The Sega Master System was Sega’s first home console in the North American market. It was in many ways superior to competitor Nintendo’s NES, but it never caught on because of sub-par marketing efforts and poor third party support. Back then, Nintendo would forced publishers to sign exclusivity agreements before they would allow them to publish games on the NES. These agreements limited the amount of third party titles on the SMS, which was left with Activision and Parker Brothers bringing out only a few titles.
Ultimately, the lack of proper exposure to the general consumer and smaller game library doomed this great console in North America. It also met a similar fate in Japan.
Luckily, the SMS was a big hit overseas in Europe and third-world markets. Publishers still supported the European SMS until 1996 and companies like Tec Toy supported the hardware in countries like Brazil past the turn of the new millenium! Even luckier for all of us North American SegaFans is the fact that the SMS is a region free console, allowing us to import games freely.
The SMS sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 13.5 million units from 1986 to 1998.
The Best Sega Master System Games
Below are some of my favorite games for the Master System.
Golden Axe Warrior – Zelda clone? Sure. Who gives a rat’s ass? GAW is a solid enough game that any Zelda fan should give it a try, and anyone who ignores it for being a ripoff is a complete tool.
Golvellius – Another game that is often dismissed as a Zelda clone by those who haven’t played it. Golvellius is more than a hard-to-pronounce game or a clone! A very fun Action/RPG.
Hang-On – The SMS had some pretty decent and completely enjoyable arcade ports for it’s day and Hang-On was often packed in with or built into many versions of the SMS. It won’t be hard to track down a way to play this classic.
Outrun – See Hang-On. Outrun was a fairly good port of the arcade hit. If you buy one game on the Master System featuring a hot chick in a bitchin’ car, make it Outrun!
Phantasy Star – Every single person who can play SMS carts should own Phantasy Star. Duh? Very impressive first-person dungeon sequences highlight a very solid, highly accessible RPG.
Rampage – Play as a giant lizard, wolfman, or ape and terrorize every city in your path! This classic arcade game did grow stale after the billionth screen, but I never got tired of beating down my brother when it did. A precursor to today’s popular one-on-one fighting game genre? Definitely!
Space Harrier – See a pattern with the Sega arcade ports? There was even a 3D version of the game published for use with the 3D glasses! A very fun and crazy action/shooting game.
Wonder Boy in Monster Land – I loved Action/RPGs growing up (still do!) and there was plenty to like about Monster Land. Bright, fun, well animated with decent music. The only thing I never liked was that damn timer.
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap – Quite possibly my favorite SMS game ever, The Dragon’s Trap starts off where Monster Land left off. Wonderboy is cursed and transformed from a human into many different beasts, each with their own unique abilities. Can you play an incredibly enjoyable game and restore him to his normal state? HELL YES YOU CAN! I couldn’t stop playing this game when I first got ahold of it!