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Hardware Classics: Sega Master System

Posted by Damien McFerran

Everyone's favourite underdog

If you're reading this outside of Europe, then there's a very good chance that your perception of the Sega Master System is one of complete and utter failure. The 8-bit system wasn't even close to contesting the might of the NES in North America or the Famicom in Japan; although Sega at that point was a well-known creator of coin-op classics, Nintendo had completely locked out the market, and it wouldn't be until the Mega Drive / Genesis arrived on the scene that this situation would change. As Blake J. Harris' recent Console Wars book attests, during the 16-bit battle Sega was the underdog which challenged the might of its seemingly unstoppable rival and changed the face of the industry forever, but prior to that, it was very much lost in the 8-bit wilderness while Nintendo cleaned up with the NES.

However, those of you in Europe — the UK in particular — will spot a glaring inconsistency in this narrative. The United Kingdom was a notable stronghold for Sega even before the Mega Drive and Sonic arrived on the scene, and a region which Nintendo simply didn't take seriously at the time. This meant that the Master System was the de facto home console of the period for UK players, with the NES being something of an afterthought. It's a fascinating twist on the Sega vs Nintendo tale, and one which may come as a surprise to North American or Japanese video game fans.

As is the case with the NES, the story of the Master System begins way back in 1983 with the launch of the SG-1000 — Sega's first ever home console system. Never released outside of Japan, it struggled to make an impact in a market which was being rapidly consumed by Nintendo's Famicom console (both systems launched on the exact same day, fact fans). The SG-1000 II followed but was also something of a commercial failure in its homeland, and it wasn't until Sega released the Mark III in 1985 that things started to look a little more positive.

The machine was graphically more adept than the Famicom and was also capable of faithfully hosting some of Sega's most popular arcade titles of the period, such as Space Harrier, Shinobi, OutRun and After Burner. Add to this some amazing original games — such as Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Phantasy Star and the Alex Kidd series — and it was clear that Sega's 8-bit machine was more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Nintendo's platform.

There was just one problem — the North American and Japanese public weren't interested. By the time the Mark III launched in the US under the Master System moniker, Nintendo had tied up the market and put policies in place which forbade third-party publishers from releasing their titles on any format other than the NES — a similar strategy was in place in Japan, too. With the NES accounting for more than 80 percent of the North American games market by 1988, few companies were willing to risk Nintendo's anger by manufacturing titles for a rival console. Frustrated with the lack of progress, Sega of America handed distribution duties to toymaker Tonka, but this only made things worse — Tonka simply didn't have a clue about how to sell the Master System in what was an intensely competitive arena.

Tyler Esposito of Sega Master System.com and The Sega Channel sums up the situation in North America best. "Growing up in the USA, Nintendo was at the top of the video game food chain. I'd say one in every 100 kids, if they owned a console, owned a Sega. I remember walking into Toys R Us and Walmart stores in the early the 90s and finding bargain bins full of brand new Master System games on sale for $10 a pop. Nintendo literally devoured the market and pushed Sega out. It wasn't until the Genesis — and Sonic — came out that the public started to take notice."

However, over in Europe things were very different — although Sega's console very nearly failed there, too. Distributors duly placed orders with Sega for delivery in time for the busy 1987 Christmas period, but didn't get their stock until Boxing Day, which naturally resulted in angry shoppers, cancelled orders and a considerable amount of lost revenue. The situation was so bad that German firm Bertlesmann refused to work with Sega ever again, and it plunged UK distributor Mastertronic into a financial crisis which would eventually lead to Richard Branson's Virgin assuming control the company.

By 1988, the newly-christened Virgin Mastertronic had successfully positioned the Master System as the go-to console for serious games players who had grown bored of the primitive ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 home computers and wanted something with a little more bite. Its marketing of the machine focused on Sega's amazing range of coin-op ports, a highly effective move when you consider how popular arcade games were at that time. Nintendo's lackadaisical approach to the UK market meant that Virgin Mastertronic and Sega were essentially the only game in town, and as a result the Master System began to attract plenty of support from notable third-parties of the period, such as US Gold, Domark, Image Works, Acclaim, Virgin Interactive and Tecmagic.

