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December 22, 2008 1:23 PM   Subscribe

In 1986, most gamers who were lucky enough to own a new video game system at home were playing the original Nintendo. It's launch in 1985, a year before the Sega Master System was launched in the states, allowed it plenty of time become the most popular console in the market, and the game Super Mario Bros. quickly became the best-selling video game of all time (a title it continues to hold, having sold over 40 million copies to date). However, even though Nintendo commanded 95% of the North American video game market at the time and the CEO of Sega made little effort to promote and market it, some people still bought and gave the Sega Master System a chance. Perhaps it was the 3-D glasses or it's unique ability to read multiple media inputs... or perhaps that the original version of the system had a secret game built right into it (and it was unbeatable!).

Although the system was an underdog, it underwent several redesigns and mascot changes, ranging from Alex Kidd to, finally, Sonic in the end. When the system was redesigned around 1990, Sega finally tried to market it aggressively, but it was too late. By 1992, sales were nearly non-existent in North America (although it should be noted the console was very popular in Europe and several other countries where Nintendo did not sell consoles). Which is all too bad, because there were many brilliant, brilliant games for the SMS.
For those of us lucky enough to have owned a SMS, we can delight in the nostalgia brought about by the mere mention of games such as Zillion, Alex the Kid in Miracle World, Choplifter, Ys, After Burner, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star, Hang On/Safari Hunt, and Shinobi.
posted by Bageena (52 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
The coolest thing I never got to try with my sister's Game Gear was playing SMS games on it. I would have loved handheld original Shinobi.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:32 PM on December 22, 2008


My best friend when I was little had a Master System that his brother had brought back to the house after college (his brother was much older than us). I had a Commodore 64 that my parents bought at the local flea market. Guess whose house we hung out at.
posted by penduluum at 1:33 PM on December 22, 2008


My dad bought an SMS long before we had a Nintendo - around 1987 or so. He wanted it primarily for the F-16 Fighting Falcon flight simulator, which was one of the more horrifically difficult games I remember trying to play as a youngun. (I think it used two controllers?)

He must have bought the pack with the 3-D glasses and light gun, since we played the hell out of Missile Defense 3-D (the first game shown in the commercial). This was a hard ass game as well, and I remember the dire game over screen when I missed a missile inbound for one of the game's cities (helpfully labeled "Eastern City" and "Western City," respectively). JUST ONE IS ALL IT TAKES. *hides*

However, I was utterly and completely pwned by Phantasy Star, a game I took nearly two decades to finish. Seriously. I was 4 when we bought the console, and 23 when I finally finished the damn thing on my computer. What a brilliant game, and one way ahead of its time.

happy happy nostalgia
posted by timetoevolve at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and then later I got a hand-me-down Tandy from my uncle with which I could play one game, a Harrier flight simulator, having taught myself just enough DOS to install and play it. I learned how to do two things in that game: (1) take off vertically (2) stall out and fall out of the sky at a high enough speed to summon a message telling me my wings had been torn off. Guess who's house we hung out at THEN?
posted by penduluum at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2008


From that everything2 article:

One of the strangest accessories ever for a video game system was the SegaScope 3-D Glasses, designed for the Sega Master System. The 3-D glasses were not at all like the standard flimsy cardboard green-and-red glasses that came with comic books and the like (and, notably, were included with some Nintendo games in order to provide 3d effects).

Does anyone know which of the NES or SNES games it was that you could use 3D glasses with?
posted by interrobang at 1:38 PM on December 22, 2008


Wait, what? You can play games on them too?
posted by lekvar at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2008


I bought one of these long after they came out in the first of several consecutive bids to build up the ultimate console collection.

My sister sold it to a pawn store.

I still have a little hate for her to this day.
posted by gnash at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2008


I remember going to Toys 'R' Us as a kid in 1990 or there-abouts, and wanting to pick out Sega Genesis games. I was never really into video games, and was content watching other kids play, so I had no idea what I was seeing. I went by the names and graphics on the boxes, and wasn't impressed by that many games marked with Sega Genesis. I asked for some blockier-looking games, but realized they were for some 8-bit Sega system. 8-bit? But Sega Genesis was 16-bit! There was something before Genesis?

