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The Game Team (known in some European countries as the PocketGame) was the first in a family of video game consoles under the Game Team name. The original Game Team was an 8-bit handheld video game console developed and manufactured by Tiger Electronics. The system was released in the early years of handheld gaming, and was one of the earliest handheld flops on the market. It has in total 4 buttons and a D-Pad. Due to heavy competition and lack of third-party support, this console never sold well, and was replaced by the Tiger Pocket Game 3000 in 1994. It was sold for $59.99 USD and 13 games were released for it. The screens were LCD-based, limiting graphics to black and white.

This was not the first, nor the last, handheld video game system produced by Tiger, who would later go on to produce among other items the Game.com and the R-Zone.

Hardware

The Game Team featured four operational buttons and one d-pad. The buttons, labeled "1", "2", "S1" and "S2", all serve various purposes throughout the games. Unlike its competitors, there was no volume switch nor was there a brightness adjuster. The system automatically turns on when a cartridge is inserted.

The Game Team took eight AA batteries to function, which would be drained within three to four hours of gameplay. As a replacement for the brightness and volume adjusters, there is a headphone jack and an accessory port.

Despite competitors advertising this feature heavily, the Game Team was not able to link up with another system until half way through its lifespan, when an accessory was finally released. This accessory, the Konektor, was a notorious financial disaster and few were sold.

Directional pad

The directional pad was innovative, however stirred up a large amount of controversy upon its original release. The directional pad was faulty and stiff, and broke often. It would require the system to be unscrewed in an attempt to replace the broken parts, and replacement parts were not easy to come by.

There was a small joystick on the top of the directional pad which would only move in four directions, despite the system being able to move in eight. This caused a very stiff movement cycle in most platforming video games for the system.


Background

The Game Team was created by Tiger in 1990. It was designed to have better graphics than the Game Boy, better controls than the Game Gear and to be larger than the Atari Lynx. Unfortunately, due to cuts in the development budget, a severe difference occurred in the planned and released models. The model underwent several different production stalls due to different design molds and testing phases. Initially planned for a Christmas of 1990 release, it was held back two years due to flaws in the battery section.

The initial price tag was $599, however it was later brought down to $59 due to a typo in the advertisements. Because of this issue, in the first 7 months of release, a mere 1500 Game Teams were sold. To combat the massive sales progressions of its rivals, Tiger Electronics announced a large amount of accessories to be released for the system (see List of planned Game Team accessories), however many were cancelled.

It was one of the first handheld consoles to be released in black-and-white in the 1990's, and was considered "outdated" in its first retail months. Many of which were returned due to the "Game Team cartridge Bug", where the game console didn't come with a functional cartridge spot. The cartridge spot is in the back, and needs to be re-opened every time you want a play a new game.

Accessories

Cartridges

The cartridges for the system used a simple 16-prong system and resembled cartridges for rival Game Boy and Game Gear systems. The only significant releases were Jungle Man and Pac-Team, which featured a green and yellow color scheme respectively.

Games

Title Developer Publisher Released Markets Accessories Box Image
Duke Nukem III Tiger Electronics Apogee Pack-in game NA/EU Game Team Gun GameTeamDukeNukem
Street Fighter II Capcom Tiger Electronics Pack-in game JA/NA/EU None GameTeamStreetFighter
Jungle Man Tiger Electronics Apogee Pack-in game JA/NA/EU Game Team Pad GameTeamJungleMan
Harold's Adventures Tiger Electronics Active Enterprises July 1992 JA/NA Game Team Pad GameTeamHarold
Pac-Team Tiger Electronics Namco September 1992 JA/EU None GameTeamPacman
Light's Out Tiger Electronics Tiger Electronics November 1992 JA/NA None GameTeamLightsOut
Tetris Challenge Tiger Electronics Nintendo December 1992 JA/NA/EU None GameTeamTetrisChallenge
Tennis Championship Tiger Electronics EA January 1993 NA/EU None GameTeamTennisChampionship
Action 52 Active Enterprises Tiger Electronics March 1993 NA Game Team Pad GameTeamAction52
Batman Returns Tiger Electronics Sunsoft May 1993 JA/NA/EU None GameTeamBatmanReturns
Jurassic Park Tiger Electronics Sega June 1993 JA/NA/EU None GameTeamJurassicPark
Star Wars: Jedi Adventure Tiger Electronics LucasArts September 1993 EU Game Team FS GameTeamStarWars
RoboCop 3 Tiger Electronics EA November 1993 JA/NA/EU None GameTeamRobocop


Discontinuation

The Game Team suffered from a poor launch and a lack of unique games. The Game Team offered a middling library of largely inferior games when compared to other competing systems. The launch was poorly timed and delayed to the point of obscurity, when the Game Team could no longer be competitive in the market, even as a budget system. Companies saw the poor sales of the Game Team and instead opted to program for the more successful Game Boy and Game Gear systems.