When the Genesis launched and found considerable success, Sega of America tried to salvage the Master System in the US, hoping to market it as a low-cost alternative to its 16-bit hardware. It was to no avail, and the company would abandon the platform in 1991, with Sonic the Hedgehog being the final official release in that region. In contrast, the Master System was still performing admirably in the UK and France, and maintained a lead on the Mega Drive well into 1993. The remodelled Master System II allowed Sega to not only make the hardware at a lower cost, but also sell it to the consumer for less, too. The strategy Sega of America had attempted in the US worked a treat in Europe; many leading titles — such as Sonic 2, Streets of Rage 2 and Mortal Kombat — would be launched on both platforms, offering those on a budget the chance to join in with the leading software of the period. Elsewhere in the world, the console would become even more dominant — in Brazil, where it was sold by Tectoy, the Master System would shift five million units over its lifespan.

Depending on where you are in the world, collecting for the Master System today can either be as easy as falling off a log or incredibly tricky. Unsurprisingly, sourcing hardware and software in Europe is largely painless and cheap. However, the Japanese version of the system — the Mark III — is slowly rising in value as the years go by, and purchasing a North American Master System isn't as cost-effective as you might imagine, presumably down to the low numbers of units sold. If you're really serious about experiencing this underrated console for the first time, then it's highly recommended that you avoid the newer Master System II variant and instead go for the larger, more angular original. The Master System II only has an RF connection on the back, while the original can output in glorious RGB. It's also worth noting that the second model removes the reset button and support for Sega's short-lived "Sega Card" format, which delivered games on credit card-sized media similar to that seen on NEC's PC Engine system.

The NES and its Japanese sibling the Famicom would sell around 60 million units globally, while the Master System is only thought to have retailed between 10 to 15 million units. Taking these figures into account, it's easy to see why so many people consider the console to be a footnote in Sega's history, while the NES is seen as the beginning of Nintendo's dynasty. However, this isn't a fair reflection on what the Master System actually has to offer to receptive players; Sega's famous arcade ports are especially well done, while RPGs like Phantasy Star and Wonder Boy III rank as some of the finest releases of the 8-bit era. Sega's fallen mascot Alex Kidd is also responsible for some fantastic offerings on the Master System, with his debut Miracle World proving to be a solid rival to Nintendo's popular Super Mario Bros. outing. Without the Master System, there would have been no Mega Drive or Genesis — the console was a vital testing ground for a company which previously had focused almost solely on creating arcade titles. It's certainly true that a lack of third-party support damaged the Master System's chances of global super-stardom, but now is the perfect time to reassess the impact and appeal of this much-maligned platform.

Screenshot source: The Video Game Museum

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User Comments (65)

ModestFan93

#1

ModestFan93 said:

Alex Kidda rival to Smash? Never heard of this system nor the games. Must be a cult classic or something.

DazzaAdmin

#3

Dazza said:

I have such fond memories of the Master System. As a UK gamer of a certain age, this was the console which me and all my school chums graduated to when our ZX Spectrums, Amstrads and C64s began to show their age. The NES was a mysterious beast to me at the time, no one I knew had one. The only place I ever saw them was on the demo pod at Boots the Chemists!

In contrast the Sega Master System felt like it was everywhere. There were no shortage of indie game shops pushing the system and magazine such as CVG and Mean Machines certainly made it's ever growing catalogue of games feel irresistible.

I got my Master System with a light phaser, Rambo III and a Hang-On card as I recall. Some games which really stood out to me during the time I had the console were Wonder Boy 1,2 & 3, R-Type, Shinobi, Outrun and California Games. There were tons of great games and as most of the kids at school also had the system it was easy to swap and get to try out the majority of them.

Of course the Master System's dominance in the UK would change when the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles NES bundle was released in Christmas 1990. I got one and quickly familiarised myself with the gems of the NES back catalogue which could helpfully be purchased at bargain bin prices by that time.

