Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 23, 2016

Email: Have you considered getting a Sega Master System?

I noticed that you recently got a Turbo Grafix 16.  I remember seeing it back in the day.  Mostly I remember Bonk’s Adventure with Bonk being the mascot rival of Sonic and Mario.  Man I miss the days of console mascots. As of lately I’ve been playing a lot of retro games because let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of new stuff coming out and what does come out is crap.  As much as I’d love to have a massive library of old school classics, I simply don’t have the money or space to have shelves of consoles and games.
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Recently I picked up Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for my PS3 which is a good collection of classic Genesis games but tucked away in the extras are a few arcade and Master System games.  After playing Phantasy Star as well as Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle I got curious about Sega’s first console.  Master Systems are hard to come by because they had only 10% of the market when the NES dominated everything back then.
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Here’s a couple videos:
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Top ten Master System games:
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I’ll admit a lot of those look fun and if you really want to play them without tracking the original system down, many are on the Wii Virtual Console.  One I thought was interesting was an almost spot on port of Operation Wolf that actually used the light gun and I also remember seeing a Master System in the store with Alex Kidd built into it which was mind blowing for me at the time.  A game BUILT INTO a console?!
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But it’s easy to see it’s flaws.  First and foremost the idiotic idea of having the pause button on the console meaning you had to sit right next to it to pause and also Master System game box art was some of the ugliest ever. Most NES game boxes were vibrant and colorful but Master System game had that dull white grid background that made you think of a PC educational title with a generic image stamped on the front.
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I also wonder what 80s gaming would’ve been with the internet gaming community.  You’d probably have Master System fanboys being all like hipsters slamming the NES and it’s ugly graphics and popularity with the sheep-like masses who didn’t understand the Master System’s brilliance.  Then the PC era gamers mocking both of them.
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 I consider the Master System library to be an extension of the Genesis library. One really, really great Master System game is some castle game like Montezuma’s Revenge. I forget the name. Golden Axe Adventure (the Zelda clone) is also good. Ultima IV is even on the Master System!!!
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You’re going to hate me for saying this, but that top ten list is pitiful. Here is the reason why.
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#10: Fantasy Zone.
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The better version of Fantasy Zone is on Turbographx 16.
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#9: Ys.
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Ys I and II is on Turbographx 16.
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#8: Psycho Fox
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OK, that seems exclusive to Master System. I find it hard enough to get into Bonk let alone a game like that. Most 80s platformers haven’t aged well.
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#7: Shinobi
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OK, Shinobi is cool.
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#6: Zillion
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Anime game? No thanks.
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#5: Operation Wolf
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OK, cool light gun game.
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#4: R-Type
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Terrible. Aside from a direct arcade port of R-Type in later generations, the best port of R-Type is the US version on the Turbographx 16. You want to play R-Type on a Turbographx 16. It is not butchered.
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#3: Monster World 3
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This is available on Turbographx 16 as Dragon’s Curse.
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#2: Alex Kidd in Miracle World
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This is definitely a Master System game. It was the pack in game if I am not mistaken.
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#1: Phantasy Star
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OK. Cool game.
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I consider there being only five major classic consoles that one should get their hands on fast before they disappear forever. They are the NES, the SNES, the Genesis, Turbographx 16, and the Gameboy Advance. There are interesting clone systems for GBA that can plug into a SNES and play it on the TV. There are too many good GBA games to ignore. NES, SNES, and Genesis are mainstream. Their games are already beginning to get out of orbit for most people. The Turbographx 16, however, has been rocketing out of reach and will become extremely rare. Online, the consoles are around $200-$500. The games are also ridiculous.
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If one is curious about the Turbographx 16, one should buy some of the Virtual Console games of it and see if the gameplay fits you. During the Wii era, I kept returning to the TG16 games because they were insanely addictive. Now that I have bought one, I am realizing other problems.
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First, the controller length is WAY TOO SHORT. You also have one controller port. Good luck tracking down a multi-tap and other controllers for this increasingly rare system.
