Sega SC-3000 Sindbad Mystery

It is now Tuesday, April 24th, 2018. Today I wanted to reminisce the early days of home computer games, and I remembered that one of the very first home computers I ever saw was Sega SC-3000. I never owned that computer, but back in 1983 or 1984, they tried to sell me one in an electronics store.

I had seen Commodore VIC-20 earlier, and it was of course pretty impressive, but Sega SC-3000 had better graphics. As I told you, they tried to persuade me into buying that machine, and they allowed me to try a game on it to prove that SC-3000 was indeed good enough. The game they had was called Sindbad Mystery. I played it for a long time in the store. I cannot remember for how long exactly, but at least an hour passed, possibly even two. The game seemed fantastic! But I had heard of Commodore 64, so I declined to buy their SC-3000. They were not angry, but threw me out of the store anyway.

Today it was my intention to figure out whether there exists an SC-3000 emulator for Linux. I googled and found out that MAME supports SC-3000. Very nice! Next I tried to find system ROMs for SC-3000, but could not find anything else besides BASIC. Then I made a wild guess that the MAME driver (i.e. this system's MAME name) could be called "sc3000", so I tried command:

mame -listroms sc3000
No ROMs required for driver "sc3000".

So this SC-3000 emulation should work right out of the box! Overjoyed, I leeched Sindbad Mystery ROM image from one of those lame, ad-filled web sites. I do not own the original game ROM yet, but I made a 55 USD offer to a japanese eBay seller. I hope to get the game, box and manual, but even if he rejects my offer, I am happy.

To get Sindbad Mystery running, I gave these commands on Fedora Linux 27:

mkdir /usr/share/mame/roms/sc3000
cp -iv sindbad_mystery_japan_europe.zip /usr/share/mame/roms/sc3000
cd /usr/share/mame/roms/sc3000
unzip sindbad_mystery_japan_europe.zip
rm sindbad_mystery_japan_europe.zip

Then, hoping for the best, I plugged in my old and trustworthy Logitech Rumblepad 2 USB controller and issued command:

mame sc3000 -window -cart /usr/share/mame/roms/sc3000/sindbad_mystery_japan_europe.sg

It worked fine! So after about 35 years, I could play Sindbad Mystery again. The game was not completely similar to my recollections, but I recognized it right away: This was it! It is amazing that using emulators such as MAME we can enjoy retrogames in these times, too! Here are two screenshots:


sega sc3000 sindbad mystery main screen

sega sc3000 sindbad mystery first round

Pressing F12 should take screenshots in MAME, but for some reason it did not work for me. I am sure it had worked earlier when I used Gnome 3, but I ditched that horrible desktop and now use Xfce only. Maybe Xfce has other uses for F12, I do not know. But pressing F12 did nothing at all. So perhaps Xfce is not to blame. Anyway, I took the screenshots with PrtScr and cropped them using GIMP.

What about Sindbad Mystery? Well, the game is still all right. You can destroy the enemies by pushing a stone ahead of you, and you can use Fire-button to release a ball of some kind to stop the enemies. Your objective is to collect all question marks, after which a flashing item appears, and you have to collect it as well. After that is done, you will move on to the next round. I think I made it to the third round, which is actually more than I expected. I almost made it to the fourth round, but I could not collect the flashing item, I got killed just before I could reach it. Quite annoying! It was so damn close, I am telling you!

All in all, it was wonderful and nostalgic to see this Sega SC-3000 game after so many years have elapsed. If I win the game on eBay, I will take some photos of it and publish them on this page later.


UPDATE April 24th, 2018: I just bought Sega SC-3000 PAL-version, it is tested, working and comes with the original box, too. I cannot believe this, I got it from Egypt! It was 230€ in total, including shipping to Finland. According to the seller, it should take between 3-8 days to arrive. This machine is quite rare and means a lot to me. Wow, what a retro feeling!


UPDATE April 25th, 2018: The japanese eBay seller accepted my 55 USD offer for Sindbad Mystery Sega SC-3000 cartridge, box and manual. Based on my research, there are at least three different boxes, and this is naturally one of them. I chose Expedited International Shipping for 23 USD instead of the cheaper Standard International Shipping. So this deal was 78 USD in total. 65 USD was his Buy It Now price for the item, so I saved 10 USD by using Best Offer option.

I also found out that Sindbad Mystery was originally a coin-operated arcade game! According to strategywiki.org:

Sindbad Mystery is an arcade game that was released by Sega in 1983; it runs on their G80 Raster hardware, but with an extra Z80 running at 4 MHz to drive two Texas Instruments SN-76496s for the sound. Described as an "Intelligent Puzzle Game" upon the title screen, the player must use a 4-way joystick to take control of the eponymous Sindbad (as in "The Sailor"), and direct him around various different mazes to collect thirty question marks (to reveal the parts of the maze on a treasure map at the top of the screen), while avoiding the various enemies - and, once he collects one question mark in a particular part of the maze it will reveal the location of a treasure item for that round.

Sega ported this game for SC-3000 home computer and that is the version I tried years ago back in late 1983 or possibly early 1984.