Both the Master System and NES were wonderful 8-bit consoles. But I will always have the most fondness for the Master System due to the obsessive amount of time I spent playing it as a kid. I miss the old SEGA!

FantasiaWHT

#5

FantasiaWHT said:

Fantasy Zone II not Fantasy Star II.

I never had an NES. Loved my SMS! Wonder Boy III is an amazing game, still crack it out now and then. Golvellius was a nice Zelda competitor.

WYLD-WOO

#6

WYLD-WOO said:

Great article and video nintendolife. Did it all really look like that??? Yes it did!!! I was more into my master system than my NES as a kid.

GloverMist

#7

GloverMist said:

I'm English, and a teenager, and I had no idea then Master System sold so well over here! It actually really surprised me!
In a related note, I found a used copy of Teddy Boy for the Master System in a charity shop recently, with no price. I'm really regretting not buying it, even if I couldn't play it!

Anguspuss

#8

Anguspuss said:

my MS was great the only thing was crappy control pads lost count how many i bust up.

The ms phantasy star game must be one of the best 8bit rpg games

kupocake

#9

kupocake said:

Great write up. I feel like we've skipped a little detail on why there was sustained success in Europe though (you can join the dots in the article, but it's not exactly implied or stated) - the SMS had plenty of third party support in Europe because Nintendo's policies didn't extend there (whether this was because of laziness or EU laws would be interesting to know).

Makes you acknowledge how clever a proposition the Game Gear was too. Develop a game for the most technically impressive handheld on the market and you'll be able to super-easily port it over to the budget console and open all those European wallets.

RantingThespian

#11

RantingThespian said:

I actually knew someone who had a Master System here in the US. He had a few games for it (one was an odd side scrolling shooter). Also, it was the first model, the long black one. However, I only knew the guy had it long after he had a Sega Genesis. One day the guy just brought it out to show us what he had before the Sega Genesis. We plugged it in and tried a couple games.

SyntheticPerson

#12

SyntheticPerson said:

I loved the Master System. My memories with it are fonder than my Megadrive memories. Ecco, My Hero, Lucky Dime Caper, and Sonic 2 were the stand out classics for me. Personally, I think LDC would have been a better HD remake choice than Ducktales

Obito_Tennyson

#13

Obito_Tennyson said:

I believe that most of the really good SMS games were ported to the Game Gear. This means that it is highly possible for the 3DS VC to have some of these games!

ricklongo

#14

ricklongo said:

"If you're reading this outside of Europe..."

Certainly you mean "outside of Europe and South America", right? :)

The Master System was a huge success in Brazil, mainly because, while Nintendo refused to acknowledge the country existed in the 8-bit days, SEGA went all in with their own Brazilian subsidiary company and snatched the market.

I had both an NES and a Master System back in the day, and I loved them both to bits. Initially most of my friends had Master Systems, because of the aforementioned reasons, but NES clones made by Brazilian companies started flooding the market at some point, evening the gap between the consoles here a bit.

Nowadays, I believe most Master System games just haven't aged that well, sadly, whereas there are plenty of NES classics that I play to this day. In my opinion the best SMS games are Phantasy Star, Land of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Sonic 2 and Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Those should be a good starting point for anyone wanting to explore the console's library.

EDIT: There's also the Wonder Boy series, which was pretty great. We got it here in Brazil localized as game versions of a popular Brazilian comic series, Turma da Mônica, but the gameplay is pretty much the same.

redoschi

#15

redoschi said:

Like Rick mentioned above, this was a huge system here in Brazil. I didn't have one but played with my cousin's and now I have one at home (it was my wife's) together with a Mega Drive (Genesis), SNES and N64.

Like he mentioned, Phantasy Star, the Alex Kidd series and Land of Illusion are great games for the Master System!

TheWPCTraveler

#16

TheWPCTraveler said:

This still makes me wonder what SEGA could've done if they were still in.

At this point in time, they could pretty much release a new console and have it be a success, largely because they own ATLUS. Yes
, they own ATLUS.

