Genesis Nomad

Last updated

Genesis Nomad
Sega Nomad.svg
Sega-Nomad-Front.jpg
Also known asSega Nomad
Manufacturer Sega
Type Handheld game console
Generation Fourth generation
Release date
  • NA: October 1995
Discontinued
Media Sega Genesis ROM cartridge
CPU Motorola 68000
Display
Sound
  • Mono speaker
  • Headphone jack
Power6 AA batteries, 2 to 3 hours
Predecessor Game Gear, Mega Jet

The Genesis Nomad (also known as Sega Nomad) is a handheld game console manufactured by Sega and released in North America in October 1995. The Nomad is a portable variation of the Sega Genesis home video game console (known as the Mega Drive outside North America). Based on the Mega Jet, a portable version of the home console designed for use on airline flights in Japan, Nomad was the last handheld console released by Sega. In addition to functioning as a portable device, it was designed to be used with a television set via a video port. Released late in the Genesis era, the Nomad had a short lifespan.

Contents

Sold exclusively in North America, the Nomad was never officially released worldwide, and employs a regional lockout. Sega's focus on the Sega Saturn left the Nomad under-supported, and the handheld itself was incompatible with several Genesis peripherals, including the Power Base Converter, the Sega CD, and the 32X.

History

The Mega Jet, a portable Mega Drive designed for airplanes and cars, provided the design inspiration for the Genesis Nomad Sega Mega Jet (8459104642).jpg
The Mega Jet, a portable Mega Drive designed for airplanes and cars, provided the design inspiration for the Genesis Nomad

The Sega Genesis was Sega's entry into the 16-bit era of video game consoles. [1] In Japan, Sega released the Mega Jet, a portable version of the Mega Drive for use on Japan Airlines flights. The Mega Jet requires a connection to a television screen and a power source, and so outside of airline flights can only be used in cars equipped with a television set and cigarette lighter receptacle. [2] On planes, the Mega Jet was connected into armrest monitors. It had a limited consumer release in Japanese department stores in 1994, but did not see success. [3]

A front-to-top view of the Nomad, showing the red power switch, the "DC in" port, the cartridge input, and an "AV out" port to show the Nomad on a TV monitor Sega-Nomad-Handheld.jpg
A front-to-top view of the Nomad, showing the red power switch, the "DC in" port, the cartridge input, and an "AV out" port to show the Nomad on a TV monitor

Planning to release a new handheld console to succeed the Game Gear, Sega originally intended to produce a system with a touchscreen interface two years before the Game.com handheld by Tiger Electronics. However, touchscreen technology was expensive at the time, so Sega instead released the Genesis Nomad, a handheld version of the Genesis. [4] The development codename was "Project Venus". [5] [6] Sega hoped to capitalize on the Genesis's popularity in North America. At the time, the Genesis Nomad was the only handheld console that could connect to a television. [3]

The Nomad was released in October 1995 in North America only. [5] [7] The release was five years into the market span of the Genesis, with an existing library of more than 500 Genesis games. [8] While Sega Technical Institute's The Ooze was originally planned as a launch game, it was not included. [9] According to former Sega of America research and development head Joe Miller, the Nomad was not intended to replace the Game Gear, and Sega of Japan had few plans for the new handheld. [8] Sega was supporting five different consoles: Saturn, Genesis, Game Gear, Pico, and the Master System, as well as the Sega CD and 32X add-ons. In Japan, the Mega Drive had never been successful and the Saturn was more successful than Sony's PlayStation, so Sega Enterprises CEO Hayao Nakayama decided to focus on the Saturn, resulting in the end of support for the Genesis and Genesis-based products. [10] Additionally, the Game Boy, Nintendo's handheld console that had been dominant in the market, became even more dominant with the release of Pokémon Red and Blue. This meant the Nomad was not successful. By 1999, the Nomad was being sold at less than a third of its original price. [3]

Technical specifications

Motorola MC68000, similar to one used in the Genesis Nomad KL Motorola MC68000 CLCC.jpg
Motorola MC68000, similar to one used in the Genesis Nomad

