News Article

Master System Games Coming to The VC!

Posted by Damien McFerran

The first new Virtual Console channel of 2008 has been confirmed and Sega fans should be rejoicing as it's the 8-bit Master System that will be getting the VC treatment. Game Gear software will also to be released under the same channel (which makes sense as technically the two consoles shared the same technology).

The first games in Japan will be the scrolling fighter Fist of the North Star (released in the West as the heavily censored Black Belt) and the cute shooter Fantasy Zone.

Our contact inside SEGA Europe has confirmed that the Western VC will get Master System games in the next few months, possibly even as early as March/April time. Each title will cost 500 Wii points to download. Western releases have yet to be confirmed, but seeing as we got both of the aforementioned Japanese games it's highly likely that they'll come out over here too.

The Master System should be interesting for most US gamers as the machine was largely ignored when it was launched there, and Sega only really found success in American when the Genesis hit the market. However, in Europe the story was different as the Master System easily beat the Nintendo NES thanks to better marketing and a wide selection of decent software.

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User Comments (77)



Dazza said:

Finally! Soon I will be able to play Alex Kidd in Shinobi World all over again



nickdalodger said:

This is awesome news!

Loved my MS, my Dad bought it for me and my Bruv even though I wanted to import a Jap MD at the time, but he thought £250 was too much!
Bring on Alex Kidd in Miracle world, California Games, Space Harrier... too many to name
This is some great news I wondered if Sega would do this, makes sense and this opens up a whole load of 8bit old school gaming!
There were some great games on the GG too....



JGMR said:

Another reason to wait weeks for a decent Nes, Snes or Megadrive game?! sigh

Why don't they release every week a game for every system?!



Boredom_v2_2 said:

I never heard of this system. I mean i heard of Saturn and Dreamcast, but not this system. But 500 points? Well then I might give one game a shot!



antster1983 said:

Most of the Alex Kidd series. The original (and best) - Alex Kidd in Miracle World - was the built in-game for the Master System in Europe from 1990 onwards.



Bass_X0 said:

"I never heard of this system."

Blasphemy! I'm gonna download the first Alex Kidd game and Sonic 1. I'd also download Castle of Illusion and Asterix too but they're licensed games so they won't come on VC. These were the games my friend had as a kid which we played when we went to his house.



jordanr said:

This was my first ever game console. If I remember correctly it had a sonic game built into it. Can't wait for it to launch!



Kevin said:

I've never played a game on it. What are some great games for it?



Jolted85 said:

Good to see the VC getting new systems, the Master System did see a release of Sonic The Hedgehog (which was basically the GameGear port for the Master System); the MS also had games like Alex Kidd, and even a few (but somewhat bad); ports of Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter 2 even saw a release in Brazil, but never made it out of that country.

The pricing seems reasonable for Master System games, (anything thats 500 points is a good deal); and the games are small in size, so it takes less than a minute (?) to download.



MorikaWeb said:

Great first they lower the number of games we get, then they increase the number of systems thus decreasing our chances of ever seeing a good game. Whats more they basically say they only care about releasing fighting/platform games in the release.

So from these points I can assume the chances of ever seeing a decent RPG is slim to none (and slim has left town)?



deggs said:

three words


best news i've heard all day...

also Golvellius and Zillion...
can't wait for this to happen in north america



Mad_Bomber said:

My friend had a Master System and I was blown away by how much better some of the games seemed in comparison to the NES titles I was playing at the time. The MS version of Double Dragon was easily better than the NES one and I remember thinking Alex Kid in Miracle World was so much more fun than Super Mario Bros.

That's all I remember playing, though. Oh, that and the built in snail game. Haha. I was so jealous.

I'm just not sure how the MS line up held up to some of the later NES games, though. I guess we'll all get to find out soon enough.



Damo said:

Yeah Double Dragon on the MS was pretty special - shame it suffered from terrible sprite flicker!



