Rarely content with what we have, we’ve been striving for more realistic games now for decades. Technological advances have been used to improve our gaming experiences with every console generation. Today we have virtual reality gaming which offers some of the most immersive and realistic experiences we’ve ever known as gamers. But back in the 80s, the most advanced we thought we could get with our entertainment (Jaws and Friday the 13th in 3D anyone?) was using 3D technology integrated with video games.
The Vectrex 3D Imager from 1984 was the first dedicated 3D peripheral to be used for home console gaming in North America. Unfortunately, the Vectrex was neither a popular or well sold machine so it’s often overlooked as being the pioneer that it was. A few years later, Sega released their own dedicated peripheral with the SegaScope 3D Glasses. This was a much more physically scaled down version that the Vectrex’s 3D Imager, which practically covered the entire face and head. The SegaScope 3D glasses were slightly bulkier than a normal pair of glasses which would then plug into the game card slot on the front of the Master System model 1. Since the model 2 Master System did not include a card slot, the 3D glasses could not be used with that version of the console. But by the time the model 2 Master System was released, the 3D games had dried up anyway.
The SegaScope 3D glasses could be bought separately, as indicated by the boxed version I have in my collection, or they were also bundled with certain Master Systems along with Missile Defense 3D built into the console. Thankfully, the original owner of my 3D glasses took good care of them as they are completely intact, with no damage or broken hinges which sometimes plague this fragile peripheral. I feel like the glasses mostly work well in some games but generally still offer blurry gameplay. Once my daughters saw them they wanted to give them a try and they were unimpressed. Their claims were that the games were simply just blurry and not really in 3D but they don’t have perspective in mind when using them like I do. I think they are much better than the cheap glasses you got with Rad Racer or 3D World Runner for the NES, which they had better be since those were free. There were six 3D games released in North America for the glasses and I currently own four of them.
My personal favorite of the 4 is Missile Defense 3D. I think the effects are cool and most importantly, the game is fun. It requires both the 3D glasses and light phaser so if you’re playing this game on original hardware, have someone take a picture or video of you all geared up blasting away at enemy missiles attempting to destroy your city. A cold war classic!
The other 3 range in quality for both fun and effective 3D imagery integrated into the gameplay. Zaxxon 3D and Maze Hunter 3D have potential but both suffer from a bit of monotony. Blade Eagle 3D is the worst as it attempts to provide two tiers for your ship to be able to traverse in order to destroy enemies. The problem is that it’s way too difficult to tell which tier you’re on vs. your enemies so it ends up being a frustrating effort in futility.
In all, I am glad I have added a the SegaScope 3D glasses to my collection as they are getting harder and harder to find in good condition these days and it is certainly a collectible piece of the Master System history.
Currently in my collection:
SegaScope 3D Glasses w/ manual and box
Blade Eagle 3D – game, manual, case D+
Maze Hunter 3D – game, manual, case B-
Missile Defense 3D – game, manual, case A-
Zaxxon 3D – game, manual, case B