Similar to the Genesis and the Mega Jet, the Nomad's main CPU is a Motorola 68000. [11] Possessing similar memory, graphics, and sound capabilities, the Nomad is nearly identical to the full-size console; the only variation is that it is completely self-sufficient. However, due to the smaller screen size it suffers from screen blurring, particularly during fast scrolling. [12] The Nomad has a 3.25 inch backlit color LC display with 3.25 inch diagonal size [13] and an A/V output that allows the Nomad to be played on a television screen. [11] Design elements of the handheld were made similar to the Game Gear, but included six buttons for full compatibility with later Genesis releases. [3] Also included were a red power switch, headphone jack, volume dial, and separate controller input for multiplayer games. The controller port functions as player 2, so single-player games cannot be played with a Genesis controller. [11] The Nomad could be powered by an AC adapter, a battery recharger known as the Genesis Nomad PowerBack, or six AA batteries, [5] [14] which provide a battery life of two to three hours. [3] The Nomad consumed more power (DC 9V, 3.5W) than Sega's earlier portable gaming console, the Game Gear (DC 9V, 3W).

The Nomad is fully compatible with several Genesis peripherals, including the Sega Activator, Team Play Adaptor, Mega Mouse, and the Sega Channel and XBAND network add-ons. However, the Nomad is not compatible with the Power Base Converter, Sega CD, or 32X. This means the Nomad can only play Genesis games, whereas the standard Genesis can also play Master System, Sega CD, and 32X game with the respective add-ons. [3]

Game library

A typical in-game screenshot of Sonic the Hedgehog, taken from its first level, Green Hill Zone MD Sonic the Hedgehog.png
A typical in-game screenshot of Sonic the Hedgehog , taken from its first level, Green Hill Zone

The Nomad does not have its own game library, but instead plays Genesis games. At the time of its launch, the Nomad had over 500 games available for play. However, no pack-in game was included. The Nomad can boot unlicensed, homebrew, and bootleg games made for the Genesis. Some earlier third-party games have compatibility issues when played on the Nomad, but can be successfully played through the use of a Game Genie. Likewise, due to its lack of compatibility with any of the Genesis' add-ons, it is unable to play any games for the Sega Master System, Sega CD, or Sega 32X. The Nomad employs two different regional lockout methods, physical and software, but methods have been found to bypass these. [3]

Reception and legacy

Reviewing the Nomad shortly after launch, Game Players considered the price "a bit steep", but said it was the best portable system on the market, and recommended it over the stock Genesis since it could play all the same games in a portable format. [15] In a 1997 year-end review, a team of four Electronic Gaming Monthly editors gave the Nomad scores of 8.0, 6.5, 7.0, and 7.5. They praised its support for the entire Genesis library, but criticized its hefty battery usage and noted that despite a recent price drop, it was still expensive enough to discourage interested consumers. While they generally complimented the screen display, they remarked that its small size makes it difficult to play certain games. Sushi-X declared the Nomad the best portable gaming system then on the market, while his three co-reviewers had more misgivings, saying it has merits but might not be a worthwhile buy. [16]

Blake Snow of GamePro listed the Nomad as fifth on his list of the "10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time", criticizing its poor timing into the market, inadequate advertising, and poor battery life. [7] Scott Alan Marriott of Allgame placed more than simply timing into reasons for the Nomad's lack of sales, stating, "The reason for the Nomad's failure may have very well been a combination of poor timing, company mistrust and the relatively high cost of the machine (without a pack-in). Genesis owners were too skittish to invest in another 16-bit system." [5] Stuart Hunt of Retro Gamer , however, praised the Nomad, saying in a retrospective that Nomad was "the first true 16-bit handheld" and declared it the best variant of the Genesis. He noted the collectability of the Nomad, due to its low production, and stated, "Had Sega cottoned on to the concept of the Nomad before the Mega Drive 2, and rolled it out as a true successor to the Mega Drive ... then perhaps Sega may have succeeded in its original goal to prolong the life of the Mega Drive in the U.S." [3] In 2017 a mod was developed to allow the Nomad to charge power using USB devices. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

Atari Lynx handheld game console

The Atari Lynx is a 8/16-bit handheld game console that was released by Atari Corporation in September 1989 in North America, and in Europe and Japan in 1990.

