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Game com

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Game com
Manufacturer Tiger Electronics
Type Handheld game console
Generation Fifth generation
Retail availability September 1997
Units sold fewer than 300,000[1]
Media ROM cartridge
CPU Sharp SM8521
Online services 14.4 kbit/s modem
Best-selling game Lights Out (pack-in)

The (styled as "" but pronounced "game com", not "game dot com") is a handheld game console released by Tiger Electronics in September 1997. It featured many new ideas for handheld consoles and was aimed at an older target audience, having PDA-style features and functions such as a touchscreen and stylus. Unlike other handheld game consoles, the first console included two slots for game cartridges and could be connected to a 14.4 kbit/s modem. The second and last revision reverted to a single cartridge slot.


Titles released at's launch included Indy 500, Duke Nukem 3D, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy, along with Lights Out (which came packaged with the system) and Solitaire (built in the system ROM). Tiger also produced equivalents to many Game Boy peripherals, such as the serial cable, allowing players to connect their consoles to play multiplayer games or exchange high scores. Branded items such as an AC adapter, earphones, and a carry-case were also made available.

The touch screen had a fairly low sensor resolution along with no backlight, so it lacked precision and made it hard to see the on-screen controls. Entering phone numbers, addresses or the like was cumbersome. As with most portable devices from the 1990s, data storage was entirely dependent on a button battery, and failure of this backup battery would erase any high scores or information stored on the console.

The Lights Out cart which came bundled with the console

Tiger failed to sell the to an older audience. While they were able to obtain game licenses like Wheel of Fortune, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat, Duke Nukem, and Resident Evil, none of the games sold in great numbers.

All game development, even on licensed games, was done in-house. SDKs were not known to be widely available, and third party development (essential to the success of most gaming systems) was absent.

The Tiger featured two cartridge slots and used a button cell battery for the internal clock.

At the time, the platform was almost completely ignored by the gaming press. Tiger ran two television commercials promoting the The first, targeted towards casual gamers, depicts several angels complaining about how boring Heaven is, until a fallen angel appears to tempt them with The second, targeted more towards a hardcore gaming audience, satirizes Sega of America's aggressive commercials of time, showing a mock marketing spokesman for the insulting a crowd of gamers until they overwhelm him in an angry mob.

In an effort to revitalize their low sales, Tiger would later release the Pocket Pro. This was a smaller version of the 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 Pocket Pro featured a frontlit screen (advertised as backlit) and is distinguished by its rough-textured black case. A subsequent re-release, dubbed as the Pocket, omitted the frontlight and came in four translucent colors (green, blue, pink, and purple).

Both re-releases enjoyed very limited success, and the console would be canceled in 2000, along with its exclusive internet service. Most of the console's problems were due to a small lineup (only 20 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 Pocket Pro 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 was a commercial failure, similar features were later used with great success by Nintendo in their DS handheld console. The was the first to include basic PDA-functions, the first to allow two game carts to be inserted at once, and the first handheld to allow internet access.

Internet features modem and internet cartridges

To access the Internet, the user had to connect an external dial-up modem to the via a serial cable and dial into the ISP. From there, the user could upload saved high scores, or check e-mail and view the web if they had the Internet cartridge (sold separately from the modem). The also supported other ISPs, although accessing them via text with the touch screen and stylus was far from user friendly. This process would end up being a matter of trial-and-error; both Tiger's now-defunct website and the included manual gave incorrect instructions for setting up a for internet access.

Web access was text-only, and the later, single-cartridge versions of the could not access the web or send e-mail at all. None of the games had actual online play with other people, only high score uploads. The monthly fee, two extra peripherals, and clumsy and confusing setup which required users to remain close to a phone line to connect the console to the modem meant that only a small percentage of owners had a subscription to the internet service.

Technical specifications

System Size (LxWxD) Original: 190 x 108 x 19 mm / Pocket Pro: 140 x 86 x 28 mm
Processor Chip Sharp SM8521 8-Bit CPU
Screen Specs 200 x 160 resolution, 12 x 10 grid based touch screen, 3.5 in. diagonal (Original) / 2,8 in. diagonal (Pocket Pro)
Color System Black and White, with 4 gray levels
Sound/Music Monoaural, with 8-bit PCM and FM-synthesis, through a single speaker located in the upper left corner
Power Source 4 AA Batteries (2 AA batteries in Pocket and Pocket Pro) or AC Adapter
Ports Serial Comm Port for the cable, internet cable and weblink cable; 3.5 mm Audio Out Jack for headphones; DC9 V in (AC Adapter); 2 Cartridge Slots (1 on the Pocket and Pocket Pro)
Buttons Power (On/Off); Action (A, B, C, D); 3 Function (Menu, Sound, Pause); 1 Eight-way Directional Pad; Volume; Contrast; Reset (On system’s underside)



Internet connection accessories for the were also released, including Internet and Tiger Web Link carts.

Canceled titles

An unnamed (and unannounced) RPG title can be seen in one of the television commercials. It was later discovered that this was to be a version of the PlayStation role-playing video game Shadow Madness.


A enthusiast with Usenet access created the newsgroup [news://] (Google Groups link below) shortly after the handheld's release in 1997. This group served as a focus point for owners, with often-heated discussion about the handheld's future and merits relative to other systems, as well as reviews of existing games and speculation about future releases. Tiger representatives sometimes posted using the now-defunct America Online account "TigerGcom". At one point, a gameplay video of the never-released Metal Gear Solid was distributed among group members. Most of the information about unreleased games herein was gleaned from postings to

Hacking and homebrew development

In early 2005, a group called "game.commies" was formed with hopes of hacking the hardware and creating new homebrew video games.

In 2006, they announced a working emulator was in their possession, but denied a public release of it was forthcoming. This emulator was originally distributed to developers, in the same vein as Ensata.

A preliminary driver for the hardware was added to the MESS emulator in 2006.

In October 2011, the official emulator for developers was released on the internet.


  1. ^ Blake Snow (2007-07-30). "The 10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time".  
  2. ^ "Metal Gear Solid - GAMECOM - IGN". Retrieved 2011-09-27. 

External links

  • Official Website (archive)
  • Game com at DMOZ
  • The end of the Features game screenshots and developer interviews
  • Comprehensive Unit Analysis video
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