Tiger Electronics began losing money in the first few months of 1993, and decided to pull the plug shortly after. The system failed to grab a significant chunk of the market and postponed plans for the next system. The announcement of discontinuation occurred shortly before the release of Star Wars: Jedi Adventure, and the system was dropped shortly after.

Without proper funds, Tiger Electronics was set back a year before they began to look into a successor.

Legacy

The system is now infamous for its poor reliability and lack of decent games. Most games for the system are regarded with poor taste; reviews were generally mediocre at best. Most of the planned accessories were cancelled before release due to quick discontinuation.

Several of the games are regarded to be among the worst of all time, specifically Action 52 and RoboCop 3. Tiger Electronics went bankrupt by the turn of the decade. Several lawsuits also occurred due to faults with the system and a notorious batter acid leak.

Tiger went on to produce several other systems, and as a first portable system, it allowed them to recognize what to do and what not to do, so it could be thought of as a learning curve for Tiger, although they didn't learn the proper techniques as both of their later systems failed in a similar manner to the Game Team.

In an effort to revitalize their low sales, Tiger would later release the Game Team Max. This was a smaller version of the Game Team which had the same specifications as the original except that it had a single cartridge slot and required only two AA batteries. The initial version of the Game Team Max featured a frontlit screen (advertised as backlit) and is distinguished by its rough-textured black case. A subsequent re-release omitted the frontlight.

Updates

The following is a list of updates or otherwise related consoles in the Game Team family, as well as the Pocket Game family.

Game Team (Blue)

BlueGameTeam

The Game Team received a minor update in November 1992 in the form of an additional color, which was released to capitalize on the Game Gear's sales in other colors, which were quite high in some markets at the time. The Blue Game Team offered nothing new per-se, however, slightly boosted sales as it comes be interpreted in some consumer's minds as more attractive than the original model. The Blue Game Team was discontinued in September 1993, just before the discontinuation of the regular model of the Game Team.

There was also an update in March 1993 which offered improved connections and battery ports, after the disastrous effects of battery acid leak on some early models. This update failed to boost sales, and the Game Team and the blue update faded into obscurity.

Tiger Pocket Game 3000

While technically bearing the Pocket Game line name, the Tiger Pocket Game 3000 uses the internals and functions of the Game Team, therefore becoming a part of the Game Team line. The Pocket Game 3000 was the successor to both the Game Team and the Tiger Pocket Game 2500, and in turn was replaced by the Game Team Max. The Tiger Pocket Game 3000 was unique for its design and game selection, consisting mostly of puzzle and casino games. It is also the only system in the Game Team family to not have four buttons; the S1 and S2 buttons were replaced by a simple "ON/OFF" switch.

Details

In the early 1990s, gamers increasingly carried both walkmans and handheld game consoles. Tiger Electronics spotted an opportunity to combine these devices into one unit. Tiger announced in January 1994 that they will return to the gaming market to release the final product in its Pocket Game line, the Pocket Game 3000, a device that integrated these two devices. The Pocket Game 3000 also included a small pair of digital headphones due to this marketing plan.

With a launch price of US $299, the Pocket Game 3000 was not commercially popular. In its first weeks of availability in the United States, it was outsold by the Game Boy 100 to 1. Within two months days of the system's release, popular retailers began offering serious rebates on the system's price in an attempt to remove excess stock.

The poor sales performance can be attributed to the poor selection of games compared to its competitors and its cost at launch; it was more than twice as expensive as a Game Boy on release day.

Besides its gaming capabilities, the Pocket Game 3000 acted as a multimedia device in that it could play music, with features similar to those of the typical walkman at the time (although it lacked a music area and simply shuffled through songs at random, as well as having a thirty-song limit).

By December 1994, it was estimated that Tiger had sold more than 40,000 Pocket Game 3000's. The "Pocket Game" brand name still had a poor reputation within the gaming media due to the reception of the previous handhelds within the series, and the few consumers who recognized the Tiger brand were reminded of the previous system's limitations. Many gamers were simply not interested in the system. The situation had not improved either with the arrival of the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. As of January 1995, a mere eight games saw a release on the system.

While the Pocket Game 3000 did not have any significant financial successes, it did have a handful of critical failures. Several games on the system were instantly derided upon release for their notable inclusion of a computer player who "cheats" within puzzle games. These games came with a computer player who would resort to cheating tactics if it was not winning within the game.