Looking back now, it seems odd to name the second system in a market as Genesis (Greek: "birth", "origin"). Even more-so when it's marketed as Mega Drive in other regions of the world.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:40 PM on December 22, 2008


The coolest thing I never got to try with my sister's Game Gear was playing SMS games on it. I would have loved handheld original Shinobi.

Similarly, I missed out on playing Genesis games on the handheld Nomad until I bought one on eBay a decade later. Compared to something like a gameboy the thing is absolutely ridiculous, but it is nice to know that I could play Mutant League Football on an airplane if I ever felt the need.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:41 PM on December 22, 2008


I bought one of these used with a handful of games for around $50 in 1991. Wonder Boy was great fun.

An older friend of mine (in his late 20s) was a Master System snob at the time. He owned a huge stack of games and loved to bash all things Nintendo.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:46 PM on December 22, 2008


Ah Phantasy star, where you could just whip a gigantic car out of your pocket. Speaking of Mario, I wonder when the next rpg type Mario game is coming out that you can play on the wii.
posted by cashman at 1:46 PM on December 22, 2008



Does anyone know which of the NES or SNES games it was that you could use 3D glasses with?


3-D Worldrunner and Rad Racer come to mind. Let it be known that the 3-D glasses on the SMS were AWESOME and made the NES Red/Blue 3-D games look pathetic.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:54 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


By the way, how about an informal MeFite poll --

How did you pronounce Ys?

Me: WISE
My friend: long E, as if it rhymed with grease
Wikipedia, and Therefore the Internet: EYES

My friend was Colombian, so maybe his choice was affected by hearing Spanish at home. I think his way sounds better than EYES, though. Also note that we both pronounced Guile from Street Fighter's name as "Ghooley" until about 8th grade.
posted by penduluum at 1:56 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the way, I <3 this post so much. I knew I had to have a SMS when my 9 year old eyes first saw Space Harrier. Zillion, Phantasy Star, Govelius, and Fantasy Zone helped cement my die-hard Sega fanboyism.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:59 PM on December 22, 2008


Thanks for catching my mistake, item. It looks like they already fixed it. =)
I always pronounced it 'Wise'. Between that and Zillion, I'm not sure which is my favorite game for the system.
I do remember the system and all the games quite clearly because it was the first real video game system I ever had. I think I was maybe 9 or 10 at the time? So it would have been around 1990 when I had it. My father eventually sold it along with all my games and accessories to pay for bills or something, always promising me he'd buy me another one. Alas, it never came to be, although I do believe I got a NES a few years later. Still, I always, always loved the SMS and have never forgotten it. While composing this post, looking at the screenshots for some of the games, I was actually suprised at how good they looked considering it was just an 8-bit system. I remember another game, an RPG, that involved alot of dungeon crawling, moving forward one space at a time with random monster battles, and I remember that the dungeons were impossible to map because they were randomly generated upon entrance. Can't remember for the life of me what it was called.
My wife and I were watching X-play and they had some guy on there listing his top 10 classic games, and I noticed that they were ALL on the nintendo. I was miffed. If I were going to do a top 10, there'd be some NES (Boy and his Blog, Maniac Mansion, Zelda), but there sure as hell would be some SMS on that list too. Zillion forever! Collect the 5 floppy discs!
posted by Bageena at 2:09 PM on December 22, 2008


Wait... I'm dumb. They haven't fixed it yet. I'll e-mail the admins.
posted by Bageena at 2:15 PM on December 22, 2008


Ys = "eese," or occasionally "ease." (It's French.)
posted by Iridic at 2:32 PM on December 22, 2008


Does anyone know which of the NES or SNES games it was that you could use 3D glasses with?

Rad Racer for the NES had a garish 3-D mode. Loderunner did too.

