Fifth and final (for now) chapter of the PAF memorial. This is a really nice story that a PAF visitor sent. I've read it lots of times and I'm sure you'll enjoy it too!
Remember that I didn't write or edit a single word here, it's writen as it was in the PAF SMS page.
by Matthew R. Kuehn

This is a great piece by a SMS fan. Many thanks to Matthew for sending it to me, and I am sure many who read it will relate.

My first experience with the console I have to come to realise as the premiere
video game console of the 1980s was at the end of that decade, let us say 1988,
as my memory has not retained the exact date and even the year may be off in one direction or the other.

I had never seen that elongated, sharp-edged black box for sale anywhere that I
might be able to buy one. Back then, it was my parents, not I, who chose which
pastimes I might engage in. Even if the reverse were true, my location and
financial status was such that any store large enough to carry this obscure
system was hundreds of miles away and carried games/systems which were
definitely out of my price range. Our town was inundated with the likes of the
NES and its hundreds of sub-par "games." Yes, there was one store I remember
which rented SMS games, but I did not own or have access to a Master System, so there they sat, waiting, longing, for someone to discover them, to buck the
mainstream and shun the inferior NES which Nintendo crammed down the throat of every child old enough to operate the controller. But I digress.
Video games have oft been called the work of the devil, what for all of the
violence and promiscuity people who don't play them say they contain. (And yes, some do, but admitting that certainly wouldn't make your parents any more
sympathetic, now would it?) Adults, under the guise of the protection of their
children, often limit access to the machines or flat out refuse usage to those
who see the consoles as everything other than inane and pointless. I would be
willing to wager that many of the people now employed as video game programmers or attending school as computer science majors cut their proverbial teeth on these games back when object transparency was unheard of, 3-D came in the form of a pair of glasses, two buttons per controller was more than enough to play any game and Quake was something the mid-Westerners cared not about; that was in the domain of those Californians.

So it is ironic that I was introduced to this machine at a private, Christian
school. More ironic still is the name of the kind soul, Moses, who found me in a
basket amidst the rushes of Nintendo and pulled me, rescued me, from a fate just slightly better than death and placed me before the angled console which would come to coax me of my free time and spare change as the years progressed.He had a Nintendo as well (but then, who didn't) and the largest collection of games I had even seen outside of a toy store. At the time, it seemed that there could not possibly be a title he did not have in those stacks upon stacks of games. All of the games I remembered the names of from being in the arcades were there: Shinobi, Hang-On, Altered Beast. And others I had never heard of before were there as well! I could not imagine ever having the time to actually play through each and every one of them. Now you must realise that this was all almost ten years ago, and things which seemed large then today seem actually quite small and very much in the scope for further improvement.

Many plates of spaghetti and countless cases of Mountain Dew, along with the
occasional Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll, were consumed in order to fuel the
intense fire for playing video games which burned within us. Time was no issue,
either. Many times the day would turn to night and back to day again without the
power light ever going out except to switch cartridges. The following day would
be wasted in the sleep of the exhausted, a schedule many youth would follow as
they progressed through the grades into high school and further yet, into
college, where the time available to sit back and relax with your favourite
games was viciously torn away from you by such demons as Trigonometry, Freshman English, Model Building and even the hideous Part-Time Job. All that remained was a tiny fraction of the time you had so precious few years ago, and even that fraction sat, quivering in a corner, hoping to be found by the one who had not neglected it, but who had been torn from it by the aforementioned demons of the world.

But in those days, the outlook was not so dim. Days were lived one by one, with
as much fun extracted from them as possible. And sometimes, fun comes in small packages.
It was nearing the time of my birthday, which one it was I don't recall for the
reasons listed at the beginning of this epic, but it must have been number
thirteen or fourteen. Moses and I had grown to be good friends by then, but the
gift he was to give could not have made more of an impact on my life than if it
were a thousand dollars or a high-school diploma. Apparently his sister, whom I
had never been very fond of, for she called me "maggot" at every opportunity,
had purchased an SMS at the same time as he did and was now willing to part with it for a sum which today would seem outrageous and damn near insane. However, it also came with several games he did not have, and so for this princely sum, he added to his collection while at once obtaining the perfect gift for another fan of the SMS console who was at this point consumed with affection for the system and who owned only a plain ol' NES.

So the day finally came when I became the proud new father of a brand-new (at
least to me) SMS. How proud I was, although it was bundled only one game, the
original Hang-On/Astro Warrior cart combo. My parents, however, were less than
pleased, both with the gift and with the price tag they assumed it to carry. But
how many hours I played those games I cannot count, for they were many and came at all hours of the day and night. Back then, homework took only half an hour or so, not like today where work and homework take eight and four hour blocks, respectively. These two games were (and still are) excellent and provided me and my friends with many hours of competitive fun. But after a while, even the most exciting thing can become not-so-exciting and cause a person to long for
something new. So it was that I began my Quest.

