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Early SMS boxes with "SM" mark
Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 8:55 am
Last edited by Maxim on Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:36 pm; edited 7 times in total
In reference to some recent scans I've added, I'd like to get some ideas about box covers which have

(1) "Now, there are no limits.℠" - notice, "SM", not "TM" or "®"
(2) "© 1986 SEGA"
(3) Only English box text

- F-16 Fighter card (reported by James Costello (UK) and MadMikeAU; thought not to be released in the US with this name)
- Ghost House card (from MadMikeAU)
- Great Soccer card (from Raccoon Lad, from Italy; reported by anagrama as Australian; smsall.txt says "No European multilingual version. German and Italian packaging/manual variation exists.")
- Hang On card with (from MaRkiSH (AU); reported by anagrama as Australian; a few found in Italy)
- Marksman Shooting / Trap Shooting / Safari Hunt cartridge (unknown source)
- My Hero card (from James Costello (UK); also reported by MadMikeAU)
- The Ninja cartridge (James Costello)
- Quartet cartridge (reported by James Costello)
- Teddy Boy card (from MadMikeAU)
- TransBot card (from James Costello (UK))

Theories:

1. These are all early European releases before Virgin Mastertronic took over European distribution, in the days of Ariolasoft German cover variations. All have a 1986 date on them, to support this. Several have been found in Italy. (So why is one Australia-only?)

2. These are all Australian releases. (So why are some reportedly European, and why all dated 1986? Maybe late John Sands work before Ozisoft came into being? But there's no John Sands branding.)

3. These are all early US releases that made it to other countries because the poor distribution system at the time meant regionality was not strongly enforced. (Some are thought not to have been released in the US; all early US games exist in Sega of America-branded SM-marked versions too.)

4. These are all randomly mixed releases from all different places that just happen to have very similar boxes :)

According to Wikipedia, SM (which means "Service Mark") is used in place of TM/® when the product in question is a service, ie. has no physical form. It would thus seem odd to use it for software that is only sold on ROMs. It is also described as being common in the US - it's certainly not common in the UK, how about Australia?

Boxes with "© 1986 SEGA" and "Now, there are no limits.®" exist, so these may have been produced for just a few months; then again, it seems they wrote "© 1986 SEGA" on later re-releases of the same games:

so that might not mean so much.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of US games with "Now, there are no limits.℠", "© 1986 Sega of America":
(World Grand Prix)

[update 1: added more items to the list, and the second list of US SM games]
[update 2: more scans added, alphabetical order scans, source/report notes on each]
[update 3: another item in each list]
[update 4: more scans from James Costello]
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:17 am
Maxim wrote
According to Wikipedia, SM is used in place of TM/® when the product in question is a service, ie. has no physical form. It would thus seem odd to use it for software that is only sold on ROMs. It is also described as being common in the US - it's certainly not common in the UK, how about Australia?


To tell you the truth I have never heard of SM. None of my boxes have any SM markings.

Maxim wrote
Boxes with "© 1986 SEGA" and "Now, there are no limits.®" exist, so these may have been produced for just a few months.


All my boxes have © xxxx SEGA (xxxx=year) below the SEGA symbol on the back of the box. None of my boxes have "Now, there are no limits" on them.

The only distinct mark I have on one of my SMS boxes is a distributed bo Ozisoft sticker.

I thought Ozisoft distributed all the games in Australia. I wouldn't know for sure alothough my older brother may know he is into how companies distribute and who owns who and what not.
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:05 pm
Didn't adol found an italian version of the hang on card ?
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:37 pm
I also found a boxed Hang On in Italy, back of the box being written in english. I have no manual to know weither it was in english or italian or multilanguage.
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:43 pm
some of my GG games have manuals in Italian. most of them were just 6 or 8 multilanguage anyway. and the translations were always funny.
an example? "high speed sneakers" -> "uomo serpente" (snake man)???
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 6:03 pm
Holy crap! I just checked my Sega card boxes and 4 out of 5 have this error...

My Hero (no number on spine)
Ghost House (4002)
Teddy Boy (4003)
F-16Fighter (4081)
F-16 Fighting Falcon (no number on spine)

The first 5 are marked "© 1986 Sega"

F-16 Fighting Falcon is marked "© 1986 Sega of america, inc"

As far as SM being a common term here in Australia, I had not heard of it before this thread.

SM could stand for "Sorta Maybe", "Sega Marketing","sup mate?" or "Secret Misprint"
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 6:54 pm
My Great Soccer and Hang On cards have identical covers to both of those shown above, and have English-only manuals.
Both came from Australia, and the Great Soccer card has an Australian price tag on it too (no idea if the price tag is original or not though).
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 7:38 pm
you missed my My Hero off the list at the top which is also the same. Also the US Action Figter made in Taiwan has 'sm'.
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:12 am
SM is for "Smspower misunderstanding" ^^
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:21 am
I updated the first post with some of the reported information. These are all the very earliest SMS releases; I'm thinking they must be from some very early period when Sega was distributing games itself, before using third party distributors ((Virgin) Mastertronic, Ariolasoft?, Tonka, Ozisoft, etc).
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:42 am
Maxim wrote
According to Wikipedia, SM (which means "Service Mark") is used in place of TM/® when the product in question is a service, ie. has no physical form. It would thus seem odd to use it for software that is only sold on ROMs.


