The Master System was Sega’s answer to the NES 1986. Both were released in America, competing against each other during the more substantial console and brand race of the time. Far bigger than the one we have now, this race was between mascots and identities, and the Master System sought purchase not only in the States but in Europe, where it gained more traction and success.
Plenty of games helped ensure that the Sega Master System didn’t fail, giving more headway for later systems like the Sega Genesis a few years later. Today, these games aren’t lost to time. If anything, they’re celebrated, more recently becoming far more accessible thanks to Nintendo Switch Online. In this article, we’ll pay homage to some of the best titles that grace the eight-bit Sega system over the years. If you’re in dire need of some retro recommendations, we have some good ones below.
10. Out Run
Out Run was a launch game for the Master System, bombarding players with a shiny racing sim that could compete with the others of the time. Like a few other games for the Master System, it features fast pacing, an arcade-style, and some cutting-edge pixel graphics. Out Run was part of how Sega raised the bar for gaming back in the day, giving it a great pseudo-3D effect that was present the entire time you played. This was a major step forward for a system released in the ’80s.
R-Type is a side-scrolling shooting action adventure game. It came out just a year after the console’s release, sporting complex pixel graphics and giving players plenty of aliens and haunting other enemies to destroy. It was a challenging game for the most hardcore of the era to chew on, making it practically essential for anyone who got the Master System. Enemies, even just the little ones, quickly became iconic among players during the time, and the game holds up surprisingly strong today.
8. Double Dragon
Double Dragon is the iconic dual-fighting game for the Master System and other consoles. While the arcade releases and other game versions tend to outshine this version, that doesn’t mean this one deserves any less respect. The graphics were great, the colors were vivid, and the processing power of the Master System made it so that enemies could be numerous and challenging.
7. Golden Axe Warrior
Golden Axe Warrior is a game that fuses some of the best concepts of The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest to create a unique experience that those with a Master System can enjoy. At the time, you typically had one or the other for consoles, so for those with a Sega Master System, this was everyone’s Zelda. Despite the similarities, the game itself is unique, having hack-and-slash gameplay that earned itself a great standing on the console’s game roster.
6. Road Rash
Similar to Out Run, Road Rash is another pseudo-3D title with a taste for speed. The racing mechanics and the graphics for Road Rash were quite ahead of their time, especially considering the system it released on. Road Rash helped garner the attention that racing games were only beginning to get in the late 80s and would only grow to support the genre’s progress as a mainstay into the 90s.
5. Prince of Persia
While Prince of Persia wasn’t originally released for the Sega Master System, it wasn’t too incredibly far behind. It’s a beautiful example of platforming at its finest, taking the spot to become one of the most modern examples of the genre during its time. Prince of Persia performed well on the Sega Master System, becoming a must-have for owners of the system.
4. Psycho Fox
Psycho Fox was the answer to the great plumber problem of Sega. While Sonic was the official mascot, that doesn’t mean they didn’t try alternative pitches, just in case. An iconic little character, Psycho Fox is more than just your average platformer, especially for the time. While the popularity of Psycho Fox never reached the pinnacles that Sega hoped for, it did help introduce concepts that were very big for the era, such as being able to switch characters mid-stage.
3. Alex Kidd In The Miracle World
Another swing at Nintendo, Alex Kidd In The Miracle World was a platformer that tried to rocket off of the success of the growing popularity of the platformer. While Sonic is known for being the official response to Mario, Alex Kidd was the first. It was a release title for the Master System, gaining popularity during its time and garnering popularity even in the modern day. It has a bit of a cult following today, with a renaissance of fans following the wake of a Miracle World remake.
2. The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck
While there are good and bad games for movie media and Disney, a few have reached greatness within the gaming industry. The Lucky Dime Caper, Starring Donald Duck, is one of them. This game was the second in a set of two, the other for the Sega Master System being Land of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Both were a success, The Lucky Dime Caper having a more robust soundtrack of the two.
1. Sonic The Hedgehog
It wouldn’t be a Sega list without our blue guy. Sonic the Hedgehog for the Master System is a simplistic version of the one that was released for the Sega Genesis three years later. It’s a toned-down version of the more modern game, with less flashy colors and an unfortunate zero number of loops. However, the game is still a Sonic title, boasting speed above all else. It also has some unique differences compared to the modern version, such as the Chaos Emerald placement being on stages rather than restricted to the special zones.