Let me take you back to a magical time in video games: the early 1990’s. Recently, the Game Boy had taken the world by storm – channeling the inner Russian in us all, and allowing us to be able to play Tetris on the go in brilliant shades of gray. Not to be outdone by Nintendo, however, Sega released their own handheld to a growing market of consumers: the Game Gear.
The Game Gear was nothing like the Game Boy — it prevented hand cramps (but not sweaty palms!) from its sideways design, allowed gamers to enjoy games… in COLOR, and its LCD was backlit, meaning gamers could finally play their handheld games in low-light situations.
But, everyone knows that the playground can be a dangerous place. There are protocols to follow and clicks to join. You had the Nintendo fanboys, with their clean-cut looks and their amazing library of games, and then you had the Sega fanboys – the rebels without a cause type of young gamer. The ones that were edgy with their “Genesis does what NINTENDON’T!” I was so young, but I was already caught at a crossroads in my
prepubescent life. Who do I side with: Nintendo fanboys, or the Sega ones?
I knew I would be conflicted from the moment that my mother asked me, “Eric, if you could choose one of those handheld video game thingys, which would it be?” before the upcoming holiday season one year. I reflected upon what I previously had witnessed at school — the mocking and ridicule the Game Gear kids went through — and it didn’t matter to me. I told my mother that I would love to receive a Game Gear as a Christmas present.
It was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.
I opened up the Game Gear that Christmas morning and was delighted to find the pack- in game Columns, which I thought at the time to be a far superior game compared to Tetris, and I began to play my newly acquired gift from the gaming gods for a little overtwo hours.
Then the system shut off…
I looked over to my dad for an answer as to why my Game Gear was dead in my hands when I put SIX brand new batteries into it. Being the great dad that he is, he gave me a set of six more batteries to put into the handheld, and the next present I opened up just happened to be Sonic the Hedgehog.
I was blown away. There, in my hands, I could play Sonic the freakin’ Hedgehog. Sure, all of my friends that had a Game Boy could play Super Mario Land, and no doubt that it’s an amazing game, but I could play SONIC on the go! I brought my Game Gear with me everywhere I went for the next couple of months, and I relished in the fact that I had a edgy handheld with a “cool” looking carrying case to boot. I was the happiest little bastard this side of the Mississippi.
It’s these moments in life that we will always cherish and hold dear to our hearts. Gamers nowadays have no idea of the kind of passion that people had for their systems of choice. Yes, we have the Microsoft and Sony enthusiasts these days, but the feud these two camps share is laughable compared to Nintendo and Sega’s feud back in the day. It was a simpler time back then with fantastic games, and I’m not sure if there will ever be a time again in the video game industry that can duplicate that kind of enthusiasm. This is why I’m a retro gamer, and this is what this article series is about.
The games. The fanboyism. The Zubaz pants.
It was the golden age for games, and I, for one, am glad to have grown up in that era.