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33 Consoles of Christmas
Sega Nomad (1995)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 06, 2006   |   Episode 14 (Show Archive)  

It's time once again for Defunct Games' 33 Consoles of Christmas, your 33 part guide to the best and worst system designs of all time. Join Cyril Lachel and Chad Reinhardt as they judge 33 different game consoles based on what they think of the look. Forget about actual hardware and software, the only thing these guys care about is talking about their exterior design. Join us every day between November 23 and December 25 for a new console review!

Synopsis: After the debacle that was the Game Gear, Sega decided to give the portable market another crack. This time around they opted not to create a new portable media; instead they focused on a handheld system that could play Sega Genesis games. The Nomad is one of the few portables that has no exclusive games, instead it was there to prolong the life of the Sega Genesis brand as console gamers flooded to the Sega Saturn. Unfortunately the Nomad's success was marred by a high price tag and terrible battery life. On the other hand, while most portable game systems struggle to introduce must-own titles, the Nomad already had a huge game library with some of the best 16-bit games of all time.

Best Games: Strider, Ghouls 'N Ghosts, Phantasy Star III, Gunstar Heroes, Streets of Rage, Sonic 3, Landstalker, Vectorman, Shinobi III and so on!

The Nomad is my chance to contradict myself. In the past I have complained about the massive size of the Game Gear and Atari Lynx, yet the Nomad is just as large (if not larger) and I still love it. I have complained about the battery life of portables with color screens, but the Nomad is the worst offender when it comes to sucking batteries. All of the things I hated about the Lynx and the Game Gear I mysteriously love about the Nomad; it makes no sense at all. There's just something about this Sega portable that I love, and it's not the fact that I can play all of my favorite 16-bit Genesis games on the go (for about an hour). What I love the most about this portable is the way it's shaped, it may be large but it has a neat cut to it that you don't see in other game systems. The system is not really a box, one side of the system is a little smaller than the other, and the way the buttons and the screen like up is really interesting. I also love that you can plus a second control into the machine and play two players.

And that's not all; you can also plug the console right into the TV and make it work like a traditional Genesis. This may not be the most practical use for a portable, but it's the first time I've been able to do that without having to buy special equipment. I also dig the button layout, it makes playing Street Fighter II on the go a whole lot easier. One thing I don't like is that the batteries don't actually go into the console itself; instead they go into an extra box that clips onto the back of the system. Unfortunately that box is not very sturdy, and if it breaks (or you accidentally hit it) it will turn off your system. That's lame, but it's something I can live with. Personally I just use the Nomad at my office desk with the AC cable plugged in.

Wow; if the Game Gear had a more sleek, in-your-face child, it would definitely be the Nomad. The idea of a portable Genesis was a fantastic one, even if I could never afford to own it. It's the perfect size, the buttons are comfortable in my powerful, callused carpenter's hands, but the screen is oh so small. The addition of the X, Y, and Z buttons is very nice, and I don't feel that it robs the system of any needed space the way some portable button configurations can. I also like that the cartridge sticks out a little bit at the top, letting the world know how much you love DJ Boy everywhere you go. The "Nomad" logo reminds me too much of the Jaguar's tacked-on logo, which is kind of cheesy, but the last thing Sega needed to worry about at this point was the designing of a new logo. I have to say I'm impressed with this one, and if I could ever find one for sale I would totally buy it.


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