite so well when compared to its competitor.
Not that it was a flop, mind you — it lasted from 1990-97 and sold 10 million units. That might not be as impressive as the Game Boy's 118 million, but it was the most successful handheld to go against Nintendo until the PSP, and had the advantage of being in color at a time when the Game Boy was still in its green-and-black days.
However, the biggest issue was battery life. Even if the chips didn't consume a lot of power, the mandatory backlight (as in you couldn't turn it off) did. It took six AA batteries, and even then only lasted 2-5 hours. Another problem was the first runs were faulty, and that along with the battery life caused the audience in Japan to largely ignore it. This led to only minor support from third parties.
Even then, it's not a system to ignore if you have the batteries, a rechargeable battery pack or an umbilical AC adapter (conveniently, it was compatible with Sega Genesis Model 2 AC adapters).
In 2001, third party game developer Majesco, with assistance from Sega, reissued the Game Gear for a reduced price. Only one new game was released for it (Super Battletank, an unreleased game developed in 1994), just a few existing games were re-issued with it (notably including Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos and Columns), it still had the battery problems and aside from the retro gaming market, did not catch on with the consumers. It was gone again by the end of the year. That said, the Nintendo 3DS has some Game Gear games on offer in its Virtual Console, using an emulator programmed by M2, who have a history of making emulators of Sega consoles.
- CPU runs at 3.55 or 3.58 MHz, depending on the region.
- The graphics are handled by the Video Display Processor.
- Part of the chipset involves that mighty little 8-bit controller known as the Zilog Z80.
- Eight kilobytes of main Random Access Memory, with 16 KB of Video RAM. Games like Mortal Kombat really showed all this memory off.
- ROM size ranged from 8 KB to 1024 KB.
- Like the NES, SMS sprites are 8×8 or 8×16 pixels, with up to 64 on screen.
- Resolution was 160×144 pixels.
- Thirty-two colors were allowed on screen, out of 4,096 total.
Aside from the display, these specs are nearly identical to the Sega Master System. This allowed many games from the Game Gear to be ported to the Master System and vice versa. There was even an adapter, called the Master Gear, that allowed Master System games to be played on the Game Gear. A hard-to-find accessory called the TV Tuner was made available at one point, which turned it into a little television set (you can briefly spot this in Garth's room in the first Wayne's World movie).
Notable Games/series which appeared on the Sega Game Gear include:
- Ax Battler: A Golden Axe Legend
- Baku Baku Animal
- Berenstain Bears Camping Adventure
- The Berlin Wall
- Bugs Bunny in Double Trouble
- Castle of Illusion
- Legend of Illusion
- Crystal Warriors
- Desert Strike
- Defenders of Oasis
- Dynamite Headdy
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Fantasy Zone Gear
- Fatal Fury Special
- Galaga '91
- GG Aleste
- GG Aleste II
- The G.G. Shinobi
- The G.G. Shinobi II: Silent Fury
- Home Alone
- Judge Dredd
- Jurassic Park
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park (the last Sega-published Game Gear release)
- The Lucky Dime Caper (different from the Sega Master System version)
- Lunar: Walking School
- Master Of Darkness (known on this system as Vampire Master Of Darkness)
- Marble Madness
- Mega Man (Classic)
- Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible
- Mortal Kombat
- Ninja Gaiden
- Panzer Dragoon Mini
- Phantasy Star Gaiden
- Pinball Dreams
- Puyo Puyo (becomes Puzlow Kids when used in a non-Japanese system)
- Nazo Puyo
- Nazo Puyo 2
- Nazo Puyo: Arle no Roux
- Puyo Puyo Tsu
- Puzzle Bobble
- Shaq Fu
- Shining Series
- Shining Force Gaiden
- Shining Force Gaiden II (aka Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya, the only one that got an overseas release)
- Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict
- The Smurfs
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Space Harrier
- Streets of Rage
- Streets of Rage 2
- Super Smash T.V.
- Surf Ninjas (licensed game based on a movie which had someone playing a Game Gear and seeing the future through playing said licensed game of the movie)
- Sylvan Tale
- The Simpsons
- Virtua Fighter Animation
- Wonder Boy (aka Revenge of Drancon)
- Awesome, yet Impractical: The Game Gear was an ambitious, slick looking and enjoyable portable device with full color and a fairly large backlit screen, with hardware superior to even the Sega Master System, but like the Atari Lynx before, it (combined with limited third party support) had several obvious flaws that ultimately doomed it to a lesser status than its rival, the Game Boy. The biggest deal breaker was it's mediocre battery life; due to its backlit screen, it needed six AA batteries, and it would consume them in five to six hoursnote . Another flaw was it's impractical size; while it's landscape format and control format was comfortable to hold, it was so bulky that it was difficult to store, much less stick in your pocket. On top of that, its more advanced hardware prompted a price of $150, considerably higher than the $99 Game Boy.
- Take That!: As they did with the Sega Genesis, Sega released snipe ads to support the Game Gear, mocking the Game Boy's blurry cream spinach screen and dissing it as a kiddy portable in contrast to their full color backlit portable.