Retro Console Review: Quickshot / Watara Supervision

Quickshot-Supervision-HandheldOne of many, many wannabe Nintendo Game Boys, let's take a look at the Quickshot's Supervision, because why not?

So, it's 1992, and for the past three years, Nintendo have been showing the world that when it comes to portable gaming, green-and-grey graphics are the key to success - that is, with their Game Boy, which everyone has. Yep, Nintendo were making a lot of money out of their happy little grey brick, so naturally, in this world of free enterprise and endless innovations, everyone else decided that THEY could make money out of electronic pocket-sized devices too. Preferably ones that would play variants of Tetris.

One such company was Watara, who decided that the Game Boy was too expensive for some people. Their entertainment machine - named the Supervision (as in, "superb visuals"?) would do everything the Game Boy could do, but for much cheaper! The money for these savings would come from Watara not doing any of their international distribution stuff - rather, it'd be farmed out, similar to Sega's deal with Tonka during the early days of the Sega Master System in Europe. As such, there are several different iterations of the Supervision available, from Argentina's Hipervision to Taiwan's Tiger Boy. For the purposes of this article, and also for purposes related to convenience, we'll be looking at the UK's version, which was "done" by joystick manufacturers Quickshot - hence, the Quickshot Supervision!

The Game Boy's Biggest Rival Yet?

So, looking at the spunky British Supervision, we'll start where anyone else would - the physical side of it all. For one thing, it's definitely BIGGER than the Game Boy, and with all the extra weight one would expect from such a size increase. Not quite approaching Lynx levels of hugeness, but it's still big enough to kill a small mammal with a single blow. What's also immediately noticeable is that the Supervision appears to be a machine of two halves - it has a chunky rubber middle section seperating the controls from the screen and this contains a semi-flexible "neck" that can be changed from "flat" mode to "tilted slightly" mode - a nice idea, which can help if you're trying to catch a good light source, but ultimately a bit gimmicky. Still, it sets it apart enough from the Game Boy to not be called a complete clone.

The aforementioned screen is a nice thing - at 160x160, it's bigger than the Game Boy's 160x144 LCD display. This can be made even bigger, with the seperately available TV-link-up cable. Haven't ever used one of these myself, but if Xbox emulation is anything to go by, it's not a very good idea. Still, it's an innovation, and one that appeared a good two years before Nintendo's Super Game Boy expansion thing for the SNES. It even adds four colours to the games, which is clever. Also of note about the screen is the clarity of it all - under a good light, the Supervision easily beats the original Game Boy in terms of clarity and amount of motion-blur.

The Supervision's controls are similar to the Game Boy's - two action buttons, a start button and a select button. Rather than a nice little D-pad, what we have here in a directional sense is a weird bumpy diamond-shaped nub. It's alright for... being diamond-shaped, but not so good for rapidly changing directions in game-based scenarios, so there's some points lost there. The sound's a bit rubbish too, but this being a handheld device, you'll probably have the sound turned off most of the time anyway - wouldn't want to disturb our fellow Metro-reading commuters now, would we?

The Quickshot Supervision Games Library

Right, so far we have an oddly-shaped brick with a really nice screen, and it costs around £30 less than a Game Boy does, but as with every gaming system, what really matters is the games, right? I have seven of them at hand - a couple of them are good, the rest are, shall we say - interesting? Let's have a look at them, in a somewhat categorical order...

We'll start with the two most passable titles. The first of these is Crystball, a Breakout clone that was bundled with the machine. It does a good job of emulating the classic bouncing ball game, and does a few more interesting things than Nintendo's own Alleyway ever did - paddle extenders, ball speeders, that sort of thing. All very good, and probably the game any would-be Supervision owner will find themselves playing the most. After this is the inevitable Tetris clone, titled Block Buster - nothing of note about this one, apart from the amazing box art - just look at those strange robotic beings, just itching to be combined into neat rows.


Now we get onto the other games - that is, the Supervision's downfall. See, whereas the Game Boy had the likes of Mario, Mega Man, Simon Belmont and Kirby to help sell units, Quickshot had the likes of this strange assortment of unexpected entities. P.52 Sea Battle looks like it ought to be some sort of 1942-esque shooter, but it's more like Sea Wolf - that is, wait for the boats to enter your line of sight, then lauch a torpedo at it. Fun enough, if you like waiting around for things to blow up rather than actively seeking them out. Just by looking at the sticker on the cartridge for Kabi-Island, you'd expect a bizarrely named Pac-Man type game, but what you get instead is a pretty enough Bomberman affair, which would be great if if wasn't for the Supervision's awful directional pad, and the fact that you're never sure which sprite is "you" and which sprite is "the enemy". Still, good enough to spend two minutes with.

