Pre 1990 SEGA had sold the US rights for the Master System to Tonka but come the turn of the decade they bought them back and released the 'SEGA Master System II'.
Hoping to save a dime on their re-acquisition SEGA took the original Master System and removed everything that they thought few people ever used and the Master System II was born.
While technically the same as far as running games goes the SMS II does not have the reset button or the AV output jacks and instead offers only RF out. The other glaring omission is the game card slot which meant that if you replaced your old SEGA Master System with a SMS II you couldn't play those games or use the 3D Glasses.
But it wasn't all loss. The SMS II came loaded with the game title 'Alex Kidd in Miracle World' which played automatically if you turned on the console without a cartridge inserted. Later PAL releases came pre-loaded with 'Sonic the Hedgehog'.
That's not bad really as, as far as platformers go, Alex Kidd was pretty good.
The gamepads are extremely basic, only having a directional pad, two action buttons and no internal smarts. They're also pretty unpleasant to use for a lengthy period of time. On the upside, as they stuck to the Atari 2600 standard and use nine pin d-sub connectors you can use them with your Atari(s), Commodore 64, etc.
Unfortunately it didn't receive the renewed consumer interest that SEGA had hoped and US distribution of the SMS II ended in 1992. A big part of its downfall was a policy held by Nintendo that any software company releasing titles for them couldn't do the same for a competitor. This in effect, saw the Master System and the SMS II with a critical lack of titles and attractive arcade ports. In 1991 the policy was overruled but the damage had already been done.
While it was technically a superior console hardware wise to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), having the benefit of being released a few years later, it didn't get a fair market run due to Nintendo's, 'if you can't make the best gear, screw it for everyone else' policy.
But there's some good news. In Europe and Australia the console did very well and production ran until 1996. The main reason for this was that software companies weren't bound by Nintendo's policy outside of the US so many more great titles were released, even by companies in the US.
As an interesting note; the power requirements on the bottom of this console state 9VDC and 500mA but the power supply that was bundled with the console is rated for 9VDC and 1A. It got me wondering if this was a later model released after a time where they'd realised that the unit actually took a bit more juice and was killing the 500mA power supplies or maybe had a slim chance of being a fire risk.
|Unit pictured has been sold and its location is unknown.|