The very reason I want Nintendo to buy SEGA (not Sega Sammy) is because ATLUS is lumped in the package. The Wii U would intaantly sell magical numbers if Persona came exclusively to it. That and Shenmue 3.

TheWPCTraveler

#17

TheWPCTraveler said:

Side note: I'd really love it if Nintendo did a Sega-centric VC campaign based on the slogan "Sega does what Nintendon't!"

Come one, make it happen!

Darknyht

#18

Darknyht said:

I had a relative that owned the Master System (and later a Genesis) and a few games for it. I always thought it was better than the Nintendo in quality, but never saw them in the stores. I did own a Game Gear and greatly regret that I didn't ever have the opportunity to get the Master System converter and some of the classic library.

It bothers me even more that with all the interesting games in the Master System library, few of them ever saw the light of day on the Wii Virtual Console.

GreatPlayer

#19

GreatPlayer said:

I had a Famicom, hated it, got a gamegear (i.e., handheld version of Master System) and love it. It motivates me to get a genesis.

The best game on gamegear is baku baku animal. Not sure if the Western audience knows.

Morph

#20

Morph said:

My first console was a master system, played alex kidd to death and wonder boy 3 was probably my favourite game. I was probably a little too young for the likes of phantasy star at the time and i probably only owned 8-10 games for it. I dont think it was a fantastic console, but it had some fantastic games.

dizzy_boy

#21

dizzy_boy said:

I didn't know anybody with a master system, my friends and I were big NES fans.
I remember trying a master system demo console in one of my local shops and I wasn't impressed one bit.

Nintendzoey

#22

Nintendzoey said:

As a kid in Australia, I got to experience both the NES and the Master System. I personally had the NES and my best friend had a Master System. I remember both of them being big sellers in Australia (even before Sonic arrived). Though of course, the NES was still more popular.
Loved both Alex Kidd and Mario. Both excellent gaming characters!

SKTTR

#23

SKTTR said:

My favourite Master Sytems games are all the Wonder Boy games: Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, and especially Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. Have them all on Wii VC. There was even a port of Wonder Boy in Monster World, but that one is rare: The Mega Drive version is more popular.

MAB

#25

MAB said:

@Damo
Check out your local dealer
Not for drugs
But for Sega
MAB's got alot of dat raw uncut nostalgic Master Mega ;)

xj0462

#26

xj0462 said:

sega master system: segas second best console, after the almighty sega Genesis

bbliksteen8

#27

bbliksteen8 said:

Didn't have an SMS but I had a Genesis and Game Gear and litterally knew no one with a SNES. All of my friends had Genesis and we all had the power base converter and master gear converter so we would find SMS games at flea markets and garage sales and trade them around. Wonder Boy III is my favorite SMS game

Mommar

#28

Mommar said:

The Genesis my father bought came with an adapter that let you play old Master System games as well. MY brother and I rented more than a few to check them out and they were pretty much all terrible/unplayable as far as we could tell.

smikey

#29

smikey said:

I live in the uk and I hated the master system with a passion!

All my friends had one or were getting one at the end of the 80's and all I wanted for xmas that year was a Nes (always been the odd one out)
My dad went t the shop and eneded up getting talked into the master system (he wasn't that clued up on these things) they convinced him that it would have been the master system that I wanted and did him a "great deal" with a fair few games.
I cried my eyes out that xmas.
My dad tried to take it back but they wouldn't swap it.
Didn't own a Nes until the late 90's but that Xmas I made a promise I'd be faithful to Nintendo for the rest of my life and own all their games (getting there 1 game at a time)

Thankfully I did get the snes for xmas when it came outeven though again most of my friends went mega drive

Falk_Sturmfels

#30

Falk_Sturmfels said:

i still have both 8-bit-machines here. SMS is a great little beast. I loved the little cards which came before the cartridges.

