The Master System

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The 2600 may have been a nice teaser, but I don't consider my real gaming days to have begun until the first day I got my 8-bit Sega wonder... the Master System. I still vividly remember going with my dad to Crazy Eddie in NJ to pick one up. I'd say the year was 1986, and it had just been released. Sure, I was aware of the NES... but everyone had the NES, and I thought that robot they were still packing with it at the time was just plain dumb! (Turns out I was a perceptive little kid!) Even back then I seldom went with the flow, so the SMS was my baby. I loved this console. Even today I emulate it on the PC and have acquired almost all my old games. It was my opinion back then, and still is now, that the Master System was far superior to the NES, especially in terms of graphics. The sound and music were also fantastic for the time.. some very catchy tunes! The card slot was a real hoot. I was amazed as a kid that you could fit these cool games onto a credit card sized piece of plastic! Of course, it also had a cartridge slot. Never did understand the logic behind including both, besides wow factor. Then there was the included Light Gun. Wow. The coolest looking, most accurate light gun on any system... and probably will stay that way because of Columbine. I tried some light guns for the Dreamcast lately, and they were a total joke compared to sleek black accuracy of the SMS Light Gun. It was put to great use too with excellent light gun games. The best I've ever played to date... much more fun than House of the Dead.

This console was also my introduction to my current favorite genre, RPGs! My first was Phantasy Star, and I finished it! What a game... I'm currently in the middle of replaying it on the GBA. My copy of Phantasy Star was missing the manual. So I wrote to Sega. Much to my surprise, the sent me a manila envelope with a photocopied huge version of the manual... along with a letter and a glossy ad for After Burner. Talk about customer service! You'd never get that level of attention nowadays. I remember the price of Phantasy Star was mind blowing, especially for 1986. It was no less than $80 in Toys R Us! And it wasn't even a special edition! To sell a game for $80 today, you'd need to have double DVD platinum gold foil boxed special edition with T-shirt and book!

I had a few other favorites on this console: Action Fighter, a Spy Hunter clone. Transbot, a very fun Defender-like game. Penguin Land, basically Mr.Driller with an egg! Choplifter was a classic..... come to think of it, I must have had at least 30 games for this console, which is more than I currently have for my Dreamcast or my Gamecube! Of course, the quality level of the games was much higher back then. I rent games like crazy from Gamelender for my "modern" consoles, and I want to buy maybe 1 in 10. Not so back then... almost every game was a lot of fun, and pretty unique compared to each other. You didn't have six different versions of a single skateboarding game! *cough* Tony Hawk *cough*

In case you're wondering, I no longer have a physical version of this console, same with the TRS-80. I have had a bad habit of disposing of my prized gaming systems (well ok, not the TRS-80) over the years. But I think I've learned my lesson. I'm keeping my Dreamcast, probably forever.

Up next.... The Almighty AMIGA 500. Possibly my favorite piece of electronics EVER.

The Early Years

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My first system was the Atari 2600, circa 1984. I was only about 6 or 7 at the time, and had a blast with Ms. Pac Man. I'm sure I had other games, but for some reason Ms. Pac Man is the most memorable. I'm sure Night Driver would have been better with the paddle controller, but alas, I never had one. This made Warlords the most confusing and mysterious game on the planet to my 7 year old brain. After about a year or two, my uncle let his friend borrow the 2600, and they fried it. So much for my 2600 era.

Next up, the Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer II, purchased shortly after the burnout. Outstanding game? Russian Roullette. I kid you not. That was the extent of my gaming on this system. I typed it in, and played it. Fun for only about 10 minutes, even to an 8 year old. See, my dad and I DID try to buy a cartridge game for this system, but we could never get it to work, so we returned it, and no other game purchase attempt was ever made after this first disaster. A shame. The most memorable thing about this system? Staring at that bloody green screen and wishing I were playing a real game. Can you imagine about 2 or 3 years of this?? I feel your pity.

Needless to say, my first 8-bit console was just around the corner, the Sega Master System. But that's a story for a future entry...