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Game Gear

Game Gear is a Fourth-Generation handheld video game console designed and manufactured by Sega.  Released on October 6, 1990 in Japan the system became Sega’s first entry into the handheld video game market.   The 8-bit system released in North America and Europe on April 26, 1991 becoming the primary competition for Nintendo’s Game Boy.

Codenamed “Project Mercury”, the system was rushed to market in order to compete with the Game Boy and Atari Lynx both of which were released in 1989 as well as to beat NEC to the market with their yet to be released TurboExpress handheld.  Sega designed the handheld to be superior to Nintendo’s Game Boy by implementing a full-color backlit display positioned in a landscape format.  Sega’s approach to enter into the handheld market was to market the console as being technologically superior to their competition.   

Designing the console to be technologically superior to the Game Boy came at a cost to the system’s battery life.   While the Game Boy was able to operate for over 30 hours using four AA batteries, the Game Gear required six AA batteries and could only run for three to five hours.  The console’s hardware design shares much of the same components as the Master System and can even play Master System games with the use of the Master Gear Converter.  The accessory was quite rare and not marketed very well, however the similarity in hardware allowed for developers to easily port Master System games to the Game Gear.

Game Gear Box

Sega’s recent success with the Sega Genesis home console gave them name recognition with consumers making them a strong alternative to the Game Boy.  Name recognition coupled with a unique game library and price point gave them an edge over the Atari Lynx and TurboExpress.  Sega tried to recreate the success Nintendo had when they bundled Tetris with the Game Boy by bundling Columns, a similar puzzle game with the Game Gear. Sega had success marketing their Genesis console by advertising it as a more powerful system geared towards a more mature audience and decided to keep this approach for the release of their new handheld.

Game Gear Logo
ManufacturerSega
DistributorSega
Majesco Entertainment
SystemGame Gear
CodenameProject Mercury
PredecessorNone
SuccessorNomad
Hardware TypeHandheld
GenerationFourth Generation
Media TypeCartridge
ReleaseJP: October 6, 1990
NA: April 26, 1991
EU: April 26, 1991
DiscontinuedJP: 1996
NA: April 30, 1997
EU: April 30, 1997
Launch Price¥ 19,800 JP
$ 149.99 USD
£ 99.99 EU
Sales10.62 Million
Game Library374 Total Games
197 Games (JP)
234 Games (NA)
196 Game (EU)

Even though the Game Gear was far superior to the Game Boy, Sega was unable to surpass the popularity of the Game Boy due to several limitations such as its short battery life, lack of original games and weak support from Sega.  Sega’s primary focus was on its home console systems and ultimately were unable to find the right balance to be able to manage both product lines.  The system was able to sell 10.62 million units worldwide during its lifespan making it the second-best selling handheld of the fourth-generation era of video games.  Sega discontinued the handheld in 1996 in Japan and worldwide in April 1997. 

Several years after the Game Gear was discontinued by Sega, Majesco Entertainment decided to manufacture and re-release the handheld in 2000, under license from Sega.  This version of the system retailed for $30 with the games selling for $15 and was compatible with all previously released games however was incompatible with the TV Tuner and Master System converter accessories.  The system was brought back in a virtual form when Nintendo announced on March 2, 2011 that the 3DS virtual console service would feature Game Gear games.  Emerging once again as part of Sega’s 60th anniversary on June 3, 2020 Sega revealed a Game Gear Micro handheld system.  The micro was announced as a Japanese exclusive releasing on October 6, 2020 in four different versions.  Each version comes in a different color with 4 different games in each version.

The story of the Game Gear - Gaming Historian

Sega Game Gear - Gaming Historian
Sonic Games on Game Gear - Gaming Historian
  • North American Launch Games
  • Japanese Launch Games
  • European Launch Games
  • Image Gallery
  • Media & Promotional Material

