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Bit Corporation Gamate
Another handheld that tried to challenge the Game Boy during its release. Despite its horizontal build, the console barely made traction but holds a nice value in price among video gaming collectors.
When it comes to obscure handhelds, I have one simple question: What's up with these names? "Mega Duck" and "Cougar Boy," and now this. Say it out loud: Gamate, pronounced as G'ey-mate; I literally didn't think it was pronounced as G'ah-mate. Did they mean to call it "Game Mate" or was that name taken? Geez man, but anyway....
Bit Corporation marketed this handheld to take aim at Nintendo's popular portable console Game Boy. Word has it that the businessman/business group behind this handheld invested thousands of dollars to produce and sell these like hot cakes, but ended up failing to even break over 100 sold. While it was bad for their business, video game collectors may just find this to be one of the hottest items to snatch up and add to their collection. Items like these are where casual gamers would look and think, "Whoa that's a very uncommon handheld. Wonder what the history behind that handheld is." It'd be nice to speak to and interview the folks who worked on this handheld for fans to read.
The system takes on a horizontally-based body, in contrast to the Sega Game Gear and to the SNK Neo Geo Pocket, but sports a dot matrix screen. The audio speaker can, given how old and rare this handheld is, blow out due its aging capacitors. Nevertheless, the quality of the sound is sub-par but sound a bit better via headphones. Like many dot matrix screens, these screens can burn out over time and are prone to motion blur. Those who specialize in doing modifications (modding) may find this system to be a treat to upgrade and enhance with a backlit screen. Before you think of doing that, let's talk about the games:
The games are re-hashes of popular Game Boy titles with different characters and enemies. Game cartridges come in the form of cards, similar to the Turbo Grafx-16 game cards (see last picture above) and are very much close to the size of an actual credit card. The game library consist of sports, platformers, puzzle and action/adventure games. From what I found, so far, there isn't an RPG from their library (if there were, it'd be crazy rare and expensive). There isn't a title that makes the retro gamer drool with interest so the game library failed to impress, even to this day. Game cartridges themselves can be hard to find, even complete in boxes as some international sellers demand outrageous prices for them (last checked, each game was being sold between $40 to $70).
According to NeoFuji, there were some speculations about Bit Corporation producing and releasing a second variant of the Gamate and even releasing a color version of the handheld. Given how much information the internet has happily provided us, there isn't a tiny clue of these handhelds' existence nor are there photos to prove it. If someone out there has it, take out your smartphone, click the Camera app, snap a picture of that ultra rare Gamate you have and share it online. I'm sure some collector out there will offer you a price that's good enough to buy you a house or two in exchange for that super scarce Gamate you have. You can read about it by clicking here. (Then again, realistic 3D illustrations and motion graphics are the thing nowadays so if you can digitally model what a Gamate Color may look like, create one and send it to us!)
Whether it's the marketing, the name of this system, both or some other reason(s) thereof, these handhelds give off that impression where even if the most spoiled kid everyone knew at school owned it, you likely would still forget about him/her owning it. Despite its rare value, we find that this is one of the most forgettable handhelds that made a small scratch in video game history. The company gave it their all, but I felt they should have given it more thought before releasing and selling this—thus, may lead to the conclusion that this was sold immediately to partake in the demand and popularity of portable gaming. When you think of rare handhelds, past or present, very few would bring the Gamate up in conversation. It's rare, yes, but its history still feels incomplete.
Had I been an employee that tried to market and sell this, I would've been the first to stand up and ask that the handheld name be changed. Being how socially and politically aware the citizens of our country are, here in the United States of America, the name may offend some—like the viewers who found our website's background color offensive because it's "all white with no color, and it's considered racist." Get a life, people.
To those who own one, or previously owned one, let us know what you think in the comments below!
- Horizontal build.
- Little motion blur compared to the Game Boy.
- Game cartridges are produced similarly as the Turbo Grafx-16 games.
- High-valued collectible handheld, despite its sales gone terrible compared to the Game Boy.
- No backlight.
- "Gamate"? At least it's not named "Mega Duck."
- LCD screen and audio speakers don't age very well.
- Rumors of a Gamate Color—color screen version—hasn't been confirmed to this day.
- Not one game stood out to represent the handheld.
- Like the Mega Duck, the Supervision and the Game Master, its library of games hasn't been properly preserved overtime and are slowly disappearing (any diehard Gamate collectors out there?).
|Game Console||Bit Corporation Gamate|
|ISBN / Bar Code number||????|
|Video Format||1.33:1 (4:3)|
|Released||1990s (US, AU, Asia & EU)|
|Video Specification||Dot Matrix ("Black & White")|
|Licensed by||Bit Corporation / United Microelectronics Corporation|
|Company||Bit Corporation / United Microelectronics Corporation|
|Other Console Versions||Gamate Color (????)|
|Other||The Gamate was branded as "Super Boy" in Taiwan, and branded "Super Child Prodigy" in China.|