The Game Gear Book

18 03 2012

I really dig video game history, and as much as Wikipedia would like you to believe it’s not true, one of the best places to get information on retro games and systems is by reading books and magazines that were released back in the day.  That’s why I recently acquired this:

 

The Sega Game Gear Book from 1990

 

Running 84 pages, what the Sega Game Gear Book amounts to is Game Gear for Dummies, with a little Mega Drive Modem thrown in  for good measure.  Let’s take a look inside, shall we?  As always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge.

 

Here we’re introduced to the Game Gear proper, as the book points out the different buttons on the machine and what they do (I told you it was Game Gear for Dummies).  From left to right the book addresses the controller, display screen, start button, and buttons I and II.  It also refers to buying an AC adaptor (or any add-on for that matter) as “powering up” the system.  Well played, Sega… well played…

 

Here we’re shown evil parents not allowing their child to play video games.  I like the fact that while dad gets to sit in a chair to watch TV, mom has to sit on the floor.  But fear not!  All’s not lost for little Sega kid there, turns out he can play his Mega Drive games on his Game Gear using the connectors found on the Game Gear’s TV tuner.  The book goes on to say you can even use it as an external monitor during professional video production, though I doubt anyone actually did that.  Actually, after having seen Japanese TV from this time period, using a Game Gear as a monitor might have been common practice.  That would actually explain a lot…

 

This is a really interesting page.  The left side has cool space ship drawings that relate to nothing while the text explains the internal differences between a Mega Drive and a Game Gear.  It goes on to explain that while Mega Drive games can’t natively be played on Game Gear hardware, Game Gear games could, in fact, be played on a Mega Drive.  That’s because the Game Gear is pretty much just a Mark III (Master System).  Sega would eventually release a converter for the Mega Drive that allowed you to play Mark III (Master System) games on it.  Nintendo would pull ahead in this arena with the Super Game Boy, allowing people to play their Game Boy games on a Super Famicom (Super Nintendo); something that would never grace the Game Gear or Mega Drive, although Sega seems to be hinting at it here.  Sega also reminds you not to mod your system.

 

I think it’s funny that 29% of the book (25 pages) is devoted to the subject of how to the game Columns works and how to play it.  Were people really that stupid back then?

 

Interesting to note is the list of upcoming Game Gear games the book contains.  Included are the titles Space Harrier 3, Fantasy Zone 3, and Alex Kidd, which were never produced.  I also like that it lists one game as “RPG”.  You can’t get any more generic than that.  It’s like someone said, “Yeah, yeah… we’ll make an RPG for it.”

The last part of the books is the coolest, for me at least (although I’ll admit that I didn’t know you could use the Game gear to play your Mega Drive games).  It details the game(s) Phantasy Star Text Adventures, a download only treat that never made it outside of Japan, although apparently is was later released as a compilation for the Mega CD.

 

The book came out right at the beginning of the Game Gear’s sad, sad life, so there’s not really any other games featured in it other than launch titles Pengo and Monico GP.  Although they would be completely useless now, Sega’s Game Gear Book did pique my interest in getting a Game Gear TV tuner and a Mega Modem.  Again, well played, Sega… well played.


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