TheRealThanos

#32

TheRealThanos said:

@Damo "Rapid fire units, bo, bo, bo?" Oh my...
That "rap" was absolutely and totally horrible. It should have been banned before it was ever published.
I think a lot of us Americans had no idea about the Master System at the time and for people that nowadays know a bit or people that still don't know anything about it, that video adds nothing. I had the same sentiment (calling it an issue seems a bit too heavy) so I looked up a review from Game Sack that is quite comprehensive in showing why you should take the time to investigate this system if you're into retro gaming.
It does also show in some cases that there were actually quite a few arcade conversions that were far from perfect, which shows that (as we all know) more powerful isn't always better (as evident in Sega vs Nintendo handhelds) because having more colors and (arguably) better sound doesn't necessarily equate to better games. There's some slowdown to be seen and some animation seems quite choppy, something that I hardly ever experienced on the NES, but that may be due to optimization. In any case, there were definitely some good games to play on the Master System and they certainly looked good too. Some of the best can be seen in this video:

By the way: living in the Netherlands from an early age I also never saw much of the Master System, so I think the UK and Brazil were probably the two top territories for that console. Most of us had a NES or a home computer and I knew only one friend that had one, but he has (up to the very last console) collected everything from Sega, so that was to be expected.

gage_wolf

#33

gage_wolf said:

Bought a Master System last year for pretty cheap at a used games store, and it came with a bunch of the classic games. I tried my best to get into it but none of the games really played that great or were that interesting. I ended up giving it to a friend. I suppose a big reason the NES still seems so great in comparison has a lot to do with nostalgia, but I also think that Nintendo just knew how to make better games... and well still does!

DamoAdmin

#34

Damo said:

@TheRealThanos The video was included as a light-hearted joke — in the UK, it gained a level of infamy as it was attached to the front of the magazine Mean Machines, which was the UK's first big multiformat console publication.

The story is that a competition was established which asked fans to write a song, and the one deemed to be the best would be professionally recorded and given away free with the second issue of Mean Machines. I still have my original audio tape, and while it's obviously not a classic tune, it's pretty well known here in the UK.

TonLoco

#35

TonLoco said:

Never had the master system but after the NES my dad owned the Genesis and later on the Dreamcast. It was fun as a kid having my SNES at my moms and then going to my Dads and getting to play Sega games with him.

DamoAdmin

#36

Damo said:

@smikey Aren't you a bit old to express hatred for inanimate objects like games consoles? Sounds to me like you've missed out on some quality titles!

TheRealThanos

#37

TheRealThanos said:

@Damo I can well imagine that the tune stays with you. Should have added a smiley to my "should have been banned" comment but, needles to say, I do think it was quite bad.
But now that I know a bit more about it thanks to some YouTubin' I do think that there are quite a few nice games on there. They even had their own version of some Genesis titles such as Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3.

DamoAdmin

#38

Damo said:

@TheRealThanos Don't get me wrong, it's an awful tune, but that's kind of why I like it! I think I know it off by heart ;)

As I pointed out in the feature, the Master System did so well in the UK that it got plenty of fresh games, including Mortal Kombat and Streets of Rage 2. I even think it got stuff like Pitfighter and Rise of the Robots, if memory serves. There was a massive market for the system well into the '90s.

Ristar42

#39

Ristar42 said:

Great system, while my C64 sounded better, the Master System meant no loading and great colourful graphics!
I still have my Master System 2, tend to play the games on my Modded Megadive with a powerbase converter, as they are better in 60Hz with a SCART output.
I still buy games for this, bought Double Dragon and Renegade recently, great 8-bit versions, and much cheaper to collect for now than at the time.
I never owned an NES, so my 8-bit console nostalgia is for this system.
@Damo, I never heard that tune, think I was reading Zzap! or SEGA Force at the time, but it sounds so early 90s...

