Monday, 17 December 2018

Master System A-Z

After gamers greeted the SG-1000 with resounding indifference, Sega soon followed it up with the Master System, known as the Mark III in Japan, and it was wonderful. Here I will be taking a look at all of the games to grace its majesticness:

A is for...

Ace of Aces by Artech Digital Entertainment (1991)

An entirely uncelebrated home micro release from the mid-80's made for a strange MS conversion years later but it was better than nothing. Or was it? It's supposed to be a WWII sim that allows you to engage in dogfights as well as bomb Nazi subs and the like. Not a bad idea but somehow it was incredibly dull... (full review here)

Action Fighter by Sega (1986)

Sega's answer to Bally Midway's classic 1983 racing/shooting hybrid, Spy Hunter, was this action-packed effort which, despite initially seeming rather run-of-the-mill, actually gave the player an impressive range of vehicles to take charge of. It's not the MS exclusive I used to think it is but it's a decent game all the same.

The Addams Family by Arc Developments / Flying Edge (1993)

I played a couple of versions of this multi-format game in it day but this MS version differs from both. It looks as nice as most of the others though, including some great colour choices which make for some nice spooky locales. Movement and controls are a little sluggish but this is still a surprisingly decent platformer.

Aerial Assault by Sega (1990)

Sega didn't develop as many games specially and exclusively for the Master System as I thought but this is one. It's a pretty basic horizontal shooter featuring a wide range of military hardware for you to blow up and is reminiscent of many other games of the time, but it's not a bad effort for shmup fans... (full review here)

After Burner by Sega (1988)

As one of the first console games I ever owned, I was mighty pleased with this in the late 80's, but looking objectively in more recent years, it's actually a damn good conversion too. The only compromise really is a marked loss in ground detail; aside from that, fans of the arcade monster could find a lot to enjoy here. (featured here)

Air Rescue by Sega (1992)

The arcade original of this game was basically a 3D military-themed version of Choplifter so, as you might imagine, the MS version differs somewhat. While sharing the same basic premise, it is instead a side-scrolling game, but it works well enough to make this a challenging and enjoyable game with some interesting stages.

Aladdin by SIMS / Sega (1994)

Most 8 and 16-bit consoles seemed to get fancy Disney platformers late on in their lives and the MS was no exception. Like most of them, this is a scrolling platformer but features auto-scrolling obstacle course-style sections as well as the more traditional leapy action. A slick and great looking game.

Aleste by Compile (1988)

This one is much better known to Western gamers as Power Strike but, whatever you happen to call it, there can be no question of its quality. Its six rounds of frenetic vertically-scrolling action was unparalleled on the Master System and this remains, in my view, the best shmup on the console. (full review here)

Alex Kidd BMX Trial by Sega (1987)

Despite featuring one of the MS's best known characters, this was a niche title even for MS standards! Not only was it released only in Japan - a rarity in itself - but it also only works with a special paddle controller. This means few will get to play it properly but it also makes it an intriguing collector's item. (featured here)

Alex Kidd in High-Tech World by Sega (1989)

I think I can safely say this has always been the least popular Alex Kidd game. It's a totally different style to the others for one thing, and there's a very good reason for that - it originally wasn't an Alex Kidd game at all! It was known in Japan as Anmitsu Hime (see below). It's not a terrible game but it's not great either. (featured here)

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars by Sega (1988)

This is the second of Alex Kidd's adventures and, unknown to some, it was actually an arcade game first. Its MS conversion, however, was a good one and its strange and varied characters and stages provided a good challenge. It was of course overshadowed by Miracle World but this is a decent little game too. (featured here)

Alex Kidd in Miracle World by Sega (1986)

A game that remains beloved to an entire generation, at least here in the UK, thanks to Sega bundling it with many of our MS consoles. It is indeed a fine game in its own right too, regardless of how one might've played it - probably the best of Alex's games and also very likely one of the system's finest platformers. (featured here)

Alex Kidd in Shinobi World by Sega (1990)

Alex Kidd and Shinobi made for an unexpected pairing for Mr. Kidd's last adventure which seemed to come out of nowhere when the attention of many gamers was firmly fixed on the 16-bit systems. Thankfully, the unusual fusion was well worth the attention of anyone who enjoys a corking platform/combat game. (featured here)

ALF by Nexa Corporation (1989)

I was never really a fan of this peculiar creature when he was on our TV screens so this game wasn't of enormous appeal to me either. I have played it though, and was left feeling suitably unimpressed with the uninspiring adventure which sees you searching for parts of ALF's spaceship. Begone, alien oaf! (mini review here)

Ali Baba and 40 Thieves by Hi-Com / Sega (1989)

An unusual one this, in that it was not only an unofficial release but was also only released only in Korea (presumably just the southern half). It's hard to imagine why though - it's a conversion of a very basic 1982 arcade maze game and looks more like an SG-1000 game. It's reasonable fun for a few minutes but that's all.

Alien 3 by Probe Entertainment (1992)

Whichever version of this you played, it has long been known as one of the better film tie-ins. The MS game is unsurprisingly based on the MD version as opposed to the also-good-but-different SNES version, and is pretty faithful as it goes, and that means it suffers from the same flaws - i.e. that super-tight time limit!

