Handheld Histeria

Game Com

The Game Com looks pretty ridiculous now, but back in 1997 it was hot stuff. In fact, I became rather smitten with the thing and yearned for it day and night, just like that little filly at Crealy Farm. However, just like that little filly, all it got me was a broken heart and worried looks from my friends and family.

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I also touched the Game Com in new and interesting ways!

Joking aside, it was pretty advanced for the time. I was most interested in its “personal organiser” functions; it seemed like something I could take to work. If I’d had a job.

It could even go on the internet and stuff if you plugged it into a modem. Which you wouldn’t. Because why would you own a modem if you didn’t already have a computer with which to check your email anyway?

The game graphics were light years ahead of the Game Boy and even the Game Gear, although of course the screen wasn’t colour. It was black and white, but actually black and white instead of the Game Boy’s black and yellow-green. Unfortunately, the screen blurred terribly when things moved, but this problem plagued Nintendo’s machine just as badly. Ninty fans might remember playing such classics as “Kirby’s Dream Land If You’re Standing Still” and “Legend of Zelda: Link’s Blurrening”.

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THAT’S NOT A BRANCH

All said, the Game Com was a neat little thing. Not quite a computer, not quite a handheld console. Cutting-edge in some ways, and totally naff in others. I ended up getting a “databank watch” for Christmas to fulfill my digital personal organiser needs, and for many months I felt like a spaceman. So there.

Neo Geo Pocket (Colour)

The first time I even became aware of this was when I saw one in my local games shop. It was running what appeared to be the Master System version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Odd indeed, as Sonic Adventure was running on the display opposite.

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Where’s the other screen!?

But I hadn’t been transported back to 1991, no, this was the Neo Geo Pocket Colour. There was a Neo Geo Pocket Not Colour released a few months before, but it was only after the machine hit the market that NEC realised that launching a black and white console in direct competition with the Game Boy Colour was a stupid, stupid idea. The employee responsible was probably drawn and quartered as an example to others.

The control stick was satisfyingly clicky and the machine seemed to have been made from the bonnet of a sports car. I liked it a lot – it didn’t have that “toy” feel that the Game Boys did. The aforementioned Sonic game was awesome, too. A sort of 8-bit remix of earlier games. The music was cracking, at the very least.

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The best Sonic game you never played

The games began and ended there, unfortunately, unless you lived in Japan. The business practice of making a machine and then failing to make any games for it would come to be known as “Doing a Nintendo”.

Atari Lynx

Atari apparently sold 3,000,000 of these. Hold a silent vigil tonight for all those poor souls who got this thing for Christmas and subsequently lost all faith in humanity. This is what happens when you let Americans design computers.

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Just like a real lynx, you’ve never seen one.

The console itself looked neat enough, but the graphics were cack. It’s shameful. Rumour has it if you hold the machine up in front of a Game Gear and listen really carefully, you can hear laughter.

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Those GrafX are totally TURBO, dude!

The creators claim that Nintendo – and Sega after them – copied their idea, as they went to Japan in 1989 to try and convince Ninty to manufacture their console. They were laughed out of the room and two months later, GASP, the Game Boy appeared…! Keep dreaming, guys.

Nokia N-Gage

The N-Gage is a phone which you hold like a pasty that also plays games. It’s like they made it just for me.

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This isn’t me, by the way.

I’m partial to gaming, I have a mouth that words sometimes come out of, and the soothing feeling of a pasty-shaped object in my hand is enough to quell the demons inside. It ticks all the boxes. Top marks, guys.

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Alright, anyone know the ‘nude cheat’!?

The machine ran Tomb Raider pretty well, which is a minor miracle seeing as the best thing on the market at the time was the Game Boy Advance. It could have been a success – outside of the Westcountry, anyway – if it didn’t cost a basquillionty dollars and had a decent library of games. These guys were blazing a trail at the time, but the rest of the world pretty much balked at the concept and said things like “Why would I ever want to play games on my phone? That’s what my Game Boy is for!”

It was a different time. A more innocent time.

Gizmondo

This is the type of thing you can get from China for like twenty quid now.

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Mondo giz, man.

I’ve never actually seen one in the flesh…. They’re incredibly rare owing to the fact that no-one in the world bought one. The advertising campaign and hype was pretty extreme, I recall. The company made all kinds of promises about how it was going to be the Future of Gaming or something. But it was all hat and no cattle, as the Americans say.

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“Howdy! Guns! Burgers! Racism!”

The thing launched – with ONE game – and then the company almost immediately folded. I heard that one or more of the executives got arrested for fraud of some kind, or did a Rowan Atkinson and wrapped their Ferrari around a lamp post. Dry your tears.

The funny thing is that the Gizmondo was ahead of the curve, in a way, by having an advertisement-ridden version available for half the price. The idea being that it would display adverts as you played. Hilariously, the service never materialised, leaving some customers with a fully-functioning console that they hadn’t paid for. Arf!

“Be The Master”

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