A slogan isn't a physical product.

http://www.pmq.com/mag/2005july-august/legaleagles.php
"Service marks and trademarks are words, names, symbols and designs which identify the source of one’s services and goods."
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:46 am
I dunno - it's all speculation, but I'd guess these are from the Ariolasoft era, at leat the ones sold in Italy (aswell as the early German-only boxes).
Maybe Ozisoft re-used inserts from Ariola in the very early days or something?
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:14 am
Actually, thinking about this, do we know for sure that Ozisoft were in place this early on? BoOchan's post in this older thread suggests that John Sands may have handled some very early AU SMS distribution - maybe these cards instead date from around then?

Extrapolating this thought further, does anyone have any idea who distributed the SC3000 in Italy? I know Yeno did in France, but I've got a couple of Euro SC games from Italy, and these don't have the "distributed by Yeno" stickers on the back.
Might be purely co-incidental, but there's currently a John Sands SC3000 on eBay that's located in Italy. It makes sense to think that Sega may have continued to use whatever distribution channels had been set-up for the SC3000 in the early SMS days, at least until they arranged something better.
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:51 am
They're certainly just the very first few 1986 releases. The history of that time is not well-known. The whole SM/(R) thing is just a matter of when they registered the mark.

Using SM instead of TM is a matter of opinion; SM is described as being appropriate to services with no physical product (eg. some websites use SM; other "services", eg), TM for cases where there is a product (the vast majority of cases). Notice how plenty of game titles have a TM on them. A company slogan is usually a TM.

They probably do predate Ozisoft - but then again, John Sands tended to rebrand everything, and I've not seen anything like that.

I suppose what I'd like the most is some confirmed "I bought a new game with one of these covers in country X in 1986" statements, although that's still not 100% - I saw a few US-only releases sold new in UK retail stores (EB, actually).

I don't think any John Sands tentacles were in Europe, but a handful of systems from Aus and NZ are floating around in Europe, if only by being brought there as people migrated.
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 4:21 pm
Submitted GhostHouse and TeddyBoy
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 10:04 am
Added them to the list. The Australia link seems to be getting stronger..?

Raccoon Lad, if you're reading: where'd your scan come from?
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 5:25 pm
My Great Soccer card?
It's from Italy. I thought I made note of that when I submitted it.
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:55 pm
Bit of an update, I had a look through my collection and found thease with 'sm' -

(?) Quartet (not sega of america/ all english)
US Alex Kidd In Miracle World
US Choplifter (made in Taiwan)
US Hang On/ Safari Hunt (This one is also in your scans, you may want to link it in at the top post).

I'l send you scans on a CD of the others plus my F16 card.
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 11:08 pm
How much do you suspect your SM-not-US games were originally UK retail, as opposed to Italian or Australian?
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Post Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 7:47 am
I'm unsure about italian as none of them have italian instructions.

Quartet - local gamestation
Hang On card - hidden in a bundle from England (ebay)
F-16 Fighter card - from Germany (ebay)
My Hero card - from Germany (ebay)
Transbot card - from England (ebay)

I also have the US fantasy Zone and shooting combo cartridge with 'sm'
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:20 pm
Might have found an alex kidd in miracle world with english only box text and italian manual.
More infos when I receive it
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:54 pm
italian manual? wow
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:54 pm
Well, it's one of the games you'd expect. Everything mentioned in the German releases thread is likely to have an equivalent here.
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:08 am
Service Mark? Perhaps it has something to do with SEGA meaning "Service Games"? Or maybe not.
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Post Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:49 pm
We have a preliminary sighting of the following as suspected to be in the list:

Cards:
Spy vs Spy
Cartridges:
Action Fighter
Alex Kidd in Miracle World
Fantasy Zone
The Ninja
Wonder Boy

Scans (hopefully) to follow. We just know they're early Italian releases which Bock is in the process of buying.
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Post Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:07 pm
Sorry to answer that late.
Yes I found Hang-on BOXED CARD Version in Italy, sealed, with 19900 ITL Price tag on it. And the game is like the australian version, english at the back of the box, and vertical english instructions. I sold a sealed one, I'm keeping a sealed one for myself, and I'll give an opened one to Bock, which has the price tag as weel, as it's sticked on the game before it's sealed...
But being sealed with italian price tag on it, it was definitely sold in Italy this way 20 years ago.
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:53 pm
Just a little update allthough judging by one of the above posts its 'known'.

