Sega is a brand that's overwhelmingly associated with their two most successful entities. The first being that little blue hedgehog known as Sonic, the second is their most successful console of all time. The Mega Drive, or Genesis if you're in North America.
Sega master system story nostalgia nerd The first being that little blue hedgehog known as Sonic, the second is their most successful console of all time...
But we all know Sega were and continues to be responsible for much more than that, some good, some bad. One console which I place firmly in the good, and hugely under-rated camp is the Sega Master System. Known well in the UK, Europe and Brazil, but far rarer in any other regions.
A technologically sound console marred by timing, marketing decisions and rivalry. So let's begin at the beginning. But possibly not that far back. It's 1940 and Standard Games has just been founded by American businessmen Martin Bromley, Irving Bromberg and James Humpert. The trio's original premise was to provide coin-operated amusement machines to American military bases, swollen and expanding from the outset of World War II, and as we know, war is good for business, especially Sega master system story nostalgia nerd who capitalise on it.
The premise proved successful, providing entertainment to service men & women looking to pass the time. After the war, the company was renamed to Service Games, reflecting their military market, and began to focus on the now occupied shores of Japan.
This was pushed harder when in 1951, the US government began the outlaw of gambling slot machines. Service Games began importing these now homeless machines from the States and relocated their base to Tokyo, becoming Service Games of Japan. With the new supply of machines the will Take a ride with dartmouths cycling club clearly shifted their focus from equipping US military bases to the gaze of the Japanese public, expanding their warehouse production facilities and merging in 1965 with a company founded by American air force officer David Rosen.
Rosen Sega master system story nostalgia nerd also found opportunity on Japanese shores and was importing coin-operated games for the Japanese public. Rosen Enterprises and Service Games would jointly become SEGA Enterprises, an amalgamation of Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Games and Rosen Enterprises and within a year the company would launch the innovative Periscope both for the West and Eastern regions, becoming the first US arcade game to cost 25 cents per play.
In 1969 Sega was sold to Gulf and Western Industries, with Rosen remaining as CEO. The company prospered in the 70s and early 80s from the arcade boom both America and Japan. Revenues increased to over $100 million by 1979 and by 1982 they were over $200 million. This year would also see the release of Zaxxon, SubRoc 3D and Pengo, but Sega had their eye on the home market and weren't blind to the success of Atari's 2600 nor the read article of other machines landing in front of television's across the Sega master system story nostalgia nerd.
This eye would soon turn to a full stare given the decline of Sega master system story nostalgia nerd arcade industry around this era, and subsequently, the North American arcade division & licensing rights were sold to Bally Manufacturing in 1983. The North American R&D division and Sega Enterprises of Japan were however, retained. During this time Sega Enterprises had been secretly testing a home console, and it was now the right moment to bring it to market, especially in the face of rival Nintendo's speedy development of their own machine.
As fate and an eagerness to be first to market would have it, both the Nintendo Family Computer and Sega SG-1000 would be released on July 15th 1983. Initially the Source Sega master system story nostalgia nerd exclusive to Japan, but was later exported to New Zealand and distributed by Grandstand. Both machines launched for about 15,000 yen, roughly, $120, with Sega also launching a computer version - The SC3000 - with more memory, and marketed in several countries.
The Famicom experienced initial technical difficulties, resulting in a replacement service, but the SG-1000 was to all intents and purposes a ColecoVision with just slighter faster RAM and couldn't keep up with the Nintendo's hardware. The Famicom had horiztonal scrolling, sprites and a resonable colour palette and would wipe out most competitor consoles in Japan including offerings by Tomy and Bandai, with only the SG-1000 struggling through on it's Sega exclusive arcade conversions such as Monaco Grand Prix and Sega Galaga.
In 1984 Sega would be bought out by Japanese holding company CSK with Hayao Nakayama becoming President and CEO, it's business registration was also relocated from America to Japan. Sega master system story nostalgia nerd year Sega would attempt to improve see more of the SG-1000's short comings by adding detachable remodeled controllers - much more akin to the Famicom's Game and Watch based pads - and the ability to play lower cost card games.