But little did I know that this quest of modern-day proportions would turn into
one of the Arthurian quests of legend. There I was, searching for just one of
the software princesses (how many captured and abducted princesses there were back then, I think the total cannot be counted) so that I might rescue it from the claws of the Black Toy Store Clerk and bring it home to rest in the gentle
metallic contacts of the SMS and to nurse it back to health with daily play and
near-religious maintenance and storage.Sure, it might sound easy, but unless you are one of the relatively few of us who have actually embarked on the Quest, you cannot possibly have any idea of the type of struggles we have had to face. Therefore, I shall enlighten those of you who have just discovered the SMS and are ready to embark on your own Quest and I shall revive memories for those of you who have completed several Quests of your own.

Quest Rule Number One: Never take the word of the sales clerk without checking for yourself. Back in the day, you could ask for SMS games and they would say
no, we don't carry those, even as the games hung on pegs directly behind them or waited to be found in clearance baskets not twenty feet away.

Quest Rule Number Two: If you see a game you don't have, you had damn well
better get it while you can; next time you check, it will be gone. I passed up
Strider, Golden Axe Warrior and Columns at US$13 each new several years ago
because I "didn't have the money." I still don't have them. Enough said there.

Quest Rule Number Three: It never hurts to check every store in a fifty-mile
radius regardless of the size of the city (town, village, unincorporated) you
happen to be in. They are like deep, dark caves: that's where you'll find the

Quest Rule Number Four: Go to pawn shops. My Greatest Find was last week when I picked up seventeen games (two of them were Sega Cards) for US$10. I could have cried.

Quest Rule Number Five: Haggle with the seller. If you're face to face with
them, even better. You know that Action Fighter isn't worth US$25 with no
directions and a torn plastic cover. This also works in the other direction. You
could talk most people down to US$5 for a mint, complete Phantasy Star simply
because they don't know it's worth about 10 times that. (Which it is.)

Quest Rule Number Six: Always look through the entire store. I found nine games in a tray, behind the counter, underneath some Genesis boxes last week, just
minutes before "The Find" (see Rule Four).

Quest Rule Number Seven: Never give up! Never! The last time I found a game in a "real" store (not a pawn shop or video game store) was six years ago. The toy
stores will likely not have any SMS games left; it is up to the pawn shops and
video game stores and Internet sellers to support us now.

Now where was I? Oh yes, the Quest. I began mine with a base SMS and
Hang-On/Astro Warrior. Since then I have, two or three at a time (except for My
Greatest Find; see Rule Four, above.) built my collection up to forty-seven
games and several varied hardware pieces. The most I've ever paid for a single
game was US$40 (Golden Axe, direct from Sega) and the least was US$0.59 (17 for $10, including Transbot, Shinobi, Altered Beast, Alex Kidd the Lost Stars and
Zillion, along with others). I've purchased them from mail-order companies, toy
stores, video game stores, pawn shops and people on the Internet. Nothing can
perk up a completely crappy week like finding a new game can.
That's enough. I'm sure you've got my point by now and have either identified
with me and my tales of searching or are not quite sure if it's all worth it for
such old games and are wondering if I'm just a bit more than completely daft.
But let me tell you, I have never, *never* played a game for one of today's
systems which has come even remotely close to providing as many memories and good times as even the most mediocre SMS game has. Could it be that I am a child of the video game era? Most likely. Could it be that I progressed from Atari and Odyssey through Sega to 16- and 32-bit systems and back again, realising that the newest is not always the best? Yes, I'd say so. Could it be that I will
always collect and play games for this system because I refuse to pay US$70 for a new game, not so much because of the price but because of the lack of gameplay it offers? Absolutely. If there were a new game for the SMS that looked and played like the old ones, you can bet I'd save up the US$70 for it.
So there you have it. That's my take on things. Those of you who play the "SMS" (term used loosely here) through emulation: Sorry, but you're missing the real
experience. I'm not saying I'm against emulation, indeed, I've tried several of
the ROMs myself to preview games I don't own, but it is *not* the real thing. If
you like the games, I urge you to get a Master System and a few games. I've seen the system for sale for US$5 in a video game store in Florida, and the games?
They're for sale all over the Internet for *cheap*. You can get ten for under
US$50 in most auctions, more for the same price in others.
I hope for you the best of luck in your endeavour, and if you see a duplicate
copy of Moonwalker or Golden Axe Warrior out there somewhere, be sure to let me know. ;)

Godspeed, Matthew R. Kuehn