The Sega Master System really needed to excel at bringing arcade action into the homes if it was going to stand a chance at competing with the NES. While we already know the outcome of that “battle”, Sega’s successes at porting arcade hits remains one of the Master System’s strengths. These were 3 of the better arcade home ports available for the console.
Alien Syndrome – game, manual, case
Inspired by the movie Aliens (look at the box art for god’s sake), Alien Syndrome is a top down shooter that requires your character to save human hostages from a spaceship that has been infiltrated by aliens. Once all the hostages are saved, you can exit the ship and then take on that level’s boss. You start the game off with a pathetic pea shooter of a gun, but there are multiple gun upgrades throughout the ship so make sure to grab one. Also make sure to leave an upgrade somewhere on the level just in case you die before fighting the boss, because having to use your default weapon is going to make that task exponentially more difficult. Most frustrating aspect of the game is how the aliens materialize out of thin air leading you to sometimes walk right into them. I like Alien Syndrome overall and admittedly I didn’t play it much, if ever, in the arcades so I don’t have that typical “the arcade version’s so much better” attitude towards it. B
Golden Axe – game, case
Relatively impressive port of the classic beat ’em up/hack ‘n slash arcade hit. I did play this off and on in the arcades and again on the Genesis growing up but I never owned the Master System version until fairly recently. My initial impression was negative due to the imprecise controls and hit detection but I eventually figured out how to play this version differently than the Genesis version and began to enjoy it. Golden Axe’s graphics are extremely sharp and detailed for the Master System so it’s clear this is not an inferior port by any definition. B+
R-Type – game, case
A multi-platform port of an arcade shooter classic, R-type never got the love from me in arcades like a similar shooter, Lifeforce did. Generally, I was quite bad at shooters as a kid (still not great at them today) so it always felt like a quarter in an R-type or Lifeforce cabinet meant 1-2 minutes of playing time and one less quarter in my pocket. Even on the Master System, R-type is still brutally difficult and lack of continues (only one!) is really par for the course for the era. I certainly wish there was something similar to a “Konami code” for many of these most difficult Master System games. I’d love to advance further in the game to evaluate it properly but the amount of practice required would be more than I can give at this time. Nevertheless, R-type is a great game but does suffer from some slowdown which is a blessing in disguise. B