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!
Don't sell the Master System short yet dear doctor.
It might have seen its last Japanese release but at this point in time it has yet to see the release of the finest master piece of its catalog.
I'll never forget the day my mother took us to the store, bought us a Master System and a completely random selection of 3 games. Among this lot, by whims of the fates, was nestled one of the finest 8-bit games ever made, and certainly one of the top five Master System games to ever see release.
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, which is one of the many names by which it is known. Perhaps you'll get around to it on the next episode, but deuce that game sure is one fantastic piece of unique software.
My favorite Master System game is Golden Axe Warrior. Yes, it's the most blatant Zelda knockoff ever, but hell, Zelda's cool, Golden Axe is cool, and as a result...it's cool.
Talk of the devil, I did one day long ago find Golden Axe Warrior in a bargain bin and promptly purchased it on a whim.
I never did get to play the original Zelda properly, so this was a pretty well crafted substitute.
I actually really love it, and it is my third favourite SMS games along with Wonderboy III, R-type, Alex Kidd in Miracle World and Fantasy Zone.
It is funny, all those games found their way to me by pure chance, and it was only years later that I learned that without knowing I had come to own only the best games for that system.
I'm not denying that there will be no more good games for the SMS. Later in 1989 we have Wonder Boy III and Psycho Fox, sort of a better version of Kid Kool. There will be trickle of original first party titles that I don't know anything about, like Double Hawk or Dragon Crystal. Anyone every played that? But the system will take on a much more western flavor after 1989.
I'm really waiting for Dragon's Trap to get posted in one of your Chronsega episodes, it's probably my favorite SMS/TG16 game.
I remember during this era always wanting good ports of arcade games and I loved Time Soldiers in the arcade. So when I saw that a SMS port was coming I jumped on it. it was probably the last SMS game I purchased. I remember being kind of disappointed. The game was very hard with the controls and graphically could not match the arcade game with its varied enemies in time. Less so then Alien Syndrome which had similar sacrifices. Around this time I sold my SMS and games to by Genesis in July or August . So it's all new territory for me which Chronsega after this. Although the friend I sold my SMS to bought WBIII and I got to play a bit of that great game. The only time really I think I had sellers regret. It's funny how early on it seemed tha the SMS had an advantage in graphics and such earllier in the US but later NES games were head and shoulders above later SMS games for the most part. It's funny because I bought a used NES from my friend after I sold my SMS and got to play a lot of great later NES games through rentals like castlevania 3. But mostly looking forward to both Cronsega/tendo episodes after this point in time (and turbo) as I was mostly absorbed in the 16-bit generation at this point and didn't see what I was missing.
Also even though Japan was dead after this point was Seaga of Japan still behind a lot of the Sega releases? It would be interesting seeing Japanese company still making games for markets outside of its home market exclusively and something I think Nintendo never had to deal with.
Sean - Many of the later Sega published Master System games were done by Sanritsu, a company that did a lot of work for Sega. Others were done by Sega themselves, I'm sure.
Nintendo developed very few US only games for the NES; there were a few exceptions, such as Star Tropics. But most US only games were by Rare or some other contract developer.
Oh dude, please stop talking down on ALF, I happen to love that show. Though, when you believe imdb, it was far more popular in germany than in the US, even the TV-movie "Project ALF" (which sucks, even for most fans) ran in cinemas here. And I admit that it is one of these 80s shows which shouldn't be remade today, ou could never catch its flavor again.
Another great episode Dr. S! My only question is this: are you going to go through ALL of the available SMS games (which, as you mentioned, ran all the way till 1998 or so) before you move on to the Genesis or are you going to start mixing the two together?
Wait a sec - the Alf movie played in theaters in some countries?! Did Alf benefit from some extraordinarily gifted translators or something? Please don't tell me Small Wonder was also huge in Germany...
Remember those meds you were on in that DC-i vid? You'll need them once the Europeans start murdering that Master System sound chip.
Ironically, they're the same meds that made me type out "DC-i".
Project ALF is worth seeing just to watch Martin Sheen have a conversation with ALF.
Oh, Altered Beast for the Master System isn't that bad... I've played through it (without any help from save states) and while it does have many faults, it isn't entirely intolerable. At least I find it vastly preferable to ALF.
You should try the Atari ST version. It's truly nasty, even if it does look better than the SMS game.
Rise from the Grave!
Finally got around to updating the episode guide after a kind of insane hiatus. Sorry about that. You know.. life and things.
Episode 13 has been added (may need to hit refresh on the page). Here is hoping 14 won't take me another 2 years!
A note about Carmen Sandiago - the reason it was always asking you about other countries' flags was because the game included them all in the manual (or a separate book included with the game, can't quite remember.) The computer versions came with massive...almanacs, I think?...which Parker Bros didn't want to invest in, so that was the closest it could get so kinds could try to get practice using reference material. Due to its inherently limited shallowness, it missed the point.
The NES version of the game (which I think may have been "Where In Time" rather than "Where in the World") was closer to the computer versions, DID include the book though.
DA - You are right, the original Carmen Sandiego came bundled with the kids version of the World Alamanac. Broderbund took its edutainment seriously, it seems.
I've never seen the NES game, but it looks like Konami released it? I'm sure including a book made it more purchasable in the eyes of parents.
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