THE RANT: This system debuted around 1990 or 91 if I'm not mistaken. Sega saw the incredible success that Nintendo had with the Game Boy and decided to go one better. They released a cool system with decent hardware and a COLOR screen. I'm sure the people at Sega thought that American gamers would put one next to the other and see which one was cooler and that their system would be the logical choice. Too bad it didn't work that way.
I remember reading in EGM that this system was supposed to utterly crush the Gameboy overnight and that Nintendo was up shit creek without a paddle because their system had such weak hardware. Boy were they wrong. The trade off for the color screen was a high price tag, so although Sega managed to make more impressive games Nintendo was able to undercut them by close to $80. So you're a parent, you have kids that want all this crap for Christmas. You go to the store. You see two hand held game systems. You don't give a fuck which one has a color screen, you buy the one that's cheaper. Plus add to the fact that most console gamming people didn't like hand held games merely for their simplicity and cheesy hardware (a fact that has just recently changed with more powerful handhelds like the GBA and GP32 that can deliver games with more depth than just Tetris.) So only hard core Sega fanatics bought the Game Gear and despite being a better machine all around it never even came close to making a dent in Nintendo's sales. Too bad for Sega.
THE GOOD: I always thought that the Game Gear was a vastly superior system to the Game Boy from day one. The fact that it's got a color screen is the first plus; stuff just looks better in color. Yeah, the screen is a little cheap by today's standards (it blurs a little) but in 1991 it was the best one out there next to the uber expensive Turbo Express. The hardware inside is essentially a scaled down SMS (there's even an adapter that lets you play SMS games,) which that in itself makes this a pretty powerful 8-bit system. This system was capable of pulling off decent translations of Sonic the hedgehog, Space Harrier, Fatal Fury (without it being all superdeformed like the Game Boy Version,) and even pretty good looking versions of Virtual Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Primal Rage. There's also a TV turner available for it, as well as special Virtual fighter, Coca Cola, and "Lady" Game Gear versions. Regular Game Gears can be found for about $25-30.
THE BAD: The screen can get a little annoying sometimes. It tends to have a white blur if you don't have it adjusted properly. They also tend to wear out after a couple of years. Directions for replacing your screen can be found all over the net, however it's usually just as convenient to just buy a new system. Carts have the contacts exposed and must be stored away from dust and moisture or they'll get fucked up. How much more would it have cost to make the carts with the contacts protected like every other game system since the beginning of time?
THE UGLY: Your mom. I like this system.