The Sega Master System was the first attempt to try to dethrone the then-almighty Nintendo Entertainment System. In a realm where the NES had basically the entire market, this was certainly a daunting task.
I had little interest in the system. I was happy trying to understand why Link turned blue if he found a ring and why Mario grew bigger if he ate mushrooms. Sega did nothing for me. However, the system was 'cleverly' marketed towards a more 'adult' audience in the hopes that older guys, the only people who might not already own a Nintendo, would fall for the ploy and buy the SMS.
To a degree, it worked. Someone bought the system for my parents one Christmas. Now, understand that my parents would sooner watch back episodes of Babylon 5 than play video games. Meaning? I inherited the system dy default.
As for the system itself...the only thing that led you believe this was a more 'adult' system was that the controllers were universally too large and extremely difficult to navigate. The system boasted the ability to have better graphics than the Nintendo. Which might have been slightly true, but I really can't recall a single game that proved it without using a color scheme or pattern that looked completely ridiculous.
I didn't get many games for this system, but the ones I did made a lasting impression. Not because they were very good, but because they were either just really odd or the control was so amazingly horrible that you needed machinery to operate the controller correctly.
Let's take a look at my most favorite Sega Master System games of all time...with screenshots!
Zaxxon 3-D -- I'm only bringing this one up because I want to talk about the mysterious 3-D glasses available for purchase for this system. Fact is, you weren't paying 50 bucks for 3-D glasses. You were paying 50 bucks for oversized ugly sunglasses. They did not work. At best, all you'd see was the color blue turn up green instead. I don't know about you, but I'd rather look at blue and not wear the 10-pound ugly glasses.
Pro-Wrestling -- This one was too funny. They either blatantly ripped off real wrestling personalities, or made up some of the stupidest characters you could ever imagine, and gave them matching stupid names to boot.
I was floored to see that whoever made this game really did their research. These guys weren't just 'punching' and 'bodyslamming', they were utlizing such moves as the dreaded 'German Supplex Hold'! It was also pretty neat since if you weren't sure if you were 'punching' someone when you put your fist in the face, the game would tell you in big blocky letters on the bottom on the screen.
For instance, if you lifted your wrestler's foot, and placed it on your opponent's chest, the game would make very sure that you knew you were 'kicking'. It got a little redundant. But oh well. It was kinda fun...
Casino Games -- They bought this for my gambling addict father when they got the system. He played it once before proclaiming that the system was 'an asshole' and leaving his video game career forever. Then, it became mine.
Casino Games let you be what you always wanted to be - a gambler who actually wins once in awhile. The charm isn't in that, but it's who you play against. For example, in the poker game, you might play against Charlie, who warns you before the game starts to 'beware his poker face'. This was the heaven of casinos. Everybody wanted you to win so bad, they'd break into a huge smile if they had anything better than a pair of jacks.
Another cool thing is when you would play the slot machines. Regardless if whether you won something as small as three dollars, if you got three 7s you'd do a celebration dance like you've never seen before. Literally, you'd start waving your arms around like nuts while this triumphant music played. Even if you only won three dollars.
But the best thing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is something I can just barely explain. I don't even know where to begin with this...
Okay, while you're playing the game...at any given moment, something very unique and extremely fucking strange would occur. The game would fade to black, and all you'd see for about 5 seconds was a rabbit running through a field. No, I'm not kidding. I used to sit there and play the game in the vain hope that it'd be one of those rare times when I could provoke this mystery rabbit to appear. He had no bearing on the game whatsoever...it was just there. Fun fun fun...
Alex Kidd & The Lost Stars -- The only game for the system I actually wanted was Alex Kidd in Miracle World. I had gotten the flu, and I knew it was a good time to hit my fascist mother up for a free video game. I made it very clear: Alex Kidd...Miracle World. She came home with this game. The conversation that followed went like this...
Mom: Matty, how are you feeling?
Me: Nevermind that, you selfish old bag. Where's my game?
Mom: Ohhhh Matty...I told you I wouldn't let you down! Here it is!
At this point I looked at the game and immediately recognized what's transpired as another one of my mother's failed attempts to be correct.
Me: Mom, what game did I ask you to get me?
Mom: Alex Kidd in Miracle World.
Me: Right. Now tell me, what does this box say?
Mom: Wait...you mean this isn't it?
Me: No, you idiot. This is a completely different game. Like so many times before, you've failed me. Now leave my presence, I'm growing even more tired of looking at your faux blonde brainless head.
Mom: Okie! Remember to keep the hot water bottle on your chest. And here, take some Tylenol. I think you're supposed to take about...oh...13 of them.
She had bought me the wrong game, but since I was too impatient to wait for the return, I started playing The Lost Stars.
This is one of the most surreal acid trips of a video game you'll ever find. Making sense of it is impossible. For instance, in level three, you fight these naked boys wearing sunglasses who shoot lazer bubbles at you out of their ass. I'm not joking. The music was pretty neat, too. It was a cross between club music and the type of music I'm sure you start hearing right before you die. Either way, it's actually a pretty fun game. If you ever get your hands on this system, it's just about the only game I've played that I can reccomend without my fingers crossed.
Anyway, the system more or less bombed. Not too many of you probably had this, but rest assured, you didn't miss much. I got more mileage out of my broken Atari 2600 than this one. Still, like most horrible things, it's not without it's charm. Reccomended to play if it's free, but not to go search for and spend money better spent on back issues of Nintendo Power.