What’s the first handheld console with color? It’s not what you think.
So, what’s the first color handheld console?
One would most definitely be wrong if he replied Game Boy Color. It is not the Sega Game Gear, either; it’s not even the Atari Lynx. It’s something few people outside some of my posts have heard of: it is the Palmtex Super Micro.
Among the former mentioned, the Atari Lynx appeared the earliest. It only appeared a little later than the original Game Boy: the year was 1989. As a system, it was pretty bulky and huge. In contrast to the monochromatic Game Boy, however, the Atari Lynx had color. Despite these perks, it nevertheless failed in comparison to the Game Boy primarily because of the dynamic game library that the Game Boy boasted of. Many people, at least those more knowledgeable in video game history, believe that the Atari Lynx was the first handheld console in color.
Six years prior to its appearance, however, came the Palmtex Super Micro. Compared to the Lynx, or even the Game Boy, its game library was limited and was composed of relatively simple games: it consists of three games that are intuitive strategy and puzzle games that piqued the mind more than the eyes. The excitement of victory can be found in the celerity of thought. The system, however, was bound to end in tragedy: 1983 was the heyday of home video gaming, and the Atari 2600 perched on top of the gaming world. Handheld video gaming experienced a decline during this time because its games remained stagnant while gems of the 2600 kept on coming out. It was no surprise that the Palmtex Super Micro failed: there was just little to no market to speak of. Everyone just bought a 2600, stayed at home, and that was that.
The three games of the Super Micro were Aladdin’s Adventures, React Attack, and Outflank. Aladdin’s Adventures was a puzzle game. React Attack was a spiritual ancestor (perhaps even the archetype) of the more popular Chip’s Challenge. The player was a person who had to stop a terrorist from detonating a nuclear bomb, and to do so he had to collect certain items and certain keys to bypass certain obstacles and doors. It is only upon his complete collection of these different items that the explosion can be obviated. Video of its gameplay can be seen here [I uploaded the video, but this came from Rik of Handheld Museum.]
Outflank is the game bundled with the Super Micro I had purchased and just received. It is a clone of Othello, which is one of the more popular strategy boardgames around. I surmised that it was going to be that due to the consistency of the data in different database sites of video gaming, and so I started training in Othello in order to prepare myself for the system and game’s arrival. I obtained manuals of basic gameplay from the Internet, and read up on the more sophisticated ways to play Othello from other guide books. For the past two weeks, most of my spare time was utilized in the practice of Othello: I downloaded free software (3D Reversi Deluxe is great as practice against capable computer opponents). I sought to be competitive with the most difficult level of the game at the very least when it arrived.
When the system arrived, I quickly but carefully unpacked it. To my chagrin, however, the system did not immediately start. Did all my austerity, miserliness, and work the past few months amount to nothing? I followed the advice of the seller with regard to his experience with games. I was lucky that the system finally turned on the next day, and immediately after having settled down at home, I started a match against the highest level of the computer in the game. After some time, I convincingly won!
That was the pinnacle of all my hard work and focus these past few months. It was the culmination of everything that I did and sacrificed for this past quarter of a year: I had a working game, and I was very good at it. Although I lost the next two matches, I played them at about two in the morning (today). I decided to sleep since I couldn’t properly concentrate, and upon waking up, soundly beat the computer once again.
It didn’t really begin in just the past three months. It really started about a year ago, when I became heavily involved with the remembrance of things past: I could not say when, but I believe my nadir was when I actually bought antique soap just because. While I recently have become more tempered, I still developed a passionate interest for the arcana of older video games. Among those systems was the Palmtex Super Micro, alluded and referred to in a selection of my posts. Ever since I discovered its existence I have been doggedly pursuant of the system: it had slowly transmogrified into an obsession, until I finally put my foot down during the ides of March and decided to purchase it no matter what the price. It was bound to be quite expensive, seeing that in the past ten years only about four working systems surfaced: one is owned by an even more passionate collector of handheld games; one was stolen in an exchange; one is with another; and one is with me.
The system and game cost me roughly the current local market price of the most recent PlayStation Portable, but I have no regrets whatsoever in its purchase: I own a piece of history, and it’s a joy that isn’t diminished even with much expense. Having said that, it was not an easy path in getting here: I saved for most of the summer, eschewing enjoyment and preferring austerity, and I also wrote two articles that took up a lot of my time: money is no joke to me, and that is the reason that I take whatever kindness was given to me seriously.
[I am grateful to Richard Rezza (he's a very trustworthy collector and seller of handheld video games) for giving me a discount: knowing my status, he sold the system at a much lower price than he would have sold it in an eBay auction or to frank collectors. This was the reason I strove hard (even asking for monetary contributions in exchange for a written essay on certain topics of anime) to pay for it within the allotted time agreed upon the both of us. I am grateful to Rik for his kindness and information about the system, and I am also grateful to Crusader and Angelus, my two patrons in my quest to obtain this gem of vintage video gaming.]
Tags: Palmtex Super Micro