And I pronouced it "ease".
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:34 PM on December 22, 2008


We had this at my grandmother's house. We had bunches of games, but the one that I would love to play right now was a vertical scrolling space shooter that I don't recall the name of. The bosses were huge and difficult. We never beat it.

I hated Zillion when I was a kid...NO SAVE!
posted by schyler523 at 2:37 PM on December 22, 2008


The 3D glasses for the SMS weren't red/blue based, but rather an alternating LCD shutter that would cover one eye and then the other in sync with your television's 24.4 frames per second refresh rate.

While this effectively dropped FPS to 12.2FPS, and tended to give you headaches/nausea with extended play, it's the only time I've seen 3D that genuinely seemed to both pop out of the screen and go deep into it. It actually really worked.

Zillion and Phantasy Star were both fond memories, as well. My SMS didn't have Maze built in - it had a motorcycle racing game called Hang On, instead.

Oh! Spy vs. Spy for the SMS was incredible in two-player vs. mode.
posted by Ryvar at 2:39 PM on December 22, 2008


I can't believe I forgot Fantasy Zone. I think that game and Sacrifice for the PC are probably the only real contestants for "most acid involved in a game's development."
posted by Ryvar at 2:41 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Altered Beast is the first console video game I ever played. Looking back, it was responsible for a suprising share of how I turned out. At the time, I thought that the idea of being resurrected by a warlock to battle hordes of stygian demons as a transformed human/wolf/lizard/beast-thing-hybrid was the greatest fucking thing in the world.

The exact sound, tone and inflection of the game's only spoken line of dialog, the introductory, "RIIIIIISE FROM YOUR GRAAAAAVE," will be seared into my head forever. I can reproduce it exactly as it sounded the first time I heard it coming out, in all its 8-bit glory, of the crappy TV speakers on the TV my neighbor's parents let him have in his room.

I am now seriously considering an Altered Beast tattoo. It would definitely have to include the words "RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE". After the first time I heard that ancillary wizard implore me to RIIIIIIISE FROM MY GRAAAAAAAAVE, the world was never the same again.
posted by baphomet at 2:48 PM on December 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


My friends back in the day were all about the minor consoles.

Matt had the SMS, and, being named Alex, I naturally gravitated toward the Alex Kidd games (he also had Intellivision and Colecovision!). When I went to his house, all I wanted to do was play SMS, even though he had a pool with a waterslide out back, which he would much rather have been out playing with.

Peter had the TG-16 CD, which was like getting a glimpse a decade into the future, as far as I was concerned.
posted by orville sash at 2:53 PM on December 22, 2008


I loved Zillion. It was tough, but I did manage to beat it eventually.
posted by Fleebnork at 2:59 PM on December 22, 2008


My memory seems to be going. Altered Beast also included the lines "POWER UP!" when you got a power up, and the boss of each level greeted you with an insidious, rasping "WELCOME TO YOUR DOOM!"; also, the dude who resurrects you is Zeus, not just any random warlock.
posted by baphomet at 3:05 PM on December 22, 2008


Oh man, Shinobi, Rastan, R-Type... so many good games on the Master System. And my friend Bobby (who was from the USA) was so much better at any of them than me. Me and my younger brother used to sit and watch him play through them (there were no saves), then later on we'd try to get through the game, but fail.

Bobby died in 2001, shortly after he moved back to the US. He'd have been blown away by the Xbox360 and PS3 - of course he'd be slaughtering me, but at least then I could justify the subscription cost for playing online.
posted by Elmore at 3:06 PM on December 22, 2008


I'm glad someone mentioned the TurboGrafx-16. A friend of mine had one of those and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Military Madness was one of my favorite games at that point. I was pretty pleased when I downloaded a TG-16 emulator a couple years ago and got to play it again.
posted by pombe at 3:15 PM on December 22, 2008


Altered Beast is the first console video game I ever played. Looking back, it was responsible for a suprising share of how I turned out. At the time, I thought that the idea of being resurrected by a warlock to battle hordes of stygian demons as a transformed human/wolf/lizard/beast-thing-hybrid was the greatest fucking thing in the world.

