Well folks, as you may or may not know, the Nintendo Entertainment System ruled the school last round with a whopping 26 votes! The lowly SMS garnered itself 4 votes, while nothing else got a vote. Too bad, so sad. For more details you can visit the thread for Round 3. First, a quick recap of the rules: Warning: Spoilers inside! Ea Warning: Spoilers inside! ch week, video game history will be put to the test to see which console or handheld is the greatest. There can only be one! Warning: Spoilers inside! Vote for your favourite and follow it through to the end as we try to determine GBATemp's favourite console/handheld! Consoles and handhelds will face off in brackets comprised of their generation. Because there can only be one, in the event of a tie I will cast a tie-breaking vote. Once a winner has been declared for each generation, the console winners and the handheld winners will face off in individual brackets. Once an ultimate console and ultimate handheld have been chosen, they will face off against each other to see who is the greatest! For a concrete example of the brackets, see the image at the bottom of this post. So what's next? Well... as you may have discerned from the sub-title, we're not doing the Fourth Generation of Consoles yet. We interrupt your regularly scheduled Console Classic to bring you a Handheld Classic! Handheld gaming needs no introduction; it’s gaming on the go! But where did it all begin? Some of you might remember that in the 80s and early 90s, LCD games were all the rage. Companies like Tiger Electronics and Nintendo were making money hand over fist with one shot titles like Donkey Kong, Batman, The Legend of Zelda and MC Hammer! There were tons of these things! But they had to evolve into cartridge based systems eventually. While there were some earlier cartridge based handhelds, it wasn’t until the release of this week’s contenders that things really started to happen. So, now we enter what I like to call the First Generation of Handhelds! Which is where we first see region-free gaming and we discover what really matters to the public: graphics or games! This week's challengers are: The Atari Lynx This this is a powerhouse. Not exactly a portable system (it was huge) the system was heralded as a 16-bit console, and was allegedly only recently ‘outmuscled’ in terms of power by the Gameboy Advance in 2001 (I can't verify that). Released in 1989, the Atari Lynx had some really unique features. Not only was it the first colour LCD portable gaming system, but it also had reversible controls. With a couple of button presses the screen image would flip, allowing you to turn the console over and use a second set of A and B buttons on the left and a d-pad on the right. It also supported multiplayer capabilities, but rarely used them as no one owned the system. It could be ‘linked’ with up to 17 (!!!) consoles, although most games would allow for 8 or less. Despite it being a stellar piece of hardware it had two huge downsides: 1) it launched for a whopping $189.95, and 2) it took 6 AA batteries and had a really poor battery life. The Lynx sold an estimated 3 million units, and its best-selling game was most likely the pack-in game, Blue Lightening. The Sega Game Gear Based off of the Sega Master System hardware (most of you will note that SMS emulators will also run GG ROMs), the Sega Game Gear was released in Japan in 1990, and in North America, Argentina, and Europe in 1991. Much like the Atari Lynx, this little beast was supposedly ahead of its time, and was definitely more powerful than a certain Nitnendo handheld. With a backlit, colour screen and a myriad of attachments, this thing seemed built to last. The Sega Game Gear was relatively successful for a non-Nintendo handheld. It sold an estimated 11 million units and in the end had almost 400 games released for it. Sega discontinued it in 1997. Ultimately, the Game Gear could only take a small chunk of the Game Boy’s market. It shared more than just advanced hardware with the Lynx; it also suffered from a terrible battery life. Not a bad little (actually, big) system though! Tons of great games too. The NEC TurboExpress What the hell is this thing? Well, as we’ll see in the Fourth Generation of Consoles, the PC-Engine (known as the Turbo GraFX-16 in NA) was released and was doing alright in Japan. Not great, but alright. And the makers of the system saw Sega and Nintendo duking it out with their respective handhelds and saw what they thought was a gap in the market. “What if we made a system that could play PC-Engine games on the go?” And so it was done! The PC-Engine GT (Game Tank) was released in 1990 for a jaw-dropping $249.99!!! And guess what? No one bought it! It suffered the same problems as other beefy handhelds of the era: poor battery life (three hours for 6AA batteries). Other problems included: faulty parts (dead capacitors, LCDs with high rate of pixel failure), lack of onboard memory for game saves, and the small screen size made reading text in some games (which were designed to be read on a normal television) impossible! The TurboExpress shared a problem with its parent console in that it was way too damn expensive. I’m not sure how true this is, but there are indications that the price even went up to $300 for a little while soon after launch. Despite all the shortcomings, it managed to sell 1.5 million units and was featured in the movie 3 Ninjas! The Gameate/Super boy/Super Child Prodigy What can I say? This is one obscure handheld. It had a very limited release in 1990 around the world. It had cartridges that looked a lot like PC-Engine HuCards and reportedly had over 70 games released! Not much is known about this puppy as it’s kind of rare. There aren’t even any ROM dumps for it. It seemed to have had a larger impact in GB, so hopefully someone will remember it! The Nintendo Game Boy 1989. The FAMICOM and NES are doing quite well in their respective territories. Nintendo puts their old toy maker, Gunpey Yokoi, to the task of designing a handheld with cartridges. The result: The Game Boy. Some people credit the Game Boy’s success to the inclusion of Tetris as a pack in. Some credit the array of games for the system; others, the battery life (8 hours!!!). I believe it’s all of these factors plus the backbone of the NES’s success. Chances are if you grew up in the 90s, you had one of these. Or you had a Game Gear/Atari Lynx and you envied your friends with their Game Boy. Some might remember the slight joke Nintendo played on people in 1995 when they announced that the Game Boy would soon have colour. Soon after, they released the Game Boy DMG unit with different coloured cases as part of their ‘Play it Loud’ campaign. Much to the shagrin of others, it boosted sales like CRAZY. The Game Boy has sold an impressive 64.5 million units (This figure might include the Game Boy Pocket) and its best-selling game was Tetris (which we must remember, was released as a separate title as well as being a pack-in) with 30.26 million units. If you exclude the pack-ins as sales, Pokemon Red and Blue (I don’t understand why they didn’t just report the games individually) sold 23.64 million units, although, this figure is undoubtedly shared over the GBC lifespan. The Watara Supervision This crazy little handheld was initially released in 1992 for $50US! It was an effort to undercut the Game Boy. It was an interesting idea, because Nintendo was making a lot of money selling 5 year old tech for $100. Why not make a system that is on par with it and sell it for half the price? Again we return to why the Game boy was so successful. The Supervision had an impressive battery life, and even had a TV-out feature. But what it ultimately lacked was games, and those that were released were considered poor. The Mega Duck/Cougar Boy This console, which seeming was only released in parts of Europe and South America, obviously didn’t make as much of an impact as Atari, Sega and Nintendo’s outings. It was released in 1992 and sold initially for about €60. This thing had the strange option of attaching a second joystick so that you could play two player games on the same, tiny (48 (h) x 51 (w) mm) screen. There were around 40 games released for the system, again nowhere near the quality of the Game Boy's, and most were eventually sold together in #-in-1 carts. Because it saw a limited European/elsewhere release, not a lot of people have played or even heard of this thing, and it was easily eclipsed by the other major handhelds. Housekeeping!! And there you have it, folks! We're probably going to see another runaway lead this time, but who knows? The Supervision fans could come out of the woodwork. And remember folks, whoever wins this round will compete against the other winning handhelds of their generation, so vote now, vote often! Here's the brackets as they currently stand: http://i752.photobuc...lassic-gen3.jpg Who will win? It could be you!* *note: It can't be you. Don't forget to join us next week as we delve into the Fourth Generation of Consoles! Yay!