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenre
April 1991Columns Game Gear BoxColumnsSega R&D1SegaPuzzle
April 1991G-LOC Air Battle Game Gear BoxG-LOC: Air BattleSega CSSegaFlight Simulator
April 1991Psychic World Game Gear BoxPsychic WorldHertz CompanySegaAction
June 1991Revenge of Drancon Game Gear BoxRevenge of DranconEscapeSegaPlatformer
April 1991Super Monaco GP Game Gear BoxSuper Monaco GPSegaSegaRacing
April 1991Dragon Crystal Game Gear BoxDragon CrystalSegaSegaRoguelike
June 1991Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse Game Gear BoxCastle of Illusion Starring Mickey MouseSega R&D2SegaPlatformer
June 1991Shinobi Game Gear BoxShinobiSegaSegaPlatformer
Hack and Slash
June 1991Super Golf Game Gear BoxSuper GolfSigma EnterprisesSage's Creation, Inc.Sports
Golf
August 1991Woody Pop Game Gear BoxWoody PopSegaSegaAction
September 1991World Class Leader Board Game Gear BoxWorld Class Leader BoardAccess Software
Tiertax
U.S. GoldSports
Golf
September 1991Solitaire Poker Game Gear BoxSolitaire PokerFACEASCII CorporationCard Game
October 1991Pac-Man Game Gear BoxPac-ManNamcoNamcoMaze
October 1991Halley Wars Game Gear BoxHalley WarsTaitoTaitoShooter
October 1991Slider Game Gear BoxSliderLoriciel
Victor Musical Industries
SegaPuzzle
Action
October 1991Batter Up Game Gear BoxBatter UpNamcoNamcoSports
Baseball
October 1991Putt & Putter Game Gear BoxPutt & PutterSIMSSegaSports
Golf
October 1991Joe Montana Football Game Gear BoxJoe Montana FootballSegaSegaSports
Football
October 1991The Lucky Dime Caper starring Donald DuckThe Lucky Dime Caper starring Donald DuckSegaSegaAction
November 1991Devilish Game Gear BoxDevilishGenkiSage's Creation, Inc.Puzzle
Action
November 1991Space Harrier Game Gear BoxSpace HarrierSegaSegaShooter
December 1991The Chessmaster Game Gear BoxThe ChessmasterThe Software Toolworks
NovaLogic
SegaBoard Game
December 1991The Chessmaster Game Gear BoxClutch HitterSegaSegaSports
Baseball
December 1991Junction Game Gear BoxJunctionMicronetMicronetPuzzle
December 1991Sonic The Hedgehog Game Gear BoxSonic The HedgehogAncient Co. Ltd.SegaPlatformer

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenre
October 6, 1990Columns Game Gear Japanese BoxColumnsSega R&D1SegaPuzzle
October 6, 1990Super Monaco GP Game Gear Japanese BoxSuper Monaco GPSegaSegaRacing
October 6, 1990Pengo Game Gear Japanese BoxPengoCorelandSegaMaze
Otober 23, 1990Zan Gear Game Gear Japanese BoxZan GearWolf TeamWolf TeamSimulation
November 10, 1990Taisen Mahjong HaoPai Game Gear Japanese BoxTaisen Mahjong HaoPaiArcSegaBoard Game
December 8, 1990Wonder Boy Game Gear Japanese BoxWonder BoyEscapeSegaPlatformer
December 15, 1990Soukoban Game Gear Japanese BoxSoukobanThinking RabbitRiverhillsoftPuzzle
December 15, 1990G-LOC - Air Battle Game Gear Japanese BoxG-LOC: Air BattleSega CSSegaFlight Simulator
December 22, 1990Dragon Crystal Game Gear Japanese BoxDragon CrystalSegaSegaRoguelike
December 27, 1990Shanghai II Game Gear Japanese BoxShanghai IIActivision
Sun Electronics
SunsoftPuzzle
January 26, 1991The Pro Yakyuu '91 Game Gear Japanese BoxThe Pro Yakyuu '91SegaSegaSports
Baseball
January 29, 1991Pac-Man Game Gear Japanese BoxPac-ManNamcoNamcoMaze
February 2, 1991Psychic World Game Gear Japanese BoxPsychic WorldHertz CompanySegaAction
February 23, 1991Pop Breaker Game Gear Japanese BoxPop BreakerMicrocabinMicrocabinShooter
February 24, 1991Junction Game Gear Japanese BoxJunctionMicronetMicronetPuzzle
March 1, 1991Woody Pop Game Gear Japanese BoxWoody PopSegaSegaAction
March 8, 1991House of Tarot Game Gear Japanese BoxHouse of TarotJapan System SupplySegaEducational
March 8, 1991Chase H.Q. Game Gear Japanese BoxChase H.Q.TaitoTaitoRacing
March 15, 1991Head Buster Game Gear Japanese BoxHead BusterNCSMasayaSimulation
March 21, 1991Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse Game Gear Japanese BoxCastle of Illusion Starring Mickey MouseSega R&D2SegaPlatformer
March 29, 2991Kinetic Connection Game Gear Japanese BoxKinetic ConnectionSadato TanedaSegaPuzzle
March 29, 2991Devilish Game Gear Japanese BoxDevilishGenkiSage's Creation, Inc.Puzzle
Action
April 5, 1991Gear Stadium Game Gear Japanese BoxGear StadiumNamcoNamcoSports
Baseball
April 19, 1991Super Golf Game Gear Japanese BoxSuper GolfSigma EnterprisesSage's Creation, Inc.Sports
Golf
April 26, 1991Shikinjoh Game Gear Japanese BoxShikinjohSunsoftSunsoftPuzzle
April 26, 1991Slider Game Gear Japanese BoxSliderLoriciel
Victor Musical Industries
SegaPuzzle
Action
April 26, 1991The GG Shinobi Game Gear Japanese BoxThe GG ShinobiSegaSegaPlatformer
Hack and Slash
May 24, 1991Mappy Game Gear Japanese BoxMappyNamcoNamcoAction
May 31, 2991Solitaire Poker Game Gear Japanese BoxSolitaire PokerFACEASCII CorporationCard Game
June 21, 2991Halley Wars Game Gear Japanese BoxHalley WarsTaitoTaitoShooter
June 21, 2991Factory Panic Japanese BoxFactory PanicSegaSegaAction

