Lately I’ve been diving as deep as I can into Master System collecting, but to do that I’ve had to do a bit of research to see which games are worth pursuing. I’ve had good luck so far with polling people and reading many lists about the best of the best, but one obstacle I’ve come up against is learning more about the PAL library. The North American Master System game list is quite small compared to what was released elsewhere in the world, meaning that there is an untapped set of games that I know next to nothing about. I’ve gotten a few good leads and have been tracking a few things down, and here is a collection of some of what I’ve managed to find so far.
This first bunch are games I didn’t feel compelled to try to get complete in the box. I hadn’t heard much about Wolfchild prior to buying, but I do know it had a supposedly better port on the Sega Genesis. From what I understand, it’s hard to find on the Master System, and because of it’s ragged label, it was quite cheap to pick up compared to what it’d usually run for. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is… interesting. I lost at least three lives in about 30 seconds while trying to punch people with guns, and there’s no music past the title screen in what little of the game I’ve played so far. I’m not hopeful that this game will sweep me off my feet at any point, but it’s definitely seeming like a challenge to rise up against!
The Terminator and Jurassic Park have a small degree of jankiness that tickles me when playing games from this generation, but they look the most promising of the bunch in terms of action platformers. Putt & Putter is a fun mini-putt game that I managed to get a hole in one in during the first hole. That’s the kind of golf game I like! Lastly, Submarine Attack is a horizontal shooter that is supposed to be easier than other shooter games on the system, but per usual, I got roasted in the first level. I watched a friend stream the game and it looks manageable with a bit of practice.
Danan the Jungle Fighter gave me some serious Faxanadu vibes, and that’s something I can’t resist in a game, especially from this generation. I bought the game in hopes of having another action-packed sidescrolling adventure with RPG elements tied in, so let’s hope that it lives up to my expectations. I hadn’t previously heard of this one, but I’m really glad I’ll have the opportunity to try it out. It arrived later than the rest of my games and missed the group shot.
I did manage to find a few games in their boxes, but the only one I found with a manual was The Ninja. You might be asking why on earth I’d want to buy this game, and truthfully, I don’t know why I did. You see, there are too many Master System games like Kung Fu Kid, The Ninja, Black Belt, etc. that became synonymous in my brain. Truly, I don’t even know now which one of those three I even initially wanted to purchase, but it definitely wasn’t The Ninja. What a glowing piece of… beautifully crafted 8-bit art to have on my shelf. It was only a few dollars, thankfully.
The rest of the games I found boxed with no manuals, and two of them are supposed to be excellent. Land of Illusion is a PAL region exclusive platformer that is apparently on the same level of awesomeness as Castle of Illusion and other great Mickey Mouse games. That and The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck are absolutely gorgeous. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen more beautiful environments and character sprites in a Master System game. Asterix was pretty beautiful to look at but my nostalgia for Mickey and Donald might be pulling me along a little harder.
I also picked up Batman Returns. This game came highly recommended to me from someone who has a much more well-rounded and complete Master System collection than I could ever dream of having. Owazrim streams lots of Master System games over on his Twitch channel so if you’re looking to see some of this library in action, he’s someone to check out. Daffy Duck in Hollywood looked quite promising from the gameplay I watched, but the camera’s a bit weird… it seems to whip all over the place and the game feels a little too zoomed in, but I only played for a few minutes. Perhaps a longer play session will reveal more. Hopefully it was a good choice to buy.
I found out about Laser Ghost from a random Tweet and immediately bought it. It’s a horror game where you move a little girl with the controller and need to simultaneously use the light gun to kill things that are trying to hurt the child as you try to get her to safety. It’s such an interesting concept for a game that I’ve never seen done before! Now, The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants is a game I grew up playing on NES. Finding out about the Master System version intrigued me, but good LORD is this game ever bad. I know that the NES game’s controls are hard to master (run and jump are the same button if I remember correctly) but it feels completely different and worse on the Master System somehow. They also didn’t have the theme song on the title screen or any Simpsons-related music in what little I got to. It’s definitely inferior in every single way.
Last but not least, I bought two games that I’ve always considered must-haves for the system from the PAL region. I picked up Rainbow Islands and Bubble Bobble, and both came without their manuals. Rainbow Islands’ something I’ve only played on the PSP, but the 8-bit and arcade versions have always been more attractive to me. Bubble Bobble’s case art was a little shabby, but given that it’s a bit harder to find and usually pretty expensive, I didn’t mind it being in slightly poor condition. I don’t like the music in this version as much, but apparently you get double the levels and mini-bosses, so it’s a totally different and expanded game from the NES version. I doubt I’ll ever see all 200 levels, but I’m excited to try!
Hopefully that fulfills whatever Sega fix you may (or may not) have been looking for. I’m so excited about each of these games, and I have more on my list to try to track down in the coming months. I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful summer.
As always, thank you very much for reading.