Games with Neil McGreevy: Sega shrinks handheld nostalgia in Game Gear Micro
MUCH like Craggy Island's cows, you'd be forgiven for thinking they were far away. But Sega's tribute act to the Game Gear is actually just very small. So tiny, in fact, that it comes with an optional magnifying glass.
From bonsai to capsule hotels, the Japanese love all things wee. Influenced by Buddhist minimalism and a lack of resources for its cramped population, the country dominated 20th century electronics thanks to its ability to miniaturise. And to mark 60 years in the biz, Sega is shrinking its only dedicated portable, the Game Gear, to insane levels.
Back in 1992, Sega's attempt to muscle in on arch-rival Nintendo's Game Boy racket was the Game Gear, which blasted out a host of arcade classics in full colour. But, much like Atari's Lynx, its unseemly girth was far from pocket-friendly while that colour screen guzzled the juice like a hobo at an open bar.
Still, it perhaps came closest to beating Nintendo at their own game, and 30 years to the day after its Japanese release, the Game Gear will see light of day once again in almost comically shrunken fashion.
At a mere 3.14 inches wide, the Game Gear Micro is the tiniest console ever made. Available in four colours, each itsy-bitsy doohickey will set you back around £40 and comes preloaded with a quartet of classic titles.
In black you'll get Sonic, Puyo Puyotsu, Outrun and Royal Stone. Red houses Shinobi, Columns and two Megami Tensei games. Yellow has three Shining Force titles and puzzler Nazo Puyo while blue sports Sonic and Tails, Baku Baku Animal, Sylvan Tail and Gunstar Heroes.
Swiping the smallest portable crown from Nintendo's Game Boy Micro (and its comparatively colossal two-inch display), the Lilliputian novelty boasts a screen that's a mere one-inch wide. It doesn't help that the eyes of anyone old enough to feel nostalgic for the console are already shot, and with buttons like a budgie's nipples, only those with tiny Trump hands will be able to play the thing.
It certainly isn't big in Japan (or anywhere), yet despite the impractical size, Sega's engineers have created a machine that actually improves on the original's resolution, and can run for three hours on two batteries (the original struggled to last one hour on six!).
Brilliantly eccentric and thoroughly Japanese, the Game Gear Micro is for collectors rather than gamers jonesing for portable action (just how much fun you can eke out of one inch is anybody's guess). Launching in Japan on October 6, I can't see this midget gem releasing anywhere else. In fact, I can barely see it at all.