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kool kitty89
09-22-2009, 05:09 AM
OK, so this is somthing that has come up a couple times with the GG in discussions I've had, most recently this:

The Nomad was a bad move, at least from a buisness standpoint. It was just an expensive addition for current Genesis users, more or less, not increasing Genesis software popularity or such, and not offering its own games. That and it was an even less practical handheld than the GG, bulkier, more power hungry, and with bulky genesis cartridges. Game sales is where the money is, sell the hardware cheap, possibly at a loss, and profit from software sales. That's where the 3DO missed it.

Perhaps the Game Gear did need a successor, or maybe just compete more directly with the GB in cost, size/convienence, and battery life.

A good successor would need to correct the size, cost, and battery life issues with the original GG, and preferably be Backwards compatible. Perhaps a modest upgrade, closer to the Genesis in some aspects, but still simple enough to be cost/size/power efficient. (like upgrade the VDP to capabilities closer to the Genesis, but maybe just using a faster Z80 rather than adding a 68000, plus a sound upgrade, maybe the YM2413 of the JP SMS, or the YM2612 of the Genesis, and add more buttons)

This is off topic though, and deserves its own thread if continued.
(note that I was talking purely in a mass market/buisness perspective on the Nomad comment, as cool as it is, it wasn't a good sucessor for the GG)


So just a kind of general "what if" on the Game Gear. What things could have been done different during its life, and what a successor should have been like. (and when it should have been released)

Any thoughts on what a cut-down GG could have done? (ie the non backlit one suggested in my quote)

How important were things like portability (ie size), cost, and battery life in competing with the Game Boy, opposed to the game library?

j_factor
09-22-2009, 05:39 AM
I don't think the Nomad was a bad move, only because I don't think it was really a "move" at all. They threw together a portable version of the Genesis and just kind of put it out there. It's not like they spent a lot of money on it or expected it to be a success. I don't think it was ever intended as a Game Gear successor, it was just its own little thing.

At that point in time (circa 1995) they could've just redesigned the Game Gear, rather than coming out with a successor. Much like the Game Boy Pocket. A smaller Game Gear with better battery life and a better screen would have been smart. I think if you try to make it more powerful on top of that, you have to compromise something else (or make it really expensive), considering the time frame. Plus a new system would've been a harder sell, since development wasn't that hot to begin with, splitting it further into Game Gear leftovers and new games for the new system wouldn't have been great. I don't think it would've been as hard to get companies to keep making Game Gear games, especially with a system revitalized by a new design. Throw in a new Sonic (not Sonic Blast) and the Game Gear's selling again.

An actual successor could've come later, like the Game Boy Color. The Game Gear's true successor could've been (and should've been) the WonderSwan Color. Sega was supposed to merge with Bandai but it went sour at the last minute.

17daysolderthannes
09-22-2009, 05:55 AM
I just think people weren't ready for a premium portable system at the time. Back then video games were often relegated to kids and if an adult actually was buying it, they wanted something familiar (Tetris) and cheap (Game Boy). I think the Nomad could've been great, they should've pushed it as a handheld format and just kept developing Genesis games into the new millenium. It would've kept current Genesis owners happy as well to have new software constantly available.

All I know is that I hope with all of the 20-in-1 Game Gear clones coming out we get one with a cart slot and a nice screen since the Game Gear is almost the only video game system with severe long-term lifespan problems due to capacitors.

long sentence, I'm tired.

Nunzio
09-22-2009, 06:12 AM
If Sega could have focused on improving their handhelds and keeping up with Nintendo instead of focusing on Saturn and then Genesis I think the world could be completely different today. There is no doubt that the Game Gear had potential and held a nice audience, but they dropped it basically. Game Boy moved on to GBC, and Game Gear just died. There was never any improvement.

If Sega could have stuck to their guns then despite the failure of Saturn and Dreamcast they could still be in the hardware market today as the only realistic competitor to Nintendo's handheld stranglehold. No doubt some games like Sonic lend themselves to smaller style platforms (just like Metroid, did fantastic on the switch).

Who knows where we could be today if there had been a smaller, more efficient Game Gear heir. Certainly the market would be completely different. Although Neo Geo Pocket and Wonderswan made good runs, they didn't have the history Sega had in the handheld game to bring their audience with them. AES buyers? All 12 of them? If there was a GG2 and they could get a reasonable amount of GG owners to commit... oh man.

QuickSciFi
09-22-2009, 09:01 AM
I think a Game Gear 2 (another Sega handheld, in general) is far more feasible than a full blown console. I'm still hopefull.

I agree with j factor. I never really saw the Nomad as an answer to the game gear. It was just another version of the sega genesis/md; a treat for us hardcore genesis/md gamers in portable form.

the.importer
09-22-2009, 12:54 PM
If SEGA would have released the Nomad (smaller and better) to compete with the GBA and re-released Genesis games, they could have had a chance, I think.

retrospiel
09-22-2009, 06:56 PM
from http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?p=182225


The Genesis somewhat flopped initially, but they stuck with it and had great success.

