Obscure consoles: Sega Nomad

By Mike on 4:23 pm

Filed Under: ,

Portable gaming isn't what it used to be. The DS and the PSP are downright primitive. Who makes a system that's two generations back? At least that's what Sega thought in the 90s. Why use aging technology for a portable when you could make one on par with the home version. That concept gave us two portables. One amazing and memorable, the other being the Sega Nomad.

In 1991, Sega released the Game Gear. It was essentially a portable Master System. It used the same hardware inside and had a full colour display. It was also the first portable to have media functionality, via an optional TV tuner. Compared to the monochrome Game Boy, the Game Gear was a technological juggernaut. However, it sold poorly due to its high cost compared to Nintendo's system. Battery life was also an issue.

A fat, battery devouring beast of a portable. It was as thick as two Genesis cartridges.

In 1995, Sega took another stab at the concept. The Nomad was even more ambitious. It was a portable Genesis. It had identical hardware, had a high resolution screen, and even took standard Genesis cartridges. It had the entire library of its big brother at its disposal. Furthermore, it had a second controller port and TV-out. Sega originally planned a touch screen, but ruled it out due to cost. At the time, it was the most impressive hand held ever seen. Yet, it sold poorly. Only one million units; one tenth that of the Game Gear.

A lot of things killed the Nomad. It was expensive for starters. Nobody wanted to pay $180 for a portable at the time. It's biggest flaw though, yet again, was battery life. Since it used hardware identical to the Genesis, it had the same power requirements. Gamers had to stuff six AA batteries into the thing just to get it running. That only gave you about two hours of gameplay. It couldn't accept rechargeable batteries either, since they have a slightly lower voltage than standard. The Nomad needed 9v of juice or bust.

The Nomad quickly faded into history. It would be ten years before someone else would successfully challenge the Game Boy dynasty.

0 comments for this post