Considering the Master System is a Sega manufactured console, I have very few sports games for it. This is by design as the Master System is notable for a number of things, but truly enjoyable sports games are not one of them. Many of them fall into the “Great” line of unimaginatively named titles such as Great Basketball, Great Football, Great Hockey, et al. Like the Turbografx-16’s awful TV Sports line of sports games, the Great series of sports games for the Master System are anything but. I guess I always felt like the Master System had so many great arcade ports and unique side scroll/adventure games that money and time wasted on sports titles wouldn’t be necessary. That said, I do have a few racing and loosely sports related games in my collection and these are just a few.
California Games – game, manual, case
Good old California Games. I already talked about this title briefly as it pertained to my NES and Lynx collection but I suppose a brief blurb for the Master System version would be in order. This version of California Games, the multi-sport title from Epyx that was a hit computer title ported to consoles, is certainly playable. The Master System controller isn’t the best controller to use for certain events such as BMX and roller skating but it’s one of the better versions of the game I’ve played in terms of faithfully mirroring the original computer game. I never was good at California Games when I used to play it on my best friend’s Apple IIe back in the 80s and I still suck now. I’m sure this version is more than serviceable for anyone with California Games related skills, however. C+
Enduro Racer – game, manual, case
An Excitebike clone on the surface only, Enduro Racer is a BMX style racing game with a isometric top down view. You must race to the finish line over various courses of differing terrains. Sometimes you’ll be racing against other bikes, sometimes racing against dune buggy type cars….odd. Like Excitebike, the course is littered with ramps that you must jump over and timing of your wheelie while accelerating up the ramp then letting your front tire go back to a neutral forward position to gain the most air is key in finishing each course in the allotted time. Obviously you must avoid crashing into hazards and other vehicles to succeed and finishing each course will provide you bonus points depending on how well you do. These points can be exchanged for bike upgrades, which definitely can make a difference in your overall experience. Unlike Excitebike, your bike won’t overheat so stay on the accelerator as much as you can. I found my bike hard to maneuver at first as you really have to hold the direction pad longer than I was anticipating in order to move your bike to the desired side of the course. Enduro Racer is an overall decent if unmemorable game. B-
Great Baseball – game only
Ugh, Great Baseball on the contrary isn’t fun at all. I guess I shouldn’t expect much from the an 8 bit baseball game. The original Baseball for Nintendo is unplayable and while the RBI Baseball series was decent on the NES, Nintendo wouldn’t really put out a truly enjoyable baseball game from start to finish until Baseball Stars in 1989. Great Baseball suffers from difficult hitting mechanics, slow as molasses defensive players and boring gameplay as there are a ton of foul balls and strike outs. The defense auto plays so anytime the offense hits the ball if you’re on defense you can just sit back and watch the computer do it’s thing. Great Baseball isn’t the worst baseball game I’ve played from the 80s, but it’s far from enjoyable. D+