Video Game Handheld Review (Posted on 12-05-2015)
Competing it all against Nintendo's immortal Game Boy
, a German company by name of Hartung
released a handheld only available in the European markets: the Game Master
. Not much is known about the company itself and its philosophy behind the release of this (other than grabbing a piece of the handheld market pie), but because very few is/are available at popular auction websites and even game forums, this becomes a very rare handheld to obtain for one's video gaming collection. (However, if you bid right, it shouldn't be too expensive depending on condition.)
With a horizontally wide body, nearly resembling the Sega Game Gear
, you see the features on the front from left to right: mono speaker, the directional pad tilted about 110° to the right, the dot matrix screen with the logo on the very bottom, START and SELECT buttons, and the A and B buttons. Like the Neo Geo Pocket
, the A button is on the left, while the B button is on the right. The A-B buttons are a bit different as they are almost spherical in shape, making them feel solid when pressed. As for the screen, it is dot matrix, similar to the Game Boy; The difference is the gray and black colors, which very much are the exact color schemes of the games themselves (as opposed to Game Boy's green-ish hue screen). I'm not sure if the one I have is worn out, but at times, the screen shows dark lines randomly during gameplay. Given that this system wasn't made out of high-end materials, it may be common on some/most systems out there. The directional pad has that sort of ergonomic style to it with that tilt making it less strenuous when playing.
On the bottom of the system, you have the following from left to right: Contrast knob, DC plug (6V), a "phone jack" (headphone jack), and a Volume knob. At the top, on the right, you have the system's ON-OFF switch—the same side where the Game Boy's ON-OFF switch is. On the back of the unit, the grips are also the battery compartments, each requiring two AA batteries. The battery covers are NOT attached to the system, making them very easy to lose (when lost, it's incredibly difficult to find replacement covers given how rare this unit is). At the middle, you have the slot for the game cartridge itself.
If you came across one of these complete with box, it comes with one game packaged with it titled Falling Block
. The game is very much a Tetris-clone. The game cartridges closely resemble cartridges for the Watara Supervision: The pins are openly exposed, making them vulnerable to dust, but the cartridge has a grip at the very top with two ridges. As for the game library, a list is available everywhere but is not complete; That's how little is known about this handheld.
Unless you're a big-time video game collector, this thing reeks of obscurity. When I received mine, I'd stare at this thing wondering what the days were like when the announcement of this handheld was released. Frankly, the Internet wasn't readily available for the home consumer so I'm sure hearing anything about this unit wasn't enough to entice gamers. The games aren't anything impressive (you can give the emulated games a try), but for the heck of it, I like to see the awesome folks at TASVideos.org
give these games a "TAS"—tool-assisted speedrun—treatment (I've been a huge fan of theirs since 2007). Besides that, you can check it out yourself, but this may belong better to video game historians and collectors alike.
As you can tell from the images, yes, I have taken pictures of the different variations that followed the Game Master. They are very much over the border of "too-rare-even-to-find," but happily provided images for the world to see.
Like I said: obscure...to the max.
I also don't think you should pass up getting $5 off orders over $50 at the Warner Bros Online Shop
© 2008-2019 written and reviewed personally by Kris Caballero.
Video Game Handheld Ratings