Same for the Master System. It was successful in Europe and Brasil because they stuck with it even when they didn't have a billion seller on day one.
Sega of Japan designed games like Asterix, Sonic or the Disney games specifically for these markets, even when they didn't sell SMS stuff in Japan or North-America anymore.

But this goes for Japan itself too, where they had the hardware in stores since 1983 ("SG-1000", "Mark 3" since 1986) and supported it with software until 1990 (Master System), or actually 1996 (Game Gear).

Of course, there also was a lot of nostalgia involved. They just totally were in love with the Z80, the SN76489 and the TMS9918 VDP. Practically all the designers that created our favorite MD/G games started with devloping for the SG-1000/Mark III, from Yuji Naka and Rieko Kodama to Yuzo Koshiro.


The pulled the plug on Sega CD and 32X before people even knew they existed. Basically the same thing with Saturn and Dreamcast.

I agree.

Usually it's Kalinske who is associated with the success of the Genesis but actually he didn't do much if anything at all - other than being at the right place at the right time.
The Genesis was a success because it was an excellent hardware with incredible games. When Kalinske joined they could sell Genesis at a lower price than when Michael Katz was in charge.

Kalinske acutally did a piss-poor job at positioning all the systems Sega released since 1990: Game Gear, Sega CD, 32X, Sega Saturn.

Most of the games that were produced under Kalinske at SOA were absolutely terrible, from Fantasia to that FMV garbage on SCD to Bug! on Saturn.

It's not so much the hardware itself but these games that ruined Sega's reputation and turned away customers.

Baloo
09-22-2009, 07:49 PM
That's pretty much with every Sega console, they wanted it to sell a bajillion units within a super-small amount of time. They didn't want anything less, and that's why the Dreamcast was cut, the Saturn was cut, and the 32x was cut. All three of those systems had a lot of potential and possibly could have come out successful (especially Dreamcast and 32x) had Sega just stuck with it and not dumped them off on the doorstep like a child at the orphanage.

the.importer
09-22-2009, 08:48 PM
from http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?p=182225



Same for the Master System. It was successful in Europe and Brasil because they stuck with it even when they didn't have a billion seller on day one.
Sega of Japan designed games like Asterix, Sonic or the Disney games specifically for these markets, even when they didn't sell SMS stuff in Japan or North-America anymore.

But this goes for Japan itself too, where they had the hardware in stores since 1983 ("SG-1000", "Mark 3" since 1986) and supported it with software until 1990 (Master System), or actually 1996 (Game Gear).

Of course, there also was a lot of nostalgia involved. They just totally were in love with the Z80, the SN76489 and the TMS9918 VDP. Practically all the designers that created our favorite MD/G games started with devloping for the SG-1000/Mark III, from Yuji Naka and Rieko Kodama to Yuzo Koshiro.



I agree.

Usually it's Kalinske who is associated with the success of the Genesis but actually he didn't do much if anything at all - other than being at the right place at the right time.
The Genesis was a success because it was an excellent hardware with incredible games. When Kalinske joined they could sell Genesis at a lower price than when Michael Katz was in charge.

Kalinske acutally did a piss-poor job at positioning all the systems Sega released since 1990: Game Gear, Sega CD, 32X, Sega Saturn.

Most of the games that were produced under Kalinske at SOA were absolutely terrible, from Fantasia to that FMV garbage on SCD to Bug! on Saturn.

It's not so much the hardware itself but these games that ruined Sega's reputation and turned away customers.

Well not to take glory away from SEGA, but the Master System was popular in these regions because Nintendo's almost complete lack of support there.

retrospiel
09-22-2009, 10:08 PM
True. - but it's never just one thing. My point was that they stuck with it (the SG-1000/Mark III/Master System/Game Gear hardware that is) and because of that had some success with it - not only in Europe, Australia, Brasil, Korea or Canada but also in Japan itself.

The reason why the Master System is considered a failure in the US (aside of the all-dominating NES) is that they pretty much gave up after little more than a year or two and handed out distribution rights to Tonka Toys - only to buy them back another year or two later.

kool kitty89
09-22-2009, 10:20 PM
I don't think the Nomad was a bad move, only because I don't think it was really a "move" at all. They threw together a portable version of the Genesis and just kind of put it out there. It's not like they spent a lot of money on it or expected it to be a success. I don't think it was ever intended as a Game Gear successor, it was just its own little thing.] Yes, the only problem would be if it took unnecessary resources away from other activities. (including the GG)

[quote]At that point in time (circa 1995) they could've just redesigned the Game Gear, rather than coming out with a successor. Much like the Game Boy Pocket. A smaller Game Gear with better battery life and a better screen would have been smart. I think if you try to make it more powerful on top of that, you have to compromise something else (or make it really expensive), considering the time frame. Plus a new system would've been a harder sell, since development wasn't that hot to begin with, splitting it further into Game Gear leftovers and new games for the new system wouldn't have been great. I don't think it would've been as hard to get companies to keep making Game Gear games, especially with a system revitalized by a new design. Throw in a new Sonic (not Sonic Blast) and the Game Gear's selling again.

