The lights are on
The Sega Master System was the 8-bit era’s little engine that could – until it couldn’t. While NES owners were busying themselves with Mario, Castlevania, and Contra, SMS players had to make due with the likes of Alex Kidd, Penguin Land, and Teddy Boy. They were fun games, to be sure, but I always felt as though something was a little off. Fortunately for me, the NES was in my room, and I was able to coerce my younger brother to buy Sega’s counterpart.
If you didn’t grow up with one, the Master System is actually worth checking out today. You can grab most of the games that are worth playing at flea markets for reasonable prices. And because of the way the games were packaged – in thick, plastic boxes that predated the Sega Genesis – people tended to keep the instructions. Here are some of my favorite Master System games and why they’re worth your time.
Alex Kidd: High-Tech WorldAlex Kidd in Miracle World is the game most people associate with the little guy, but I preferred another game that he starred in. In Alex Kidd: High-Tech World, the failed mascot doesn't ape Mario. Instead, it's an adventure game that challenges players with getting Kidd out of his castle and over to the Sega arcade. It blends object-managing puzzles with action-based sections. It's weird and tough, and I loved it – even though Prince Alex remains the grossest-looking hero in gaming history.
California GamesEPYX made several Olympic-style games throughout its life, such as Summer Games, Winter Games, and World Games, but I always liked California Games best. It had surfing, BMX, and skateboarding games, but those were pretty lame. Believe it or not, the Hacky Sack event was actually pretty fun. Your character had a limited amount of time to go through a fairly wide array of tricks, and you were rewarded for variety. Maybe I liked it because I have a soft spot for any game that lets me hit seagulls.
ColumnsIt might make me a heretic, but I always thought Columns was as good a puzzle game as Tetris. The Genesis version of Columns looked and sounded better, naturally, but the Master System port was perfectly fine. The only problem I had with this one is that the Master System's mushy gamepad lacked the precision required for high-level play. Regardless, it's still a great pick.
Enduro RacerThis was loosely based on the arcade game, by which I mean they share the same name. The home port scraps the behind-the-back perspective in favor of showing your motorcyclist from an isometric view. It's a game that's as much about bouncing from jump to jump as it is outrunning the various bikes and hot rods (?!?) that share the track.
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never played any of these games, but i bet they were fun
Ha, this is awesome. It's always fun to learn about old games that I never would have otherwise heard of.
I loved and hated California games, I was so bad at it!
Alex Kidd was the first adventure game I ever beat.
The master system was also the first console I ever saw that showed an error screen that pretty much said the system was totally dead
Alex Kidd was my very first game. That game was fantastic!
wonder boy and phantasy star... oh man, the memories... I think phantasy star was the first and only time I called a "tip hotline" to find out where the secret door on the top floor of the last temple was.. man the hours I wasted trying to find that. The days of no internet or hint books... aaaahh, good times.
I doubt these games would hold up as well today, but by all accounts my cousin and brother loved their Master System...They just loved the NES a lot more.
The Master System was the first video game console I ever played. And I played a ridiculous amount of Enduro Racer, and Outrun.
Yeah, it wasn't too shabby in terms of games, but many were extremely underrated.
That last game, Wonder Boy III, looks exactly like a game for the TurboGrafx called Dragon's Curse. I'm absolutely certain it is the same. Dragon's Curse occupied a lot of my time when I had my Grafx (or PC Engine, if you prefer).
I never gave the master system a chance, My friends and I were hardcore Nintendo fans back in those days. How things change, I haven't played a Nintendo console in over a decade now.
Master System FOR LIFE.
I was Nintendo kid myself, but one of my friends had the master system, we used to get into these disscusions of which was the better console (my first console war) but the fact was that we both loved to play on both systems. Ahh good times!.
It's funny that this article came up because I had just recently watched an episode of Game Sack about the Sega Master System. If you guys like retro games and systems,definitely check that show out on YouTube.
Awesome toast my friend. My wife and I enjoy the Alex Kidd games a lot. Well, more her than I but still. Brings back some fond gaming memories! Awesome read. Cheers!
I STILL have my Master System and every once in a while, I dust it off and throw Phantasy Star or Fantasy Zone in, just for those cold, nostalgic nights...man, I really did enjoy my time with that system back in the day. Never played Dragon Zone, but judging from the screen shot and the decription, it sounds like it was a rare gem.
Phantasy Star was such a great RPG, a true gem in the genre.
Zillion and Zillion II were both great games as well.
Rocky was one of the best boxing games at the time and is well deserved of all praise possible.
Shinobi should not be forgotten either.