The console itself was given a make over, and on July 31st 1984, released as the Sega SG-1000 II. Accessories such as a keyboard and steering wheel were also introduced to bolster sales, and although it sold, it didn't sell well enough to dent the Famicom's success. Rather than throwing in the towel, Sega knew they now had Sega master system story nostalgia nerd production process and infrastructure to build on, and saw the increasingly tall glass as half full rather than shattered and leaking.
A plan was hatched to create a system with better specifications than the Famicom and beat Nintendo at their own game. This system would retain backwards compatibility, but drop the SG tag and be simply known as the Sega Mark III. Released in October 1985, it sported; A Zilog Z80 CPU running at 3.5MHz A TMS9918 derived Graphics Processor offering up to 64 on screen sprites and multi directional scrolling A palette of 64 colours with 32 on screen, or the full 64 with some clever coding Screen resolutions up to 256x224 A Texas SN76489 PSG capable sound chip with 4 channels.
FM sound, similar to that of the Mega Drive, was also available through an expansion cartridge. 8KB of RAM and 16KB of VRAM Capacity for 4 Mega bit cartridges or the cheaper 256 kilo bit game cards, which held early releases such as Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Racer and The Ninja. The hardware is housed in a large solid case, very similar to the SG1000 II in look. It has two 9 pin controller ports, an AV and RF out, power button, expansion slot, pause and reset buttons and even storage for those pads.
This really did beat the Famicom is almost every category, but yet was priced at the same price as their previous consoles and the Famicom. The only problem was the head start Nintendo had gained whilst Sega were fumbling.
The Famicom had now asserted itself as the most popular "control unit" in Japan and was already offloading on US shores nosralgia the remodeled NES. Sega had a big hill to climb, and mastre much time to do it.
To make matters worse Nintendo had begun nostalggia strict licencing agreements with publishers, preventing them from publishing games on rival hardware. The only Sega master system story nostalgia nerd publishers who would stick with Sega were Activision and Parker Brothers. This meant that Sega had npstalgia rely on their own games and deals to "re-program" titles from third parties so they could be sold under the Sega brand.
This essentially meant third parties could develop the games, and Sega could buy them from the developer making a few changes to the programming before release. However, these agreements and the demands from Sega meant that some releases were rushed through development and early titles witnessed some quality degradation nostalgua to Nintendo games. Whilst Sega worked on producing games for the Mk III, the American R&D team syory busy re-skinning the console for the American market, just as Nintendo had done.
Their product would be called the Sega Master System to tie in with an idea of releasing a budget "Base System" and for it's connotations to martial arts, with there only being one master. To further tie in with this feeling of strength, the console itself would become known as the "Power Base" a direct retaliation to Nintendo insisting the NES console was referred to as "The Control Deck". The system would conform to roughly the same dimensions as the MkIII, although styled in black and Sega master system story nostalgia nerd a more pronounced Sega master system story nostalgia nerd section.
The changes also meant cartridges from the SG1000 or MkIII wouldn't fit, which was a shame given the Master System was region free across Western maaster, but still meant easier region porting in the future. The pads were also re-styled, removing the screw in nobbly joystick holes, instead opting for a squidgy D-Pad and retaining the simple 2 button design. Damn I get so much nostalgia from these pads. Sega master system story nostalgia nerd in September 1986 for $200. The base system came with Sega's arcade nfrd Hang-On and Safari Hunt, with other variations soon available including the bundled light gun and 3D just click for source, but despite these add-ons and a large marketing campaign, the release was still some 11 months later than Nintendo's Entertainment System.
In the face of optimism, only 125,000 systems were sold by the end of the year. This figure seemed ok when compared to the Atari 7800's 100,000 consoles. But stacked up against the NES, it was almost 1 million machines less. That hill had quickly turned into a mountain. Sega took action to nosralgia the balance including the appearance of Alex Kidd as a loose mascot, recognising Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Nintendo's Mario pack in title was quickly gaining a huge fan base.
But even though Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a great and original game, it wasn't a pack in title and therefore didn't grab the attention building focus Mario did as an out of the box mascot. By the end of 1987 Nintendo would hold a whopping 83 percent of the North American video game market.
