For the first time in months I spent a great deal of time playing my Sega Master System, and for me that is a big deal. Back in December I had a little extra money saved up so I decided that I was going to buy myself a present, that just so happened to be my Sega Master System. I searched high and low, lost numerous auctions on ebay and finally found one being sold locally, and when I got the thing home I almost couldn't put it down!
Over time the system has started to collect dust, much like the rest of my systems tend to do until I feel the urge to play them again. I play my retro systems quite a bit more than my newer systems, mostly because the newer the system is the less it works (!!!), but I often find myself switching back and forth with systems I haven't played in a while. But what really drives me to desire one system over another is games, the hardware couldn't do anything if not for the software that utilizes it.
As for my Master System I don't have many games so I don't really want to play it as often as I do the system I own more games for, and the Master System is almost impossible to find games for. The only ones I've seen were a few loose carts at Disc Replay and another handful of (overpriced!) boxed games at a flea market. To be honest, the only Master System I ever saw besides my own was one in a glass case at Disc Replay, and my very first game was a loose copy of After Burner I picked up at another Disc Replay.
I was sure that somewhere along my many trips through flea markets and thrift stores I would eventually come across a Master System or games, and short of what I mentioned above I've found nothing! Despite not being able to find more games for my Master System the 11 games I do own, including a complete copy of After Burner in addition to the loose copy I bought before I even owned the system, just don't force me to want to play the system as much as I wish they did. That isn't to say the system's library is lacking, it simply means mine is!
I entered a contest on youtube and had high hopes to win 2 Master System games that I had wanted for a while now, but as it always seems to go I didn't win. Maybe this is yet another way of life telling me that I'll find them somewhere down the road at a good price, but that could be a long shot. But lets move away from me whining about my lack of games and delve into why I don't click with the Master System as much as I would my NES, or even my SNES or Sega Genesis.
I have to say that since I owned my NES, SNES and Sega Genesis well before I owned my Sega Master System, these systems are what I used to judge the Master System. Comparatively the Master system has a few setbacks, albeit minor, when you look at it's overall design. Modern day techies have learned to modify their Master Systems to overcome these setbacks, but I don't even want to take mine apart let alone modify it in any fashion, which leaves me stuck with the original design flaws.
Chief among which is the pause function being literally ON the console itself, as where every other system I've encountered has a pause button function somewhere within the controller. Even the Nintendo Famicom, released 2 years prior, had pause buttons integrated into it's controllers, although they were hardwired to the system and the Master System's controllers were interchangeable. But without the clutter of the two extra buttons the Famicom and NES provide the Master System controllers were comfortable, even with their square, blocky shape.
Even though they didn't add a pause button Sega did release more options for Master System controllers, as well as a light phaser that I personally feel is superior to the Nintendo Zapper. The Sega Control Stick was what I can only assume an attempt at being ambidextrous, an ass backwards controller that had the control stick on the right, instead of the left, as well as the buttons on the left, instead of the right.
I do own one and I simply can not use it, mostly because the stick just doesn't feel comfortable. Had they just made a reverse controller like the normal one, perhaps that would have been a success.
Another interesting feature, although it doesn't seem to stand out in the system's favor, in fact it was removed from the model 2 Master System, is the card slot. From what I understand card based games were released as budget titles, and as we've learned through the follies of other systems that budget titles are either good or terrible! I've never personally seen a Master System card game, but if I can find one for cheap enough I'll snap it up, for sure!
With all it's flaws the Sega Master System was still superior to the NES in many ways, but it just couldn't overcome Nintendo's sales power. I prefer the scenery in my Master System games than I do many of my NES games, but still the NES has just a slight edge over the Master System, in my mind. If I owned some of the solid titles that would keep my interest for hours on end, instead of putting it down after 5 minutes and switching to another game for 5 more minutes, I feel that I could really get to the heart of the system and understand it even more.