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Game Com: The Worst Handheld I Almost Got

If I could ever look back on a video game handheld that left a lasting impression on me during my childhood, I always looked back on the Nintendo Game Boy and its increasing library of games as the years went by, lasting for over nine years on the market before making the evolution to the Game Boy Color. However as I entered the 5th grade by 1997, I began seeing advertisements for an unusual new handheld that was coming to retailers, and coming from Tiger Electronics, the Game.Com.

Flipping through the pages of an issue of GamePro, I was stunned at the first ad I saw for it. It really gave the impression to me that this was going to top the Game Boy with its additional features. A portable internet browser? sweet! then that would mean I wouldn't have to hog my mom's PC after school. Aside from that, some familiar games were plastered on the ad as well, and it had me wondering if they would play better (or had more features) than other console or handheld ports.

Even when I wasn't getting info about the Game.Com from magazines, it seemed to form some kind of buzz during some cafeteria downtime. Nobody had owned one yet, but coming from more sources of magazines in previews, it showed some promise, at least by the screenshots. Come late '97 during its launch, I managed to have a trip with my parents to the family shopping store, Montgomery Ward, which seemed to be a store that rivaled Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target, but unbeknownst to me, was one of the last few years the store would be around.

Montgomery Ward was huge, and often times had video game kiosks just as some other stores with electronic departments did.

As the time came for me to try out the new handheld, my mom and stepdad hung around the electronics with me looking at some recent home video releases, camcorders and modern televisions while my eyes were glued to the Game.Com. I never got to try out the internet browser, but what was displayed for play was Sonic Jam.

See, originally Sonic Jam was a compilation disc for the Sega Saturn featuring the first four Sonic the Hedgehog games for the Sega Genesis. However on the Game.Com, it seemed that a lot of shortcuts were made to have this "collection" fit on the game cart. Sonic 2, 3, and Sonic & Knuckles were featured on it, but each game only had four levels, no Chaos Emeralds, and to make things worse, levels didn't function as they should. Even poor Sonic needed serious momentum just to get through a loop-de-loop.

Don't let the screenshot fool you, the game isn't even a complete conversion of the original.

As I put in well over 20 minutes of playing the game, I went from getting hyped to play, to losing hope for what future games would show up on the system. My parents asked me if I was ready to go home, and in a disappointed tone, I flatly just said "yes" and left out of the store with them. I noticed at this point too that my friends at school weren't talking about it as much in the following months.

More "ports" of games we knew about were being churned in the meat grinder for slow gameplay, delayed controls, generic music, and horribly muffled voice clips. Even hot on the heels of the Sony PlayStation, Resident Evil 2 was a joke on the Game.Com. Even Duke Nukem 3D showed up and was given an attempt at looking as it should, but again, the controls just didn't work.

I'm here to kick @$$ and drain batteries. and I'm all out of batteries.

Overall, the Game.Com was a game marketing flop in an attempt to put some rivalry into Nintendo's Game Boy, but the games and their performance just wasn't enough to make it a success as Tiger Electronics wanted outside of their prior LCD handheld games that you could easily find at a flea market. I was close to asking for one, but thanks to getting a hands-on preview at the kiosk, the writing was already on the wall.

Did you try out the ill-fated Game.Com? Leave a comment and as always, see you next article!

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SteveUrkel Posted on Feb 28, 2024 at 06:48 PM

I had it. Biggest memory is the audio when you power it on.

"Game Com... ACTIVE." pa-ching!

Benjanime Posted on Oct 10, 2023 at 10:05 PM

Mr Magic@

Oddly enough, that's the internet browser

Mr Magic Posted on Oct 10, 2023 at 07:09 PM

Um, let's see. What do I remember about Game.Com? I might have seen commercials for it, but that's all I know.

What's with the phone icon on the menu screen? Could you make calls?

Game Joy Posted on Oct 10, 2023 at 06:16 PM

To be frank, I also saw the ads back then, on GamePro. But I didn't got hyped, the console visual wasn't appealing, looking oddly simplistic to it's promises, and the black and white games, not appealing as well. The Bandai WonderSwan was another recent release, also with black and white games. The only "outsider" handheld getting my attention was the Neo-Geo Pocket Color, and the Game Boy Color about to come out. The other handheld having my curiosity was the Nokia N-Gage, but when I saw the so tiny screen, I got reluctant on getting it. Luckily you had the experience before buying it, little brother.

Another charismatic, full of passion game article from my amazing brother. It's always a pleasure to read.

RetroOtaku620 Posted on Oct 09, 2023 at 07:58 PM

I've never had a Game.com, but I heard it was terrible. I'm kind of glad I didn't get one. I was more of a Nintendo boy, anyway.

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