Sunday, July 23, 2017

[YouTube] Sega Master System


Sega Master System
First released in Japan as the Mark III in 1985, the Sega Master System (SMS) launched in North America in October 1986. Sega was already a year behind the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which hit stores in 1985. With a year head start and most third-party companies under contract, Nintendo easily dominated the 8-bit market. Nostalgia may be clouding my judgment but I like the Master System and have no regrets getting the SMS over the NES. That being said, I got mine in 1987 and inherited a Commodore 64 around the same time, plus I got a Genesis in 1989 and still played the Intellivision so I had many options and plenty of games to keep me occupied. Sure I've got some not-so-good games for the SMS but Shinobi, Out Run, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, and Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap are all great. I also had quite a bit of fun with games like Rocky, Gangster Town, and Double Dragon. Unfortunately, I never did get Phantasy Star; I'm sure I would have liked that as the sequel on Genesis is one of my favorites.

Sega Master System Box Front

As I mention in the video, I'm not certain what the launch price of the console was in 1986 and the rest of this paragraph is what I cut from the video. Wikipedia can be great but anyone can enter incorrect information too so a second source should always be referenced. That says $199.99 and I do now have a second source that backs it up so maybe it was briefly at that price point. The second source is the database that formerly displayed at which is actually the database I work on for a living. That particular data comes from a freelance writer and I expect he researched it (1999). Sega Retro -- good site for all things Sega -- quotes The Ultimate History of Video Games book that was published in 2001 and that states that the console was $139 for a basic system and $149 for one with a second control pad and light gun. However, I do know that book has an error about the Sega CD launch system and I have a hard time believing there was only a $10 difference when one has an extra controller and light gun.

Sega Master System Box Back

The 1986 Sears Wishbook doesn't have the SMS in it but it does list the NES with two controllers and Super Mario Bros. for $89.99 (no Zapper or R.O.B.). In any case, it looks like Nintendo may have already had Sega beat on price in 1986 -- on top of the head start and third-party games -- which is another reason the SMS never had a chance. Coincidentally, my first video was for Starting Lineup Talking Baseball from Parker Brothers that most likely cost $99.99 in 1988. Tonka was the owner of Parker Brothers and was also in charge of marketing and distribution for the Sega Master System which was priced at $99.99 in 1987. The poor sales and price points for these products gives me the impression Tonka was out of its league when it came to electronics and probably should have stuck to toy trucks.

Sega Master System Power Base
The bottom has an extension port but
nothing was released that works with it.

While the Sega Master System didn't compete with the NES in North America, it did fare much better in Europe as the NES released around the same time as the SMS in that region and Sega held its own, even outselling the NES in some countries. Another big market for the SMS was Brazil where the company Tec Toy handled distribution. Brazil is a very different market that I don't have a complete understanding of but it seems Nintendo had no official presence in Brazil aside from knock off versions of the NES that ran pirated games. Brazil actually received Street Fighter II for the SMS in 1997! In the rest of the world Sega was well into the Saturn's lifespan in 1997 and the Dreamcast was only two years away.

Also, in the video I mentioned that I thought Outrun 3-D was released; it was but only in Europe. North America's 3D games are Blade Eagle, Maze Hunter, Missile Defense, Poseidon Wars, Space Harrier, and Zaxxon. If you want to know more about the system and the individual games, the aforementioned Sega Retro is a great place to start (it's sometimes down though, not the most reliable of websites). Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the video!

Sega Master System Back on Box Side
Hang-On & Safari Hunt on Box Top

Instruction Manual Page 1
Instruction Manual & Pack-In Cartridge

Instruction Manual Page 10
Instruction Manual Page 11

Sega Master System Control Pads
Sega Master System Control Pads

Light Phaser & Manual
Light Phaser on Box Side

The Sega Light Phaser Instruction Manual

Rapid Fire Control Stick

Rapid Fire Unit Instructions

The Sega 3-D Glasses

The Sega 3-D Glasses