An actual successor could've come later, like the Game Boy Color. The Game Gear's true successor could've been (and should've been) the WonderSwan Color. Sega was supposed to merge with Bandai but it went sour at the last minute.

Yeah, a cost effective redesign, maybe 2 versions as well, one completely cut-down one, and possibly another higher-end one retaining the backlight, or just continued producing the older model slightly modified. (possibly add the YM2413 of the Japanese SMS as well, but keep games backwards compatible to work with PSG alone just like on the SMS)

And possibly have the real successor derived directly from the Genesis, to facilitate ports/ease of programming, and an adaptor like the GG had for SMS carts. (or avoid this and engineer a more optimized system built of GG hardware specifically, backwards compatible, maybe using a much faster Z80 derivative instead of another CPU as the Genesis did)


I just think people weren't ready for a premium portable system at the time. Back then video games were often relegated to kids and if an adult actually was buying it, they wanted something familiar (Tetris) and cheap (Game Boy). I think the Nomad could've been great, they should've pushed it as a handheld format and just kept developing Genesis games into the new millenium. It would've kept current Genesis owners happy as well to have new software constantly available.
If SEGA would have released the Nomad (smaller and better) to compete with the GBA and re-released Genesis games, they could have had a chance, I think.

Yeah, but I just don't think the Nomad could have generated sufficient interest to support the Genesis, it was best as kind of a cool accessory for Genesis/MD owners, but really not a great handheld system in its own right. Given the Game Boy's life cycle, Sega had quite a long time before they even had a color competitor, so a redesigned GG could have been what was needed (with or without a backlight, color was still a big advantage, and the light was hindering it at least in some respects - I kind of like the sidelit possibility though)



Usually it's Kalinske who is associated with the success of the Genesis but actually he didn't do much if anything at all - other than being at the right place at the right time.
The Genesis was a success because it was an excellent hardware with incredible games. When Kalinske joined they could sell Genesis at a lower price than when Michael Katz was in charge.

Kalinske acutally did a piss-poor job at positioning all the systems Sega released since 1990: Game Gear, Sega CD, 32X, Sega Saturn.

Most of the games that were produced under Kalinske at SOA were absolutely terrible, from Fantasia to that FMV garbage on SCD to Bug! on Saturn.

It's not so much the hardware itself but these games that ruined Sega's reputation and turned away customers.

i agree to an extent, and in particular I wonder how things might have gone if Katz had stuck around, particularly given how he seems more level headed.

As for FMV, SoA may have hyped it, but the vast majority of "crappy FMV" games were independent developments, and in several cases (particularly with Digital Pictures) the games were in the works (or even completed to a large degree) prior to the Sega CD's existence. The overhyping was a bad thing, but they were there and were going to sell for the time being quite well. One other problem is how poor much of the video looks on MCD compared to 3DO and PCs, still some games relying on FMV for the gameplay (other than the dragon's lair style interactive movies) were quite good, like Silpheed or NovaStorm. (while the campy FMV games are still liked by select individuals, well except for the real crap like make my video, but Night Trap and Sewer Shark fall into the former)

Aarzak
09-22-2009, 10:30 PM
The portable gaming market was relatively low-key throughout most of the 1990's, with the exception of when Nintendo released the "Play It Loud" Game Boys and later the Game Boy Pocket. Only portable games that made a dent in sales were Nintendo's first-party GB games (i.e Tetris, Mario, Kirby). People were either complacent with their Game Boys or had abandoned it due to the same old technology. Everything else (i.e Lynx, Game Gear) didn't stand a chance, sales-wise.

When Nintendo released both "Pokemon" and the long-awaited "Game Boy Color" in the Fall of 1998, the portable gaming market rose like a phoenix from its ashes, and its been alive and well, making mucho dinero ever since........mostly for Nintendo of course, as they've been untouchable in that market until the PSP was released.

The thing that killed all of the competitors for Nintendo's portable gaming throne, apart from Nintendo beating everyone else to the punch first and having a stranglehold on the market from the beginning, was the lack of third-party support and games that have that portable "it" factor (liek Pokemon, lawl). A lot of the games on Game Gear were downgraded or shovelware ports of coin-op, 16-Bit and Master System games. Few were made with the console and portability in mind.

That and of course, the bulkiness, the higher cost, the lower battery life......same things that doomed the Nomad (which really came out at the absolute worst time....Fall of 1995, with the 32-Bit wars in full session, and the drama between SoJ and SoA, and SoJ canning support for every non-Saturn Sega console) as well.

kool kitty89
09-22-2009, 10:46 PM
Maybe, but I think the mid/late 90s was a strong point for the used/budget market for Gameboy, I didn't bet mine until mid 1997 iirc.

Edit: of course my family tended to buy stuff used, we only got an SNES in 1995/6 (can't remember for sure but it was Christmas of one of those years), though it wasn't due to lack of money per se, just being frugal and content with other stuff. (plus being suplemented by PC games)

Also, while used buyers may tend toward this, particularly hardware, that doesn't mean they won't be buying a fair number of new games as well, so still valued customers for the primary market. (plus there's the whole budget end of new products as well, particularly for aging systems)

jamesdude
10-09-2009, 06:46 PM
A Game Gear 2 can still be made. Sega said they left the CONSOLE buisness, not the handheld buisness. Besides it would most likely endup being simular to the GBA or PSP depending on what route they take.

