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Overview

The Game.com, released in 1997, was Tiger Electronics's attempt at creating a handheld that could directly compete with Nintendo's Game Boy. It sported a few features that were years ahead of their time, including a touch screen, two cartridge ports (although later models did eventually move back to a single port), and internet connectivity through an optional 14.4 kb/s modem.

Launch Games

History

Since the company's inception Tiger had produced Game & Watch style handheld games based on popular film, television, and videogame licenses. They released a cartridge based handheld system called the R-Zone in 1995, but it died out quickly as the Game Boy had begun to all but monopolize the handheld market and the simpler titles Tiger had producing were unappealing to gamers. In an attempt to dethrone the Game Boy, Tiger released the Game.com in 1997 with a puzzle title, Lights Out, as the pack-in game. With the licenses obtained for use in their Game & Watch style titles still in effect the system had what could be considered a lineup full of killer apps, albeit all developed in house at Tiger. Popular console titles such as Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Williams Arcade Classics, Sonic Jam, and Fighters Megamix were released either at launch or shortly after alongside adaptations of popular Tiger handheld products including Henry and Quiz Wiz, plus a promotional booklet teased ports of Road Rash, EA Sports titles and games based on upcoming films such as Batman & Robin and The Lost World: Jurrasic Park. (few of which were actually released)

Tiger also had something else up its sleeve for the Game.com - it was to be the first handheld system to feature internet connectivity. This was, in fact, the handheld's main selling point. Internet connectivity was not without its flaws, however; as the system was released a good while before "Wi-Fi" was a popular buzzword. Internet access required a phone cord and jack, as well as a bulky external modem, to work, plus users were required to use Tiger's own ISP to get online. Internet connectivity was also not up to par even with what you'd find on most cell phones today; while the Game.com was equipped with a web browser it only allowed users to access text-only versions of the webpage they wished to view, and interaction with the games themselves was relegated only to online scoreboards. Users could also check their email through the service, but due to the high cost of getting the Game.com online, adoption rates for the console's online services were low.

Later in the console's lifespan Tiger released a new, smaller version called the Game.com Pocket Pro. It featured a smaller screen, one cartridge port, a lit screen (in the first few production runs), and eliminated the console's internet functions. New games, including ports of Resident Evil 2 and the modernized versions of Centipede and Frogger, were released alongside the console. In 2000, when both the original Game.com and the Pocket Pro failed in the marketplace Tiger pulled support of the system, leaving games such as Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Giga Pets, and Foreman Boxing (supposedly with force feedback capabilities) unfinished.

Legacy

While the console was a commercial failure, internet capabilities in handheld gaming devices became a popular feature in later handheld consoles. The console also featured a touch screen before the Nintendo DS made touch-screen gaming popular in the handheld market. The console's failure caused Tiger to leave the gaming market, however, and focus on developing consumer electronics aimed at children.

Emulation

In 2005, an online group referring to themselves as the "game.commies" announced they would be working on hacking the game.com platform to enable emulation. After several years, It was finally released to the internet and is now publicly available as of October, 2011.

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