Quickshot-Supervision-Handheld-GamesSo that's the "good games" and the "unexpected games" - now we move onto the "Erm... What?" games. Police Bust has nothing to do with catching criminals or escaping from Alcatraz or anything else you'd expect from a title like that - it's actually the Supervision's answer to Pac-Man only on a massively zoomed-in map, with no power pills, no hope of ever winning, and at a much more sedate pace. Pac-Boy & Mouse is another one where you'd be expecting Pac-Man, but by this point you know you're not going to get anything like Pac-Man if you THINK it's going to be Pac-Man. This one's more like Sokoban, and the aim is to squash the mice, yet for some reason the blocks keep disappearing before you get anywhere near them. It's got a wonderful box though, so I'll give it that much.

Last of all is the utterly baffling Linear Racing. With a title like that, you'd expect drag racing, maybe even something along the lines of NASCAR, right? Any sort of unashamedly straight-forward, self-admittedly boring racing game, right? Well, moving to the back of the box, there's no mention of racing - what we are told instead are cryptic "game features" such as "Six sceneries", "Free item selecting" and "Winning singing". Huh. Turn on the game and you get a nice picture of some apple-shaped being, which is then scrambled up. You choose some music, choose from one of six options (such as "Racing In Woods", "Brave Skater" or "Charming Dancer"), and then you're presented with some fairly fluid animation of a rotating cube, or a skiing guy, or something like that. Press a button and it all becomes a jumbled mess, to which you're likely to reply - "I get it! It's a picture puzzle!". Well, you'd think that... Choosing a square with the aim of moving it only replaces said square with a "+" symbol - whether that means I can somehow move it around, I don't know - it wouldn't let me, anyway. It probably IS a picture puzzle game, but for the Supervision's sake, we can pretend it's something different and special, right?

Quickshot Supervision Gameplay Video\


So yeah, that's what the Supervision's all about: Unexpectedness. Should you ever desire a Supervision of your own, the usual channels are obviously your best option - don't expect to be paying more than £30 for one. And once you have your Supervision, here's the good news - you're one step close to completing your Violet Berlin or Andy Crane cosplay outfit. Witness the Supervision's TV debut at 1:15!

Last Updated ( 05 February 2011 )  


(Link to this comment) Lord_Santa 2011-02-05 01:28
my eyes!!! my ears!!!!

I have been tainted!

great article...
horrible, horrible videos
I blame the 90's

(Link to this comment) TwoHeadedBoy 2011-02-05 01:40
I'd like to see you Sky+ a Databurst ;-)
+1 (Link to this comment) nokgod 2011-02-05 19:23
heh heh! Great article THB :) I felt like i should buy one....until i watched my own hand slap me across the chops! I listened to my hand.......
(Link to this comment) Liamh1982 2011-02-05 20:27
I think I may now have tinnitus.
(Link to this comment) Destro 2011-02-09 08:37
Damn, I used to have one of those when I was a kid. Had about 6 gamecartridges too. I think I threw it away because it was broken. :sigh:
(Link to this comment) 3rdman 2011-03-20 00:42
First supervision experience...... Won a unit off Ebay. Received it, and plugged into the headphone jack to try some Crystal ball! Yet the volume dial has no obvious markings to tell you if you are at "max" or "none", and just as my brain began to process what was about to happen, my ears heard the shrill PING! of the boot up screen at full volume. Thanks Taiwan.
(Link to this comment) 8bitbob 2014-08-14 16:10
Yeah I had one of these too.I think I swapped it for a Gameboy aarrggghhh,The games were really bad apart from a side scrolling shoot em up game a bit like r-type (cant remember name) (anyone know?).Wish id have kept hold of it though..... same as a lot of things.
(Link to this comment) oldgamerz 2016-08-03 18:55
I thought the games were ok considering they were on a nice big screen, horrible sound though. If I could I'd actually buy one of these for dirt cheap I would, at least give it a try,

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