Deo
10-10-2009, 02:05 AM
What Sega should have done is never release the 32X and all the time/money spent developing that thing should have gone to a more compact smaller GG and possibly a successor based on Genesis hardware. If the GG2 had come out in 1997, was compatible with Genesis games, and had a killer app, it might have what it takes to stand up against Pokemon in 1998.

retrospiel
10-10-2009, 02:26 AM
Well, they're still selling GG and MD handhelds today, so... yeah.

kool kitty89
10-10-2009, 06:30 AM
What Sega should have done is never release the 32X and all the time/money spent developing that thing should have gone to a more compact smaller GG and possibly a successor based on Genesis hardware. If the GG2 had come out in 1997, was compatible with Genesis games, and had a killer app, it might have what it takes to stand up against Pokemon in 1998.

I'm not sure the successor should have been derived from the Genesis hardware, doing so directly with the SMS hardware was part of what made it bulky and power hungry. Perhaps a more specific, but still evolutionary approach could have been taken, expanding on GG hardware whale also optimizing as much as possible for compact size, low cost, and power consumption. Myabe more RAM, but still less than the genesis, maybe upgrade the VDP for more layers, subpalettes, and sprites, but keep the lower resolution, and perhaps use a faster Z80 or compatible derivative rather than adding a 68000. The color palette is already significantly larger than the Genesis's, so tha't nice, though less than GBC, but I'm not sure that's reason to increase it.
Some Genesis games would probably have been nice to port, but others, especially those already on the GG in a fairly good form you might want to avoid.
Then there's odd things liek there being Sonic 1 and 2 on GG already, but them being distinct games from the genesis counterparts. Sonic 3/Knuckles wouldn't be too much of an issue though. (if you keep Sonic 2 out you could just keep them as 1 games without lock-on)

The biggest weak point of the GameGear is probably the sound, so definitely upgrade that, either with the YM2413 the JP SMS has or (preferably) Genesis's YM2612. (fewer channels but more capable chip, plus the DAC for dgital playback, and coresponding sound for Genesis ports)

But anything like that would probably come well after the 32x issue, but sifting resourse to redesign and energise the regular GG around that time could be great.

kool kitty89
10-25-2013, 08:16 PM
Moved from:
http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?25951-Did-32X-release-too-late&p=613510&viewfull=1#post613510



Bar the Gameboy, all the portables systems of that time had a backlit screen (Lynx, PC Engine Express). Looking at it from whatever perspective its most certainly not a gimmick or a luxury but a necessity... as any first edition GBA owner will attest to. From what I recall at least in the UK pricing at the time of release was like 70 GBP for the Gameboy and 100 GBP for the Gamegear a fair and substantiated difference IMO given the value added by the latter. The real problem IMO was lack of proper third party support in terms of the games.
Saying "bar the gameboy" is almost like saying "bar the entire mass market." Sega's GG was the ONLY backlit console at the time (or until the GBA SP, really) that had any real mass market penetration, and it struggled big time in part because of the inherent problems with backlighting in that time. (Turbo Express is probably the worst example for a mass market product though . . . even more power hungry due to the console hardware used, a VERY high-end screen and overal luxury market position, not remotely mass market) IIRC, the Lynx managed better market presense in parts of Europe though, or at least better relative to the GG.

There's also a reason that the other notable handheld competitors (Wonderswan and especially Neo Geo Pocket) also went with reflective screens. It's a matter of cost, form factor (bulk), and battery life.

Albeit, there is the context of the original release dates of Lynx and GB being at times when reflective screens were just too poor for any sort of realistic color contrast . . . you might get 4-bit RGBI quality color (like the ZX Spectrum's palette or CGA/EGA palette), and that might have been interesting compared to the GB's 2-bit grayscale, but the GG and Lynx both were built around very rich 12-bit RGB color which only backlit LCDs came remotely close to in 1989 (or even 1991).
That had changed by the mid 90s though, and this is the context of the suggestion that Sega (or Atari) should have started offering reflective LCD variants for the GG.


Again, by no means should Sega have discontinued the backlit GG (or stopped improving it), since it ideed had a notable market niche in the higher-end bracket as well as for those who simply couldn't stand reflective LCD screens. But for the rest of us (including the tens of millions buying Nintendo handhelds), a smaller, cheaper, much less battery hungry handheld would have been an outstanding addition to Sega's product lineup at the time. (and as a counter to the GB Pocket, you'd have an even easier time in some respects, given the reduced cost effectiveness of AAA batteries and the huge reduction in actual battery life of the GBP compared to the GB)

Obviously, given the state of modern hanhelds, people are willing to put up with more modest battery lives (the mid 90s GG beats the 3DS by a wide margin there), but there's also the bulk, price point, and cost of non-reusable batteries to consider too. (or overhead of buying battery packs or rechargables, and the crappy capacity of old NiCads, let alone their finicky charging nature and relatively poor longevity in re-use) You could easily be talking a difference of well over $100 a year in battery costs, several hundred in some cases. (and using cheaper dry cell batteries could actually make that worse than alkalines due to the poorer performance under heavy load and the lower overall capacity)

A Black Falcon
10-26-2013, 01:08 AM
Yeah, there's a reason why the new handhelds of the second half of the '90s all were backlight-free and used older tech: Everyone noticed that the Game Boy had decisively won, and made their new handhelds with those lessons in mind. Of course we have now gotten back to the point where handhelds are back to 3 or 4 hour battery lives, backlights, etc, but the new systems of the late '90s to early '00s all have no backlight and older hardware inside them in comparison to something that really pushed tech like the Lynx had.