Handheld game console lightweight, portable electronic device used for gaming

A handheld game console, or simply handheld console, is a small, portable self-contained video game console with a built-in screen, game controls and speakers. Handheld game consoles are smaller than home video game consoles and contain the console, screen, speakers, and controls in one unit, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place.

Game Gear handheld game console by Sega

The Game Gear is an 8-bit fourth generation handheld game console released by Sega on October 6, 1990 in Japan, in April 1991 throughout North America and Europe, and during 1992 in Australia. The Game Gear primarily competed with Nintendo's Game Boy, the Atari Lynx, and NEC's TurboExpress. It shares much of its hardware with the Master System, and can play Master System games by the use of an adapter. Sega positioned the Game Gear, which had a full-color backlit screen with a landscape format, as a technologically superior handheld to the Game Boy.

32X Add-on for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis video game console

The 32X is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console. Codenamed "Project Mars", the 32X was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and serve as a transitional console into the 32-bit era until the release of the Sega Saturn. Independent of the Genesis, the 32X uses its own ROM cartridges and has its own library of games. The add-on was distributed under the name Super 32X in Japan, Genesis 32X in North America, Mega Drive 32X in the PAL region, and Mega 32X in Brazil.

Sega CD Add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console

The Sega CD, released as the Mega-CD in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Mega Drive/Genesis designed and produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991 in Japan, October 15, 1992 in North America, and April 2, 1993 in Europe. The Sega CD plays CD-based games and adds hardware functionality such as a faster central processing unit and graphic enhancements. It can also play audio CDs and CD+G discs.

A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.

Master System Video game console

The Sega Master System (SMS) is a third-generation 8-bit home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was originally a remodeled export version of the Sega Mark III, the third iteration of the SG-1000 series of consoles, which was released in Japan in 1985 and featured enhanced graphical capabilities over its predecessors. The Master System launched in North America in 1986, followed by Europe in 1987, and Brazil in 1989. A Japanese version of the Master System was also launched in 1987, which features a few enhancements over the export models : a built-in FM audio chip, a rapid-fire switch, and a dedicated port for the 3D glasses. A cost-reduced model known as the Master System II was released in 1990 in North America and Europe.

<i>Columns</i> (video game) 1990 match-three puzzle video game

Columns is a match-three puzzle video game created by Jay Geertsen in 1989. Early versions of the game were ported across early computer platforms and Atari ST. In 1990, Jay Geertsen sold the rights to Sega, who ported the game to several Sega consoles.

<i>Sonic the Hedgehog</i> (8-bit video game) 8-bit 1991 platform video game

Sonic the Hedgehog is a 1991 side-scrolling platform game and companion to the 16-bit Sega Genesis game of the same name for the 8-bit Game Gear and Master System consoles. Ancient—a studio founded by composer Yuzo Koshiro for the project—developed the game and Sega published it to promote the handheld Game Gear. The 8-bit Sonic is similar in style to its Genesis predecessor, but reduced in complexity to fit the 8-bit systems. It was released for the Game Gear on December 28, 1991, and for the Master System around the same time. It was later released through Sonic game compilations and Nintendo's Virtual Console.

In the history of computer and video games, the fourth generation of game consoles began on October 30, 1987 with the Japanese release of NEC Home Electronics' PC Engine. Although NEC released the first console of this era, sales were mostly dominated by the rivalry between Nintendo's and Sega's consoles in North America: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis. Handheld systems released during this time include the Nintendo Game Boy, released in 1989, and the Sega Game Gear, first released in 1990.

Sega Meganet, also known as the Net Work System, was an online service for the Mega Drive in Japan and later Brazil. Utilizing dial-up Internet access, Meganet was Sega's first online multiplayer gaming service, and functioned on a pay to play basis. The system functioned through the use of a peripheral called the Mega Modem and offered several unique titles that could be downloaded, and a few could be played competitively with friends. In addition, it shared technology and equipment with more serious services such as the Mega Anser, used for banking purposes. Though the system was announced for North America under the rebranded name "Tele-Genesis", it was never released for that region. Ultimately, the Meganet service would be short-lived, lasting approximately a year before it was discontinued, but would serve as a precursor to the Sega Channel and XBAND services, as well as a predecessor to online gaming services for video game consoles. Retrospective feedback praises the attempt by Sega to introduce online gaming, but criticizes the service for its logistical issues and lack of titles.

