Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Virtual Console - Everything on Sega Master System Sucks

I spent part of my evening playing through most of the Sega Master System games currently available on the Virtual Console. Back in the '80s, the NES completely dominated the video games market, and I don't think I knew any kid who had the Sega. Thank goodness for that, because it was a lousy excuse for a videogame system.

If you're curious about the Master System, and wanted to download some games to VC, let me spare everyone the trouble, and offer this simple piece of advice: Everything on Sega Master System Sucks. There, I said it. We all believed it back in the '80s, and time has proven us right. This is the crummiest machine Sega ever built.

I'll be generous and say the only really good game on the system was the original Phantasy Star, but even then, the Genesis sequels were a hundred times better. The game hasn't aged well. None of the Master System games have aged well. It's a bit strange, really; the Master System was touted as the superior hardware to the Atari 7800 and the NES. Fat chance ever seeing any proof from the games. Nearly all the library's titles are cutesy, cuddly, and downright childish. It's much closer to the style of arcade games from 1984, in that dark age after Atari and before Super Mario Bros. And it's all so sugary and saccharine and hokey. Eww.

Sega's reputation as masters of arcade videogames would be secured on Genesis, Saturn and Dreamcast. During the Master System days, their games sucked. I swear Yu Suzuki was the first talented designer on their roster, as Outrun, Hang On, and Afterburner demonstrate. But that's literally it. Everything else just stunk.

Alex Kidd was a pale knockoff of Super Mario, without any of the speed or charm or inventiveness. There's a reason why Sega killed that dopey mascot. Who wanted to play a happy, grinning monkey-boy, anyway? Sega pushed through three or four games in this series...why? Were kids being punished? Was the Master System really a subversive plot by retentive parents who didn't want their kids playing video games? It's like being served broccoli and calling it candy.

Move right down the list. Enduro Racer, repetitive and boring. Fantasy Zone, cutesy and boring. R-Type and Wonder Boy, decent for the time, but surpassed on rival consoles. Sonic? Way better on Genesis. Secret Command? What the heck is this? Wasn't it called Rambo at some point? There are a dozen classic run-and-gun games on the NES. No thanks.

I guess this leaves Phantasy Star. That was the only standout game a generation ago, and nothing has changed. If you were the poor sucker whose clueless parents came home with a Master System instead of NES, you could grit your teeth and live with a few other titles. But we're not in that fix anymore. You can download every classic video game off the internet in seconds. Why waste your time on the pale wannabe when you could be enjoying the real thing?

Remember the mantra, kids: Everything on the Sega Master System Sucks. Except for Phantasy Star. Maybe.

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