Gamate and 3 games
|Manufacturer||Bit Corporation, UMC|
|Type||Handheld game console|
|Retail availability||1990 - 1993|
|Power||6V, four AA batteries|
|CPU||UMC UA6588F (earlier revision)
NCR 81489 (later revision)
|Display||160×144 resolution, 4 shades of grey|
|Dimensions||16.7 × 9.7 × 3.3cm|
The Gamate, known as 超級小子 (pinyin: chāojí xiǎozi, literally "Super Boy") in Taiwan and 超级神童 (pinyin: chāojí shéntóng, literally "Super Child Prodigy") in China, is a handheld game console manufactured by Bit Corporation in the early 1990s, and released in Australia, parts of Europe and Asia, Argentina, the USA, and possibly other regions.
It never sold in numbers comparable to the Game Boy or even the Watara Supervision, and as a result information on the console and its games remains scarce - no emulator or ROM dumps exist. However, over 70 games are known to have been produced for the system.
The Gamate appears to be the first of the many handheld consoles released in reaction to the success of Nintendo's Game Boy.
It was originally released by the Taiwanese game company Bit Corporation in conjunction with local distributors around the world, such as Alston Research in the USA, the joystick maker Cheetah Marketing in the United Kingdom, and toy company GIG in Italy. Bit Corp. ceased operating in 1992 but UMC and its subsidiary Funtech continued to produce Gamate hardware and software.
Unlike other Taiwanese or Hong Kong Game Boy competitors, such as the Watara Supervision, Hartung Game Master, and the Mega Duck, the Gamate's internal hardware contains no "glop-top" connections (where a small amount of black resin is dripped over a chip instead of soldering) and was assembled in a quality manner. The build quality is relatively akin to that of the Game Boy. The shell is made of a thick plastic and with batteries installed, the unit feels very similar to the weight of a Game Boy.
The screen on the Gamate is very similar to the Game Boy. It is a greenish color, with manual contrast adjustment, and non-backlit. Backlit screens were not common in 1990. Moving objects appear blurry and faint - the quality known as "ghosting" - which can make game play very frustrating. The Gamate seems, however, to have had two different types of LCD screen used throughout its lifespan. The easiest way to tell which type one has is by turning the Gamate on without a game in - the "bad" one displays horizontal lines while the "good" one displays a slightly corrupted checkerboard pattern.
The Gamate's mono internal speaker is of poor quality, giving off sound that is quite distorted, particularly at low volumes. However, if a user plugs into the headphone jack, the sound is revealed to be programmed in stereo, and of a relatively high quality.
The G1001 Gamate is dark grey in color and has a "x" D-pad and small speaker vents. The G1002 Gamate are dark grey in color and have a "+" D-pad design and large speaker vents. A variant in this design, with a white shell and red buttons also exists.
All Gamates have a seven digit serial number near the card port on the rear of the console. The first two digits represent the year of manufacture, while the last five represent the unit's chronology. Therefore a unit with the number "9001687", was the 1687th produced in 1990. The newest unit thus far discovered was produced in 1993.
- CPU UMC UA6588F (earlier revision); NCR 81489, 8 bits (BIT WS39323F) in a QFP-100 shell (later revision)
- ROM 2 KB (UM6116M-2L CMOS static RAM, pin compatible with ROM/EPROM chips)
- RAM 16 KB (2 × CXK5864M-15L chips) of static RAM
- Size : 16.7 × 9.7 × 3.3 cm (6.58 × 3.82 × 1.3 inches) in grey plastic
- Keys D-pad, A, B, START and SELECT
- Screen LCD in 4 greyscale, 160 × 144 pixels
- Sound internal mono speaker, external stereo headphones
- Media ROM card, very similar to Hu-Card (PC-Engine), My Card (Sega SG-1000) and Sega Card (Sega Master System) 19×2 pins
- Cartridge Slot
- Stereo headphones
- External link connector (for 2-player games)
- Power: 6V (four AA batteries)
- Gamate link cable
- Ni-CD battery pack
Games cartridges for the Gamate are slim plastic cards with exposed pins, similar to PC-Engine or Sega Master System cards. Within the large illustrations are the game title and, unlike most systems, a simple numerical designation (C1-001, C1-002, etc.), making organization reasonably simple for collectors. The exact number of games released remains unknown. Some articles regarding the Gamate state it has "about 35 games or so", but the true number may be closer to 70. One contributing factor to this ambiguity is that as Bit Corp. had passed into bankruptcy, games continued to be published by UMC, but very few left the Asian market.
Many titles are clones of popular games from the era (Tetris, Bomberman, Lode Runner, Battle City, etc.). Bit Corp (and later UMC) is given sole credit within each game, but inconsistencies in game content and labeling make it far more likely that several developers were involved in designing individual games; two external developers are currently known, Gamtec and Hengmao Electronics. Some titles suffer from assorted bugs. A few titles seem to be original concepts, and a great many more remain mysterious due to their scarcity.
While in general the higher-numbered games were released later and in smaller quantities, there seems to be little correlation with this principle prior to the C1-040's, with random numbers inexplicably difficult to find.
Game list (incomplete)
- C1-401 4-in-1 (Mini Golf, Cube-Up, Brick Master, and Vindicators)
- K1-001 One Million Whys (緑野迷蹤)
- taizou. "Gamate: Other Companies". Neo Fuji. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "普澤、昇友停權". Toybase (in Chinese). Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- taizou. "Gamate: Hardware". Neo Fuji. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- Gamate Archive, Video Game Gazette. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
- taizou. "Gamate: Games". Neo Fuji. Retrieved 27 June 2010.