It's true! Has a touch panel and everything!'s mostly true. Longtime friend Vander Fujisaki pointed us to a Game Watch article with further details. The system, called the Beena, is made by Sega Toys, and is basically the Pico reborn, though while the cartridges are the same size, the Pico carts won't work with the new unit. It actually says 'advanced Pico' just above the Beena logo. Take another look at that last image - touch panel...'training game'...sign of the times!

The graphics do look a bit sharper now, but I'd imagine it's the same architecture. The lineup currently boasts the normal japanese childrens licenses, such as Anpanman, Doraemon, and now Mushiking, of course. The big shocker for me is seeing Pokemon in there. A Nintendo game for a Sega console. That's progress!

While it's primarily postioned as an educational tool, some of these do look profoundly game-like, which is damn exciting, even though it shouldn't be. It's been endorsed by educators as a tool for intellectual and moral (!) training. But I can't help but get excited by the prospect of actual games on this thing, though I'm sure that won't be happening any time soon. There's a car game which teaches safe driving, and has a rumble function...that's pretty close! beena2.jpg

Differences from the Pico include: ability to play without a TV, use of a second pen for two players, data saving, score ranking, and playtime can be set by a parent to an alloted slot. Other exciting things: it uses a battery to keep the time. If light strikes the innards of the Beena (ie if the cart isn't set right) it won't operate properly. Demons! The unit costs 13,440 yen, and carts are quite expensive, ranging from 4,000-7,000 yen. anyway, it's all very exciting. Long live Sega.