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Online Auction Brag: Coleco Gemini plus 29 Carts: $30 Shipped

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I picked up a Coleco Gemini (2600/SVA clone) complete with power supply and switchbox etc. plus 29 loose cartridges for just over $30 shipped. The seller said he got it from some non-climate-controlled storage locker, and warned it was worn and a bit banged up in appearance and that he hadn't tested it. He was on the up and up 100% but to me that statement can be a warning sign because of unscrupulous sellers who actually do test an item, determine it's broken, and then sell it claiming they never tested it.

 

I have a nice Atari and wasn't really looking for a clone, but the price was low, the Gemini is compact and sort of intriguing, and a Pitfall 2 was among the loose carts.

 

The Gemini turned out to be in pretty nice condition really. It looks like it's been laying around in attics and basements sure, but dust and crud wipe off with a damp paper towel and Q-tips, and I'll make the black plastic shine later with some Armor-All or something. Two of the Gemini's interesting controllers were included. They have both a paddle and a joystick on the same controller. I recalled that the fire button on an Atari paddle is not the same function as the fire button on an Atari joystick, so I wondered how Coleco would have handled that in its controller's single button. It turns out it didn't. The single button is the equivalent of joystick fire. The paddle fire button is done by pushing right on the joystick. It turned out one of the Coleco controllers was seriously broken, and after I tried to fix it it was irreparably broken. But that's okay, the other works well. The paddle part of it functions jerkily though. I think that's unavoidable with most aging paddles. It should be possible to open it up and smooth out its performance with some alcohol stuff.

 

The Gemini has a connector splitter. You can thus plug two controllers into a single port. I though "wow, that's an interesting feature" but it's just used for paddle games, because of course the standard Atari paddles plug two into a single port. Technically you can plus two standard joysticks into the splitter but I'm sure the wiring is not going to let you play four-player joystick games. There happened to be an Atari driving controller in the lot as well. That was a nice little bonus.

 

The cartridges were pretty aged and abused though. Testing them so far only about half seem to work. I'd suppose it's possible to clean up their connectors and get most of them working. Pitfall 2 didn't work, which is a disappointment because it's the third or fourth Pitfall 2 cartridge I've owned that doesn't work. I have never owned a working Pitfall 2 cartridge. It's like a conspiracy! ;)

 

What else? No manuals or anything but it included the original Donkey Kong that came with the Gemini. You can tell because Coleco put a sticker on it saying "do not accept for separate return." It include the original power supply. The switchbox is Radio Shack (Archer) but who cares, I'm just happy it had a switchbox. The picture quality of the unit over the RF connection seems just fine. The Gemini is a nice, compact unit, so I figure it plus the cartridges were a good score for the price.

 

 

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Ah yeah, a websearch had steered me to that. Very nice! The Gemini controllers are straightforwardly built and intuitive to repair. The fire button assembly can come apart (it's just a stiff wire spring) but is not hard to figure out how to put back in. You can avoid even that I think if you operate cautiously with the unit flat on the table throughout.

 

As I expected, the Gemini polished up very well with some Armor All. I could have made it gleam I think, but I always apply the stuff very very sparingly. It's important to not get Armor All on any paper labels too.

 

As to the 29 carts, probably 19 of them worked. I set up my 2600 four-switcher to see if the 10 that didn't work on the Gemini would work on it. But no, with the exception of a Missile Command that I probably had failed to seat firmly on the Gemini, those carts were broken on both machines. Which means it's the carts themselves.

 

The Gemini is inexpensively made, as in it's just a black plastic box really, but I like the design. It's all right angles, the joystick connectors are at the front of the unit, and it's totally compact. Like the controllers, I'd suspect the console itself is easy enough to open up if needed for repairs. Very straightforward and simple, good, design. Coleco did nice work.

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