The exact sound, tone and inflection of the game's only spoken line of dialog, the introductory, "RIIIIIISE FROM YOUR GRAAAAAVE," will be seared into my head forever. I can reproduce it exactly as it sounded the first time I heard it coming out, in all its 8-bit glory, of the crappy TV speakers on the TV my neighbor's parents let him have in his room.


I, too, played Altered Beast at a tender and impressionable age. But even though I had hooked up the Genesis to the biggest TV I could find, and jacked the audio into my parent's kickass Fischer sound system, I heard not your intoned go-forth-and-kicketh-muss ass "RIIISE FROM YOUR GRAVE," but rather "WIIISE FROM YOUR GWAAAVE."

So I die, and I'm told that I should WIIISE FROM MY GWAAAVE, and, well, being resurrected and commanded to unleash the furies of my beastitude by a wizard with a speech impediment didn't really fill me with much confidence. And so I died again, and again.

Similarly, I played some other game involving a bloke named Alex Kidd. At the beginning of each stage, I was implored something which sounded like "FIND MY MIRACLE BALLS." Even at an age where I was struggling with girls and videogames and priorities involving both, I knew that finding anyone's balls were off-limits.

Regardless, SMS had some great games. Phantasy Star was trippy, delightful and made for much fun. Quartet, too, felt close enough to the original. But really, I think what I was feeling when it camed to owning a SMS vs a Nintendo was the nascent pubescent development of indie cred. A very uncool kind, but still.
posted by herrdoktor at 3:47 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's funny talking to people who are only a couple of years younger about some of these games. I remember Shinobi, Altered Beast, and R-Type as games I first experienced in arcades or corner stores. Back then there was still a good reason to go down to the arcade to see what's new. Talking to people now who first experienced these on conoles and thinking about the difference in quality is kind of funny, especially since that quality is colored with so much sentimentality.

Has anybody read Lucky Wander Boy?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:49 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


God I love the internet. I'm glad to see history's Edsels finally getting their due.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:03 PM on December 22, 2008


I used to play me an awful lot of Zillion. I remember having dreams about Zillion. And sheets and sheets of notebook paper covered in those codes for each of the rooms. I never could beat that game. I did, however, recently write a song about Zillion/covering Zillion music.

I was also pretty obsessed for a while with Psycho Fox. I remember having a lot of fun with that one.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:18 PM on December 22, 2008


When I got a NES as a Christmas present back in the 80s, I became a Nintendo devotee. But my friend had a Master System and despite my burgenoning status as a Nintendo Fan Boy, I still loved some of the games that the Master System had. Phantasy Star was nothing short of phenomenal, trumping even the NES's Zelda adventures in my opinion. One night my friend and I stayed up all night in an attempt to try and beat that nigh-unbeatable boss you meat about halfway through the game (I think he was called Nightmare and I think we did actually beat him too).

When we werent cooperatively playing Phantasy Star, I was hogging the console to play Penguin Land. I didnt so much like the game as I loved the level editor, creating level upon level for my friend to beat. Naturally I made them ridiculously hard but I always made sure that they could be beat.

And then there was Alex Kidd in Miracle World... a game I didn't think twice about buying on the Wii's virtual console when it was released a couple of month ago. I loved that game; loved it. Of course, that was when I was a kid with no job and plenty of time on my hands. In other words, I loved it when I had time in my life to devote to retrying a whole level after dying while trying to beat the end-of-stage boss in a battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now, on the Virtual Console, I think the game still is a lot of fun, but the fact there's no mid-level restart points and the fact that the end of level bosses can survive a bad call in the Janken matches but if I get even one call wrong I die and get sent all the way back to the fucking start of the fucking level, is kind of frustrating nowadays. I think in its day Alex Kidd was a fantastic game, and the fact that it still is, by and large, playable today stands as testimony to that fact, but by todays game design standards it would have to be considered as broken (something I can't help but think when I play the new retro-themed Megaman game too, by the way).