Courtster said:

Must have the SMS version of Wonder Boy! As long as it runs at 60hz rather than the crazy Europe speed of 50hz, it was soooooo slow compared to the arcade!



Bass_X0 said:

Europeans will most likely get the European version. Very rare have we not of a game.



pdrydia said:

Cheap games from obscure dead consoles I've rarely heard of? I like, I like.



angel_m_rivera_colla said:

i am glad to know SMS was better than NES.I'm a Nintendo fan since SNES! i love SEGA now,sorry Nintendo...Wii rocks! I'm playing SEGA in my Wii,awesome! BRING the GAMES!



Tempest said:

Awesome news, hopefully we'll see some of the better releases sooner rather than later... =D



WarioFan63 said:

This is nothing but great news but what happened to the MSX? Did that even come out for Japan yet?



jackaroo said:

Master System : HOORAY!
Game Gear : Meh....

I like the game gear lots. But id rather buy the original cartridges since the games look horrible on a big screen. As for master system. Im just dreaming of all the games i never got to try on it. Any master system game i did try i now have on game gear. Except one which is the one i look forward too most. Phantasy star! Hooray



Shmapty said:

Always wanted to play the original Phantasy Star, seems I'll now have a chance.



Mr_Nintendo21 said:

Finally. My Master System (yes I was one of the few who had one) broke down about a year and a half ago. As long as they bring out Phantasy Star and Rampage (surprised that game has not made it yet), then I will be happy.



JNoodles said:

Fantasy Zone, I hear, is a great game. I also hope Phantasy Star I comes around soon.



Kelvin said:


Brilliant. The MS was a neat little system with some great games on it, but outside of Europe it was overshadowed by the NES, so I'm pleasantly surprised to see it return.

Top games: Sonic and Sonic 2, which are very different to the Mega Drive versions, but just as good in their own right; Alex Kidd in Miracle World, a tough little platformer that plays very differently to Mario; Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, which is one of the best 8-Bit Shinobi titles; Phantasy Star, a blindingly good RPG; the best console version of Bubble Bobble (unlikely to see this with the NES release); Fantasy Zone, a crazy-looking and very playable shooter; Psycho Fox, another top platformer; Power Strike, a fiendishly difficult shooter in the Zanac vein; and the Metroid-esque Zillion.

Master of Darkness is a great Castlevania clone that we're sadly unlikely to see, and the MS had a brilliant conversion of Populous which I also doubt we'll see on VC, but you never know. It had some good licensed titles too. Alien³ was a great conversion, as was James Pond 2, and Mickey Mouse: Land of Illusion was a favourite with many fans (didn't like it much myself). And the MS got a version of Sensible Soccer, of course.

And if they could sneak in the snail game somewhere (as a free download perhaps), that would be fun.



diablos79 said:

Is that the japanese MS in the picture? i had a jap one and i thought it was really cool but for some reason when i moved back to the uk i couldnt find the game cards anywhere ( credit card sized carts that slid in the front of the machine in case anyone doesnt know). was it just that i couldnt find them or were they never released in the uk? Great news tho, MS had some great games back in the day, hopefuly we'll get the original Fist Of The North Star and not the censored european version.



Kelvin said:

diablos79, I'm pretty sure that's a European Master System*. I had a European one too, and it did have a card slot. The thing is, there were only a handful of releases on the card format, and they were all very early in the system's life (they were a holdover from the earlier SG-1000 console), so they were rare and difficult to find later on. The Master System 2 omitted the card slot altogether.

*The Japanese had the SG-1000 MkIII, which was internally identical, and didn't get the Master System we see above until 1987.



Jazzem said:

The Master System beat the NES in Europe? I know it did well, but I didn't know it did that well.

Good news in any case I look forward to some Sega 8-bit!



Dazza said:

@Jazzem - When I was a young un in the 80s me and most of my mates had a Master System. I seem to remember that Sega had the advantage over Nintendo in the UK for quite a while, or at least that's how it seemed! It probably wasn't until TMNT and Mario 3 that the tide turned, but then not to be outdone Sega then released the Megadrive!