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Second, and this is huge, is that the Turbographx 16 only does RV signal, not composite. I’ll have to do some modding. You can buy a TurboBooster for it but that costs at least $150. Oh, and you cannot save any TG 16 games. Passwords galore unless you have a TurboBooster Plus. For most people, I strongly recommend they stick to the Virtual Console versions of TG 16 games. The games will be displayed better, will save, and the controllers will have length.
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Unfortunately, the TG 16 games are so damn good. I’m going through them now.
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Devil’s Crush is insanely addictive. I’d say it is the most addictive game on the system if not ANY console system. I cannot stop playing it. Alien Crush is also very good.
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Bomberman ’93 fits the Malstrom quotient as a ‘perfect game’. Fantastic single player and fantastic multiplayer. It is probably the best Bomberman game ever made. Bomberman ’94 is also available with the kangeroos. I really like Battle Load Runner (though without the save feature, you cannot do much with the editor).
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There are the Bonk games whose quality is below Mario and Sonic, of course, but I will investigate them further. They are good platformers in comparison to all the other crap platformers out there.
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Neutopia I and II, the Zelda clones, are on the system. They are like an evolution between Zelda 1 and LTTP. Nintendo definitely stole the idea of the Master Key from Neutopia. As I play through it, I will say more.
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I’m not impressed by Ninja Spirit or Bloody Wolf. I’ll investigate Legendary Axe.
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Dungeon Explorer is a gauntlet type game where you can go up to a town, get new items and weapons, and go to different dungeons by yourself or with other players. Very cool game but primitive.
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Outrun and Ninja Gaiden are on the Turbographx 16. Not too many people know this.
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The real heart and soul of Turbographx 16 are the shmups. Oh boy, are there so many shmups. The problem is that they are GOOD, really, really good. Let me put it this way, on the NES the top shmups are… Gradius and Life Force. Everyone knows those. On SNES, you have R-type II (watered down port) and exclusive R-type III (slick but whoa slowdown). You have Gradius III and Axelay. And that is about it. Genesis has Thunderforce series. Do you want to know how GOOD the TG 16 library is for quality shmups?
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Gradius is on TG16. However, it is the definitive port with all the colors, an exclusive new stage, and being able to play with four options. You can also set different difficulties (this is why shmups are fun on TG 16. You can customize them such as their difficulty). (Gradius II is available for CD.)
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Salamandar, the arcade version, is on TG 16. Salamander is Life Force (though NES version changed a couple of stages and the power up system). The TG 16 version is damn hard and very different. I love Life Force, and Salamander on TG 16 is very fun.
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R-Type, the definitive classic console port, is on TG 16. It was so good, the powers that be lament it wasn’t packed into the system at launch. It should have been! I would have bought a TG 16 when it launched as I wanted R-Type badly. Instead, they packed in an anime game of a kid who rides rainbows to ride around in a giant robot called Kieth Courage. Idiot Japanese businessmen.
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Raiden! The TG 16 version port is very good.
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Blazing Lasers. This game sold so well which is why shmups invaded the system.
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You have the Soldier series. Super Star Soldier, Final Soldier, and Soldier Blade. All three are solid, solid shmups.
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Galaga ’90: the only classic console port of this game. Galaga is boring to me, but this game is addictive as hell. This game alone justifies owning a TG 16.
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I don’t even like shmups that much, but those seven I mentioned above are as good, as fun, as addictive, or more, than Gradius/Life Force was for NES. They are so good. And there are so many more like Download, Lords of Thunder, and so on.
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You really have to like the TG 16 style or else getting into the system would be a huge mistake. The TG 16 style is NES style but 16-bit super-colorful with weird Japanese vibes. Parasol Stars is Bubble Bobble III. The game is most excellent, but I cannot figure out what is going on as nothing makes sense.
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Now excuse me, I need to mod a composite out for my TG 16 or else I will go blind. The problem with TG 16 collecting, well the big one, is the missing CD games. Good luck trying to get those or a working CD attachment. One those, I recommend Virtual Console because it is not worth thousand dollars to get all the pieces to play Bonk 3.
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What is fun about TG 16 is that they do things with games that are refreshing. Last Armageddon is a unique RPG with an apocalyptic world where everything has melted down. Your heroes are the monsters. Then who do you fight? Silly reader! You fight robots and aliens (of course!).
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I love World Circuit Tennis (spelled right?). It is a tennis game which is OK. But there is a RPG mode. The Evil Tennis King has taken over. So you travel the wilderness in Dragon Quest overworld style until preppy tennis players ambush you and demand a match. Your winnings are used to upgrade your equipment. This RPG mode was also done for a racing game too.
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-Damn, I forgot Air Zonk. Another stratospheric awesome shmup. Too many games, reader!
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Above: Are you one of us, reader?

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