(Okay, the Game.com Pocket Pro model 1 has a backlight, but that's the only one.)

And yes, that is indeed what Sega should have done -- revised the GG so that it'd be smaller, much more power-efficient, and doesn't have a backlight. Either that or make a new system (preferably backwards compatible) which is only a moderate upgrade from the GG power-wise, but is much more power-efficiently designed and has a faster CPU -- the GG can do good graphics for its time, but has way too much slowdown. Also add real scaling and rotation or something. That'd be nice. Or not; a GG remodel which made it smaller would have served Sega okay for another 3-4 years, past the GG's death in 1996-1997. Just make sure to actually put some effort into your handheld games again... no more platformers from Aspect, darnit! And put battery save in things other than strategy games, RPGs and sports games already, lke NIntendo had done on the GB years earlier with their handheld platformers.

kool kitty89
10-27-2013, 06:00 AM
Yeah, there's a reason why the new handhelds of the second half of the '90s all were backlight-free and used older tech: Everyone noticed that the Game Boy had decisively won, and made their new handhelds with those lessons in mind. Of course we have now gotten back to the point where handhelds are back to 3 or 4 hour battery lives, backlights, etc, but the new systems of the late '90s to early '00s all have no backlight and older hardware inside them in comparison to something that really pushed tech like the Lynx had.
Not really older tech . . . unless you include the crappy high-latency LCD of the Game.Com. :p The NGP/NGPC and WonderSwan both benefited quite a lot from advances in reflective LCD technology, just as the GB Pocket and Color did. (and the GG/Lynx could have by the mid 90s)

Newer, denser, lower power microchip technology helps too. ;)


And yes, that is indeed what Sega should have done -- revised the GG so that it'd be smaller, much more power-efficient, and doesn't have a backlight. Either that or make a new system (preferably backwards compatible) which is only a moderate upgrade from the GG power-wise, but is much more power-efficiently designed and has a faster CPU -- the GG can do good graphics for its time, but has way too much slowdown. Also add real scaling and rotation or something. That'd be nice. Or not; a GG remodel which made it smaller would have served Sega okay for another 3-4 years, past the GG's death in 1996-1997. Just make sure to actually put some effort into your handheld games again... no more platformers from Aspect, darnit! And put battery save in things other than strategy games, RPGs and sports games already, lke NIntendo had done on the GB years earlier with their handheld platformers.
A new handheld for Sega in ~1995 would have been jumping the gun IMO. The GG already wiped the floor with the GB pretty well across the board (sound was a little weaker), and likely would have remained somewhat more expensive compared to the GB even with cost reductions, that or Sega would have to live with lower margins. (as Atari almost certainly was with the Lynx, compared to Sega or especially Nintendo -Atari's technology, much lower volumes, more limited leverage with component suppliers, combined with the aggressive pricing)

A more modestly refined backlit GG with a smaller, lower power, lower cost "jr" model with reflective screen (around 1995) would have been pretty much perfect up to the late 90s, and at that point they'd be in a good position for a full next-gen handheld, quite possible derived from the MD. (especially considering the investments in consolidating and cost reducing the MD design at the time, particularly the single-chip versions on the late model 2 and modle 3s, or even more specifically the ASIC used in later model 3s with the single SDRAM chip replacing VRAM+PSRAM)

Using that architecture as a starting point, and with the open endedness of a handheld in mind, there's all sorts of tweaks and changes that could have been made with that in mind (color, resolution, clock speed, sound, etc) and only GG/SMS compatibility in mind (MD would be more optional, but nice to have -SMS would go along with GG).
The MD VDP itself already had support for more colors and more RAM in its design (128 kB VRAM and 8 palettes of 12-bit RGB -beyond that you'd need more modification iirc), and given 1/2 that SDRAM is unused in the Genesis 3 (256 kB 16-bit wide chip), you could take that same set-up and double the usable CPU work RAM and VRAM too. (and lots of variable options beyond that, though the simplest would probably be changing the CPU speeds, VDP speed change would be interesting but more difficult, I think -and then things like adding hardware PCM sound support of some sort, or at least much better support for software assisted PCM)