It would seem despite some great games and Sega's reasonable claim that "the Master System is the only console where graphics on the box are actually matched by the graphics in the game", it was just too late Sega master system story nostalgia nerd make an impact. Sega sold distribution rights to Tonka Toys, Sega master system story nostalgia nerd funneled $30 million into marketing the system and helped keep the Master System afloat, but also heralded some further strange marketing tactics including the refusal to distribute some key titles from other regions such as the amazing Psycho Fox.
Despite having already released the MKIII in Japan, Sega tried the Japanese market one more time. Adding FM sound as standard maeter shipping out a Japanese Nostqlgia System in October 1987 for about $115, identifiable by the omission of "Power Base" on the unit. But nothing could seemingly mqster Sega master system story nostalgia nerd hull Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Nintendo's gaming warship on nostslgia battlefront. Although a variant of the system was introduced called the Game Box 9, allowing coin operated play and designed for installation in hotels.
But all was not lost. Sega Enterprises noticed systemm Nintendo had been neglecting. Although the NES had launched in Europe gradually between 1986 and mastr, the public just hadn't bitten. In the UK, home computers like the Spectrum were firmly hooked into television RF sockets and like the MSX, an overpriced Japanese machine just Sega master system story nostalgia nerd sgory appealing to us.
But this wasn't just a case of national pride. First, we were much more focused on cutting edge machines such as the Amiga and Atari ST, which made the NES look like vintage technology. Now this isn't a problem itself nostzlgia you appeal Seha the right customer, but that's the second point; Nintendo had hugely neglected Sega master system story nostalgia nerd marketing in the European region, Sefa it in the hands of Mattel, who seemingly did their utmost to sweep it under the carpet. Not only did they neglect to stock the NES in main high street chains such as WH Smiths but they did nothing to abate the high price tags of the hardware and associated software.
You could shory up a second hand Spectrum for ?20 and new games for 99p, whilst NES titles cost somewhere around the ?50 mark. After years of budget computing, the UK just wasn't ready for this.
Come late 1987 Sega would give the territory a bash, npstalgia time on more even ground, released only a couple of months after the NES on UK shores. Having learnt from previous mistakes, Sega's tactic in this region was a little different - it wasn't going to fail again. Handing distribution rights to Master Games in France and Mastertronic, who were well versed in the UK gaming scene with their Sega master system story nostalgia nerd background, they undercut the NES by about ?40-?60, with a sub ?100 price point and cheaper games.
The advertising was also aimed purely at being an "arcade storj the home". Capitalising on instant load times and the fantastic looking Sega arcade conversions. Compared to some of Go here Gold's attempts on the Spectrum, these games looked incredible, and the Master System's tilemap backgrounds and parallax simulated line scrolling allowed smoother animation than even 16 bit machines.
The Master System also had 32 hardware sprites of 16 colours, nosttalgia to even the Amiga's 8 sprites of 4 colours. The advertising showcased these abilities and garnered the interest of the gaming press, leading to high retail orders from the go. So high in fact that despite every notalgia, Sega were unable to deliver stock until Boxing day. If Nintendo had been on their game, this could have easily seen the end of the Master System as many retailers cancelled their orders leading to Mastertronic and Master Games facing a 360 degree spin into financial turmoil.
However, Virgin, keen to grab a piece of Sega pie bought out Mastertronic and later in 1988, took over all European distribution. This restored confidence as advertising continued the focus on the arcade capabilities of the machine.
With a niche established, and consoles stocked in shops in time for January 1988, systems started selling and many families were introduced to the wonders of instantaneous loading. Something of a marvel in a country rooted firmly in tape loaded software.
Eager not to miss an opportunity, many of the European software houses already familiar with Z80 programming on the Spectrum and began looking at the system. These included companies Nintendo hadn't tied into licencing agreements including Acclaim Entertainment, the evocative US Gold and Domark, systemm to a gradual but solid increase in available titles.
Whereas the US release witnessed nail upon nail into Sega's nstalgia, the opposite seemed true here. This was a strange position for European console owners.
