Upgrade The Graphics On A Sega Game Gear To Mental

[Nino K] built a portable game player for text adventures. He decided he had spent enough time with the ATmega328 kit from NerdKits to build a more advanced project.

To start with, he built a prototype PCB and tested out the concept. It worked so he began on the real thing. He tore out the guts from a broken Game Gear, saving some parts like those responsible for supplying power. Impressively, he etched his own replacement boards for the Game Gear’s control pads; surprising himself at how simple it ended up being. He fit a 16×4 LCD into the space previously occupied by the Game Gear’s screen.

The program itself is a simple text adventure of his own creation. He even added little 8-bit sprites. The story is classic, a princess has gotten herself in some trouble and a brave hero has been coerced into saving her. Last, he added some music and sound effects from Zelda with a piezo buzzer.

This project is guaranteed to disappoint a visiting younger cousin or relative, but we like to think of that as a feature and not a bug. Great work!

23 thoughts on “Upgrade The Graphics On A Sega Game Gear To Mental

  1. Hey, these character LCDs have German Umlauts. They just don’t sit at the character codes you expect them. Just remap them and German readers will have playing your games easier.

  2. This is and is not a hack, Destroyed a ( Game Gear ) for the sake of a horrid little creation you should’ve created your own cartridge and wrote a game for it, This is something anyone with a semblance of html knowledge could’ve written and loaded onto a phone or even better created a Cartridge that could semi process HTML files from an SD and make your own quest. This fixed hack pisses me off.

    1. Wow, Dave, go back to Sanka or check your manstruation schedule! There are still plenty of these shitty (yes sega could never build a control pad or buttons that lasted longer than a month) floating around thrift stores and flea markets. At least he learned a good bit and did a fine job getting things shoe-horned back into the case, which is usually the hardest part. And he etched his own boards! Not like he dropped an Arduino/Pi in there with 6 capes/shields on it and called it something he built…. which is completely fine around here somehow.
      But in your honor, Davebag, I will throw the three GGs I have into the dumpster today so that no merit is able to be accomplished and a far better death than someone learning something ;) Or you can buy all 3 for the low price of 200USD if they are that fucking cool lol.
      There is something kinda sweet about this hack to me. Kinda reminds me of a hand drawn map you would find in an old game box, where you knew the previous owner indeed loved it.

  3. While I also generally cringe at the destruction of retro gear. This is a game gear. We’re not in short supply of them on eBay. I often see lots of broken (usually bad caps) ones sell for next to nothing if they sell at all. In fact I have 3 or 4 of them in various states of functionality just from picking up various other video game lots on the cheap. I’d actually like to stuff a Pi(or similar) + lipo in whichever case has the worst condition internals when life permits.

    1. I came here for this comment. I’m not sure how many posters here know that for every working Game Gear you’ll find 10 broken ones. While not the greatest use for one, this is better than having it laying around!

      1. I have a feeling most of the ones complaining about that “irreplaceable” GG are teenagers who have never even seen a real one in the flesh. The hipster mentality here is a virus.

  4. Wow your all quick to criticize other idea and works but what I don’t see is anyone coming up with there own ideas atleast the person share his / her idea and project with us be glad for that person stop being asshats and give the person props for making some achievement I do t see you all post you achievements here so say something nice or don’t say it at all my hat off to you sir nice upgrade to a old broken unit nice job keep up the great work

  5. i was hoping for zork, but this has SPRITES!!!

    as for the battery runtime on a gamegear… may i refer you to the MAX current draw-rate of even the BEST alkaline cells (aka “batteries”) versus the average current drawn from the AA-cells, you will see whats really going on; the max rate of an alkaline cell is 5 hours, if the runtime is anything less then that, then the cells have been internally damaged not all the stored chemical power has been turned into electricity. you will notice that the remaining current in the battey is no longer extractable at even medium currents due to greatly-increased ESR. so if your batteries are 2AH and the draw is 1A then you will NOT get the calculated 2H runtime, you will probably get 15-45mins. you will only get the quoted power when the draw is less then the 5H rate eg: 2AH * 20% = 0.4A, 1A is way bigger then the max 0.4A for a 2AH battery.

    i believe the biggest ALKALINE AA-cell is 2.5 – 3 AH but i wont mention brand as this may be region specific (one brand i seen had cells made and labeled as coming from differing countries, but sold in same city)

    anyway, you WILL go through several sets of AA-cells a week, so remember to take out the bad batteries the same day, as damaged ones often leak in days or weeks as opposed to dead cells which often leak in months or years.

    PS: “long-life” on an alkaline cell does NOT mean it contains more current; it means it has a slightly elevated voltage during all parts of the discharge in order to get more runtime out of picky digital devices. as this comes at the cost of REDUCED current capacity and further worsens the excess amps issue. in other words, it helps devices that have runtime greater then 5H, and worsens devices that have runtime less then 5H.

    PPS: alkaline are 100% duty by chemical makeup, heavy-duty can be worded as “non-100% duty” so the testing process is very different and the rate is i believe 12H, so 0.5AH * 8.3% = 42mA for a carbon-zinc AA, ouch the leaking burns my fingers!

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