ElkinFencer10

#40

ElkinFencer10 said:

@ModestFan93
The Master System is a fantastic system, but like the article said, most American will have never heard of it. I adore mine, and the original Phantasy Star is, at least in my opinion, the best JRPG of the 1980s.

smikey

#41

smikey said:

@Damo
It was a typo it was suppose to say hated not hate.
I have no real feelings about the master system at all either way anymore I'm more than content with the Nintendo consoles and games I own (and will eventually own)
At the time I was very upset and it did make me more determined to be a Nintendo gamer for life and I have been since I got the snes without any regret I've had other non Nintendo consoles in the house (Still do) but they never really get plugged in.

iphys

#42

iphys said:

My cousins had a Master System and were very bitter about not having the NES, but when I played Psycho Fox with them I was so amazed I had to go out and buy one just to play that game. Plus, my mum kept taking away my NES so it was handy to have a secret second system to play that she didn't know about, lol.

Samurai_Goroh

#43

Samurai_Goroh said:

My cousin had a Master System I and it was the first piece of SEGA I ever played. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Master System was my first Sonic game, only much later I got a chance to play the 16-bit Sonic games. Enduro Racer, Fantasy Zone, Mortal Kombat and SEGA Soccer are some of the games I remember playing with my cousin. A friend of mine had a Master System II too with Sonic the Hedhog (1) bundled with the system too. It was more popular than NES here in Portugal. We even got some games with Portuguese editions, the very rare "Portuguese purple" series that collectors now crave for.

TheAdrock

#44

TheAdrock said:

My friend had one. It was ghey. Nobody wanted to play it. Rather play Kings Quest on his Tandy or Zelda on NES. Those were the good ol' days. Duck Tales and Double Dare after school, Hot Pockets and CapriSun..sigh (... I just shed a nostalgic tear...)

aquamidnight

#45

aquamidnight said:

@damo
Great article!

We were lucky enough to have a SMS and be in the U.S. The games on it were fantastic. Most everyone we knew had a NES, and they all thought we were weirdoes.

There were some amazing RPG titles – Phantasy Star and Golvellius (which I feel fully rivals the original Zelda title). Both of the Zillion titles were awesome! I went as far as to get the adaptor for the Game Gear to play these titles.

brianvgplayer

#46

brianvgplayer said:

I like the SMS quite a bit. It's home to some sweet games like Wonder Boy III, Fantasy Zone I and II, Govellius, Kenseiden, Black Belt/Fist of the North Star, Rambo II/Ashura, Enduro Racer, Lucky Dime Caper, Land of Illusion, Phantasy Star, and Sonic 1. I like how most EU games work on the US SMS.

I also have the JP SMS for stuff like the full 10 level Enduro Racer and FM sound. I have a tototek adapter to play US and EU games on it. I like playing games like the US Fantasy Zone II with FM sound. The only US/EU games that removed FM sound are Ys and Phantasy Star. Even some US/EU only games like Time Soldiers, Rampage, and California Games play FM sound on a JP SMS.

joey302

#47

joey302 said:

After I hooked up my master system I basically never touched my commodore 64 or Atari 2600 for years after. I never got an NES at that time cause I was a big Atari fan and parked a 7800 next to my master system and I felt Nintendo monopolized the market and squeezed Atari out even more (yes i know atari mostly did it to themselves too but nintendo's 3rd party practice didnt help atari or sega) But the master system blew my doors off!! Fantasy Zone, Teddy Boy, Hang on, Astro warrior, alex kidd, quartet,Rambo, baseball, the 3D glasses!! Ah the memories!! I miss you SEGA!! Jump on wii u vc already will ya???

Tasuki

#48

Tasuki said:

I have been thinking of getting a Master System for a long time now. I think that will be my next retro console purchase.

WaveBoy

#49

WaveBoy said:

The only game I've ever played on the Master System was Penguin Land.
Back in the day, I remember sneaking in to my friends brothers room downstairs while he was off doing chores. It was an oddity to me. I had heard of it during the time, but i NOBODY i knew had it. everybody instead had the NES, heck it seemed like everybody in the neighborhood had one. But a master system? not a chance.

Anyways, i spent about 15 minutes with it. PL wasn't exactly my cup of toitle tea, but it was neat messing around with a console other than the NES or C64 for once. :P

DarkEdi

#50

DarkEdi said:

Sega must bring Master System (and others) to Wii U VC. The only 15 games in Wii VC is not a lot.

