The history of handheld game consoles. Part 1.1 (1990s)

    Hello, Habr!

    In the comments to my article, The History of Handheld Game Consoles. Part 1 (Until 2000) you pointed out to me the absence of some game consoles, which were available in the 1990s. So I wrote this add-on.

    The list of consoles this time:
    • Brick game
    • Sega nomad
    • Visual Memory Unit for DreamCast
    • Neo Geo Pocket
    • Neo Geo Pocket Color
    • Wonderderwan
    • WonderSwan Color


    Brick game

    I wonder if there are people on the hub who have never played the Brick Game? In common people, this toy was called Tetris. Contained from two to infinity games. As it recently turned out, you can finish Tetris in order to increase the number of games - read this hub .

    Powered by two finger batteries. There are a wild number of form factors: now the Chinese are styling it for other consoles and for mobile phones. And, of course, the classic "brick", so popular in the 1990s in Russia. Still for sale.

    The popularity of the toy has declined due to other consoles.


    Sega nomad

    I talked about Sega Game Gear in a previous article, but Sega Nomad missed. Although now this prefix is ​​one of the most popular among rare consoles, as one of the readers noted.

    Sega Nomad was released in 1995 for $ 180. Only about a million copies sold.

    The console is equipped with a 3.5-inch color display and a removable compartment for six finger batteries.

    One of its main features is the lack of games created specifically for her. Instead, cartridges from a regular Sega Mega Drive / Genesis home console had to be inserted into the console. I think that many Sega owners dreamed about this. In addition, you could connect this set-top box to the TV, insert the usual joystick from the shogi into a special port and play together. Interestingly, even when connected to a TV on the display, you can watch the game.




    Virtual boy

    Portable consoles include Virtual Boy, released in 1994 by Nintendo. Although for this console, after all, a table was needed, and you can’t use it when moving, because it blocks peripheral vision.

    It was the first Nintendo console capable of 3D graphics. It uses technology similar to the “virtual reality helmet” - you immerse your face in the device and two monochrome (black-red) projectors transmit the image separately for each eye.

    The system has a resolution of 384x224 pixels, although it does not contain a full LED matrix with this resolution. Instead, two 1x224 rulers move at high speed.

    The system was expected to fail. The users mostly had a sore neck. Yes, and the black and red image did not please.



    image's portable console came out in 1997. Only 300,000 copies were sold - so-so results. But, nevertheless, this toy carried a number of interesting things in itself:

    1) A touch-screen black-and-white display with adjustable contrast.
    2) Two slots for cartridges.
    3) Port for connecting to a modem.
    4) The ability to connect to an outlet.

    The kit included a stylus: it is he who is at the bottom on the front panel.


    Overview of the console in English.

    Among the games released for this console were Duke Nukem 3D, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, and Resident Evil 2. In this video, the gameplay is Resident Evil 2. Yes, on a black and white display.


    Visual Memory Unit for DreamCast

    In 1998, the fifth prefix of the Sega company, named DreamCast, was released. A Visual Memory Unit is available for it. The card is not quite ordinary: it is equipped with a 48 x 32 dots monochrome LCD display and the ability to play mini-games directly on it. In the case of Resident Evil, health was displayed on this map - so there was no need to go to the "Weapons" menu during the game. VMU was inserted directly into the joystick.

    I wrote more about DreamCast in the history of game consoles in advertising. Part 3 .


    An example of using VMU in Sakura Wars III.

    Pocket Station by Sony

    Another example of using a memory card as a separate gaming device is the Pocket Station device released by Sony in 1999.

    The device is equipped with a liquid crystal display and speaker. There is also a clock and calendar. Users can exchange information using the infrared port. Toys for Pocket Station are recorded from game discs.

    The resolution of the monochrome display is 32 x 32 pixels.

    Pocket Station was released on the Japanese market and did not appear in Europe and the United States.

    Cute advertisement with a monkey.


    Neo Geo Pocket

    The Neo Geo Pocket portable console was released in 1998 in Japan and several other Asian countries, without ever seeing the European and American markets. She lived until 1999, when she was replaced with a color version.

    The prefix used a 16-bit Toshiba TLCS-900H processor, operating at a frequency of 6.14 MHz. The display resolution was 256x256 pixels.


    Neo Geo Pocket Color

    As I said above, the Neo Geo Pocket has been replaced by its color version. The total bill of both consoles sold about two million.

    The color version uses the 16-bit Toshiba TLCS-900H processor, operating at a frequency of 6.14 MHz. The resolution of the color display is 160 x 152 pixels.


    One of the most popular games for the console is Samurai Shodown 2.


    Television commercials.

    Funny slogan - "Get pocket power."



    The WonderSwan portable console was released in 1999 in Japan. She was supposed to compete with the Game Boy. It is interesting that WonderSwan developer Gunpei Yokoi created the original Game Boy for Nintendo - that is, he played "divided the market" himself.

    One of the interesting features - the games were made both for the vertical arrangement of the screen, and for horizontal.


    WonderSwan Color

    As with Neo Geo, the WonderSwan console quickly replaced the color version - it was released in 2000. Interestingly, at the peak of popularity, the two versions of WonderSwan captured 8% of the Japanese gaming market, really competing with Nintendo.

    The reason for this popularity was, firstly, the price - it's only about $ 60. Secondly, the collaboration with Square bore fruit: Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy IV and The Final Fantasy Legend were released for the console.

    This is what the fourth Final Fantasy looks like.

    Final Fantasy II ad.

    Advertisement for the game Detective Conan.


    This is interesting:
    The history of handheld game consoles. Part 1 (Until 2000)
    The history of game consoles in advertising. Part 1: From Magnavox Odyssey to Super Nintendo
    The history of game consoles in advertising. Part 2
    The history of game consoles in advertising. Part 3
    Alternative Arcade at the GDC: Gallery of Homemade Extravagant Controllers
    Motion Control in Games

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    What did you play on the list?

    • 95.5% Brick Game 559
    • 6.1% Sega Nomad 36
    • 0.6% 4
    • 2.9% Visual Memory Unit for DreamCast 17
    • 0% Neo Geo Pocket 0
    • 1.5% Neo Geo Pocket Color 9
    • 0.3% WonderSwan 2
    • 1% WonderSwan Color 6
    • 0.3% Pocket Station by Sony 2
    • 1.1% Virtual Boy 7

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