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Watara (Quickshot) Supervision
A handheld that has had TV recognition and nearly stood up against Nintendo's Game Boy. Despite its sub-par library of games, it held its own.
When the Game Boy dominated the handheld market, what was the natural thing to do in response, knowing that video gamers around the world has a spot for portable video gaming with interchangeable cartridges running on batteries? Make one yourself and sell it to grab a piece, or the whole, handheld pie.
Looking at it, the Supervision surely possessed many physical traits that the original Game Boy had: A and B buttons, a D-pad, a START and SELECT buttons, interchangeable cartridges, runs on 4 (AA) batteries and a very large screen (160x160 resolution). The body of the Supervision is bigger than the Game Boy, the audio volume is much louder, and as you can see, the unit can bend inward in a V position. I'm guessing it was a feature to those playing for long periods that they end up playing lying on the floor/bed, or it was there to reduce any glare hitting the screen. The bend also makes the unit sit nicely on a table-top, with prongs in the back to keep the screen 45° up (in case the bending of the unit wears out). All these features make Supervision very unique, as it's something you normally don't see on handhelds during that time.
The screen seems a little bit sharper than the Game Boy, but like dot matrix screens, the motion blur can strain the eyes (depending on the game). The game cartridges for the games have a ridge at the top to make removing the game from the unit easier, but it fully exposes the pins which can rust over time.
To my luck, I got my hands on the Supervision TV-Link—a rare accessory that can enable you to play your games on TV. Take a look:
This is one of the ugliest accessories in video game history; There, I said it. No, honestly, I find this to be one, awful-looking unit I have seen and it involves inserting the entire unit in, plugging the TV-Link cartridge adapter in the handheld, plug its wires to the TV-Link's DC input with the 15-pin plug, then plug the VIDEO and AUDIO composites to your TV accordingly (there's an RF Output, if you prefer that). If that's not enough, the TV-Link also requires 4 (AA) batteries. (After all, we're looking at 1992 technology.) Battery life for the TV-Link? I'd say around 3 hours, which isn't much compared to today's systems having rechargeable batteries. For the Supervision, it's a bit longer in terms of battery life, give or take, 4 hours.
I mean, the aesthetics of the TV-Link is like the designers predicted the system's own Fate: "rest well, Supervision," as I'm sure someone in their headquarters must have said that to themselves, or out loud. Nevertheless, I can't stress enough at how ugly the TV-Link design is; I just can't, fans, I just really can't.
Upon testing and playing on the TV-Link, it's as bulky as ever. The controls you use are the handheld itself, no external controllers featured on this unit. Playing for a long period causes your hands to get tired and sore. To activate the thing, you must boot up BOTH the Supervision and the TV-Link, all running on a total of 8 batteries. Feel bloated yet? Anyway, when the handheld is plugged into the TV-Link, the screen shows this:
Nice illustration of that humanoid-like mascot. On TV, it just displays 4 colors (boots up normally), compared to Nintendo's Super Game Boy which displays a stunning 32 colors. The one color palette in the background looks futuristic, like a Universe in another dimension. I feel the developers of the TV-Link must have been huge fans of science fiction.
Now, I don't know if it's the quality my unit or if it's common, but after about 2 to 2½ hours of gameplay, the unit shows some video snow/interference. I cleaned the plugs and even installed new fresh batteries every time, but after a long period of playing, it still shows. I'm not sure if this is a flaw or if it's the one I have but I have to mention it to you fellow video gamers/collectors looking to snatch one of these.
For the library of games, there are over 70 games released for this system (about 60 released in North America). Compared to Game Boy's 400+ games released, you can already tell the lack of success with this handheld. Supervision never had an official mascot to represent its handhelds, compared to Nintendo having Mario and Sega having Sonic, and finally the [NEC] Turbo Express having Bonk.