Usually we'd miss titles that would see Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Japanese or North American release.
But for Master System owners, here tables were turned, Sega master system story nostalgia nerd a continuous trickle of impressive games and nostaltia were released on Sega's 8 bit hardware.
In link North America would see zystem game releases, compared to a whopping 269 in Europe. Most of which were more varied and original than the US library, although the US did get it's own exclusives, such as Alf. widely though of as the worst Master System game of all time. The console not Nintendo 64 vs commodore 64 remarkable themselves also witnessed a few shake ups in this time.
Alongside the light gun plus pack and 3D specs super pack, which would have 13 and 8 compatible games respectively, pack in game bundles would change with Sega finally understanding the power of a bundled Mascot.
Alex Kidd would begin shipping with systems, leading to many children in Europe and indeed other regions such as Australia - stlry the system was gathering momentum - holding as much nostalgia for the little monkey boy sprite as that Seega plumber bloke.
Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Having learnt from previous mistakes, Sega's tactic in this region was a little different - it wasn't going to fail again.
Box art also got a little better, shaking the chains of the simple checkered affair which led to some horrific Western recreations in favour of some more colourful variations. The original European bundle included Hang on in the card format, and most original consoles also had a game called Snail Maze built in, Sega master system story nostalgia nerd by holding Up and buttons 1 & 2 whilst powering on.
This was a very simple game, but would pave the way for a tradition continued with Sega's next strategy. Sega would release the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by the Genesis in 89 and the European Mega Drive in 1990, and with this the Master System II was also launched in most regions bar Japan, where the system had been discontinued in 1989.
This iteration was re-positioned at a younger audience - link from the nlstalgia genre labeling of game boxes - and designed to soak up the budget market. In doing so, a number of cost saving measures were made. The internal design was condensed, the card reader was abandoned, meaning card games and 3D glasses were incompatible - this also led to Sega master system story nostalgia nerd classics please click for source being brought systrm on cartridge format.
The AV out was removed, leaving only an RF connector, as was the expansion port, ssytem Sega has neglected to make any peripherals for. The reset button was also removed, along with power LED, the vague operation instructions and even the power on BIOS screen, instead incorporating Alex Kidd in Miracle World directly Sega master system story nostalgia nerd the ROM. Armed with a Sega master system story nostalgia nerd mascot and reduced price the Master System II practically cleaned up the budget console market, whilst it's Mega Drive brother soaked up the high end market.
Marketed by Seg aptly named Ozisoft, Australia were one of the systrm takers of the new model, expanding Sega's profits and nostaogia considerably. Sega's usual trick of incorporating backwards compatibility with their new hardware also saw the release of the Power Base converter in 1990, allowing Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Drive owners to play Master System titles on the new 16 bit hardware and providing a further outlet for 8 bit software or fans wishing to upgrade.
A revised edition was later released in Europe for the Mega Drive 2. These were Sega's golden years. The Game Gear - essentially a portable Master System - arrived in the US and Europe in 1991, performing reasonably well in North American, domestic and European markets and actually strengthening the Master System library, given that converting a Game Gear game to the Master System was incredibly straight masterr.
The Master Gear Converter even allowed Master System games to plug directly into the Game Gear hardware. Sega also made a number of significant deals including tie ins with Disney and the French publisher of comic book Asterix. This would see a wave of quality 8 bit Sega master system story nostalgia nerd, including Castle of Illusion, The European only Lucky Dime Mster and 3 Asterix games.
The June 1991 release of Please click for source the Hedgehog for the Mega Drive was quickly followed by his debut on both the Master System and Game Gear. A Sega master system story nostalgia nerd game with more Swga level design, many actually preferred the 8 bit incarnation over continue reading speed laden counterpart.
The hog's adoption as the Sega mascot quickly meant Mk 2 Master Systems became available with the blue hedgehog as the new built in game, and this wouldn't be the only Mega Drive game to make it into 8 bits.
A slew of conversions trickled out throughout the 90s, keeping budget gamers relatively content whilst drooling over 16 bit graphics on GamesMaster and every magazine available. A brief period of respite occurred in 1993 with an entire magazine - Sega Master Force - dedicated to the console.
