Sega Master System


By Shaun Hatton - November 19th, 2008


Since my last Byte-Size Review was for Shinobi, I figured I’d follow it up with the game that I most often associate with it: Vigilante. It’s another part of my Sega Master System game collection, and it’s one of the last Master System games I received when the system was still in its prime. It, like Shinobi before it, was a gift. If my memory is as good as I hope it is, it was the only game gift I had received for the 1989 holiday season.

What made me want Vigilante was not its bright, sharp graphics. It was the fact that the cover looked so cool. The game only has five stages and five bosses (two of which are exactly the same). But what I really liked about it was that it offered a lot of enemies and that each stage had nunchucku somewhere in it, which turned the character’s quick punch into a slow flick of the ‘chuck.

The premise of the game was that rogues had invaded my turf and kidnapped my girl. Naturally, I’d have to walk slowly after them wearing a white t-shirt and overalls. Some of the punks had chains while most were just fond of running up to me and trying to choke me to death. Pleasant! The bikers in the third stage presented most of the game’s challenge at the time. Sadly, it doesn’t hold up today despite it stirring older emotions of childhood.

Shinobi + An Introduction

By Shaun Hatton - November 18th, 2008


It’s true that with the bounty of great games gracing the offices of Toronto Thumbs we find ourselves with slightly less time to write and play as much as we’d like. So to combat this, we’re introducing Byte-Size Reviews. No, we will not be reviewing new games in this format. This will be reserved for games that have already been out for some time, perhaps even past their shelf lives.

The idea actually stemmed from the fact that I have hundreds of games in my personal collection and would like to, eventually, review every single one of them. So here without further ado is the review for one of them: Shinobi for Sega Master System.

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Fantasy Zone on Virtual Console

By Shaun Hatton - April 14th, 2008


Shooters do not get much stranger than Fantasy Zone. You pilot a craft that has flapping wings and that can use its feet to run along the ground of stages, all the while blasting brightly-coloured enemies that explode into showers of coins. You then use these coins to purchase upgrades to your… um… ship.

The game also allows you to control the speed of your ship and the direction in which you fly, making it someone unique among other titles in the genre (as if the off-putting neon greens and pinks didn’t already set it apart).

In any case, Fantasy Zone is a Sega Master System classic title, and one that is now available on the Wii Virtual Console for 500 Wii Points. It was a must-purchase for me despite my having the original cartridge somewhere in this maze of boxes that is now my living room. That’s right! I’m moving, which somewhat explains the recent posting lull here.

Virtual Console Update: Wonder Boy

By Shaun Hatton - March 30th, 2008

Sega Master System games had some awful and amazing box art.

Wonder Boy, the Sega Master System classic title, will be available on the Wii Virtual Console Monday. While we already have Adventure Island available now (which is very much the same game), this release marks the first Sega Master System title available for download over the service.

It’s no secret that I have a huge crush on the Master System. In fact, I just packed mine away this weekend in preparation for an upcoming move (yes, the Toronto Thumbs head office/Thumbscast recording studio will be relocating soon) and it saddened me a little. So tomorrow I may very well download Wonder Boy and relive some of those glory days. The hammers and skateboard were a winning combination.

The game is not to be confused with this “Wonderboy,” featuring Steven McDonald from Redd Kross on bass:

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Ghostbusters VS Ghostbusters

By Shaun Hatton - January 29th, 2008

We blew our graphics budget on this illustration.

Ghostbusters. It’s a great movie with crappy games. Sure, there’s the upcoming Ghostbusters game for all platforms. But can it top its 8-bit counterparts on Sega Master System and Nintendo Entertainment System? Only time will tell. In the interim, let’s compare the two 8-bit versions. In all cases where screenshots are shown, we’ve depicted the NES screenshot on the left with the SMS screenshot on the right. Most of these screenshots are from Moby Games, which is an excellent video game resource for older material.

Ghostbusters was one of my favourite movies when I was a child. I always daydreamed about getting my own proton pack and I even had a jacket that I taped a Ghostbusters logo to the shoulder of. I’d wear it around the house bustin’ imaginary ghosts from time to time. When I saw that there was a Ghostbusters game for Sega Master System, I was thrilled. I finally got it and played it repeatedly but realized it was not at all like the movie. It was a few years later that I learned there was a Ghostbusters game for the NES, and that it, too, was nothing like the movie.

The main thing that makes the movie so enjoyable is the humour. And this is sorely lacking in both the SMS and NES versions of the game. In fact, there is really nothing funny about the game unless you count the fact that someone probably made a lot of money making it.

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RETRO REVIEW: Phantasy Star

By Shaun Hatton - December 21st, 2007

Phantasy Star is perhaps the greatest 8-bit game of all time.

2007_12_21_phantasystarscor.gifThe year was 1988. The game, Phantasy Star. I had seen a commercial for it on TV. Usually video game commercials came in one flavour: Nintendo. On the rare occasion that there was a commercial for a Sega Master System game, my ears would perk up and it would have all my attention.

A little back story for you: it was a time when there were no in-store game kiosks – only the locked glass cabinet at Toys ‘R’ Us. Behind the glass were TVs with the latest video game systems hooked up to them. And the Sega display always had HANG-ON/Safari Hunt in it. Because this was a game I already had, it wasn’t nearly as captivating as seeing another game in action. The only other way I’d see a new game would be in the Sears catalogue, the Sega game brochures that would come with games, or on the even rarer occasion that one of my friends got a new game. Mostly everyone I knew had a Nintendo Entertainment System, however. And so getting to see a new Sega game was always an exciting event even though, in retrospect, not all of them were that great.

Phantasy Star, on the other hand, was absolutely amazing, and still is. One of the first images I’d seen of the game was of a mid-air fight with an enemy that seemingly filled the whole screen: GOLD DRAGON. Its colours were bright, its linework was bold, and was that a giant fireball it was spitting out, right at the screen? Yes, yes it was. On the strength of that screenshot alone, I knew I had to have the game.

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