Not enough? Watara/QuickShot/Hartung released a Game Boy-like version of the Supervision: the
GB-2000>. Everything remains the same except the COMM plug is gone, still compatible but doesn't physically fit with the TV-Link (it doesn't show the humanoid-robot illustration on the screen, however), and the D-pad are buttons and not a "pad" pad. Screen is much larger and sharper than the Game Boy as well, but still didn't entice handheld gamers during the time.
Want more? Magnum International released their own Supervision! Pictures available on Syd Bolton's Supervision page**** [WEBPAGE OFFLINE]. This Magnum version is unbelievably rare, almost impossible to find. If you've got one, big props to you!
According to Syd, the rarest game for the Supervision happens to be Happy Race which I personally own (review coming soon!). Reading online forums for the Supervision, I feel the rarest game has to be Journey To The West which is an RPG title. As you know, RPGs on handhelds are difficult to develop but are of high value, even ones for the Game Boy. I've never ever seen one for sale, not one.
Supervision had its run and tried all it could with whatever it could handle. The marketing and the lack of third-party support, even development support from popular, high-end video gaming companies like KONAMI, really made this system hang on its own threads. Still, as the saying goes, "there's no harm in trying," and looking back at its tenure is a fascinating thing to see, thus making its official mark in humanity's world history of video games (if anyone hasn't written a book about the world history of video games, someone reading this just might, so you're very welcome, sir/ma'am/buddy/dude/man).
The TV-Link is quite scarce but they do pop-up every now and then. What I mean by that is about 3 to 5 of them show up at popular auction websites every year, depending where you look at and what website you shop. You just read how I feel about it, even though it's quite neat to bring your Supervision games to the big screen, so you wanting one is totally up to you if the price is right. Hah! Actually, yes, the Supervision was one of the prizes in the showcase featured on actor Doug Davidson's short-lived, nighttime version of The [New] Price Is Right in 1994. Anyway, if you're okay with having the TV-Link, shop well and see if your unit produces snow on the screen after long periods of playing. Stock up on batteries while you're at it.
This is one of those handhelds that only true video gamers and historians happen to know about, as well as the small number of fans it had during its life. Chances are good that you didn't know anyone personally who actually owned one, especially here in North America. It's not the best, rare handheld out there but, modestly saying, it's okay.
And please don't get me started again on the aesthetics of the TV-Link; I'm over it, I'm done.
(****UPDATE 09/12/2020: According to reports, Syd Bolton passed away in 2018 at the age of 46. He was Canada's top video game collector. While also providing and publishing an excellent page about the Supervision, his passionate collecting will always be remembered. Click here to watch a video made by a video gamer paying homage and praise to Mr. Bolton. Syd, this is for you, and we appreciate your contribution to the video gaming universe! And thank you for your website, namely the section about the Supervision. We learned a lot. You will always be remembered, Syd!)
- Nearly challenged the Game Boy head-on.
- Was featured on the syndicated version of "The New Price Is Right," (1994), and "Legends of the Hidden Temple," ().
- Rarest games are "Happy Race" and "Journey to the West."
- Bigger screen and louder volume, compared to the Game Boy.
- Has an add-on to output games to TV.
- Also marketed and sold in the European markets.
- No backlight.
- Did Nintendo steal the their idea to also output the Game Boy to TV, like this one does?
- Library of games are sub-par at best, despite their rare value.
- Bulky compared to the original Game Boy.
- Awful-looking TV-Link accessory. Could've been re-designed better.
|Game Console||Watara Supervision|
|ISBN / Bar Code number||????|
|Video Format||1.33:1 (4:3) Full screen|
|Region Compatible||NTSC, PAL|
|Released||1992 (US, EU, Asia)|
|Video Specification||Dot Matrix ("Black & White") / Color via Supervision TV-Link|
|Company||Watara / QuickShot|
|Product / Item Number||(????)|
|Other Console Versions||Quickshot Supervision, Travell-Mate, Hartung SV-100, Magnum Supervision|
|Other||The Supervision was originally released in Hong Kong to compete against Japan's Nintendo Game Boy.|
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