I have just received an Italian The Ninja which has all english insert, Italian manual and DOES have the 'sm'.

I shall scan it and email over tomorrow (unless bock has allready sent you his?)

Also, this is my first Italian game and was suprised to see the sticker on the back of the cart is all in Italian aswell, I'm guessing this is the case with all of them?
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Post Posted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 10:38 pm
just another update, not a game but it's linked in... (see the rest of the booklet on this - thread )
I'll email you the scans over the weekend along with the 1988 booklet.


[Admin: linked image and copied it as an attachment]
mt874.jpg (363.97 KB)
Light phaser ad with SM
mt874.jpg

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Post Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:25 pm
I just got another Transbot card but this time with italian manual, identical box to the UK one in the first post (with sm)
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:09 am
The conclusion I'm coming to is that these are basically just early non-US releases (AFAIK none has been reported in the US), probably just in 1986; later releases had multilingual covers and manuals, but these early versions were just the US version with the SoA text removed. They seem to mainly be found in Italy and the UK, and maybe Australia (maybe from John Sands Sega rather than Ozisoft).
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:05 pm
Maxim wrote
The conclusion I'm coming to is that these are basically just early non-US releases (AFAIK none has been reported in the US), probably just in 1986; later releases had multilingual covers and manuals, but these early versions were just the US version with the SoA text removed. They seem to mainly be found in Italy and the UK, and maybe Australia (maybe from John Sands Sega rather than Ozisoft).


Agreed on all points, though I'm not quite sure why you're still only saying "maybe" for Australia - I've had 2 copies of the Hang On card (one of which I traded to onyx) and one Great Soccer card that definitely came from there, and have seen a few other cards on eBay.au that also had the English-only covers & manuals.
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:10 pm
The thing that bothered me is the suggestion that the Hang On version is only found in Australia; I'd expect there to be all, or t least more, of these SM covers in Australia.
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:24 pm
Last edited by anagrama on Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:06 pm; edited 2 times in total
Well, as we can see now, the "boxed Hang On card only sold in Australia" theory is almost certainly inaccurate, but came about because several had been found there (I know I had heard it from somewhere else before finding mine, because I diligently searched eBay.au for a few weeks/months to get one).

I agree that it's likely that other cards sold down-under are also in this style - as I said, I've seen a few others on eBa.au with English-only manuals, though it's pretty much impossible to spot the 'SM' mark from an ebay pic ;)

How they came to be sold in Oz is a mystery, but I think we can safely assume that whoever distributed the earliest Australian games (John Sands? Ozisoft? A.N.Other?) originally got them from the same source as the Italian/UK ones, be that Sega themselves or one of the early European distributors.

edit: There's a couple more of these currently on eBay Australia:
Ghost House

My Hero
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:00 pm
Also, it's just struck me that this probably ties in with the 'different type of plastic' on early games as discussed in this older thread:

http://www.smspower.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6982

jamescostello - could you check some of your UK carts with the 'SM' mark to see if this is correct? If so, it's further circumstantial evidence that these are indeed the very first overseas SMS games made...
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:53 pm
okay it gets abit complicated but there is a pattern with the diffrent plastic boxes.
(All these are cartridges and 'sm' unless otherwise stated)

Alex Kidd in Miracle World - US - normal plastic - made in Japan 1986
Choplifter - US - strange plastic - made in Taiwan 1987
Fantasy Zone - US - strange plastic - made in Taiwan 1986
Great Football - US - strange plastic - made in Taiwan 1987 - ® not 'sm'
Hang On/ Safari Hunt - US - strange plastic - made in Taiwan 1986
Marksman Shooting etc - US - normal plastic - made in Japan 1986
Marksman Shooting etc - Euro - strange plastic - made inTaiwan 1986 - ® not 'sm'
The Ninja - ITL - normal plastic - made in Japan 1986
Quartet - ? - normal plastic - made in Japan 1987

So all the ones with strange plastic are made in Taiwan. Not all are 1986 releases though. The Marksman Shooting spoils the pattern slighlty as its a Euro multi-language version and like Great Football doesnt have 'sm'

Also note that Fantasy Zone and Alex Kidd in Miracle World are dated 1987 in Europe - dont know if this has any relevance?
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 5:33 pm
I have just received an Italian Pro Wrestling with the 'sm' mark. (scan to follow shortly.)

This is strange though.. I bought this from Italy on ebay, it has italian instructions and cartridge. The insert has the 'sm' mark as i suspected it would, but then it also says 'sega of america.. etc'.
I also have a US version of this game and the box is identical apart from the 'sm'. hmm...
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Post Posted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:55 am
Just received an Italian Black Belt and Secret Command, both all English, not sega of America, and both with 'sm'. Scans to follow.
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Post Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:31 pm
I now have all english (not US) with 'sm' Alex kidd in Miracle World, World Grand Prix (Italian manual) and Super Tennis card.
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