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Sega Nomad System - 09/12/2007
The technology behind the Sega Genesis Nomad (a.k.a. "Project Venus") traces back to the Mega Jet, a semi-portable Mega Drive (the name of the Genesis console in Japan and Europe) that was used on flights by Japan Airlines (JAL). The device did not feature its own screen, nor could it run on batteries, but the condensed unit played Mega Drive cartridges when linked to a small monitor (used by JAL) or a regular television. Besides having a slot to insert cartridges, the black unit featured a directional pad on the left side and six buttons on the right, similar to the layout of a game controller.

After earning its wings on JAL, the Mega Jet was released by Sega of Japan on March 10, 1994 at the cost of 15,000 Yen ($123 U.S.). The system came with a mono DIN plug cord as well as an AC adapter, but no other additions or improvements. Those in the media were thinking if the system had only included a screen and battery support, Sega could once again compete in the handheld market. Little did they know the company was already working on such a system.

Released in the United States in October 1995, the Sega Genesis Nomad featured a 3.25 inch color LCD screen and received power via six AA batteries, making it the most advanced portable game machine at the time. Not only was the Nomad the first true 16-bit handheld, but it offered several features that set it apart from previous color portables. For starters, an A/V Out plug was located at the top of the black rectangular unit, letting owners play games on a television screen with a separate A/V cable.

Linking the handheld to a television did not mean owners lost the ability to play games using the Nomad's screen, however. Thus one player could witness the action from a TV while the other watched from the Nomad. The directional pad on the unit controlled all one-player games, and a port on the bottom allowed a second pad to be plugged in for two-player contests.



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