Little is known on the true origin of the Game Master. Although it may seem clear that Hartung was the company behind this console, the involvement of Watara as a distributor is very interesting. Watara would go on and release the SuperVision in 1992, a console that used almost identical cartridges. Either Watara purchased the right from Hartung after the demise of the Game Master or whether they were involved from the start. In any case, like for the Gamate, the Game Master was designed to compete with the Nintendo Game Boy in country where Nintendo was not yet the undisputed king.
U.S. Patent information (D332804) reveal that U.S. patent was filled by Bon Treasure Industrial Co., Ltd, a company that would later on create most of the games for the SuperVision. This does support the fact that both game consoles may have, in the end, have been made by the same company, but since the patent was filled on Apr 25, 1991, it cannot confirm it.
Released in 1990, the Game Master was internally distributed by Hartung in Germany and France. Deals were then struck with various distributors to distribute the Game Master in other countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal. Eventually, other distributors started to sell the Game Master in France under other names. Some distributor chose to change the color of the console which led to many variations of the systems. A company called Caterpillar even redesigned the system to be more Game Boy-like. Called the Game Plus and distributed by Delplay in France, the system was made to be incompatible with normal Game Master games to ensure market control. The Game Plus cartridges were, for their part, compatible with normal Game Master console.
The system faced a strong competition from the Gamate and the Game Boy, but The Game Master was nowhere near the power of these two consoles. With only 19 games released, most of had very basic game play, the Game Master quickly felt into obscurity. In 1992, it was replaced by the SuperVision, which Hartung would be the sole distributor in Germany. But even if Hartung stopped making games for the Game Master, the console was still being sold in 1994. It was still available as a prize in a contest that was ending on May 18, 1994.
Many distributors sold the Game Master under different names. Although some are identical, other have visual differences (name, color & shape). Here are the ones we have been able to identify so far, but other variations may exist.
Only 19 games were released for the console. Some games had different title between the box and the title screen. If different, the name of the title screen will appear between [bracket] below the box title. Games sold by Hartung were packaged in boxes were other distributor were selling the games under blister packs.
|Graphics||64 × 64 monochrome LCD|
|Power||4 × AA batteries or 6V AC/DC adapter|
|Cartridges||Yes. 40-pin cartridge port|
|Dimensions||170 × 97 × 33mm|