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After successfully penetrating the Japanese market with the PC Engine in 1987, NEC Technologies, Inc. sought to deliver a portable gaming system that could rival Nintendo's Game Boy. On November 16, 1990 the PC Engine GT was released in Japan, setting a new benchmark for handhelds in the process. While the PC Engine GT wasn't the first color portable available (that honor goes to Atari's Lynx), it was clearly the most advanced for its time.

Instead of integrating a passive matrix screen (as done with the Lynx and later for the Game Gear), the developers used a high-resolution active matrix screen, allowing the handheld to be played under any condition with the same level of clarity. More importantly for fans of the PC Engine, it became the first color handheld to support the same media used on a home console. Gamers who owned the PC Engine GT could immediately use the HuCARDs (wafer-thin storage devices) originally purchased for their PC Engine, which meant a lineup of software was readily available the moment the handheld was released.

So what did this system look like? The PC Engine GT measured approximately seven inches in length, a little over four inches in width and featured a black casing with a 2.6 inch color LCD screen at the top. This layout was designed so that the system could be held upright like the Game Boy. Also featured were two rapid-fire switches near the buttons, patterned after the PC Engine's controller, as well as a port on the bottom to link the system with another PC Engine GT (using a link cable available separately).

A black wrist strap located in the upper right corner spared owners the horror of dropping their system on the floor, and turning the unit over on its left side revealed a stereo headphone jack, volume dial, brightness dial and an input jack for an optional AC adapter. The $29.99 adapter certainly warranted purchase, as the system could last only three hours on six AA batteries. Alas, such was the price for having a backlit, active matrix screen.

Of course, there were some benefits besides the clarity. The right side of the system had an eight-pin port that could interface with a TV tuner, a device that let gamers watch television right on the portable system's screen. While the accessory featured a built-in antenna, those still unhappy with the reception could use the external antenna jack on the right side of the tuner. Also adding to the tuner's appeal was an A/V jack that let gamers plug in a camcorder or VCR. This meant the PC Engine GT doubled as a color viewfinder for camcorder owners as well as a means to watch videotapes.

The biggest drawback to the PC Engine GT was its estimated price tag of 49,000 Yen ($600 U.S. dollars). Of course, considering the wide popularity of the PC Engine (it outsold both the Famicom [NES] and Mega Drive [Genesis] from the time of its release) and the culture's affinity toward compact technology, it made perfect sense. The significant number of titles in the Japanese software library helped make it the clear choice for the individual who wanted the best portable system money could buy.

ITEM 320

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  • Model: NEC PC Engine
  • Shipping Weight: 9lbs
  • 1 Units in Stock

This product was added to our catalog on Friday 21 January, 2011.

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