We don't need no Game Boy!
In the days where the Gameboy ruled supreme several other companies tried to get in on the act with their own interchangeable cartridge handheld gaming systems.
Tiger however tried something else entirely, rather than going down this route they would sell games seperately complete with their own screens, think Game & Watch and you will be on the right track.
Olly023 is going to take you down memory lane and tell you why these are close to his heart, why his childhood loved them dearly.
Tiger what now?
Recently the Angry Video Game Nerd presented a video on Tiger games. Systematically the Nerd destroyed a large part of many a young gamers childhood, mercilessly murdering the wonderful nostalgia many actually hold for the games and systems Tiger released. Some would happily say its a long time coming...yet others, namely me; prefer to slap on the rose tinted shades when it comes to that particular company...or at least, the solo eyepiece of an R-Zone.
Can I honestly counter argument much of the flaws the Nerd valiantly pointed out in video form? That'd be a nein. Alas, I shall produce a written article that at least gives credit where credit is due. Tis but an opinion piece, after-all.
If you grew up in the 90's there were a good few fads you're likely to remember, right? Pogs, yo-yo's (what's Yo Hans doing these days anyway?), Tamagotchi's and then you had the steady constants like sticker books and trading cards. But Tiger LCD handhelds were in a class of their own.
The Nerd was right, even here on the other side of the Atlantic; we would trade games on the playground. My personal favourite is one I still own (somewhere) to this day, that being the original Power Rangers LCD game from them. That in itself just screams 1990's as much as Snoop Dogg still having Doggy as his middle-name and Tupac not being a strange hologram. But yes, the LCD games were a weird mix of fad and constant. Almost everyone of a certain age group would have one.
Whatever the kid you were, there'd be an LCD game to be at the ready just waiting to be not-so-subtly marketed to you.
A clone war?
While I was lucky to be reared on Amiga and later an owner of a MegaDrive, I have little doubt in my mind that Tiger's handhelds were an entry point for many at the time mini-game geek. Like an Oscar Meyer wiener, all kids loved them for whatever reason. My personal reason was simple...
They were like those metal games my Nan had. What do I mean by that? Game & Watch. Now, Game & Watch games don't remotely take the heat that, admittedly much later released; Tiger games do - they also command decent resale value and a strong collectors market. So as the old lady pined: where exactly is the beef?
Yeah, sure. Tiger games were primitive as all heck, but as has been said that word can be used to describe anything early tech wise. Early cinema is called primitive, but it doesn't necessarily equate to bad.
I believe there is a fundamental playability with the games that much resembles those of early Atari efforts and such. While that may read as if I'm shooting far too high here, just think...they must've been popular for a reason.
Yeah, the outer artwork always looked cool yet barely resembled the game, but if you wanna use that argument go stare at the Centipede cabinet or watch a Breakout commercial and tell me that it ain't the same thing going on.
Much of the Nerds frustration with the Tiger handhelds (and watch games) came from the copious licensing that was rampant yet hardly produced an end product that was relevant to the titling. To that I simply say: meh, so what? If a kid really wanted to play Mega Man on the move and their parents couldn't afford a Game Boy, for some, love it or hate it; this was the best - if not only - option available. Lame as it is, I'm kind of thankful for that.
Cut & Paste...
The sounds those little things kicked out are most certainly an acquired taste, I'll grant you that. But guess what? I kind of liked it. Back in the heights of the What is Love/Roxbury fad on YTMND I remember personally going ape for the blippy-bloopy Tiger version. Twas awesome! Yeah, its rose-tinted nostalgia but for me and I'm sure others too, that extremely limited sound chip was almost magical.
Typically, I'm the guy who whacks up tech-specs on the console introductions here on this very site. But what'd the point in that with these bad-boys of gaming goodness? For those who are some how here and unawares, basically all the, uhhh, bits of the game are ready on the screen, being lit up corresponding to the control inputs. The backgrounds are usually static yet coloured in an attempt to create some depth and...realism? I dunno.
It was all rather outdated by a decade when it rose to prominence, but Tiger Electronics were clever enough to send these things to market with a low retail stamp that warranted a second-look from parents seeking something to quit their kid from yapping. Certainly worked. With Tiger, what you saw was rarely what you got. There’s a kind of mystique with that. Forcing you to use your imagination as it gives you only the base, the very core; allowing only your mind to expand upon. Making that repetitive bleeping into sweeping orchestral sounds blasted from a concert hall, with created visuals rounding out the electric experience...becoming on with the game, losing yourself. Or not, whatever.
Time rolls on...
Later as the decade rolled on, Tiger attempted to expand somewhat with the R-Zone (there own, erm, quirky take on Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy) and the ever mighty (or not so) Game.Com. Now you could get cartridges! Yeah! But I'll save the Game.Com for its own special article. I did buy one of those things back in the day and would swear blind it could've been a success. But this is in support of the often lambasted Tiger LCD titles...
If you're that one person late to the party on all this and haven't seen the AVGN episode, go watch it. If you're even later and/or are reading this and fancy giving some of these games a go, you can easily build a healthy collection for a low-price. Just don't expect high-end graphics and top-shelf gameplay thesedays. Coz that ain't what they're about.
There is no cooler way to play than having RoboCop, Batman or Shinobi on your wrist. Be the envy of your buddies as they lug about their 2DS', while you rock up with something killin' dat 2D thang since way back when.
There’s an undeniable uniqueness to the Tiger LCD games that has led to a sheer Marmite opinionisation. While the majority maybe in the hate camp, here on RetroGameGeeks at the very least I openly confess to one and all my undying love. I'll fly your flag, Tiger! I still believe.
Olly's Final Thoughts...
Not everyone could afford the Gameboy when it was first released, no matter how amazing it was it was still for the time out of reach for lots of people.
Tiger in the mind of this humble writer delivered a great and more importantly cheaper alternative that allowed you to play games from most of the major publishers and all you had to do was save a few weeks pocket money to get your hands on them.
In a time when you had to choose between Nintendo & Sega you now had the option to play games from both companies exclusives that whilst not the exact same had just as much charm, give em a go...