SEGA Legacy: SEGA and the Game.Com

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SEGA Legacy articles are a series at The SEGA Source about the vast and varied history of SEGA. They can range from people to places to times to art to even just a simple song. The staff here has a vast knowledge of the company’s history and would love to share it all with anyone willing to listen. Now sit back, get your favorite beverage ready as you will find, “It Plays More Games Than You Idiots Have Braincells”!

Hit the jump to read the fourth in the SEGA Legacy series.

Tiger LCD Games

LCD stands for a liquid crystal display, which is a flat electronic visual display that uses the light modulating properties of liquid crystals to provide images. Tiger’s LCD handhelds were usually about as basic as any common digital clock, only providing static images that would appear and disappear over the screen as if a character or object was moving from one place to another. Due to the cheap nature of this, it was easy to design large amounts of simple games that could be sold for around the same price as a dinner at a fast food restaurant.

Tiger Electronics originally began designing personal electronic handheld games in the early 1980s, but based on the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System and arcades, Tiger Electronics decided it would be best to set up deals with other companies and sell small games around their IPs, of which, SEGA was the first to sign up. This proved to be popular in marketing many different kinds of games and consoles to children.

In total, Tiger and SEGA released over 100 LCD handheld games based off of SEGA IPs throughout the years until the platform was dropped for lack of interest and through Tiger Electronic’s buyout from Hasbro.

Around the SEGA Saturn’s launch was the time Tiger’s LCD handheld market was at it’s highest. Tiger then of course decided to take this one step further by creating a much more advanced piece of hardware that would hopefully find an older audience as well as attempt to compete with Nintendo’s very popular Game Boy handheld.

The Best Is Yet To Com segalegacy

The Game.com, (pronounced Game Com) was a handheld game platform released in 1997 by Tiger Electronics, the console was fairly revolutionary for its time, including a touch screen, two cartridge slots and a PDA function. It was marketed to a older target audience than Nintendo’s Game Boy, trying to appeal to a niche market at the time of release. Whilst these features failed to sell the console to an older audience Tiger were able to obtain licenses from companies such as Capcom and SEGA.

As a rival to Nintendo’s Game Boy, the Game.com’s launch titles included Duke Nukem 3D, Mortal Kombat Trilogy and the SEGA game Indy 500 among others and also came packaged with the game Tiger Casino, which was later replaced with Batman and Robin and Lights Out. In competition with the Game Boy, Tiger released the “Compete.com” a form of link cable that allowed players to link up to compete in multiplayer games and swap scores. The Game.com also saw an influx of branded items such as earphones, an AC Adapter and a carry-case.

The Game.com also featured internet access, inserting the Modem cartridge into one of the consoles slots and connecting the Game.com to the phone line, gave the user the ability to get an Game.com-exclusive ISP. Here the user could upload high scores, check emails and with the internet cartridge which was sold separately the user could even view web pages. The internet on the Game.com was very temperamental, with both Tiger’s official website and the given instruction manual not explaining how to set the internet up correctly.

SEGA’s games

Indy 500

Indy 500 was originally a SEGA arcade game released in 1995. The Game.com version is incredibly slow, when picking a car it takes a couple of seconds for the picture to change and when you have picked a car a voice over says “Ladies and Gentleman star your engines” this is said faster then the graphics can handle meaning that by the time “Start you engines” is said Gentleman is still on the screen. The lack of back light on most Game.com screens makes this as with most Game.com titles extremely hard to play. Although this arcade conversion does have a very clear voice over and the slowness can easily be gotten used to. It is also one of the more detailed games on the platform and has some nice extras such as extra cars and two types of in game weather.

Fighters Megamix

Fighters Megamix was released in 1996 for the Sega Saturn, in 1998 It was re-released on the Game.com. Surprisingly fast for the platform, the Game.com version uses just two (A and B) of the four buttons on the handheld. It features most of the modes from the console release, but has a severely smaller cast, including only Akira, Pai, Lion and Jacky of the Virtua Fighter series and Bahn, Candy, Sanman and Mahler of the Fighting Vipers games. There are also 4 secret characters that can be unlocked. It is considered one of the best titles available on the Game.com, but cannot begin to compare with the actual console version, as expected.

Sonic Jam

Sonic Jam was the first major Sonic game compilation. The Game.com release however, is dramatically different to the Saturn version. Sonic Jam features versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles all of which are different to there original Genesis/Mega Drive versions. On the Game.com version each game features 5 levels that are inspired by the levels on the original games. Included is an all new soundtrack that just seems to be a series of beeps. All of this leads to it being considered one of the poorest Sonic games or all time, but is usually not mentioned as many people are unaware of it’s existence. Even the box art for the Game.com version of Sonic Jam is incorrect featuring the same art work as Sonic R on the Sega Saturn.

Falling Apart

When compared to the Nintendo DS the Game.com’s touch screen had a very low sensor rate, there was now back light, the address book feature proved tiresome to enter data into and was entirely dependent on the battery and backup battery to keep the data much like the Sega Saturn.

The Game.com was generally ignored in the gaming press, another thing that was ultimately the downfall of the console. Tiger’s first advertisement for the Game.com was potentially insulting although also fairly satirical of the industry, in the advert a marketing spokesman shouts at a group of twenty somethings “It plays more games then you idiots have brain cells!” The satirical idea of the advert was that it pointed out the console could play more games then a conventional handheld, however as the target audience was one that at the time did not play the Game Boy the joke was lost, rendering the advert most insulting then insightful.

Tiger later tried to re-release the Game.com in a smaller pocket size. The Game.com PocketPro was a smaller version of the Game.com it took just two AA batteries, in comparison the the four the Game.com took, the first release of this was black with a back light, although this again was re-designed and released in a variety of translucent colours without the back light. None of these consoles could access the internet via the modem due to the lack of phone port. The console was dropped in 2000 when it was only eventually reduced back to the toys section – The place Tiger had originally always intended the platform not to go. Lost with this was the exclusive internet service provided by a modem, as well as a large list of games that were canceled.

Conclusion

The Game.com suffered greatly from lack of titles, poor marketing, wonky hardware and many other problems that mirror the failure of SEGA’s own 32X Genesis/Mega Drive add-on. Tiger Electronics would go on to succeed greatly with Giga Pets and the Furby, but the Game.Com platform was never able to even scratch the surface of Nintendo’s Game Boy – Or even SEGA’s own Game Gear’s success and most embarrassing of all, not even the much later release of Nokia’s N-Gage. Revolutionary in concept, both it’s touch screen and internet capabilities of the console have been picked up by Nintendo on their current handheld Nintendo DS and are used in almost every major cellphone out today. It had a short life, forcing the cancellation of many titles, including Metal Gear Solid, a Castlevania and many other SEGA titles. A console that is probably only for the hardcore fans, it can be hard to find as well as hard to play. With all that said, it has some great features and is well worth a try, especially for people interested in a unique piece of videogame history.

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One Response to “SEGA Legacy: SEGA and the Game.Com”

  1. Onthod Says:

    ray_gbrl@yahoo.com

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