Oh the great console wars of yesteryear! Great times



The_shoemaker said:

Oh so the MS is older than the MD? hmm this system could be interesting. And 500 points is a steal!



Will said:

Very good, never got to play a master system properly so this should be fun. So if Nintendo are still expanding the VC channels, and speaking of 8-bit consoles, whats the chance of seeing the C64 logo making an apperance?! Now there was a real mans system! Creatures 1+2, mayhem in monsterland, LED storm anyone?



That_One_Guy said:

Too expensive. I apperiate that they are FINALLY put Master System games on the virtual console, however, those games should not be no higher than 400 points in United States (300 points would be the sweet spot). Regardless of the fact the system had more powerful graphic ability over the NES, there should be price to pay for failure. Remember, on world wide scale, the NES out-sold the MS by factor of, roughly, 60 to 13.

In my humble opinion, they should have saved the Game Gear stuff for Nintendo's next handheld.



Sharecrow said:

I think 500 points is fair and there are a few games that I'll be happy to download....Zillions, Rastan, and Shinobi to name three. Phantasy Star would be nice too, but I already have it on GBA.

Exciting stuff!



Jogurt_the_Yogurt said:

The Master System version of Altered Beast is also better than the Genesis version. Not that we'll see it, with the Genesis version out and all...



Goatlemon said:

Much like Europe the SMS all but dominated the Australian scene as well. I'm really looking foward to this.



aphexbr said:

Nice to hear Game Gear stuff will be included in here as well - I never really had one as I had (and preferred) the Atari lynx - ya rly! But, the first Shinobi game for the GG was the best in the 8-bit series for me...

Oh, and to everyone going "what's this?" - the Master System was Sega's first home system, before the Genesis/Megadrive, and it actually outsold the Nintendo NES in Europe!



AlphaNerd01 said:

This is totally rad news. Maybe we'll get the GG Shining Force and Shinobi games? The Master System had some pretty cool games too, like Rambo and Lord of the Sword.



Eva said:

Always good to see new systems added, but I can't say I've really been thinking "ooo I wish I could play [insert MS or GG game here] again".
Is there any truth about the Master System outselling the NES in Europe, or is it just how people remember it? I can't find any evidence either way.



Kelvin said:

Absolutely. The NES didn't do very well in Europe, but the Master System did very well indeed. Part of this is to do with support; the MS was very well backed by its various local publishers, but Nintendo didn't invest much in Europe until the SNES came along.

NES owners in Europe found themselves with a poorly supported console, and that's part of why there's still to this day an uneasy relationship between Nintendo and Europe.



Ragnor said:

What great news to start my day. Ive been wanting Master System support for ages!

I wonder whether we'll get Game Gear versions of say, Sonic the Hedgehog, rather than the actual SMS version. In rhe Game Gear version, the screen is reduced, example being you can kill the first boss without him even attacking once, while in SMS, he was too high up. I can see Sega/Nintendo being lazy..



Kelvin said:

I would hope that they'd put SMS versions of dual-format games on the VC, if only because the screen size would fit better. In those cases where there's only the GG version, obviously we'll have to make do, but I see no reason to go for the GG version when there's one that's formatted for a TV.



That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

MSX has been out in Japan for a long time, and unfortunatly it doesn´t look like it will reach the west. Chances are bigger for Master System (although I would like the MSX even more), so hopefully rare MS games like Golden Axe Warrior will be avaliable one day... And yes, MS versions would be nicer than Game Gear ones.



wedge554 said:

Awesome, theyre also including the game gear games! sonic drift etc!


Some of the best Master system games i had were:

Donald duck, micky mouse, sonic 1, 2, chaos, smurfs, sonic spinball & streets of rage. drools

Im just waiting for them to release the Saturn (Dreamcast maybe also?) now, cant wait for Nights!



Bass_X0 said:

Wedge, I wouldn't expect the Disney games. Licensing issues and all that.



