The Game Gear Micro was a neat little product and all, but it wasn’t exactly practical – it’s absolutely tiny, so playing it for longer than five minutes is an exercise in pain, and the fact that Sega only included a handful of games on each unit means you have to buy five different consoles to get the whole collection. It was a nice way to at least recognise the console’s birthday, but little else.
If you feel the same way, then you might be interested to learn that UK mod company RetroSix (the same guys who gave us the amazing upgraded GBA) has teamed up with US firm Hand Held Legend to create the Game Gear that the world truly deserves in 2020.
Dubbed the “prestige” model, this cybernetically-enhanced beast boasts a new TFT LCD screen which is leagues ahead of the terrible blurry version that the console originally shipped with. It also comes with a “CleanAmp” audio board to deliver loud, clear sound, and swaps out the existing power regulator board with a brand new RetroSix “CleanPower” mod, which is far more efficient.
Combine this with the fact that modern LCD screens are less power-hungry, and you’ve solved one of the biggest problems with the Game Gear, and one of the main reasons it lost to the Game Boy – its seemingly insatiable demand for AA batteries. Six batteries will last you much, much longer with this machine, and for those times when you need to be connected to power, you can make use of the console’s USB-C port, which replaces the existing power connector (it’s not a good idea to use power supplies which are three decades old, by the way).
As if that wasn’t enough, the team at RetroSix also performs a full re-cap of the system, replacing all the aluminium capacitors with brand new, modern-day versions, thereby solving another big problem with original Game Gear hardware – dodgy or dead capacitors mean that most of the vintage units will exhibit screen or audio faults, or both.
The console’s PCB is also cleaned and restored, and the entire body of the machine is given a refresh – right down to a brand-new case, buttons and D-Pad. The final touch is a brand-new screen protector made from tempered glass, which is less likely to get scratched than the one on the original console.
The catch? Well, this kind of work – which not only includes labour and parts, but also the development of new technologies such as CleanAmp and CleanPower (not to mention the cost of designing and manufacturing the new cases) – obviously drives the price up. You’re looking at a cool £275 (around $365) for the full works, which basically gets you a Game Gear console that’s better than the original and feels factory-fresh.
Unless you’re going to spend loads of extra cash on eBay hoovering up original cartridges, you’ll no doubt want to invest in an Everdrive GG flash cart (which also allows you to play Master System games on the console, massively opening up its library), which is another £100 on top of that cost. Add all of this up, and it’s clear that this is a serious investment for only the most committed of retro gamers.
That’s hardly chump change, and we dare say that Sega, if it decided to have another stab at this concept, could create a mass-produced offering that could be sold at a slightly friendlier price point. As for whether or not it would be as good, that’s a matter for debate. You get what you pay for, after all.
Thanks to RetroSix for supplying the Game Gear used in this feature.