Time Machine: Game Gear

Sega kick it into gear on the handheld track...

Did Sega want us to picture their debut handheld system as a vital crunching cog in the games industry, or were they just abusing the cheesy '90s word for 'stuff'? Maybe both.

Whatever their thinking, the Game Gear made one thing clear: they were ready to start a-wrasslin' with Nintendo for tasty new market share.

Atari's Lynx was developed in parallel with the Game Boy, and ultimately clubbed to death by its rival behind a skip in an alley, so Sega observed before getting involved.

On a basic level the Game Gear was a Master System in a shoebox with a lower resolution and bigger colour palette, pointing and laughing at the simpleton Game Boy even as it presented its fancy horizontal orientation and full-colour backlit screen to the crowd.

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Then Sega began its first-party assault, rounding up an all-star team for ports and spin-offs, from Sonic to Streets of Rage via Golden Axe and Ecco. It pirouetted like a chunky ballerina around most of the issues that plagued the Lynx, but alas, there was no easy escape from the battery life curse - leaving the Game Gear to chew through six AAs as if they were a sin against baby Jesus himself.

It was also the approximate size of a housebrick, which impacted on its coolness with those '90s kids and their trainers and their E-numbers.

In time, even the most stubborn hedgehog fancier had to concede that the Game Boy was just too firmly settled and supported to uproot. But the Game Gear's 11 million sales still marked it out as the strongest second player until Sony plucked out the PSP a decade and a half later.

Its library has been pretty well preserved despite Sega getting out of The Game, to call up a wonky Highlander/hardware analogy, and the imminent arrival of digital Game Gear titles on 3DS is all set to reinforce that.

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