You wouldn't quite have a GBA level system with that, but probably near enough to compete in the same generation. (color and CPU performance would be the big shortcomings, but resolution and sound hardware would be a win for many cases, and 2D perfromance would be pretty competitive with SNES/MD/arcade style games -short of ones heavily using the GBA's scaling/roation hardware)
Sega could have added more too, but given the ~1999 release date contex, and in the name of keeping power consumption and costs down, things like adding more advanced VDPs and/or coprocessors would probably not be great ideas. (maybe the VDP could have been modified to support a linear framebuffer BG mode in place of the tilemaps, so better color and speed for software rendering, and supplanting the simple DMA engine with a proper blitter might be possible and/or a low cost/low power DSP for general purpose coprocessing, or just a fast external ALU for fast multiply/divide operations)

NostalgicMachine
10-27-2013, 06:15 AM
Honestly, I thought the Nomad was the coolest thing ever back in 1995. The first time I saw that, I felt like SEGA was instantly ahead of Nintendo's GameBoy/VirtualBoy (lmao). You could argue that battery life/price were atrocious, but being able to play Sega Genesis on the go at that particular period in time was fucking amazing. I didn't mind carrying around Genesis carts (which are a lot smaller than SNES carts), and it was totally worth the battery fiasco relative to the Game Gear. I consider it a smart move for SEGA, even to this day.

Even with the GameBoy Color, Nintendo had nothing on the Nomad. Perhaps I'm just waxing nostalgia (it happens), but I fuggin' love(d) the Nomad!

And just for the record, I'd consider the GBA SP one of the most solid handhelds ever.

kool kitty89
10-29-2013, 07:59 AM
Nomad was never intended as a mainstream handheld. (and rightly so) It was a luxury item for MD/Genesis users, not a new console of its own. Bulk and power usage aside, it was way too damn expensive at the time.

The GG itself already kicked the crap out of the GB at the time, hardware wise, so having that kind of edge was just overkill and worsened every single problem the GG had compared to the GB.

retrospiel
10-29-2013, 08:08 AM
Nomad should have been a mainstream handheld but yeah, a Game Gear hardware revision with better screen and battery life would have been very nice too.

kool kitty89
10-29-2013, 07:29 PM
Nomad should have been a mainstream handheld but yeah, a Game Gear hardware revision with better screen and battery life would have been very nice too.
I just don't see the Nomad as a wise decision in general . . . too expensive and too niche to be worth investing in with marketing and such associated with a mainstream console.

Now, doing to the MD what the GG was to the SMS a few years further down the road would have been great, and more or less what I was suggesting for a real successor to the GG above. (I went well beyond that too, but in the simplest form: modest color enhancement -ie the 8x 12-bit RGB palettes- and modest sound enhancement would have been fine . . . doing more should have been practical too though, or that could have waited for another generation, like as direct competiton with the GBA)

MtothaJ
10-31-2013, 12:04 PM
Honestly, I thought the Nomad was the coolest thing ever back in 1995. The first time I saw that, I felt like SEGA was instantly ahead of Nintendo's GameBoy/VirtualBoy (lmao). You could argue that battery life/price were atrocious, but being able to play Sega Genesis on the go at that particular period in time was fucking amazing. I didn't mind carrying around Genesis carts (which are a lot smaller than SNES carts), and it was totally worth the battery fiasco relative to the Game Gear. I consider it a smart move for SEGA, even to this day.

Even with the GameBoy Color, Nintendo had nothing on the Nomad. Perhaps I'm just waxing nostalgia (it happens), but I fuggin' love(d) the Nomad!

And just for the record, I'd consider the GBA SP one of the most solid handhelds ever.

The Nomad was an amazing technological showcase for its time.
From a commercial perspective, I cannot undestand why they decided not to release it outside the USA. What is the point of spending big bucks on R&D, coming up with a sexy product and then deciding on not selling it worldwide?

alexkidd401
10-31-2013, 10:32 PM
The Nomad reminds me of the PSVita of it's time. The best of current gens technology put into a handheld. I love the nomad but I can never find one at an affordable price

spiffyone
11-01-2013, 06:44 PM
I don't think a good Game Gear "what if?" is predicated on a later redesign, but, rather, a slightly different initial design than the product that was actually released. Less expensive to manufacture, lower MSRP, better battery life, etc. The launch date in the West also should've been earlier than it was, which I'll get to in a bit.

Obviously the design shouldn't have had the backlit screen. It added to the system's cost, and made for crappy battery life. So right out of the gate, that goes.

In addition to not having a backlit screen, Sega could've imposed other cost cutting measures during the initial design. Rather than spec up from SMS as they did here and there, they could've (and should've) spec'd down a bit, while fixing some of the issues in the SMS. Rather than having such a large amount of onscreen colors, a quarter of that amount (so 8 rather than 32) would've been enough to stand up to the monochrome Game Boy while also, perhaps, cutting down on necessary system resources (the engineers among the group can correct me if I'm wrong here, which I admit I probably might be): that is, VRAM. Cutting the VRAM down in half woud've been a good cost cutting measure. To further alleviate the issues that lower VRAM would present, in addition to the lower color capabilities they could've fixed some of the issues that were in the VDP, like adding the capability for flipped sprites (in addition to the already present tile flipping), ala NES. Also, add the capability for additional on-cart RAM if needed/desired by devs.

