Eye Of The Tiger-ites: A Descent Into The R-Zone

This week, we talked about a handheld system that is near and dear to our hearts: the Gameboy. Sure, the graphics were simple and the screen was even simpler, but it has still withstood the test of time. A lot of people owned the original Gameboy and people are still buying DS's to this day. Some kids, at least at the elementary school I went to, were unimpressed with Nintendo's clunky ascetics and high price tag. They were what we called "Tiger-ites".

They played the Tiger Electronics games that were found hanging by the checkout at your neighborhood grocery store. Games like The Lion King, Sonic 2, Batman Returns, and countless others were found in these standalone handhelds. Even more primitive than the beast known technically the DMG-01, these games were almost always stripped-down versions of existing games. I have to admit as a child, I straddled the line between GameBOY and Tiger-ite.

I even remember being excited when I first saw the commercial for Tiger's answer to the Gameboy and upcoming Virtual Boy (a legend in its own right). A portable system that packed all of your favorite Tiger handhelds into one system. VIRTUAL REALITY (kinda...). Oh, and it also doubled as a terrible eye patch. The R-Zone!

The R-Zone used space age technology to project crappy LCD videogames onto a clear piece of plastic that was dangled in front of the user's face, like their dignity, ever-so-slightly out of reach. The images would actually be displayed first on a screen that was built into the game cartridge (a first, I'm sure),then using magic mirrors, they would make their way to the "screen", or plastic in front of the eye. There was a controller that was also connected to said headset that would allow the user to interact with the pictures on the screen. I wouldn't call it controlling the game as much as it was moving digital cardboard cutouts in a very awkward manner, hoping to accumulate a high score or beat a level or whatever goals these games try to set for the poor player.

Much like the Virtual boy it was competing with, the average person became nauseous after playing the system for only a few minutes. Not to mention that there was only one eyepiece, so you either had to play with one eye closed (which is also a lyric from an unreleased Metallica song entitled "Into the R-Zone"), or you had to train your brain to ignore the outside world and slip into a Tiger-induced dreamstate to become One with the poopy.

The games were actually just exact copies of the standalone Handhelds, only in cartridge form. What's better than buying a copy of a subpar game? Buying two copies. Though, I will admit, the version of Panzer Dragoon on the R-Zone, while choppy and unplayable, is MUCH more affordable than the FAR superior version for the Sega Saturn.

As for the mulitplayer on the system, there was... none...

Now on the to the volume control. Well, funny you should ask, because there was... none... either...

Well, at least you could save your high scores, by writing... them... down... Ugh.

On a positive note, this system did fail miserably. Tiger released a few more version of the system, both were actually handhelds, and by handhelds, I mean one was handheld and one was Baseball Glove-held. But they did even worse.

Tiger went on to make a truly remarkable handheld game(.com) system, but THAT... is a tale for another time.

Welp, that does it for this week. Be sure to check out this week's episode about the Gameboy. And NEXT week, were dusting off our Gateways, booting up our megabytes,  jumping into cyberspace and doing other cliche' computer jargony-things as we check out some retro PC games. Until next time, BOOM!

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