Ela's SMS Faq
Welcome to Ela's SMS Faq. This is my attempt to create a little 'frequently asked questions' for the new generations that donīt know anything about our beloved SMS console. If you are a veteran in SMS stuff, youīll probably laugh at this, but else, maybe you can find it useful. When youīre done reading, and if you want to become an SMS master, I suggest you to read the actual SMS faq, with everything you wanted to know about the SMS and you always were afraid to ask. Find it on the 'Files' section of this website. Enjoy!
Okay, letīs begin!
So what is the sms, Thöja? Iīve never heard of it, is it a kind of toaster?
Well, no (although some last-generation gamers think something like that). It was a 8-bit machine made by Sega that came out in the mid 80īs (1986 or so, Iīm not sure), being almost the rest of the world version of the japanese Mark-III, released in 1985. It was the Segaīs reply to the Nintendo NES, which appeared a few years before. Maybe youīve never heard of it before because youīre too young, or you had a NES. Nintendo made a contract with the third party programmers, basically if a company programmed games for Nintendo, wasnīt allowed to program for the SMS. So, the NES, although being inferior, had hundreds of games more than the SMS, and the poor management that the SMS received didnīt help very much... As mentioned before, the SMS had appeared before in Japan, first called Mark-III, that was a nice looking white console with a lot of peripherals, and was succesor of previous Sega consoles like SG-1000 or SC-3000. Later, but also before being released in the rest of the world, appeared the Sega Master System, no more called Mark-III. It had the shape and colors that we already know well, and was exactly like our European or American SMS units, with an exception: It had a built-in FM chip that for some reason wasnīt ported to our countries, an FM chip that makes games like Out Run, Miracle Warriors, Phantasy Star and many others sound so damned well! While the Mark-III used white cartridges with a sticker featuring the cover of the game, and even had an external disc drive available, the SMS uses black cartridges with the familiar purple/white squared sticker with the name of the game in white. In a few words: the SMS was a console that anticipated his time, creating true classics and amazing arcade ports with an actual sense of quality and fun.
But I think success is originated by quality, so the NES is better, isnīt it?
I donīt think so. I mean, the NES had lots of great games, like the Marios, the Zeldas, and possibly many more, but the success of the NES is in a huge debt with promotion, management and obscure contracts with third-party companies. Iīm not going to do NES-bashing (although sometimes itīs fun!) because I owned a NES for quite a long time, and enjoyed it a lot. But it was never my true classic system. Why? I discovered it when I sold all my NES stuff. I bought some CDs and LPs with the money I got, I never regret it, and I never thought I made a mistake. When some guy asked me if I could sell him my SMS collection, I instantly thought "No way!!", when I thought about not having my mint copies of my all-time favourites, and maybe not finding them again. So, the NES was a nice system with some good games, that was a huge success in the US, and a bit less in Europe, but it was maybe an over-rated console. Just look at some games that appeared for both the SMS and the NES (Shinobi, Space Harrier, Haja no Fuuin, Fantasy Zone...) and compare sound, playability and graphics quality. While the NES looks like a child trying to look older, the SMS is a mature and coherent system.
Ok, I see, stop please. But what are the accesories you mentioned before?
Oh, some good ones. A light gun called Sega Light Phaser, to enjoy games like Wanted, Rescue Mission... Also a 3-D glasses called SegaScope 3D were released, Iīve never tried these but everybody seems to love them. They are based in blinking and duplicated images, to make an awesome 3-D effect. Iīm really expectant to try them, but they seem to be extremely expensive. You can try Space Harrier 3D, Zaxxon 3D or Out Run 3D (maybe the rarest and most expensive SMS cart ever...and I have it!!!) with them. A rapid fire unit, to press the button once and non-stop shooting. An arcade-type Control Stick, a bit hard to use because it looked as it was made for left-handed people. After the SMS 2 was launched, some various joysticks and gamepads were also made for the SMS by other companies, even an infrared pad and a weird joystick for flying and racing simulators. These are the main accesories made.
How many games were made for the sms?
I donīt know the exact number, but about +300. I think the last game released was The Smurfs, by 1993 or so. Anyway, in my humble opinion, the first and true classics were the games released during the first years of the SMS, from 1986 to 1990, more or less. Games released in 1992 or 1993 (decadence year for most 8 bit systems, including of course the SMS) were most of them sad attempts of looking like 16 bit systems, lacking the originality and magic that former SMS games (Wonder Boy, Zillion, Phantasy Star, Shinobi) had.
And is Sega still programming for the SMS?
Unfortunately no. Well, the lucky brazilians (besides great bands like Viper and Angra) still have new games like Street Fighter II, Virtua Fighter, an SMS 3 and even an pink SMS compact! Also in Brazil, many reeditions of classic SMS games with different names and sprites have been made. So, you have the Monica series (Wonder Boy hacks), Geraldinho (Teddy Boy hack) or Sapo Xule (Psycho Fox, Astro Warrior and Kung Fu Kid hacks). The Brazillian toys company Tec Toy makes all of them, including some new games like the ones mentioned above. They are rare as hell in Europe and the US, and not very good ones as people say, but definately some cool items for every collector :)
Should I buy a SMS? Iīm not sure... and where?
Yes, of course! Maybe you should try an emulator first. The best known nowadays is Meka, and Massage is also a nice one. You can find them at almost all emulation pages, and with them you can discover if you like the SMS way of gaming. And if you like it, playing on an original SMS is even better. Where to find SMS stuff? Well, maybe hard, maybe not so. Try videogame shops, maybe they have some old games. Also a good source are flea markets, people on the net, newspapers or online auctions. Look everywhere, thatīs how youīll find your treasures ;)
Why loving the SMS and even making a web page if itīs dead? You have N64 or PSX...
Yes, but I grew up with a SMS, it brings me great memories and I donīt like the new generation consoles: great graphics but...no magic. Also, collecting SMS games is very funny!
Are there enough games to enjoy the SMS?
Of course, there are different kinds of games, whatever you want. RPG: Miracle Warriors or Phantasy Star. Arcade: Great conversions like Shinobi or Space Harrier. Racing: Out Run, Hang On. Adventure: Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Lord of the Sword. Plattform: Wonder Boy, Psycho Fox. Sports: Super Tennis, World Soccer. Family games: Sega Chess, Monopoly. These are only a few, but if you like 8 bit gaming, and you dive into the SMS world, Iīm sure youīll find something that will make you love the SMS.