Sega Master System


Phantasy Star is on the Virtual Console

By Shaun Hatton - September 6th, 2009

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Last Monday, my favourite game of all time was released on the Wii Virtual Console. That game is Phantasy Star. With those two bits of information, one doesn’t have to be Professor Layton to determine what I’ve been playing all week. But wait! I’ve actually been playing a few more games, too. Both Jorge and I have recently completed playing Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, so expect a review of that in the coming week.

That’s all from me for now. Time to get back to Phantasy Star, which is quite possibly the best 8-bit game ever.


REVIEW
Black Belt

By Chris Hatzopoulos - August 30th, 2009

Black Belt

Black Belt for the Sega Master System is one of the best martial arts video games EVER made. If you enjoy low budget martial art films from the 70s and 80s, then you must play Black Belt. Featuring six levels of fast-paced action, smooth gameplay and innovative boss fights, this masterpiece is unlike anything ever developed circa 1986.

Enter RIKI, the black belt hero. He wears a white karate uniform and wants his beautiful woman KYOKO back. A seemingly wealthy prick named WANG kidnapped her and believes he has the right to do so with his Yakuza gang. Well it’s not actually the Yakuza but we can easily imagine since the setting is “post nuclear war” in Japan.

The genius of this game lies in its perfect amalgamation of clean game play mechanics, inspired graphic design, musical themes and challenge threshold. Starting with backgrounds, detailed imagery draws you into another world with almost surprisingly 3D ground visuals. See breathtaking pagodas, distant cityscapes on the waterfront, ominous countrysides and dangerous dojos all while bustin’ heads.

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FLASHBACK
Ghostbusters VS Ghostbusters

By Shaun Hatton - June 15th, 2009

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We blew our graphics budget on this illustration.

Last January, way back when the site only had a handful of readers (oh how we’ve grown!), I wrote a goofy article comparing the NES and Sega Master System Ghostbusters games. With it being the eve of the release of the wildly anticipated this-gen Ghostbusters game, I thought some of you might enjoy the read.

So go read it! »


BYTE-SIZE REVIEW
R-Type

By Shaun Hatton - November 27th, 2008

R-Type

Jamie has just written a great piece on Dead Space. Because I see that game as a great homage to the movie Alien, reading his take on it made me think of another game with scary aliens in it: R-Type.

As far as I know, R-Type was the first game that genuinely scared me. The first-level boss, Krell, graced the cover of the Sega Master System version of the game. It was this illustration that would ultimately haunt me more than the in-game menace would (though it would take me years to actually figure out how to defeat him – these were the days before easily-accessible video game information, after all). In fact, it’s quite possible that R-Type fostered my somewhat irrational fear of aliens.

What made R-Type a great experience for me was that it featured such a wide assortment of colourful aliens. Sprite flicker be damned! The slowness of the game may have been in part due to a lack of processing power, but its crawling pace genuinely amplified its creepy atmosphere.

Until I downloaded the Turbo-Grafix 16 on the Wii Virtual Console, the Sega Master System version was the only one I had played. Sadly, it now pales in comparison despite how impressive it still is for an 8-bit title. It certainly still has some of my favourite video game music in it. As a series, though, R-Type is my favourite shooter.


BYTE-SIZE REVIEW
Zillion II: The Tri Formation

By Shaun Hatton - November 25th, 2008

Zillion II: The Tri Formation

When I was younger, a game that let me jump and shoot while riding a bike that transformed into a flying exo-suit could be nothing but completely awesome to me.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d be inclined to like any such game even today. Zillion II: The Tri Formation was based on the anime Zillion, which I have never actually seen nor was I aware of as a kid. Turns out the Sega Master System’s Light Phaser was designed to look like the guns used in the anime, which is pretty damn cool.

As JJ, the commander of the White Knights, players are tasked with navigating through eight levels to both rescue comrades Apple and Champ while defeating the goons of the evil Norsa Empire. Stages alternated between auto-scrolling cycle/exo-suit stages and on-foot levels. The Tri Formation is the name of the three-wheeled (and tri-mode) cycle. The on-foot levels each had a boss at the end of them. The boss at the end of the eighth stage, Baron Ricks, was (and still is) a dick. I just played the game today, made it to the end, and he killed me quickly.


BYTE-SIZE REVIEW
Thunder Blade

By Shaun Hatton - November 21st, 2008

Thunder Blade

Thunder Blade was one of the bigger “Arcade” titles on the Sega Master System. Essentially a top-down shooter with some pseudo-flight sim levels peppered in, it provided hours of entertainment to my nine-year-old self. Like with Shinobi, my cousin Mike and I would try to best each other at the game remotely. We’d call one another upon reaching milestones.

“I got to level five – the one with the caves,” was something he got to say before me. The game had its problems, even back then. For one the controls were completely different for the two types of stages. In top-down levels the helicopter moved too slowly. In behind-the-copter stages it moved too fast. There was also a dead zone in these stages where you could stay, not fire a shot, and still pass the stage.

This isn’t a game I’ve ever been able to finish, and even trying to today with my wealth of gaming expertise, I find myself unable to do it. Thunder Blade has ultimately defeated me!


BYTE-SIZE REVIEW
Rampage

By Shaun Hatton - November 20th, 2008

Rampage

I somehow came into possession of three copies of Rampage for Sega Master System thanks to lot purchases. However, I’ve had Rampage since its release in 1988. At the time all Sega Master System games came in white boxes. Rampage, to my knowledge, is the only one that had a red box design. I’ve also seen it with the traditional white-with-grey grid box design, too. Oddly enough the box I received the game in was a cardboard one.

My dad and I would make a trek to Toys R Us when it came time to get a new game. Oftentimes I’d go with nothing in mind, only knowing that when we were done, I’d have a new game. The evening we came home with Rampage was different than others.

The way Toys R Us was set up back then, the game aisle actually had no games in it. There were only game box arts in plastic sleeves stuck to the displays. Flipping a box art over would reveal other details about the game, mostly just the back of the box art. Below each box art was a purchase ticket. To buy a game, you’d have to take a ticket up to a cash register, pay for the game, and then take the receipt to a game kiosk where an attendant would check it and slide your newly-purchased game through a tiny slot in the glass.

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