But all that said, these were about the only games I could find myself liking on the Master System. Altered Beast was terrible, Shinobi was boring and Afterburner, though fun, was ruined for me by the fact that the arcade version, which I played religiously, was obviously far superior. To my mind, this is what killed the Master System, and perhaps in later years Sega in general. The fact that they didn't have enough great games to justify buying the system while the NES had a slew of Miyamoto designed classics, plus many, many third party games that demanded purchase (Rush N'Attack, Gradius, Final Fantasy & even Ninja Gaiden) meant that the Master System just couldn't compete. Which is a shame really because in many ways it was a superior console to the NES.

But I guess it just goes to show that, just like today as the Wii continues to trump its more powerful foes the XBox 360 and the PS3, superior tech means nothing compared to great games. I think both Sony & MS can't wait until the day that Shigsy retires. Maybe then they'll stand a chance?
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2008


Hey herrdoktor, I think you'll appreciate this.
posted by Dr-Baa at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2008


Ah, this takes me back...my family had a SMS, which I always big-upped to my friends as better than the NES (which I believe it was, in some ways, although the game selection definitely lagged). Alex Kidd was a pretty good game, the port of Space Harrier (which I almost but never quite beat) was great, and Castle of Illusion was actually really entertaining (if you could get over the fact that it was a Mickey Mouse game). And then, of course, there were the Sonic games...good times.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:32 PM on December 22, 2008


Oh man, I loved my Genesis system. So many great, old games. I'd rediscovered my original console a few years ago and played the hell out of it for awhile, but then lost track of it again (I think it's in storage somewhere). But then I had the good fortune to stumble upon console emulation and now have my complete library of games on my laptop -- and they only take up ~60 MB.

Let's take a look at some of what's there...

Aladdin. Oh, damn. this used to be my favorite. That first desert market stage is burned into my brain, plus the music and the enemies and the endlessly repetitive sound effects. But I loooved it. Never could get past the lava level, though.

Castle of Illusion! I think it's the first Japanese-origin game I ever played. Very artsy and strange. But very fun, too. And the end boss music was badass (for the 16-bit era, at least).

Ghouls and Ghosts. Fuck you, Ghouls and Ghosts. No, seriously. Fuck you.

McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure. Holy. Crap. What a bizarre, hyperactive game. I mean, really... a McDonald's video game? But it was pretty damn fun, even with the weird atmosphere about it.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. YES. I remember when I used to love Power Rangers. And this was the first fighting game I ever played. Memories!

Also, any system that allows you to insert one game inside another game has got to be good. I did this all the time with the Game Genie. Putting in the cheat codes while looking at that cartridge tower made me feel like equal parts architect and hacking master.

The Sega Saturn was also good, but let's save that for another day.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:05 PM on December 22, 2008


I remember researching the comparative capabilities of the Nintendo and the Sega Master System, and choosing the clearly more powerful machine - the Sega.

And then watching it get crushed like a bug by Nintendo.

It was sort of my own "I bought Beta because it is better!" moment, albeit a lot less expensive a lesson in market realities than the poor Beta bastards endured. My Genesis, thankfully, made up for all. I loved that machine.
posted by John Smallberries at 5:38 PM on December 22, 2008


Funny thing about Ys. It's definitely pronounced "ease," because it's not a made-up name, at least not by Falcom. It's an "actual" mythical city, like Atlantis, and it may have existed (although probably not floating in the sky). In fact, according to Hardcore Gaming 101's typically-excellent articles on the series, the locations are roughly based upon ancient Europe.

P.o.b.: I've been wanting to read that, but had forgotten the name. Thanks for the reminder!
posted by JHarris at 5:39 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


There was a Japanese lad at our school for a year or so. He was packin' a couple of Nintendo "GAME & WATCH"es well before they officially arrived in Australia.