In April of 1995, the Game Team Max was announced, as a replacement for the Pocket Game 3000. The system it had intended to replace was re-released under a new name and new design to replace it. The Pocket Game 3000 was dropped shortly after the release of the Game Team Max, with only nine games ever released for the system. Three games were said to be in the works between February and April of 1995, however upon the announcement of the system's discontinuation, were cancelled.

The system continued to be sold in some Asian markets; it was kept alive instead of offering its successor.


Notable Bug

Interestingly enough, the Pocket Game 3000 was well-known for its faulty placement of its "on/off" switch. The switch was located directly underneath where gamers' hands would be, leading to players accidentally shutting the game off at times.

The switch was also notorious for jamming; sometimes when turned off, the system would be left on, and would continue to play. Because of this, there is a system killswitch on the back, where the player can reset the system. Conveniently, the killswitch is located in the way of the player's hands, which would also lead to accidental resets.

Unlike with the Game Team cartridge bug, Tiger made no efforts to fix the Pocket Game 3000 switch bug.

Game Team Max


The first true update to the Game Team arrived in 1995 in the form of the Game Team Max (Game Team Nexus in Europe, Game Team II in Japan), which was released in July 1995. This system was backwards compatible with the Game Team's thirteen games, as well as offering five new games in its own cartridges. These games were of slightly better quality, and the system was completely different from the original Game Team. This, however, also worked against the Max, which, due to production costs, outsourced to China for its materials. The paint on the console itself easily smudged when exposed to sweat and the system was notorious for crashes. It is still in general considered to be an improvement over the original Game Team, despite its errors.

It was ironically still in black and white.

Details

The Max offered an updated, smaller shell with a more comfortable grip. This system was the successor to Tiger's Pocket Game 3000 prototype, which would later be adapted into this system's successor. This system was meant as a competitor to the Sega Nomad, Sega Game Gear and Game Boy Pocket. This system did not sell well due to lack of original titles and a poor reputation from the original Game Team.

The system featured no new accessories, yet all accessories are compatible that were originally designed for the first system. Titles released at Game Team's launch included seven of the original games, along with Puzzle Package, which came packaged with the system, and was created as a compilation of puzzle titles to play on the go. Tiger also produced branded items such as an AC adapter, earphones, and a carry-case.


Tiger failed to sell the Game Team Max to an older audience. While they were able to have a decent launch for the system, unlike with the original Game Team, the system could not sustain its sales due to lack of serious advertising. The system was simply geared towards a younger audience, which alienated older audiences due to lack of games towards their demographic. At the time, the platform was almost completely ignored by the gaming press. Tiger used provocative and potentially insulting marketing, satirizing the condescending commercials of other gaming platforms with a video of a mock marketing spokesman bellowing "Only the poor kids wont be getting this system this Christmas", which may have lost supporters instead of gaining them. Not only was the satirical nature of the commercial lost on the target audience, but most gamers assumed that it was a video of an actual Tiger press conference, despite the fact that the commercial ends with the marketing spokesman being overwhelmed by a mob of angry gamers.

This re-release enjoyed very limited success, and the console would be canceled in 1997. Most of the console's problems were due to a small lineup (only 18 games), poor quality of some games, lack of third party support, poor distribution, and poor marketing. Moreover, its display, like the original Game Boy's, suffered from very slow screen updates (known as "ghosting"), which makes fast moving objects blur and particularly hurt the fast-moving games Tiger sought licenses for. The Game Team Max had a slightly better display than the first model — on par with the Game Boy Pocket's — with less of a ghosting problem.

While the Game Team Max was a commercial failure, it had not failed to the extent of the original model. The Game Team Max was generally regarded as a system that failed only due to lack of support and decent games; the system had the processors and technical specs to succeed, however, due to Tiger's poor decisions, it could not grab a significant amount of the market share.

Internet

The Game Team Max was among the first consoles to have internet access, and the first portable console to do so. In April 1997, shortly before the announcement of the system's demise, Tiger Electronics announced that they intended to place a new chip into new systems which would create internet access, if attached to a separate modem. The chips were actually included into the system's hardware, although the modem was never released. It was test marketed in several locations, so some of the products still exist, however, it was never given a mainstream release.

While the capabilities are functional, the end result is mediocre at best. The black and white screen doesn't create a good image, and the system becomes extremely slow when using the internet. The cursor, now being moved by the d-pad, is unresponsive and barely usable. The modem itself is very bulky, so you would most likely have to play it while seated, defeating the purpose of a portable gaming system.

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