Released in Japan on October 6, 1990 the original Game Gear was Sega’s response to the Nintendo GameBoy.In 1995, Sega started to reassess their handheld strategy. Sega’s American subsidiary was pushing on for the release of a Genesis-based handheld while Sega of Japan had no plan to continue in the handheld market, preferring to focus on the Sega Saturn. In October 1995, Sega released the Nomad in North America. Although they claim they had no intention to replace the Game Gear, Sega had no interest in pursuing the product line internally. In Japan, a decision was made to send the distribution of the Game Gear over Sega’s toy division. Under the toy division supervision, the decision was made to change the Game Gear to appeal more to kids. The console was rebranded Kid’s Gear and a new line of cartridges was planned to be released alongside it.
Released on March 29, 1996, the Kid’s Gear is in fact just a simple redesign. The console is fully backward compatible with the Game Gear as they share they are the same internally. Externally, some customization was done to change the look and feel. Among the major changes, we can note that the front plate was replaced by a new plate that features Virtua Fighter and the directional button is now blue. The form factor is also slightly different, which make the Big Window II accessory incompatible.
The Kid’s Gear was bundled with Virtua Fighter Mini, a game based on the Virtua Fighter TV show. The box also feature characters from the same show.
As Sega had basically already thrown the towel on the Game Gear, the Kid’s Gear was never intended to be a very successful line of product. The Nomad, even if it was only released in North America, put even more strain on the Game Gear with even less developers wanted to develop new games for a dying console. This being said, Sega Toy did try their best to give a second breath to the system by releasing a new line-up of games aimed for kids, but sadly, it wasn’t enough. The Kid’s Gear was sadly discontinued on the same year of its inception,
Although the Kid’s Gear is fully compatible with all the Game Gear’s game, 9 games were released under the Kid’s Gear branding.
- Doraemon: Waku Waku Pocket Paradise
- GG Portrait: Yuuki Akira
- GG Portrait: Pai Chan
- Neko Dai Suki!
- Panzer Dragoon Mini
- Pet Club Inu Dai Suki!
- Puzzle Bobble
- Virtua Fighter Mini