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Thread: Game Gear Micro (Not-so-micro) Review

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    Arrow Game Gear Micro (Not-so-micro) Review

    This is one of three Christmas gifts that I have written for the Retrogaming Roundtable forum. I hope you enjoy them. If you make comments about them, then just remember, like the days of renting VHS and BetaMax video cassette tapes, to "Be kind, please rewind!"

    Game Gear Micro (Not-so-micro) Review
    ---

    Minuses
    ---
    - The Game Gear Micro is another mini / micro console instead of being a truly new SEGA hardware platform
    - Still software-based emulation instead of being an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) which could have alternatively lead to more accurately running games
    - Perhaps the GG Micro is too small depending upon the user (small controls) or one's visual acuity (small screen)
    - Game Gear Micro's battery life is about 5 - 7 hours with two fresh AAA batteries so you might want to use rechargeable AAA's
    - Battery life could have been about 20 hours with two AA batteries considering their electrical capacity which would have been a better choice with regards to the console's size versus power availability instead of the smaller AAA's which SEGA chose to go with
    - Would have been more convenient if it had used an included rechargeable battery pack within the GG Micro itself like a Game Boy Advance SP which charged via the micro USB port instead (especially if it used a common off-the-shelf type of battery so it could be easily replaced in the future)
    - Console runs a bit hotter than it should after about two hours of play
    - No micro HDMI output
    - No video output port at all
    - Has only one speaker like the original Game Gear, yet with the GG Micro's smaller size and the lone speaker's placement, it is easy to accidentally cover the speaker with your thumb and suddenly have the sound's volume drop, sound muffled, or be "muted," throwing you out of the zone when playing
    - Micro USB power port is shallow and finicky (which might be somewhat nostalgic for some Game Gear owners such as myself that had to live with an original Game Gear with a power port that eventually turned finicky)
    - Can only get the translucent shell GG Micro by buying from SEGA Direct which only delivers to Japanese mailing addresses - or by paying a high markup on the secondary market
    - The translucent GG Micro is only a shell with no included electronics nor games
    - Can only get the special white variant of the GG Micro by purchasing a limited edition of the Aleste Collection
    - Can only get the Big Window Micro accessory (a smaller variant of the original Big Window screen magnifier known in North America as the Wide Gear) by buying the bundle with all four main GG Micro variations or the SEGA Direct "five" GG Micro set
    - The Big Window Micro can scratch the Game Gear Micro's plastic screen (mine already has)
    - The Big Window Micro's screen has concentric circles which - although authentic to the original experience and thus possibly nostalgic for some - obfuscate the view and can prove distracting
    - The Big Window Micro is a unit composed of three separate plastic pieces which snap into place to assemble it. There is no "good" way to remove it as it must either be disassembled to remove it from the Game Gear Micro (worrisome thanks to the small size of the plastic pieces and the possibility that they might go flying or get lost) or the Big Window Micro can be slid to the left to remove it although that risks scratching the Game Gear Micro's screen
    - For the price (about $60 USD before shipping and handling) there aren't very many games - if the SEGA Genesis Mini had 42 games for $80, then it seems like one GG Micro could have had 16 games for $60
    - Without a cartridge port, your original Game Gear cartridges cannot be used with the GG Micro
    - Being an "emulation machine," the console doesn't immediately boot into a game and instead takes about a minute to boot to the main menu
    - There is no dedicated button to bring up the save state / options menu during a game. Instead the Start button has to be held for several seconds to bring up this menu.
    - Thanks to the size of the Game Gear Micro's buttons and their placement, the user can accidentally hold both the Start button and the 2 button at the same time which will prevent the save state menu from appearing
    - The brightness setting is not saved in memory so it cannot be recalled upon the next boot of the GG Micro. Therefore you lose your brightness setting whenever you power down the GG Micro.
    - The open-source software's licenses are not kept as separate menu selections for individual ones on their own convenient sub-menu. Instead they are compiled as one massive scrolling text file which is tedious and not very user-friendly.
    - There is no way to set the region of the Game Gear Micro. (The original Game Gears were not region-locked but they had internal regional settings to trigger the default language for a particular region as well as any content changes.) Therefore there is no way to trigger English to display in the Japanese games that originally incorporated multiple languages including English.
    - It would have been nice if SEGA had included a dial on the edge of the GG Micro to quickly adjust the brightness level (and keep it set between uses) instead of it being a software-based setting that was forgotten every reboot
    - The image that shows during boot time is a static image - an animated one would have been nicer and more polished
    - The game selection could have been made with more international appeal and accessibility
    - There were a ton of Sonic (and Tails) games for the Game Gear which could have (or should have) been included that spanned many genres of gameplay
    - The power toggle switch is difficult to move
    - This author would have personally preferred a "Game Gear Mini" which was 80% to 100% of the size of an original Game Gear (including a larger, scratch-resistant "Gorilla glass"-like screen similar to what as an iPhone has), used three or four AA batteries or a larger internal battery pack instead, a micro HDMI port or other ports for using standard audio or video cables with televisions, stereos, or A/V capture equipment, 60 to 80 games (including at least two originals like the SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive Mini), a nice cloth carrying bag with Game Gear icons or logos tiled across it, all for about $100 USD
    - No international release so the Game Gear Micro has to be imported from Japan from places such as Amazon of Japan [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