This would have been late 1970s – oldskool Nintendo. And he used to let me play them beat that h8Rz.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:27 PM on December 22, 2008


I had a Master System! Alex Kidd in Miracle World was the first video game I ever played. I was around four years old. Strange to think that my formative years were spent with that thing.

Here are some drawings my dad recently unearthed from my halcyon gaming days.
posted by danb at 7:07 PM on December 22, 2008


Effigy2000: Alex Kidd's Janken matches are completely random, that's why they feel broken. Mega Man 9 -can- be mastered, in fact with practice it's not really that hard a game. It just takes practice and experimentation with the weapons to figure out the easiest ways though each area.
posted by JHarris at 7:34 PM on December 22, 2008


I feel obliged to point out that no one wants to play Sega with Harrison Ford.
posted by stace at 8:42 PM on December 22, 2008 [7 favorites]


I had a Master System! Oh how I loved it - but I felt like I was the only kid in the world with one. I used to read Electronic Gaming Monthly religiously, even though they had almost no Sega coverage. But in one issue, they had a "cheat code" for Wonder Boy III (my favorite game at the time - it was really fantastic). Awesome! "Enter all blanks at the password screen" it said. Say what? The password system was number based. That doesn't even make sense! What could it mean? All zeros? No, doesn't work. Doesn't anybody try these codes before they print them?! Even worse, EGM pointed out that anyone who sent in a code that got printed received a free game! Some smartass kid got a free game for inventing a fake code?! No fair!

I had a first generation system, which did come with the Snail Game. I guess they did update the firmware somewhere along the way, because my version didn't have a graphical logo, and it was definitely beatable. Well, technically beatable. You have to find your way to the exit in 60 seconds, with no time to study the maze! I never made it past level 3. It was very hard.

I desperately wanted the 3D glasses, but they were insanely expensive. $70 or so, if I remember correctly - no game included.

The Master System's real downfall, though, was that there weren't any third party games. Nintendo had a policy that games on the NES couldn't be released for any other console. So either Sega made it, or you didn't play it. (There was one company - Tengen maybe? - who made games for both systems. I think their punishment was not getting the "Nintendo Seal," but they didn't seem to care.)

I got Great Football for my birthday one year, which has to be one of the dumbest sports games ever made. You could only play on offense. The computer starts with a heavy lead, and every time you score, you get the ball back! What?! That's not football!

The game Monopoly was labeled on the cartridge as "Mono Poly". It remains the only game I ever found a secret code for. (All it unlocked was the credits screen, but I was ecstatic.)
posted by Sibrax at 10:50 PM on December 22, 2008


My first "platform" was an Apple IIe and never felt any need for anything else.

Autobahn
ICBM Strike
Choplifter
Snake [in low res, but eminently playable]
Lemonade Stand [which was terrible, but lots of my friends played it]
Dino Eggs
Lode Runner [absolutely blew my mind]

… are some that spring to mind. My first real platform was a Nintendo 64 in the early 90s. Fun times conquering Zelda. Man, I get an olfactory response just thinking of it.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:50 PM on December 22, 2008


Alex Kidd's Janken matches are completely random...
posted by JHarris at 7:34 PM on December 22 [+] [!]


This is not actually true - there was a set pattern to them. As long as you reset between games, you could memorise the sequence. Or, if you're lazy like me and my friends were, write it down.
posted by jaymzjulian at 1:07 AM on December 23, 2008


Great post!

I was one of those kids that got an SMS in the eighties. Though it was a drag watching all the NES kids get all the badass third party games, Phantasy Star, the best role player of the 8-bit era, did help ease the pain. Sure, the SMS hardly had any games - it hardly mattered after I'd kept Phantasy Star in the slot for two years or so. It had colorful environments, hypnotic music and brutally difficult 3D dungeons. Unlike a lot of 8-bit favorites, Phantasy Star holds up today - I played through it on Gameboy a couple years ago and it was as good as I remembered.

