Sometimes the best finds are in your own backyard. I was coming back from breakfast when I saw a garage sale sign. After following it for awhile, I took a wrong turn - and ended up at an even better garage sale, with no sign.

I regret getting to this sale as late as I did, because the first thing I noticed was an empty beige plastic storage bin for 5.25” floppy disks. After a little more searching of the vicinity, however, I found a sad-looking Sega Master System gun… and next to it, an even sadder-looking Sega Master System.

“The Atari” was five bucks, gun included, said the seller. How could you pass up such a deal?

Blurry SMS on my hood

As much of a Genesis fan as I am, I’ve never actually played my Sega Master System 2, possibly because it is packratted away into storage so deep that it is impossible to get out, but probably more likely because I keep adding new projects to my pile. It will remain unplayed for now, because I picked up a ratty example of its older brother off a suburban lawn.

Pretty much every generation of the Sega Master System, as far as I know, came with a built-in game. For my SMS2, it is Alex Kidd. I was excited to find out what the built-in game for this console was.

When I was a kid, the SMS was already obsolete, but it enjoys a large following in Brazil, where punitive import laws mean that the local distributor, TecToy, has driven the majority of the “legitimate” gaming industry for years. You can buy a brand-new Sega Genesis from them even today, although my understanding is that it is now based on a Genesis-on-a-chip clone architecture and not a purebred 68000.

My first attempt to fire it up ended in failure. Even though my hard-working Sega MK-1602 power supply worked great to animate the machine (as well as enemy Super Famicoms), my homemade Commodore 64 video cable did not have the same pinout as the SMS/Genesis 1, and so I could neither see nor hear anything. Luckily, a new cable was $4, and would arrive within the week thanks to the magic of same-country eBay.

While I was waiting for the cable to arrive, I set to work cleaning the case with isopropyl alcohol and an old dishrag. It looks pretty good, though the body has nicks and dings that probably can’t be fixed unless I want to polish the case with something like Plast-X. For now, I think it looks “honest,” to put it charitably.

Five minute cleanup

Once the cable arrived, I was able to fire up the machine. It immediately jumped to life and showed the classic Mk1 Sega Master System 1988 boot screen. Now, I have my choice of two built-in games, though the light phaser (Zillion) game will likely not work with my workbench’s LCD TV.


My next step is to try it with a Genesis controller (and maybe even an actual game cartridge!), but I’ve run out of time for tonight.