UPDATE April 25th, 2018: The japanese Sindbad Mystery eBay seller is excellent! He sent my game right away using Expedited International Shipping just like I wanted. He also provided me with a tracking code, this is simply great! I have not heard from the guy in Egypt yet, but I hope he will send my Sega SC-3000 computer very soon. I am a little bit worried, but he seems reliable with 100% positive feedback and he is also selling other retrocomputer stuff.


UPDATE April 26th, 2018: I still have not heard from the Sega SC-3000 seller from Egypt. But I checked out his feedback profile on eBay and he has been active during the past month, which is great news. The last positive feedback he has received is dated April 24th. So I hope and believe that he is alive and well. I trust this seller 100% based on his excellent feedback track record, but because Egypt is highly unstable, his life could be in danger. Gangs of thugs might realize that this guy is a businessman with US dollars in his possession. They might rob him and kill him in the process. However, that scenario is not likely. I believe this transaction is just taking time. If I have not heard from him by tomorrow, I will send him an eBay private message asking whether everything is all right. I am feeling uneasy. This computer is very important to me and it must arrive home safely.


UPDATE April 27th, 2018: No news from the egyptian seller. So I sent an eBay private message to him this afternoon, asking whether he has sent the computer and is everything all right. I am feeling anxious, I cannot deny it, but I am hoping this deal will turn out to be fine.


UPDATE April 27th, 2018: It is now 20:34 o'clock. I was watching tennis, Barcelona ATP500 tournament quarterfinal between David Goffin and Roberto Bautista-Agut when I received an eBay private message to my Nokia 5 smart phone. It was from the egyptian seller. He said he was on a vacation, he is all right and in good health! He will send my Sega SC-3000 very soon. What a great piece of news, this was a big relief indeed! This deal will complete successfully. That is what I believe now!


UPDATE April 28th, 2018: It is 21:55 o'clock. I just logged in to eBay and found out that the egyptian seller has shipped my Sega SC-3000. Things are going good now.


UPDATE May 2nd, 2018: It is now 19:37 o'clock. I just received the parcel from Egypt about an hour ago. TNT Courier Service delivered it right to my home door, excellent service and fast, too! This seller from Egypt turned out to be quite fantastic! After his short vacation, he shipped the goods promptly and the quality of the packaging work is outstanding: very well protected! What is more, he included a BASIC Level 3 B cartridge, complete in box, and the BASIC manual book too, plus three common, loose cartridges Othello, Champion Tennis and GP World. Those cartridges were in his eBay ad's pictures, but the item description only mentioned SC-3000 and its box, so I was not sure about what I was going to get. But naturally I am now very thrilled to have those extras too!

So it is now time for the photos that I promised to publish earlier. Let's take the Sindbad Mystery cartridge first, because that is what I received already early this morning:


sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge box front
sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge box back
sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge
sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge manual

Here is my Sega SC-3000 including box, power supply, BASIC cartridge and RF adapter. The text on the power supply is in italian, so perhaps this computer was originally sold in Italy. The text on the BASIC cartridge is in french, so that cartridge was released in France.

sega sc3000 05
sega sc3000 06
sega sc3000 07
sega sc3000 08
sega sc3000 09
sega sc3000 10
sega sc3000 11
sega sc3000 12
sega sc3000 13
sega sc3000 14
sega sc3000 15
sega sc3000 16
sega sc3000 26

sega sc3000 basic cartridge box front
sega sc3000 basic cartridge box back
sega sc3000 basic cartridge box side
sega sc3000 basic cartridge
sega sc3000 basic cartridge manual front
sega sc3000 basic manual back
sega sc3000 basic manual first page

After all, this SC-3000 thing turned out to be fine. My next project is to get a video cable to connect the SC-3000 to Commodore 1084 RGB-monitor.


UPDATE May 2nd, 2018: It is now 23:57 o'clock. I am still in awe of this computer. I cannot believe that after some 34 years, I can now see and even touch this physical Sega SC-3000 computer. It is very rare. According to segaretro.org:

Unlike later Sega systems, the SC-3000 did not receive a worldwide release, but in markets where it did compete, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Finland, the computer fared well as a low price, entry-level machine for the home.

On its own, the SC-3000 offers very few features over the SG-1000, but with the addition of a Data Recorder SR-1000, it is possible to load and save software to compact cassette.

I think I am going to buy an SR-1000 too. It would be a cool addition to this Sega set. I forgot to mention that I have already bought two Sega SJ-200 joysticks: one of them is loose, but another is boxed. Based on the writings I have seen, those joysticks are not that good. On the contrary, many people seem to put them down. I just do not care about their quality or practicality - all I am interested in is their Sega brand. A pair of SJ-200 game controllers fits the SC-3000 perfectly.

In addition, I have bought a boxed Sega Card Catcher. I plan to use it with a boxed Pitfall 2 card that I have also just bought from Japan.


UPDATE May 3nd, 2018: Sega Card Catcher arrived today. Here are three photos.

sega card catcher 1
sega card catcher 2
sega card catcher 3

UPDATE May 11th, 2018: Another release of Sindbad Mystery arrived today. Here are four photos.

sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge box front
sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge box back
sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge
sega sc3000 sindbad mystery cartridge manual