Of course, owning an SMS was all about telling yourself little reassuring stories like this. The victor in the 8-bit console war was clear pretty quick. Sega's game offerings just couldn't compare w/ Nintendo's third party variety. So I would try and make the best of it, telling myself and anyone who would listen that Nintendo might have a lot of games, but they didn't have Rastan. I'd talk about the bigger color palette. And the 3D glasses. And Phantasy Star.

The theory I have to today is that a lot of SMS owners wound up pretty hardcore players later in life because getting the most out of a Master System meant a shit ton replaying what games you had.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:12 AM on December 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or, if you're lazy like me and my friends were, write it down.

YES. We had that list too. We also had a list of codes in Zillions until someone realized the special digits in the game were actually numerical digits and their mirror reflections pushed together. Blew my mind, man.

I loved the Sega Master System. We had the 3D glasses and the light zapper, and the absolute best 3D game of them all was Space Harrier 3D. It flickered like crazy, but when you were fighting one of those giant centipedes that came back and forth at you, it was an experience. I also liked Action Fighter, which was a crazy hybrid game. The first half was a Spy Hunter clone, where you drove a motorcycle around collecting special pieces that turned you into a car. Then you collected wings and turned into a flying car, and the game became a Xevious clone. Brilliant stuff.

There were some stinkers, though. Alex Kidd in High-Tech World may have been loads of fun in Japan (wasn't it a translation of some Japanese comedy?) but in America, the game was soul-crushingly bad. The plot? Alex Kidd wants to leave the house and go to the arcade. HOORAY! But first he must solve a lot of puzzles to get out of his house, including changing clocks ahead, making prank calls, and guessing which of his sisters is which. (??) Once out of the house, he had to travel through a forest full of ninjas who could kill him in one hit. Then you get to the arcade. Do you get to play? NO! You get a cutscene of Alex sitting in an Outrun cabinet saying "These Sega games are the best!"

You may complain about the endings of games today like Fallout 3 or Assassin's Creed, but those of us who played Alex Kidd in High-Tech World were taught early on to get used to disappointment after hours of work.
posted by Spatch at 5:59 AM on December 23, 2008


(There was one company - Tengen maybe? - who made games for both systems. I think their punishment was not getting the "Nintendo Seal," but they didn't seem to care.)

Tengen games never worked my NES. For some reason, they automatically rebooted at the start screen, every time. I learned to avoid renting those damn black cartridges like the plague.
posted by griphus at 6:21 AM on December 23, 2008


... but those of us who played Alex Kidd in High-Tech World were taught early on to get used to disappointment after hours of work.

Y'know, I absolutely adore the first part of this game.

Then, you're in the forest with the unfuckingpossible-to-get-past ninjas. I mean, he's just a kid trying to get to the arcade, goddammit! Can't they go easy on him?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:19 AM on December 23, 2008


YES. We had that list too. We also had a list of codes in Zillions until someone realized the special digits in the game were actually numerical digits and their mirror reflections pushed together. Blew my mind, man.

WHAT WHAT WHAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!!

*bangs head on desk*
posted by Fleebnork at 11:02 AM on December 23, 2008


*bangs head on desk*

Holy shit ... I never noticed that, either ...
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:59 AM on December 23, 2008


YES. We had that list too. We also had a list of codes in Zillions until someone realized the special digits in the game were actually numerical digits and their mirror reflections pushed together. Blew my mind, man.

NO WAI

Add me to the list of blown minds.
posted by Ryvar at 10:18 PM on December 23, 2008


(There was one company - Tengen maybe? - who made games for both systems. I think their punishment was not getting the "Nintendo Seal," but they didn't seem to care.)

Tengen games never worked my NES. For some reason, they automatically rebooted at the start screen, every time. I learned to avoid renting those damn black cartridges like the plague.


Tengen never actually agreed to nintendo's terms, and instead managed to hack a way around teh 10NES protection chip that existed in pre-1992 NES units (it was taken out of the dogbone series). Their hack involved, i believe, fucking with the reset line, which explains the behaviour that Griphus' console encountered.
posted by jaymzjulian at 2:10 AM on December 24, 2008


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