Grimlock_King

#51

Grimlock_King said:

I'm from the US and remember having the sega master system. I had a tough time convincing my parents that the car was moving in outrun. But I still had alot of fun with the sms and it's games. I regret selling the system and games I owned.

Zombie_Barioth

#52

Zombie_Barioth said:

The Master System is a funny one for me, I remember the games but I don't remember owning the console too well. Its definitely one of the consoles responsible for getting me into gaming, I played the heck out of Cloud Master, Double Dragon, and Ys: Vanished Omens on that thing.

MeWario

#53

MeWario said:

I love you Sega Master System II :) My first console and still one of the best. It is so over looked it's not funny! Wonderboy 3: The Dragons Trap <3

3dcaleb

#55

3dcaleb said:

i live in the US and i recently got an original master system, still in the box with the light gun and around 15 really good games at a yard sale for $20. i couldnt believe it when i saw it sitting there for so cheap. i almost wanted to tell them how much they could have sold it for but that would have been so mean.

Kevlar44

#56

Kevlar44 said:

I'm a Canadian with a Master System, my wife had one as a kid too. They weren't very popular but they certainly were around, Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a very well loved game as a child. I always thought it was cool that the system had a game (or two?) pre-installed on it. Also Wonder Boy the Dragon's Trap is in my opinion one of the best 8 bit games out there, everyone into the classics should play it.

aaronsullivan

#57

aaronsullivan said:

Pretty sure I still have mine but haven't tried to turn it on in a decade or so. It was tough to be fan in the US. I even upgraded to the 3D system and had exactly 2 3D games (Zaxxon and Miissile Defense). Miracle Warriors was my first JRPG and it was so barebones but still enjoyable in a boiled down to the basics sort of way.

The first Zillion game was really cool but also highlighted the worst thing about the system: most of the games had horrendous clunky controls especially platformers when compared to the fluid and intuitive Super Mario Bros and all the derivatives that came after even from third parties. (As a result Zillion 2 was such a horrible disappointment as it went straight action only. Cool graphics though) This might have changed in the post 16-bit days but I got the new systems and always wanted the better versions.

The SMS version of Phantasy Star remained the best of the entire series, IMO and is still one of my favorite games. That, Ultima IV and V, and FF IV are my favorite RPGs.

Mostly though it never lived to potential for me and the deluge of far superior action games on the NES kept me away from it.

antonvaltaz

#58

antonvaltaz said:

I loved my Master System! Wanted one through the late '80s as my wealthier friends seemed to all have one. Eventually upgraded my ZX Spectrum to an SMS... in 1992! Yeah, we weren't exactly cutting edge in our house...

AshFoxX

#59

AshFoxX said:

I always wanted a SMS, but I live in Texas and they are rare and expensive here. I blew my nephews mind when he realized the main characters of Regular Show were playing a Sega Master System, and it sparked an interest in video game history for him.

appel

#61

appel said:

My first video game console! I had one with Alex Kidd in Miracle World built-in, other favorites were Double Dragon and Bubble Bobble.

fluggy

#62

fluggy said:

My first console. (Im 36) . Just completed Wonderboy in Monsterland yesterday on Smsplus on my WiiU.... Rock solid.... Can't believe anyone could complete it without relying on save states!!! Rastan, Shinobi, Psycho Fox, Gangster Town, Fantasy Zone .... All still rather playable today.Great console.

fluggy

#64

fluggy said:

Yeah.... On "vwii." Everything works from the Wii homebrew channel. . . been around for quite a while now. Really Cool ... U can use gamepad as screen for all homebrew apps.

sdelfin

#65

sdelfin said:

Although I eventually got an NES as a secondary console during the 8-bit era, I ended up with a Master System as my main game system for that time period when I was little. I was very happy with it as it had lots of fun and interesting games. While it may not have been a huge commercial success, I suspect it contributed a bit to the success of the Genesis as many people became aware of Sega as a console company through the Master System. Very nice write up as usual. I do enjoy these Hardware Classics features.

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