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Sega Genesis Nomad

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Sega Genesis Nomad
If you thought the Game Gear ate batteries for breakfast, the Nomad ate them for lunch AND dinner, too!
Developer: Sega
Release Date: NA: October 1995
Predecessor: Sega Game Gear
Successor: Game Gear Mini
Competitors: Game Boy
Game Boy Color
Generation: Fourth generation
Discontinued: 1999

The Genesis Nomad (more commonly known as just the Nomad) was the second of Sega's two handheld game consoles, the other being the Sega Game Gear.


The Nomad was derived from the Mega Jet, a variant of the Sega Mega Drive designed as a rental unit for Japan Air Lines flights which fit inside an enlarged controller with a cartridge slot: the Mega Jet, though, required a TV for output and an external power source. Sega, wanting a new handheld console to compete with the Game Boy since the Game Gear wasn't doing well, set about creating a standalone version.

The Nomad was effectively a shrunk-down Mega Jet placed in a body resembling a 90s digital video camera, complete with a 3.25-inch color screen. It allowed anyone who owned it to play Genesis game cartridges on the go. It also had a Video-Out socket that allowed it to be used as a home console by plugging it into a TV, and a controller port so a second player could connect a standard Genesis controller to the system.

Why It's Even More of a Battery Hog

  1. It turns out it wasn't really a new console, nor did it have any games exclusive for it; instead it was just another one of Sega's attempts to keep the Genesis alive.
  2. 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.
  3. It was heavy, bulky and difficult to carry around.
  4. It costed twice as much as the standard Genesis console at $180 USD, the same price as the Atari Lynx; and was too expensive for a handheld system.
  5. Much like with the Sega Game Gear, the system took six AA-size batteries and drained them in about 3 hours.
  6. The screen was rather blurry.
  7. Due to the short battery life and large size, it could barely be considered a portable console.
  8. It could not have been released at a worser time. Shortly after its release, Pokémon was released. This made the Game Boy, which already was dominating the handheld gaming market, even more popular than it already was.
  9. Unsurprisingly, it cannot use the Sega CD or 32X adapters, or even the Power Base converter, meaning that it could not play Sega CD, 32X, or Master System games, just like the SEGA Genesis Model 3.
  10. It was region-locked, so it isn't compatible with the Japanese and PAL Mega Drive games. The irony is that it was only in the US, making the PAL and NTSC-J games useless, this also means that games like Alien Soldier, Pulseman, Golden Axe III and Mega Man: The Wily Wars can't be played on the system in any way other than reproduction cartridges.
  11. It had no reset button, meaning that certain games like X-Men were unwinnable without using a level select code.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. With minimal modification, you can fix some of the problems mentioned above. A good example would be the screen.
  2. Sega released an accessory that increased the battery life by a few hours, though at a cost of making the already heavy Nomad even heavier.
  3. The D-Pad is amazing.
  4. It had a six-button controller! Whereas the Genesis only came with a standard three-button controller, unless you bought a Model 2 Genesis, or it's controller separately or Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition. This made games like Mortal Kombat more enjoyable, unless you already have a 6 button controller.
  5. The concept of a portable Genesis was fairly neat for the time. Though it could've been executed properly.


Blake Snow of GamePro listed the Nomad as 5th on his list of the "10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time", criticizing its poor release timing, 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 Mega Jet was also given a retail release in 1994.
  • The Nomad can be considered the first ever hybrid console to be released do to the ability to hook it up to your TV, which is surprising as the Nomad was released 22 years before the Nintendo Switch.


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