Moving right along, the big news is the release of Chronsega 7. Naturally, the new episode is available for your viewing pleasure at Archive.org and Youtube. It's the same as always; 15 games are covered, from late 1988 through mid 1989. But it's also sort of a sad occasion, since this episode features the final Sega Master System games released in Japan. Sega's first attempt at competing with Nintendo in the console market ended in utter, abject failure in its home country. The Master System continued on in the US for a little while longer, but it was quickly rendered obsolete by the newer Genesis. Surprisingly, the Master System experienced a rebirth in other parts of the globe, namely Europe, Australia and Brazil. It even outsold the Mega Drive/Genesis in Europe well into the 90s. 1989 will be sort of a low point for the system, with only around 20 new games released. It will actually peak in 1993 (about 50 games that year) before finally dying off in 1998. Yes, 1998, the same year the Dreamcast was released.
|Virtua Fighter for the SMS. This somehow exists.|
Chou-on Senshi Borgman/Cyborg Hunter
|You play as the Boba Fett guy.|
Aside from Cyborg Hunter, we have a few other notable games.
|Here's an idea: Fly around the tank and shoot him from behind!|
We can place Double Dragon next to Rygar as evidence of an emerging trend in arcade ports: the Master System version will be very similar to the arcade game while the Famicom version will be substantially reworked. The SMS Double Dragon retains the original's two player co-op and is in most ways a very faithful port. One exception - enemies tend to be much tougher and often spam the jumping kick attack. As a result the jump kick becomes your go-to attack in most situations; trying to walk up to an enemy and punch him will often result in a jump kick to the face. I wouldn't say that the SMS Double Dragon is better or worse than the Famicom game, but it is certainly different.
Ys: The Vanished Omens
In contrast, the Master System Ys is very similar to the Famicom version that we saw a while back. In fact, the Japanese SMS release cam out only around 1 1/2 months after the Famicom Ys, so the two versions were almost contemporary. The main distinguishing feature of this Ys is the completely redrawn character portraits. It was also the first version to be released in the US.
In short: overly ambitious and tragically flawed. Sega already had issues trying to get a decent version of Space Harrier on the Master System. Galaxy Force, an arcade game from 1988, is like Space Harrier to the power of three: it is jammed full of crazy sprite scaling and 3D effects. Sega did an impressive job getting it on a 4 megabit cartridge. But, man, is it one ugly, flickery mess!
A port of the SNK/Alpha Denshi vertical run 'n' gun. Just like Ikari Warriors, this used a rotary joystick in its original arcade incarnation. The console version is better than the NES Ikari Warriors, but it's still a little dull, in my opinion.
The majority of games in Chronsega 7 were released in western markets only, meaning the US, Europe and Brazil. One point of interest is the emergence of two US based publishers, Activision and Parker Brothers. Activision ended up releasing several Sega titles in the US, such as Bomber Raid and Cyborg Hunter. Also, Sega published its first Master System games designed by American developers, Monopoly.
A US/Europe only release from Activision. It's a decent looking port, but the controls are a little "off."
This was published by Sega, but developed by Gilman Louie's Nexa Corp. It's a no frills electronic version of the board game. The one exception is the Nexa created little animations of the game pieces moving along the board, done in isometric perspective.
|That's a salami Alf is holding. Literally.|
|Awesome key collecting action!|
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
|"Assy" is just "Embassy" with the first two letters cut-off, in case you're wondering.|
Walter Payton Football/American Pro Football
Sort of the SMS equivalent to John Elway's Quarterback. On an related note: a couple days ago I was driving behind a car with a "John Elway Manhattan Beach Scion" license plate frame. I guess the guy owns car dealerships now.
Prepare to hear me bitch about the overly complicated controls in these games, again.
|Some of the worst clouds seen in a video game.|
The next Chronsega will cover a decent chunk of 1989. However, the "chrono" part of Chronsega is going to have to be taken with a pretty big grain of salt from here on out. There does not seem to be any reliable source of release dates for US and European Master System games. In the future, everything will be a matter of guesswork and/or random ordering of games.
So, once again, please visit Archive.org or Youtube and check out Chronsega Episode 7. Next up: Chrontendo 44!