Games that defined…The Master System

6 August, 2012 - 3:41 pm by

In the next of our series of features, VGamingNews takes a look at the games that defined the Sega Master System. The first main stream console to rival Nintendo’s NES. With the release of the console began what journalists at the time dubbed the 8-bit war.

Nintendo may have been riding high on the success of Mario and Link, but SEGA was closing the gap. It might not of had as many games but the Master System did introduce the western world to built in games and Ninja…

Alex Kidd was Sega’s first mascot and also the Master System’s most popular selling character, mainly due to Alex Kidd in Miracle World being built into the second Master System. Predominately a platforming title, Miracle World added the option of going up and down as opposed to just left and right.

Through out Alex Kidd’s life span he went to various different lands including Enchanted Castles and worlds populated by Shinobi also known as ninja. Unfortunately due to the arrival of one blue hedgehog he has largely been forgotten and has been relegated to making cameo appearances.

Why Alex Kidd defined the Master System: He gave a true alternative to Mario and the NES. He could punch and jump and ride pedal powered helicopters and to defeat bosses, he played games of Rock, Paper, and Scissors. The sheer enjoyment and randomness of the titles made them worth the money of the console alone.

Back in the 1980s the word Ninja was a taboo word to say, so much so that four turtles had to become heroes and forget their Ninjitsu training. To get around this problem SEGA called their ninja title Shinobi, which means Ninja in Japanese. Clever stuff.

The premise of Shinobi was simple, an adventure/platform game in which you controlled the protagonist Joe against battles against terrorists in an effort to save kidnapped students. In later games the story changed but the goals stayed the same. After the Mega Drive era, Shinobi slipped into the abyss but was reinvented for the PlayStation 2 in 2003 and the Nintendo 3DS in 2011.

Why Shinobi defined the Master System: The game was full of enemies and stupidly hard to complete, it was a brutal game that required so many restarts, just getting to the end was an achievement in itself. Completely unforgiving.

Other titles on the Master System worth a mention include:

  • Dragon Crystal was a RPG game that had randomly generated mazes that contained beasties and baddies through out. To progress, you had to clear each maze. Killing the enemies was tough until you levelled up enough. It might not have been what Final Fantasy was for the NES but it was a complete arse to finish!
  • Running Battle was a basic game, but thoroughly enjoyable. It was one man against an army of thugs. He had to get to the end of each level to fight a boss. He didn’t even have to kill anyone. But it was fun to do so using various weapons and power ups. It was simple and yet fun.