Alien Storm by Sega (1991)

I never got to play this in the arcades but I did play the MD version extensively, so this was always going to be a bit of a comedown from a technical point of view, but it's not actually too bad, with much of the stuff from the arcade game included. Sadly, however, the two-player mode is not among them. Bah! (mini review here)

Alien Syndrome by Sanritsu / Sega (1988)

This one seemed to have been around forever when I was younger for some reason. It's another conversion of a Sega arcade game, this time an overhead-viewed maze-shooter inspired by the Alien films, and it worked well too. A fun and addictive blaster. I think I even prefer this version over the arcade original.

Altered Beast by Sega (1988)

One of the very first Master System games I owned, this one, and I enjoyed it a lot back then. Somehow I could even complete it without cheating! It isn't quite so enjoyable to play nowadays but it was still a pretty decent conversion, even if it was missing one of the five stages. It's always fun to play as a beast! (featured here)

American Baseball by Sega (1989)

I've never been the biggest baseball fan, whether real life or digital, so this one, known as Reggie Jackson's Baseball in the US (famous baseballer?), would always have been of limited interest to me. It seems to be pretty good if you're a fan of the sport though - there are several game modes and lots of team, for example.

American Pro Football by Sega (1989)

Known as Walter Payton Football in the US, this was literally my first ever encounter of that sport the Americans stupidly call 'football', so I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but it was somehow still good fun! Lovely audio/visuals, decent controls, and lots to do help make this one of the MS's best sports games. (featured here)

Andre Agassi Tennis by Lance Investments / Tekmagik (1993)

This was the last of the MS's few tennis games to be released; does an endorsement from Steffi Graf's other half give it the edge? Well, it's certainly not bad - there's a single match or tournament mode for one or two players, either singles or doubles, and it looks nice too. Definitely one for fans to look into.

Anmitsu Hime by Sega (1987)

This is the game Westerners know as Alex Kidd: High Tech World which, in this original form, is actually based on a manga/anime series and features a mixture of platform and puzzle-based gameplay, and it's not too bad if you can understand the Japanese dialogue. Will mainly be of interest to collectors though.

Arcade Smash Hits by Images Ltd / Virgin (1992)

Yes that's right, there were even retro compilations in the Master System's days! This one featured only three titles - Centipede, Breakout, and Missile Command, each of which is introduced by a weird green gonk for some reason - but they are at least slightly tarted up versions of the games. Unnecessary but not terrible.

Argos no Juujiken by Salio / Tecmo (1988)

A very rare one in that it's a Japanese exclusive for the MS! As the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed, it's actually a conversion of Rygar which was pretty popular in the West, so lord only knows why it didn't get a release here. It's a decent conversion too - much better than the stinky NES version!

Ariel the Little Mermaid by Blue Sky Software / Tec Toy (1996)

Made for and released only in Brazil very late in the MS's life (four years later than the MD version, in fact), this adventure was no doubt meant to appeal to younger players but I can't imagine they enjoyed the bland underwater environment, horrendously jerky scrolling, and sluggish movement too much...

Ashura by Sega (1986)

I knew this one as Secret Command, to the Americans it was a Rambo tie-in, but for Japanese Mark III owners it was Ashura. Despite the many names, it remains a reasonable Commando clone and includes a two player option. The large sprites and slow sluggish movement don't make the going easy but it's not a bad effort.

Assault City by Sanritsu / Sega (1990)

This is unusual in that there were two versions of it released - one for use with the control pad and another for the lightgun, the latter of which is now among the rarest of MS games. Both feature the same side-scrolling cityscapes teeming with evil robotic buffoons though, and will give your trigger finger a decent workout.

Asterix by Sega (1991)

The first of three MS games to be based on the distinctive French comic series and it's not bad. You get to choose between Asterix himself and his portly friend Obelix and the puzzley stages change slightly according to each character's strengths or abilities. It's pretty challenging but also enjoyable, and nice looking too.

Asterix and the Great Rescue by Core Design / Sega (1993)

The second game to bear the Asterix name also appeared on the MD but this MS version is missing much found there. It remains a scrolly platformer but it's not a particularly good one, sadly. The two playable characters are awkward to control and the stage design is frustrating, making it far from jolly to play.

Asterix and the Secret Mission by Sega (1993)

This third Asterix game arrived soon after the last and is thankfully much more fun to play as well. The graphics are nice, there are tons of collectibles and secrets, and it's much less frustrating too. There was also a rejigged version released in Brazil a year later under the name of As Aventuras da TV Colosso.

Astro Flash by Sega (1985)

This is the Japanese name for the game better known to most MS owners as Transbot, and is was one of the very first ever games to be released on it. It was slated mercilessly in its day but it's really not that bad, all things considered. It's simple and repetitive but reasonable fun if you ask me. (full review here)

Astro Warrior by Sega (1986)

Well known as one of the MS's earliest titles and later a budget release, Astro Warrior is actually a pretty decent (if short) vertically-scrolling shmup in the same vein as Star Force. There are only three stages and there's not much variety between them but this is still great fun while it lasts.

Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II by Sega (1992)

Sega were ambitious in attempting to squeeze this MD sequel to the arcade monster onto the humble MS and the results weren't great. It doesn't look too nice, especially the cars, and it's rather slow and boring too. The auto-accelerate controls are interesting though, and there's a decent range of options.

Aztec Adventure by Sega (1988)

The name of this one has been familiar to me since my earliest days of gaming but, after playing it for this feature, I now realise I didn't actually know anything about it. So, as I now know, it's a mazey flick-screen adventure. It looks rather pleasant, it has puzzles and lots of monsters and collectibles, and it's pretty good!


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