The release date in the West, particularly the US/NA market, was awful, IMO. Spring is a bad time to release game hardware, then and now. It may work well in Japan due to Golden Week, but the winter holiday shopping season reigns supreme in NA; Spring is not typically a time for such purchases here. So perhaps they should've flipped the release dates for Japan and the US. Rather than Oct. '90 in Japan and April '91 in the US, it would've been reversed.

So '90 (Western release) is set in my hypothetical scenario. GG would've not been exactly the GG we know, but a cut down unit, albeit a smartly cut down unit. Try to hit that sub $99 price point. Launch in time for the '90 holiday season.

By '93/'94 the first redesign would be released. Consolidated, with costs cut here and there, and with much better battery life while using less batteries at that (think GB Pocket to the original GB). The R&D spent on this, btw, would've come out of the money Sega wouldn't have spent on Sega CD's release in the West (which, as I've stated in other topics, shouldn't have happened, IMO) and, of course, not designing and releasing 32X (which definitely shouldn't have happened). Game Gear Mini.

Then, in '97, the "gap" successor model. Not a Nomad. This instead would've been more along the lines of the GG we know (and, perhaps, love) but with better capabilities: in addition to the sprite flipping alluded to earlier, the successor would've had a larger color palette and onscreen amount, increased RAM, higher clocked CPU, and, perhaps, the addition of the FM syth sound). Think GBC to GB, but, obviously, with a better foundation (as GG would've been better than GB). Of course, it would've helped Sega had they not had Saturn as it was during this time (another topic, of course, but, IMO, a related one). Call it Game Gear II. Something simple.

Ride that out until, say, '00/'01, which would've seen the launch for "Exodus"/"NanoDrive", the "Genesis portable" in the way that GBA was a "portable SNES" (that is, not technically, but rather in spirit). I kid, of course, on the branding; something along the lines of Game Gear III for sake of simplicity.

kool kitty89
11-06-2013, 04:08 AM
I don't think a good Game Gear "what if?" is predicated on a later redesign, but, rather, a slightly different initial design than the product that was actually released. Less expensive to manufacture, lower MSRP, better battery life, etc. The launch date in the West also should've been earlier than it was, which I'll get to in a bit.

Obviously the design shouldn't have had the backlit screen. It added to the system's cost, and made for crappy battery life. So right out of the gate, that goes.
I agree to a point, though on the price issue specifically, I do find it rather odd that Atari managed to push the Lynx a far bit cheaper than the GG when the tech iteself really seems like it should have been cheaper to manufacture and Sega had a much better component sourcing and manufacturing infrastructure than Atari Corp. (not to mention better funds to make due with smaller margins)

As for backlighting . . . from what I understand, with no backlight, you're pretty well stuck with monochrome/scale or very limited contrast color (probably something closer to 4-bit RGBI, maybe slightly better). Not sure whether 2-bit mono (4 shades) would be worse than 8 colors of 2 shades (ish) or not though. (those same sorts of trade-offs would also be present in the Lynx, though arguably even more sensible there given Atari Corp did best in the value/budget market sector, generally speaking -or at least as low-cost competing products in their respective market sectors)

Like with the Lynx, the a reflective color screen would have been even more difficult with an early GG release, though with the 1991 release there'd probably at least be some more potential for a semi-decent reflective color screen than 1-2 years prior.

Note that having optional models with backlighting would be nice too, and something Nintendo wasn't doing for the GB. (it wouldn't NEED the light now, and the color wouldn't be enhanced, but it would still be easier to see in average/dim lighting condititons, and a fair number of people bought the GG or Lynx on those merits)


In addition to not having a backlit screen, Sega could've imposed other cost cutting measures during the initial design. Rather than spec up from SMS as they did here and there, they could've (and should've) spec'd down a bit, while fixing some of the issues in the SMS. Rather than having such a large amount of onscreen colors, a quarter of that amount (so 8 rather than 32) would've been enough to stand up to the monochrome Game Boy while also, perhaps, cutting down on necessary system resources (the engineers among the group can correct me if I'm wrong here, which I admit I probably might be): that is, VRAM. Cutting the VRAM down in half woud've been a good cost cutting measure. To further alleviate the issues that lower VRAM would present, in addition to the lower color capabilities they could've fixed some of the issues that were in the VDP, like adding the capability for flipped sprites (in addition to the already present tile flipping), ala NES. Also, add the capability for additional on-cart RAM if needed/desired by devs.
Another thought was make it easy to make a novel GG game adapter for the MD . . . which would have been pretty simple had the GG been a no-frills SMS derivative (running all games in SMS mode), though what you suggest would make that tougher again (especially with the sprite flipping). OTOH, that novelty wasn't THAT important, but still kind of nice. (so was the ability to play SMS games on the GG via an adapter . . . granted, even if that was stull supported, the color screen quality issues would have made normal SMS games difficult to see/play properly)


The release date in the West, particularly the US/NA market, was awful, IMO. Spring is a bad time to release game hardware, then and now. It may work well in Japan due to Golden Week, but the winter holiday shopping season reigns supreme in NA; Spring is not typically a time for such purchases here. So perhaps they should've flipped the release dates for Japan and the US. Rather than Oct. '90 in Japan and April '91 in the US, it would've been reversed.
Agree, same with the Saturn. :p


So '90 (Western release) is set in my hypothetical scenario. GG would've not been exactly the GG we know, but a cut down unit, albeit a smartly cut down unit. Try to hit that sub $99 price point. Launch in time for the '90 holiday season.
Aside from the bulk and battery life, all that should have been possible with the existing GG too . . . and Atari actually did BETTER than that with the Lynx. ('89 release and price drop to $99 in 1991) More so with a simpler direct conversion of the GG hardware.
OTOH, a simpler design might have been even more aggressively priced and the size and (especially) bettery life issues are obviously important.