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenre
June 1991Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse Game Gear European BoxCastle of Illusion Starring Mickey MouseSega R&D2SegaPlatformer
June 1991Columns Game Gear European BoxColumnsSega R&D1SegaPuzzle
June 1991Dragon Crystal Game Gear European BoxDragon CrystalSegaSegaRoguelike
June 1991G-LOC - Air Battle Game Gear European BoxG-LOC: Air BattleSega CSSegaFlight Simulator
June 1991Psychic World Game Gear European BoxPsychic WorldHertz CompanySegaAction
June 1991Super Monaco GP Game Gear Europe BoxSuper Monaco GPSegaSegaRacing
June 1991Wonder Boy Game Gear European BoxWonder BoyEscapeSegaPlatformer
July 1991Shinobi Game Gear European BoxShinobiSegaSegaPlatformer
Hack and Slash
August 1991Putt & Putter Game Gear European BoxPutt & PutterSIMSSegaSports
Golf
October 1991Factory Panic European BoxFactory PanicSegaSegaAction
October 1991Halley Wars Game Gear Euopean BoxHalley WarsTaitoTaitoShooter
October 1991OutRun Game Gear European BoxOutRunSega AM2SegaRacing
October 1991Slider Game Gear European BoxSliderLoriciel
Victor Musical Industries
SegaPuzzle
Action
November 1991Ninja Gaiden Game Gear European BoxNinja GaidenTecmoSegaAction
Platformer
November 1991Pengo Game Gear European BoxPengoCorelandSegaMaze
November 1991Woody Pop Game Gear European BoxWoody PopSegaSegaAction
November 1991World Class Leader Board Game Gear European BoxWorld Class Leader BoardAccess Software
Tiertax
U.S. GoldSports
Golf
December 1991Sonic The Hedgehog Game Gear European BoxSonic The HedgehogAncient Co. Ltd.SegaPlatformer
December 1991Space Harrier Game Gear European BoxSpace HarrierSegaSegaShooter
December 1991The Chessmaster Game Gear European BoxThe ChessmasterThe Software Toolworks
NovaLogic
SegaBoard Game
December 1991The Lucky Dime Caper starring Donald Duck Game Gear European BoxThe Lucky Dime Caper starring Donald DuckSegaSegaAction

North American Launch Version

North American Version

North American Sports Edition

Japanese Version

Japanese Nazo Puyo Bundle

European Version

North American Majesco Re-release Version

Japanese Coca Cola Edition

Game Gear Console Variations

Media & Promotional Material

Game Gear Color Blind Commercial
Game Gear Help Save The Planet Commercial