The Sega Master System was the company's third foray into the video game console market.
It was also the first Sega console to be released in the US. The Master System brought us such great games as Shinobi, Fantasy
Zone and Alex Kidd. Several years later the company debuted the Sega Game Gear portable game system. The new hardware was
basically a portable Master System. The hardware was so similar that a third party company created an adapter that allowed
you to play Master System cartridges on the Game Gear. Now AtGames has released a new handheld game system that combines the
two machines into one enticing package.
Introducting the Sega Master System + Game Gear Arcade Gamer Portable.
This unboxing video gives you a close up look at the package
and the hardware.
Two Systems In One:
As I mentioned earlier the hardware for the Master System and the Game Gear is almost identical.
Combining the two systems into one small package seems like a natural idea. The final product is a nicely built piece of hardware.
The curved edges on each side of the unit make it very comfortable to hold in your hands. The screen quality is good, with
bright colors and a decent resolution for it's size. The speakers are strong with little audio buzz or static. Audio can sound
a bit canned at times but that's to be expected with small speakers of this size. There is also a small problem with a crackling
noise that appears in certain games, but that is related to the system hardware and not to the actual speakers.
The system has two face buttons and a circular d-pad. While
some may prefer the classic "plus" style d-pad, this version works well with most games. The "A+B" buttons
are low and responsive. The device also has menu and start/pause buttons on the face of the system. Pressing the menu button
during a game will bring you back to the game selection screen. On the top edge of unit there is a power switch and a volume
control dial. The system also has a video out plug that allows the unit to be hooked up to the AV ports on your TV. (AV cord
sold separately.) A standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the bottom edge of the system.
The unit runs on three AAA batteries. The battery cover is held
on with small phillips head screw. This is somewhat annoying because you need to use a precision screwdriver every time you
need to change the batteries. Fortunately the system has outstanding battery life. In my tests I achieved results well over
8 hours while playing games at full volume.
The system comes with 30 built in games. There are 17 from the Master System and 13 from
the Game Gear. The Master System titles include some of the most popular games for that console. You get three games featuring
Alex Kidd, two Fantasy Zone tiles, Astro Warrior, Bomber Raid and many others. Hardcore Sega fans will also recognize Snail
Maze as the secret game that was built into the Master System hardware. On the Game Gear side we have a number of titles featuring
Sonic the Hedgehog and his pal Tails. This includes main series games and spin off titles such as Sonic Spinball and the kart
racing game Sonic Drift. Over all there is a nice assortment of genres for both systems that range from puzzle games, arcade
ports, platformers, racing games and shooters.
This brief gameplay demo video gives you a quick glimpse of
the Arcade Gamer Portable in action. I have also provided a complete list of every game on system.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World
Alex Kidd in High
Alex Kidd and the Lost Stars
Fantasy Zone II
Kung Fu Kid
Baku Baku Animal
Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine
Ecco: The Tides of Time
Putt and Putter
Ristar: The Shooting Star
Sonic Triple Trouble
System on a Chip:
As with many products of this type the Arcade Gamer Portable is built around "system
on a chip" hardware. What this basically means is that the internal hardware of a console or portable is now reduced
to a single chip which emulates the original hardware. While this is a convenient design for a handheld game system it can
also cause problems when trying to faithfully replicate gameplay and sound. As I mentioned earlier there is a crackling noise
that appears in certain games. This problem is caused by the system on a chip hardware. It's one of the small drawbacks of
Pros and Cons:
The Arcade Gamer Portable does have a few small drawbacks. First and most importantly is
that a few console games do not translate well to the small screen. For example in the Master System game Bomber Raid it can
be difficult to see your ship when it passes over certain areas in the game. The enemy bullets are also very small and hard
to spot. It's not a game breaking flaw but it can be somewhat annoying when you're going for a high score. Another console
game that suffers in the translation is Gain Ground. Again, the problems in this title are similar to those found in Bomber
Raid. As you might expect the Game Gear titles are better suited for play on the small screen. They were originally designed
for a portable game system with a smaller screen.
Anyone who owned the Sega Game Gear knows the system had a nasty problem with screen blur
and ghosting. I am happy to report that these problems do not exist on the Arcade Gamer Portable. The screen is bright and
the graphics are sharp and colorful. Also, as I mentioned earlier the system has outstanding battery life, that's definitely
something you cannot say for the Sega Game Gear.
The Final Word:
If you're a big fan of Sega and retro gaming this product is for you. It's a perfect item
for Sega collectors and portable gaming enthusiasts. It's also available for a great price. I was able to acquire my system
for only $30. Don't let the budget price fool you into thinking this is a cheaply made product. It's actually very well built
and a great value for the money. It will surely give you many happy hours of retro gaming fun.
About The Author:
Elliott S. Thomas loves handheld gaming systems.
He was a gadget enthusiast from an early age. Elliott has over 40 different portable gaming systems in his collection. He
carries at least one system with him at all times.