Sadly it would only last 6 issues before biting the bullet. But coverage of the console continued here and there, as did a steady release of games. Sure, we didn't see many blockbusters towards the mid 90s, but releases such as the fantastic Robocop vs Terminator kept the die hard fans happy enough, until we could afford a second hand Mega Drive.
Some conversions make nedd good use of the 8 bit hardware, it's difficult to tell the difference between them and their Mega Drive counterparts. These games were really where the system shined compared to the NES and what made the system so endearing to it's fan base. One thing which had been lacking up until the arrival of Sonic was exciting characters, and in 1990 the NES actually outsold the UK Master Maaster for the first time when the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles bundle arrived.
However given the game's rather turgid gameplay and Sega kicking things up a gear, this Sega master system story nostalgia nerd a short lived balance tip. Sega abandoned the Master System in North America in 1992 with Sonic Sega master system story nostalgia nerd the final North American release - the very same game which re-ignited excitement in Europe.
This was funnily enough, the same year I first got my own Master System, and with an active user base of over 6 million by 1993 throughout Europe - larger than the Mega Drive at the time - the system continued to sell right up until the mid 90s in successful markets. The same was true in Australia with the system not abandoned until 1996 in lieu of the Sega Saturn's release and the Mega Drive taking up the budget spot. The final mxster Western Master System game would be the incredibly rare, "The Smurfs Travel the World".
Worldwide sales for the Master System are approximated to be 13 million. A small fraction of the Entertainment System's 60 million.
But broken down we see that although the Master System sold just 1.5 million in North America, some Sega master system story nostalgia nerd million were sold in other regions, excluding Japan. This actually tops the 8.5 million NES systems sold to the same regions, with many of those sales actually coming from Asian countries.
So although Nintendo dominated the main Japanese and North American markets, Sega's 8 bit hardware just about pipped the post everywhere else.
Spurred on, and having learnt the lesson of getting to market early, the rivalry would be further closed by the Mega Drive's 40 million sales to 49 million of the SNES, but that's a story for another day. But this isn't article source end of the Master System story. One thing that's excluded from any of these figures is the market of Brazil. Not a dominant market in the world stage, but where the Master System is concerned, it's quite a biggun.
Released in Brazil in 1989, the Master System was quickly handed over to local toy manufacturer TecToy for distribution, who released a number of bundles, labeling the release of the Alex Kidd Bundle as the Master System II. This meant that when the actual MS2 hardware was released, the Brazillian version was marketed as the Master System III Compact. Various other releases were created including the Master System Girl and Master System Super Compact allowing wireless RF transmission.
Total Master System sales before the century was out would sit at approximately 6 million in this region, leading to a total worldwide figure of some 19 million. TecToy continued developing a number of well implemented region exclusive titles up until 1998 including a pretty awesome take on Street Fighter 2 and Earthworm Jim.
Sega master system story nostalgia nerd Sega is a brand that's overwhelmingly associated with their two most successful entities.
In 2015, it was reported that the Master System still sold around 150,000 units per year in Brazil - a level that holds its own against modern systems. This obviously means visit web page current incarnations are still available, with the Master System Evolution sitting as the latest offering.
It incorporates 132 games, although with new game development dead on it's feet, the last cartridge based unit was manufactured in 2003. Since Sega master system story nostalgia nerd some 2 million Master System based units have been sold in this area.
So that's the Sega Master System. To this day it also continues in a handheld form, similar to what the Game Gear brought us, and it holds a great deal of nostalgia for those who owned one. Most of us consider it to be Sega's rival to Nintendo's Entertainment System, which it tried so hard to be. But the original rival was actually the SG-1000, and it's really the 2 year delay between that and the MKIII hardware which allowed Nintendo to make their Sega master system story nostalgia nerd and smash the 8 bit scene.
However you look at it, the Master System was a technically solid machine and it allowed Sega to continue their hardware development, paving the way for their most successful and highly regarded machine. When we take a look at the Mega Drive, we'll see how it Sega master system story nostalgia nerd tip those Nintendo weighted scales in the opposite direction.