The 8-bit years of computing and consoles were great times, it was a time of great innovation, ideas that took systems to their limit, and a time where anything and everything was possible in programmers eyes. Sadly, the hardware didn’t always match these visions, however back in the 1980′s the public had something which is sadly lacking in today’s society, we had an imagination. Thankfully, Sega produced a console that would make programmers reach their true potential with the technology that they had to hand. This console was the brilliant Sega Master System, Sega’s second attempt (following the Sega SG-1001) at a console, and what a machine it was.
Around the World this was a popular machine, especially in Europe where it went on to become one of the greatest remembered consoles of all time. Released in various countries between 1985 and 1987, the Master System was an 8-bit console based on the Zilog Z80 Processor that was so popular back in the day. Clocked at 3.58Mhz, and with a dedicated graphics chip, the Master System was a power-house system when it was released, and it was because of this that there were so many great games released.
And speaking of games, the Sega aster System pushed 8-bit gaming to new boundaries, with brilliant conversions such as Wonderboy In Monster Land, the Sonic The Hedgehog games, Alex Kidd games and so much more. So, once again, and for the final time, I will be delving into my gaming collection I look at the games that have stood the test of time and are as much fun to play now as they were back in the day!
1: Sonic The Hedgehog
Before Sega’s Sonic became it’s mascot there was a little guy called Alex Kidd. Alex Kidd was cool, and a great mascot, but Sonic was cooler, bluer and faster than anything that came before it. Sonic The Hedgehog is a fast paced platform game, the idea is to rescue creatures from the evil Dr Robotnik, while along the way getting power-ups such as speed-up boots, invulnerability and extra lives. You must kill all the evil baddies that are lurking around by jumping onto them or spinning into them. It’s a magical world that is lovingly recreated on Sega’s 8-bit, and is a showpiece of technology, almost matching it’s 16-bit cousin.
Sonic The Hedgehog, and all it’s follow-up games can be found reasonably cheap on internet auctions sites and local thrift-stores. Its a super fun game that has really stood the test of time, and one which should be in anyone’s collection.
There are many side-scrolling shoot-em-ups out there, but mentioning the name R-Type to any fan of the genre will bring a huge smile to their face. R-Type is a typical side-scrolling-shooter, with hoards of enemies coming towards you, bullets flying over the screen plus numerous other obstacles in your way. It’s an arcade game that has sat perfectly on a home console, and the Master System version is one of the best versions out there.
This game is worth hunting down as it is quite brilliant, and a change from the normal platform games found on many systems of the era. Its price varies, but there are still plenty of copies out there to be picked up.
Shinobi is without doubt one of the most fun side-scrolling beat-em-ups ever to have been made. It’s been designed with such love and care that every level is a joy to behold. The premise of the game is simple, get from the left of the screen through a scrolling landscape until you reach the end of the level. As a Ninja, you get to perform some great moves, plus throw some death-stars at your enemy. It’s a perfectly balanced action game that is serious fun, but needs a bit of practise to get through some of the tricky levels.
This can be one of the more expensive titles to collect, however, keep looking because it is a game that is full of great game play moments and a game that will get you coming back for more.
The arcade version of Wonderboy was brilliant back in the day, and once again the Sega Master System’s power dies the game justice. Another side-scroller, this time your character can run and jump, use a skate-board and throw missiles at the oncoming enemies. Again, the layout and attention to detail makes this game great fun to play, and one definitely worth tracking down. So many hours will pass you by, and if you’re good enough you should be able to complete the game within a couple of hours… I know I can.
5: Castle Of Illusion
It was a toss-up between Castle Of Illusion and Rainbow Islands for my fifth choice, and Castle Of Illusion wins because a game of this quality just shouldn’t be available on an 8-bit console. Again it shows the power of the Mega Drive, and has some great Mickey Mouse moments that are so fun to watch and play. The animations in this game are great, the level design is second-to-none and the soundtrack is stunning.
Tracking down second-hand copies of this game is a bit hit or miss, from my experience there either seems to be a few available at one time or none at all for ages. Keep hunting it down, boxed or un-boxed, because it’s a game that is fun and will have you coming back for more.
That rounds up this series, I hope that you have enjoyed and discovered some long-lost classics because of it. Remember, games are about the fun you have with them, not about how good they look or how highly ranked they are. A good game, on any system, no-matter how old, is a good game and deserves to be played.