Kelvin said:

The licensing for properties like Smurfs and Asterix may be easier to get than for the Disney stuff, so you never know. We saw TMNT after all, so it's not a blanket case of "licensed games won't appear".

I think it unlikely that we'll see VC releases of Disney and Lucasarts games, but we'll see others, I think.



starlac said:

Thank goodness for that, I was wondering why SEGA was being so neglectful of their old 8-BIT systems. 500 points is fair, the same as NES games. I missed out on a number of MS games when I adopted the Megadrive, so I'm hoping for games I never got the first time round.

I hope that if SEGA are planning to release the games released on both the Master System and Game Gear they use the former console’s version, the lower resolution screens of the Game Gear ports never helped the games. In Sonic 1 and 2 you could never see where you were going.

@ kelvingreen - I see no reason why Master of Darkness can’t be released, it was made by SEGA and it got away with being a clone of Castlevania back when it was originally released; why not today?



Kelvin said:

starlac, I don't think it's a case of "can't", and more that it's not going to be a high priority release due to (a) it being a relatively obscure title, and (b) us already having the real Castlevanias on the VC.
It's not impossible that we'll see Master of Darkness, but I think it unlikely. I'd be happy to be proven wrong though, as it was a good game.



Damo said:

Er, why exactly wouldn't we see Master of Darkness? It's a first party Sega game and is certainly a lot more likely to come out on the VC than Castle of Illusion or The Smurfs.

Master of Darkness was a big release here in the UK - it's hardly what I'd call obscure. It was never released in the US because support for the Master System was pulled by that point; Sonic was the last US title for the console.



Kelvin said:

Clearly, we remember the release of the game differently. I don't recall it being a big release, but it's not worth getting in a twist about. I'd like to see it released on VC as it was a good solid game, and in many ways better than the NES Castlevanias.



Mixer152 said:

This is great news, I never owned a Master System but I DID have a GameGear and there were a few nice games, mainly the Sonic ones.
Would love to play them full screen



nypad5 said:

Bah! Do we really need another system? I mean...its bad enough the past mondays have been 2 game updates! There doing this to test me! I want my SNES, NES and N64! nothing else!



Jogurt_the_Yogurt said:

Yes, we need another system! Maybe we'll go back to getting 3 games for a few weeks because they'll be able to tuck some Master System games in. Besides, I see this as a gesture—they had to give us the MS before they could give us Sega CD.



adzix said:

this is what i have been waiting for ever since the whole VC concept has been introduced to the gaming world.
i got my sms back in 1986 for christmas, and boy did i love it.
back then it came with no built in game, but the hang on cartridge was included (the sms had modules and cartridges).
over the years a nice deal of quality games were release, here to name but a few killer titles.
phantasy star (of course)
fantasy zone 1 + 2
wonder boy 3 the dragon's trap (already released as the TG version on VC)
golden axe warrior
r-type (only version to include a hidden stage)
space harrier (many people didn't like this release, i for one love it, one of the best soundtracks ever)
ultima 4 (fun little port of a classic)
the ninja
and so on...



adzix said:

haha, yes i did have that game built in.
but i didn't knew about it until 1988.
as you may know, it wouldnt just start when you turned on the sms, but you had to 'activate' it with a button/joystick combo while turning the system on. i read about it in a mag 1988 and was really excited, tho the game itself is... well.... crap



Dazza said:

As crap as the snail maze game is I played it to death because I only had the Hang On card and Rambo III light phaser game to occupy me on the MS for ages hehe



adzix said:

i never had the light phaser
and i SO wanted the 3d glasses but no store near me had those...
there was one game that was supposed to be amazing with them, i just can't recall the name, something with maze too? hrm i know there was a 2d and a 3d version of it tho



Kelvin said:

The phaser was a nice bit of kit. Better quality than the NES zapper, although it didn't have a great set of compatible games.



Bass_X0 said:

I wonder how Game Gear games will compare graphically to the Game Gear games on that sonic collection on gamecube. i hope they look much better because i wasn't impressed.

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