It was 1989, I was 12 years old and to be quite honest, I was quite unique among my peers, not in a bad way I must add, but there was something about me that made me stand out, and that thing was….. I was a proud owner of a Sega Master System.
Back in the late 1980’s owning any form of game console was not quite the popular and common thing it is among the game playing public of today. When I was given my Master System for my twelfth birthday, I was literally the only person I knew that owned one. All of my friends were owners of some type of home computer. The better off kids owned Atari ST’s or the Commodore Amiga, while the less fortunate, were still playing their games on Sinclair Spectrum’s, Commodore 64’s, or the not so common Amstrad CPC.
I was never given a home computer when I was a kid; though I did ask for one every year for Christmas or my birthday. I was always so jealous of my computer friends, and looking back now, I am fairly sure I used to base my friendships on if the owned a computer. Having no computer of of my own had already made me feel like a bit of a social outcast, so when I was the first person I knew to own a games console this situation didn’t really improve.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying owning a console made me the laughing stock of my class but owning one back in 1989 could be a sad and often lonely experience. I was unable to swap games with anyone, and the release schedule for the Master System was so bare, I would look at envy at my computer owning friends who were able to play something new every week, while I was stuck with nothing but Shinobi and Hang-On for six months. Shinobi though of course was a cracking game, though I did have to use a cheat to get past one of the end of level bosses to be able to finish it.
Other consoles were even less popular than Sega’s 8-bit machine. The only place I ever saw a Nintendo Entertainment System was in the Boots in Swindon town centre, and to honest, the graphics looked dull and blocky compared to what I was used to with my Master System.
This was soon to change, consoles in just a few years after 1989 were taking over computers and becoming the machine of choice for gamers. When I was at college, almost everyone had either a Sega Mega Drive or Super Nintendo, and games such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter II and Super Mario World were often discussed in mainstream media. And in 1995, with the European launch of the Sony Playstation, gaming even started to become trendy.
I will though, forever hold dear to my heart what it was like to be a console owner, when it was was the opposite of being cool and trendy. Among my friends I was pioneer of sorts, leading the way to a better life of games without loading and brighter colours, but like all pioneers, it was sometimes a hard path to tread with many obstacles in my path(the price of Master System games being the biggest one). But looking back now, I wouldn’t have it anyother way now. My love for Sega and console gaming in general has never faded, and the days of playing on my Master System with its bright blue sky gaming are some of my fondest memories. These will live with me with forever, along with the cheat you had to input to choose levels on Shinobi (which is press up, hold down and press button 2 on the title screen).