The fifth-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming consoles dating from approximately October 4, 1993 to March 23, 2006. For home consoles, the best-selling console was the Sony PlayStation, followed by the Nintendo 64, and then the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation also had a redesigned version, the PSone, which was launched on July 7, 2000.

Sega Channel Online game service for the Sega Genesis

Sega Channel was an online game service developed by Sega for the Genesis video game console, serving as a content delivery system. Launched in December 1994, Sega Channel was provided to the public by TCI and Time Warner Cable through cable television services by way of coaxial cable. It was a pay to play service, through which customers could access Genesis games online, play game demos, and get cheat codes. Lasting until July 31, 1998, Sega Channel operated three years after the release of Sega's next generation console, the Sega Saturn. Though criticized for its poorly timed launch and high subscription fee, Sega Channel has been praised for its innovations in downloadable content and impact on online game services.

Sega Genesis Fourth-generation home video game console and fourth developed by Sega

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive outside North America, is a 16-bit fourth generation home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, and later as the Genesis in North America in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.

Hayao Nakayama is a Japanese businessman and was the former President and CEO of Sega Enterprises, Ltd from 1983 to 1999.

Sega Japanese video game developer and publisher

Sega Corporation is a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are respectively headquartered in Irvine, California, and London. Sega's arcade division existed as Sega Interactive Co., Ltd. from 2015 to 2020. Sega is a subsidiary of Sega Group Corporation, which is in turn a part of Sega Sammy Holdings. From 1983 until 2001, Sega also developed video game consoles.

Analogue, Inc. is an American company with offices in USA and Hong Kong that designs, develops and sells video game hardware. Its hardware products include the Analogue Pocket, Analogue Mega Sg, Analogue Super Nt, Analogue Nt mini, Analogue Nt. Analogue has offices in USA and Hong Kong.

References

  1. Sczepaniak, John (August 2006). "Retroinspection: Mega Drive". Retro Gamer . No. 27. Imagine Publishing. pp. 42–47. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015 via Sega-16.
  2. "Mega Jet Lands!!". Electronic Gaming Monthly . No. 57. Sendai Publishing. April 1994. p. 64.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Hunt, Stuart. "Retroinspection: Sega Nomad". Retro Gamer . Imagine Publishing (69): 46–53.
  4. Fahs, Travis. "IGN Presents the History of SEGA (Page 7)". IGN . Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Marriott, Scott Alan. "Sega Genesis Nomad - Overview". Allgame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  6. "Sega's 16-Bit Hand-Held Now Named Nomad". Electronic Gaming Monthly . No. 73. Sendai Publishing. August 1995. p. 27.
  7. 1 2 Snow, Blake (July 30, 2007). "The 10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time". GamePro . Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2008.
  8. 1 2 Horowitz, Ken (February 7, 2013). "Interview: Joe Miller". Sega-16. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  9. Horowitz, Ken (June 11, 2007). "Developer's Den: Sega Technical Institute". Sega-16. Ken Horowitz. Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  10. Kent, Steven L. (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games: The Story Behind the Craze that Touched our Lives and Changed the World. Roseville, California: Prima Publishing. pp. 508, 531. ISBN   0-7615-3643-4.
  11. 1 2 3 "Nomad: Sega's On-the-road Warrior". GamePro . No. 87. IDG. December 1995. p. 20.
  12. "Pocket Cool". Electronic Gaming Monthly . No. 89. Ziff Davis. December 1996. p. 206.
  13. Linneman, John (May 13, 2018). "DF Retro: Revisiting Sega's Nomad - the original Switch?". Eurogamer. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  14. "Games 'n' Gear". GamePro . No. 93. IDG. June 1996. p. 12.
  15. "System Analysis: Genesis / Nomad". Game Players . No. 79. Signal Research. Holiday 1995. p. 50.Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. "EGM's Special Report: Which System Is Best?". 1998 Video Game Buyer's Guide. Ziff Davis. March 1998. p. 58.
  17. Plante, Chris (May 29, 2017). "Sega Nomad was the Nintendo Switch of 1995 — and now a modder has given it USB power". The Verge . Vox Media . Retrieved August 16, 2018.