Sega Gamegear Logo
Developed under the name "Project Mercury", the Game Gear was first released in Japan on October 6, 1990, in North America and Europe in 1991, and in Australia in 1992. Originally retailing at JP¥19,800 in Japan, US$149. 99 in North America, and GB£99. 99 in Europe, the Game Gear was developed to compete with the Game Boy, which Nintendo had released in 1989. The console had been designed as a portable version of the Master System, and featured more powerful systems than the Game Boy, including a full-color screen, in contrast to the monochromatic screen of its rival. In order to improve upon the design of their competition, Sega modeled the Game Gear with a similar shape to a Genesis controller, with the idea being that the curved surfaces and longer length would make the Game Gear more comfortable to hold than the Game Boy. Despite the similarities the Game Gear shared with the Master System, the games of the latter were not directly playable on the Game Gear, and were only able to be played on the handheld by the use of an accessory called the Master Gear Converter. The original Game Gear pack-in game was Columns, which was similar to the Tetris cartridge that Nintendo had included when it launched the Game Boy.