    Neutrals
    ~~~
    ~ At the main menu and the sub-menus, the 1 button cancels
    ~ At the menus, the 2 button confirms
    ~ At the menus, the Start button is not used
    ~ The D-pad is used to navigate up, down, left, or right at the main menu
    ~ The Game Gear Micro logo and splash screen are simple yet nice and help to differentiate the GG Micro from the original Game Gear

    Pluses
    +++
    + New hardware from SEGA released October 6th, 2020
    + Developed by SEGA's M2
    + Released to celebrate SEGA's 60th anniversary
    + Excellent emulation
    + 40% the size of the original Game Gear
    + Better battery life than the original Game Gear (now powered via two AAA batteries)
    + Micro USB port which can optionally be used for electrical power instead of batteries
    + Each GG Micro includes four games supplied on the console's NAND flash memory
    + Four, actually five, technically six Game Gear Micros to choose from
    + Four save states for each game
    + The background graphic for the save state menu features tiled outlines of Game Gear cartridges on a white background, a very endearing decision and appropriate considering how back-in-the-day, the saves were stored on the cartridges themselves using battery backup
    + New menu music composed by Yuzo Koshiro, the legendary composer of many Game Gear games including the GG's Shinobi games
    + Front cover art work of all of the included games
    + Side cover art work which can be toggled by pressing the 1 button at the main menu
    + Background art at the main menu features tiled outlines of Game Gears on a white background (a nice touch)
    + The menu art uses the red, green, and blue colors of the Game Gear logo's ovals to add visual flair to the background and menu items, showing good attention to detail
    + Adjustable brightness controls with ten levels of brightness
    + Depending on sales, SEGA says it will release more mini or micro consoles [6]
    + 3.5 millimeter audio output jack for stereo sound output for headphones or a speaker system
    + The translucent GG Micro shell as well as the other colored shells can be simply switched among the GG Micros by removing and replacing only a few screws
    + Runs Linux and other Free / libre, open-source software
    + Many of the games (such as the Sonic ones) are written entirely in English
    + Most of the games are friendly and accessible for those that are illiterate in Japanese
    + The Japanese text in the action RPG's, strategy RPG's, and turn-based RPG's can easily and quickly be skipped to jump right into the gameplay if you can't read the language
    + The game selection screen just before any particular game launches features higher resolution artwork and contains information about the game and its original release (written in Japanese)
    + Credits about the people who made the Game Gear Micro are included in the main menus
    + The Game Gear Micro has a menu option for resetting the device back to factory defaults in case you ever decide to part with the device (if you are worried about save state privacy such as if you used your name as the name of the save or the main character in an RPG)
    + Having an open-source base, the GG Micro will probably be quickly hacked to add more games and console options just like the Mega Drive / Genesis Mini
    + The open-source software's licenses are all displayed in English instead of Japanese for some reason
    + The credits and open-source licenses are automatically scrolled by default
    + If you press a button during these scrollings, then they can be manually scrolled instead
    + The GG Micro still has a spot to place a carrying strap (such as a cell-phone strap) to use to transport it if you so wish
    + The GG Micro has a dial that can be turned to set the volume of the audio just like the original Game Gear
    + True to the original Game Gear, the Micro has a power toggle switch on the right corner of its upper edge
    + The Black Game Gear Micro contains Sonic The Hedgehog, Puyo Puyo 2 (given a visual overhaul and released in the West as Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine), Out Run, and Royal Stone (the Japan-only sequel to Crystal Warriors)
    + The Blue GG Micro contains Sonic and Tails (called Sonic Chaos in North America), Gunstar Heroes, Sylvan Tale (a very rare and expensive Game Gear game similar in gameplay style to a 2D The Legend of Zelda game that's Japan-only), and Baku Baku Animal (a puzzle game)
    + The Yellow GG Micro contains Shining Force Gaiden (Japan-only), Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya, Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict (Japan-only), Nazo Puyo: Arle no Ru (Japan-only)
    + The Red GG Micro contains Last Bible (the Game Gear game was Japan-only though a later Game Boy Color port from 1999 was released in English in North America as Revelations: The Demon Slayer), Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible Special (Japan-only), The G.G. Shinobi, Columns
    + The White GG Micro contains Power Strike (this game is a shmup also known as Aleste and this particular port was originally released for the SEGA Master System), GG Aleste, GG Aleste II: Lance Bird, Power Strike II (this game is a shmup also known as Aleste II and this particular port was originally released for the SEGA Master System), GG Aleste 3: Last Messiah (a brand-new game just for this compilation!)

    Scores
    ---
    For casual fans: 71%
    For old-school fans: Add five percentage points - 76%
    For 8-bit fans: Add five more points - 81%
    For SEGA fans: Add five more points - 86% (Like 1986 when the SEGA Master System launched in North America!)
    For Game Gear fans: Add five more points for a total of 91% (Like 1991 when the SEGA Game Gear launched in North America and Europe!)

    [1] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B089DRRM84 (Main 4 Game Gear Micro varieties)

    [2] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B089DRZX6M (Black Game Gear Micro)

    [3] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B089DR7SSN (Blue Game Gear Micro)

    [4] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B089DR8DLS (Yellow Game Gear Micro)

    [5] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B089DR4V2Y (Red Game Gear Micro)

    [6] https://www.sonicstadium.org/2020/10...more-consoles/

    Standard review disclaimer: The reviewer obtained the items reviewed within this text using his own means. The products were not supplied to the reviewer by their developer nor publisher.

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    I feel like most the people getting it are doing so just to have the system on display. It's too small to play.
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