By '93/'94 the first redesign would be released. Consolidated, with costs cut here and there, and with much better battery life while using less batteries at that (think GB Pocket to the original GB). The R&D spent on this, btw, would've come out of the money Sega wouldn't have spent on Sega CD's release in the West (which, as I've stated in other topics, shouldn't have happened, IMO) and, of course, not designing and releasing 32X (which definitely shouldn't have happened). Game Gear Mini.
The GB pocket sucks, really. A nice marketing trick and "cute," and the screen was better, but the battery life took a MASSIVE dive compared to the original GB (less than 1/3), not to mention AAAs are less economical than AAs. (making a compromise for 2 AAs and only a slight battery life penalty would have been OK though -GB color was a much better compromise, nicer form factor too)

What sucked more is that there was no direct GOOD successor to the original GB that also had the Pocket's lower power and (especially) improved screen advantages. (2 AAs probably would have been fine too, but the original 4 with god knows how much longer battery life would have been pretty neat too)


Then, in '97, the "gap" successor model. Not a Nomad. This instead would've been more along the lines of the GG we know (and, perhaps, love) but with better capabilities: in addition to the sprite flipping alluded to earlier, the successor would've had a larger color palette and onscreen amount, increased RAM, higher clocked CPU, and, perhaps, the addition of the FM syth sound). Think GBC to GB, but, obviously, with a better foundation (as GG would've been better than GB). Of course, it would've helped Sega had they not had Saturn as it was during this time (another topic, of course, but, IMO, a related one). Call it Game Gear II. Something simple.
A DMA channel for PCM playback would have been nice too. Embedded YM2612 would probably be better than the SMS's 2413 too, given Sega apparently licensed that already (embedded in the MD VDP in 1993) and it would allow nicer arcade and MD to GG ports.

Doing that earlier than 1997 might have been reasonable too. If they managed a ~1989/1990 release, a ~1995 release of the next-gen model wouldn't have been so unreasonable. (depending on some other variables, of course) '97 probably would have been fine if the older handheld was still doing really well on the market up to that point.


Ride that out until, say, '00/'01, which would've seen the launch for "Exodus"/"NanoDrive", the "Genesis portable" in the way that GBA was a "portable SNES" (that is, not technically, but rather in spirit). I kid, of course, on the branding; something along the lines of Game Gear III for sake of simplicity.
With the amount of engineering and investment that went into consolidating the MD (and the relative low power the Genesis 3 ASIC consumed), a more "direct" MD to handheld adaptation might have worked fine too. (of course, had the GG been REALLY similar to the SMS -or basically identical internally- that would be even simpler as the hardwarw would already be there too . . . otherwise things are less straightforward and attractive)


I still kind of favor the "direct SMS conversion" (more direct than existing GG) for the simplicity of design R&D, ease of allowing SMS/MD to play GG games, ease of developing multiplatform GG/SMS games (great for the late-gen European SMS market), and just in general.

Hell, it might have even made sense to have developers support a "basic" palette for the non-backlit models with poor color/contrast limitations and another one for backlit "deluxe" models too (and GG player adapters for MD -or even SMS). Playing SMS games via adapter on the low-color screens would still be pretty crappy though. (at least until a few years later, when 6-bit RGB quality reflective screens should have been pretty reasonable)


Plus, you'd have a bigger tech advantage over the GB too, and still should have a reasonably competitive price. (really, even the backlit model should have managed $99 by 1991 -while the lower end model should have price-matched the GB . . . unless Nintendo pulled a Sony with a price war -which was not so much in Nintendo's nature for high profit margins and general stubbornness)

And then the relative ease of converting the existing low-cost/low-power MD-on-a-chip of ~1998/99 to a very nice (compatible) GG successor. (probably with some tweaks to make it better than the existing MD, probably more likely a project running in parallel with the consolidation/redesign work for the VA4 and Genesis 3 -especially the single-bus SDRAM version that replaced the VRAM and PSRAM in '99)

alextheman
05-06-2014, 12:23 PM
A smaller (9 bit instead of 12 bit) pallette and a shadow mode (kinda like amiga ehb or s/h mode on the genny) would have been better

Aarzak
05-06-2014, 02:55 PM
I was about to post on this thread when I noticed that I'd posted exactly what I had in mind 6+ years ago...neat. :D

alextheman
05-06-2014, 04:03 PM
Still a redesigned model was a great idea!