Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘master system

Finding the Diamond in the Rough: Sega Master System

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Now for a game console that’s relatively rare and worth some money itself in this country.  In fact, most of the games on this list are worth less than a complete copy of the console itself.  If you don’t have a heavy collection, have a power base converter, or even own a Game Gear, you may want to consider moving this product to collectors for some extra cash.  That said, if you live in Europe, there is a massive library of available titles for this great system.

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Written by Fred Rojas

April 24, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Podcast: Sega Hits the Third Mark

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This week Fred and Jam are celebrating Sega’s first console attempt, the Master System.  While a technical powerhouse against the NES, business practices in the US and insconsistencies in Japan made it a commercial failure.  It did thrive in Europe and Brazil, not to mention it’s quite an enticing package in hindsight.


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Written by Fred Rojas

September 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

Buying Guide: Sega Master System

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We all love our retro consoles, but in many cases the consoles we are buying are because they are cheap enough or we have enough money to purchase what we never were able to in our youth.  Unfortunately the business of making used retro items available to the masses can at times be a money grubbing market where consumers are deceived by people they will never meet in real life.  As an individual who has spent the last decade scouring the local area, conventions, eBay, and the internet as a whole I have learned many valuable lessons.  For that reason I present my buying guide series, which is a handy quick guide to knowing what to purchase and what will cost an arm and a leg to replace.

Oh the Master System, the red-headed step child of the 8-bit era.  Not only were Sega products unknown to American markets – Japan had seen several iterations of the Sega Mark consoles, the Master System known as the Mark III – but it released alongside the NES in America and had nothing to show for it.  The two biggest problems with the Master System today is that it’s relatively expensive for a working consoles itself, there are ways to play many of these games on the Game Gear or Genesis (with the Power Base Converter), and not too many good games (many arcade games also got ported to Genesis with better quality).  For those that aren’t aware, Nintendo also had developers and publishers locked into license agreements that didn’t allow games to be released on another console and basically had the Master System in checkmate in the US.  Still, I have the console and love some of the games/ports that are available on it (like Ghostbusters) and plenty of collector’s are curious what the console looks like.  Aside from the video provided below, make sure the consoles you get have the following:

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Technopop
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: Helpful – Link
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $8.88 (used), $39.99 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – Simply known as Spider-Man on Genesis, Game Gear, and Master System
Digital Release? No

As we sometimes see in the 16-bit era, first party published titles became interesting exclusives on either side of the console wars and among the various Spider-Man titles I have to say this is my favorite.  Amazing Spider-Man vs. Kingpin (or better known on all other ports as Spider-Man) tasks you with defusing a bomb set by the nefarious Kingpin within 24 hours (pretty sure that’s not real-time) by collecting keys from different foes in the Spider-Man universe.  This was the first game I played that gave me exactly what I expected out of a superhero title.  It allowed me to play as Spider-Man, it had solid controls that included web slinging and wall grabbing, and it did it all in a side scrolling platformer/brawler.  Not only that, but the game embraces a non-linear structure where you visit locations throughout the city and face whatever is in certain locations, which felt like it freed the game up to your personal pacing, something quite uncommon in the days of early platformers.  While the plot centralized around the Kingpin, you will take on almost all of Spider-Man’s key foes including Venom, Doc Oc, Lizard, and Electro, just to name a few.  Graphically the game had that semi-real grit that Sega titles all seemed to offer in the early 90s with great animated storyboard art throughout.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

Fantasy Zone (Sega)

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So many shmups have heavy music, vast spacescapes and horrid alien bosses, but not Fantasy Zone.  One of Sega’s first shooters to grace arcades in 1986 it’s also one of the best titles that explains exactly what you’re going to get.  Fantasy Zone breaks the mold for such a popular title – it was ported to almost everything imaginable in the late 80s – and still manages to be a fun and addicting shmup.  Forget the brutal challenge and seriousness of other shmups (like Gradius, which has been owning my soul all morning) and instead wander over to a colorful bubbly world with protagonist Opa-Opa.

Looking like a hybrid between a space ship and a small winged creature with legs, Opa-Opa has been somewhat of a sidekick for Sega, even getting an appearance in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing.  In Fantasy Zone you will control this little ship in a scrolling world (think Defender) while defeating bad guys to collect money and upgrade your ship.  As you move along certain boss battles will unlock that move you on to the next world, each new one as unique as the one before it.  Fantasy Zone is littered with bright colors and funny looking enemies that get it categorized as more of a “cute ’em up”.  To this day I still don’t know exactly where to unlock each boss, but I do know that they appear before you have spent too much time thinking about it.  That’s the thing, unlike many other shmups you’re not trying to reach a goal per se, but rather exploring a world and letting it take you on a ride.  I know plenty of people who didn’t think there even was a world beyond the first and still pumped quarters into the machine to play it anyway.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Converts

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So now you want to import consoles and games, do you?  Well you’ll be happy to know that it is entirely possible on most consoles, however there are some things you’ll have to be aware of before you do it.  This article discusses the different things you have to do to both the electric and video signal of various imported consoles.  It will also briefly discuss how to get foreign games to play on US consoles, if possible.

Electricity Differences
No matter what console you are using, it’s important to know the differences between electricity in the US, Europe and Japan.

Japanese Consoles in the US
As you’ll see plenty of times in this article, Japan is quite similar to the United States in many ways, including power.  We use 120 volts as our standard for power.  Japan doesn’t appear to use a ground (or at least none of the Japanese consoles I’ve ever gotten do, never been to Japan itself), so all plugs from Japanese consoles will be two-pronged and fit in an US outlet.  Also fortunate is the fact that most consoles, especially retro ones, will use AC adaptors that work in the US.  Never interchange US power supplies into Japanese consoles, you could fry the console or worse.  For example, if you import a Famicom, use that console’s AC adaptor and not an US NES one.  For newer consoles like Japanese PS2s and PS3s, you may want to check the back of the console, but I think those are good for AC 100-240 volts for worldwide distribution, but I could be wrong.  Basically if it generates heat, be very careful and do a search for advice from a reputable source (no, Yahoo! Answers is not a reputable source).  Also if you want to be completely safe, there are Japanese voltage converters that allow use of Japanese products here.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Generation Gap Pt. 2: 8-Bit

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Amidst the video game crash of 1983, it seemed pretty unlikely that home consoles would have a future.  Fortunately a Japanese toy maker had figured out how to re-sell video games to the masses despite the world economy turning its back.  That company was Nintendo.

8-bit Generation (1985 – 1995)

Nintendo Entertainment System – Launch Price: $200 – Released: 1985
Depending on your age, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) probably needs the least introduction or background, but there were many things going on behind the scenes that assisted this console in becoming the giant it was.  Initially Nintendo had to figure out how to overcome the world economy’s opinion on video game consoles, which the Famicom/NES clearly was.  In Japan, where personal home computers were all the rage, it was marketed as a computer for your family, hence the name Famicom (for “family computer”).  In America the better way to sell it was as a toy, which everything from the console’s marketing to the simple boxy aesthetic suggests.  It worked and in both regions this little 8-bit system assisted Nintendo in virtually running the 8-bit era.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm