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Sega Nomad

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Sega Nomad handheld console
The Sega Nomad, released in 1995, was a handheld game console released in North America and Japan. The system was never released in Europe. This system was inspired by the Sega Mega Jet released for use on Japan Airlines airliners. It was designed for use on Japanese airlines (hence the name), as many planes in the Japan Air Lines (JAL) fleet had small LCD televisions installed into the armrests of each seat for the convienence of their passengers. You could bring your own games, but JAL is reported to have stocked a limited selection of four titles on each flight. Two of the titles known to have been in JAL's rotation included Super Monaco GP 2 and the original Sonic the Hedgehog.

It was basically a hand-held Genesis; it played all Genesis games, and the controls had six action buttons, just like the uncreatively named Genesis Six Button gamepad. It was about the same size as a Game Gear but with squared corners is a little thicker and is heavier. It features a high-quality 3" passive-matrix LCD screen and a full compliment of six buttons. The Nomad also can also be hooked to a television (there is a DIN-type output - Genesis 2-style) and played simultaneously on the Nomad screen and the television. There is also a port for a second joypad to allow two-player play (although Player 1 must always use the Nomad joypad and buttons).

By the time the Nomad was released, the Genesis was well on the way out so it didn't last long. It was also expensive, costing $180.00 in the United States after its October 1995 release. The Nomad only came in NTSC format. There was a rumor of a European PAL release but the lack of US success and the dying Sega Megadrive market in Europe meant that the release never happened.

The Nomad suffered from minor incompatibilities with some Genesis games. The 3-inch Active Matrix LCD screen was higher resolution than other handhelds at the time and was also backlit. Unlike passive matrix LCDs, the Nomad screen was very sharp and did not suffer from blurring as the Nintendo Game Boy and Game Gear handhelds did. Although this LCD provided excellent visual quality, it contributed to its short battery life. Also, game text designed to be readable on a TV was of course much smaller and potentially difficult to read. Powered by 6 AA batteries, fitted to a case that clipped on back of unit. The batteries only lasted three to five hours, but a rechargeable battery pack and AC Unit was available. The poor battery life, combined with a high price tag, ensured the Nomad would not become widespread.

The Nomad could be connected to the television using the same scart or RF lead as the Sega Genesis 2.

  • The following Genesis titles are known to have difficulty with or not to work at all on the Nomad: Bonkers, Chakan, Decap Attack/Magical Hat Adventure, Forgotten Worlds, Golden Axe 2, Phantasy Star MD, Pit-Fighter, Outback Joey, Shadowrun, Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage.