The Sega Genesis Nomad (or just the Sega Nomad) was Sega's second and last handheld game console after the Sega Game Gear. It was basically a portable Sega Genesis, allowing anyone who owned it to be able to play any Genesis games on the go. It also had a Video-Out input that could let you hook it up to the TV and a controller port that could allow a second player.
Why It Flopped
- It wasn't really a new console nor did it have any games exclusive for it; instead it was yet another one of Sega's attempts to keep the Genesis alive.
- By the time it was released the Sega Saturn was already out so interest in the Genesis was already declining and Sega soon shifted all their focus to the Saturn.
- It was rather bulky and difficult to carry around.
- It costed twice as much as the Genesis at $180, which was too expensive for a handheld system.
- Much like with the Sega Game Gear, The system took 6 AA batteries and drained them in about 3 hours.
- The screen was rather blurry.
- Due to the short battery life and large size, it could barely be considered a truly portable console.
- It was released at a really bad time. Shortly after its release Pokémon: Red and Blue was released; it made the Game Boy, which already was dominating the handheld gaming market, even more popular than it already was.
- It wasn't compatible with any Genesis add ons or accessories, such as the Sega CD and the Sega 32X.
- It was region locked, so it isn't compatible with the Japanese and PAL Mega Drive games.
- It had no reset button, meaning that X-Men was unfinishable without using the level select code.
Blake Snow of GamePro listed the Nomad as 5th on his list of the "10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time", criticizing its poor timing into the market, inadequate advertising, and poor battery life.
Alan Marriott of Allgame placed more than timing into reasons for the Nomad's failure. Stating: "The reason for the Nomad's failure may have very well been a combination of poor timing, company mistrust and the relatively high cost. Genesis owners were too skittish to invest in another 16-bit system."
The Most Underrated Console Of All Time?
To this day, the Nomad has a reputation as "one of the worst consoles of all time." Similar to that of the R-Zone, or even the Virtual Boy. Though frankly, it really doesn't deserve this.
It's proclaimed terrible because of its technical issues, but thanks to the internet, hackers and hobbyists have found ways to mod the Nomad and give it more power, fixing all these problems.
The Nomad also had a fair share of good reception. The staff of Retro Gamer praised the Nomad, saying in a retrospective of the handheld that the Nomad was "the first true 16-bit handheld" and declared it the best variant of the Genesis. Retro Gamer also called it a true successor to the Mega Drive... saying perhaps Sega may have succeeded in its original goal to prolong the life of the Mega Drive in the US." Norman Caruso of Gaming Historian said "it's a Genesis in the palm of your hand, and that's awesome." Classic Game Room also praised the system.
These days, the Nomad is collector's item and goes for around $100-$200 on auction sites.