Bitcorp Gamate

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This portable console from Taiwan was manufactured by Bitcorp as a competitor to the Game Boy. The pack in game is Block Up, an extremely close version of Tetris, which of course was the game sold with Nintendo's machine.

Released in Asia in 1990, and distributed around the world by various companies by 1991, the console was not a great success, leading to Bitcorps liquidation in 1992. However, games continued to be published until 1994.

The machine is equipped with only one speaker for mono sound, but the machine has stereo capabilities which can be heard by plugging in headphones. The speaker is also of very poor quality and distorts at even low volume.

The usual controls are present, a D-pad, two fire buttons, and start and select, it also has a volume control and contrast slider for the screen.

The machine runs off four AA batteries, two in each side of the machine, covered by poor quality covers which have a habit of falling off.

The screen is the machines Achilles heel; in appearance it is a dot matrix screen with a green hue, not unlike the Game Boys, and is 160x152 pixels in size. The main problem is that fast moving objects on screen blur very badly making game play very difficult in most titles. Even the pack in game becomes impossible to play when the pieces speed up down the screen.

As with other portable machines, the Gamate can be linked up for two player games via a port and cable.

Cheetah distributed the machine in Europe, but it was not on sale for long, and the instructions are badly translated from the original language. Both the machine and the games command high prices, with even unboxed consoles fetching up to £100, and the games can be £20 or more, and are as scarce as the machine.

The console is well built inside and out, with a strong plastic case, and none of the epoxy fixed chips as can be found in its contemporary competitors.

The actual quality of the game titles are surprisingly good, although most are clones of popular games such as Bomberman, Lode Runner and of course Tetris. They came on thin cards with exposed pins, not unlike PC Engine or SG1000 Master System cards.

Manufacturer: Bitcorp
Date: 1990

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH47352. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Bitcorp Gamate

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